Friday, June 19, 2009

Gone Fishin'

I'm taking a break from this site for awhile. For just how long, I don't know. I've decided to put all my energies into creating a civic media platform tapping the "market of the whole" 9.5 million residents of the Chicago area, where I live.

Looking back on these posts, I've learned something useful about the economic crisis. I did so by making little jumps. I'd put up a post and then wait to see if stimulus (hah!) for the next post would pop up. It always did. Yet without feedback from readers, these posts came to reflect only my personal outlook, namely that the U.S. (and the world) was blowing its best chance to rebuild its economy on a firmer foundation than that of replacing one house of cards with another - a house of structured private debt with one of government debt. My first thoughts on what constitutes a firmer economic foundation are here.

The absence of feedback to my posts was a disappointment, but not too much of one given my rank amateur status and the abundance of expert and gifted finance writers online. I did, however, receive emails from people I respect in response to information I'd sent: Northern Trust economist Paul Kasriel, finance blogger Yves Smith, Carnegie Mellon economist Allen Meltzer and from Clive Crook and (my hero) John Authers of the Financial Times. Now for an old English major, that's good company!!

I'm grateful to these folks and to everyone listed on my Finance Links, to the left. Nouriel Roubini, you the man, and Meredith Whitney, you the woman. But thanks also to Lifters of the Veil like Charles R Morris (sadly overlooked, a brilliant explicator), Pulitzer Prize-winning tax expert David Cay Johnston (fearless in describing rottenness when he sees it), economist Simon Johnson of MIT (whose Baseline Scenario site is the place to be for finance crisis activists), and so many other others. The individual I most want to tip my hat to, however, is economist Mike Hudson of the University of St Louis at Missouri, whose New Road to Serfdom: An Illustrated Guide to the Coming Real Estate Collapse struck me as overly radical two years but makes more sense to me as time goes by.

Chiao for now!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Mid-Course Correction

I haven't posted since May 15, when the Dow, at 8268, was 500 points lower than it is today. I've been busy talking about the future of journalism at Seeding Civic Media. Also began a diary about President Obama's $75 billion Making Home Affordable plan at Daily Kos. But there's another reason. This site, while fascinating to me, has not interested others. Something needs to change. It's mid-course correction time.

Posts, my buddy Arturo tells me, need to be shorter. Make one point at a time, let people respond. Makes sense. I'll also look into promoting the site.

Meanwhile, the Green Shoots are looking strong in the battle for the World Cup. To me, though, their recent strength is dubious. I can't help thinking that Summers and Co. are building a house of cards - a house of government debt - modeled on the house of leveraged debt from whose collapse the global economy is struggling to emerge. William Buiter of the Financial Times says it all in his June 12 piece, "The Fiscal Black Hole in the U.S."

So where does civic media fit into all this? At the risk of sounding like a scratchy record, let me repeat one simple axiom: neither the U.S. or the global economy will be on a sound footing until citiznes everywhere have a genuine voice in the economic decisions that affect their lives.