The Great American Freak Show continues with all the media oxygen being sucked up by Tiger Woods and the estate of the late Michael Jackson. It’s almost as if certain interests didn’t want the American people paying attention to things that mattered.
Financial reform, to be sure, can’t compete with the Jersey Housewives. The proposal by Sen. Dodd, D-Financial Services, does include some kind of consumer protection agency — a plus. But no new Glass-Steagall, no meaningful derivative oversight, etc. etc. And regulators must regulate, after all, rather than have their heads in Ayn Rand novels.
Readers of this blog won’t be surprised by the New York Times story on $700 billion in risky junk bonds coming due in 2012. For all its pain, the Great Recession has largely failed to accomplish the one positive expected from downturns: to clean out imbalances and bad bets. Commercial real estate is another time bomb. More mortgages will reset. America remains far too over-leveraged to recover in a healthy way. This, of course, is nothing compared with the latest sex scandal.
Unemployment remains a dangerous toxin for America. The failure of the Obama administration on health care reform, as well as addressing carbon emissions, preparing for a high-cost energy future and dealing with the eroding middle class — while protecting the bankers — is setting up huge costs for the future. He’s had plenty of help from Republicans in this, whose policies did so much to cause the disaster. And of course the status quo has many politically powerful beneficiaries. Look away…nothing to see here…Tiger’s going to the Masters!
The Back Story: The Census Bureau has updated median household income for 2008. Washington comes in with $58,081 vs. the national average of $52,029. Other states: Oregon, $50,165; Idaho, $47,561. In the “low-tax, light regulation” states, we have Mississippi’s $37,818; Alabama’s $42,586, and South Carolina’s $44,695. All this was, of course, before the Great Recession really took us by the throat.
Meanwhile, it’s Washington Trade Week. The Port of Seattle is highlighting a different trade partner each today. For Tuesday, Oh, Canada! In 2009, $16.8 billion was exported by vessel out of Seattle.
Today’s Econ Haiku:
Eighteen thousand bucks
Provokes legislative fuss
Millions in cuts? Yawn