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Thing One: Allegedly Smart People Have Worst Idea In World: If you liked Tim Geithner as Treasury Secretary, then you're going to absolutely love Jamie Dimon in the role.
Believe it or not, there are people in the world, and not just bank-CEO type people, but apparently objective people, who think putting JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon in charge of the Treasury Department is a smashing idea. Warren Buffett is one of those people. America's beloved grandpa investor is an apparently reasonable guy, who just loves Coca-Cola and chocolates and wants a more equitable tax system. But last night he told Charlie Rose that he thought Jamie Dimon would make a great Treasury Secretary, particularly in a crisis. “If we did run into problems in markets, I think he would actually be the best person you could have in the job,” Buffett said, according to Bloomberg. “World leaders would have confidence in him.”
This echoed comments yesterday by less-famous bond-fund manager Bonnie Baha, of Doubleline Capital, who said she admired Dimon's panache in handling JPMorgan Chase's London Whale debacle and his "ability to communicate ideas," qualities that would make him perfect to run Treasury. Never mind that the London Whale debacle happened on Dimon's watch, leading to questions about whether he should even continue to run his own bank, much less the entire Treasury Department. "We all have issues that happen on our watch that are regrettable," Baha said. Yes, indeed.
This is far from the first time Dimon's name has been raised as a potential Treasury chief. It has come up time and time again. But the idea gets increasingly terrible every time it is raised. When his name was first mentioned, back in 2009, when everybody was already sick to death of Tim Geithner, Dimon had not yet fully launched his tireless, years-long campaign to whine as much as humanly possible about financial regulation. He had not yet let his eye wander from his chief investment office while it racked up dangerous bets on credit derivatives. Now that he has done both of those things, you would think he had fully disqualified himself. Apparently not.
In most of the major financial scandals of just the past year, from the London Whale to Libor to energy-market manipulation, you'll find JPMorgan. Putting Dimon in charge of the Treasury Department would send a disturbing signal about President Obama's level of interest in financial reform. People only suspected Tim Geithner was captured by the banks he regulated. With Dimon, we would be 100 percent sure.
Thing Two: Schapiro And What Comes After: Obama has already sent a bizarre signal about financial reform with his handling of the retirement of Securities and Exchange Commission Mary Schapiro. The SEC yesterday announced Schapiro was stepping down, a move that surprised no one; Schapiro had been expected to leave after nearly four grueling years at the head of the agency. But rather than announce a permanent replacement, Obama said current SEC Commissioner Elisse Walter would step into the role, possibly until the end of 2013. That means Obama won't have to go through a Senate confirmation fight (Walter has already been confirmed through 2013), but it also means there will be gridlock at this critical agency, the Wall Street Journal writes, at a time when many new financial rules are still undecided.
Though Schapiro certainly left the SEC in better shape than when she arrived, a case the New York Times makes better than the SEC itself, the agency also avoided charging top Wall Street executives, issued lenient penalties and was slow to make new rules. With Walter, we'll likely get more of the same -- at best.
Thing Three: OECD Keeps Lowering The Growth Bar: For all the garment-rending over the fiscal cliff these days, the biggest threat to the global economy is still the European debt crisis, which is now in its fourth year. Citing that crisis and its possible impact on the financial system, the OECD this morning slashed its growth forecast for the global economy, to 2.9 percent in 2012 and 3.4 percent in 2013, from previous estimates of 3.4 percent for 2012 and 4.2 percent for 2013. The think tank cut its forecast for U.S. economic growth in 2013 to 2 percent from 2.6 percent -- and that's only if policy makers can come up with a way to avoid all of the tax hikes and spending cuts due next year.
Thing Four: Another Greek Debt Deal: At least there's one less thing to worry about in Europe this morning: Greece's creditors hammered out an agreement on cutting Greece's massive pile of debt and keep getting bailout cash, delaying by a few months more a messy Greek exit from the euro zone. Of course tons of questions are still unanswered, the Wall Street Journal writes, but we'll worry about that at the next round of desperate negotiations.
Thing Five: Of Cliffs, Cave-Ins, Sacred Cows And Other Fiscal Metaphors: President Obama continues to try to rally support to his plan for avoiding the fiscal whatchamacallit next year, calling up congresspeople, inviting businesspeople back to the White House and planning for some kind of public shindig on Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal writes. Talk of raising the Medicare eligibility age to 67 from 65 is apparently on the table, the WSJ writes, and so is restricting the mortgage-interest deduction, the New York Times writes. But Democrats are resisting the idea of drastic changes to Social Security and Medicare, the NYT writes. It's almost as if they think they won an election on the promise of protecting those programs or something.
Thing Six: Oh, Canada: U.K. Edition: Apparently there were no decent central-bank-chief candidates in all of the United Kingdom. The new head of the Bank of England is going to be a Canadian, Mark Carney, after one of the top British candidates for the job, Paul Tucker, slipped and fell in a puddle of Libor. If only America had some colonies from which to pick its next Fed chairman!
Thing Seven: Intrade Closed To Americans: Throughout the 2012 election, political junkies had just a few obsessive daily must-reads: poll crunchers like Nate Silver and The Huffington Post's own Mark Blumenthal and online betting market Intrade. Yesterday they got some bad news: The Ireland-based Intrade is no longer taking bets from Americans, after the Commodity Futures Trading Commission rudely sued it over letting Americans bet on commodity futures. The Washington Post's Brad Plumer explains why this might not be the end of the world for political junkies.
Thing Seven And One Half: Middle Of The Road: The Chinese government is not unreasonable: If you for some reason should turn down its generous offer to pay you 10 percent of the value of your house to demolish it to make way for a new road, then it will simply build that road around your house. And then a Reuters photographer will come along and take some fascinating pictures.
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Calendar Du Jour:
8:30 a.m. ET: Durable Goods Orders for October
9:00 a.m. ET: Case-Shiller Home Prices Indexes for September
10:00 a.m. ET: Consumer Confidence for October
10:00 a.m. ET: FHFA Home Price Index for October
Heard On The Tweets:
You know the rule, what happens on Cyber Monday.......gets repeated endlessly in the media as if it matters.
— Downtown Josh Brown (@ReformedBroker) November 26, 2012
I suddenly feel so afraid RT @annielowrey: What will we count down when we're done counting down the fiscal cliff?
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) November 26, 2012
-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Alexis Kleinman.