Baum's View on Money
Good morning, all. Here's what I'm reading today on a variety of economic, and geo-political, issues.
As far as problems go, this one isn't bad
An unemployment rate of 3 percent, a "gusher of jobs," soaring tax revenues: all a result of oil and gas exploration in North Dakota's Bakken formation. The challenge is to develop the infrastructure and services to support the energy industry without falling victim to the "Dutch disease," or the consequences associated with a natural resource discovery, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. I suspect many states would be happy to swap problems with North Dakota.
Confused about various house price indexes?
Housing economist Tom Lawler explains the ins and outs of the various indexes that measure the change in home prices: from repeat sales to hedonic pricing to the different weightings to "REO" (foreclosure) sales. Home prices are rising across the board, but it helps to know just how an index is constructed.
Some things never change
September is already shaping up to be a nail-biter in the nation's capital. Congress will have to pass some sort of continuing resolution to the keep the government running after Sept. 30. The debt ceiling needs to be raised by mid-October. And a variety of tax-related measures have to be addressed. If you're waiting for Congress to dig deep and come up with a grand bargain, forget about it, says the Tax Policy Center. Why tackle the tough choices of tax and entitlement reform when it's "so much easier to battle over self-made short-term crises?"
This gives new meaning to waste, fraud and abuse
Remember the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which directed funds to banks in an effort to stabilize the financial system during the crisis? Darryl Layne Woods, former chairman and chief financial officer of Mainstreet Bank in Ashland, Missouri, admitted that he used $381,487 in bank bailout funds to buy a luxury condo in Fort Meyers, Florida. No doubt the condo provided some short-term stability to Woods's family.
It may not increase the odds of her nomination for Fed chairman, but Janet Yellen has a stamp collection worth $15,000 to $50,000, according to her financial disclosure forms. All seven governors are millionaires, which shouldn't be a real surprise. By the time an individual is tapped to serve on the Fed board, she has generally distinguished herself in her field, be it economics or banking. And in this country, "distinguished" still carries a monetary value.
As clear as mud
If you ever wondered why the Middle East is such an enigma, consider the chart created by an Egyptian blogger and reprinted in the Washington Post. If you have trouble following the arrows, try reading the letter to the editor of the Financial Times, in which the writer outlines the intricate network of relationships among nations.
(Caroline Baum is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow her on Twitter.)
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