Morning Reading

Good morning. Boy, Congress likes to hold hearings. Today, there are three biggies: Toyota, the Federal Reserve chairman and the insurance company Anthem.

What Bernanke will say (Marketplace Morning Report)

WARNER: Well, we can expect lawmakers to demand some apologies. Critics say the Fed bailed out Wall Street and neglected Main Street; the representatives will expect to see him take some of that blame. More importantly for the economy, of course, is the Fed's future plan. And here's where the chairman has to do a kind of balancing act.

Anthem to testify for premium increases (MMR)

Toyota's troubles accelerate with Congressional, criminal hearings (PBS NewsHour)

Give Toyota a fair hearing (Washington Post) From the governor of Mississippi:

(Toyota's) direct investment in the United States exceeds $18 billion, but it's not just American workers who profit. Eighty percent of Toyota vehicles sold in this country over the past 20 years are still on the road.

That's why I hope Congress will resist the temptation to attack Toyota simply to advance the interests of its American competitors. Toyota should not be blamed implicitly for the problems of Detroit's automakers. Moreover, the decision to bail out bankrupt General Motors and Chrysler with $60 billion from U.S. taxpayers has put Washington in an uncomfortable position. I know Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to be an honorable man, but can these hearings be seen as impartial, focused on enforcing the rules and policing corporate behavior, when the federal government has stakes in two major car companies?

Why the recession has lasted lasted so long (Real Clear Markets)

The recession is how the market redefines itself to the new paradigm. Downturns should ricochet into recoveries. The longer Washington attempts to alleviate the recession with interest rate manipulation and deficit spending, the longer weaknesses perpetuate. Propping-up the failures of the past prevents the successes of the future.

Does financial innovation really help the economy grow: A debate (The Economist) Econ professors Joseph Stiglitz and Ross Levine debate the issue online. The audience comments. Interesting new format.

Fearing an Obama agenda, states loosen gun laws (New York Times) The president has done nothing on guns so far, but states and the gun lobby are sure he will:

"The president supports and respects the Second Amendment," Mr. LaBolt said, "and he believes we can take common-sense steps to keep our streets safe and to stem the flow of illegal guns to criminals."

Still, gun rights groups remain skeptical of the administration.

"The watchword for gun owners is stay ready," said Wayne LaPierre, chief executive of the National Rifle Association. "We have had some successes, but we know that the first chance Obama gets, he will pounce on us."

ESPN will probably take over Olympic coverage (Frank DeFord/NPR) Right on, Frank:

At least maybe ESPN can get by with fewer commercials. I mean, I know, people have been complaining about too many television commercials since Howdy Doody, but these Winter Games have been ridiculous. The commercials have just taken so much spirit out of the rhythm of the visual experience.

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