Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Press Briefing

Aug 10, 2010

Karachi's complex culture of violence

President Obama on Higher Education in Austin: "We Are Not Playing for Second Place"

Hillary for Vice President? The movement is gaining traction.

The White House Asks: How do the Women You Know Continue to Break Barriers?

Joel Kotkin on California as a "failed state."

The Calm Amidst the Smoke - I've never lived in a city where the bizarre is so interwoven into daily routines as in Moscow

Statement of President Barack Obama on Secretary Gates Reform Agenda

In Lebanon, a Power Struggle and Pitiable Choices - A young prime minister pays court in Syria, while Iran also jockeys for more influence

The White House Blog - Top 5 Things You Should Know Before Heading Back to College

Of CEOs and Congressmen - Private vs. public accountability

Confronting China's Snarl - Beijing's truculence warrants a firm American response

Compensation in Bell, California - Want $600,000 a year in retirement? Work for the government.

The False Fed Savior - Monetary policy can't make up for failed fiscal and regulatory policy

Unlocking The Genetic Secrets Of Autism

Update: U.S. Response to Pakistan's Flooding Disaster

Naomi Campbell and the 'Blood Diamond' Hoax - Diamonds aren't a major reason for Africa's conflicts, and the Kimberley Process is no guarantee of a stone's pedigree in any case

Critical Role of Women in Peace and Security, by Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues
U.S. Institute of Peace, Washington, DC

Building on Iran Sanctions - With the regime under pressure, now is not the time to ease up

Monday, August 9, 2010

Press Briefing

Aug 09, 2010

Tough new global financial rules are a must

Canada, Land of Smaller Government - Its corporate income tax rate is 18% and falling. America's is 35%

Libertarians: Medicare's chief actuary vs. President Obama on the ObamaCare facts

White House: The Employment Situation in July

Fairness and the Capital Tax Fetish - No serious economist thinks higher dividend and cap gains taxes are efficient ways to raise revenue. Why not limit deductions for high earners instead?

The Ongoing Administration-Wide Response to the Deepwater BP Oil Spill

Why I'm Not Hiring - When you add it all up, it costs $74,000 to put $44,000 in Sally's pocket and to give her $12,000 in benefits

Will Iraq Fall Victim to the Oil Curse? - The Baghdad government runs a top-down command economy and only pays lip service to private jobs and economic diversification

John Fund on Medicare's questionable financial condition

Honoring Elena Kagan

Government and the Uncertainty Trap - It's not a lack of liquidity that's holding back our economy. Investors and business leaders are waiting to learn more about future taxes and regulations.

Federal President's Weekly Address: Medicare Officially Safer After Health Reform

The World Drills On - There's no ban in Norway, Brazil, Australia, Canada . . .

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Deutsche CEO: West's Levies on Banks May Lift Asia's Role

Deutsche CEO: West's Levies on Banks May Lift Asia's Role. By ALISON TUDOR And PETER STEIN
WSJ, Jul 18, 2010

HONG KONG — Asia's already rising importance as a profit center for financial services could gain more momentum as governments in the U.S. and Europe levy new taxes on global banking profits, according to Deutsche Bank AG Chief Executive Josef Ackermann.

"The relative importance of Asia will even increase" as a result of regulatory moves against banks in the West, Dr. Ackermann said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. "Asian countries would be well advised not to copy levies which are so popular in many other parts of the world."

The German bank's chief , who has become a prominent voice for bank interests in the wake of the financial crisis and heads the global lobby group Institute of International Finance, was in Hong Kong to attend the listing ceremony Friday for Agricultural Bank of China Ltd.

The levies cumulatively could translate into a substantial hit for lenders with branches in many countries, such as Deutsche Bank, which generates about three-quarters of its revenue outside of its home market, Dr. Ackermann said. Instead, he called for a home bias to the levies because the country of domicile was the one called on most to help out in the banking crisis.

Emerging markets could even take advantage of the backlash against banks in the West to grab market share in financial services, he said. "A lot of governments are determined, including the Chinese, to build up financial hubs at a time when other countries are more skeptical about the financial sector," he said, noting that Turkey and Russia are making similar advances.

Dr. Ackermann also warned that the war for talent in Asia is causing a bubble in bankers' compensation that is detrimental to the industry, even as he hired another rainmaker to keep business flowing.

Late Sunday, Deutsche Bank named Henry Cai its corporate-finance chairman for Asia as well as head of its corporate and investment bank in China. Mr. Cai is known as one of China's most consistent deal makers and is well-connected with the business and political elites in Beijing. He resigned from UBS AG in recent weeks as investment-banking chairman for Asia. It isn't known how much he will be making at Deutsche Bank.

Other senior banking executives in Asia complain that increasing competition for talent in the region is leading to excessive pay packages for bankers working in such areas as mergers and acquisitions and initial public offerings. Compensation, a key cost for banks, can cause serious problems for management when one division's or one region's pay is out of kilter with the rest. The buzz over bankers' pay in Asia comes at a time when governments in the U.S. and Europe are seeking to curb excesses that in recent years contributed to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

"If the industry pushes compensation levels up by just poaching people from each other, in the long term it is not a sustainable model and not good for the culture of banks in the region," Dr. Ackermann said.

To combat this problem, Deutsche Bank has started recruiting more Asian graduates with the aim of steeping them in the bank's culture and later returning them to the region to run its businesses.

"It's not a short-term solution. It may take up to five years to see the first successes, but that is what we are working on," said Dr. Ackermann, who was also in Asia to give a speech at an International Monetary Fund conference in South Korea.

Like other banks weighing the prospects of the global economy, Deutsche Bank has made boosting its operations in Asia a top priority. "Europe's slow economic growth and the very competitive environment in the U.S. means Asia is a very attractive market, so it would be unwise not to do everything we can to be part of the market," Dr. Ackermann said.

The German bank is targeting four billion euros ($5.17 billion) in annual revenue from the Asian-Pacific region excluding Japan by next year, about double the amount it generated from the region in 2008.

Deutsche Bank already has a strong foothold, with operations in 17 Asian countries and over 17,000 employees.

Local regulators restrict foreign banks in ways that allow them to earn only about a third of their potential revenues, according to a recent report by consultancy McKinsey & Co., so the banks need to be careful not to compete in the same niches, such as high-profile underwriting deals in financial centers like Hong Kong. Deutsche Bank says only about 5% of its revenue in Asia comes from "public" deals such as initial public offerings.

One such deal that Deutsche Bank was involved in was the IPO for AgBank, which began trading Friday in Hong Kong. Clients like AgBank and Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., which Deutsche Bank also helped take public four years ago, are potential competitors as their business grows in scope and sophistication.

"I have no doubt [China's banks] want to first strengthen their domestic operations by moving towards more fee income then expand internationally gradually," Dr. Ackermann said. "We will also be confronted with stronger competitors coming from China."

Somali Militant Group Built Training Camps, al Qaeda Links

Somali Militant Group Built Training Camps, al Qaeda Links. By WILL CONNORS in Kampala, Uganda, SIOBHAN GORMAN in Washington, D.C., and SARAH CHILDRESS
WSJ, Jul 17, 2010

The terror group behind last weekend's deadly Uganda blasts recruited a local man to coordinate the attacks and received funds from al Qaeda, say investigators, as it extends its reach beyond lawless Somalia.

Al Shabaab, the Somalia-based group that has claimed responsibility for July 11's triple suicide blasts that killed 76 people in Uganda's capital, Kampala, has in recent months built up Pakistan-style terror training camps. One top leader, Sheikh Muktar Robow, has helped to transform the group from a local insurgency into a global jihadist organization modeled on, and swearing allegiance to, al Qaeda.

That picture of the group, and its development under Mr. Robow, emerged from interviews with Ugandan, Kenyan and U.S. investigators; current and former U.S. intelligence officials; and Somalis, including a member of the militant group.

A U.S. intelligence official said information gleaned from militant communications shows links between al Shabaab and al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and Yemen. U.S. officials also see evidence of overlap in training and membership and say their working assumption is that al Shabaab has several hundred core members, similar to the numbers in al Qaeda in Pakistan and in al Qaeda's Yemeni outpost.

Intelligence officials say they believe al Qaeda is using the Somali group as a symbiotic host body, allowing its operatives access to other African countries. "As much as we're looking at al Shabaab, they are riding on the back of a more experienced player," said Col. Herbert Mbonye, the director of counterterrorism for Uganda's military intelligence body.

That relationship has raised red flags at U.S. intelligence agencies. In the past 18 months, militant training camps have emerged in Somalia similar to those that developed in Pakistan's tribal areas, a U.S. intelligence official said. Intelligence officials are now following about two dozen individuals from the U.S. and other Western countries who may have been affiliated with al Shabaab, or gone through these camps.

"It's quite an alarming story," the U.S. intelligence official said.

Al Shabaab's relationship with al Qaeda appears to have been cultivated in part by Mr. Robow, a top commander. Also known as Abu Mansur, he is among the U.S. government's most wanted terrorists.

Mr. Robow offered a warning of sorts ahead of Sunday's blasts, which hit a restaurant and a sports club where people had gathered to watch the final match of the World Cup. Speaking during a public address at Friday prayers earlier this month, Mr. Robow called for attacks against countries that had sent some 6,000 troops under African Union auspices to support the Somali government's offensive against al Shabaab. "We tell the Muslim youths and Mujahedeen, wherever they are in the Muslim world, to attack, explode and burn the embassies of Burundi and Uganda," Mr. Robow said, according to local media reports.

Mr. Robow grew up in southern Mogadishu as a devoted student of the Quran, according to public speeches he has made. He studied law at the University of Khartoum in Sudan, and then returned to Mogadishu to teach Arabic for several years. He is about 40, U.S. officials believe, based on a birth date on an Eritrean passport he used.

In 2000, Mr. Robow traveled to Afghanistan to train with the Taliban and al Qaeda, which used the strife-torn South Asian country to plot the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S. In Afghanistan, Mr. Robow learned to fight, fire a sniper rifle and conceal roadside bombs, an al Shabaab official in Somalia said. He stayed less than a year, leaving before U.S.-led forces swept into Afghanistan.

Back in Somalia, Mr. Robow became a member of the Union of Islamic Courts, which aimed to establish strict Shariah law in the country, which had been largely lawless for a decade. The group came to power in 2006. Mr. Robow helped to establish an Islamist government and founded al Shabaab, a youth brigade that would serve as the union's armed wing.

The Islamist government soon collapsed. Al Shabaab endured. Mr. Robow, a skilled orator, became an al Shabaab spokesman and eventually deputy commander.

Al Shabaab, which controls vast territory in Somalia, has been engaged in a running battle with Somalia's transitional federal government. The group has pinned the government to a strip of the capital, Mogadishu, and largely prevented officials and parliament from meeting.

Beyond his ambition to overthrow Somalia's government, Mr. Robow has advocated linking the group's ambitions to global jihad. Through media interviews and in videos posted online, he sought to attract fighters in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Iraq, largely because foreign recruits could replenish al Shabaab's ranks and aid its finances. In a 2008 interview, he lamented that there "are not enough non-Somali brothers."

The same year, the U.S. Treasury Department declared al Shabaab a terrorist group and named Mr. Robow its "spiritual leader." Mr. Robow later released a statement saying the group was "honored" to be included on the list but expressed disappointment al Shabaab wasn't ranked higher.

Senior U.S. administration officials said some foreign fighters who answered Mr. Robow's calls—some of whom have "close links" with al Qaeda—came with experience, funding and the agenda of establishing Somalia as a base from which to attack Western targets.

The foreigners also brought new tactics. Roadside bombs and suicide blasts, once unheard-of in Somalia, are now part of al Shabaab's armory. The group's commanders have banned dancing, mustaches and, most recently, watching World Cup games on television. Fighters punish offenders with floggings or public amputations.

On Wednesday, armed al Shabaab fighters drove through towns in southern Somalia, blaring a warning to residents through megaphones mounted on their vehicles, according to witnesses contacted by telephone. "You must collaborate with [us] and allow your sons to fight the enemy of Allah," Abu Maryama, a senior al Shabaab official told crowds in the southwestern town of Baidoa. "If you pay no heed to this …you will be considered as another enemy and face punishment."

Harsh retribution and indiscriminate deaths have sapped public support for the group, and created rifts within it. Mr. Robow has been caught between those who want to focus the insurgency in Somali—and retain a measure of popular support— and the global jihadists who don't care about local backing, according the al Shabaab colleague. Mr. Robow, a Somali who has long opposed foreign intervention in his country, may not be considered radical enough for the new agenda, according to a recent report by the International Crisis Group, a Brussels based think tank.In the Uganda attack, the group's two factions apparently found middle ground.

The blasts have presented U.S. officials with a quandary. They see a need to step up support and involvement in the region, but they haven't determined the best course. "Violence always breeds urgency," the U.S. intelligence official said. "The question is: What [to do]?" The U.S. has been tracking al Shabaab and al Qaeda in Somalia for years, officials say. The Central Intelligence Agency works with military special forces units to collect intelligence and pinpoint targets, a former senior intelligence official said. The U.S. also works closely with the Ethiopian and Kenyan governments on counterterrorism operations.

Those efforts have grown in recent years as U.S. officials discovered as many as 20 Americans from Minnesota making their way to Somalia, including one who was determined to have been among five suicide bombers in an October 2008 attack in northern Somalia.

The intelligence-gathering paid off last year when U.S. Special Forces killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a top operative linked to both al Qaeda and al Shabaab who was believed to be linked to 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

But U.S. Special Forces units and intelligence officials have been grappling with a broader response to the growing terror threat from Somalia. Calling in airstrikes could fuel retaliatory measures against a weak Somali government. It could also stir up anti-U.S. sentiment that would advance the group's agenda, said the U.S. intelligence official.

"If you strike a camp, it makes you feel good, but what do you do the next day?" the official said. "You don't effectively eliminate the threat."

On Thursday, an al Shabaab leader underscored that point, delivering a message on the radio in Mogadishu congratulating what he called the Martyr Saleh Nabhan Brigade for the Kampala attacks.

Intelligence agencies have warned about al Shabaab's growing ambition to attack other countries—particularly Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya—as well as the West, the U.S. intelligence official said.U.S. intelligence hadn't picked up many direct threats against Uganda, but there has been a general concern about attacks targeting countries that supply troops to A.U. forces.

Investigators in Uganda say they are questioning a Ugandan man, Ali Isa Ssenkumba, who they say has confessed to helping plan the attacks.

Mr. Ssenkumba, who is in his late thirties and hails from a farming community outside Kampala, told investigators he was recruited by Somali men who persuaded him that he could have success in business in Somalia, according to a Ugandan military official close to the investigation.

Posing as a businessman, Mr. Ssenkumba made frequent trips to Somalia, where he attended an al Shabaab training camp, the Ugandan official said. Mr. Ssenkumba told investigators many other Ugandans are at al Shabaab's Somalia training facilities.

This person says Mr. Ssenkumba become familiar with guards at the borders between Uganda and Sudan and Uganda and Kenya, and received money and coordinated logistics for roughly two dozen al Shabaab members in Uganda who are suspected of plotting the triple suicide blast. Mr. Ssenkumba said, and investigators say they separately determined, that the attack was partially funded by informal money transfers from al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Police in Kenya said they arrested Mr. Ssenkumba last week, before the attack, and handed him over to Ugandan investigators Tuesday, after the bombings.

According to Nicholas Kamwende, the commanding officer of Kenya's anti-terrorism police unit, Mr. Ssenkumba walked up to an immigration officer on the Kenya-Somalia border some time before the Kampala attacks and turned himself in.

"He said he didn't want to stay any longer with al Shabaab, that he wanted to go home," Mr. Kamwende said. "We didn't have anything to hold him on and we thought the Ugandans would be in a better position to exploit what he knew."

Mr. Ssenkumba wasn't made available to comment and it wasn't immediately apparent whether he was represented by a lawyer. Neither Mr. Kamwende nor Ugandan officials would say whether Mr. Ssenkumba provided information before the impending attack. Ugandan officials say Mr. Ssenkumba didn't turn himself in voluntarily.

—Nicholas Baryio in Kampala and Keith Johnson in Washington contributed to this article.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Press Briefing

Jul 16, 2010

We Need an Einstein Immigration Policy - When Americans see the benefits of a 'brain gain,' they'll view newcomers more favorably

Al Qaeda Goes Viral - The terrorists' latest recruiting device: an English language Internet magazine

The Natural Gas Revolution - Experts are so focused on analyzing the BP spill that they're overlooking the next big thing

Diplomacy Briefing Series: Sudan and sub-Saharan Africa. By Tim Shortley, Deputy to the Special Envoy to Sudan

The Uncertainty Principle—II - Only 30 times more complicated than Sarbanes-Oxley

The Yo-Yo Market and You - The stock market will suffer dizzy spells until the fog of monetary policy uncertainty is lifted

Avandia on Trial - An FDA review panel shows more wisdom than the drug's critics

Welcome for South Asian Seeds of Peace Participants, by Judith A. McHale, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

Youth Has Outlived Its Usefulness - American politics is desperately in need of adult supervision

Agent Orange in Vietnam: Recent Developments In Remediation. By Matthew Palmer, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Testimony before the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment Committee on Foreign Affairs

How to Liberate the NHS - Andrew Lansley's plan to break the bureaucracy of th National Health Service is bold, but risky

How Do International Financial Flows to Developing Countries Respond to Natural Disasters?

Europe has implemented Feed-In Tariffs. Shouldn’t We Learn from their Experience?

From the Lisbon Treaty to the Eurozone Crisis: A New Beginning or the Unraveling of Europe?

Why Can't We Fire Failed Financial Regulators?

Thinking outside the box to avoid a double-dip recession

Why the Obama Stimulus Failed

CBO’s Economic Forecasting Record: 2010 Update

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Press Briefing

Jul 15, 2010

PEPFAR Programs in Uganda: An Update

New Hope For Alzheimer's Disease

New Delhi Will Deploy Resources In Fight Against Marxist Insurgents

Progress Report on Cybersecurity

How Can the International Community Maximize Human Rights Within Public Health Practices?

Obama's School Reforms Are a Priority - Congress shouldn't divert the funds the president needs to improve public education. By J Klein, chancellor of New York City schools; M Lomax, president and chief executive of the United Negro College Fund; J Murguía, president and chief executive of the National Council of La Raza. They are co-chairs of the Board of the Education Equality Project.

A Chicago-Style Peace Disturber - 'Community organizer' Saul Alinsky lumped politicians in with gangsters

Cultivating a Federal Workforce that Reflects the Diversity of the American People

The Air Force Needs a Serious Upgrade - Here are five steps to ensure that the U.S. remains the dominant force in the sky

The White House Blog: Prevention is a Priority -- Now It's a Reality

A Bill Lerach Tax Cut - Treasury mulls a break for contingency fee lawsuits

Federal civil servants - Preparing for Afghanistan: Training in Muscatatuck

Three Million Imaginary Jobs - The White House says the stimulus worked beyond even its hopes. Seriously.

The U.S.-South Korea Alliance: Outdated, Unnecessary, and Dangerous

Speaking Up for American Capitalism - Business has taken a pounding on Capitol Hill and at the White House and for the most part has remained silent. It's time to make our case.

Budget Consolidation: Short-Term Pain and Long-Term Gain. IMF Staff Study

Rove: My Biggest Mistake in the White House - Failing to refute charges that Bush lied us into war has hurt our country

Remarks to Members of the U.S. Delegation to the New START Negotiations and Nuclear Posture Review Department Staff. By State Sec Clinton, Ellen Tauscher,    Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, and Rose Gottemoeller, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Verification, Compliance, and Implementation. Dean Acheson Auditorium, Washington, DC

New START: Beyond the Rhetoric

Press Briefing

Jul 14, 2010

Notable & Quotable: John Fund explores whether the illegal votes of felons determined the outcome of the 2008 Minnesota Senate election
WSJ, Jul 14, 2010

Did illegal felon voters determine the outcome of the critical 2008 Minnesota Senate election? The day after the election, GOP Senator Norm Coleman had a 725 vote lead, but a series of recounts over the next six months reversed that result and gave Democrat Al Franken a 312 vote victory.

The outcome wound up having a significant impact, giving Democrats the critical 60th Senate vote they needed to block GOP filibusters. Mr. Franken's vote proved crucial in the passage of ObamaCare last December in the Senate. . . .

Ever since Mr. Franken was declared the victor, the conservative watchdog group Minnesota Majority has combed through records comparing lists of those who voted with criminal rap sheets. It found that at least 289 convicted felons voted in Minneapolis's Hennepin County, the state's largest, and another 52 voted illegally in St. Paul's Ramsey County, the state's second largest. Dan McGrath, head of Minnesota Majority, says that only conclusive matches were included in the group's totals. The number of felons voting in those two counties alone exceeds Mr. Franken's victory margin. . . .

Minnesota Majority says it has been "stonewalled" by Hennepin County officials to whom it presented its findings. But in neighboring Ramsey County, Phil Carruthers of the local District Attorney's office says he takes the charges "very seriously" and found that Minnesota Majority "had done a good job in their review." His office has asked for 15 investigators to be hired to pursue the information. "So far we have charged 28 people with felonies, have 17 more under review and have 182 cases still open," he said.

The White House Blog - Wall Street Reform: Final Votes Approach

Real Government Efficiency - When a liberal pundit fawns over China's global-warming policies, one sees the Hobbesian within

The Taliban War on Women Continues - When 22-year-old Hossai was told to quit her job by the Taliban, she refused to be bullied. She was shot and killed.

The Failure of the Live Aid Model. By JOHN-CLARK LEVIN
Better government is the key to preventing famine.
WSJ, Jul 14, 2010

Twenty-five years ago yesterday, rock stars and charity organizers from both sides of the Atlantic came together for an unprecedented fund-raising event. Simultaneous concerts at London's Wembley Stadium and JFK Stadium in Philadelphia were joined via satellite linkup for a global television audience. Ethiopians were suffering from dire famine, and promotional posters proclaimed this would be "The day the music changed the world." They called it Live Aid.

In monetary terms, the event was considerably more successful than expected, raising £150 million ($283 million). There was an extended round of global self-congratulation and a knighthood for organizer Bob Geldof. More than ever, the attention of the world was focused on the famine and poverty afflicting Africa.

Yet despite the massive financial outpouring, the raised awareness and the cultural impact, Live Aid must be considered a failure.

Recently released CIA documents from 1985 (and a subsequent BBC investigation) suggest that so much of the money went to arms instead of food that it may have prolonged and deepened Ethiopia's humanitarian catastrophe. Live Aid also focused the developed world on a flawed approach to charity that ignores the governmental causes of Africa's misery.

Seven years later, the United Nations pledged to relieve the serious famine in Somalia brought on by its civil war. The U.N.'s first mission in 1992 was purely humanitarian—providing food, medicine and other vital supplies to a population in critical danger of starvation. Yet the country was so thoroughly in the grip of chaos that 80% of the food aid was stolen. Much of the remainder was unable to pass through the ruined Somali infrastructure to reach those who needed it.

It was not until a U.S.-led military mission was sent to restore order by force that the aid finally started getting through. The famine soon abated, and the conflict subsided considerably—until American forces pulled out after suffering 19 casualties in the Battle of Mogadishu the following year. Since the final withdrawal of U.N. peacekeepers in 1995, Somalia has known nothing but hunger, disease, anarchy and now piracy.

By contrast, when severe drought struck the Horn of Africa in 2006, Kenya and Ethiopia—with their relatively stable governments—were able to cope. They faced less serious food shortages than lawless Somalia, and what aid they did require from the U.N. and international relief agencies usually reached their people successfully. The easing of food shortages in the Congo in the past five years can similarly be attributed to the stability that came with the end of the region's six-year war. The quarter-century since Live Aid has borne out irrefutably that famine and poverty cannot be solved with charity alone. We can only stop them by putting an end to corruption and instability.

Even singer-turned-humanitarian Bono has conceded that these structural issues are the heart of the problem. He told NBC's "Meet the Press" in 2005, "This is the number one problem facing Africa, corruption; not natural calamity, not the AIDS virus. This is the number one issue and there's no way around it . . . So no one is talking about aid in the old sense . . . It makes matters worse, not better." Yet less than a week after that interview, Bono headlined a massive rehash of Live Aid called Live 8.

Although Live 8 branded itself as a new, "smarter" approach to charitable giving, the event shared the same misunderstanding of Africa's problems with its 1985 predecessor. The rockers and celebrities who turned out for Live 8 made high-minded calls for debt relief, monetary aid increases and trade renegotiation.

The U.N. recently announced an aid package for famine-stricken and unstable Niger. Sadly, there's little reason to think aid alone will do more good here than it has in other troubled lands over the past 25 years.

Mr. Levin, winner of the 2010 Eric Breindel Collegiate Journalism Award, is an intern at the Journal this summer.

President Obama Announces a New OMB Director: Jacob Lew

Victor Cha: North Korea ‘A Real Dilemma’

Remarks by the President on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy

Iran and the Missile Defense Imperative - U.S. intelligence now sees Tehran developing intercontinental missiles by 2015. If we continue our current strategy, we will not be able to counter the threat.

Special Briefing On Upcoming Kabul Conference, by Richard Holbrooke, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan

A Welcome Veto Threat - The White House takes on the left over education

State Dept Spokesman: Iranian Scientist Shahram Amiri (Taken Question)

The White House’s Continuing War on Affordable Energy

The Uncertainty Principle - Dodd-Frank will require at least 243 new federal rule-makings

Journalism Needs Government Help - Media budgets have been decimated as the Internet facilitates a communications revolution. More public funding for news-gathering is the answer

Shareholders of large, publicly traded banks have a higher appetite for risk than is compatible with our regulatory system

Obama Needs to Change Budget Dialogue Along with Budget Director

Obamacare’s Exploding Medicaid Costs

How Inequality Fueled the Crisis, by Raghuram Rajan

One State/Two States: Rethinking Israel and Palestine

U.S. National Space Policy. By Frank A. Rose, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Verification, Compliance, & Implementation. Conference on Disarmament, Geneva, Switzerland

The Obama Tax and Spend Threat to Economic Recovery

The determinants of cross-border bank flows to emerging markets: new empirical evidence on the spread of financial crises, by Sabine Herrmann and Dubravko Mihaljek. BIS Working Papers No 315

Chris Matthews: What Percentage of Republicans Would You Put In the 'Nut Bag?'

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Press Briefing

Jul 13, 2010

The determinants of cross-border bank flows to emerging markets: new empirical evidence on the spread of financial crises, by Sabine Herrmann and Dubravko Mihaljek. BIS Working Papers No 315

Funding liquidity risk: definition and measurement. By Mathias Drehmann and Kleopatra Nikolaou. BIS Working Papers No 316

Working Hand in Hand: The Kabul Conference and Afghanistan’s International Partners

Chemical Fears Exacerbate Whooping Cough Epidemic

The White House Blog - Introducing the New and Improved LetsMove.gov

Beyond the Obama Nuke Policy - How Congress and opinion leaders can counter administration weakness on North Korea and Iran

PTSD Claims: Making the Process Easier for Our Veterans

Al Qaeda in Africa - Sunday's Uganda attacks underscore a new global threat

White House: If It's Working, Keep it Going!

The New-Old Drilling Ban - Salazar to Gulf workers: Move to Egypt

Pacific Partnership En Route to Indonesia

Kagan and ObamaCare - The Senate should press her to recuse herself from the state lawsuit

State Dept on Bombings in Uganda

FDR, Obama and 'Confidence' - Demonizing business deepened the Great Depression. The White House can learn from Roosevelt's mistakes.

The Bush Tax Cuts and the Deficit Myth - Runaway government spending, not declining tax revenues, is the reason the U.S. faces dramatic budget shortfalls for years to come

Karl Rove - In 2007, then-Sen. Obama helped derail an immigration bill he claimed to support. He's no more serious about a bipartisan bill today.

Defending Planet Earth: Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies: Final Report

Oil Spill Response is “Stuck on Stupid”

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Press Briefing

Jul 12, 2010

Palestians' peaceful protests: Waiting for Gandhi

Too Good To Check - How journalists create myths and legends, not least about themselves

Ask First Lady Michelle Obama Questions about her Let’s Move! Initiative

The World Isn't Waiting on Free Trade - Our exporters are losing ground. The president should act on the trade agreements with Colombia and others.

The White House Blog: President Obama on Government and Economic Recovery in Nevada

Lessons From the Swedish Welfare State - New research shows bigger government means slower growth. Our country is a prime example.

Blame the Torpedo - The U.N. condemns an act of aggression but not the aggressor

Weekly Address: President Obama Announces Changes to Help Veterans with PTSD Receive the Benefits They Need

Who Pays for ObamaCare? - What Donald Berwick and Joe the Plumber both understand

XV Anniversary of Srebrenica Genocide, by State Sec Clinton

The Climategate Whitewash Continues - Global warming alarmists claim vindication after last year's data manipulation scandal. Don't believe the 'independent' reviews.

UN Security Council Statement on the Cheonan Attack, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State

Obama's Entitlement Opportunity - The president's deficit commission isn't likely to agree on tax increases, but don't be surprised if it recommends Social Security reform

“We Must Not, Will Not Lose Sight of Darfur”

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner: “All Americans have a stake in financial reforms.”

Roseanne Barr: if Fiorina wins, 'everybody' will be 'homeless and jobless here, and sick and desperate.' 'You wanted a big socialist state telling you that military spending is more important than jobs or food or water.'


Roseanne Barr: 'Organs are harvested in war, by big farma.'

Roseanne Barr: 'all republicans' cherish 'the freedom to have sex with small children [...] (just kidding, sort of).'

Cross-Strait Relations in a New Era of Negotiation, by David B. Shear, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Remarks APFD at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace event

HUD suggested language that reads: "Funded by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, Barack Obama President." Commerce said it wants the signage displayed "throughout the construction phase" and "in a prominent location on site."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Press Briefing

Jul 09, 2010

America's Growing Innovation Gap - We've fallen behind according to studies and my experience as a CEO. Here's how to reclaim our edge.

Persistent Unemployment - It erodes the skills of the labor force and reduces future productivity

The White House Blog: From Sand to Solar

Our Pro-Business President - The White House says he's misunderstood

Beyond Madrasas: Assessing the Links Between Education and Militancy in Pakistan

An Obama Home Run - He picks a fighting general for Centcom, Marine General James Mattis

The White House Blog: More Seniors to Receive One-Time Donut Hole Rebate Checks

Five Democrats on the Senate Energy Committee last week delivered a rebuke to the White House, voting with Reps to have Congress set up an "independent" commission to investigate the BP disaster, bypassing the President's appointees

Youth Transitions to Employment and Marriage in Iran: Evidence from the School to Work Transition Survey

The Obama-Pelosi Lame Duck Strategy - Union 'card-check,' cap and trade, and so much more

The White House Blog: Going Green in Denver

Why This Isn't Like 1938—At Least Not Yet - Stock prices show we've dodged another depression, but toxic, antibusiness

rhetoric and policy errors like the Dodd-Frank bill are hurting the still-fragile recovery

The White House Blog: Smith Electric Just One Example of Innovation in Kansas City

New START is a Non-Starter

White House's Peter Orszag: SAVE More

Fact Checking the Fact Checker: A Response to Senator Kerry

Introducing Energy and Climate Partnership for the Americas Fellow Daniel M. Kammen

Federal Government Overpaid $47 Billion a Year

Memorandum of Understanding Signing Ceremony Establishing the U.S.-Angola Strategic Partnership Dialogue

Why Limits On Banker Bonuses Are Meaningless

US Scientists Discover Powerful Antibodies for HIV

Words you cannot say at Naval War College

Press Briefing

Jul 08, 2010

The White House Blog: Progress on the National Export Initiative & Job Creation

The New Start Treaty: Time for a Careful Look - The Senate shouldn't rubber stamp an arms control strategy rooted in a vision of 'nuclear zero' without opening up the negotiating record

The White House Blog - Solar and Smart Grid: Powering a Clean Energy Future

The Right Way to Raise Wages - The president's drive to strengthen unions will increase unemployment

The White House Blog: How Affordable Care Act Helps Veterans

The Superfund Bait and Switch - Reviving another tax on business

U.S. Embassy Santiago: Ambassador Simons Launches Eco-Friendly Project at Fourth of July Celebration

The Arabs on Iran - The U.A.E. ambassador tells the truth

Patient Assistance Programs - Since the launch of the Partnership for Prescription Assistance program in April 2005, over 6 million patients have been matched with programs that provide free or nearly free medicines

Unemployment Benefits Aren't Stimulus - Let's not reduce the incentive to find work. A federal tax holiday is a better way to cut the high jobless rate.

Conference on sub-Saharan Africa : Women's Inclusion and Participation. By Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues

Conservatives on Federal President's Dr. Donald Berwick: "The Rationer-in-Chief"

Secretary Clinton Holds Town Hall With Georgian Women Leaders

Swede Bites Dog: Moderate Party-linked students offer to load and unload Israeli cargo

IMF: World growth is projected at about 4½ percent in 2010 and 4¼ percent in 2011. Relative to the April 2010 World Economic Outlook (WEO), this represents an upward revision of about ½ percentage point in 2010, reflecting stronger activity during the first half of the year.

WTO issues panel report on Airbus dispute

Dissent in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Press Briefing

Jul 07, 2010

The White House Blog: Moving Forward to Protect Seniors' Care

Iran and Hezbollah's Spiritual Leader - In Lebanon, a struggle over the legacy of the late Ayatollah Fadlallah

President Obama's Meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu: Gaza, Iran, Nuclear Weapons & Peace

Keynes vs. Hayek: The Great Debate Continues - Newly discovered letters from two great economists shed light on today's discussion of economic 'stimulus'

Chronicle of currency collapses: re-examining the effects on output. By Matthieu Bussière, Sweta C Saxena and Camilo Tovar, BIS Working Papers No 314

Conservatives: When Bibi Met Barack (Take Four) - At least Israel's Prime Minister is no longer a White House pariah

Security Companies Cash in on Anti-Piracy Operations

Suing Arizona - How not to forge an immigration reform consensus

Persistent Forecasting of Disruptive Technologies--Report 2

A Case Study in Teacher Bailouts - Milwaukee shows that unions will keep resisting concessions if Washington rides to the rescue

Diplomacy Briefing Series: Conference on sub-Saharan Africa, by Judith A. McHale, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs

The Massachusetts Health-Care 'Train Wreck' - The future of ObamaCare is unfolding here: runaway spending, price controls, even limits on care and medical licensing

The Future of the Board of Directors

Behold, the Subprime Shmoe - Joseph Cassano is getting his reputation back thanks to Phil Angelides

Small study reveals same-sex parenting good for kids

Conservatives: Remember the Gulf

Monday, July 5, 2010

Press Briefing

Jul 06, 2010

Secy. Kathleen Sebelius To Take Your Questions on Health Care

Obama the Great? How scholars rank federal presidents

Secretary Clinton Meets With Georgian President Saakashvili

The Myth of the Back-to-the-City Migration - The condo bust should lay to rest the notion that the American love affair with suburbia is over

Federal Vicepresident: Wrapping Up My Visit to Iraq

The Connecticut-New York Border War - Politicians discover that hedge funds pay a lot of taxes

A Trillion Unintended Consequences - Dodd-Frank's last minute assault on Main Street derivatives

"Civil Society: Supporting Democracy in the 21st Century," at the Community of Democracies. By State Sec Clinton, Slowacki Theater, Krakow, Poland

The Government Pay Bonus - Private employees toil 13½ months to earn what federal workers do in 12

U.S.-Poland Bilateral Missile Defense Signing and Joint Press Availability With Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski. By State Sec Clinton. City Hall, Krakow, Poland

Europe Remakes a Pact - The best discipline for the EU is still market discipline

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Press Briefing

Jul 05, 2010

First Lady: Supporting Our Military Families

More on "This Time Is Different": a quantitative reconstruction of hundreds of historical episodes in which perfectly smart people made perfectly disastrous decisions

Remarks At the Closing of the Strategic Partnership Commission. By State Sec Clinton. Kyiv, Ukraine

Democrats said during the Kagan hearings that the Roberts court has shown a pro-corporate bias

Obama's national security officials, on the night watch

Expanding Crime and Punishment in Tibet

As American power wanes in the Middle East, regional powers seek to fill the void

Maximizing the Value and Impact of East African Broadband for Higher Education. By Judith A. McHale, Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. Keynote Speech at the East Africa ICT and Higher Education Symposium 2010

Independence Day in Siberia - From a former Soviet Army truck driver, I learned the blessings of being an American

Promoting Practices that Reflect our Ideals: A Sharper Focus for International Migration Policy. By Eric P. Schwartz, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. Seventh Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference, Georgetown University Law and Conference Center

Australian Tax Retreat - Kevin Rudd's 'super-profits' levy follows him out the door

Fast growing birds can eat Liberty-Link Corn

IMF Forum Considers Principles of Managing Public Debt in the Context of Market Turbulence

Private Jobs Strike - Another disappointing employment report

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Press Briefing

Jul 02, 2010

Promoting Practices that Reflect our Ideals: A Sharper Focus for International Migration Policy. By Eric P. Schwartz, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. Seventh Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference, Georgetown University Law and Conference Center

U.S. National Voluntary Presentation, by Melanne Verveer. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues

Oil dispersant does not pose environmental threat, early EPA findings suggest

Do not use the Army to fight the Naxalites

Afghanistan and the 'Resource Curse' - With its newly discovered mineral wealth, it could end up like Nigeria. Or like Mexico

U.S. Counterterrorism Policy, by Robert F. Godec, Principal Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism. Global Young Leaders Conference, Washington, DC

High Speed Rail in America: Hope We Can Believe in

Reconfirming John Roberts - Why Democrats are targeting the Chief Justice

Iran Sanctions: Where We Go From Here - A coordinated strategy by the U.S. and the European Union will determine success or failure

The Obama Tax Trap - How some Republicans are preparing to walk right into it

The Polarization of Job Opportunities in the U.S. Labor Market - Implications for Employment and Earnings

Why Is the Gulf Cleanup So Slow? - There are obvious actions to speed things up, but the government oddly resists taking them

Terrorist Use of the Internet, by Gina Abercrombie-Winstanley, Deputy Coordinator for Counterterrorism. Joint U.S. Embassy and Philippine Welcome. 2nd Tri-Border Conference, Manila, Philippines

"A nation of laws and a nation of immigrants"

Maureen Dowd Critiques: 'Thin-Skinned' Federal President Doesn't Like Media Portrayal

Standing Up to the Unholy Alliance Between Washington and Wall Street

The Three Biggest Myths About Tax Cuts and the Budget Deficit

IMF Staff: The Fundamental Determinants of Credit Default Risk for European Large Complex Financial Institutions

The Limitless Power of the Obama-Kagan Congress

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Press Briefing

Jul 01, 2010

10th Anniversary of Ukraine Women's Fund, by Melanne Verveer, Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's Issues. Kyiv, Ukraine

Remarks at Enough Project Panel on Conflict Minerals, by Robert D. Hormats, Under Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agricultural Affairs. Remarks as Prepared for Delivery. Washington, DC

The Global Jobs Competition Heats Up - In a new study, corporate leaders say the U.S. business environment is losing its edge when compared countries like China, India and Brazil

India’s strategic advantage over China in Africa

Hastings College of the Law, Christian Legal Society case - The Supreme Court's 'Subsidies': The Justices erode freedom of association

Statement from the President on the Passage of Financial Reform

Kagan's Commerce Show-and-Tell - Hints about her views on ObamaCare

Indo Pak Rapprochement: Unexplored Option of Military to Military Engagement

Libertarians: RomneyCare Unleashed Adverse Selection, As Will ObamaCare

U.S.-Saudi Arabia Fact Sheet

Teacher Tenure Breakout - The new D.C. contract could be a national reform model

Libertarians On Immigrants and Crime: Perception vs. Reality

G-20 leaders don't agree with the president that more spending will revive the economy. Nor do most Americans.

Research on global financial stability: the use of BIS international financial statistics

New Industry Study: Kerry-Lieberman to Destroy Up to 5.1 Million Jobs, Cost Families $1,042 per Year, Wealthiest Americans to Benefit

Vice President Biden's Visit With General Petraeus

The Dodd-Frank Financial Fiasco - The bill all but guarantees bailouts as far as the eye can see, while failing to address real problems like Fan and Fred and our outdated bankruptcy code

CBO: The Long-Term Budget Outlook

Obama’s Oil Spill To-Do List

Espionage History and the 'Russian 10' - The arrest of 'sleeper agents' on U.S. soil is the stuff of spy novels, not the Cold War

Gun Shy - Four Supreme Court justices make the case against constitutional rights

The Rise and Fall of Bear Stearns

Clinton-Obama: The back story

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Press Briefing

Jan 30, 2010

India, Buddhism and Geopolitics in Central Asia: Regaining Centrality

The Road to Kabul Runs Through Islamabad - Pakistani leaders are desperate to broker a deal with Karzai and the Haqqani network. Petraeus understands why.

The Boris and Natasha Show - Stealing American secrets is standard Putin procedure

The Bucyrus Travesty - A tale of two loan guarantees

Briefing by Senior Administration Officials on the President's National Space Policy Via Teleconference

Why Obamanomics Has Failed - Uncertainty about future taxes and regulations is enemy No. 1 of economic growth

‘Not since FDR has a president done so much to transform a country’http://my.barackobama.com/page/community/post/joshpeck/gGGGd7

Right now, the U.S. path leads from debt to deflation to stagflation. There's got to be a better way.

The White House - Elena Kagan's Strong Support of the Military

The Bailout Tax - The latest reason to oppose Dodd-Frank

National Space Policy

Price Transparency in Health Care: Will it Bend the Cost Curve?

Kagan’s clerkship with Thurgood Marshall a huge asset

The Dodd-Frank Assault on Economic Recovery

Monday, June 28, 2010

Press Briefing

Jun 29, 2010

WH: Elena Kagan's Opening Testimonyhttp://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/06/28/elena-kagans-opening-testimony

Sarbox Survives - A modest victory for Presidential power

The Supreme Court's Gun Showdown - Privileges or Immunities Clause

The White House Blog - President Obama on the Loss of Senator Robert Byrd: "A Voice of Principle and Reason"

King of Pork—and Proud of It - Robert Byrd made the most of his time in the Senate

The President's Plan to Increase Spectrum - Technology & the Economy

Panetta's Bomb - Now the CIA tells us Iran is going nuclear, and sanctions won't work

Cutting Waste by Reforming IThttp://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/06/28/cutting-waste-reforming-it

Afghanistan: Eyes Wide Shut - Federal President's ambivalence toward the war is energizing our enemies and undermining our allies

The White House Blog - Improved Access to Preventive Care for Seniors

Five Gun Salute - The High Court's four liberals are holding out to overturn Heller

IMF Analsyt Study: Currency Hedging for International Portfolios. By Jochen M. Schmittmann
Summary: This paper examines the benefits from hedging the currency exposure of international investments in single- and multi-country equity and bond portfolios from the perspectives of German, Japanese, British and American investors. Over the period 1975 to 2009, hedging of currency risk substantially reduced the volatility of foreign investments at a quarterly  investment horizon. Contrary to previous studies, the paper finds that at longer investment horizons of up to five years the case for hedging for risk reduction purposes remained strong.In addition to its impact on risk, hedging affected returns in economically meaningful magnitudes in some cases.

The End of Community Banking - Creditworthy borrowers will be denied loans as small banks devote more and more energy to regulatory compliance

White House Open For Questions: Energy and Climate Legislation with Heather Zichal

Stopping the Slick, Saving the Environment: A Framework for Response, Recovery, and Resiliency

U.S., Pakistan Hold Strategic Dialogue on Health Issues

Will Elena Kagan Defend the Rule of Law?

Press Briefing

Jun 28, 2010

EPA Bans Human "Guinea Pig" Studies

Krugman: The Third Depression

Canada: Land of the Free - At the G-20 summit in Toronto this weekend it will lead the charge against new bank taxes and for spending restraint. Who says our neighbor is boring?

The German Experiment - The government sets a premium price on solar and other alternative power sources. The policy offers lessons in ways to encourage the use of renewable energy.

Generation Gap - The Kerry-Lieberman energy bill would enervate America

Why Friedrich Hayek Is Making a Comeback - With the failure of Keynesian stimulus, the late Austrian economist's ideas on state power and crony capitalism are getting a new hearing

WaPo on Kagan: A Supreme conversation

Kagan's Commerce Clause - Can Congress compel Americans to do anything?

The White House Blog - A Cause for Hope

On S Korea Trade Agreement: Smart trade

Korean Trade Epiphany - Federal President discovers the benefits of an agreement he has disdained for three years

Forbes on Hillary Clinton As Accidental Supply-Sider - She's right about Brazil's growth. She's wrong about its tax rates

Petraeus and Obama's Uncertain Trumpet - There is a mismatch between the general's Afghan mission and the president's summons to his countrymen

The White House Blog: Keeping Up with the G8 and G20

Triumph of the Regulators - The Dodd-Frank financial reform bill doubles down on the same system that failed

Weekly Address: Finishing the Job on Wall Street Reform

The Kevin Rudd Lesson - Australia's prime minister fell because he threatened the nation's economic prosperity

In 2009, U.S. Led the Rest of the World in Increases of Oil and Natural Gas Production; China Recorded the Greatest Increase in Energy Consumption and Emissions

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Press Briefing

Jun 26, 2010

Shaping a Common Vision of Security between Russia and the United States. By Rose Gottemoeller, Assistant Secretary,

Bureau of Verification, Compliance, and Implementation. Ploughshares Fund-PIR Centre Conference. Moscow, Russia

Do Developed and Developing Countries Compete Head to Head in High-tech? By Lawrence Edwards, Robert Z. Lawrence
NBER Working Paper No. 16105
Concerns that (1) growth in developing countries could worsen the US terms of trade and (2) that increased US trade

with developing countries will increase US wage inequality both implicitly reflect the assumption that goods produced

in the United States and developing countries are close substitutes and that specialization is incomplete. In this

paper we show on the contrary that there are distinctive patterns of international specialization and that developed

and developing countries export fundamentally different products, especially those classified as high tech.

The Great Danes: Cultural Values and Neoliberal Reforms
The paper examines the relationship between civic values and neoliberal reforms. It shows that countries with more

idealistic (or civic-minded) cultural attitudes also have more neoliberal economic policies. In addition, countries

with more idealistic cultural values moved most rapidly toward market reforms after 1980. In less civic-minded

cultures, rent-seeking special interest groups blocked reform, even as the superiority of the neoliberal economic

model became increasingly apparent.

Humanoid Robot Justin Learning To Fix Satellites

Jobs and Financial Regulation Reform: A Preliminary Look

DLC: Ban the Gerrymander

Libertarian: Rethinking jobless benefits

Conservatives: Halting the Explosive Growth of Welfare Entitlements

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Press Briefing

Jan 25, 2010

On BPA: Speak Up, Science & Industry -- or Forever Hold Your Peace

Obama Is Missing in Action on Gay Rights - Ted Olson is on the right side of history. When will the president step up?

Ambassador Eikenberry Receives First Honorary Degree From National Military Academy of Afghanistan

A Weakened U.S. Goes to the G-20 - In Toronto, summiteers will be courting China—not the U.S.—as the world's pre-eminent source of dollar financing

Petraeus's Opportunity - His selection reassures our Afghan allies that the U.S. will not begin substantial troop reductions until the Afghans can handle the insurgents on their own

The Roundtable's Great Awakening - Big business discovers President Obama's 'hostile environment.'

Breakthrough in Capturing Lost Energy in Solar Cells - "Hot carrier" solar cells could be twice as efficient as today's

Why It's Safer to Drill in the 'Backyard' - Texas has had 102 oil and gas well blowouts since the start of 2006, without catastrophic consequences

The White House Blog - Reset with Russia Continues

Repeal ObamaCare: Yes We Can

Policies of Scarcity in a Land of Plenty

Conrad Black's Revenge - The Supreme Court reins in a vague and often abused law

Assistant Secretary Brimmer Speaks With Students at John Cabot University. By Esther Brimmer, Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Organization Affairs. Rome, Italy

No Rush to Judgment on New START

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Press Briefing

Jun 24, 2010

Using Comparative Effectiveness Research to Improve the Health of Priority Populations

BIS Annual Reports 1931 to 1996

War Is No Place for Libel Law - A federal court slaps down a novel claim from a Sudanese business bombed by the U.S. in 1998

A Missed Opportunity on Financial Reform - How could Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have escaped Congress's attention?

U.S. Assistance in Response to the Current Humanitarian Crisis in the Kyrgyz Republic and Uzbekistan

Democrats and the McChrystal Fiasco - They politicized generals during the Bush administration and fomented distrust between civilian and military leaders

The White House Blog - The Secret Life of White House Bees

The Family Business Revenue Act - A tax on the wealthy becomes a tax on mom and pop

Al Gore & D Blood: Toward Sustainable Capitalism - Long-term incentives are the antidote to short-term greed

Volcker and Derivatives - The end game for financial reform

President Obama on LGBT Pride Month: Extraordinary Progress, But Hard Work Left to Do

The Petraeus Hail Mary - Obama makes a wise choice, but the general needs more support

How the UN Can Contribute to International Cooperation on Climate Change. By Maria Otero, Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs. NY-Alesund Symposium, Svalbard, Norway

Federal Presidents’s Leadership Vacuum

It's Time America Had a Fat President

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Press Briefing

Jun 23, 2010

Implementing the Affordable Care Act

The "government needs to be removing itself from the private sector"

The White House Blog - The Affordable Care Act -- Benefits and Weights Being Lifted

$100,000 Is Plenty for Deposit Insurance - Raising the cap will enhance the ability of weak banks to expand their deposit base and cause trouble for the FDIC

America and the Middle East in a New Era

Obama's Moratorium, Drilled. WSJ Editorial
A federal judge instructs the White House on the rule of law
WSJ, Jun 23, 2010

As legal rebukes go, it's hard to get more comprehensive than the one federal judge Martin Feldman delivered yesterday in overturning the Obama Administration's six-month moratorium on deep water drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

In a remarkably pointed 22-page ruling, the judge made clear that even Presidents aren't allowed to impose an "edict" that isn't justified by science or safety.

Oil-services companies brought the case, which is supported by the state of Louisiana, arguing that the White House ban was "arbitrary and capricious" in exceeding federal authority, and Judge Feldman agreed. He noted that even after reading Interior Secretary Ken Salazar's report on safety recommendations (which included the ban), and Mr. Salazar's memo ordering the ban, "the Court is unable to divine or fathom a relationship between the findings and the immense scope of the moratorium."

Quite the opposite, said the judge, "the Report makes no effort to explicitly justify the moratorium." It does "not discuss any irreparable harm that would warrant a suspension of operations" and doesn't provide a timeline for implementing proposed safety regulations. There is "no evidence" that Mr. Salazar "balanced the concern for environmental safety" with existing policy, and "no suggestion" that he "considered any alternatives." The feds couldn't even coherently define "deep water." Ouch.

As these columns have argued, the judge said that the illogic of the moratorium is that "because one rig failed and although no one yet fully knows why, all companies and rigs drilling new wells over 500 feet also universally present an imminent danger." Because this will cause "irreparable harm" to jobs and to domestic energy supplies, such a sweeping ban couldn't stand.

The judge also went out of his way to express "uneasiness" over the Administration's claim that its safety report (which recommended the ban) had been "peer reviewed" by experts. Those experts have since publicly disavowed the ban, explaining that the ban was added to the report only after they had signed off on an earlier draft. White House green czar Carol Browner dismissed their complaints, saying "No one's been deceived or misrepresented."

But Judge Feldman directly contradicted Ms. Browner, describing the report's claim of "peer review" as "factually incorrect." Moreover, the Administration's "hair-splitting explanation" of what the experts did or didn't support "abuses reason, common sense, and the text at issue."

The judge's other public service was to list the environmental groups that had joined the Administration's defense against the suit. They included the Natural Resources Defense Council, whose president, Frances Beinecke, has been appointed by President Obama to his deep water drilling commission. Ms. Beinecke ought to resign.

The Administration says it will appeal, but the thorough-going nature of the judge's ruling suggests the Administration will need a much better legal and substantive case to prevail. It would do better to use the ruling as an excuse to drop its purely political ban and stop compounding the spill's damage to the people and economy of the Gulf.

Bosnia and Herzegovina: Promoting Security By Destroying Conventional Weapons

Orszag Adieu - The 'cost curve' bent the budget director

Geithner & Summers: Our Agenda for the G-20 - Countries should work to stabilize debt levels, enact new financial regulation, and reduce their dependence on fossil fuels

Blowouts Will Not Always Be Prevented - We are curiously unwilling to acknowledge known risks

Why McChrystal Has to Go - It is intolerable for military officers to mock senior political officials, including ambassadors and the vice president

Fire McChrystal Pronto

IER Statement on Court Order Overturning Obama Admin. Deepwater Drilling Ban

The White House Blog: Building Regional Energy Innovation Cluster

Daddy Was Only a Donor - A new study paints a troubling portrait of children conceived by single mothers who chose insemination

China Currency 2.0: Yes, Change Really Is Coming

Conservatives: Time to Dump the Afghanistan Timeline

Moral Hazard and China's Banks - Beijing could face its own banking crisis unless more market discipline is introduced

Moral Hazard and China's Banks. By VICTOR SHIH
Beijing could face its own banking crisis unless more market discipline is introduced.WSJ, Jun 22, 2010

Some policy makers in Beijing have taken to crowing that their economic model is superior to the West's because China didn't suffer a banking crisis. They're wrong in at least one critical respect: moral hazard. In China, just as in the West, banks and businesses have grown accustomed to gambling with other people's money on the assumption that the government will bail them out if they lose.

The key fact governing most credit and investment decisions today is that everyone believes the central bank would bail out any financial institution, large or small. The central government has consistently repaid depositors in the event of bank closures. The promise is different from, and worse than, traditional deposit insurance in that banks don't pay a premium for the benefit—it just happens.

This causes ripples throughout the financial system. Depositors and investors are at ease with placing much of their savings into financial institutions because of the central bank's blanket guarantee, allowing these institutions to provide ample liquidity to firms. The guarantee also minimizes the chance of a panic, thus enforcing everyone's confidence in the system.

Two other regulations help bolster a deceptive sense of security. First, the China Banking Regulatory Commission imposes a large basket of prudential targets on all banks, including capital-adequacy ratio, debt-asset ratio and nonperforming-loan ratio requirements, as well as a long list of lending rules. Furthermore, the Communist Party sends inspectors to monitor the banking regulators.

The guarantee and intrusive regulations make the system less secure, not more. Given the ultimate backstop, profits from risky behavior can be so high that banks are willing to share some of the spoils with corrupt regulators who can help them circumvent bothersome rules. In one recent case, the vice president of the China Development Bank was convicted of receiving bribes to grant loans against regulations. In another case, a banker in southern Guangdong province bribed local police to arrest an auditor evaluating the bank branch's books.

This kind of behavior would be difficult in a system with a freer media and an independent judiciary. But China's system depends mainly on top-down monitoring, where a borrower need only elicit the help of a powerful official. As an added benefit, if the loan fails, borrowers can work with banks to roll over loans with the regulators' full blessing.

As a consequence, financial-system risks build up over time at an unknown pace. Small crises are not allowed to emerge to inform the public of accumulating systemic risks—unlike in the United States, where a growing number of small bank failures can serve as a canary in a coal mine.

The only way to avert a future crisis of confidence is to tackle moral hazard. First, the central bank's blanket guarantee should be removed from small financial institutions that engage in reckless lending. Depositors must learn to be suspicious of banks doing the bidding of ambitious local authorities.

Second, while it may be difficult to take similar steps for large banks because of systemic risks, these institutions should be required to disclose when large-scale borrowers restructure or roll over major loans. Instead of only reporting the identities of the largest borrowers overall, listed banks should disclose the identities of their largest borrowers in every province or even city so that investors can conduct their own due diligence.

Third, regulators also need to rethink the incentives their rules create. The current system of imposing target caps on nonperforming loans encourages bankers and local regulators to collude to hide them. These targets should be scrapped in favor of higher capital-adequacy ratios and much stricter restrictions on borrowers' ability to roll over loans or to convert short-term loans into long-term loans. If losses arise, banks should be encouraged to simply recognize them and move on.

China's moral hazard problem manifests itself somewhat differently from that in the West, but the end result is the same: If all financial institutions are perceived as too big to fail, while misguided regulations give a false impression of safety, plenty of bankers and investors will be happy to take advantage.

Mr. Shih is a professor of political science at Northwestern University and the author of "Factions and Finance in China: Elite Conflict and Inflation" (Cambridge University Press, 2008).