Archive for the ‘Political Economy’ Category

Jobless

February 5th, 2010 by Collin Canright | No Comments | Filed in Political Economy

Although I didn’t realize it at the time I wrote it, my take on today’s employment reports, which showed both a decrease in the unemployment rate and a loss of jobs, may be among the most pessimistic. When our Canright Calendar email comes out on Monday, today’s report will be referred to as a “job-loss report,” in contrast to most-often used tag of “jobless report.”

Read why Larry Summers, director of the National Economic Council, gets my business language prize in “Jobless: Links on the Language of Employment Statistics,” in the Canright Communications Writer’s Blog.

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Paul Volcker

January 24th, 2010 by Collin Canright | No Comments | Filed in Political Economy

It appears that Paul Volcker is back. With President Obama’s proposal last week for limits on banks, the former Federal Reserve Chairman and economic advisor to the president was back center stage. Obama calls the reforms the “Volcker Rule.”

Seeking Alpha, in a good round up, called it “a dramatic about face.” A friend in the financial industry tagged it  ”astonishing.” Zero Hedge wrote of the event as a “revolution” with Paul Volcker taking his “rightful place.”

The Zero Hedge article, “The Volcker Revolution – Providing Some Much Needed Answers” is an especially penetrating analysis of the banking situation and financial crisis and what we can expect from Volcker and the Obama administration, based on the writer’s reading of “Financial Reform – A Framework for Financial Stability,” a paper written under Volcker’s supervision.

Personally, I take this all as a good sign. Volcker is not optimistic and self satisfied about the economic recover, nor am I. As he said in a December interview with SPIEGEL, “America Must ‘Reassert Stability and Leadership’“:

The recovery is quite slow and I expect it to continue to be pretty slow and restrained for a variety of reasons and the possibility of a relapse can’t be entirely discounted. I’m not predicting it but I think we have to be careful.

We have not yet achieved self-reinforcing recovery. We are heavily dependent upon government support so far. We are on a government support system, both in the financial markets and in the economy.

I had very much wanted 2010 to be an easier year than 2009. I realized over the holiday break that it would not be. Cash is tight in our business and with many others I know. Credit remains tight and with banks hunkered down, it likely will remain so.

We are continuing to stay positive yet realistic and to focus on sales and service. We have a strong start to the year to show for it.

One last personal note:  I started this blog with Reganomics, a post on William Greider’s book, The Education of David Stockman and Other Americans. His next book featured Volcker, and as I read Secrets of the Temple: How the Federal Reserve Runs the Country when it ran in the New Yorker, I became a fan of Volcker as well as Greider.

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Economy 2010

January 19th, 2010 by Collin Canright | No Comments | Filed in Business, Political Economy

Read quotes and assessments on the economy in 2010 from panelists at tonight’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology Enterprise Forum Chicago program on the Economic Outlook for in 2010. It’s going to be another wild economic ride, where quality business will win in the end.

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Nukes

January 16th, 2010 by Collin Canright | 1 Comment | Filed in History, Political Economy

This post is part of the Collin’s 50th! series, in which I look back as a way of moving forward.

In writing about my 1981 article, “The High Impact of Low Level Radiation,” in the post Political Economy, I recalled my time as an anti-nuclear protester, in marches for the Bailly Alliance, a group dedicated to stopping the Bailly Nuclear 1 plant, to be located on the shores of Lake Michican near Chesterton, Indiana. The promise and perils of nuclear energy have been in the news lately–the debates in Northwest Indiana in the late 1970s are again relevant today.

Needless to say, this was a topic of great interest in a highly populated and environmentally sensitive region of the country. My family, publishers of The Chesterton Tribune, spent a lot of time and effort covering the plant’s planning and approval process, including several trips to Washington, DC, for Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) hearings on plant approval. My own reporting contribution included a report on an NRC headlined “NRC to require state Emergency Action plans.”

My father, John, the paper’s editor, initially supported the plant in editorials, and coverage was generally neutral. That led to some conflict within the paper because my cousin Dave, who completely opposed the plant, was a Bailly Alliance member, as were a number of other staff and me.

With the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, coverage took a turn. What seemed promising years earlier was now a potential nightmare. The journalistic turning point came in heading writing. My dad was careful to always use the formal name of the plant in articles: “Bailly Nuclear 1″ or “Bailly N1.” As opposition mounted, and it became apparent that the plant construction would not be approved, we all decided just call it a “nuke.” For more, see the sidebar to the low-level radiation article, “Burn-Out at Bailly: NIPSCO’s Nuclear Fizzle.”

The questions surrounding nuclear power are far from resolved and are generating (heh, heh, heh) increasing interest. Current plants happen to be working quite well, and were it not for the continuing problems of nuclear waste disposal and nuclear proliferation, nuclear power may well provide a solution to future energy generation. “The nuclear option should be retained precisely because it is an important carbon-free source of power,” states MIT’s study on The Future of Nuclear Energy, updated in 2009.

Two leading magazines covered nuclear power in December 2009 issues, with The Economist reporting on “Nuclear’s next generation,” a readable report on the pros and cons of six new designs for nuclear power plants. Wired magazine weighed in with its preferred nuclear alternative in “Uranium Is So Last Century — Enter Thorium, the New Green Nuke.”

Maybe. Wired made a great case for nukes in February 2005, in “Nuclear Now! How clean, green atomic energy can stop global warming,” and I believe it’s the best alternative for mass energy production in the future.

Yet a nuclear milestone last week gives pause, with stories about the death at 93 of Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the only survivor of the nuclear blasts at both Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I still have the No Nukes T-shirt I silk screened for the Bailly Alliance just in case.

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