One of the regular posters on the group Visit Xalapa just posted a link to a very interesting news site called New America Media which is a compendium of "ethnic media." Here I came across something we haven't often been reminded of about AIG: that it was heavily involved in pushing subprime loans to poor people. This ought to be getting more notice. As has been said, the bonuses are small potatoes compared to the larger racket going on. Why are we trying to shore up not just AIG but a system that, if it is saved, will continue its rackets and will not work to the advantage of ordinary folks?
My main concern about Obama before he was elected that he had taught law at the University of Chicago and I think gotten his main exposure to economics through conservative economists at U of C. Austin Goolsbee is one of them, and he remains a close advisor. Obama has two contradictory influences in his intellect, a definitely leftish tendancy on social issues and a definitely old-fashioned rich-banker Republican tendancy in his economic approaches. I think these latter tendancies have been proven to be badly flawed by recent events, but Obama seems surrounded by a team determined to put bandaids on the mess because they really don't see the mess for what it is.
BUT we shouldn't as they say cut off our noses to spite our faces. Here is a good article breaking down into (somewhat) comprehensible pieces the AIG situation by Joe Nocera in the NYTimes. It preaches, wisely, that we should be addressing the real problems and not simply reacting like an angry mob to AIG. It discusses those real problems. And here and here are two Krugman posts which take a more general tack. None of them are happy posts. Our government, our Democratic Congresspeople especially, are making asses of themselves and rowing our boat towards the waterfall. Obama seems to be sitting and thinking and thinking and thinking and thinking the same ole same ole.
My brain goes spinning around when I try to understand the economic stuff. The Baseline Scenario by Simon Johnson, Peter Boone and James Kwak (Yes.) is a very good site for fairly comprehensible explanation of current happenings, for a primer on gaining some kind of basic understanding, and for commentary.
Here are who the authors are:
Peter Boone is chair of Effective Intervention, a UK-based charity, and an Associate at the Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics.
Simon Johnson, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. He is a co-founder of The Baseline Scenario.
James Kwak is a former McKinsey consultant, a co-founder of Guidewire Software, and currently a student at the Yale Law School. He is a co-founder of The Baseline Scenario.
It really seems we have to rise above the mainstream media and come to some understanding as informed citizens, difficult as all this is to grasp.