Stuffy Economist Magazine Experiments With Social Media

from the Sir, dept

One of the mistakes many companies make when trying to embrace social networking or social media is to think that they should just build their own version of MySpace, or clone of some other popular site. For various reasons, these attempts almost always end up as failures. Jane Galt, who writes for The Economist, points to a nice example of how her magazine is turning letters to the editor into a form of social media that makes sense for the publication. Basically, they've decided to publish, in the form of a blog, all of the letters they receive (excluding ones that are patently offensive). There's also a comments section for each one, so that the letters they receive don't just serve as static items, but as conversation starters. Already, within a few days of launching, plenty of people are commenting on each other's letters. It helps, of course, that The Economist has a rather intelligent readership, so there are plenty of good letters that they don't have space to publish in the print version. It's obviously not a radical step, but it's an interesting experiment that shows how publications should be thinking about social media.


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  1.  
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    The Cell Geek, Feb 12th, 2007 @ 5:06am

    Brilliant idea...

    but shouldn't The Economist go further to service their stuffy audience?

    They should have a search engine that matches readers to people with similar bow ties or turtle necks. Or dating service that matches people by their Mutual Funds.

     

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  2.  
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    Dan, Feb 12th, 2007 @ 5:37am

    Re: Brilliant idea...

    That is not as brilliant as it sounds. The Economist is, in my opinion, one of the best publications around. I don't know of a better magazine to get global political news. There is a lot more there that high-brow articles and mutual fund stats. I wonder if you ever really read it? Maybe you enjoy your ignorance?

     

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    Matt, Feb 12th, 2007 @ 6:59am

    Old Media

    The Economist's site is pretty good by "old media" standards. In addition to the new letters to the editor section they have several blogs (although they're difficult to navigate to from the homepage) with open comment sections and a del.icio.us style tagging feature.

     

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    Deirdre' Straughan, Feb 12th, 2007 @ 7:16am

    stuff?!?

    I've been reading The Economist for 15 years. "Stuffy" is not the word. The magazine is written with a wry and very British sense of humor. I suppose it requires a certain degree of intelligence to appreciate this.

    It does seem to have an image problem, though. I once very happily bought a copy at Miami airport (it can be hard to find in the US) while on my way to somewhere else. As I was standing in line to pay for it, the woman behind me looked over my shoulder and gasped: "You actually read that?!?"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 12th, 2007 @ 7:31am

    Re: stuff?!?

    The economist is neat. Even as they constantly reveal their unique worldview through their wit, the reporters have an old guard feel that makes me feel like they can offhandedly toss out articles with more journalistic integrity and objectivity than anyone else without even having to try. A novice is distracted by the surface level sarcasm. Beneath it is guys telling it like they see it.

    Thats how I see it, anyway. It is a refreshing publication.

     

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    Vincent Clement, Feb 12th, 2007 @ 7:55am

    Re: stuff?!?

    It is one of the best publications. My wife got me a gift subscription as a Christmas present a few years back. One of the best presents I ever got.

     

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    The Dukeman (profile), Feb 12th, 2007 @ 8:29am

    Alert!

    Note to any and all media companies out there: This is an example of using your web site properly. It enhances the user experience and gives your site real value. Pay attention!

     

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  8.  
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    dorpus, Feb 12th, 2007 @ 8:48am

    The Colonist

    I don't know, I find many of their articles about the US and Japan to be misinformed. It reads like the perspective of a European who thinks he's smart.

     

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    doubledoh, Feb 12th, 2007 @ 9:03am

    The economist is, and probably always will be my favourite magazine. It's nice to see that they are keeping with the times by including more readers in the presentation, but I suspect that its chief successes will always lie with its sharp team of staff writers.

     

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    Erik, Feb 12th, 2007 @ 11:06am

    A Good Idea

    The Economist is very well written and incredibly info-dense. I always get some unique and usable perspective when I find the time to read an issue or part of one.

    The idea of converting letters to the editor into the foundation for a community is inspired.

    I would, however, be interested in reading a blog of the offensive letters to the editor by the moonbat nutters. I need more comedy blogs to enjoy.

     

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    Bumbling old fool, Feb 12th, 2007 @ 12:45pm

    Thanks Joe!

    I just ordered my 4 trial copies.

     

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    |333173|3|_||3, Feb 12th, 2007 @ 6:30pm

    iMPROVE PARTICIPATION

    using a blog-like structure would improve participation, since readers can follow complex threads more easily. Also, it allows people to post quick comments and add-ons more easily than using a print-only letters page.

     

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  13.  
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    Thoughtful, Feb 12th, 2007 @ 8:41pm

    What do the Economist's journalists read?

    I like the Economist; the writing is terse, funny, pithy and accurate.

    They identify trends years before others notice.

    They select the important numbers and create wonderful graphs and tables
    to show complex ideas clearly.


    My own quote is:-

    "Other journalists read the Economist.
    What do the Economist's journalists read?"

     

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  14.  
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    andrea, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 5:50am

    Reading behind The Economist

    "Other journalists read the Economist.
    What do the Economist's journalists read?"

    They read news articles from other sources!

    If I'd known the newspaper's website was going to get all bloggy on me, I would have kept my online research notes when I worked there (not a writer, a research assistant) to show you!

     

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    lemonman, May 20th, 2009 @ 11:38am

    cool

    Very interesting.

     

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    John Marden, Nov 9th, 2009 @ 2:39am

    economy

    INTRODUCTION: OUR ECONOMIC CRISIS: THE CHALLENGE OF THE PROBLEM (If you know the problem, go to page 6, THE CHALLENGE OF SOLUTION)
    In August 2007 I described how the digital revolution had caused a systemic change that baffled the 20thcentury orthodox economist’s mind. I recognized that the Fed’s predilection to control inflation by restraining the housing market per Paul Volker’s 1980 example would bring a reversal of its desired result, and that the premonition behind Chairman Bernanke’s remark gaining him the sobriquet of Helicopter Ben was surprisingly pertinent. I long-windily titled my remarks, “A Helicopter Ben Plan….Can Correct the Sub-prime Mess,” then changed it to A SHOT OUT OF CONCORD – A Marshall Plan for America, which I sent to Congressman Barney Frank on September 27, 2007 with a letter saying:

    “I thought you might be interested in the suggestion I make and attach hereto, and even be helpful in telling me what to do with it! In contrast to Paulson’s thoughts (he is obviously of the old-school) I think my idea, audacious as it may appear, would restore confidence in the market-place very quickly at virtually no cost to the public; and it should not be difficult to do. I suggest developing a new tool for the FED to use in what has become a very new global economy about which all of us are unschooled. We need to apply new thought.”

    Two years later Chairman Bernanke called for “new thought.” My suggestions had advocated the restoration of US economic strength by improving the competence and integrity of our many layers of infrastructure, which includes housing and the marketplace’s ethic. I suggested how comparison of these qualities with those of elsewhere will vie for global marketplace recognition and leadership; which to a great degree will establish the value of the currency. I argued that the Fed could induce the circumstance whereby the investment/banking forum would restore our infrastructural attraction and economic dynamism by reemploying our jobless. Despite the Madoff and host of mini-Madoff scandals beckoning its reform, that forum comprises the only people with the skills to restore jobs, other than politicians electing to go to war. I then stated an unpopular notion that has turned out to be all too true:

    “The FED must establish world market-wide confidence in the dollar by eliminating any fear of collapse of real estate values. Except for the rich, these values constitute the cornerstone of most all our savings and asset accumulation. Their collapse would be devastating to the world, as so much of the global market place depends upon the credit value of the US dollar. The “why?” and “how did this happen?” is of no importance compared to applying a measure of successful damage control.”

    The Congressman replied with an unenthusiastic letter of December 11, but by January he showed interest via e-mail. However, he soon fell under the spell of his economic orthodox accomplices. They have not done well and now call for new thought. Will they write legislation to justify or hide their bungling, blaming scapegoats (homeowners and bankers, but never themselves?); or can the Chairman’s call for new thought gain a footing?

    My suggestion is criticized as unorthodox and radical, for it allows debtors to become beneficiaries of the Fed’s bail-out tool. “How dare you?” ask the plutocrats, saying that “since World War II bail-out beneficiaries have been innocent stockholders of banks and companies, or investment funds, and New York City’s institutions, none of them independent debtors!” I reply that the digital revolution has changed the economic world. It requires new thought and approach. In quest of brevity some pertinent ideas may be eliminated from the following 8 pages. If interested, pages 9-63, indexed on page 8, offer a two year ramble of perspective, including the responses from the Congressman. All of it can be sent as an e-mail attachment upon request.

    ECONOMIC POLICY for the DIGITAL AGE – How Main Street can rescue Wall Street
    THE CHALLENGE OF THE PROBLEM

    On June 4 of this year Federal Reserve Bank (Fed) Chairman Ben Bernanke said “the global financial crisis highlights the need for economists to deepen their understanding of how events on Wall Street can affect the broader economy.” His request exposes worry over the failure of his economic stimulus experiments. He asks economists to deepen their understanding. Have they not had a chance? It is not that their stimuli fail to produce effect, but that their selected effect is insufficient, costly, and even self-defeating. By clinging to 20th century economic orthodoxy and its modeling agenda they avoid that systemic progression of economics unique to the 21st century; namely, the sudden explosion of the digital revolution and its global marketplace. Using an older analogy, the regulators are drunk on their own liquor. Their remedies are obsolete, especially laissez-faire marketplace correction and classifying the dwelling as a mere chattel.

    Similar concern was exposed, perhaps unintentionally, by the Fed Vice Chairman, Donald L. Kohn, when concluding a speech at Princeton. He said: My fear is that poorly formed diagnoses and incorrect policy prescriptions will have unintended adverse consequences for our economy.”

    Indeed, our best and brightest economists have conjured a succession of “incorrect policy prescriptions” and “poorly formed diagnoses,” including their attack on housing as the overpriced villain of the collapse and the excuse for their current bungling. Their selection of policy and expectation of result is reflected by their orthodox inaction while awaiting the laissez-faire marketplace correction. That correction has not corrected. Instead, the inaction amplifies the disaster. Recently Chairman Bernanke lamented that the Government’s Wall Street stimuli have failed to help Main Street. Shame on him! If the intent is to help Main Street, go to Main Street. Its stimulation will flow directly to Wall Street; whereas help for Wall Street in the age of the global marketplace provides hardly a trickle for Main Street.

    The largest block of Main Street savings in the world has collapsed with the loss of housing equity values. That loss together with its negative multiplier effect is estimated to exceed seventeen trillion dollars. This collapse has now spread to other equities, especially commercial real estate. By contrast to the 1980 collapse, which pertained to our national economy and checked our national rate of inflation with the cost burden thrust upon the nation’s real estate, this current collapse reflects an economy tied to our entry into the global marketplace. The inflationary effect is reversed. Deflating our real estate equity values cannot restrain global inflation; it excites it. From the global perspective our equity losses diminish the value, dynamism and prestige of our economy; thereby lowering its measure of social livability and with it the value of the currency. Such policy goes on to create a quadruple whammy. The initial three comprise the loss of employment; the collapse of homeowners’ and now other equity values; and a rise in the global cost of food and energy. These results lessen our ability to support a successful communal agora from the perspective of the global marketplace, which induces the fourth whammy, a further collapse of the dollar’s international value. It causes the very inflation the regulators wished to avoid by starting and tolerating the process. The United Nations estimates that 100 million people are now jobless world-wide and the resultant collapse of agricultural production will cause a billion people to face hunger. The Chairman is right: “deeper understanding” is needed, but he limits his request to “how events on Wall Street can affect the broader economy.” It should be the other way about: how the events of “the broader economy,” which is now a world-inclusive Main Street, do, can and will affect Wall Street.

    Meanwhile our economic cognoscenti lead themselves, the public, and the President down a tunnel of fiscal doom, claiming, like Robert McNamara during the Viet Nam war, to see light at its end. Some seem complacently satisfied with the imagery of sprouting shoots and a jobless revival. Is that the revival we seek? It may benefit Washington’s establishment, Wall Street’s croupiers, and some among the greater oligopoly, but who else? By contrast, nearly seven million Americans now claim unemployment benefits and more than another ten million are listed as “under-employed,” a group comprising those who never received or have already exhausted benefit entitlement. Are they and their potential production capacity to be wasted and abandoned? It happened during the Great Depression, spawning those known as hobos and enabling Hitler to mobilize Germany’s unemployed for war.

    Using a different metaphor, the financier George Soros describes the American economic collapse as having “acted like a detonator, exploding a much larger bubble” with the result that “the economies of the world are falling off a cliff. It is a situation that is comparable to the 1930s.” To prevent a repeat of the Great Depression he calls for "radical and unorthodox policy measures.”

    The greatest danger is that some unforeseen event may boomerang upon us. Chairman Bernanke’s lament that recent stimulus policies are not benefiting Main Street is all too true. The rationale behind his policies may have been pertinent in 1980, but due to the digital revolution it is now invalid. Yet, to fathom his “deeper understanding” is probably too difficult for economists and politicians huddled in Washington’s establishment, maintaining what Noam Chomsky calls an “enormous edifice of illusions about the markets, trade and democracy that have been assiduously constructed over many years." They are caught in their web of illusions and lack both incentive and inclination to leave it. More than thirty years ago that stalwart former member of Congress and Speaker of the House, President Gerald Ford observed: “the biggest scandal in Washington is the cost of Congress, and nobody ever does anything about it.” The system keeps financing its illusions.

    Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois points to an interrelated Washington influence. “The banks,” he says “are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill…and frankly they own the place." Their lobbyists too are tied to the same 20th century economic model and logic as the regulators and politicians whom they lobby. They tell them what they both want to hear: namely, that using ever larger sums of protection money from Washington to keep ever more “too big to be allowed to fail” institutions floating on the uncontrolled sea of economic chaos is the goal. This process, insist the lobbyists, should remain in effect until laissez-faire marketplace correction provides an about-turn to the business cycle. The procedure may take years to happen, especially if a jobless revival is encouraged to take hold. Such focus will be to the detriment of initiating any new growth. To achieve significant new growth the bankers must travel a different way. The lobbyists need alternative instructions.

    The US banking/investment forum can once again seize the opportunity to become dynamic bankers to the world by responding to the digital revolution’s challenge with the program set forth here. The bankers active presence could regenerate some of our former leadership position as the instigator of the digital revolution, allowing us to both continue to pursue its state of the art and bring the appeal of our own infrastructure up to-date. The suggested program provides the cash to do it.

    I claim no academic recognition other than having been versed in a panoply of mid-twentieth century economics and holding a commercial driver’s license that has let me view the country’s perspectives from the window of an eighteen wheeled truck. I maintain that my experience should count. It combines with a question I put in 1956 to my elderly brother-in-law. I asked him to define the differences between what were then called the real estate and the paper estate arenas of business. “That is very easy for a lawyer who practiced throughout the Great Depression;” he said, “One is a place where you can grow potatoes; the other will light you a short lived fire.” I show how President Obama’s economic administration can revive global economy by taking care where the potatoes grow. Success on Main Street will help Wall Street and the economy; whereas the process no longer works the other way about. The President will then be able to promote his social security, peace and healthcare initiatives with available resource. His tenure probably depends upon it.

    To follow why Washington’s current management of economic expectation is mistaken, it is essential to recognize that the infinite, universal and instantaneous inter-connection known as the digital revolution is exerting the most powerful influence upon the dismal science of economics since the invention of the steam engine. It quantifies the physical, cultural and economic fabric of every layer of infrastructural development throughout the world on an instantaneous, continuous basis, 24/7, as they say. The process creates the global marketplace, a systemic change of economic environment from what preceded it. It encapsulates a constant measure of changing livability and marketability paradigms of every community’s infrastructural make-up. It then joins these factors with the ease of instantaneously moving money about the world. The surging and ebbing of this cash becomes a virtual currency. It begets its own relationships.

    These relationships have not only developed enormous opportunity for error, greed and speculation, they also wrestle with the attitudes stemming out of many years of oligopolistic capitalism. They must all be recognized and accounted for. Yet the “why?” and “how did this happen?” may give reason for corrective action by Congress, but such concern is of secondary consideration compared to finding immediate damage control. What is first needed is action to resurrect the collapsed economy and end its massive domestic and world-wide waste of otherwise employable energy and time. Unfortunately our fiscal leaders stay immersed in their 20th century orthodoxy. They advocate controls based upon how information, money and decision used to travel through separate national economies by what are now mere horse and buggy contraptions. Other than catering to a selection of “too big to allow to fail” exceptions, our leaders bow with reverence to the former age’s remedy of inaction while awaiting a laissez-faire marketplace correction. By contrast, when applied to the global market that inaction produces laissez-faire marketplace devastation. It causes a massive waste of employment out-put, enormous loss of savings, and yet brings dollar inflation. It is a loss of time, money and prestige that may spread across years. The Fed Chairman calls for thought, but can it come from minds subject to the exclusivities of 20th century economic orthodoxy?

    Meanwhile, the efficacy of every currency is dancing to new rules imposed by the digital age, whose power impacts inflation and deflation in as yet a barely foreseen manner. In a reversal of previous stance, the cost of food, energy and commodities comprise the dominant measure of inflation; and even the nature of savings has changed. One of the digital age’s off-springs is the conversion of manu-facturing into robot-facturing. Robot-facturing foreshadows an exponential increase in the capacity to produce goods and services inexpensively, including, all too ominously, military hardware. Yet, our policy appears to allow the economic dynamism that pursues the state of the art of the digital revolution to move to India and China, leaving many of us to idly watch our values, opportunities and esteem sink in the wake of unemployment and the collapse of what was the largest pool of middle class savings in the world. A change of perspective is in order. It is not difficult, but to minds not yet attuned to the digital revolution’s systemic change, it appears byzantine and contrary to previously accepted economic orthodox principle.

    The change requires an economic reformation. The Fed must cross that psychological railroad track from funding stimulus subsidies for the banking/ investment forum’s paper estate side of the economic equation to that of the mortgagors’ or debtors’ side. 20th century economic orthodoxy, focusing upon the specific and the more limited national markets, allows the guillotine axe of laissez-faire marketplace correction to fall on debtors’ necks. That neck now includes a global jugular vein; whereas in the past the procedure was limited to each nation’s economy. That the globalized marketplace advocates a reversal of this long-standing procedure invokes a sense of professional dismay similar to that of World War II aeronautical engineers when pilots, diving at excessive speed, encountered the phenomenon of control reversal, later known as negative feedback.

    The thought of negative feedback is a new concept for economists. The idea that a successful level of employment and the generation of a new form and meaning of savings in the global marketplace pivots upon substituting modern urban and market planning for the guillotine axe of laissez-faire marketplace correction is revolutionary. It stymies adherents to economic orthodoxy. Yet, in the arena of the global economy the quality of every locality’s infrastructure, its livability, will determine its ability to attract or repel investment and commerce. That measure of quality, which includes the ethical standing of its marketplace, will define and reflect its market attraction or distraction and even affect its ability to partake in sharing the wealth from the advent of robot-facturing. By contrast, allowing laissez-faire marketplace correction to become laissez-faire marketplace devastation begets a negative result. It destroys savings and the opportunity to redeploy assets.

    Most of Washington’s economic cognoscenti are former bankers and economists, affluent members of the reigning oligopoly. No doubt they think they try to make and carry the policy ball to the advantage of the country and their guild; but the digital revolution has suddenly altered their field of play. They are running the wrong way, bringing disservice to themselves, the banks, and the public. The advent of the digital revolution with its infinite and instant universal inter-connection has brought an economic sea-change which is reorganizing every market relationship. The result has the capacity to generate an extraordinary increase of available wealth; but to pursue it our leaders must energize a symbiosis between the banking/investment forum and infrastructure re-development businesses. No other activity is available, able or capable of providing the needed scale of employment, except war. Improving our infrastructure is much more than building roads and bridges, Washington’s favorite interpretation. It pivots upon development of its many layers: economic, physical, cultural, educational and ethical. If jobs are to be reinstated or even retained our leaders must institute a policy of ever-improving these factors and forces. Their quality defines our infrastructure and its competitive position in the global marketplace, including the value of our currency.

    It was encouraging to read how The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning is preparing A Blueprint for 2040; but we need a blueprint for tomorrow! The dwelling is at the core of the blueprint. All of the infrastructure’s accoutrements - roads, bridges, utilities, shops, schools, universities, hospitals, parks, places of work, worship and even the practice of commerce and politics - evolve and develop around the dwelling. This relationship creates the agora, the social community. It measures the success of every infrastructure, or its failure. This measure was true within and comprised the reason for the factory towns of old and even why and where the chief pitched the wigwam. The effect was then local; but today it is measured on a world inclusive scale, which calls for new paradigms of economic quality, force and focus. The dwelling, the centerfold of the infrastructure, becomes much more than a chattel to be abandoned to marketplace correction. Such correction destroys both savings and the infrastructure. New thought is needed.

    The digital revolution is generating a new formation to measure savings. The failure of one hundred million people to find work causes enormous loss of potential wealth, an abandonment of a large portion of the world’s otherwise available out-put production capacity. It is the digital revolution’s measure of negative savings - the loss of what is otherwise available if policy, other than war, caused full employment. On the positive side, that new measure of savings reaches beyond the older concept of market liquidity from demand value stored in the market-liquidity of assets. It measures and accounts for the portion of the total productive capacity available that is consistently under use to improve each layer of the infrastructure.

    The robot proffers an exponential increase in savings. Yet enabling its growth requires support and action from the investment/banking forum. Fed policy must lead the way, for our savings is tied to increasing that growth; whereas letting the potential for that growth to wither away or vanish overseas creates enormous loss. For example, relate the layers of infrastructure of the City of Basel and why money flows into Switzerland with that of Harare and the economy of Zimbabwe and then to everywhere else. The new monetary force of the 21st century becomes apparent.

    New thought about these relationships appears to be coming. The Economist Magazine’s Intelligence Unit’s Livability Rating study of the world’s great cities recognizes and attempts to quantify how infrastructure growth and development has assumed a new economic role. Promoting livability for the occupants of its dwellings quantifies into human happiness and success, which then renders a climate for commercial success. Rating quantitative and qualitative livability factors that create a community’s attraction is debatable; yet it is significant that the particular study, the first of its kind perhaps, chooses but one U. S. city, 28th among the initial thirty. Oh Senators, oh Congressmen, oh Obama, something is wrong! Do we need another revolution? Perhaps the answer should come from Concord.
    *******************************************
    THE CHALLENGE OF SOLUTION

    In addition to the phenomenon of control reversal, two new factors emerge from the current debacle. Tying the three together suggests how a covenant between all domestic lending institutions and the Fed can cause the ebbing worldwide economic tide to turn in our favor, once again becoming a flood tide surging toward prosperity. The two new factors are: George Soros’ suggestion to create much greater liquidity to offset the credit collapse, and nationalizing the banks, anathema just months ago.

    The suggestion to nationalize leads the way, except that the nationalization should not be applied to the banks. The government will not manage banking better than it controls the cost of running itself or its wars, let alone know how to cope with the derivative securities crisis. Instead, refocus nationalization to reflect a Fed discount, but not a purchase, of most all existing mortgage portfolios subscribed before 2008 and now held or to be reacquired by lending institutions as they settle their mortgage backed securities disputes. Under the discount terms the mortgages would become subject to the following covenant between the Fed and the current mortgagee, the originating lender bank or its reacquisition successor.

    As beneficiary owner of each mortgage, the mortgagee would agree: (1) to protect the Fed (and taxpayer) from any loss by guaranteeing their net remaining unamortized original capital investment in each mortgaged property. Some values may need adjusting to the real market condition, but these overall amounts would be minimal. This guaranteed value would then be the value of the proposed discount remittance. (2) To authorize the reduction of all interest charges for existing pre-2008 mortgages to a maximum rate close to the Government’s average T-bill rate of the recent past, perhaps 3%. (3) The authorization would permit further adjustment at the Fed’s discretion between the maximum and 0%, which latter rate the Fed should deploy for an initial period as it watches for result. Amortization would be extendable at the Fed’s discretion. It is pointed out that agreement by the mortgagor would be required, but I suspect approval would approach 100%. The program would not include new mortgages and as stated should probably exclude those written after January 1, 2008. Their values reflect a collapsed market; but such limitation is not conceptually important.

    In exchange for these concessions which involve much of the banking industry’s income, the Fed would discount, but not purchase, all pre-2008 mortgages for their guaranteed values, charging the mortgagees a discount fee not to exceed whatever interest, limited by the maximum, the Fed chooses to impose upon the mortgagors, less, perhaps, a management fee. The lender banks, or their successors to inter-institutional mortgage backed security claims, would remain as managers of the mortgages; yet all their capital investment will have been credited back to them.

    The huge inflow of credit will provide liquidity to accomplish three necessary goals. It would stop most foreclosures, thereby reversing the self-propagating collapse of real estate values. It would bring settlement to the securitization problems that cripple the banks. The Fed’s discount payments for securitized mortgages might be withheld until such settlement is achieved; thereby creating a powerful negotiating position for the banks. Thirdly, it would impel the banking institutions to replenish their depleted mortgage interest income by quickly reinvesting their enormous hoard of incoming cash. Perhaps its use should be specifically limited to new loan investments and not used for trading existing investments on Wall Street or any other casino-like marketplace. The banking/investment forum would then need to find, to develop and to support new economic enterprise throughout the world, most of it directed to infrastructural redevelopment and the new robotic-facturing industry.

    This flow of money is the flood of liquidity for which Mr. Soros calls. It would enfranchise the bankers to provide that symbiosis between themselves and the infrastructural development businesses necessary to reinstate employment around the globe. The banking/investment forum comprises the people most capable of doing it – probably the only people with sufficient expertise to do it. To the 20th century orthodox mind the sum of money will seem staggering; but under the terms of the 21st century’s global economy that sum will becomes more relative. President Obama needs advisors with dynamism and vision to move into the 21st century; otherwise he and his entourage will be held responsible for the world’s continuing economic collapse, the coming hunger and perhaps the starvation of millions.

    This program is an enormous order; but it can be fulfilled at no real cost to the taxpayer. Success from regaining a prosperous job filled economy will induce huge tax revenue gains; whereas the result of the Treasury being forced to appropriate trillions of dollars as worldwide unemployment and hunger increases and as additional banking/investment assets manage to claim a “too big to be allowed to fail” status will not only add debt, but tend to brew new disaster to boomerang into our face. Perhaps the greatest political worry today is the threat of potential damage and economic stagnation from a foreign-sourced boomerang hit. That potential hangs over the US and the world’s economy. A jobless revival will not take it away.

    A boomerang hit (is it happening now?) could bring a spiraling economic depression because the banking system will be unable to operate efficiently or affectively despite bailout receipts, an inability already apparent. Some claim we face five years of decline before recovery. Some have the effrontery to suggest the jobless recovery. Others, analyzing the Great Depression, show how it then took ten years plus a world war and Rosie the Riveter to achieve a fully employed recovery. Of greater but unheralded significance is the warning noted at a recent performance of the musical Cabaret; namely, how the Great Depression set loose the economic woe that enabled Hitler and Tajo to mobilize for World War II. Today’s worldwide unemployment, perhaps exceeding 100 million people together with the spread of famine could inspire many a dangerous rampage. Is this a policy to repeat?
    **************************************
    POSTSCRIPT from Noam Chomsky: Washington and Its Own Moral Universe.

    "That means tearing apart the enormous edifice of illusions about the markets, trade and democracy that have been assiduously constructed over many years, and to overcome the marginalization and atomization of the public," he said. "Of all the crises that afflict us, I believe this growing democratic deficit may be the most severe.”
    ************************************
    INDEX: Pages 9-63 of rambling perspective is available by e-mail request to
    Pages 9-16:ECONOMIC POLICY for the DIGITAL AGE, How Main Street can rescue Wall Street – earlier edition
    Pages 17-18: Letter to Congressman Barney Frank, Chairman of the Finance Committee, (06-30-09)
    Page 19: Suggestions relative to the proposed Consumer Protection legislation (06-30-09)
    Pages 20-21: Proposed Exam Question for Governors of the Federal Reserve System (May 2008)
    Pages 22 -28: SHOT OUT OF CONCORD: THE FAILURE OF 20th CENTURY ECONOMIC ORTHODOXY. (07-16-09)
    Pages 29-42: A SHOT OUT OF CONCORD–A Marshall Plan for America; 09/27/07; Reedited 04/23/08; Reviewed 06-28-09
    Page 43: Congressman Barney Frank’s December 11, 2007 reply.
    Pages 44-46: Letters of March 3 and May 17, 2008 to Congressman Frank.
    Page 47: Congressman Barney Frank’s June 4, 2008 letter.
    Pages 48-63: My September 27, 2007 letter sent to Congressman Frank; a copy of my original Helicopter Ben Plan… document, later changed to A SHOT OUT OF CONCORD- A Marshall Plan for America (see above), my hand delivered letter to the Congressman’s district office manager, Mark Ranslem, and random notation.

     

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