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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Facebook's Fatal Flaw: Mobile Ad Revenue?

As the largest of the social-media companies, Facebook has gone into uncharted waters. Adding to Wall Street’s analytical headache, the company’s strategy at least since its IPO has been to be oriented more to the long term than is customary on Wall Street. Put another way, estimating Facebook’s long-term viability has been notoriously difficult, particularly for Wall Streeters who apply their traditional criteria nonetheless. Looking beyond Wall Street’s lenses, there is indeed reason to regard investments in the company as very risky.
                Social connections are notoriously fluid. The networks themselves are so as well. This puts Facebook in a highly uncertain place.       Washington Post.

The full essay is at "Taking the Face Off Facebook."

Friday, February 1, 2013

Excessive Standardization Pushed by the European Commission?

The E.U.’s internal market is not typically construed in terms of federalism. Whereas the market connotes homogeneity or at least easy transfers across state lines, a union of states wherein both are semi-sovereign implies diversity within certain commonalities. The economic and political systems are not mutually exclusive, or inert, however. Put another way, too much economic standardization begins to run up against the heterogeneity that is inherent in an empire-level union of republics.

The full essay is at "Essays on the E.U. Political Economy," available at Amazon. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Carbon Allowances: Merkel's E.U.?

Fundamentally, a union of states is in trouble when any federal action is predicated on consent from the governor of the largest state. The U.S. Senate was proposed precisely to give the smaller states a means to thwart the domination of a few large ones in legislating at the federal level. The European Council’s qualified majority vote mechanism and the unanimity requirement on “big ticket items” such as taxation permit a supermajority of states to reject the proposal of a few large ones. The U.S. House of Representatives and the European Parliament offer no such avenue for small states because those chambers are based solely on population. California and New York, and France and Germany, can through their peoples’ representatives have great clout in those bodies. Therefore, bicameral (i.e., two chambers) legislatures are distinctly advantageous at the federal level of a union of states.

                            Jose Barosso, President of the European Commission, conferring with Angela Merkel, chancellor of the state of Germany. Was she giving Barosso his marching orders? Vielleicht, ich glaube.  
The full essay is at "Essays on the E.U. Political Economy," available at Amazon. 

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Obama’s “Recess” Appointments As Invalid

The U.S. President cannot determine the U.S. Senate is on recess in order to make recess appointments. This is the ruling of the federal court of appeals in Washington, D.C., on a case involving the appointment of three members of the National Labor Relations Board. A three-judge panel of the court ruled that the appointments “were constitutionally invalid” because the U.S. Senate was not in recess on January 4, 2012 when Obama made the recess appointments. If the president were free “to decide when the Senate is in recess,” it “would demolish the checks and balances inherent in the advice-and-consent requirement, giving the President free rein to appoint his desired nominees at any time he pleases,” the court opinion reads. Of course, the Senate could also abuse its privilege by declaring itself in session when it is de facto in recess in order to prevent recess appointments. The balance in “checks and balances” implies that neither side is able to render the other impotent to act.
For its part, the White House viewed the ruling as applying only to the three NLRB appointments in the suit, rather than extending to Obama’s appointment of Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). That appointment too was made on January 4, 2012.
Because the court ruled that the U.S. Senate was not in recess, it stands to reason that any recess appointment made by the president on January 4th is invalid. Even so, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that Obama’s appointment of Richard Cordray was not affected by the court’s decision. “The decision that was put forward today had to do with one case, one company, one court,” Carney said. “It has no bearing on Richard Cordray.” I contend that it does. The ruling states that no recess appointment can be made by the president when the U.S. Senate is not in recess. Even if the Obama administration disagrees with the ruling, to narrow it dogmatically to just three of the appointments made when the U.S. Senate was not on recess (as determined by the court) is nonsensical. Besides offending reason itself, the “reasoning” evinces a tendency in the White House to evade the very notion of constraint. This is the “red flag” in this particular case study. In other words, it is the aspect that could easily be missed but should alarm us all. It may portend future scandal in the Obama White House with respect to the rule of law.

Source:
Tom Curry, “White House Sees No Impact of Court Ruling on Finance Protection Agency,” NBC News, January 25,