Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Should People be allowed to buy candy with food stamps

Robert Waldmann In the Washington Post Jane Black has an interesting article on an interesting policy proposal — Agsec Tom Vilsack is opening a discussion of whether federal nutrition programs can be used to encourage (or force) people to eat healthier food. The argument for pro is that obesity is a terrible problem in the […]

Hedge Funds Get FED Aid

Robert Waldmann You knew it was coming. Hedge funds are getting public help too. I’m not waiting for people who argued against regulation on the grounds that hedge funds are lightly regulated (except for the little rule that they can only take money in chunks of 100 million) and doing fine to uhm revise their […]

The tragedy of the ratings.

Robert Waldmann Waxes poetic about the lost credibility of the AAA rating. For possible comic value I share my reflections. What went wrong with the ratings agencies ? I think the central problem is that the ratings agencies long provided a service of immense value to society, and were paid a tiny fraction of that […]

Blame Basel II

Robert Waldmann gives advice to libertarians, free market fanatics and Republicans on how to blame the financial crisis on government regulation. Quite frankly, their efforts so far have been pathetic — Let’s pretend that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac lead the way in sub-prime mortgages which were orginally defined as mortgages that they wouldn’t touch. […]

Larry Summers says something silly

Robert Waldmann According to Ezra Klein (who is very gentle in his criticisms) Summers wrote the following As for [Milton] Friedman — I’m not so sure he looks bad. What is most screwed up today? GSEs, Citibank, regional banks. What is most regulated? Same list. What is least screwed up? Hedge funds and the like. […]

Watch the Parking Meters

The big news on the blogosphere today concerns parking meters in Chicago. Matt Yglesias is thrilled. Kevin Drum less so. Drum writes A private company has agreed to give City Hall an upfront payment of almost $1.2 billion to run Chicago’s parking meter system for the next 75 years. 75 years seems a wee bit […]

synthetic bonds

By Robert Waldmann Felix Salmon explains how to make a synthetic bond. you buy a synthetic IBM five-year bond instead, taking advantage of the much more liquid CDS market. Essentially, you take the $100 million that you were going to spend on IBM bonds, and you put it into a special-purpose entity called, say, Fred. […]

What’Swap: Accounting for Financial Innovation

Robert Waldmann has become interested in Credit Default Swaps. I’m not just wondering whether they played a major role in destroying the world financial system or were just along for the housing bubble, MBS, CDO ride. I also wonder whether the acronym for the plural should be CDS or CDSs or even CDSes. I’m glad […]

The Relative Efficiency of Public and Private Health Care

Tilman Tacke and Robert Waldmann A health care system is efficient when an increase in spending results in significant improvements in the health of a population. We test the relative efficiency of public and private health care spending in reducing infant and child mortality using cross-national data for 163 countries. There are two remarkable findings: […]

Jonathan Zasloff is being very interesting over at the Reality Based Community.

Robert Waldmann I guess I should give permalinks although they are consecutive posts. In random order, he asks who should be on the energy team. I have already expressed my view on this issue. I think the Reality Based Community should be the energy team. He asks “Where is Joe Stiglitz ?” I add what […]