Posted by orrinj at 6:55 PM
MARKETS HAVE NO MEMORY:
WAY back in the autumn of 2008, the joke in financial circles was that the only difference between Ireland and Iceland was a letter and six months. Now, with the Icelandic banks preparing to issue foreign currency bonds once again, it turns out that the joke was on us.
Remember when the Icelandics did the unthinkable and, unlike Ireland, told bank creditors to take a hike? They also imposed capital controls and allowed the value of their currency to fall - the Icelandic krona has lost almost half of its value against the euro over the past five years.
The "experts" queued up to assure us that these latter-day Vikings would be severely punished for their impertinence. While no one forecast that a hole would open up in the North Atlantic and swallow Iceland whole, some of the predictions came pretty darned close.
Meanwhile, we in Ireland did what we were told and repaid over €70bn of bank bonds at par. By doing so, even at the cost of bankrupting the State, the "experts" assured us that we would retain the confidence of the markets. Now, four years later, it is clear that, not for the first time, the "experts" have got it wrong. Catastrophically and utterly wrong.
Posted by orrinj at 6:47 PM
At the cabinet meeting, the Queen sat in the PM's usual seat - with Mr Cameron and Mr Hague sitting on either side of her.
It is believed to be the first time a monarch has attended peace-time cabinet since George III in 1781. George I ceased to chair cabinet in 1717. [...]
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles] dismissed suggestions from some that the Queen was crossing a constitutional line by attending the cabinet.
"We are her cabinet, we operate for her. She was sat in the seat where the Prime Minister traditionally sits and, given it's her cabinet, she can come any time she wants."
The monarch is that final bulwark of liberty that we sadly lack.
Posted by orrinj at 4:07 PM
BECAUSE THAT'S WHERE THE MONEY IS:
Forcing seniors to make do with less on Social Security is not something Obama campaigned on, and it's not something we need Democrats for.
But there were plenty of warnings.
Obama's first appointee to head the Office of Management and Budget, Peter Orszag, was in favor of this proposal.
And Obama appointed the Bowles-Simpson Commission, which lent momentum to this idea of cutting Social Security.
And Obama floated this idea of the new and reduced Consumer Price Index last summer when he tried then to get Boehner to sign on to the "grand bargain."
Bernie Sanders warned us all during the campaign that Obama was wobbly on this issue, and worried about the President's willingness to cave on the Consumer Price Index.
Sanders told Sam Stein of HuffingtonPost back in September that Obama was likely to throw seniors overboard with the so-called "chained CPI."
Posted by orrinj at 3:52 PM
OUR REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT:
We have seen this so many times in the past four years that I certainly hope President Obama is not falling for it again.
Take a problem, any problem--economic meltdown, debt ceiling, rising deficits, you name it--which Republicans and Democrats are supposed to resolve through negotiation. Mr. Obama says he is ready to talk, and makes an initial offer that includes concessions to right-wing demands. Then he offers more concessions.
Republicans also claim they're ready to talk, and maybe in private they offer compromises (like we're told John Boehner did over the debt ceiling in 2010). But in public they stand firm on their positions, stick to their rhetorical talking points and brush back whatever the president suggests as not enough.
Eventually they meet somewhere around the president's 20-yard line.
It's happening again, right now, in the fiscal cliff talks.
In the absence of any ideas or ideology of his own, he just wants to be told what to do.