terça-feira, julho 15, 2008
O Estado está de volta
Two years ago, when commercial banks were still jostling for fatter slices of the housing market, the share of outstanding mortgages Fannie and Freddie owned and guaranteed dipped below 40 percent, according to an analysis of Federal Reserve data by Moody’s Economy.com. By the first three months of this year, Fannie and Freddie were buying more than two-thirds of all new residential mortgages.
A similar trend is playing out in the realm of student loans. As commercial banks concluded that the business of lending to college students was no longer quite so profitable, the Bush administration promised in May to buy their federally guaranteed student loans, giving the banks capital to continue lending.
In short, in a nation that holds itself up as a citadel of free enterprise, the government has transformed from a reliable guarantor into effectively the only lender for millions of Americans engaged in the largest transactions of their lives.
Before, its more modest mission was to make more loans available at lower rates. Now it is to make sure loans are made at all. The government is setting the terms and the standards of Americans’ biggest loans.
sábado, julho 12, 2008
Different Generations at War
The main people in “Generation Kill” are numerous and hard to distinguish, and even the most basic story lines are blurry and difficult to follow. It’s as if the creators wanted to resist any comparison to HBO’s classic World War II series “Band of Brothers,” by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. That could stem from a desire to stake out a different kind of wartime storytelling. But it is also a way to avoid condoning or romanticizing a war that most Americans no longer view as necessary, or even wise.
Yet no matter how flat or diffuse its affect, “Generation Kill” is at its best a tale of battle-forged camaraderie, a “Band of Brothers” set not at Agincourt or Normandy, but Iraq in 2003.
Mr. Wright’s opening conceit in the book, and it is an understandable one, is that these highly trained troops, raised on hip-hop, video games and “South Park,” are somehow a different species from the men who fought in World War II and even Vietnam. He describes them as the disenfranchised orphans of a post-Monicagate society, a generation desensitized to violence, captive to pop culture and more disaffected from authority. “Culturally, these marines would be virtually unrecognizable to their forebears in the ‘Greatest Generation,’ ” Mr. Wright wrote in his prologue.