April 26, 2013
That's right, Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., blame the subprime crisis on poor people ("Did we learn from subprime crisis?" April 21). Government over-extension of housing funds to marginal buyers is only one small part of why the crisis occurred. Instead, let's put the blame where it really lies. That would be in the repeal of Glass-Stegall which enabled banks and insurance companies to become gambling establishments, the fraudulent and illegal bundling of good loans with bad while rating these packages triple-A, the teaming of Wall Street and insurance companies which encouraged credit buying and subprime loans, the ignorance and collusion of ratings agencies, and finally the intentional laissez-faire "putting the foxes in charge of the hen house" attitude of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
April 24, 2013
Four years into a so-called recovery, and we're still below recession levels in every important respect except the stock market. A measly 88,000 jobs were created in March, and total employment remains some 3 million below its pre-recession level. Labor-force participation is at its lowest level since 1979. The recovery isn't just losing steam. It never had much steam to begin with. That's because so much of our debate over economic policy has been beside the point. On one side have been Keynesians -- followers of the great British economist John Maynard Keynes -- who want more government spending and lower interest rates in order to fuel demand.
April 11, 2013
It's one of the ironies of the art world that major cultural institutions like the Baltimore Museum of Art are home to priceless collections of paintings, sculpture and other works by the world's greatest masters, yet they often struggle to come up with money to fix a leaky roof, pay the electricity bill or hire staff. We'd hesitate to guess the value of the BMA's holdings, but surely the total must reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Yet no museum that valued its reputation could sell off a Picasso or a Matisse every time the basement flooded or a heating and air-conditioning unit failed.
April 10, 2013
Home sales numbers released Wednesday for March offer an early indication that this spring might be the best selling season since the recession, provided that there are enough homes on the market to keep up with demand. Last month, Baltimore-area buyers entered into more than 3,200 contracts to buy homes, the first March to surpass that mark since 2007, the year the recession began, according to data collected by Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc., the region's multiple listing service, and its affiliate, Real Estate Business Intelligence LLC. The number of homes that went under contract last month was up 5.6 percent from March 2012, RBI said.
April 8, 2013
More than five years after a financial crisis ravaged the U.S. economy, the Baltimore Museum of Art has finally run out of options. Museum administrators announced Monday that after exhausting other cost-cutting measures, they have laid off 14 employees, or 9 percent of the 154-member staff. The cuts, which affected 11 full-time and three part-time employees, took effect immediately. The job cuts are needed to make up a projected deficit of more than $500,000 by July 1, according to museum director Doreen Bolger, and to accommodate a budget that is shrinking by $1 million from its current level of $12.9 million for the 2012-2013 fiscal year.
March 23, 2013
Not too long ago, Carroll County faced a problem: Rapid growth had brought crowded classrooms to the northeastern part of the county, and planners expected many more homes to be built in the area. "At one point, they were 400 kids over capacity at North Carroll High," said Bill Caine, facilities planner for the school system. It seemed inevitable that a new high school would be filled within a few years, so the county decided to build Manchester Valley High, which could accommodate 1,300 students -- at a cost of $80 million.