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German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and French President Nicolas Sarkozy (R) give a press conference after a working lunch at the Elysee palace on December 05, 2011 in Paris. France and Germany want summits of leaders of eurozone states to be held 'every month, as long as the crisis lasts,' Sarkozy said.
UPDATE: Well, that was brief! Reuters is reporting that S&P is back in sovereign-credit-downgrade mode. The agency has threatened to pull an America on the six eurozone countries currently in possession of an AAA rating — including France and Germany. We'll see how long this rally holds.
The latest surge in hope the Europe will be able to manage its debt crisis has caused the markets to rally over the past few trading sessions. However, the latest kinda sorta deal also reveals the schizophrenic situation that Germany keeps backing itself into.
On the one hand, Germany doesn't want to throw its weight behind a plan to make the eurozone work more like the U.S., where the Federal Reserve can function as the (nearly) undisputed central authority on matters monetary. On the other hand, Germany wants to call the shots of fiscal issues, compelling everyone else to act more like...Germany!
Forget PhD economists with beards who make oracular pronouncements about the economy. How about a computer program that can adjust interest rates in real time, rather than humans who are basing their judgments on outdated information?
As you'll see from the video, this is the modest proposal of Vivek Ranadive, a software entrepreneur. I first heard this idea a week or so back, when I saw Ranadive speak at a Drucker Business Forum/KPCC event where I also interviewed Mike Rossi, whom California Gov. Jerry Brown has asked to provide advice on the state's unemployment crisis.
It's a radical notion. But not that radical. A modern economy could benefit from interest rate changes that aren't kept too high, or too low, for too long. Ranadive agues that the Fed has consistenly failed to deliver a "soft landing" with its interest rate policies: cooling down the economy by rasing rates so that inflation is kept under control, yet a recession is avoided.
Unemployment in America grinds on as job seekers confront a weak recovery.
The BLS released October employment numbers this morning, and the numbers were disappointing. We were looking for around 100,000 new jobs, but we got only 80,000. The pattern for the past few months has been for a low number to be revised up. August, for example, came in at zero (yes, zero) but was later revised up, as was September.
So that's the silver lining. Taking revised data into account, we added about 100,000 more jobs than the BLS originally thought at the end of the summer and into the early fall.
Altogether, this was enough to shave 0.1 percent off the unemployment level: we went from 9.1 to 9.0 (Hooray, U.S. economy!). Obviously, this is a dismal pace of improvement, unlikely to do much at all to bring the economy back to "full" employment of around 4 percent anytime soon.
[Note: This is fully SFW, but there's no shortage of double entendre.] Kim Kardashian has been married to New Jersey Net Kris Humphries for a mere 3-months but will soon be married no more.
Luckily, she has a promising career ahead as an economist. So says Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, in the above video. I make no claims for its accuracy, but Kardashian is probably what you would call a born capitalist, so why not? I hear there's an opening at the Kansas City Fed, and post-divorce, Kim may want a change of scenery.
Make sure you stick around for the end, when Ben and Kim discuss quantitative easing and Chinese ownership of U.S. assets.
For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure all 217 views of this on YouTube originated at 20th and Constitution in our nation's capital.
AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite
The Federal Reserve Building in Washington, DC.
The economist Peter Morici, who has been extremely critical of the Obama adminstration's economic policies of late, has taken a look at the housing crisis and doesn't see much hope. He does see one way out, however. But it's an exceptionally unlikely way out:
Currently, the rate on five-year adjustable rate mortgages is about 3.2 percent. If the Fed could get the investors who buy Fannie and Freddie bonds to accept interest rates of minus 3 percent, then young folks could be offered mortgages with appropriately negative interest rates. To accomplish that feat, the Fed would have to buy all those bonds itself-that's right the Fed would finance all federally guaranteed mortgages and write off 3 percent a year. I can just hear Ron Paul now.
Morici makes this argument in the context of discussing why it makes little sense for young people to buy houses right now (unfortunately, I can't link to his piece, as it isn't on his website yet). He refers to Ron Paul, a Texas congressman and noted libertarian, because Paul is no fan of the Fed.