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Showing posts from October, 2008

A minor note from the editor

Activity is picking up at this website (contrary to previous statements about deemphasis). Not counting this post, October 2008 has shown the most articles and posts since 4 years ago, when this blog was newly founded. The goal now is to have November be the most active month on Minimax Thoughts ever.

On the Federal Reserve's rate cute

The Federal Reserve's lowering of the Fed Funds target rate to 1% is the latest in a series of moves attempting to keep liquidity flowing in the financial markets. This one, unlike previous moves by the Fed, comes through its main channel. It was completely expected, which explains the stock market's relatively muted response. The Federal Reserve, however, is approaching the bottom of its bag of tricks.

At 1% the Fed Funds target rate is at the lowest it has been since 2003-2004. Because of the huge amount of liquid assets the actual target rate is lower than 1%. If the Fed somehow bottoms out and makes the interest rate reach 0%, they face the same problem that the central bank of Japan faced when it committed similar actions. The Federal Reserve cannot go much lower. It has to resort to alternative measures.

What this means is that the Fed Funds target rate's days as the primary tool of Federal Reserve policy are over. During this crisis alternative tools, like credit swap…

The future of the newspaper

The biggest news of the day in the media world is the revelation that starting in April of next year, the Christian Science Monitor will no longer be a daily newspaper. It will instead switch to being mainly an online presence and a weekly publication. In this regards, it will become more like the Economist rather than USA Today.

This is a sensible move to counteract the major weakness of the CSM: its lack of a consistent base. Unlike other publications who are able to become national, like the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor has no major city from which to draw a relatively steady stream of readers. That leaves it in a competition with the USA Today and other papers for a national audience, something which it is hard pressed to do. The Christian Science Monitor, after all, is best known for relying less on the wire services than other papers and its analysis. It doesn't compete on breaking news, unlike other papers like the Washington Post. Thus a weekly magazine-esq…

The end game strategy for John McCain

It is often comical that the most accurate predictions of who the candidates will be before the Presidential election were those that simply focused on who was the most electable in the general election. After all, the prevailing narrative before primary voting began on the Democratic side was that Hillary Clinton had it locked up, but would most likely lose the general election, which Barack Obama, who was not going to win in the primaries, would have locked up. On the Republican side, everyone acknowledged that John McCain was probably the most electable combination of Republican and independent ideology - but that he would never make it to become the candidate. In less than 2 weeks we will get the Obama vs. McCain matchup that back before this season started seemed to be the best for both parties' chances of getting into office. It appears that the voters for both parties ultimately only care about electability, and not much else.

Unfortunately for the Republicans, factors have …

I have Good and Bad News

I have Good and Bad News

Documentary Review: Crawford

The website Hulu.com, primarily used for streaming television shows and movies (both popular and niche), has taken on the new role of debuting a documentary about the town of Crawford, Texas. The place best known as President Bush's vacation home is portrayed in an interesting light, as a variety of citizens and the changes brought about by the arrival of Bush and all of the accompanying media attention.

The realization that even towns with the greatest support of the president have had their lives completely altered by his policies is not new: however, the portrayal of Bush's supposed hometown, a place where unique protests (especially by Cindy Sheehan) have thrust the town into an unwanted spotlight, illustrates both the good and bad sides of fame.

Ultimately, this tale of attention being brought to small town America from the far reaches of the planet helps to highlight both what life is like in these towns and the changes that the Bush White House have brought to us all.

Obama canvasses neighborhoods

I think it was a great idea to have Obama canvass neighborhoods in Ohio before debate prep. Relative to the time investment and given the statement, such a move provides basically a huge amount of free good press. Bravo on pulling off an effective tactic, Obama.

The fragility of the market

There is no need to state the obvious: the world's financial markets are in serious trouble. After all, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost something on the scale of 2000 points within 2 weeks, a fall that probably hasn't had an equal in history. Other stock markets, ranging from Japan's, to Hong Kong's, to Indonesia's, to European stock markets are all feeling the aftershocks. The entire financial structure of the country of Iceland has failed. These times are truly extraordinary: as former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan proclaims, such a devastation is usually seen only "once in a century".

Why did this happen? After all, it is said that those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it. And for the sake of the next century (the third time's the charm?), it is necessary to examine why this financial crisis happened.

Though it is difficult to compare this crisis to the Great Depression, due to the differences in how monetary policy was conduct…

Bitches Ain't Shit: Commentary on the Vice Presidential Debates

Mistake number 1: Sarah Palin: "Has this been a good time or a bad time in our economy?"

And with that Sarah Palin's readiness for the Vice Presidency fails.

To be fair, the Vice Presidential debates have rarely affected election outcomes. Even Lloyd Bensten's attack on Dan "Not Jack Kennedy" Quayle did not significantly change the outcome of the 1992 election. But tonight, for once, that might change. Because Sarah Palin, not John McCain, has been the focus of the Republican campaign for the past few weeks, this debate will be key. If Palin appears to have won this debate, then Republican momentum has a chance to shift towards a victory this November. Failure here will mean that there is no chance for the Republicans to change the outcome of this election: the loss of this debate will mean that no more opportunities to shift the election narrative will exist for the Mccain campaign.

Biden started off strong, slamming Palin on several key points. He appeared t…