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Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Holiday: We Accept the Love We Think We Deserve

Two women suffering from unfaithful boyfriends swap homes in California and Britain, respectively, where they each meet a local guy and fall in love. By unfaithful, I don’t necessarily mean cheating; rather, the cheating variety can be situated within the larger category of not committing to love one person completely and with fullness of heart. Such is the plot of The Holiday (2006), a film that is essentially about five good people. As the three unfaithful people are pruned out, the viewer is left with an optimistic feeling about human beings being capable of emotional intimacy.


The full essay is at “The Holiday.”

Monday, December 22, 2014

Little Women: Strong in Death and Love

Little Women (1994), based on the novel by Louisa May Alcott, can be thought of as a social history of civil-war-era New England—that is to say, the film captures what life must have been like on a daily basis. Yet the human predicament resonates and thus makes the film moving for viewers far removed from the world of the Marsh family in Concord, Massachusetts. In particular, the film confronts the viewer with the hard task of going on even with the emotionally heavy experience of loss.


The full essay is at “Little Women

The Fed Lets Banks Continue Risky Trades: Too Big To Fail Ensconced

In December 2014, the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank granted banks an extra year past the July 2015 deadline to comply with a major provision of the Volcker Rule requiring the banks to unwind investments in private equity firms, hedge funds, and specialty securities projects.[1] The Fed also announced that it would give the banks yet another year to hold onto their positions. The Fed’s rationale points to an underlying conflict of interest facing the Fed, a banking regulator that is arguably too vulnerable to the banks’ lobbying muscle.

The full essay is at “Risky Trades



1. Zach Carter, “Fed Delays Volcker Rule, Giving Wall Street Another Holiday Gift,” The Huffington Post, December 18, 2014.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The E.U. Shifts the Debate: Re-labeling Hamas and Palestine

Framing the contours of a debate goes a long way toward winning it. Part of such framing involves efforts to make derogatory labels stick to the opposing side. Through a number of decades in the twentieth century, communist was the weapon of choice. Actors who refused to name names found themselves blacklisted as pro-communist, or having communist sympathies. A decade after the fall of the U.S.S.R., labeling an organization or person as a terrorist came into its own as the all-too-easy means of depriving an opposing side of credibility. By 2015, some people believed that anytime a person of a particular Middle-Eastern religion kills someone, that person is a terrorist. The word’s very definition was somehow pliable enough to accommodate prejudice and simple dislike. This is not to say that real terrorists are squalid creatures; rather, my point is that people had realized that they could score political points by applying the label to their opponents and making it stick. Israel, for instance, had successfully gotten the E.U. to label the Palestinian political party Hamas as a terrorist organization. Yet as 2014 was coming to an end, the label was becoming unstuck, with broader implications for the wider debate on Israel and Palestine.


The full essay is at “E.U. Shifts Debate.”

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Backing a Bear into a Corner: Falling Oil Prices Hit Russia Hard

Falling oil prices and economic sanctions in 2014 put the pressure on the Russian economy and its currency. The overall question may have been geo-political, however. Namely, would the twenty-first century see economic tools replace military response as the dominant means to “walk back” international aggressor states and restrict their further exploits? Such a question may be too broad, as even a newly-discovered devise that suddenly works is not likely to be applicable in every case. Even so, obviating war in the nuclear age would be no small feat.

The full essay is at “Falling Oil Prices Hit Russia Hard” 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Police Power Exceeding the Capacity of the Human Brain: Some Countervailing Measures

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Lord Acton’s timeless statement is applicable to legal and illegal power alike, for each is subject to abuse. The victims are those whose wills are bent through either harm or the threat of injury. Put another way, the human brain may lack sufficient cognitive, emotional, and perceptual machinery to check the instinctual plus socialized power-aggrandizing urge. This vulnerability is particularly apparent in viewing video showing a police employee violently over-react in a situation that quite obviously should not have involved violence. Although anger doubtlessly plays a crucial role in the trigger that unleashes the police violence, the more subtle suspension of cognition and warping of perception is also in the mix.


The full essay is atPolice Power.” 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Pentecostal Pastor Fights the Enemy in Ukraine

Is religion so pliable that it can be contorted against itself “with a straight face?” That is to say, does the human mind lack the machinery necessary to recognize contradiction in religious matters?  I submit that the answer is yes. This is not necessarily to be “anti-religion;” rather, the implication is that acting from a religious motive ought not to be done without critical self-examination and care. The case of a Christian minister fighting in the Ukrainian army provides a useful case study of the vulnerability.


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Advise and Consent: Does Politics Have a Limit?

A film that centers on the U.S. Senate’s role in confirming executive nominations made by the president, Advise and Consent (1962) is arguably about whether moral limits pertain to power.  Put another way, should we expect no-hold barred efforts to manipulate others in the political arena? Personal lives and personal pasts being fair game?  Moreover, is the aim power for its own sake, or the manipulation of others for the sake of a public policy and ultimately the good of the country?

The full essay is at “Advise and Consent” 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Wall Street Writing Its Own Laws on Risky Derivative Trading

In just four years, Wall Street got away with weakening a part of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law, which became law in 2010 to protect the financial system from the excesses that led to the financial crisis in 2008. Wall Street bankers and their lobbyists accomplished their feat by luring members of Congress into a formidable conflict of interest, which I submit could have been obviated.

The full essay is at Wall Street Writing Its Own Laws

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Hometown Medical-Office Employees: Human Nature Warping Rational Nature

Plato claims that a psyche well-ordered by reason is just. To the extent that the passions, such as anger and the urge to dominate, are infused in human reasoning, a just order is not possible for members of our species. In dealing with healthcare workers in my hometown, I found what Plato would label as injustice. In fact, reasoning from that case led me to wonder whether justice is even possible.



Monday, December 8, 2014

Private Interests Over the Public Good: Energy Companies Capture an Attorney General

In Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith argues that the aggregation of the preferences of consumers and producers for a given good is in the public interest for the product or service. Often overlooked is Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments, in which the famous economist wraps a moral sentiment around the individual preferences, hence hopefully constraining them, albeit voluntarily. Herein lies the rub, for it is shaky to assume that a preference that seeks to maximize itself will voluntarily restrain itself when it rubs up against an ethical limit that is felt. Such a moral constraint is like a semi-permeable membrane in that the sentiment naturally triggered when a person comes on an unethical situation or person can be ignored or acted on.


The full essay is at “Private Interests Over the Public Good.” 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Beyond the Reach of Any Greenhouse-Gas Agreement: Nature’s Contribution

With China and the U.S. coming to an agreement in 2014 on limiting their respective greenhouse-gas emissions, the Peru talks suddenly gained new momentum toward a deal on a global scale. To be sure, even the U.S.-China agreement would not kick in for years, if not decades, and a global agreement would not even take effect until 2020 at the earliest. This drawback may pale in comparison to one of nature’s own contributions to greenhouse-gas emissions, and nature itself cannot agree to voluntarily restrict its own output. Accordingly, we should not assume that a global agreement will save the day, rendering the planet still inhabitable for humans in the next century.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Cheaper Driving on an Uninhabitable Planet

By the end of November 2014, the price of oil had declined about 40 percent since its peak back in the previous June.[1] Expanding American fracking, a steady supply of oil from OPEC, and a weak global economy are the major factors behind the trend. Saving $630 million on gas as compared with what they had been paying in June, American drivers found themselves with more disposable income.[2]  Besides uses such as Christmas presents, groceries, and clothing, more consumers were buying SUVs and Hummers in spite of their low gas mileages. William Dudley, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, pointed to the benefits, saying “falling energy prices are beneficial for our economy and should be a strong spur to consumer spending.”[3] With OPEC countries and Russia hit disproportionately, the U.S. Government had a geo-strategic interest in a further drop in the price of oil. It is no wonder that a major disconnect existed between these benefits and a startling, albeit largely hidden downside.

The full essay is at “Uninhabitable





[1] Steven Mufson, “As Oil Prices Plunge, Wide-Ranging Effects for Consumers and the Global Economy,” The Washington Post,  December 1. 2014.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Hardness of Heart vs.Unethical Conduct: Which Is Less Christian?

Monsignor, a film made in 1982—in the midst of a very pro-business administration in Washington, D.C.—depicts a Vatican steeped in matters of finance centering around a priest whose degree in finance makes him a prime candidate to be groomed for the Curia. That cleric, Father John Flaherty, helps the Vatican operating budget during World War II by involving the Holy See in the black market through a mafia. In the meantime, he sleeps with a woman who is preparing to be a nun and subsequently keeps from her the matter of his religious vocation. The twist is not that Flaherty is a deeply flawed priest, or that the Vatican he serves is vulnerable to corruption inside, but that those clerics who mercilessly go after him are devoid of the sort of compassion that their savior preaches.

The full essay is at "Monsignor

Friday, November 28, 2014

Wales Compromising Scotland: Should Britain Keep Its Promise?

A few months after residents in the Scottish region of the E.U. state of Britain voted not to secede from the state by a margin of 55 to 45 percent, a state commission announced proposals for the regional assembly to have more authority. David Cameron had promised on behalf of the state government that the Scottish region would be given more power provided the residents reject secession. To be sure, replying on such a promise in political matters is hazardous at best, as changing political winds can easily erode such sand castles. At the very least, political players with their own agendas can succeed in obfuscating the understood validity of such a promise.

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

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Political Theater Undermining American Democracy

To be viable, a representative democracy needs a virtuous and educated citizenry. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams agreed on this point in their exchange of letters in retirement. Their assumption was that an electorate would be able to apply judgment informed by virtue and a broad knowledge to not only matters of public policy, but also the candidates and incumbent office-holders themselves. To the extent that the people in power use it to present a false image, the judgment by the popular sovereign is unavoidably marred. The democratic system itself falters even if it is being portrayed as strong by those at its helm. I contend that the extent of political theater being orchestrated by U.S. office-holders compromises the democratic legitimacy of public power at the federal level.

The full essay is at “Political Theater

Monday, November 24, 2014

Banks Too Big To Jail: A Systemic Conflict of Interest

When a blatant conflict of interest is ensconced in a regulatory system, the public can expect to be insufficiently protected from being harmed. Such a people is probably too tolerant of such conflicts, or else too weak to effectively counter the concentrated power of the vested interests benefitting from the sordid design. I submit that the relationship between U.S. banks and the Federal Reserve is plagued by a clear conflict of interest, and furthermore that the refusal of the Fed and the U.S. Justice Department to go after fraud committed at the big banks is a direct result.


The full essay is at “Banks Too Big to Jail

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Heaven Is For Real: Applying Kierkegaard to a Film

In Heaven Is For Real (2014), a film based on Todd Burpo’s best-selling non-fiction book of the same title, the evangelical Christian minister becomes convinced that his son, Colton, actually visited heaven while in surgery. Todd cannot make his faith-held belief intelligible to even his wife, Sonja. She misunderstands her husband and questions his obsession and even his sanity until Colton tells her something about heaven that applies to her uniquely. Then both parents are uniquely related in an absolute way through faith to the absolute—to the absurd, in Kierkegaard’s parlance. How Todd deals with his realization can be unpacked by applying the work of the nineteenth-century European philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard.


The full essay is at “Heaven Is For Real

Friday, November 21, 2014

Wall Street Banks in Commodities Businesses: An Inherently Unethical Conflict of Interest

Writing to the bank’s board of directors, an executive at Goldman Sachs wrote that the bank’s commodities division would achieve higher value “if the business was able to grow physical activities, unconstrained by regulation and integrated with the financial activities.”[1] According to Sen. Carl Levin, Goldman’s goal here is “to profit in its financial activities using the information it gains in the physical commodities business.”[2] The integration could be achieved in part by using the bank’s access to nonpublic information from the banking or trading operations to manipulate the price of a commodity by artificially restricting or adding to supplies through ownership at the production or storage stages. This structure contains a conflict of interest. Because resisting the temptation to exploit the conflict would put the Goldman bankers at odds with the bank’s financial interest, I contend that reliance by the public on intra-bank firewalls (i.e., policies) separating the commodity businesses from the bank’s trading operations is too weak to protect the public, including buyers of the commodity.

The full essay is at "Wall Street Banks in Commodities"




[i] Sen. Carl Levin, “Opening Statement,” Wall Street Bank Involvement in Physical Commodities Hearing, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, U.S. Senate, November 20, 2014 (accessed November 21, 2014)
[ii] Ibid.
[iii] Ibid.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Ethical Theory in Business Ethics Courses

It may seem like an oxymoron, but faculty administrators at even research universities can be hopelessly narrow-minded regarding knowledge and how it is to be conveyed. For example, how often are faculty members encouraged to give a lecture or two re-teaching material largely missed on exams (followed by another, shorter examination on that material)? Do faculty administrators work with faculty members in professional schools to see to it that the applied courses are not severed from their basic (i.e., more theoretical substratum) discipline? One of the secrets in the “sauce” at Yale’s professional schools (e.g., Law, Divinity, etc.) is this salience of the respective basic disciplines (e.g., political theory and theology, respectively). Synergy comes gushing through once the false dichotomy is recognized. Before I went to Yale, I was a masters and doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh, where the dichotomy was alive and well in the university’s social reality; I had to “walk back” the dichotomy myself as I discovered philosophy (and religious studies) while I was still studying business.

The full essay is at “Ethical Theory in Business Ethics” 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Missing Out on Reducing the Carbon Footprint: Human Reason Lapsing on Opportunities

Wind farms and solar panels—these alternatives to coal and natural gas could play a larger role in reducing the human impact on climate change were it not for missed opportunities. That any would be passed by when the species itself may hang in the balance points to a certain recklessness in the reasoning process akin to ill-afforded complacency.


The full essay is at “The Carbon Footprint

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Faith Leadership and Ethical Leadership

Leadership under religious auspices can be distinguished from ethical leadership. The shift from ethical to religious principles is more involved than merely swapping one kind for another. The dynamics pertaining to faith are distinct. Kierkegaard makes this point very well in his text, Fear and Trembling. In short, an individual of faith must go it alone when the paradox of faith violates ethical principles.


The full essay is at “Faith Leadership and Ethical Leadership

Monday, November 17, 2014

Homelessness in the U.S.: A Reflection of American Values

According to a report by the National Center on Family Homelessness in 2014, nearly 2.5 million American children were homeless at some point in 2013.[1] The U.S. Department of Education had reported that 1.3 million homeless children were going to school. California, which accounted for one-eighth of the U.S. population at the time, had one-fifth of the 2.5 million, which comes out to nearly 527,000. The relatively high cost of living and shortage of low-income housing, along with a largely stagnant minimum wage, are the more visible factors behind the gap.

The full essay is at "Homelessness in the U.S."



1. David Crary and Lisa Leff, “Number of Homeless Children in America Surges to All-Time High: Report,” The Associated Press, November 17, 2014.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Adieu to Florida’s Gold Coast: Beyond Money and Politics

In October 2014, the City of South Florida passed a resolution in favor of South Florida seceding from Florida and becoming the 51st State of the United States. Vice Mayor Walter Harris, the resolution’s sponsor, told the city’s commission that the government of Florida had not been addressing adequately the issue of the sea-level rising. Already, Miami was subject to regular flooding at high tide. This reason for secession has a serious downside, however; a better rationale may ironically come from the perspective of Floridians in North Florida.


The full essay is at “Adieu to South Florida

China’s Increasing International Role: A Historical Departure

Historically, China was isolationist. The Opium Wars in the mid-19th century is a good illustration of why. From this context, China’s announcements of a series of international trade and finance initiatives by which China would assume a larger leadership role internationally are stunning. Doubtless the enhanced role is in line with China’s geopolitical and economic interests. After all, political realism is hardly a dead theory in the 21st century. Even so, the impact of the reversal on the culture is significant, and thus worthy of study. Specifically, the traditional mistrust of foreigners is likely to diminish. As it does, the Chinese will be more likely to consider and even advocate for economic and political principles, such as liberty and rights, that are valued elsewhere in the world but not so much in China. The result could be increased political instability. In short, the initiatives timed to coincide with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting in November 2014 could eventually weaken the Chinese government’s grip on power. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Sen. Mitch McConnell Re-elected: A Washington Insider Sustained by the Establishment

The human brain is likely hard-wired to assume that tomorrow will be like today. This coping mechanism effectively narrows the window of our cognitive and perspectival range. The status quo not only endures; it is dominant, whereas reform must push hard to see the light of day. In politics, establishment interests, made wealthy in the status quo, bet their contributions on the political insiders—the establishment politicians who embrace the status quo. As a result, an electorate is manipulated and mislead by branding ads to the extent that it cannot be said that the real will of the people is done. The ensuing public policy is also not of that will; rather, legislation protects the vested interests in return for their contributions. A republic in the grip of this self-sustaining cycle can be said to suffer from a kind of hardening of the arteries. As times change, such a ship of state becomes increasingly unmoored from its people. Eventually, the ship sinks, after the pressure of incongruity has reached an unsustainable level. I contend that the 2014 U.S. Senate election in Kentucky between the Senate’s minority leader, Mitch McConnell, and his Democratic challenger, Alison Grimes, illustrates this political illness in action.


Sunday, November 9, 2014

Pope Francis Goes on the Offensive against Conservatives: Credible Christian Leadership?

Credibility is absolutely essential to viable leadership, whether in religion, politics, or business. A leader who undercuts one of his or her promises effectively expunges it of any worth and is essentially a “lame-duck” leader thereafter unless he or she puts difficult effort into becoming worthy of being trusted again. It does not take long for followers to get the message if one of them who relied on the promise is punished for doing so. Chairman Mao is infamous for having made such a promise in the Hundred Flowers movement. Unfortunately, he killed many Chinese who relied on Mao’s word. A similar dynamic, though much less extreme, occurred just after a synod in 2014 called by Pope Francis, who in this respect can be likened to Mao. Fortunately for the Catholic pope, his own religion offers him a way out.


The full essay is at “Credible Christian Leadership

Narrowing Public Debate: Political Narrative as Fact

For ordering his men at Gettysburg to keep firing at over 10,000 Virginian infantrymen in what is now known as Pickett’s Charge, Alonzo Cushing—who died in the battle—was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Barak Obama on November 6, 2014. As a result of that charge, Pickett lost his entire division. In the 1984 film, Gettysburg, General Lee tells Pickett after the battle to look after his division. “But General Lee,” Pickett counters, “I have no division.” Suddenly Lee is confronted with the true magnitude of his military blunders at Gettysburg. From this point of view, Cushing’s military honor looks rather different than from Obama’s point of view. As conveyed by the media, that vantage point enjoyed a virtual monopoly, and thus the interpretation could easily be taken as true rather than relative. I submit that much from the political discourse as sourced or conveyed by the media is projected as truth when it is highly subjective and thus subject to question and debate.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Pope Francis Goes on the Offensive against Church Conservatives: A Question of Christian Credibility

Credibility is absolutely essential to viable leadership, whether in religion, politics, or business. A leader who undercuts one of his or her promises effectively expunges it of any worth and is essentially a “lame-duck” leader thereafter unless he or she puts difficult effort into becoming worthy of being trusted again. It does not take long for followers to get the message if one of them who relied on the promise is punished for doing so. Chairman Mao is infamous for having made such a promise in the Hundred Flowers movement. Unfortunately, he killed many Chinese who relied on Mao’s word. A similar dynamic, though much less extreme, occurred just after a synod in 2014 called by Pope Francis, who in this respect can be likened to Mao. Fortunately for the Catholic pope, his own religion offers him a way out.
 
The full essay is at "Pope Francis Goes on the Offensive"

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Reforming U.S. Corporate Taxation: On the Virtue of Simplification

As the Republican Party assumed control of the U.S. Senate, and thus of Congress itself, since they would continue in the majority in the U.S. House, Republican Congressional  leaders and President Obama all emphasized policy areas where common ground could be found. Suddenly, the day after the midterm election of 2014, talk of bipartisanship was in the air. In this essay, I discuss the domain of corporate taxation in order to suggest that the common ground can be deeper than typically thought.

The full essay is at "Reforming U.S. Corporate Taxation"

Monday, November 3, 2014

An Ebola Vaccine: A Lesson for Obamacare

With the Ebola virus confined to impoverished states in Africa until 2014, drug companies had little financial incentive to develop a vaccine. “A profit-driven industry does not invest in products for markets that cannot pay,” Margaret Chan, the director general of the World Health Organization, said in late 2014.[1] At the time, at least 13,567 people were known to have contracted the virus in the outbreak, with nearly 5,000 people dead. It cannot be said that the profit-motive in a market economy is efficient in this case.

The full essay is at “Ebola Vaccine


1. Rick Gladstone, “Ebola Cure Delayed by Drug Industry’s Drive for Profit, W.H.O. Leader Says,The New York Times, November 3, 2014.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Exclusivism Eclipses Veritas at Yale

Michael Simons, head of the cardiology department of the School of Medicine, made unwelcome sexual advances in writing to Annarita Di Lorenzo,  a researcher 18 years younger at the school in 2010. Simons wrote that he wanted to kiss the woman’s lips, and every part of her “body in every continent and city of the world.”[1] Referring to Frank Giordano, the woman’s boyfriend at the time and subsequently husband, Simon wrote that the woman was choosing the wrong man.  Simons would keep Giordano from important meetings and assignments. The relationship between the two men became so difficult that Jack Elias, the chairman of medicine, took over the direct supervision of Giordano to protect the untenured instructor from Simon.

Nevertheless, Yale’s provost, dismissed a university committee’s recommendation that Simons be permanently removed from his position in favor of an 18-month suspension. Faculty members claimed that Simons’ success in snagging $5 million annually from the U.S. Government in grants in 2012 and 2013 had been a factor, as well as the fact that the provost had been chair of the economics department, where Simons’ wife was a faculty member. The monetary element would not be lost on virtually any academic administrator at any university, but the “old boys club” sticky web of connections at the elitist Yale could mean that “outsiders” suffer considerable abuse there; the Provost’s dismissiveness of the university committee’s recommendation is but one indication of how distorted the moral compasses can be among the most powerful in the “club.” 

The complete essay is at "Exclusivism at Yale"




1. Tamar Lewin, “Handling of Sexual Harassment Case Poses Larger Questions at Yale,” The New York Times, November 1, 2014.

Friday, October 31, 2014

The Bank of Japan’s Quantitative Easing: An Unnatural Imbalance

On October 31, 2014, the Bank of Japan made public its policy of buying larger amounts of government debt—80 trillion yen ($734 billion) a year—so as to stimulate the economy.[1] The Nikkei 225-stock index average rose almost 5 percent that day, while the yen fell to its lowest level against the dollar since the preceding month. In effect, investors and analysts were factoring in the likely stimulatory impact on the economy and the inflationary implication of more yen relative even to the expanded output, respectively. Put another way, the lower yen suggests that any strengthening of the currency from higher economic output would be more than countered by the weakening impact of inflation. Interestingly, not even the likely boost to exports from the cheaper yen was expected by the market participants to give the stimulus the edge in pushing the currency higher rather than lower.
 




1. Jonathan Soble, “Japan’s Central Bank Unexpectedly Moves to Stimulate Economy,The New York Times, October 31, 2014.

 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

On the Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing: Impacts on the U.S. Debt and Inflation

With government-bond purchases of $3.9 trillion (including mortgage-backed bonds) from November 25, 2008 to October 30, 2014, the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank stimulated the American economy by keeping interest rates low. This in turn kept the U.S. Treasury department’s interest payments on the gargantuan federal debt lower than would have otherwise been the case. Put another way, the Federal Reserve Bank’s massive foray into stimulating the economy made holding debt and borrowing still more money less costly than it would otherwise have been, and thus enabled the government’s penchant for debt-financing over raising taxes and/or reducing spending. “Enabling an addict” would be a less charitable way of putting the Fed’s role vis-à-vis the U.S. Government. In this essay, I explore problems resulting from the Fed’s stimulus on the government’s debt-financing.
 
The full essay is at "The Federal Reserve's QE"

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

On the Credibility of the E.U.: Transfer Payments and State Deficits



In October of 2014, the prime minister of the E.U. state of Britain blatantly (and quite publically) refused to pay a “bill” that the E.U. Commission charged the state on account of upward revisions of its economic growth. “We won’t pay it,” David Cameron said defiantly into a microphone. Meanwhile, Jyrki Katainen, the E.U. commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, accepted the draft budgets of the states of France and Italy even though they violate the limit of 3% of GDP in the European Growth and Stability Pact. Those two states could face fines, however, and the commissioner also noted that the budgets would face strict scrutiny. I contend that these instances of tension between the state and federal levels speak volumes as to the attitude of state officials and likely their constituents toward the E.U. itself. The attitude does not bode well for the European Union as a system of public governance.



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