Tag Archives: economist magazine

O'Reilly takes credit

A friend of mine is somehow convinced that Bill O’Reilly is a moderate voice of reason. So, in order to convince this friend that O’Reilly is a name-calling “loon,” I am going to post some things over the next several days on Bill O’Reilly. With luck, my friend will see the light.

From TP:

Last month, torture advocate Bill O’Reilly launched a “boycott” of Spain after Spanish prosecutors were considering a probe of Bush administration officials who gave legal cover for torture. “There will be a boycott and there will be ill will towards Spain. This is going to become a huge story and it’s not going to be good for Spain,” he claimed.

Spanish prosecutors have now recommended throwing out the criminal complaint. The news elicited a declaration of mission accomplished from O’Reilly last night. Discussing the investigations with Megyn Kelly, O’Reilly explained the economics behind how his boycott brought down the probe:

O’REILLY: Now, I don’t know whether “The Factor” was a Factor in this decision, but I am taking full credit for it.

KELLY: Shocker.

O’REILLY: You bet. Because Spain, according to The Economist magazine, is pushing 19 percent unemployment. We were going to boycott Spain. That means millions of Americans would have at least been exposed to the idea. And they folded pretty darn fast. We started this last week. Today no mas. … Well, we’re taking full credit for that, ladies and gentlemen, whether deserved or not.

Kelly seemed skeptical but still played along. “There is some travel from American citizens. It would have hurt a little. Maybe that played a role in it. I don’t know,” she said. Watch it:

Fox Nation is also touting the meme today: “Spain Caves After O’Reilly Boycott Threat.” Of course, the brash comments aren’t surprising from O’Reilly, considering his massive ego about his show’s alleged influence. Last year, when Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was behind in the polls, O’Reilly told his viewers that McCain was behind because he wasn’t appearing on The Factor. Some others:

O’Reilly saved Christmas: Producer Jesse Watters bragged in December: “We saved Christmas last year.”

O’Reilly brought down the Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Seattle’s “nutty-left newspaper” went under after O’Reilly’s staff ambushed publisher Roger Oglesby.

O’Reilly lowered gas prices: After oil execs supposedly artificially raised oil prices after Katrina, O’Reilly said they “got scared. Because of my reporting and the reporting of some others.”

O’Reilly brought down O.J.: Responding to the cancellation of Fox’s interview with O.J. Simpson, O’Reilly said, “It’s a culture-war victory. The folks did it; and I am the messenger.”

It is surprising that O’Reilly is so heavily promoting his “boycott” of Spain. When ThinkProgress launched campaign urging O’Reilly’s advertisers stop supporting his show, O’Reilly said on March 27 that our tactics were “Stalinist” and “certainly not Democratic.”

O’Reilly may be declaring victory too early. Reuters reports that Judge Garzon of Spain “is def[ying] pressure to drop the case.”

Who's To Blame For Economic Woes?

Everyone, including me, has been finger-pointing. I pointed to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley act as a source of the failure, but the larger problem is more complex. I have come to the conclusion that both sides are to blame. The Bush administration could have tried harder to reign in rogue CEOs. Greed was a huge issue, of course. Another factor is how Wall Street gets paid. They get paid by the deal, whether the deal is good for all sides or not. If the deal blows up in six months, Wall Street still got their money and moved on to the next deal. This single fact is the root of many of the scandals over the last 20 years, whether it was the Savings and Loan crash or Enron.

From FactCheck.org:

The Real Deal

So who is to blame? There’s plenty of blame to go around, and it doesn’t fasten only on one party or even mainly on what Washington did or didn’t do. As The Economist magazine noted recently, the problem is one of “layered irresponsibility … with hard-working homeowners and billionaire villains each playing a role.” Here’s a partial list of those alleged to be at fault:

  • The Federal Reserve, which slashed interest rates after the dot-com bubble burst, making credit cheap.
  • Home buyers, who took advantage of easy credit to bid up the prices of homes excessively.
  • Congress, which continues to support a mortgage tax deduction that gives consumers a tax incentive to buy more expensive houses.
  • Real estate agents, most of whom work for the sellers rather than the buyers and who earned higher commissions from selling more expensive homes.
  • The Clinton administration, which pushed for less stringent credit and downpayment requirements for working- and middle-class families.
  • Mortgage brokers, who offered less-credit-worthy home buyers subprime, adjustable rate loans with low initial payments, but exploding interest rates.
  • Former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, who in 2004, near the peak of the housing bubble, encouraged Americans to take out adjustable rate mortgages.
  • Wall Street firms, who paid too little attention to the quality of the risky loans that they bundled into Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), and issued bonds using those securities as collateral.
  • The Bush administration, which failed to provide needed government oversight of the increasingly dicey mortgage-backed securities market.
  • An obscure accounting rule called mark-to-market, which can have the paradoxical result of making assets be worth less on paper than they are in reality during times of panic.
  • Collective delusion, or a belief on the part of all parties that home prices would keep rising forever, no matter how high or how fast they had already gone up.

The U.S. economy is enormously complicated. Screwing it up takes a great deal of cooperation. Claiming that a single piece of legislation was responsible for (or could have averted) is just political grandstanding. We have no advice to offer on how best to solve the financial crisis. But these sorts of partisan caricatures can only make the task more difficult. (more… )