A shocking revelation: healthcare reform will cost more than originally anticipated. HHS also questions whether the Medicare cuts are realistic. It also questions some of the underlying behavioral assumptions. Report here at Politico.
The revolution will be televised (Friday addition): The Treasury has released a new $100 bill designed to thwart counterfeiters and anyone who has any aesthetic values. Thankfully, the Treasury has celebrated this fact with a video posted at newmoney.gov. I am growing weary of the current fascination for video and websites with names like newmoney.gov. I am not convinced that, under current circumstances, it is the best use of taxpayer money funds borrowed from the Chinese.
Megan McArdle questions the justification for what “is now the official ugly stepchild of our currency family.” Linda Stern (at moneywatch) has some fun facts on the Benjamin. My favorite: “Roughly 2 of every 3 existing $100 bills circulate abroad, where they have been used as a basis for black market exchange.” However, this might be a thing of the past: “gunrunners, smugglers, drug dealers, and pirates have recently started using the 100 euro note instead, since it became worth more than the dollar.” Perhaps the new design will make the Benjamin more appealing, allowing it to recapture its market share.
More of the financial debacle: Financial reform continues to draw the attention of the nation. According to NYT, Lehman Examiner to Testify That S.E.C. Sat on Its Hands (the S.E.C.’s Inspector General has evidence to the contrary, as I noted in a previous post). Anton R. Valukas, the court-appointed examiner, claimed that he found no evidence that the SEC “asked even the most fundamental questions” to uncover the accounting maneuvers that Lehman employed to move $50 billion off its balance sheet for the two quarters before it collapsed.
All of this should be of great concern given that the S.E.C. has historically placed a great emphasis on information disclosure as a regulatory tool. If the S.E.C.’s own staff—on site at Lehman—can’t be bothered to ask the kinds of questions to make sense of the firm’s balance sheet, it is nothing more than a failed regulator that provides the appearance of accountability without substance.
Perhaps the S.E.C. needs to develop a video on “effective financial regulation” and post it online where at least some of its senior staff will trip over it as they explore the fringes of the world wide web.