Posts Tagged ‘Congress’

The Great Read-cession, Part IV

On the BrinkWelcome to Part IV of our eleven-part breakdown of the books of the financial crisis. Having trouble keeping up? Then check out this page for all previous and future posts in the series.

On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System

by Henry Paulson 2010


The unifying element of the first four books was pessimism: Whether it was Ritholtz’s scorn for those in power, Morgenson’s search for someone to blame, Lewis’s tragic tale, or Sorkin’s narrative of disaster, all four books had decidedly bleak outlooks on the events. Since there is only so much despair one person can read about, I wanted to read the account of someone who would be sympathetic to the policy-makers and CEOs who everyone else blamed.

Henry Paulson was perfect. If the financial panic of 2008 has a face, it’s Paulson’s. As Treasury Secretary during the collapse, he was the one who told Congress of the dangers of Fannie and Freddie (in his infamous squirt gun analogy), who proposed TARP, and who ultimately dispensed the bailouts. And unlike the other figures prominently involved—Geithner, Bernanke—he faded from public view almost immediately after the disaster passed.

Reading Paulson’s book, though, it is hard to dislike him. His prose is straightforward and he comes across as an upstanding, diligent worker with integrity. He’s honest, but polite and gracious to a fault—despite presiding over what many would describe as a complete disaster, he has nothing but kind words for almost everyone involved.* He worked for Presidents Nixon and Bush—two of the least popular Presidents of the last 50 years, if not ever—but says nothing negative about either. He clashed with another prominent public figure, Jon Corzine, for the top spot at Goldman Sachs, but all he says about that is “frankly, the pairing was never right.” Continue reading

Monday Medley

What we read while watching Bin Laden watch himself…

This Day in Revisionist History

This is a Wednesday column, so why is it running on Thursday? Well, while on assignment in the Middle East, Jake was captured by Afghanis. They have since released him after he quickly volunteered a few national secrets (don’t worry–not our national secrets…stupid terrorists.) But enough already. Let’s leave the revising of events to the column itself:

December 1

“Oh, come on…is that an actual rule?”

–Delaware Congressman Louis McLane, after learning that because none of the candidates had won a majority of electoral votes, the 1824 presidential election would be decided by the House of Representatives.

The 12th amendment has never been very popular, and its only saving grace has been the persistence of the two-party system in the United States. But know that on this day in 1824, due to the dissolution of a unified Federalist party, there was only one party, which had distributed its electoral support among four candidates. Although Andrew Jackson received the highest number of votes, he did not receive a majority, which required what today we would call a run-off, in which the top three candidates would vie for votes in a House of Representatives election. Continue reading

Twombly, Iqbal, Congress, and The End of Plausibility Pleading

20090501_souter_33Being in law school makes law-related news (particularly, that of the non-constitutional variety) more relevant and, therefore, more interesting to me than it previously did.  Nonetheless, I have had the sense not to post on law-related topics that have little relevance to most of our readers. But a loyal NPI friend recently shared a piece of legal news with me that is quite a big deal.

To understand the significance of this news, some background information is necessary:

In Bell Atlantic Corp v. Twombly (2007), the Supreme Court established a new, more stringent standard for upholding a plaintiff’s pleading claim when faced with a defendant’s motion to dismiss that claim. Put in plain English, when a plaintiff initiates a civil suit, they have to make a claim to explain what they are suing for. There are rules in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP)* one of which guides what needs to be stated in a plaintiff’s initial claim, namely that the claim must be “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.” “Short and plain” is purposely in there to indicate that a simple allegation is enough; there just should be enough so the defendant is notified of why he is being accused by the plaintiff. That’s why this is often referred to as “notice pleading”. This simplified pleading system was partially a reaction against “code pleading”, which required fairly significant factual detail for each element of a claim being made. This was heavily criticized because plaintiff often did not have all of the resources and information to have sufficient facts when first making an allegation.

Continue reading