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Articles by Alex J. Pollock

‘The American Banking System Might Not Last Until Monday’ Saturday, August 23, 2014
Learning from the crises you’ve forgotten.
If Detroit's Not Too Big To Fail... Friday, May 23, 2014
With the instructive Detroit precedent, shrunken populations, and underfunded municipal pensions common, we can conclude that no city, not even Chicago, should ...
Coins That Go Clunk Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Fifty years ago, U.S. silver coins disappeared from circulation, symbolizing a profound shift in the behavior of the government with respect to money.
The Federal Reserve's Second 100 Years Saturday, January 25, 2014
Here are a dozen predictions about the Fed's second century.
House Prices: Is the Fed Making the Same Mistake Again? Wednesday, October 9, 2013
House price data indicate that the painful readjustment process is complete. It is time for the Fed to stop manipulating prices.
Big Bureaucracy: The CFPB Turns 2 Tuesday, July 30, 2013
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is everything that both proponents and critics thought it would be, and that’s not a good thing.
No, Virginia, Nothing Is Really Risk Free Monday, July 8, 2013
It is impossible to make riskless deposits out of the inherently risky business of banking. But governments everywhere insist on trying to do it anyway.
What to Do With Fannie and Freddie Friday, May 31, 2013
The biggest question with the $10 trillion U.S. housing finance sector is what to do with the government-sponsored enterprises that have recently attained even ...
The Federal Financial Triangle Wednesday, April 24, 2013
What would it mean for the world’s principal central bank to have negative net worth?
Financial Innovation — Illusory and Real Thursday, April 4, 2013
Some ‘innovations’ are merely new names for ways of lowering credit standards, running up leverage, and increasing risk. How do we know what’s real and what’s ...
A Better Way for Young Families to Build a Future: Social Security Taxes vs. Down Payments Saturday, March 9, 2013
Would you rather save for retirement by building equity in a house or by putting money in an underfunded government program?
The Housing Bubble and the Limits of Human Knowledge Friday, March 1, 2013
How much can you trust the word of government officials? How much about the financial future can central bankers or anybody know? Consider the lessons of these ...
Entrepreneurs, Risk Managers, and Uncertainty Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Hyman Minsky offered profound thoughts about the economic dialectic between, as he characterized it, ‘entrepreneurs and bankers.’
Central Bank Dreams, Monetary Realities Tuesday, January 8, 2013
The legislative creators of the Fed would be surprised to discover that the Fed today is one of the biggest owners of real estate loans, with more than $900 ...
Does Interest Rate Risk Matter If You’re the Fed? Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Holding a mortgage investment portfolio bigger than Fannie Mae’s or Freddie Mac’s, along with a massively expanded government bond portfolio, puts the Federal ...
The Financial Stability Oversight Council’s Fatal Flaw Saturday, October 27, 2012
Can the FSOC point out that its own members are creating potential instability and systemic risk? If it cannot, it is constitutionally incapable of carrying ...
The Tragic Demise of Fannie Mae Monday, October 22, 2012
A new book offers an instructive lesson on the unhappy surprises caused by the government’s attempts to manipulate the housing market.
Geithner’s View from the Top of the Bubble Thursday, September 6, 2012
What a careful, informed, balanced, and intelligent discussion of risk management tells us about the high price of extreme risk.
Who Will Guarantee This Guarantor? Part Two Friday, July 20, 2012
The director of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation responds to an article on
Who Knew When about the LIBOR Problems? Saturday, July 14, 2012
‘The New York Fed continued to monitor for problems related to LIBOR.’ And then?
The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Who Will Guarantee This Guarantor? Monday, June 25, 2012
The law requires that the PBGC ‘be self-financing.’ So far, the PBGC has ‘self-financed’ itself into a $26 billion hole.
Would You Settle Your Claims on Social Security for 80 Cents on the Dollar? (I Would) Thursday, April 26, 2012
Creditors of an insolvent debtor can agree to settle their claims for less than 100 cents on the dollar. So why not the American people when it comes to Social ...
How Much Have House Prices Really Fallen? Thursday, April 19, 2012
If we could stop the government’s constriction of private mortgage credit, recovery could begin sooner rather than later.
Fearful Symmetry: Six Decades of Treasury Yields Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Interest rates in the market for U.S. Treasury debt display surprising behavior—behavior that previous market participants considered simply impossible.
Waiting for Hamilton: The ‘Imbecility’ of the EU Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Alexander Hamilton asserted 'the imbecility' of the United States under the Articles of Confederation. There are lessons for Europe today.
Fixing Student Loans: Let’s Give Colleges Some ‘Skin in the Game’ Thursday, January 26, 2012
What lessons on student loans can be learned from the searing national misadventure with mortgages?
Elastic Currency, With a Vengeance Tuesday, November 29, 2011
An extraordinary government triangle now consists of the Fed, the Treasury, and the GSEs.
There’s Usually a Banking Crisis Somewhere! Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Add together fundamental illiquidity and smallness of capital, and what have you got?
Goodbye, Gold Redemption of the Dollar Monday, August 15, 2011
Forty years ago today, the entire world was launched into a brand new financial experiment. Viewing matters from 2011, how do we like the results?
The Government’s Four-Decade Financial Experiment Wednesday, July 13, 2011
‘You can’t go wrong buying these, because they are really a U.S. government credit, but they pay you a higher yield! So you get more profit with no credit ...