Conversing with Jamie Galbraith on America’s “Private Debt” Problem

-


I just had a fascinating discussion with economist David Hale who thinks that the US economy may get a “dead cat bounce” in jobs created in 2010. Hale thinks this relatively optimistic scenario depends on the American consumer coming back to life.
Recently, the New America Foundation hosted a national policy forum focused on America’s “private debt overhang.” On this link from the New American Contract blog, there are some good powerpoints from the various speakers that may be useful in benchmarking US economic performance right now.
And in the video above, I chat for about seven minutes with economist James K. Galbraith who walks listeners through the limited wherewithal of American consumers to kickstart growth. Galbraith, son on John Kenneth Galbraith, is Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations and Professor of Government at the LBJ School at the University of Texas at Austin.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

34 comments on “Conversing with Jamie Galbraith on America’s “Private Debt” Problem

  1. iphone app development says:

    Fine information. Thanks so much, have a good day!

    Reply

  2. Karachi stock exchange says:

    Thanks for the sharing of such information we will pass it on to our readers.
    This is a great reading.

    Reply

  3. Laptops in karachi says:

    Very interesting idea! I think that could prove a very worthwhile approach in establishing long term relationships. I think that you would need to prioritise quite heavily towards the people who either link to you all the time or who have large, powerful sites. But these are the perfect people to build a relationship with as they have already shown that they like you by placing the link.

    Reply

  4. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    Perhaps Mr. Eide and Secretary General Ban Ki Moon were concerned about the apprearance of foreign intervention, under UN auspices….
    I know that after 8 years of Dopoey and Darth, “avoiding the appearance of impropriety” seems like one of those “Old Europe” quiant, but pre-9/11, customs, that Americans no longer values….but the UN does, not to say that Mr. Galbraith was in any way being improper, but since the US is an invading force, it would be understandable for Afghanis to not believe the UN observations with an American calling the election into question…it wouldn’t be the first time the US has imposed on a UN appointee to further its policies…
    I know this from first hand experience, when I brought the two UN Human Rights experts to the Hopi reservation…one was from the US…he was so eager to do the US’ biddig, he actually tried to go out there without telling me or the specific Hopi Elders who invited the UN in the first place…I found out about it and went out there and insisted that he meet with the elders who were responible for his trip…otherwise, he was prepared to write a completely one-sided report….this was supposedley an honorable man…a good American and NY State Supreme Court Judge to be precise….Judge John Carey….in other words, he was using a UN appointment, to further a US policy….he wrote his report without bothering to attend and obsderve the Joint Congressional Hearing on the Relocation legisltation… because this practice is de riguer for US/Un appointees, it weouldn’t matter if Mr. Galbraith was completely above board…people would suspect him, just for being American.

    Reply

  5. WigWag says:

    “Small world…I have actually met Mr. Eide” (Kathleen Grasso Andersen)
    As a small aside and not apropos of anything, Eide and Galbraith were once great friends. According to the New York Times, Eide introduced Galbraith to his wife who is Norwegian. They now make their home in Vermont where Galbraith actually contemplated running for Governor.
    I really do hope that Obama finds something for Peter Galbraith in his Administration. He is truly an impressive person of great integrity and tremendous experience.

    Reply

  6. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    arthurrr…love the word “salubrious”…more no Peter Galbriath/Eide/UN
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8281934.stm

    Reply

  7. Kathlee Grasso Andersen says:

    Small world…I have actually met Mr. Eide…at the UN in Geneva during sessions of the UN Commission for Human Rights in the ’80-90’s. If memory serves me correctly, Mr. Eide was on the SubCommission for Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities…my work there did not involve Mr. Eide, so I cannot speak to his character….but he has been at the UN, for Norway, for a long time.
    Don’t know Peter or James Galbriath, but did know John Kenneth Galbraith through the ADA when he was President and nominated Joe Duffey,Democratic candidate for US Senate in CT. to succeed him as President of the ADA.
    Steve…you should ask Joe Duffey to tell you the story about when John Kenneth Galbraith asked him to accept the nomination for president of the ADA….it’ll take him down memory lane. I was the only one who thought Joe should do it…everyone else on the campaign said No, icluding Anne Wexler, Abe Ribicoff and various of his staffmembers all said it would make Joe look “too pinko”, I kid you not, it was that long ago….We argued, literally every day for 3 weeks about it…me against them, sitting around Anne Wexler’s swimming pool in Westport, CT.
    I though Galbraith was handing Joe a marvelous platform and wanted Joe to do it. He was a Professor of Divinity at Trinity College then…no one in the media was going to be seeking his opinion on anything, but as Galbraith’s successor and the youngest President of the ADA, it would be different.
    On the eve of the ADA convention in D.C. I went to sleep thinking I had lost that argument and we had lost a great opportunity,,,but at 5 a.m. the phone rang…it was Anne Wexler…she just said “He did it”. I said he did what? She said he jumped on the midnight train to D.C. and is going to accept the nomination…I said you won’t be sorry…he wasn’t…but that’s a whole ‘nother story…starting with William F. Buckley chanllenging Joe to a debate…

    Reply

  8. ... says:

    wigwag quote “The UN; what a great institution!”
    geez wigwag, the way you tell it the un is almost as bad as the usa! hard to believe!!!

    Reply

  9. WigWag says:

    Speaking of James Galbraith, his brother Peter is in the news tonight. Peter Galbraith who wrote some of the smartest and best essays and books on America’s War in Iraq was appointed several months ago by the United Nations to be its second highest ranking official in Afghanistan.
    Then Galbraith decided he couldn’t take the lies. It seems that his superior, the Norwegian Diplomat Kai Eide, helped Karzai cover up election fraud; even more amazingly, Eide claimed the election was squeeky clean and above reproach. Outraged, Peter Galbraith wrote a letter in which he criticized Karzai, the election process and Eide’s cozy relationship with Karzai.
    How did Ban Ki-Moon respond? Of course, he fired Galbraith.
    Here’s a little bit about the imbroglio from tonight’s New York Times;
    U.S. Critic of Karzai Is Fired From U.N. Mission
    By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. and NEIL MacFARQUHAR
    Published: September 30, 2009
    KABUL, Afghanistan — The United Nations fired its No. 2 official in Afghanistan on Wednesday after the diplomat, Peter W. Galbraith, wrote a scathing letter accusing the head of the mission here of concealing election fraud that benefited the campaign of the incumbent President, Hamid Karzai.
    The head of mission, Kai Eide, angrily denied the accusation, and senior United Nations officials and diplomats said that Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had decided to recall Mr. Galbraith because of irreconcilable differences with Mr. Eide, who is Norwegian.
    “He reaffirms his full support for his special representative, Kai Eide,” said a terse statement attributed to Mr. Ban’s spokesman. The day before Mr. Ban had also expressed confidence in Mr. Galbraith during a news conference at the United Nations headquarters.
    But the letter to Mr. Ban from Mr. Galbraith, the highest-ranking American official working for the United Nations in Afghanistan, made clear the depth of the animosity between Mr. Galbraith and Mr. Eide and illustrated the profound concerns that remain among some international observers that the presidential election had been hopelessly undermined by fraud.
    “For a long time after the elections, Kai denied that significant fraud had taken place, even going to the extreme of ordering U.N. staff not to discuss the matter,” Mr. Galbraith wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times.
    “And, at critical stages in the process,” he wrote, “he blocked me and other U.N.A.M.A. professional staff from taking effective action that might have limited the fraud or enabled the Afghan electoral institutions to address it more effectively.” U.N.A.M.A. refers to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan

    I read on a blog somewhere where a pundit quipped that if Galbraith had been accused of pinching a colleague’s butt he could have remained in office for many months; had he been merely incompetent he could have remained in office for years. But criticizing the accepted narrative on Karzai and the elections gets you fired over night.
    The UN; what a great institution!

    Reply

  10. WigWag says:

    Speaking of James Galbraith, his brother Peter is in the news tonight. Peter Galbraith who wrote some of the smartest and best essays and books on America’s War in Iraq was appointed several months ago by the United Nations to be its second highest ranking official in Afghanistan.
    Then Galbraith decided he couldn’t take the lies. It seems that his superior, the Norwegian Diplomat Kai Eide, helped Karzai cover up election fraud; even more amazingly, Eide claimed the election was squeeky clean and above reproach. Outraged, Peter Galbraith wrote a letter in which he criticized Karzai, the election process and Eide’s cozy relationship with Karzai.
    How did Ban Ki-Moon respond? Of course, he fired Galbraith.
    Here’s a little bit about the imbroglio from tonight’s New York Times;
    U.S. Critic of Karzai Is Fired From U.N. Mission
    By RICHARD A. OPPEL Jr. and NEIL MacFARQUHAR
    Published: September 30, 2009
    KABUL, Afghanistan — The United Nations fired its No. 2 official in Afghanistan on Wednesday after the diplomat, Peter W. Galbraith, wrote a scathing letter accusing the head of the mission here of concealing election fraud that benefited the campaign of the incumbent President, Hamid Karzai.
    The head of mission, Kai Eide, angrily denied the accusation, and senior United Nations officials and diplomats said that Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had decided to recall Mr. Galbraith because of irreconcilable differences with Mr. Eide, who is Norwegian.
    “He reaffirms his full support for his special representative, Kai Eide,” said a terse statement attributed to Mr. Ban’s spokesman. The day before Mr. Ban had also expressed confidence in Mr. Galbraith during a news conference at the United Nations headquarters.
    But the letter to Mr. Ban from Mr. Galbraith, the highest-ranking American official working for the United Nations in Afghanistan, made clear the depth of the animosity between Mr. Galbraith and Mr. Eide and illustrated the profound concerns that remain among some international observers that the presidential election had been hopelessly undermined by fraud.
    “For a long time after the elections, Kai denied that significant fraud had taken place, even going to the extreme of ordering U.N. staff not to discuss the matter,” Mr. Galbraith wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times.
    “And, at critical stages in the process,” he wrote, “he blocked me and other U.N.A.M.A. professional staff from taking effective action that might have limited the fraud or enabled the Afghan electoral institutions to address it more effectively.” U.N.A.M.A. refers to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan

    I read on a blog somewhere where a pundit quipped that if Galbraith had been accused of pinching a colleague’s butt he could have remained in office for many months; had he been merely incompetent he could have remained in office for years. But criticizing the accepted narrative on Karzai and the elections gets you fired over night.
    The UN; what a great institution!

    Reply

  11. arthurdecco says:

    After wading through questions latest interminable collection of …. I was at once reminded of the the following excerpt from H L Mencken, one of the finest minds of the 20th century:
    “How, in spite of the incurable imbecility of the great masses of men, are we to get a reasonable measure of common sense and decency into the conduct of the world? The Liberal answer (much more clearly stated by H.G. Wells in “The Outline of History” than by Mr. Walter Lippmann in … “Public Opinion” is, in essence, simply a variant of the old democratic answer: by spreading enlightenment, by democratizing information, by combating what is adjudged to be false by what is adjudged to be true. But this scheme, however persuasively it may be set forth, invariably goes to wreck upon two or three immovable facts.
    One is the fact that a safe majority of the men and women in every modern society are congenitally uneducatible, save within very narrow limits—that it is no more possible to teach them what every voter theoretically should know than it is to teach a chimpanzee to play the viol da gamba.
    Another is the fact that the same safe majority, far from having any natural yearning to acquire this undescribed body of truth, has a natural and apparently incurable distrust of it …
    A third (and it is more important than either of the other two) is that there exists no body of teachers in Christendom capable of teaching the truth, even supposing it to be known … The inevitable tendency of pedagogy … is to preserve and propagate the lies that happen to be currently respectable, which is to say, that happen to be salubrious to the current masters of the mob.”
    [S.S., “Demagoguery as Art and Science”, April, 1922, pp. 138-139.]

    Reply

  12. questions says:

    …, not quite the right direction for the question, but thanks.
    And the envelope please….
    Umm, it says, “illegal — MY migrant problem, while poorly treated refugee who deserves a homeland is YOUR migrant problem.”

    Reply

  13. ... says:

    questions – create a fascist state and make everything illegal, including basic rights and freedoms that many take for granted, like the new laws introduced with 9-11… presto! everything becomes ””illegal”’… oh and did i mention that you are probably an……….. illegal? lol…
    if you are questioning authority, you are an ‘illegal’.. if you are going along with it, you are probably okay for the time being…

    Reply

  14. Outraged American says:

    You and your Siamese twin, Alice in Wonderland, who both,
    because you’re conjoined, obviously descended from the Mother
    Ship sometime after 9/11, given your apparent inability to
    QUESTION the circumstances surrounding The Day That
    Changed Everything, which I would suggest was actually the day
    Nadine was born, but whatever.
    You/Alice, when you’re not being policy wonks or
    kindergarteners looking for free ESL classes, emergency rooms
    and lunches, probably live with 28 other aliens in a one
    bedroom apartment in Anaheim, looking for day work outside
    Home Despot or the abandoned set of Roswell.
    Beyond Yiddish/ Norwegian, Hindi, German, a spot of Bahasa
    Indonesian and Italian, I can speak English conversationally and
    Spanish perfectly. Con perfecto. That could be Italian or
    Japanese. Get them all mixed-up.
    It comes from begging Mexican gang members at my grade
    school not to use brass knuckles the next time they were going
    to beat me up. Kim Cruz, how’s that life sentence going?
    As such I can say, with confidence, that I am using the proper,
    very difficult, Spanish grammar, when yo dice, “Get the US and
    Mexico to fix NAFTA and then go home.”
    Guadalajara versus Eagle Rock or South Phoenix? No contesto
    (concurso) nada. I would emigrate to Mexico in a corazon beat.
    Plus Mexico just legalized drugs which means my neighbors, the
    Satanists, could come with.

    Reply

  15. questions says:

    what’s an illegal?

    Reply

  16. Outraged American says:

    Illegals without insurance sure add to my private debt. Ever try
    buying car insurance in a border state i.e., Central Mexico?
    $600 a year for “uninsured or underinsured” drivers.
    And to even call them “drivers” is a stretch, more like drunken
    lunatics behind a steering wheel.
    Wig Wag must be recovering from her Manischewitz induced,
    Yom Kippur hangover — she’s probably still trying to figure out
    how to get the lampshade off her head — or I’m sure she’d
    already be getting all bristled-up over Jolene talking about
    illegals costs to US’ public debt.
    Questions is off drinking Alka Seltzer and pondering what some
    ancient pre-Socratic philosopher’s, like Heraclitis, response
    would be to Mexican truck drivers rattling around the roads of
    the Southwest like madmen.
    What I love about the Zionists, and in this lot I include not just
    Wig, Nadine and Questions, but all four of my ex-
    Congress(wo)men, Waxman, Berman, Sherman, Harman– who
    probably had an orgy when the sun went down last night, is how
    they can be so progressive on any other issue besides Israel.
    Just attempt to listen to Zionist Congress members about
    illegals’ “rights” — they sound like the Protocols when it comes
    to Palestinians, Iraqis, Iranians, Syrians, Lebanese, but will go to
    the bat when it comes to illegals getting health care.
    The disconnect between what Zionists view as a “threat to Israel,”
    and I wish they’d all just move there, and the rest of their
    worldview, is staggering.
    Sure, we aren’t allowed to emigrate to Mexico, which for me
    would be a half hour drive if I go 189 mph, which is my wont,
    since Mexico has (and this is not a joke) incredibly tough
    immigration laws.
    But those damn Mexicans can camp out on my front lawn, which
    they do, but I think that they’re my gardeners and mother’s
    care-givers, need new glasses. So I don’t mind as much if they
    live in and off my pocket as the gang members who car-jacked
    my ass and weren’t even polite enough to say please, even in
    Spanish.
    So while “progressive” Jews, including the ones in Congress, will
    pontificate on about the rights of illegals, they will use all their
    wealth and power, and ours too, to quash any enemy, real or
    imagined, of Israel. MOVE THERE AND LEAVE US ALONE.
    If India, the nation of my birth, was my first priority, I would do
    the same. So Zioinists, listen up, next war, put your own ass on
    the line and not mine. It’s so small no weapon would be able to
    target it in any case.

    Reply

  17. ... says:

    questions – i agree and was just making a general ‘not trying to fix it all’ comment…

    Reply

  18. questions says:

    …, and the others,
    “Fixing” education is significantly more complicated than you suggest. What’s “wrong” with public education in the US is not any kind of singular problem. Each kid brings his or her own unique set of issues to the school. Each teacher as well. And each neighborhood and school.
    Manual labor won’t fix it all. Tests won’t fix it all. Removing the children of undocumented workers who do the low wage shit work of America and keep us going economically won’t fix everything. More math won’t fix it. Tougher standards won’t fix it. More or less of any one thing will not fix it.
    Education is a complex system in which many elements are related in all sorts of ways. Poverty, parents, particular brains of particular kids, peer groups, popular culture, zeitgeist, the sense of hope or power or lack thereof that any kid has, the particular text books in vogue at the time, the condition of the bathrooms and hallways, the food in the cafeteria, the kinds of physical outlets available, the way a particular kindergarten teacher approaches a particular kid sets that kid’s entire educational experience up for success or failure…..
    What’s the easy fix for all of this? There are so many points of failure for so many kids. No one thing is going to work.

    Reply

  19. questions says:

    Part of the problem that we run into is with a kind of puritanical or rigid thinking. Sometimes you drive south to drive north because going south takes you to a better road for going north. It’s a little wasteful in the short run, but you end up with a better ride.
    The problem we find is with very literal thinking that seems to suggest that the southbound trip is all that will happen. We’ll just keep going south until, ummm (mixed metaphor!!) we’re completely socialist and we can’t go home again.
    Because individuals have an individual interest in playing fast and loose with public anxiety, the slightest turn towards the south ends up being made impossible, even if pure northward travel is highly undesirable. Far better to stay on the true path than to risk deviation, especially since deviation from the true path is akin to sinfulness (or socialism).
    The real problem is that the rhetoric of deviation, of going the wrong way to go the right way, seems clearly unacceptable to a lot of people and the underlying anxiety is a tool for political power plays.
    The president can’t really fix this rhetoric issue. I think a bunch of tv people, and the bulk of the Republican party, need to realize that the damage they do by playing up the anxiety for their own short term gain is really unacceptable and against their own long term interest.
    Don’t think anyone is going to be convinced of this though. It’s always useful to scream “socialist” or “deficit” regardless of the long term problems.
    Which is all to say, I kind of doubt we’re going to fix global warming, major economic problems, or any of the other massive issues that make us go south to go north. We don’t have it in us until the north-living monster is so very large that south is the only way to go. Glenn Beck’s shtick is attractive to too many, and the socialism freak out is too ingrained. Why would anyone approach the mortal enemy, the death of all that is familiar and comforting? Socialism is the name of that mortal enemy. (Except when it’s terrorism. But the two seem to co-exist in Obama!)
    The Cold War generation needs to die off before good things will happen consistently.

    Reply

  20. ... says:

    high school is just a glorified baby sitting agency for a number of students… if they have the opportunity to get involved in physical work from an early age, they will probably see the attraction of getting a higher education, along with the value in physical work… presently things are very different…

    Reply

  21. Jolene says:

    If you’re a kid in California schools, why worry?
    What state do you live in? Who says you need a driver’s license to drive our highways?
    Our government apparently doesn’t think so. Just google illegal aliens and illegal driving.
    It’s not thousands or tens of thousands, but millions. . .
    Even Mr. Galbraith should agree illegal aliens with no auto insurance add to our “private debt”.

    Reply

  22. Wendy Connors says:

    I thought this thread was about Mr. Galbraith’s message, but I fail to understand what is going on with this thread. Jeez, I thought I might learn more reading other’s thoughts on Mr. Galbraith’s comments. So, I will also change the subject:
    Want to stop the dropout rate in schools? Produce a law that you cannot get a drivers license without finishing high school and States that don’t follow suit lose their federal highway funding. Driving is a priviledge granted by society. We would probably have 95% of young people graduating within five years. After all, if you can’t complete high school, it is assumed you’re not intelligent enough to drive safely.

    Reply

  23. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “She’s quite short on actual facts in her sweeping accusations”
    Interesting. Actually, thats not so, so why’d you suddenly show up?

    Reply

  24. aliceinwonderland says:

    Another thread hijacked. Why don’t you Sibel worshippers use your energy to press her to prove herself, rather than insist everyone else has to follow her every word and either worship it or disprove it? She’s quite short on actual facts in her sweeping accusations. Come back when she has verifiable facts, dude.
    Back to the topic at hand. I’ve always thought Wall Street should be regulated as strictly as casino gambling. After all, when all is said and done, it’s the same thing, the same magnet for racketeering, just a different class of racketeering.

    Reply

  25. JohnH says:

    Classic stonewalling. If they don’t say anything, they hope nobody will notice, which is why I am suspicious when people “chose” to talk only about certain things but totally ignore other, similar stories. The more ordinary people agitate, the more difficult it becomes to stonewall.
    The import thing about the FBI investigation is that somebody appears to have quashed it. Want to take bets on the odds it was Cheney?

    Reply

  26. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Yep, kinda inexplicable, eh? Too bad no one in the media, or Congress, wants to get at the facts. If Sibel is scamming this thing, why not address the accusations, and put it to rest?

    Reply

  27. JamesL says:

    POA, I went to your link. What I don’t understand is how the FBI can have a 10 year long espionage investigation. Ten years. Kinda means the suspicion never ceased but they were letting the subject carry on with his….espionage, I guess.

    Reply

  28. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Check out Bradblog, breaking…
    A former FBI agent has just corraborated Sibel Edmonds’ assertions regarding the quashed and buried FBI investigation of Marc Grossman….
    Excerpt…
    “Cole then went on to verify his knowledge of the espionage investigation which, he says, included Grossman. Edmonds has long alleged he had been a key target in the agency’s counterintelligence probe of the Turkish lobby and their relationship to current and former members of Congress and high-ranking officials in the Bush State and Defense Departments”
    http://www.bradblog.com/?p=7439

    Reply

  29. JohnH says:

    “Time to dismantle the idea that corporations are living, sentient beings.” I worked for a Fortune 500 company during the downturn of the 1990s. They had a big layoff. But their profits were still pretty good, because they had convinced their state government to shift taxes away them and onto ordinary people via an income tax. I had a chance to ask the CEO anonymously in a large meeting of employees how he could morally justify the reductions. His answer? “Investor expectations!” Of course, he had had a hand in setting the expectations. But basically, he was just taking advantage of the situation, and he expected to get away with it, because everyone else was already doing it. Totally heartless!

    Reply

  30. Wendy Connors says:

    It is very disturbing to hear that “business” is loath to hire the unemployed by Mr. Galbraith. That does not make much sense in the scheme of things.
    Seems to me that there is an ocean of citizens with good skills or the ability to learn them, that is being wasted in the eyes of the corporate entities. Not only shameful, but morally reprehensible. Perhaps they need to be reminded whose blood, sweat and tears gave their corporations their upward growth while they squandered their image that took so long to build.
    Where I live people help each other and show empathy and concern. Something totally lacking in the corporate structure.
    Gosh, I think it is time to dismantle the idea that corporations are living, sentient beings.

    Reply

  31. ... says:

    America’s “Private Debt” Problem
    nothing that an inflated stock market can’t cure…
    just don’t be the sucker holding the bag… i think this motto originated in the usa but i could be wrong…

    Reply

  32. Katherine says:

    When I was a teenager growing up in Canada in the mid-1990s, I remember how my father–who was watching an evening news report about the Republicans’ attempts to pass a bill requiring the U.S. to have a balanced budget every year–suddenly remark that the legislation was “a bad idea” because “there is good debt and there is bad debt. What if you need the ‘good debt’ to fund our schools, our health-care system, build roads, bridges, highways?'”
    I am now all grown up and living in America. And while I find my progressive views having moderated somewhat, I find Galbraith’s remarks right on the mark. Steve, thanks so much for posting this! And yes, I also look forward to Barbra Streisand’s new CD coming out tomorrow. My mom raised me on Streisand… 😉

    Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *