Explaining Southern California's economy

Vivkek Ranadive says replace the Federal Reseve with a computer

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a computer program that can adjust interest rates in real time, rather than humans who are basing their judgments on outdated information?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.

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Gov. Brown's pension-reform plan: Painful but necessary

Jerry Brown

Max Whittaker/Getty Images

California Governor Jerry Brown announces his public employee pension reform plan October 27, 2011 at the State Capitol in Sacramento, California.

Jerry Brown rolled out his pension reform plan yesterday. The Patt Morrison Show did an entire segment on it. The upshot? it's a humdinger. The New York Times sums it up:

Mr. Brown called for raising the retirement age of new employees who do not work in public safety to 67 from 55. He said employees should pay up to 50 percent of their annual pension costs. To reduce the financial exposure of the state, he said future pensions should be a hybrid of the traditional pension model and a 401(k).

To deal with what have been widely seen as abuses of the retirement system, Mr. Brown said the pensions of all new employees should be based solely on their regular salaries, not taking into account any overtime or bonuses. For existing employees, he said the retirement benefits should be based on an average of the last three years’ salary.

He also said that state employees should be barred from double-dipping: retiring, taking pensions and then taking on another state job.

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