Over a year ago, the world economy suffered a massive economic quake – and certain countries have been experiencing aftershocks ever since. Two such aftershocks have grabbed headlines, one recently in Greece and another last summer in California. A comparison of these two events reveals something about the respective features of the west's two leading capitalist economies, the US and Europe.
It sounds like a dubious aspiration, but one of the more pressing priorities for America this decade is to preserve our cherished freedom to fail in this country. This freedom to fail may not have made it into President Franklin D. Roosevelt's famous declaration of the four freedoms that define America — it would have been bad karma on the eve of World War II — but it has long been one of the pillars of this country's exceptionalism. Call it the fifth freedom.
Recently we've been focusing on the debate over Consumer Financial Protection, following the ups and downs of negotiations, the lighter side of events as well as offering some suggestions for how best to proceed.
Here is a guest post from two colleagues of ours weighing in the the case for the Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Greg Squires, a sociologist from Geoerge Washingtion University, and Chester Hartman, of the Poverty and Race Research Action Council, have long been keen observers of the dymanics in lower-income communities and the debilitating impacts of predatory lending practices.
If you haven't seen this, you haven't been paying attention. This Funny or Die video is burning up the internet (1.5 million views as I write.) It has Will Ferrell, Dana Carvey, Jim Carrey, Fred Armisen, Chevy Chase, Dan Akroyd, and Darrell Hammond reprising their roles as President from this administration all the way back to Gerald Ford (and yes, the order they're listed in here is my personal order of preference.)
The conceit here is that the six Presidents prior to Obama come to visit him and urge him to...um...toughen up, and clean up the financial mess that the nation is in and to which each of the six previous presidents contributed. This is a remarkable collection of star power, as a matter of fact the whole thing is directed by Ron Howard.
The question the host website asks is "Funny or Die?" To that I'd add another dimension, "Effective?"
The next big battle in Washington—one that will heat up fast if the health care tussle is ever resolved—will be fought over reform of the financial sector. In recent weeks, President Barack Obama has gone on the offensive, calling for new restraints on Wall Street wheeling and dealing and vowing to veto weak legislation. In December, the House passed a robust package of reforms. The action has now shifted to the Senate Banking Committee, and chairman Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) has pledged to push a comprehensive package over the finish line before he retires at the end of the year.
Take a snapshot of our society and you'll find misery and heartbreak. Roughly half a million American children are in the foster care system, and that number is likely to increase as high unemployment punishes more vulnerable families. As David Kaiser and Lovisa Stannow vividly demonstrate in a forceful and disturbing essay in The New York Review of Books, the epidemic of sexual violence in U.S. prisons is nothing less than a stain on our national character.
It has been a fairly consequential week in the ongoing debate around the future of financial reform. Sen. Dodd has been tasked to get a deal done that can pass the Senate and is actively engaged with Sen. Corker (R-TN).
Elizabeth Warren, Chair of the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel and Harvard Law Professor, was the featured speaker at this event. Professor Warren outlined what she sees as the necessary components of an effective consumer financial protection regulation reform and then discussed these and related issues with journalist David Corn of Mother Jones.
I’m very honored to be here today to talk about the situation we find ourselves in more than 2 years into a very deep and seemingly never-ending recession, through two lenses—policy in Washington, and community banking and community development finance. And I’ll try, without being presumptuous, to bring it home to Maine.