On Thursday, July 10, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Financial Services. The backdrop for the committee meeting, of course, is the ongoing turmoil in U.S. and global financial markets, highlighted by the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented intervention to prevent the failure of giant investment bank Bear Stearns, and more recent worries that the two government-sponsored mortgage lending companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are in danger of implosion.
Will we be seeing $10-$12/gallon gasoline and a lot more body bags before the end of the year? That depends on the answers to a couple other important questions, such as: will the Bush-Cheney war hawks launch a war against Iran before the November elections, as they have been aching to do for the past several years? Or will they encourage/sanction an attack on Iran by Israel that will end up drawing us into the fray? Either way, we certainly seem to be headed needlessly on that disastrous collision course.
It was a full year ago when the New York Times carried a small 220-word article claiming that rumors about construction of a massive new highway system from Mexico through the United States into Canada were the product of “urban legend.” But the July 31, 2007 article included a tiny 1x1.5-inch photo showing a map of the planned route that would, in effect, bisect Texas and gravely impact other states. Only a conceptual drawing of the road’s potential location, the photo had been released by NASCO, the North American SuperCorridor Coalition. If no substance to the rumors, why the NASCO map?
If even a stopped clock can tell the right time twice a day, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the leader of the world’s fourth-largest oil exporter, just might have given the world a rational partial explanation for high oil prices recently. Speaking at a June 17 OPEC meeting held in the Iranian city of Isfahan, Ahmadinejad charged: “Certain hands, for political and economic ends, are controlling the price in an artificial manner.”
The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measures the average price of consumer goods and services purchased by households. The government uses the CPI to “calculate inflation.” Changes over the past 40 years to the CPI “to better reflect the actual costs” of goods and services in this country have not only provided a poorer reflection of the true costs but have actually harmed our economy.