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Top Thinkers on the Global Economy: Dec. 16

Each morning, New America's Next Social Contract Initiative scans the leading media outlets for must-read analysis on the economic crisis and recovery efforts. Today's highlights include:

Housing Starts Decline to Record Low
Calculated Risk,, 16 December 2008
Total housing starts were at 625 thousand (SAAR) in November, by far the lowest level since the Census Bureau began tracking housing starts in 1959.

"The Barking Swan"
Mark Thoma: Economist's View,, 16 December 2008
Does the financial crisis justify "vilifying statements about economists, statisticians, finance professionals and their entire canon"? 

This is what a crisis looks like in the balance of payments data
Brad Setser: Follow the Money,, 15 December 2008
At least a crisis marked by a run out of risky US assets and into safe US assets. 

China's economy hits the wall
Gideon Rachman, Financial Times, 15 December 2008
It is now clear that, far from being immune to the global financial crisis, China is very vulnerable. Its economy may not be hit as hard as that of the US. But as a poorer country - with a less resilient political system - it could suffer worse, writes Gideon Rachman. 

The Lessons From 30 Years of Chinese Reform
Hugo Restall, Wall Street Journal, 16 December 2008
One of the greatest economic booms in history, but an emerging turn back to the left. 

Our view on credit cards: A break for borrowers
Editorial, USA Today, 16 December 2008
Overdue action will protect consumers from egregious practices. 

Opposing view: Higher rates, tighter credit
Top four credit card issuers' public comments, USA Today, 16 December 2008
Fed's rules will hurt the very people they're supposed to help. 

The low oil price calls for a fresh set of rules
Nick Butler, Financial Times, 15 December 2008
Producers and consumers require realistic forecasts and an orderly market. The need is to develop a common understanding, writes Nick Butler. 

The crisis gives the US new financial power
Ricardo Hausmann, Financial Times, 15 December 2008
It remains the world's only super-borrower and able to issue thousands of billions of dollars in debt at record low rates, writes Ricardo Hausmann. 

It's no time to panic
Jonah Goldberg, Los Angeles Times, 16 December 2008
Economic crisis is leading some to abandon time-honored wisdom. 

Can Africa Trade Its Way to Peace?
Herman J. Cohen, New York Times, 15 December 2008
If undertaken with enough will and persistence, an American-led mediation to create a common market in East Africa could end the war and transform the region. 

How Bernard Madoff's Pyramid Scheme Will Erode Trust
Anne Applebaum, Washington Post, 16 December 2008
Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme will help bring down the trust that enabled it. 

Best Buy Cites "Historic Slowdown", cuts Capital Spending Plans in Half
Calculated Risk,, 16 December 2008  

President rises above politics on auto bailout
DeWayne Wickham, USA Today, 16 December 2008
George W. Bush may have saved the Republican Party from itself and pumped a bit of helium into his deflated approval rating. 

The Senate GOP Seems Set on Hastening the Death of Detroit
Eugene Robinson, Washington Post, 16 December 2008
Only a free-market fundamentalist, lunatic or Senate Republican would want to hasten Detroit's demise. 

Bankruptcy Is the Perfect Remedy for Detroit
Todd J. Zywicki, Wall Street Journal, 16 December 2008
Washington hates the idea because it would lose leverage.

For more on New America's work on the economy, stimulus plans and recovery efforts, please click here.