Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What's With the Czechs?

First we have President Václav Klaus in denial of global warming, and now we have Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek in denial about the global financial crisis. Maybe the entire Czech Republic joined the Republican Party....

But fortunately, the Czech people just ousted his government, but before stepping down, he used his role as rotating President of EU took the opportunity to blast Barack Obama's effort to save the world economy by describing it as a "way to hell" as it supposedly “will undermine the stability of the global financial market.”

Where is Jaroslav Hasek when we need him?

Hans Sandberg

Monday, March 16, 2009

Fair-Minded U.S. Diplomat Angers Right-Wing Zealots

Charles Freeman, an American diplomat with 30 years of experience, was nominated to become the next chairman of the National Intelligence Committee, but withdrew his nomination after a slanderous smear-campaign by extreme-right Israeli lobbyists. Ambassador Freeman was interviewed by Fareed Zakaria on Sunday, March 15th.
It's sad to see such a smart and level-headed guy derailed by right-wing zealots.

Nominee Ends Bid for Key Job in Intelligence
Israel Stance Was Undoing of Nominee for Intelligence Post
Iran, Jews and Pragmatism
Interview With Charles Freeman

Monday, March 9, 2009

More on the nattering nabobs of negativity

First, watch Jon Stewart ripping into CNBC and their sorry bunch of pundits (with the exception of Steve Liesman who is smarter and more knowledgeable than the rest of the bunch together).
It's a gem; funny, sad, and a piece of media history.
Watch it! 

Paul Krugman commented on the pundits/economics reporters pang for fiscal conservatism in his latest column:
'President Obama’s plan to stimulate the economy was “massive,” “giant,” “enormous.” So the American people were told, especially by TV news, during the run-up to the stimulus vote. Watching the news, you might have thought that the only question was whether the plan was too big, too ambitious.
Yet many economists, myself included, actually argued that the plan was too small and too cautious.'

And Frank Rich picked up on Jon Stewart's CNBC-segment in his Sunday Times column Some Things Don’t Change in Grover’s Corners.

On Monday, the New York Times had an interesting piece explaining how the CNBC network is struggling to retain its tiny, but wealthy, group of viewers by becoming more political and by lambasting president Obama.

'But in a change from previous downturns, CNBC is now a place for politics, to borrow a phrase from its sister channel MSNBC. The network’s journalists have been encouraged to speak their minds, making the line between reporter and commentator almost indistinguishable at times.

“When they are all sitting around the table it’s hard to tell a business pundit versus a reporter,” said Tom Rosenstiel, the director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism.
With economic attention focused on Washington, the network is spending less time on bullish stock picks and more time assessing the government’s actions.

In recent weeks some have perceived the network to be leading the campaign against President Obama’s economic agenda."

Now you may be ready for a little more nabob skewering from Jon Stewart's side:

In case you missed my previous blog about the revenge of the nattering nabobs of negativity, scroll down to read it!

Hans Sandberg

Friday, March 6, 2009

The nattering nabobs of negativity are back

The chatter is very intensive right now, and destructive, but it's not emanating from Bora Bora. No. it comes right out of New York, Atlanta, from CNN, MSNBC and CNBC, and it includes the entire spectrum of media commentators, from normally sensible persons like Anderson Cooper, to the generally wacky ones like Larry Kudlow.

They have all become the "nattering nabobs of negativity", which Nixon's nutty vice president Spiro Agnew lambasted so badly (thanks to then speechwriter William Safire who coined the phrase). Our talking act like hysterical passengers on a sinking ship, but it's not the ship that is sinking, only their 401K's that are shrinking. It is certainly painful, but their job is to analyse and report, not distort and vent. 

The problem with the nabobs of 2009 is that they are making things worse. They refuse to look deeper, instead pandering to the least common denominator, which of course is fear. They want everything fixed right now, only to complain that Obama is trying to do much and has too much on his desk. Above all, they want their 401K's back to where they were when we all were financially bubbleicious and happy, even if it didn't make sense and we killed the Earth in the process.

Analyst often say that we need a capitulation before the markets can turn back up. In a way they are right, but before the investors can capitulate, the pundits need to capitulate.

It's time to simmer down, and give the economy a chance! 

Hans Sandberg

PS. For an interesting take on the role of psychology in this crisis, read Amartya Sen's essay in the New York Review of Books: Capitalism Beyond the Crisis.