ANOTHER BANK BAILOUT
BY PAUL KRUGMAN
NEW YORK TIMES
Oh, wow — another bank bailout, this time in Spain. Who could have predicted that? The answer, of course, is everybody ....[E]ven as European leaders were putting together this rescue, they were signaling strongly that they have no intention of changing the policies that have left almost a quarter of Spain’s workers — and more than half its young people — jobless. ...Still, are we much better? America’s near-term outlook isn’t quite as dire as Europe’s, but the Federal Reserve’s own forecasts predict low inflation and very high unemployment for years to come — precisely the conditions under which the Fed should be leaping into action to boost the economy. But the Fed won’t move. ...Whatever the deep roots of this paralysis, it’s becoming increasingly clear that it will take utter catastrophe to get any real policy action that goes beyond bank bailouts. But don’t despair: at the rate things are going, especially in Europe, utter catastrophe may be just around the corner.
WISING UP TO FACEBOOK
BY BILL KELLER
NEW YORK TIMES
In recent weeks it seems the world has begun to turn a jaundiced eye on this global megaplatform. While that may not please Facebook’s executives, it is a good thing for the rest of us — and maybe for the future of social media, too. ... After a period of idealizing social media, the public is beginning to recognize that these are enterprises with ambitions and appetites. They are businesses. Public companies have an imperative to grow profits, which Facebook will do by monetizing you and me — serving us up as the targets for precision-guided advertising. ...Somewhere on his way from Harvard geek to Silicon Valley titan, Mark Zuckerberg adopted an ideology of “radical transparency.” He is getting what must be an uncomfortable dose of that now. This surge of scrutiny ought to make us smarter, more sober consumers. The challenge for Facebook is how to retain the trust of its wised-up users even as he commoditizes us — that is, how to sell us on without creeping us out.
GERMANY TO THE RESCUE?
BY ROBERT SAMUELSON
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been cast as Europe’s Scrooge dispensing austerity and discouraging recovery. If Germany would only open its wallet, Europe’s instability and suffering would shrink. Well, maybe. But this seductive theory may be wishful thinking, overstating Germany’s power and understating Europe’s problems. The dark truth may be that even a willing Germany can’t rescue Europe. ...To Germans, other European countries must now adjust to new, if unpleasant, realities. Chief among these is that the economies of many European countries are no longer strong enough to support their welfare states. Economic growth is too low, populations are aging and demands on pension and health-care systems are too high. Benefits must be cut or taxes raised without doing too much damage to economic growth or the social fabric.
IRAN AND SYRIA MUDDLE
BY JACKSON DIEHL
[T]he calculus about Syria and Iran is also more complicated than it looks at first. The two are not just linked by their alliance, but also by the fact that the United States and its allies have defined a distinct and urgent goal for each of them. ...Does Washington want to overthrow the brutal, hostile and closely allied dictatorships of Assad and Iran’s Ali Khamenei — or strike bargains that contain the threats they pose? The answer is neither, and both: The Obama administration says it is seeking regime change in Syria, but in Iran it has defined the goal as rapproachment with the mullahs in exchange for nuclear arms control. Obama tries to square this circle by pursuing a multilateral diplomatic approach to both countries. But if regime change in Syria is the goal, Security Council resolutions and six-point plans from the likes of Kofi Annan are doomed to failure.
THE WISCONSIN MONEY EXCUSE
WALL STREET JOURNAL
Liberals are now blaming money for their rout in Wisconsin last week, especially the 2010 Supreme Court decision in Citizens United. They say that ruling let Governor Scott Walker vastly outraise and outspend Democratic challenger Tom Barrett, which determined the result. ...The Republican received most of his money from individuals, who have been allowed to donate as much as they want for nearly four decades. Mr. Barrett relied much more on unions, which thanks to Citizens United could and did help him as much as they were able. ...Money does matter in politics, but not as much in high-profile races when the public is paying attention. In this year's Presidential election, both sides will have more than enough money to compete in the dozen or so swing states. If Democrats want to get a head start on losing in November, they'll keep griping about the money instead of changing their message.
TAKE POLITICS OUT OF STUDENT LOANS
BY ARNE DUNCAN
While I appreciate that some congressional Republicans have recently indicated they’re now willing to work with the administration to find a solution, the debate so far has been largely divided along party lines and made no progress. Americans are tired of political fights in Washington. It’s time to stop talking and start doing. People want Congress to put politics aside and come together to produce real results that make a difference. And you can count college students at the top of that list. I am optimistic that both parties can — and should — find common ground to reach a bipartisan compromise.