Financial Crisis

Time to Change the “Dual Mandate”

By Mel Miller, Chief Economist

The Federal Reserve is coming under growing criticism for actions taken during and since the Great Recession. In light of the political acrimony which currently permeates Washington, DC, I am concerned that any decisions that will change the workings of the Federal Reserve could merely be politically motivated and not in the best interests of the public.… Read More

“It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future…”

By George R. Gay, CFP®, AIF®, Chief Executive Officer

Occasionally, an internal e-mail “conversation” is worth summarizing and sharing widely—as a way to illustrate the deep thinking that goes on behind the scenes at First Affirmative and the value proposition that is central to our purpose as an asset manager and consultant to socially conscious investors.… Read More

Only the Shadow Knows…

By Mel Miller, Chief Economist

In 2012, I first shared my concerns about the rise in shadow banking. In fact, I listed shadow banking as one of the “gray swans” during my annual presentation at The SRI Conference that year.

The broad definition of “shadow banking” includes any bank-like activity undertaken by a firm not regulated as a bank.… Read More

Why I Dislike Quantitative Easing?

By Mel Miller, Chief Economist

In a previous blog I explained the Federal Reserve’s traditional tool of reducing the Fed Funds rate to stimulate a weak economy.  The stimulation impact is the result of the relationship between the Fed Funds rate and the Prime borrowing rate charged by banks for business and consumer loans. … Read More

Consumer Debt: Must Look Behind the Numbers

By Mel Miller, Chief Economist

For a couple of years prior to the Great Recession, I shared my debt concerns during my annual Economic and Market Update presentation at the annual SRI Conference. My concern stemmed from the rising use of consumer debt to fuel a national lifestyle of “living beyond one’s means.”

Much of the economic debate of the time focused on the increasing Federal debt, but my concern centered on the consumer.… Read More

$60 Trillion Melting Away

By: Michael Schweibinz

You don’t hear too much about the East Siberian Sea, but as the Arctic’s permanently frozen ground (permafrost) melts, this marginal sea may become a widespread media topic.

Over a trillion tons of methane (in the form of methane hydrates) is stored in the Arctic Ocean’s icy marine sediments.… Read More

What Caused the Cyprus Banking Crisis?

By Mel Miller, Chief Economist

While there were many contribution factors to the crisis in Cyprus, I want to focus on the most obvious cause—the basic accounting formula.  Assets=Liabilities + Capital. Couple the formula with lack of regulation and the groundwork is laid for a banking crisis.… Read More

A Penny for Your Thoughts

By Mel Miller CFA, Chief Economist

“A Penny for Your Thoughts” (acoustic guitar), by Peter Frampton, probably needs to be adjusted by the cost of making a penny. Since 2006, it has cost the Treasury more than a penny to make a new penny.… Read More

Fiscal Cliff Deal and Its Impact on the Environment

The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 passed by Congress on January 1st and signed into law almost immediately by President Obama, delayed a scheduled 8.2% cut to non-defense discretionary spending until March 1, 2013.

On top of skirting major budget cuts, this legislation avoided some of the most harmful aspects of the “fiscal cliff” while extending financial incentives for some environmentally beneficial programs.… Read More

Americans Favor Strong Wall Street Oversight

By Kymberly Levesque

A survey conducted by Lake Research Partners and commissioned by AARP, the Center for Responsible Lending, Americans for Financial Reform and the National Council of La Raza shows overwhelming bipartisan support of financial regulation.

The national survey was conducted over five days in early July and asked 803 likely voters in the 2012 election their opinions on the Dodd-Frank Act.… Read More