Four Interesting Articles

2012 April 4
by SJ Leeds

Quick commercial…for all UT alumni, I’m doing a free webinar on Monday at noon CST.  Here’s the link, where you can sign up.  It’s called “Numbers All Americans Should Know.”  I will discuss some of the key numbers concerning our unfunded liabilities, disability and healthcare.  Hopefully, it will be a good primer for understanding some of the basic numbers that people are talking about.  The webinar is a slightly shorter version of presentations that I’ve done recently in Ft. Worth, Dallas, D.C., NY and our Alumni Business Conference (so if you attended any of these, you probably don’t want to attend the webinar).

 

Now, on to today’s blog.  I read four articles that you might find interesting:

 

1. Student Debt for Retirees

The Washington post published an article (“Senior Citizens Continue to Bear Burden of Student Loans”) that said:

1. Americans 60 and older still owe approximately $36 billion in student loans.

2. More than 10% of those loans are delinquent.  As a result, it’s not uncommon for Social Security checks to be garnished.

3. Borrowers age 60 and above account for a little less than 5% of the outstanding student loans.  Americans aged 50 and older account for 17% of this debt.

4. Democratic Senator Richard Durbin has introduced legislation that would allow private student loan debt to be discharged in bankruptcy.

 

 

2. How China Steals Our Secrets

Richard Clarke, the special adviser for cybersecurity to President George W. Bush wrote a great op-ed piece in The New York Times.  It’s titled, “How China Steals Our Secrets.”  He argued that President Obama needs to promote legislation that will help the government stop stolen data from leaving the country.

 

In his piece, he said that FBI Director Robert Mueller “said cyberattacks would soon replace terrorism as the agency’s No. 1 concern as foreign hackers, particularly from China, penetrate American firms’ computers and steal huge amounts of valuable data and intellectual property.”  He quoted Gen. Keith B. Alexander, head of the military’s Cyber Command as calling the cybertheft “the greatest transfer of wealth in history.”

 

Clarke argued that by failing to act, Washington is effectively fulfilling China’s research requirements while helping to put Americans out of work.

 

3. GSA Chief Resigns Amid Reports of Excessive Spending

The chief of the General Services Administration (a federal agency) resigned and two of her top deputies were fired after they held a “training conference” for 300 employees in Las Vegas.  (Here’s a link to the story.)  The total cost (including the “planning” trips) was $823,000.  Some of the money was spent on a clown and a mind reader.  The truly offensive part of this whole thing is that they hired a clown when they probably could have had a Congressman appear for free.

 

Here’s the pdf of the actual report about the festivities.  It’s truly amazing that a group of people could work together and make such a bad decision.  While I know that many people read stories like this and generalize to “the government is always wasteful,” that’s not my goal.  Similarly, when I read about an incompetent doctor or a scandalous school teacher, I don’t assume that they are all that way.  (With that said, I have no problem thinking the worst about all politicians.)

 

4. Five Years After Crisis, No Normal Recovery

Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff wrote a piece on Bloomberg arguing that they continue to be right and this isn’t a conventional economic recovery.  They take issue with a recent Fed research paper.  Reinhart and Rogoff have consistently argued that recessions that result from a financial crisis are deeper and last longer.

 

They also state that in ten of fifteen severe post-WWII financial crises, unemployment didn’t return to pre-crisis levels even after a decade.  That doesn’t sound promising.

 

 

Have a great weekend.

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