Monday, August 24, 2015

Krugman : China and Friday's Stock Plunge

And, perhaps Monday's.

What caused Friday’s stock plunge? What does it mean for the future? Nobody knows, and not much.

Attempts to explain daily stock movements are usually foolish: a real-time survey of the 1987 stock crash found no evidence for any of the rationalizations economists and journalists offered after the fact, finding instead that people were selling because, you guessed it, prices were falling. And the stock market is a terrible guide to the economic future: Paul Samuelson once quipped that the market had predicted nine of the last five recessions, and nothing has changed on that front.

Paul Krugman
Macroeconomics, trade, health care, social policy and politics.

Still, investors are clearly jittery — with good reason. U.S. economic news has been good though not great lately, but the world as a whole still seems remarkably accident-prone. For seven years and counting we’ve lived in a global economy that lurches from crisis to crisis: Every time one part of the world finally seems to get back on its feet, another part stumbles. And America can’t insulate itself completely from these global woes.

But why does the world economy keep stumbling?

On the surface, we seem to have had a remarkable run of bad luck. First there was the housing bust, and the banking crisis it triggered. Then, just as the worst seemed to be over, Europe went into debt crisis and double-dip recession. Europe eventually achieved a precarious stability and began growing again — but now we’re seeing big problems in China and other emerging markets, which were previously pillars of strength.

But these aren’t just a series of unrelated accidents. Instead, what we’re seeing is what happens when too much money is chasing too few investment opportunities.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Obama Admin helps Banks Found Guilty of Felonies

With the blessing of the White House and the Justice Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is attempting to sneak through a major policy change that would enable big banks convicted of felonies to continue lending through a federal mortgage program, according to federal records and government officials.
The housing agency wants to quietly delete a requirement for lenders to certify they haven’t been convicted of violating federal antitrust laws or committing other serious crimes. HUD proposed the move on May 15, without detailing the reasoning behind the change. It’s now considering public comment, with an eye towards finalizing the proposal.
Five years after lawmakers and the Obama administration said the Dodd-Frank financial reform law would end the problems caused by banks perceived to be “too big to fail,” HUD's move could represent yet another capitulation from federal officials who want to appear to be tough on Wall Street’s crimes, but don’t want big banks to suffer the consequences typically associated with felony convictions.