StanCollender'sCapitalGainsandGames Washington, Wall Street and Everything in Between

The Andrew Samwick Archives

A Reply for Stan

29 Mar 2008
Posted by Andrew Samwick

Agreed, it is a very small set of people who will feel sorry for Jimmy Cayne getting "cayned."  I did feel a little sorry for Michael Fay in 1994, but I didn't support his Presidential bailout either!

Dude, You Got Cayned!

28 Mar 2008
Posted by Andrew Samwick

A new word has entered the lexicon, courtesy of Capital Gains and Games, with a little help from the boys at Bear Stearns:

Jimmy Cayne, a one-time travelling salesman who became a paper billionaire last year as chief executive of Bear Stearns, has sold his entire stake in the investment bank for a little more than $61m.

According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Mr Cayne sold 5.6m Bear shares for $10.84 each on Tuesday, a day after after JPMorgan Chase agreed to raise its bid for the stricken investment bank fivefold to $10 a share. Mr Cayne’s wife, Patricia, sold 45,669 shares at the same price.

Posted by Andrew Samwick

I try to keep nationalist sentiments out of economic commentary, but Tata's purchase of Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford has to make some folks in India smile.  Two of the UK's biggest brands will now be owned by a former colony that is still catching up economically.

Unsurprisingly, Ford lost money on its purchase and subsequent sale of the two companies.  In my view, acquisitions seldom lead to big improvements for the firm making the acquisition.  The market seems to recognize this, as announcement effects are often negative for the acquiring firms.

Posted by Andrew Samwick

Brad DeLong linked to my post on Social Security yesterday, which set off the usual round of criticisms of a non-liberal's views of Social Security and its reform in the comment section.  Here's a summary and the next installment in the conversation.

Textbook Economics

26 Mar 2008
Posted by Andrew Samwick

This is a site that is long overdue in my profession:

The goal of this site is to encourage instructors to take price into account when shopping for texts.

Like doctors prescribing drugs for their patients, college instructors selecting textbooks for their classes have little incentive to pay attention to prices that they themselves do not pay.

Textbook publishers do not advertise their prices. Often it is even difficult to find prices on their websites. Nowhere have we been able to find current price lists for a full selection of competing texts.

Posted by Andrew Samwick

Picking up on Pete's post about the 2008 Trustees Report, I always go first to this table, Table IV.B7, which shows the present value of Social Security's unfunded obligations over an infinite horizon.  The number is $13.6 trillion, or 3.2% of taxable payroll or 1.1% of gross domestic product over the same horizon. 

I've blogged extensively about these summary numbers over at Vox Baby.  For the present post, I'd like to make two quick points.

Posted by Andrew Samwick

Monica Prasad, a sociology professor at Northwestern, holds forth on the successes and "failures" of carbon taxes in Europe in an op-ed in today's New York Times.  She makes two key points about implementation in Denmark, the country where emissions actually fell after the tax was imposed.  I think Prasad is mistaking sufficient conditions for necessary conditions.  Here is the main part of her argument:

Posted by Andrew Samwick

Dean Baker provides a clear and concise description of this "Own to Rent" plan in the most recent issue of Economists' Voice. The key advantages of this plan:

Posted by Andrew Samwick

I confess: I get annoyed beyond measure when I read articles like this one from Alan Zibel and J.W. Elphinstone of the Associated Press, which ran in my local paper this week. It manufactures drama where none is warranted. Here's the hook:

Posted by Andrew Samwick

I suppose I'll have to let ideology slide for the sake of expediency. I will not stand in the way of Stan calling Steve Forbes a capitalist tool.

Capitalist Tools

18 Mar 2008
Posted by Andrew Samwick

I would agree with Stan and Pete in their assessment of Steve Forbes' remarks on CNBC today, but only if they agree to drop the word "capitalist" from the title of their posts.  His blessedly brief phone interview did nothing to promote a capitalism as a system.  It only served to promote the interests of those who are seeking to evade the consequences of making bad choices in a capitalist system.

Posted by Andrew Samwick

Ben Bernanke would be played by Harvey Keitel, reprising his role as Winston Wolf if we're lucky or Victor the Cleaner if we're not.

Posted by Andrew Samwick

My commentary on the Bear Stearns bailout aired on NPR's Marketplace this evening. Here's the teaser:

The collapse of Bear Stearns prompted the Fed to once again cut interest rates. Commentator and economist Andrew Samwick says whether you call it a bailout or a rescue, all Americans have a stake in the outcome.

Gaps and Redundancies

16 Mar 2008
Posted by Andrew Samwick

There is some irony to be found in the title of Tamar Levin's excellent article in Friday's edition of The New York Times, "Report Urges Changes in Teaching Math." To do anything other than what the report recommends would hardly qualify as teaching math. Here's the crux of the matter:

Bair 1, Abernathy 0

15 Mar 2008
Posted by Andrew Samwick

We'll give FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair credit for this bit of lonely prudence in a financial sector gone mad:

Posted by Andrew Samwick
The honest answer is that we cannot provide an answer in real time.
Posted by Andrew Samwick

My first reaction to the news of Eliot Spitzer's demise was that I felt bad for his three daughters, for reasons discussed here.

Posted by Andrew Samwick

When I suggested the need for a capital budget, these were the sort of problems I wanted to avoid (this one in my own backyard):

Posted by Andrew Samwick

In yesterday's New York Times, we are told "Math Suggests College Frenzy Will Soon Ease." Actually, I don't get the math in a couple of places. Let's start here:

CEO Succession

09 Mar 2008
Posted by Andrew Samwick

I was surprised to learn in Good to Great that outside CEOs were not associated with the transition from good companies to great companies. Harvard Business School Professor Joseph Bower picks up on this theme in his recent Marketplace commentary:

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