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Obama loses by winning

July 15, 2010

Having moved swiftly toward achieving the very policy objectives he promised voters as a candidate, Obama is still widely perceived as flirting with a failed presidency.


The problem is that he and his West Wing turn out to be not especially good at politics, or communications — in other words, largely ineffective at the very things on which their campaign reputation was built. And the promises he made in two years of campaigning turn out to be much less appealing as actual policies.

“I tell you, it’s very frustrating that it’s not breaking through, when you look at these things and their scale,” said a top Obama adviser, who spoke on background to offer a candid take on the state of play. “Can you imagine if Bill Clinton had achieved even one of these? Part of it is because we are divided, even on the left…And part of it is the culture of immediate gratification.”

No, it’s the culture of the press didn’t critically report on who Obama was and what his policies actually meant combined with the policy of a fairly large group of Republicans cutting off their noses to spite their face by either not voting or casting protest votes for idiots like Bob Barr. Anyone who was paying attention during the election knew what Obama’s policies would be and knew they would be unpopular. I really don’t think he can claim a lot of credit for the changes that have passed in any case. That honor really belongs to Nancy Pelosi.


Economic growth as a deficit cure? I’m pretty sure I have heard this idea before – Oh right, it’s one of the principles of Reagonomics and Supply Side Economics.

In general I think Monty over at Ace of Spades is a self-important ass, and I have actually cut back on my reading of that site because of him, but in this case he and I agree –

One of the very few areas in which Paul Krugman and I are in agreement: HFT (high frequency trading) trading brings very little benefit to individual investors. It seems to exist mainly to benefit brokers and investment banks. (If HFT is so great, why is trading volume down so much? If HFT was really all about efficiency and value-add, wouldn’t volume go up?) I also question the systemic risk involved in HFT. Human beings program computers, and human programmers make mistakes in their code. Highly-interconnected HFT systems pose a risk where a single rogue or runaway program could wipe out tens of billions, maybe hundreds of billions, in value in just a few seconds. I remember an old adage when I think of trading algos: speed kills. Worse yet, the programmers themselves often cannot audit or trace problems in their code because it is “adaptive” and changes its behavior procedurally as it runs. The “flash crash” in May may only have been a harbinger of what is to come. It does no good to bitch about it because HFT is here to say, but I view this as simply another argument for getting out of the market altogether. The markets have become a deadly jungle where individual investors are viewed as either prey or bait. Quants were behind a lot of the fuckery on Wall Street in the late 90’s and early 00’s (CDO and CDS, and other arcane derivatives); now they’re screwing up the trading floors. Efficiency isn’t everything, even in (perhaps especially in) financial markets.

The real reason High Frequency Trading exists is so traders can execute so many trades in such a short time that they can move markets in a direction they like. It’s basically a form of insider trading.

A tax break for filing speculative lawsuits? It’s an election year and democrats are in charge so I wouldn’t be surprised.

What a surprise – Kagan did “just enough” to win Specter’s vote

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