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Showing posts from March, 2008

Facts don't back notion of US energy independence

Business Times - 28 Mar 2008


Facts don't back notion of US energy independence

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

THE leading US presidential candidates have disagreed on many policy issues, ranging from the invasion of Iraq to the handling of the current housing market crisis. But there is one matter over which Democratic senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and Republican senator John McCain - not to mention President George W Bush, the majority of members of Congress, and most pundits, both liberal and conservative - seem to have the same opinion: based on environmental, economic and national security considerations, Washington needs to embrace policies that could bring about 'energy independence'.

Mrs Clinton has stated that she wants to make America 'energy independent and free from foreign oil' while Mr Obama, her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, has declared that 'now is the serious time for serious leadership to get us started d…

Important commentary on the financial crisis

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Martin Wolf is (I think) the best economic analyst writing from a pro-free market perspective working in the media today. Read his latest commentary in the Financial Times. If he concludes that the US "has passed the high water mark of financial deregulation," that is probably the case. The end of an era.

The rescue of Bear Stearns marks liberalisation’s limit
By Martin Wolf

Published: March 25 2008 19:06 Last updated: March 25 2008 19:06



Remember Friday March 14 2008: it was the day the dream of global free- market capitalism died. For three decades we have moved towards market-driven financial systems. By its decision to rescue Bear Stearns, the Federal Reserve, the institution responsible for monetary policy in the US, chief protagonist of free-market capitalism, declared this era over. It showed in deeds its agreement with the remark by Josef Ackermann, chief executive of Deutsche Bank, that “I no longer believe in the market’s self-healing power”. Deregulation has reached …

When taxpayers end up holding the baby

Business Times - 21 Mar 2008


When taxpayers end up holding the baby

Greater oversight and transparency of financial industry needed to regain market trust

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

FOR a while, officials, lawmakers and pundits in Washington were debating whether the American economy was - or soon would be - in a recession. The key historical analogy applied in their discussions was the mild recession in late 1990, during the presidency of George Bush the elder that lasted for only six months.

The message then was that the economy was facing a cyclical downturn that could be managed through appropriate monetary and fiscal policies.

So it is intriguing - or scary, some would argue - when the same officials, lawmakers and pundits are now starting to refer more frequently in recent days to the Great Depression of the 1930s and to the various 'New Deal' programmes initiated by then president Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Under his leadership, the US federal government suc…

"You don't choose your family...

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"Hugh, I hope Hillary doesn't get that big."


... but you choose what church you want to attend," says Senator Hillary Clinton, explaining why Rev. Wright "would not have been my pastor." Well, you do choose your spouse, who in the above pic is standing next to the larger-than-life Hugh Rodhman, one of Hillary's two crooked brothers. In case you don't recall the two, refresh your memory with Hillary may have to hide her brothers.

Guns and butter

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Please see my Futile Surges and Bailouts.

...and also this:
Business Times - 21 Mar 2008


When taxpayers end up holding the baby

Greater oversight and transparency of financial industry needed to regain market trust

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

FOR a while, officials, lawmakers and pundits in Washington were debating whether the American economy was - or soon would be - in a recession. The key historical analogy applied in their discussions was the mild recession in late 1990, during the presidency of George Bush the elder that lasted for only six months.

The message then was that the economy was facing a cyclical downturn that could be managed through appropriate monetary and fiscal policies.

So it is intriguing - or scary, some would argue - when the same officials, lawmakers and pundits are now starting to refer more frequently in recent days to the Great Depression of the 1930s and to the various 'New Deal' programmes initiated by then president Franklin Delano Roos…

The Guns of April

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My "The Guns of April: The choices are intervene or intervene" is in the new issue (March 24, 2008) of The American Conservative. It's not yet online, but if you click on the three items below you can read and print it.


Iran Upstages U.S. in Iraq

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My new analysis on UPI:

Outside View: Iran upstages U.S. in Iraq

Published: March 14, 2008 at 9:48 AM

By LEON HADAR
UPI Outside View Commentator
WASHINGTON, March 14 (UPI) -- They say a picture is worth a thousand words. And the image of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad glowing -- radiating a Bush-like smugness, some might say -- during a red-carpet welcome in the American-occupied "Green Zone" in Baghdad last week was no exception. That picture was more powerful than a thousand pages in illuminating who has emerged as the big winner after the United States ousted Saddam Hussein.

By contrast, recall the images of U.S. President Bush's brief and somewhat stealthy outings in Iraq. The commander of the most powerful military in the world, whose 160,000 troops are occupying Iraq, resembled a thief sneaking under cover of night into Aladdin's cave. The Iranian leader's two-day visit proved anything but stealthy. Ahmadinejad was received with great fanfare by Iraqi Prim…

The Pitfalls of Forecasting Foreign Policy

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My new analysis on PRA Right Web:


The Pitfalls of Forecasting Foreign Policy
By Leon Hadar | March 13, 2008


PRA Right Web

After close to eight years during which the relationship between the United States and much of the international community has been dominated by tensions over foreign policy, many wonder what a new administration will hold. Some hope there will be a new U.S. approach to the rest of the world—especially to the Middle East—that will be a dramatic foreign policy U-turn. Others hope for a president who maintains similar versions of current policies.

It is powerfully tempting to try to predict U.S. foreign policy under this or that president by means of deconstructing his or her statements and campaign speeches; in election months, such predictions flow nonstop from the news media and pundits. But such an exercise is likely to produce misleading, unreliable conclusions, and a look at history and the candidates’ backgrounds suggests that predicting future policy is anythi…

Will liquidity boost worsen US debt woes?

Business Times - 14 Mar 2008


Will liquidity boost worsen US debt woes?

The Fed's latest bailout may create a moral danger by giving investors and consumers incentive to keep irresponsible habits

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

A FEW financial pundits speculated half-jokingly that the Dow's rise by 417.66 points earlier this week reflected the sense of relief among investors over the impending resignation of New York Governor Eliot Spitzer aka 'Wall Street's Sheriff,' who as a crusading former attorney-general had prosecuted many white-collar criminals in the financial community.

But in fact, the boost to the stock market, reflected in Dow's biggest one-day point gain since July 2002, came as a response to the surprising offer by the US Federal Reserve - coordinated with other central banks - to offer to lend through a 28-day-long auction up to US$200 billion of highly liquid Treasury securities to America's biggest banks and investment houses.

These f…

You've been warned....

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The Starbucks Set vs Archie Bunker's Gang

Business Times - 12 Mar 2008


The Starbucks Set vs Archie Bunker's Gang

Both Obama and Clinton have distinct support groups for the Democratic nomination

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

PUNDITS who have tried to explain Senator Hillary Clinton's success in resuscitating her flagging bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, after her primary victories last Tuesday over her rival Senator Barack Obama, have focused a lot of attention on Ms Clinton's effective campaign and media strategies as well as on the mistakes that Mr Obama and his aides have made.

Some political analysts suggest that Ms Clinton may have won over many voters in Ohio and Texas by repeatedly trying to question Mr Obama's 'experience' as a first-term senator and especially his 'readiness' to manage the major national security challenges the US faces in the Middle East and around the world.

Ms Clinton introduced the issue of national security into the campaign with a fear-ind…

Good candidate = good president?

Business Times - 05 Mar 2008


Good candidate = good president?

Veteran of Washington politics points to JFK to say Obama's ambitious and sometimes vague promises won't be fulfilled

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

ONE member of the gym where I work out is a 68-year-old veteran of Washington politics. He had been active for more than 50 years in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, going back to the administration of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK).

Tom V marched in the civil rights demonstrations in the South, was later involved in the anti-Vietnam War movement, and was one of the early supporters of Robert Kennedy's presidential campaign.

He was devastated by the assassination of Martin Luther King (MLK) and Robert Kennedy (RFK) in 1968 and was dispirited by the rise of America's political right in the 1980s. He was also disappointed by what he considered to be president Bill Clinton's failure to promote a more 'progressive' agenda in the 1990s.

So …

Simple explanation: Race

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Forget Hillary's television commercials and her electoral support among women voters. Heidi Przybyla from Bloomberg provides (I think) the most common-sense explanation for the problems facing Barack Obama in an analysis of his relationship with the'Archie Bunker' Democratic Voters.Barack Obama has an Archie Bunker problem.

The white, blue-collar voters personified by the 1970s fictional television character cost Obama yesterday. His Democratic presidential rival, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York, beat him 54 percent to 44 percent in industrial Ohio, and 58 percent to 40 percent in heavily Catholic Rhode Island.

In Ohio's 10th district of Cuyahoga County, a suburban enclave on Cleveland's west side that includes a large population of Polish-Americans, Clinton trounced Obama 61 percent to 37 percent, according to exit polls. In the state's Belmont County, an economically depressed Appalachian border area that is predominantly white, she had a 50-point lead ov…

The Choice in November

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The look of love
Is in your eyes
The look your smile cant disguise
The look of love
Is saying so much more
Than just words could ever say
And what my heart has heard
Well it takes my breath away
(lyrics by Hal David.

One of these two pro-war candidates. A real "change."

Deconstructing Republican presidential candidates

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My new article in the American Conseravtive (March 10, 2008), "Model Citizens: Beyond the Realist vs. Idealist Debate" is out but not available online yet. But if you click on the two item below and print them, you could read it (I hope):



Stagflation threat looms over inflation hawks

Business Times - 04 Mar 2008


Stagflation threat looms over inflation hawks

Fed more fearful of fallout from housing crisis and its unknown backlash

By LEON HADAR
WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT

When the second most senior man at the US Federal Reserve acknowledges that the rising cost of energy, food and imports are spilling over into the core inflation rate, even inflation doves get worried. Indeed, when Fed vice-chairman Donald Kohn expressed concern early last week that the 'higher costs of energy, a pickup in the prices of imported goods (as the dollar declines), and perhaps, the persistent upward price pressures in commodity markets may be passing through a bit to core consumer prices', some Fed watchers began speculating that the US central bank would be forced to take a break from its interest-rate cutting drive aimed at containing the threat of economic recession.

While, an annual rise of 2.5 percent in the 'core' consumer price index may not look like a danger to the …

Obamania and the Matrix

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Interesting explanation for Obamania in a letter to the editor in the FT:
How Barack Obama has tapped into American consciousness
Published: February 29 2008 02:00 | Last updated: February 29 2008 02:00

From Mr Louis Brennan.

Sir, Gideon Rachman is correct in his analysis of Barack Obama’s words as vague to the point of vacuity (“Obama and the art of empty rhetoric”, February 26). However, he fails to appreciate why they nonetheless have such impact.

By using a phraseology in his politicking that bears an uncanny similarity to that of the movie The Matrix, Senator Obama has brilliantly infused himself into the consciousness of America, where fantasy and reality seamlessly overlap.

After all, Hollywood is America, America is Hollywood.

Louis Brennan,
Blackrock, Co Dublin, Ireland
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008