The biggest sin that the Greenspan sainthood proponents must sweep under the rug is his failure to do anything about the stock market bubble. There are 3 questions here that the critics and worshippers must address:
1) Could it have been recognized?
2) Did it actually do the economy serious harm?
3) What could have been done?
These questions are loosely touched on by a worshipper�s ((Daniel Drezner) review of a critic�s (Peter Hartcher) book in the Post book review section. The worshipper comes up seriously short in his assessment.
As I mentioned in a prior note, house prices may be dropping in ways that are not picked up by price indices because the indices all use the contracted sale price. Currently sellers are using a variety of kickbacks that reduce the effective price below the sale price.
Today's Washington Post has a good example. Centex, a major national builder, has a full-page ad (sorry ads don't appear in the web edition) offering mortgages at well below the market rate, plus closing cost assistance. (The difference on the 30-year is about 0.8 percentage points.) The ad also promises realtors a $5,000 bonus. So, on a $400,000 home, these incentives could easily come to 5 percent of the purchase price.
IS OUR CHILDREN LEARNING? Via Billmon by way of The Arabist, I see that apparently 30 percent of Americans, according to a new survey, can't recall what year 9-11 happened. And five percent don't remember the day and month of 9-11. As Billmon asks, "I wonder how many of them know who's buried in Grant's tomb?"
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: FAULTY TOWERS. Yes indeed, Oliver Stone keeps his politics in check for his new film World Trade Center. He seems to have done the same for his storytelling skills, according toSudhir Muralidhar.
IRANIAN-AMERICAN RELATIONS, D.C.-STYLE. When did "Do you speak Farsi?" become the new pick-up line in D.C.? First, I read this report on Michelle Persaud, dubbed the number one looker in The Hill's annual 50 Most Beautiful People issue:
Seeing her dark eyes and mocha skin, her flowing black tresses and expansive lashes, [men] sidle over, take in a breath and start speaking � Farsi!
�I just look at them and smile,� the Maryland native, who has no Persian ancestry, says with a chuckle. �I get that all the time.�...
THE OTHER BOSSMAN.This from the occasionally sensible Jonathan Chait is crazy-making enough on its merits. Why shouldn't there be an emboldened left-wing of the Democratic Party, particularly if it results in a demand to change course in the middle of the greatest foreign-policy cock-up of the age, a change that today seems to have the support of 60 percent of the American people? Chait will have to forgive some of us if we don't feel like waiting any longer for the principal architects of this idiocy -- including those who work down the hall from him -- to shut up and slink off to the babbling obscurity they so richly deserve.
JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: IT'S MEDICAL FRIDAY! Three pieces relating to health care/medical issues are up today. Maggie Maharraises doubts about Merck's much-hyped new cervical cancer vaccine, and argues that the drug's ascendancy illustrates a good deal about American health care inefficiencies and inequities.
THE CASE FOR REDEPLOYMENT. "Retreating from Iraq and 'redeploying' to Okinawa is not a sufficient response" to the threat of terrorism, wrote White House hack Peter Wehner yesterday. Okinawa, of course, is a straw man. But there's ample reason to believe that redeploying resources out of Iraq and to other locations would be very helpful in fighting terrorism:
A CHALLENGE. I didn't know that acknowledging that the Israeli government has pursued some policy shifts in recent years -- shifts that those of us who oppose Israeli expansionism should cheer -- makes you a "Likudnik," but allow me to defend my honor. A cursory glance at the website I edit, CampusProgress.org, will revealthreearticles on the current conflict between Israel and Lebanon.
I am reminded that in February Jim Woolsey told a Senate committee that Islamo-fascist is too understated. He prefers Islamo-Nazi. So if CAIR is so unhappy with Bush and Santorum's terms, maybe they should go ahead and be clearer...