Archive for December, 2013

End-of-Year Update

24 Dec

New Jersey:

Bridgegate: I live one mile south of the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee where the notorious three-tollbooth lanes designated for local traffic were restricted to only one for a few days in early September.   Traffic in Fort Lee was horrendous.  Gov. Christie asserted that these three tollbooths were used only for Fort Lee residents. This is a gross mischaracterization of the traffic going to the bridge during rush hour.  Motorists from Fort Lee, Cliffside Park, Fairview, Edgewater, Guttenberg and probably other communities use that particular entrance to the GW.

What were Port Authority officials thinking when they restricted access to the bridge claiming they were conducting a traffic study to see the impact of closing two lanes?

Transportation studies can be conducted using a computer simulation to determine the effects of the lane closures without disrupting the actual traffic of an area being analyzed. In short, there was no need to close two of the lanes. Whatever the motives were of Messrs. Wildstein and Baroni, two smart Christie appointed officials who resigned in the wake of this brouhaha, the fact is politicians should not run key sectors of the economy.  Why? Because their motives and goals are much different than managers of businesses who have to satisfy shareholders or risk their own capital.

The bottom line is very simple government should get out of the transportation businessAt the very least, transportation professionals not political appointees should be making decisions about the use of bridges, tunnels and highways.

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Dump Your Vitamins? Not so fast says Dr. Glenn Gero.

18 Dec

Physicians are recommending that individuals stop taking vitamins in an attempt to prove their health.  I asked Dr. Glenn Gero who is one of New Jersey’s most knowledgeable nutirition experts for his comments.

A poorly orchestrated research study is worse than no study at all.

There is no standardization as to the quality of the supplements taken by the participants of the studies. Nutrients are complexes and must be taken as comprehensive complexes. For example, vitamin E is not d-alpha tocopherol or dl-alpha tocopherol. Vitamin E is a complex of alpha, beta, delta and gamma tocopherols and mixed tocotrienols. Carotenoids are a grouping of hundreds of phyto nutrients and are not just beta carotene; Vitamin C contains bioflavonoids, hesperin and rutin and isn’t merely ascorbic acid. When nutrients are fractionalized and isolated they become drug-like and can manifest negative reactions when taken inappropriately.

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The Federal Reserve: 100 Years of Boom and Bust

09 Dec

My opening remarks:
Welcome to the world premiere of the Federal Reserve: 100 Years of Boom and Bust. I’m Murray Sabrin professor of finance in the Anisfield School of business.

This project began in September 2012 and the final edit was just completed. I bring this up because it only takes nine months to have a baby. Hopefully this baby will be just as adorable as a newborn.

Before we view the documentary, I’d like to put 1913 in historical perspective.

1913 was, in many ways, one of the most extraordinary years in American history. In fact, according to one analyst a revolution took place in 1913.

1913 began with the ratification of the 16th amendment, which gives the federal government authority to tax the income of the American people directly. We will explore the income tax on April 17 next year at a symposium I will moderate. So save the date April 17 at 7p.m. in the Trustee’s Pavilion.

In April of 1913 the 17th amendment to the Constitution was ratified ending the selection of US senators by state legislatures. Now the U.S. Senators would be elected directly by the people.

And on December 23 President Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act giving the United States a permanent central bank. All these events took place at the end of what is known as the Progressive Era, a time of supposedly great reforms to benefit the common man. Half a century ago historian Gabriel Kolko challenged the orthodox view in his trailblazing book, The Triumph of Conservatism. Kolko argued that the progressive era was in reality a time when big business interests used the power of the federal government for their own benefit at the expense of the general public.

One of the last so-called reforms of the era was the creation of the Federal Reserve.

In short, the revolution of 1913 shifted power from individuals, communities and states to the federal government and its powerful allies in the private sector. Hence, the Progressive Era expanded crony capitalism in America.

The documentary, the Federal Reserve: 100 Years of Boom Bust, explores the impact of the Fed on the US economy for the past century.

I hope you enjoy the documentary and I would be happy to take a few questions after we view tonight’s presentation.

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