Tim Fernholz

Tim Fernholz is a former staff writer for the Prospect. His work has been published by Newsweek, The New Republic, The Nation, The Guardian, and The Daily Beast. He is also a Research Fellow at the New America Foundation.

Recent Articles

WikiLeaks and Accountability II.

The above comic from XKCD is instructive because I think the scenario it describes would never, ever happen. WikiLeaks does not actually believe in transparency per se , but, as various analysts of founder Julian Assange's thought have pointed out , it believes that the U.S. government is fundamentally an unjust conspiracy, and that rendering its secret communications public is the most effective way to paralyze it. That's the sort of business plan that attracts employees like this . The U.S. government has clearly done many, many things that go against the arc of justice; heck, it's founding document enshrined one of mankind's greatest evils, and WikiLeaks has exposed injustices of a more recent sort in the Middle East -- though I'd argue the Abu Ghraib photos had a much stronger effect on limiting those abuses in the future. But, call me naive if you like, I just don't believe that the U.S. government is at its heart a malevolent conspiracy. Motivations aside, WikiLeaks' own lack of...

Tax Wedge Update.

What are the signs that the tax deal is a wedge issue ? Well, you've got Rep. Mike Pence out there opposing it because "the American people did not vote for more stimulus." Actually, more voters supported spending to create jobs (37 percent) than did tax cuts (18 percent). That aside, Pence, a member of the Republican leadership who is stepping down next year in anticipation of a possible presidential bid, demonstrates the cleavage this deal has caused at the top ranks of the Republican Party. Similarly, up-and-coming GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz also opposes the deal , dividing his state's delegation. For Democrats, the best possible outcome would be for House Republicans to scuttle this deal, creating an opportunity for a bigger political fight. There's still a few acts left in this drama, with the clock counting down to Christmas. -- Tim Fernholz

The Failure of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission -- and of Facts.

We had high hopes indeed for the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission -- the New Pecora Commission, if you will -- when it got underway this year. But Shahien Nasiripour reports that partisanship has riven the commission and that the panel's Republicans, who have been limiting their participation in the effort since August, will release a dissenting minority report before the FCIC's official product is due: During a private commission meeting last week, all four Republicans voted in favor of banning the phrases "Wall Street" and "shadow banking" and the words "interconnection" and "deregulation" from the panel's final report, according to a person familiar with the matter and confirmed by Brooksley E. Born, one of the six commissioners who voted against the proposal. Maybe "Wall Street" is inflammatory, but "interconnection"? "Deregulation"!? There are clearly key political disagreements between Republicans and Democrats about what caused the financial crisis, but these members were...

Holbrooke's Exit Strategy

The ambassador's last words underscore the fact that President Obama can't come late to the Afghanistan debate.

Within hours of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke's death, his reported last words appeared nearly everywhere, passing through the Internet at light speed: "You've got to stop this war in Afghanistan." According to his family, our top diplomat to the region was speaking to his physician. He told her, perhaps, because no one else was listening. The next day, the State Department portrayed the remarks as brave banter in the face of pain -- not a final message. Regardless, it was clear that Holbrooke had hoped to achieve in Afghanistan something along the lines of his triumph in Dayton after the Bosnian conflict, ending a brutal, messy war with a brutal, messy reconciliation. In Afghanistan, however, he did not have the right set of tools to do that. He died frustrated with a series of basic truths, including this one: Without a better government in Afghanistan, no amount of counterinsurgency will succeed. While Holbrooke's final message catalyzed scrutiny of the conflict, the facts behind...

QE2 Is on Course.

Wharton finance professor Jeremy Siegel argues that the second round of quantitative easing -- or QE2, the Fed's effort to purchase bonds in search of looser monetary policy -- is working because Treasury rates are rising: Long-term Treasury rates are influenced positively by economic growth—which encourages consumers to borrow in anticipation of higher incomes and causes firms to seek funds to expand capacity—and by inflationary expectations. Long-term Treasury rates are affected negatively by risk aversion: Seeking a safe haven, investors pile into Treasury bonds, running up their prices and lowering their yields. ... The Fed's QE2 program has raised expectations of growth and inflation, sending long-term Treasury rates up. It has also lowered risk aversion, which implies rising long-term rates. I made the graph above with one of the Terasury Department's new widgets , and it shows the increase beginning shortly after the Fed changed its policy in the days after the...