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Posts Tagged ‘subprime’

It’s time to break up the big banks

February 8, 2013 Leave a comment

[Now that the banks are healthy again] “let’s break these suckers up…so we can actually have justice for all, including bankers.” Go to minute 1:00 of the Daily Show interview to hear Neil Barofsky speak the words inside quotation marks.

[* My idea in brackets]

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-february-7-2013/exclusive—neil-barofsky-extended-interview-pt–2

The $700 billion TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) bailed out Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and on and on. President George W. Bush and ex-Goldman Sachs CEO turned U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Hank Paulson, said TARP would be used to buy up bad mortgages and help underwater homeowners in order to clear the “toxic assets” from the real estate industry and free up consumer credit again. Nope, didn’t happen that way. That’s why you always have to remember: Republicans and Conservatives will lie, cheat and steal.

source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/02/business/economy/02fed.html

EXCERPT:

“At home, from March 2008 to May 2009, the Fed extended a cumulative total of nearly $9 trillion in short-term loans to 18 financial institutions under a credit program….

Even bedrock corporations like Caterpillar, Harley-Davidson, General Electric, McDonald’s, Toyota and Verizon relied on a Fed program that supported the market for commercial paper….

So did the California Public Employees Retirement System, the nation’s largest public pension fund, and several insurers and university endowments.”

Read more:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-11-28/secret-fed-loans-undisclosed-to-congress-gave-banks-13-billion-in-income.html

http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/national/200904_CREDITCRISIS/recipients.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/oct/15/goldman-sachs-record-bonus-pot

Picture source: http://www.amazon.com/Bailout-ebook/dp/B00818J57W

Bailout

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Everything Under the Sun by Justin Bass

October 19, 2012 Leave a comment

End This Depression Now! by Paul Krugman

August 6, 2012 Leave a comment

EXCERPT from End This Depression Now! by Paul Krugman, pages 64-66; W.W. Norton & Company 2012:

 

“The Big Lie

 

I hear your complaints. Some of them are totally unfounded. It was not the banks that created the mortgage crisis. It was, plain and simple, Congress who forced everybody to go and give mortgages to people who were on the cusp. Now, I’m not saying I’m sure that was terrible policy, because a lot of those people who got homes still have them and they wouldn’t have gotten them without that.

But they were the ones who pushed Fannie and Freddie to make a bunch of loans that were imprudent, if you will. They were the ones that pushed the banks because it’s one target, it’s easy to blame them and Congress certainly isn’t going to blame themselves. At the same time, Congress is trying to pressure banks to loosen their lending standards to make more loans. This is exactly the same speech they criticized them for.

–Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York, on the Occupy Wall Street protests

The story I have just told about complacency and deregulation is, in fact, what happened in the run-up to the crisis. But you may have heard a different story—the one told by Michael Bloomberg in the quotation above. According to this story, debt growth was caused by liberal do-gooders and government agencies, which forced banks to lend to minority homebuyers and subsidized dubious mortgages. This alternative story, which says that it’s all the government’s fault, is dogma on the right. From the point of view of most, indeed virtually all, Republicans, it’s an unquestioned truth.

It isn’t true, of course. The fund manager and blogger Barry Ritholtz, who isn’t especially political but has a keen eye for flimflam, calls it the Big Lie of the financial crisis.

How do we know that the Big Lie is, in fact, not true? There are two main kinds of evidence.

First, any explanation that blames the U.S. Congress, with its supposed desire to see low-income families own homes, for the explosion of credit must confront the awkward fact that the credit boom and the housing bubble were very widespread, including many markets and assets that had nothing to do with low-income borrowers. There were housing bubbles and credit booms in Europe; there was a price surge, followed by defaults and losses after the bubble popped, in commercial real estate; within the United States, the biggest booms and busts weren’t in inner-city areas but rather in suburbs and exurbs.

Second, the great bulk of risky lending was undertaken by private lenders—and loosely regulated private lenders, at that. In particular, subprime loans—mortgage loans to borrowers who didn’t qualify according to normal prudential standards—were overwhelmingly made by private firms that were neither covered by the Community Reinvestment Act, which was supposed to encourage loans to members of minority groups, nor supervised by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored agencies charged with encouraging home lending. In fact, during most of the housing bubble Fannie and Freddie were rapidly losing market share, because private lenders would take on borrowers the government-sponsored agencies wouldn’t. Freddie Mac did start buying subprime mortgages from loan originators late in the game, but it was clearly a follower, not a leader.

In an attempt to refute this latter point, analysts at right-wing think tanks—notably Edward Pinto at the American Enterprise Institute—have produced data showing Fannie and Freddie underwriting a lot of ‘subprime and other high risk’ mortgages, lumping loans to borrowers without stellar credit scores in with loans to borrowers who failed strict lending criteria in other ways. This leads readers who don’t know better to think that Fannie and Freddie were actually deeply involved in promoting subprime lending. But they weren’t, and the ‘other high risk’ stuff turns out, on examination, to have been not especially high-risk, with default rates far below those on subprime loans.

I could go on, but you get the point. The attempt to blame government for the financial crisis falls apart in the face of even a cursory look at the facts, and the attempts to get around those facts smack of deliberate deception. This raises a question: why do conservatives want so badly to believe, and to get other people to believe, that the government did it?

The immediate answer is obvious: to believe anything else would be to admit that your political movement has been on the wrong track for decades. Modern conservatism is dedicated to the proposition that unfettered markets and the unrestricted pursuit of profit and personal gain are the keys to prosperity—and that the much-expanded role of government that emerged from the Great Depression did nothing but harm. Yet what we actually see is a story in which conservatives gained power, set about dismantling many of those Depression-era protections—and the economy plunged into a second depression, not as bad as the first, but bad enough. Conservatives badly need to explain this awkward history away, to tell a story that makes government, not lack of government, the villain.

But this in a way only pushes the question back a step. How did conservative ideology, the belief that government is always the problem, never the solution, come to have such a firm grip on our political discourse? That’s a slightly harder question to answer than you might think.”

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* I highly recommend the book by Paul Krugman, “Winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics.”

picture source: http://www.amazon.com/End-This-Depression-Paul-Krugman/dp/0393088774

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For lagniappe:

Minute 9:23…

Read more:

“Hell is empty, and all the devils are here.”–Shakespeare, The Tempest

http://www.amazon.com/All-Devils-Are-Here-Financial/dp/1591843634

Transcription of Paul Krugman on CNBC’s Squawk Box, July 11, 2012

July 13, 2012 1 comment

Paul Krugman on CNBC’s Squawk Box, July 11, 2012

 

Transcription

Andrew Ross Sorkin: “Today we are inducting a Nobel laureate into the Squawk Box Book Club. We are proud to present a Blue Chip award. I think this compares with the Nobel. I don’t know how you think about this?”

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera: “Way better.”

Andrew Ross Sorkin: “The book: ‘End This Depression Now.’ Paul Krugman walks us through the Financial Crisis that triggered the greatest downturn since the Great Depression, and offers us ways to move forward. Paul Krugman joins us on set this morning. Of course, he’s also the author of ‘End This Depression Now’ and ‘The Return of Depression Economics’ and ‘The Great Unraveling.’ And we have your award (Nobel prize for economics). How does this compare? Do you remember  the morning that you found out you got the Nobel, and then you got this (the actual award)?”

Paul Krugman: “Can you do a Swedish accent? I think it would be a little bit more impressive.”

Andrew Ross Sorkin: “Is it a woman who calls? Or how does it happen?”

Paul Krugman: “It was some guy with an obviously fake Swedish accent. I didn’t actually believe it until it was up on their website about a half an hour later.”

Andrew Ross Sorkin: “So Paul, I want to talk about economics, and I want to talk about what’s going on in the world. But tomorrow we have Simpson and Bowles. Erskine Bowles, Alan Simpson on the show. And from everything that I’ve read and seen that you’ve said before, you’re not a fan of this. And historically, I will tell you, we get a lot of people who sit around this table and say ‘We’ve got to find a compromise in Washington [D.C.]. This is a good model. At least it’s a starting point.’”

Paul Krugman: “It’s a model that’s heavily tilted toward things that are not good ideas. It’s heavily tilted toward inflicting pain on the most vulnerable. It is obsessed with cutting tax rates. I mean, it’s not unlike the Republican side of it. It isn’t really a balanced proposal. It’s actually a proposal that’s very heavily tilted toward spending cuts, not enough toward revenue increases. I guess we could do worse, and, given the way politics are going, we might.

This is not a well-crafted proposal. And by the way, there are huge magic asterisks. If you think that they’ve actually solved the problem, it turns out that all of the big savings in Simpson-Bowles are all ‘Savings to be determined later.’ They don’t actually lay out how they’re going to control health care costs. And it is fundamentally about health care costs. And that does not become clear, the way they present it.”

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera: “Medicare, in particular.”

Paul Krugman: “Well, but Medicare is part of a broader problem, right? Medicare costs have actually grown a little more slowly than private insurance costs over the years.”

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera: “I’m talking about the federal government right now has Medicare, right? And Medicaid to some degree.”

Paul Krugman: “That’s right. But Medicare. If we could suddenly have French health care costs instead of American health care costs, our budget problems would be solved forever, right? It is about the very high cost of the U.S. health care system. And you cannot resolve our budget problem without resolving that. If you do resolve that, then this thing becomes a whole lot easier.”

Joe Kernen: “Paul, I was excited when you were coming in, because I view you as almost a unicorn. You really exist in real life. Sort of an ancient species or a new species. Because I try to understand where you’re coming from on some of this stuff. And I’m confounded when I read your pieces. And I’m hoping we can have a philosophical discussion.”

Paul Krugman: “Look, can I say something? We came into this [Financial] Crisis, and that’s what my book is about. Back then there were some very different views about how this thing was going to work, about how things were going to play out. People like me had one set of views. Other people had very different views. There were some predictions. A lot of people thought people like me were crazy…”

Joe Kernen (interrupting): Right.

Paul Krugman (continued through interruption): [Other people thought] we can have budget deficits without raising interest rates.”

Joe Kernen (interrupting): “But, but bigger picture Capitalism versus a Social Democracy model. And I was going to just ask you, there was a time when we had 8% of government as GDP [Gross Domestic Product]. Then we got up to 15%. Now we’re at 25%, and it will be at 40 or 50% eventually with entitlements, if they’re not reined in. Is there a maximum amount of government spending as a percentage of GDP below 100 that you would? What would it be? Is 25% ok for a percentage of GDP?”

Paul Krugman: “When I’m in Europe, I will actually lecture them. They should let their stores open on Sunday. They have too much regulation. But we have European economics. Look at Sweden, which has been sailing through this [Financial] Crisis beautifully. It’s close to 50% GDP.”

Joe Kernen (interrupting): “But, but, but there’s more people in Newark [New Jersey].

Paul Krugman: “Come on. It’s not clear what difference. It is possible…”

Joe Kernen (interrupting): “Would you put up the economic record of any part of Europe with the way we do Capitalism her over the last 200 years? Which one?”

Paul Krugman: “Oh, sure. Sweden again. Sweden was a poorer country than we were 200 years ago. If you’re looking for the last 30-40 years, you know Europeans don’t actually look that bad. They’re now screwing up because they made this terrible mistake of one currency without one government. But as of 2007, before this [Financial] Crisis hit, the previous 10 years had looked pretty good compared to ours, in a lot of dimensions.”

Joe Kernen: “You are a capitalist?”

Paul Krugman: “Yeah.”

Joe Kernen: “Is there some kind of modification to Capitalism? What would I call it?”

Paul Krugman: “I’m a Free Market Welfare State guy.”

Joe Kernen: “Wait a minute. A Free Market Welfare State.”

Paul Krugman: “I believe you let markets mostly run themselves. You have an economy that’s basically driven by market forces. But you collect taxes to provide a safety net. A pretty strong safety net.”

Andrew Ross Sorkin: “How big does the safety net have to be?”

Joe Kernen: “It goes back to our forefathers, who said ‘Limited government, low taxes.’”

Paul Krugman: “Really? I don’t actually remember hearing about that?”

Joe Kernen: “Nothing about that? Nobody?”

Paul Krugman: “No, I don’t think that’s in there [Constitution of the United States].”

* Mr. Kernen immediately grabbed the computer mouse in front of him and looked at his computer screen.

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera: “Let’s talk safety net. So Medicare, by the nature when you look at actuary tables, actually becomes a benefit for the rich. Medicare is for everyone. We have billionaires who sit on this set, and they get Medicare. And if you are poor, the actuary tables bear out that you will die likely before you ever get your first Social Security check or Medicare. So how big is the Welfare State?”

Paul Krugman: “That’s actually, that’s not actually right, by the way. It’s certainly not true. What matters is life expectancy at age 65, and that is higher for more affluent people. But think about how many billionaires are there? The amount of money you can save by means-testing Medicare turns out to be trivial. And, by the way, if you do means-test it, what you have done is increased marginal tax rates because you’ve said if you make more money then you will lose your Medicare benefit. That’s actually reducing incentives.”

Andrew Ross Sorkin: “I’m going to turn it around then. Is it trivial? I don’t actually believe this, but I’m doing this almost as a Devil’s Advocate. Is it trivial then to increase taxes on the wealthy, since the amount of money you gain in the same way?”

Paul Krugman: “No, that’s not true.”

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera: “The converse is not true?”

Paul Krugman: “No, the converse is not true. The amount of Medicare that we spend on the richest .01% of the population is a tiny amount of money. The amount of money we can gain in taxes is not a tiny amount of money, because they are very, very rich. The health care of a rich person doesn’t cost a lot more. Actually, it costs a little bit less than the health care of a poor person. The income of a rich person is higher, by definition. So there’s a lot more taxes.

So this is not true. We cannot solve our budget problems entirely by raising taxes on the rich. But we can make a significant dent by raising taxes on the rich. And we actually cannot make a significant dent by doing things like means-testing Medicare.”

Andrew Ross Sorkin: “You talk a lot about the bond vigilantes. And I’m curious, how much do you think we can spend to quote-unquote grow the economy, if you think that would work, before the bond vigilantes have a problem?”

Paul Krugman: “Well, first of all. I guess the question is. We have to look at history. There’s no easy way to do this by looking at spreadsheets. We look at the fact that Great Britain had debt levels as a share of GDP [Gross Domestic Product] much higher than we currently have, for most of the 20th century. Never a problem. We look at Japan, which people have been predicting bond vigilantes will attack for 20 years now. No problem. So it looks as if countries that have their own currency, that are stable, advanced democracies have the ability to run to levels.

You know, I don’t like, I don’t want us to get up to a Japanese level of debt. But there is no sign that we’re anywhere close. There’s no sign that we’re close to [???] points of GDP debt levels.”

Joe Kernen (interrupting): “People use the analogy: ‘When you jump off a building, you think you’re flying until you hit the ground.’ People say if we doubled to 4% on what we need to pay to fund our expenses that we’re already headed for Europe.”

Paul Krugman: “That’s. Even. You know. Think about Europe for a second. Think about the fact that Britain has levels of debt that are basically the same as ours. And are actually a bit higher than that of Spain. Britain (the Pound) is a safe-haven currency. They can borrow at pretty much the same rates we can. Spain is obviously in the news today. It’s not actually about the debt level. It’s about the constraints of that terrible mistake of a single currency created. It’s not about the debt level.”

Joe Kernen: “But, but there would come a time where it would be hard to get Chinese.”

Paul Krugman: “When the economy is doing well, you should be paying down debt. And I spent a large part of the last decade screaming about Bush and his tax cuts and his unfunded wars, saying that this is not what we should be doing. We should be trying to get our debt down.”

Joe Kernen (interrupting): “But.”

Paul Krugman: “But now is a time when we have an economic emergency where there really is no good alternative. If we try to balance the budget under these circumstances, all we do is throw ourselves into a deeper Depression.”

Joe Kernen: “What would be a number? What’s the maximum amount that the government should spend as a percentage of GDP [Gross Domestic Product]? Do you have a number for me? I’m just trying to figure it out.”

Paul Krugman: “Well.”

Joe Kernen (interrupting): “Well, I’m trying to figure it out. You know [hand gestures from Mr. Kernen].”

Paul Krugman: “Look, when it gets above 50.”

Joe Kernen: “When it gets above 50.”

Paul Krugman: “Then I start to wonder.”

Joe Kernen: “Government spending as a percentage of GDP [Gross Domestic Product]?”

Paul Krugman: “We have several European countries that are right at the 50 line.”

Joe Kernen: “But is there anything to the notion that money is treated better in the private sector, where there’s accountability and people minding the store?”

Paul Krugman: “There are some things that government does better that the private sector, like taking care of people who are in desperate need. Health care seems to be something. Health Insurance the government runs better.”

Joe Kernen (interrupting): “Do you see innovation continue if the government?”

Paul Krugman: “Of course. That’s. There are so many myths out there. Half the time, more than half the time, when anybody tells you about some great innovation, ‘That wouldn’t have happened under socialized medicine,’ it turns out the innovation was made in Europe or Australia, not here.”

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera: “A lot of the critics of that approach would say in Europe they have rationing. Let me finish. What happens is that you end up not giving care to the elderly as much as you would to younger people, because they’re going to live longer. They’re more deserving. What a lot of people here say is ‘Look, we all ration, right? We all have unlimited wants but limited means.’ And the question comes down to who will do the rationing? Will it be the individual or will it be the government? And should it be the person who is in charge of their own life to make their choices, and have good choices about health insurance rather than ceding to the government?”

Paul Krugman: “What planet are those people living on? As far as I can make out, it’s my insurance company, not me, who is making those choices. And I have insurance.”

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera: “Because it’s provided by your employer, right?”

Paul Krugman: “Right.”

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera: “Because it’s 3rd party payer. Will you acknowledge that? No?”

Paul Krugman: “No, when you get a private personal insurance policy, which by the way that market has never worked anywhere.”

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera (interrupting): “Because there is very heavy government intervention in that market.”

Paul Krugman: “No, that market has never worked well anywhere.”

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera: “It’s never functioned ever. It’s never been allowed.”

Paul Krugman: “It functions worst where there’s the least intervention. But, but this notion of rationing. The notion that. Look, everybody talks about hip replacements. It’s true that you have a longer wait for a hip replacement in Canada than here. Who pays for hip replacements in America? Medicare. This myth that the rationing is coming because we have a private system. We actually have less rationing because we spend more money. The French system has almost no rationing. It’s a very heavy government intervention…”

Joe Kernen (interrupting): “I want you to come back. I have questions about the two kinds of fairness. Somehow the government figures out outcomes, rather than a meritocratic system?”

Paul Krugman: “I think we could go on like this for a while.”

Joe Kernen: “Equal outcomes for our citizens?”

Paul Krugman: “No, but there’s a long distance between that and saying. I mean, if you had talked to people in 1925 and talked about the economy we had in 1955, with Social Security and Unemployment Insurance and these kinds of things, they would have said ‘This capitalism will collapse.’ In fact, the post-War [World War II ended in 1945] generation was the best economic growth we’ve had in a very long time.”

Joe Kernen (interrupting): “I’m scared of 50% government spending. I can’t go there with you.”

Paul Krugman: “But it’s not going to happen here, right?”

Joe Kernen: “You said you’d let it happen.”

Paul Krugman: “No, I said that’s where I start getting nervous.”

End of the interview.

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Read more:

http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000101427

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/11/zombies-on-cnbc/

http://www.businessinsider.com/cnbc-host-blasts-paul-krugman-on-air-after-krugman-calls-him-a-zombie-2012-7

http://www.cnbc.com/id/15838087/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/11/paul-krugman-cnbc_n_1664771.html

http://www.cjr.org/the_audit/daily_show_eviscerates_santell.php?page=all

www.businessweek.com/news/2012-07-11/peregrine-customers-claims-priced-at-25-cents-on-dollar

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/07/10/regulators-charge-futures-brokerage-with-fraud/

http://money.cnn.com/2012/07/11/investing/pfg-wasendorf/index.htm

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/13/opinion/krugman-whos-very-important.html?hp

http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_transcript.html

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FAH-Q Me!

March 6, 2012 Leave a comment

FAH-Q = For All to Hear & Question. ; )

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Advance to minute 2:20 of The New York Times’ “TimesCast” to see an example of an Ignorant Conservative/Ignorant Republican voter in Columbus, Ohio by the name of Isaac Shupe, who is susceptible to the rhetoric of campaign commercials and repeats those talking points in place of his own reasoning.

Today on TimesCast
The Times’s Jeff Zeleny previews Super Tuesday | The changed perspective of a Republican voter in Ohio.

http://video.nytimes.com/video/playlist/timescast/1247467375115/index.html?hp

Could The New York Times’ reporter and the editors of the video have taken Isaac Shupe’s words out of context? Yes! We do not know what Isaac Shupe said off camera, we only know what he said on camera. That is why it is necessary to keep questioning the sources of our information: campaign commercials, TV/Radio/Internet/Print News reports, your neighbor, me, everybody. For All to Hear & Question…that goes for everybody.

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Can you feel your soul? I can feel mine. Wishing people dead is not good for my soul. I can feel it. I still hold on to the hope that Fact & Evidence, Reason & Sense will win out over the people who lie, cheat and steal…and that We, the People, will V-O-T-E for the best ideas and the best solutions that benefit the majority of Americans. Maybe there is hope of changing the greedy, self-serving demagogues and sophists, like the Koch Brothers, Karl Rove and Dick Cheney?

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“Save the Rich”

March 1, 2012 Leave a comment

“Save the Rich” – Garfunkel and Oates with Weird Al Yankovic

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To everybody out there making it hard on others…

February 10, 2012 Leave a comment

That goes for the incompetent people who don’t think about anything past their own shoelaces. That goes for the greedy motherf*ckers out there working on Wall Street or in the financial services industry. That goes for the people on the freeway tailgating. That goes for the people butting in line wherever they go and not waiting in line like everybody else. That goes for those who lie, cheat and steal; and who never bother to stop what they’re doing, learn from their mistakes, and strive to do things right the next time. That goes for women who enable destructive bosses. That goes for Chinese manufacturers polluting the air and abusing their workers. That goes for George W. Bush and double for Dick Cheney. I am talking to you, people of planet Earth. Do better.

Click for larger image… http://justiceleagueunlimited.files.wordpress.com/2009/04/pyramid_lg.jpg

https://fandecande.files.wordpress.com/2009/10/johnwoodenpyramid.jpg?w=300

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A special FAH-Q to Apple (AAPL) for making crap computers and tablets, like the iPad, that restrict access to ESPN videos and make it difficult/frustrating/impossible to post what I want to on my own blog. FAH-Q = For All to Hear & Question. ; )

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 Free Your Mind and Think‘s photo.

Read more:

http://billmoyers.com/segment/jonathan-haidt-explains-our-contentious-culture/

http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/02/09/online-users-of-citibank-bill-pay-app-charged-twice/?hp

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/10/opinion/krugman-money-and-morals.html?hp

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