Anyone trying to figure out what in the world is going on in today’s economy might remember Agatha Christie’s classic, Murder on the Orient Express. When master sleuth Hercule Poirot boarded that train, he’d no idea that before the night ended he’d face the most perplexing murder case ever. A carful of passengers, all of whom had motive and opportunity, maneuvered around so skillfully that even Christie’s brilliant Belgian couldn’t figure out whodunit. The best he could do was point a perfectly manicured finger at the most likely culprits — in the end, everybody walked away, except the luckless victim.
Senator Christopher Dodd and fellow Senate Democrats are proposing to scale back the regulatory authority of the Federal Reserve and eliminate the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, among many other provisions in a new 1,136-page bill made public on Tuesday. Dodd, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, blamed the Fed for alleged failures in consumer protection and regulatory oversight that contributed to last year’s financial implosion.
Many small banks are turning down federal money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) because they recognize that it comes with too many strings attached. Additionally, the small businesses they primarily cater to “need lines of customers, not lines of credit,” as ABC News put it on November 9.
The unemployment rate shot from 9.8 percent in September to 10.2 percent in October, the highest it has been since 1983, the Labor Department reported on November 6. In response, the Obama administration is set to sign a $24-billion economic stimulus bill.
In Robert J. Samuelson’s latest op-ed piece for the Washington Post, “Could America Go Broke?”, the longtime editor and economic and business writer — who can normally be counted upon to prescribe the usual Keynesian claptrap for our sundry economic woes — actually flirts with common sense. In his piece, Samuelson dares to ponder the unthinkable: What if the rest of the world lost confidence in the viability of the dollar, and America could no longer service her fourteen-figure national debt by printing more money?