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Just What I Said: Bloomberg Economics Columnist Takes on Bonds, Banks, Budgets, and Bubbles

ISBN: 978-1-57660-219-5
294 pages
August 2005
Just What I Said: Bloomberg Economics Columnist Takes on Bonds, Banks, Budgets, and Bubbles (1576602192) cover image
Not for nothing do her initials also stand for "Central Bank." For nearly two decades, Caroline Baum has produced incisive commentary on central bank policy, the ebbs and flows of the economy, and how they influence the bond market. Her much sought-after, real-time analysis is read by a devoted audience on the BLOOMBERG PROFESSIONAL service within seconds after it appears. The word on the Street is that reading Caroline Baum is an economic education in itself.

This selection from her more than 1,300 Bloomberg News columns, arranged by major themes and with new introductions by the author, condenses and organizes that wisdom for the first time in print form.

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Preface

Acknowledgments.

Introduction.

1 Ye of Little Faith.

Why the Federal Reserve gets so much attention, yet so little credit, for the outcomes it effects.

2 The Bubble, or This Time Really Is Different!

Like terminally ill patients, the late 1990s bubble in technology and Internet stocks passed through the five stages of dying: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. It didn't turn out any better for the market.

3 Still Nonsense After All These Years.

Driving a stake through the heart of popular delusions: Why acts of God aren't good for growth, costs don't push up inflation, and demand in the economy isn't finite.

4 Myths Under the Microscope.

Repeating something often enough doesn't make it true. You'd never know it from the misconceptions that survive about tax cuts, trade, and liquidity traps.

5 First Principles.

How the Pilgrims learned about the value of incentives, and how backyard birding sheds light on the law of supply and demand.

6 Understanding the Yield Curve.

One rate is set by the central bank, the other by the market. The message couldn't be simpler, which is probably why most economists ignore it.

7 The "Political" Economy.

What happens when the heavy hand of government tries to intrude on the invisible hand of the market.

8 Sir Alan.

To some, he's a man for all seasons, a knight for all ages. To others, he's the emperor with no clothes. His day job is chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.

9 What Would We Do Without a Dollar Policy?

How an insipid slogan morphed into a policy, and why we are stuck with it.

10 Off the Charts.

Sexagenarians bracket the big bull market in bonds, while technical traders are blindsided by the canoe over the waterfall.

11 Odd Ducks.

It's a challenge to ring out the year on a creative note, but sniffing out a shaggy dog story from Petsmart is a slam dunk.

12 Oil Things to Oil People.

We can't live without it, but we don't seem to understand it: Why the Fed can't sign over monetary policy to OPEC.

13 Rewriting History.

Politicians never let the facts stand between them and a little historical revisionism.

14 Men in Black.

Who are the Plunge Protection Team, and what are they doing in the financial markets?

15 No One Else Would Write About This.

Why automated phone menus and other productivity-enhancing devices are a headache for the consumer and an unmeasured form of inflation.

16 Love Affair.

Why bonds like to hook up and even fall in love.

17 Bumbling Bureaucrats.

How an international lending agency reinvented itself as an überadviser once it had outlived its purpose.

18 The 2004 Election.

Why a presidential candidate has to run as somebody, not as anybody-but-his-opponent.

19 Readers Write Back at You.

Readers send their unedited thoughts into cyberspace, never expecting anyone to read them or reply.

Index.

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Caroline Baum has been a columnist at Bloomberg News since 1998. She has been writing about the economy and the bond market since 1987. In 2004 and 2005, she received first-place National Headliner Awards in the wire service/commentary category.
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"Among her rarefied and demanding readership she has earned a reputation for timeliness, originality, knowledge, and--believe it or not--wit. How has she pulled it off? She's a reporter first and an analyst second, which means she actually knows what she’s talking about, and this allows her to cut the columnizer smoke blowing to a bare minimum. She knows everybody, and fears nobody. Most important of all, she has a strong point of view, best tagged as 'classical liberal,' which equips her with a refreshing impatience with cant and self-serving obfuscation." (The Weekly Standard, 10/31/05)

"Caroline Baum is one of the few topical commentators who write things that have lasting value. This compilation provides a history of the economic issues of the time and timeless insights."
—Paul H. O'Neill
Former Secretary of the U.S. Treasury

"Caroline Baum is a rarity--an economics commentator who actually understands economics and writes about it with clarity and passion. Read her and learn! Read her and enjoy!"
—Gregory Mankiw
Professor of Economics, Harvard University
Chairman, U.S. Council of Economics Advisors, 2003-2005

"If you are interested in the Fed, interest rates, the budget deficit, taxes, China, or anything economic under the sun, Caroline Baum is a must-read."
—Lawrence Kudlow
Host, CNBC's Kudlow & Company

"Not many financial journalists' columns repay a reading months or years later. Caroline Baum's knack for making complex ideas understandable and her irreverent style make her book one of the rare exceptions."
—Dr. Allan H. Meltzer
The Allan H. Meltzer University Professor of Political Economy, Carnegie Mellon University

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