9-11-10, US Imbalances, Freedom Long, Going to College

About 4.30 AM Tokyo time September 12, 2001 our home phone rang. I was running some businesses for Toronto Dominion in Japan. It was not unusual for someone in the Toronto office to forget the time difference so we never answered our phone at that time letting voice mail take care of it.

Of course if it was an emergency then they would call back.

They called back.

There are many lessons to be drawn from 9-11. The lesson I drew came from Canadian Brian Clark's story. I know Brian. He used to visit the Tokyo office of Eurobrokers that was located in the office of Royal Trust when I worked there in 1987-1988. 

The lesson, when an airplane hits a building anywhere near you, go home.

Then hug your family.

(ed's note - on September 11, 2001 I had taken a TD colleague out for dinner.  I got back home around 10 PM, and exhausted I went straight to bed. In New York in between me getting home and going to bed both planes had hit the twin towers (9.45 PM and 10.03 PM September 11th Tokyo time. We slept through the all night TV coverage).

So a 9-11 pot luck, Brian Clark's story, David Frum's myths, Robert Fisks' madness, Fareed Zakaria on over reaction, the BBC's silly conspiracy theory show, and today's looney Pastor.

And important articles on the imbalances in the US economy, retirement, and on the economic benefit of going to university.

Brian Clark's story.

Brian Clark, an executive vice president at Euro Brokers, a brokerage firm that had offices on the 84th floor of 2 World Trade Center, was one of only a few people to escape either tower from above the floors where the planes struck. In this interview for the NOVA program "Why the Towers Fell," assistant producer Matt Barrett simply let the camera roll as Clark told his astounding tale. Only slightly edited for clarity here, the interview reveals, in vividly recalled detail, how snap decisions, gut instinct, and a touch of luck worked together in Clark's favor and that of the man whose life he saved.  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/wtc/above.html

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2e0opRoPtpM&feature=related

David Frum's myths.

Some Americans are in a debunking mood . ..  http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2010/09/10/david-frum-the-myths-of-911

Robert Fisk's maddness.

Did 9/11 make us all go mad?  http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-nine-years-two-wars-hundreds-of-thousands-dead-ndash-and-nothing-learnt-2076450.html

The BBC's silly 9-11 conspiracy story.

911 and the British Broadcasting Conspiracy - new documentary by Adrian Connock and David Shayler about the BBC's selective and distorted 911 coverage. With particular reference to the Conspiracy Files programme aired on BBC Two on February 18th 2007.   http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1882365905982811133#

Lunatics, the maddness of crowds, and the modern media. (ed's note - with these types of stories we try not to dignify the person in question by using their name and instead use useful descriptions like 'lunatic pastor').

After widespread condemnation of his plans to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Terry Jones, a pastor in Gainesville, Fla., said on Thursday he would cancel the demonstration.   http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2010/09/09/when-a-fringe-figure-becomes-news?nl=opinion&emc=tya3

This chart of the savings and investment balance in the United States is a little like that of a terminal lung cancer patient looking at their lung X-ray in a doctor's office.

While Soc Gen focuses on the bottom line -- government spending - it is the top two lines that are scary. Households are not spending and businesses are not borrowing. This is why a contraction in government spending will pulverise the economy. This chart would look the same for the United Kingdom.

Societe Generale have released a new report highlighting the impact of the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the end of fiscal stimulus on U.S. GDP in 2011. Quite clearly, it is not going to be good. http://www.businessinsider.com/socgen-new-stimulus-2010-9

 

This article is a great summary of how unregulated financial innovation created two economy threatening boom and bust real estate episodes in the United States.

Was the subprime crisis inevitable? This column looks at how the last mortgage crisis in the 1930s shaped the policy landscape in the US, arguing that it eventually led to the emergence of private securitisation in the 1990s, a surge in homebuilding and homeownership, and a second great mortgage crisis that was just around the corner. http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/5486

 

Every ten years or so the global financial blows up.

Though the recent global crisis started in the advanced economies, most emerging markets came under pressure; it seemed that no country, especially those most interconnected, was immune from tremendous economic strain.   http://blog-imfdirect.imf.org/2010/09/09/global-safety-nets-crisis-prevention-in-an-age-of-uncertainty/

Comparing retirement. Freedom long.

OVER a million French protesters took to the streets this week to contest the government’s plans to raise the legal minimum retirement age from 60 to 62.   http://www.economist.com/node/17008998

 

Rethinking the cost-benefit of going to university.

Across the region and around the country, parents are kissing their college-bound kids -- and potentially up to $200,000 in tuition, room and board -- goodbye.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/09/AR2010090903350.html?wpisrc=nl_most  .

And not rethinking.

YOUNG people often worry whether the qualification for which they are studying will stand them in good stead in the workplace.  http://www.economist.com/node/16984636?story_id=16984636&fsrc=rss

 

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Twin Virtues: Inequality of Outcomes & Equality of Opportunity©

Twin Virtues

Ultimately, the most successful societies find the balance between the twin virtues of inequality of outcomes and equality of opportunity.

The new politics must marry the twin virtues of unequal outcomes and equality of opportunity.

When too few get too much everybody loses.

Feminism is about women living their lives on their own terms, marshalling the resources of the society to make that possible, and men embracing this as vital to a successful society and their own liberation.

Can it be that striving for equality of opportunity however imperfect the process not only benefits the individual but also creates benefits for the society that are unintended but wonderful?

Economics must be a 'moral enterprise' as much as politics claims to be. Economic outcomes need to be framed in terms of right and wrong not just efficiency if only because these often align in surprising ways that are good for society and the economy.

My vision of Canada is that any Canadian child from a family of limited circumstance can expect to have a chance at lifetime of unlimited opportunities.

Free trade is a wonderful thing. Time and time again economists have proven that free trade creates enormous wealth for each country 'on the whole'. Historians have shown that free trade is usually associated with rising political, social and cultural liberty. The perennial problem is that free trade always creates tremendous disruption for thousands even millions of individuals often concentrated in one geography, and where the state is idle, not investing in best in class instruments of social justice, free trade can be a permanent ticket out of the middle class, down, not up.

Tax policy should be founded on the principle of generating steady tax revenues sufficient to maximise environmentally sustainable economic growth in order to fund fair government.

Public policy should be designed to decrease inequality before the law and increase equality of opportunity.

Capitalism is not the problem; the problem is what we do with capitalism.

Content is always more difficult to argue than conspiracy.

Let the state regulate and the market operate (most things).

Welfare strategies are best designed as a hand up, not as a hand out.

Political debate should not be fact free fighting.

Explanation lasts longer than eloquence.

Always favour empowerment over dependency.

The most enduring public figures are embraced for the causes they fought for and not the concept of themselves they hoped others would remember them by.

Find your voice and don't be the echo of somebody else.

It is possible to operate on two different levels: the practical, cautious and conservative; and the realm of ideas, open, free, and radical.