But it would be unfair to blame the backlash against free trade solely on the fears unleashed by the current economic problems or a hunt for political advantage. Defenders of free trade can make a reasonably good case that it increases overall efficiency and aggregate material welfare. What they have failed to do is develop a defense of the way the benefits of free trade have been distributed.
Sebastian Mallaby of the Post calls for a stimulus package for the rest of the country.
The fastest and fairest way to help ordinary people is via a budget stimulus package. Part of the extra spending should be distributed to state governments, which are having trouble maintaining Medicaid and other programs as recession eats into their tax revenue. Part of the extra spending could go to infrastructure projects, though this tends to be a slow way of getting cash into the economy. But much of the stimulus should be in checks made out directly to citizens.
Bloomberg writes on economist/seer Nouriel Roubini’s proposed plan of attack. And, look out below:
“At this stage the risk of an imminent stock-market crash — like the one-day collapse of 20 percent plus in U.S. stock prices in 1987 cannot be ruled out,” said Roubini. “The financial system is breaking down, panic and lack of confidence in any counterparty is sharply rising and investors have totally lost faith in the ability of policy authorities to control the meltdown.”
Lastly, Slate’s new Big Money site takes the juiciest parts of the Lehman Brothers and AIG probes in Congress and puts them in bite-size form.
But I think we could all use some good news these days, so I’ll end on what hasn’t been widely acknowledged, that AIG’s brief CEO Robert Willumstad refused his $22 million severance.
As you know, the Board of Directors of the company decided that my termination was “not for cause.” Accordingly, I am entitled to receive severance payments under the AIG Executive Severance Plan of approximately $22 million. While I appreciate the Board’s intention to fulfill this obligation, I have decided, after careful deliberation, to forgo the severance payments.