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Greenspan: Fed could not have stopped US housing bubble

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Former US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan has defended his policies against an increasing number of critics who argue they are largely responsible for the current financial and economic crisis. Greenspan, who chaired the US central bank between 1987 and the beginning of 2006, said in today's Wall Street Journal that keeping the so-called federal-funds rate - or overnight lending rate between banks - at historically low levels between 2001 and 2006 should not be blamed for the credit and housing bubble. According to Greenspan, the glut of savings built up by emerging market economies, particularly China, played a much bigger role than the Federal Reserve. By investing much of the savings into bond markets, the former Fed chairman argues, these economies helped keep long-term interest rates - key to the cost of mortgages for US homeowners - at a dangerously low level.

Greenspan is wrong.
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A tale from the desert

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Before the Khadi of an Eastern city there came from the desert two torn and bruised travellers.
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Backing a dead-cert loser

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A bookmaker would not accept a bet that the Houses of Parliament lie to the west of the Greenwich meridian, because it is a fact that they do, with no element of a chance that they do not. By the same token, insurance companies do not issue policies involving paying out against what is inevitable, but only against the prospect of a risk that some specified event might occur. Thus it is undisputed that rain will fall on a particular village green in the Home Counties at some point in the future, but will it rain on the day of the village summer fête? Insurance can be arranged to cover that, at a premium related to the nature of the cover and the conditions to be satisfied.

The Government talks of having put in place an insurance scheme for the nation's broken banks.
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What is the Tax Justice Network for?

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What is the Tax Justice Network for? The TJN describes itself as,
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UK national debt set to surpass £2 trillion

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The national debt is likely to be exceed £2 trillion following the Treasury's decision to stand behind Britain's troubled banks' debts. The latest Government figures emphasise fears about the impact of the crisis on the taxpayer and may spark further anxieties over Britain's creditworthiness.
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We must crack down on the tax avoiders

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This week there has been much wringing of hands about tax avoidance. The Guardian has even run a series, "The Tax Gap" on the subject. We must have a crack-down.
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A lesson for Iceland

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The Icelanders are thinking of joining the EU as a way of getting out of their troubles. They should take care. They must watch their fish. Unless the fish have gone already, they should keep out of the EU. Even if the fish stocks have gone, EU membership will do them little good in the end. There is the cautionary tale of Ireland to take note of. The EU pumped money in. That caused a property boom. The banks piled in and of course the inevitable bust followed. The property boom was the primary cause of the boombust, everywhere.

Iceland might well do better to follow a different path altogether.
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Setting itself up for failure - the VOX Global Crisis Debate

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VoxEU.org, a policy portal set up by the Centre for Economic Policy Research, in conjunction with a consortium of national sites, today launches the Global Crisis Debate. The aim is "to broaden the discussion into a truly global debate, and to make the Global Crisis Debate the dominant intellectual forum on the crisis."

"The ambition is to broaden the discussion into a truly global debate;
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