Assorted Links (5/3/2010)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading lately:

Financial innovation: You can’t stop progress | The Economist

“I READ an interesting story last week about a French banker. His bank relied on new financial innovations and complex transactions. The innovations allowed the bank and its clients to become highly leveraged.”

Will the Gulf Oil Spill Be This Generation’s Three Mile Island? – Freakonomics Blog –

“Is it the end for offshore drilling?”

An Autopsy of the U.S. Financial System

Here’s the abstract for this paper by Brown University economist Ross Levine:

“In this postmortem, I find that the design, implementation, and maintenance of financial policies during the period from 1996 through 2006 were primary causes of the financial system’s demise. The evidence is inconsistent with the view that …the collapse of the financial system was caused only by the popping of the housing bubble and the herding behavior of financiers rushing to create and market increasingly complex and questionable financial products. Rather, the evidence indicates that regulatory agencies were aware of the growing fragility of the financial system associated with their policies during the decade before the crisis and yet chose not to modify those policies.”

Jim Owens: A Centrist Agenda for Economic Growth –

“In The Wall Street Journal, Caterpillar Inc. CEO Jim Owens says that freer trade and lower taxes would help restore robust economic growth and preserve the U.S. position as global competitive leader.”

John Taylor: How to Avoid a ‘Bailout Bill’ –

“John Taylor writes in The Wall Street Journal that a new bankruptcy process is the right way to deal with failing financial institutions, not a permanent bailout fund.”

Mary Anastasia O’Grady: Chavez Decaffeinates Venezuela With Price Controls –

“Mary Anastasia O’Grady writes in her Americas column for The Wall Street Journal that coffee shortages in Venezuela have predictably followed Hugo Chávez’s price controls.”

How Bad Are Our Graduation Rates? — The American, A Magazine of Ideas

“U.S. colleges will be challenged to achieve President Obama’s goal of America once again having the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.”

Jeffrey Miron » Blog Archive » Fannie and Freddie Keep Rolling Along

“Government-related entities backed 96.5% of all home loans during the first quarter, up from 90% in 2009, according to Inside Mortgage Finance. The increase was driven by a jump in the share of loans backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-owned housing-finance giants.”

Economic View – A Value-Added Tax Offers Much to Love — and Hate –

“Liberals and conservatives are again debating the efficacy and fairness of using a value-added tax to help solve the nation’s economic problems.”