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Emphasizing the Full in “Resourceful”

November 28th, 2011 . by economistmom

My latest “positive thinking” piece that came out in the Christian Science Monitor this week, just in time for Thanksgiving.  I have to admit I did a little live holiday shopping on Black Friday (but at the “safe” hour of 11 am) and will probably do a little online shopping before today (”Cyber Monday”) is over, but I’ll also be doing a lot of “shopping” for myself and others with the loads of good, but neglected, stuff I have right under my roof already.

In the CSM column, I also find reason why we should be grateful that our fiscal problem is indeed solvable, once we get our politics to cooperate.  (All hope is not yet lost with the super committee’s “failure.”)  I elaborated on that point in my column in Tax Notes (subscription only access) today as well, where I explain why Nobel laureate economist Peter Diamond is right when he says (and said at the National Tax Association meetings earlier this month) that the fiscal problem is just a “problem,” while the (lack of) jobs situation qualifies more as a “crisis.”  I’ll summarize my Tax Notes column for you all later.

I hope you readers had a very happy Thanksgiving holiday with your loved ones.   –Diane

6 Responses to “Emphasizing the Full in “Resourceful””

  1. comment number 1 by: Jim Glass

    I also find reason why we should be grateful that our fiscal problem is indeed solvable, once we get our politics to cooperate.

    I’m thankful we’re not Europe.

    All problems are relative.

  2. comment number 2 by: AMTbuff

    Corporations like American Airlines declare bankruptcy to escape obligations which exceed the company’s ability to pay. If only there were an impartial bankruptcy court that all governments, national and state, could use for this purpose.

    Economists say that requiring gold backing for a nation’s currency constricts the economy. That’s probably true, but it might still be preferable to ever-larger credit bubbles ending in hyperinflation and depression.

    It’s time to take the red pill and give up the fantasy of everyone consuming more than they produce. To anyone who accepts trillion-dollar annual deficits, just think of how much the government will need to shrink to produce trillion-dollar annual surpluses. That’s where we’re headed, with Greece leading the way. It won’t be fun for anyone.

  3. comment number 3 by: Vivian Darkbloom

    “Corporations like American Airlines declare bankruptcy to escape obligations which exceed the company’s ability to pay. If only there were an impartial bankruptcy court that all governments, national and state, could use for this purpose.”

    AMT, it’s difficult for me to know whether this was meant to be taken seriously, or as a facetious comment. I don’t know where I come out on the issue, but it is an interesting one.

    There is no venue for the federal government (or state governments) to declare bankruptcy. They are “sovereigns” and thus have the power to tax and can’t use existing bankruptcy laws. Municipal governments, as “corporations” generally can.

    In a sense, there is a rough semblence of bankruptcy court in institutions such as the IMF and the EU which each in its own way is able to orchestrate some type of debt workout/discharge. It seems to me that the current global crisis is, in part, due to our inability to come quickly, fairly and efficiently to clean up situations like Greece. Would a formal global bankruptcy court work to do this better? Or would the cost be higher interest rates, increased moral hazard, etc? I don’t know.

    I think a better idea would be to have a global set of sovereign accounting standards and perhaps a global audit authority. Per the WSJ, the EU seems close to a new compact to strengthen the budget agreements within the Euro zone, not only with respect to targets, but enforcement. If they succeed in doing so, they may come out of this mess in better institutional shape than the US. They would have a binding deficit target that presumably would be more enforceable than currently. Can the United States claim that there is a restriction to hold budget deficits under 3 percent of GDP or anything like that or that there is any other body other than the markets to enforce it?

    Of course, as I keep harping here, all of this is useless unless sovereign accounting standards would be adopted that require sovereigns to keep their books much like corporations—that is, account for accrued liabilities. It seems to me that that is more important than a sovereign bankruptcy court.

  4. comment number 4 by: Patrick R. Sullivan

    Here’s a story for the Ford Pinto-phobes:

    http://www.realclearmarkets.com/articles/2011/11/30/the_failed_chevy_volt_that_just_wont_go_away_99392.html

    ————quote———-
    Several crash tests have suggested that the plug-in hybrid Volt, the flagship vehicle at Government Motors, has a bit of a problem: when hit or badly disturbed in accident tests, the Volt’s Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) battery packs have been seen to spark, or burst into flames afterward.

    GM is a bit spooked by all this, and is offering Volt owners loaner-cars in case they’re concerned about the prospects of their vehicle, well, exploding on them. GM denies any real risk of this, of course. But then, they didn’t exactly emphasize the fire risk in their last electric car foray.

    While few may remember it now, GM’s EV-1 also had battery-related problems. In the case of the EV-1, fires, euphemistically known as “thermal incidents” were happening when people plugged the cars in to recharge. GM had to recall 600 of its first-generation electric cars after 16 such “thermal incidents” including one where the vehicle was engulfed in fire.
    ————endquote———-

  5. comment number 5 by: Brooks

    Jim,

    Re: I’m thankful we’re not Europe.

    That reminds me of something Steve Martin said around Thanksgiving a couple of decades ago: “I’m thankful for the Atlantic Ocean, because without it a lot of Portuguese would be walking on our land.”

    (No offense to anyone Portuguese. It was just funny b/c it’s so silly).

  6. comment number 6 by: Jim Glass

    Brooks, one of Richard Pryor’s more controversial lines was in a show he did after he came back from a trip to Africa…

    “I’m glad my grandpappy was a slave because today I’m a rich American here instead of a poor African over there.”

    I think he was the only person alive who could’ve gotten away with that line. And also the greatest living proof of the comedy rule “you can get away with anything *if* you are funny enough”. Like telling what it is like to go running down the street after setting yourself on fire doing crack cocaine.

    “When you are in flames, people get out of your way.”

    But I digress….