Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Where Did the Republican Party Go?

An interesting blog post on Daily KOs discussed the downfall of the Republican Party.

My own take on the state of the Republican Party is similar. From an ideological standpoint, the GOP has progressed to the point where the Democratic party was about 20 years ago. Instead of small government, the Republicans are grown the size of the government. Instead of decreased government spending, the administration has spent more than any other presidency. Instead of free-market economy, the government has provided the largest ever bailout to Wall Street. These are all qualities that I would normally associate with the Democrats.

This is what I faced when I went to the polls. I could either vote for Obama, a liberal Democrat, or I could vote for McCain, a "conservative Democrat". That to me is not a choice I want to make, and in fact I voted for neither, instead voting for a third-party candidate.

If the Republican party ever wants my support, they need to find themselves again. They need to get back to basics. They need to remember who they are supposed to be and what they are supposed to represent. Until then, I will hope for the rise of a new political party that better represents my beliefs, ideas, and values.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bernanke: More bank bailouts needed

This headline is found on CNNMoney.

My hope is that Bernanke is talking about the second half of the original $700 Billion TARP money instead of an additional amount of money over and above the $700 Billion. Either way, it does not cease to amaze me how ridiculous this whole thing has gotten to be.

The country has fallen down the slippery slope. We passed the original $700 Billion after a lot of huffing and puffing. Now the $700 Billion has become the new landmark against which to compare future efforts. Obama's proposed $775 Billion stimulus package no longer sounds excessive. Do you remember how you felt a year ago when Bush proposed his $30-something billion stimulus package? Didn't it sound like a huge sum of money at the time?

Bernanke suggested that more banks and financial firms are likely to need additional capital injections from the government, and that further guarantees of their debt could be necessary, in return for the federal government receiving further equity in the firms.

Doesn't this sound like a further move towards a socialized banking system, which I'm thinking must be the intent of the Fed in the long run.

"Everything he's saying is right; we have a lot of tools and we have to use them wisely," said Barry Ritholtz, CEO and director of equity research for research firm Fusion IQ. But Ritholtz added that the bailout has already been mismanaged by the Treasury Department.

Why do we want to put the Treasury Department in charge of more taxpayer funds if the consensus opinion is that they have so poorly managed the original funds? Two wrongs don't make a right. Neither do 700,000,000,000 wrongs.

Bernanke dismissed this risk, however, saying that inflation appears well-contained in the near term. And he said despite the fact that the Fed is taking on much riskier assets than normal as collateral, he does not believe there is a major risk of having those loans go bad.
"The Federal Reserve has never suffered any losses in the course of its normal lending to banks" and Wall Street firms, he said.

Investing 101 tells us that past results should not be considered an indicator of future returns. Just because the Fed hasn't lost money in the past doesn't mean the same will hold true. It seems to me Bernanke has not come to the realization yet that this is a unique problem and the standard solutions are not necessarily going to work again and again.

This has the feel of an out-of-control driver. The car begins to fishtail, the driver over-corrects, and the car skids out of control the other direction. In this case, my biggest fear is that the Fed overreacts and the economy skids out of control in the other direction. In this case, the other direction is inflation.

A good article from CNNMoney about the potential threat of inflation can be found here.

Monday, January 12, 2009

BCS Proposal

Anyone who knows me knows I can't stand the BCS in its current form. It is unfair to smaller conferences, whose participants have no realistic shot at ever vying for a national championship. This year provided the perfect example as the University of Utah went undefeated with wins against Alabama, Michigan, Oregon State, TCU, and BYU. Yet, they never had any chance at playing for the national championship. They may be the best team in the country, but we will never know what they might have done against Florida.

This doesn't work for me. I want a system that gives every team a shot at winning the title. Along those lines, I don't want a team who can't win their own conference have a shot at the title.

What I propose is a 12 team playoff consisting of the eleven conference champions and one at-large (independent) team. We can use the BCS formula to determine the seeding of the playoff, and the playoff will follow the format the NFL uses, with the top four teams having a bye in the first week of the playoffs. This would provide for some very exciting games not only during the playoffs, but also during the regular season as teams fight to win their way into the playoffs.

Again, I challenge anyone to suggest why the current system would be better than my proposal. Good luck.