If We Love the Banks, We Must Love Them Enough to Let Them Fail

Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Commenting on the health of big U.S. banks last week, former Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke wrote on his Brookings blog that “a lot of progress has been made (and more is in train) toward reducing the risks that large, complex financial institutions pose for the financial system and the economy.” Bernanke’s observation came after Minneapolis Fed president Neel Kashkari’s recent commentary about the need to reduce the alleged problem of “Too Big To Fail” within banking. Some readers could be excused for wondering why Bernanke would have any opinion on the matter at all.

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The Classical Liberal Case Against Brexit

Britain votes on whether to leave the European Union in a month. If I were a British, it would be a difficult decision, but on balance I would vote against Brexit. The benefits of free trade outweigh the costs of the EU’s regulatory regime.

From its birth classical liberalism has been dedicated to free trade among nations. Trade allows nations to specialize at products and services and which they excel, enriching them all. It creates a larger market, providing incentives for innovation and it is innovation that ultimately transforms the standard of living. This latter benefit is particularly important in this era of technological acceleration. More generally, free trade signals an openness to the world and a tolerance of foreigners.  It is a moral as well as economic good.

EU is the largest free trade zone in the world and that counts heavily in favor of staying. But the free zone comes bundled with other more controversial requirements. For instance, membership carries with it the requirement to let citizens of other EU members work in Britain.

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Odd Legal Ethics

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In an order that the Volokh Conspiracy’s Orin Kerr has described as “puzzling,” U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen has instructed U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to institute a five-year ethics training program for any lawyer seeking to appear in any of the 26 states that participated in the immigration case now pending before the Supreme Court. Judge Hanen presided over the district court proceedings in that case.

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ISIS as Cartoon Noire

Secret-History-of-ISIS

The Secret History of ISIS aired recently on PBS’s Frontline. This 54-minute feature documentary was created by Michael Kirk, a prolific and highly successful television documentarian with a quiver full of awards to his credit. This documentary, however, is better termed a documonstrosity. It is an insult to the intelligence of anyone who knows anything about the subject, whether from personal experience or old-fashioned learning.

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Trump’s Supreme Court Deal

As many know, Donald Trump has released a list of 11 people he might nominate to the Supreme Court if he is elected. While I don’t know all of the people on the list, many of them are quite first rate and I have not heard any criticisms of people on the list that seem especially troubling. Thus, it is reassuring to many on the Right, who are skeptical of a Trump presidency, that he seems to be willing to nominate people who are supported by more conventional Republicans. Although the list surprised many people, it makes perfect sense. Donald Trump is…

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Will Temer Douse the Flames?

Michel Temer, acting president of Brazil in his first ministerial meeting - 13 May 2016.

After the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies accepted President Dilma Rousseff’s impeachment, the Senate approved it, and she will be tried in the Senate in a proceeding that has to finish within 180 days. The President of Brazil in the interim is Michel Temer, who was Dilma’s Vice President—and who is almost as unpopular as she. Few observers give high odds for her return to power. Brazil’s future now appears to be in the hands of Temer’s government, and so your humble correspondent offers here informed speculation as to what the government may do—also what it most needs to do in the current economically stressed circumstances.

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Trump, Clinton, and the Supreme Court

There are many reasons for classical liberals to oppose Donald Trump in the general election, but Supreme Court appointments are not now one of them. We can hardly be confident that his appointments will make America great, but we can be pretty confident that Hillary Clinton’s will end the current project of making the Supreme Court a court of law rather than a dynamo of Progressive politics.

After Donald Trump’s announcement of eleven judges whom he would consider appointing to the Scalia vacancy, many libertarian and conservatives commentators still doubted that Supreme Court appointments were a good reason to support Trump in the general election. They conceded that that those on his list were generally excellent candidates, but suggested that Trump could not be trusted to appoint people like them.

And they certainly have a point: on many issues Trump points in no direction more consistently than a weathervane. Moreover, he has supported a variety of legal causes, like property condemnation on behalf of private development, that would not likely fare well with the kind of justices he has promised to appoint.

Nevertheless, I believe there is a substantial probability, even a likelihood that Trump would follow through on his judicial promises.

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The Real Wayne

(Photo by CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images)

On a movie set many years ago, actress Geraldine Page found herself seated between actor Ward Bond, an enforcer of the blacklist of communists then raging in Hollywood, and his friend, the conservative actor John Wayne. Page was only accustomed to being around her fellow show business liberals, so she listened to the two men’s conservative views with a sense of “horror.” But as the conversation went on, she developed a marginally more favorable view of Wayne, whom she called a “reactionary for all sorts of non-reactionary reasons.”

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Airport Screening: TSA Versus Private Security Firms

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With lines at airports now approaching absurd lengths, a movement is arising for employing private screeners instead of the government TSA screeners. There are such strong reasons for doing this that even Vox, hardly a friend of the private sector, argues in favor of the move.

Many people argued in favor of private screeners after 9/11, but let’s not forget that Democrats pushed through government screeners in an effort to promote unionization and additional government employees. George Bush agreed to the Democrats’ demands, and here we are.

Under the law, airports can hire private screeners, which would then be regulated by TSA. But relatively few airports use private screeners, even though those that do appear to have experienced significant benefits. There is evidence that private screeners are better at detecting bombs and that they process travelers more quickly. There are other benefits:

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