By John Ballard
Here are some links that caught my attention.
==> Whose Economy Has It Worst? by Nouriel Roubini and Ian Bremmer.
It's no wonder that global markets are so jittery. The world's three largest economies can't continue along their current paths, and everybody knows it. Investors watch nervously for signs that China is headed toward a hard landing, that America will sink back into recession, and that the euro zone will simply implode.
'In all three cases, kicking the can down the road has staved off disaster so far -- but the cans are getting bigger and heavier.'
In all three cases, kicking the can down the road has staved off disaster so far, but the cans are getting bigger and heavier. Which economy will be the first to stumble on its problems?
Europe will be the first to drop out of the game of kick the can: Expect a disorderly debt default in Greece, more trouble for European banks and a sharp recession across the continent.
China has the cash and foreign reserves to postpone a crisis. But growth is slowing, financial stresses are rising, and there is good reason to fear that China's days of can-kicking are numbered as well.
Which leaves the U.S. No one can restore confidence in America's long-term fiscal health without a credible plan to cut spending on entitlements and defense while raising revenues, which are now at a 60-year low as a share of GDP. But don't expect any immediate solutions from Washington. The campaign season will only exacerbate petty partisanship and political gridlock, which means that the structural problems of the U.S. economy are likely to persist.
But the longer-term future appears much brighter for the U.S. than for either Europe or China.
[Cost cutting technology...demographic advantages...2013 political opportunity ]
Make no mistake: The challenges that the U.S. faces are formidable, and persistent political gridlock could delay badly needed fiscal and structural reforms. But everything is relative, and the best can to be kicking down the road just now is undoubtedly the one made in America.
Because the US is the world's preeminent economic player I still think the debt-ceiling debate was a piece of political blackmail. Widespread popular ignorance and a retrograde provincial mindset on the part of Tea Party crowd (flames fanned, of course, by others with deep pockets who knew better and also knew what they were doing) became the new Red Scare keeping a critical mass in line while keeping enough hired political guns in positions of influence. And yes, both parties were in it up to their necks.
Had the US raised the debt ceiling I doubt the US would be involved with this conversation, but that's just me thinking out loud.
==> The Tweaker by Malcolm Gladwell
Writing in The New Yorker, Gladwell skims a few goodies from the new Steve Jobs biography. I'm sure those who have read Walter Isaacson's book have been there, done that. But this non-book-review may whet the reader's appetite to check out the bio. I never thought much about it but now that he's dead it can be said aloud -- Steve Jobs, genius notwithstanding, was an asshole.
...In the hospital at the end of his life, he runs through sixty-seven nurses before he finds three he likes. �At one point, the pulmonologist tried to put a mask over his face when he was deeply sedated,� Isaacson writes:
Jobs ripped it off and mumbled that he hated the design and refused to wear it. Though barely able to speak, he ordered them to bring five different options for the mask and he would pick a design he liked. . . . He also hated the oxygen monitor they put on his finger. He told them it was ugly and too complex.
==> Malcolm Gladwell Gets Steve Jobs Wrong by Frederick Allen at Forbes
I suppose if you read Gladwell it won't take but a moment to read this one as well. It is no more charitable to Jobs but makes a couple of other observations regarding his genius/creativity.
==> Penn State, my final loss of faith By Thomas L. Day
This first-person commentary by a veteran, also an alumnus of Pennsylvania State, appeared in last night's Washington Post. It deserves close and respectful reading. He drives home a few old points with fresh meaning in the aftermath of this week's big story coming out of Penn State.
I�m 31, an Iraq war veteran, a Penn State graduate, a Catholic, a native of State College, acquaintance of Jerry Sandusky�s, and a product of his Second Mile foundation.
And I have fully lost faith in the leadership of my parents� generation.
I was never harmed by Sandusky, but I could have been. When I was 15, my mother, then looking for a little direction for her teenage son, introduced me to the Second Mile�s Friend Fitness program. It was a program resembling Big Brother, Big Sister with a weekly exercise regimen.
We looked to Washington to lead us after September 11th. I remember telling my college roommates, in a spate of emotion, that I was thinking of enlisting in the military in the days after the attacks. I expected legions of us -- at the orders of our leader -- to do the same. But nobody asked us. Instead we were told to go shopping.
The times following September 11th called for leadership, not reckless, gluttonous tax cuts. But our leaders then, as now, seemed more concerned with flattery. Then -House Majority Leader and now-convicted felon Tom Delay told us, �nothing is more important in the face of a war than cutting taxes.� Not exactly Churchillian stuff.
Those of us who did enlist were ordered into Iraq on the promise of being �greeted as liberators,� in the words of our then-vice president. Several thousand of us are dead from that false promise.
We looked for leadership from our churches, and were told to fight not poverty or injustice, but gay marriage. In the Catholic Church, we were told to blame the media, not the abusive priests, not the bishops, not the Vatican, for making us feel that our church has failed us in its sex abuse scandal and cover-up.
Our parents� generation has balked at the tough decisions required to preserve our country�s sacred entitlements, leaving us to clean up the mess. They let the infrastructure built with their fathers� hands crumble like a stale cookie. They downgraded our nation�s credit rating. They seem content to hand us a debt exceeding the size of our entire economy, rather than brave a fight against the fortunate and entrenched interests on K Street and Wall Street.