Sunday, September 19, 2010

Today's Best Reads

1--Poll: Vast Majority Opposes Attack on Iran, Daniel Tenzer, Raw Story (Two-thirds want US to be neutral in Israeli-Palestinian conflict)

2--Defaults Account for Most of Pared Down Debt, Mark Whitehorse, Wall Street Journal (Americans are NOT deleveraging, but defaulting)

3--Reality Check: Iran is Not a Nuclear Threat, Scott Horton, The Christian Science Monitor (Just the facts)

4--Companies Still Hoarding Tons of Cash, Catherine Rampell, New York Times
Excerpt: "The Fed’s quarterly Flow of Funds report, released today with data for the second quarter of 2010, found that total credit grew for the first time in over a year, mainly because the federal government increased its borrowing. Consumers, however, continue to deleverage: Net household sector borrowing has fallen for eight consecutive quarters."

5--Americans' Net Worth Tanked In Second Quarter, Erasing This Year's Gains, Shahien Nasiripour, Huffington Post
Excerpt: "Americans' net worth plunged in the second quarter of this year, new data from the Federal Reserve show, erasing the gains of the previous two quarters and adding evidence to the argument that the economy has entered a double-dip recession."

6-- Household Net Worth off $12.3 Trillion from Peak, calculated risk
Excerpt: According to the Fed, household net worth is now off $12.3 Trillion from the peak in 2007, but up $4.7 trillion from the trough in Q1 2009. (Ouch!)

7--Shadow Banking and Financial Regulation, Morgan Ricks, The Harvard Law School Forum on corporate governance and financial regulation (Great summary of shadow banking)

Excerpt: The term “shadow banking” suggests something mysterious or elusive, but the reality is rather mundane. As used herein, “shadow banking” refers simply to maturity transformation—the funding of pools of longer-term financial assets with short-term (that is, money-market) liabilities—that takes place outside the terms of the banking social contract. A non-exhaustive list of shadow banking institutions would include: repo-financed dealer firms; [3] securities lenders; structured investment vehicles (SIVs); asset-backed commercial paper (ABCP) conduits; some varieties of credit-oriented hedge fund; and, most importantly, money market mutual funds, which absorb other forms of short-term credit and transform them into true demand obligations.

These institutions share a common feature: They obtain financing at short duration through the money markets, and they invest these funds in longer-term financial assets. This activity is the essence of “banking,” and the short-term financing sources on which it relies are the functional equivalent of bank deposits. The quantity of uninsured short-term liabilities issued by financial firms is the most meaningful measure of shadow banking. And, by this measure, shadow banking came to far surpass depository banking in its aggregate scale."

8--The U.S. Can Unilaterally Lower the Value of the Dollar, Dean Baker, CEPR (Let the currency war begin)

9--How a touch of inflation could boost the economy, Neil Irwin, Washington Post

Ouote: The dip in annual inflation excluding energy below 1 percent "shows that the economy is just one modest contraction away from dipping into a Japan-like deflation,

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