The problem with the paper is hardly limited to to coding errors. The countries selected and the method of weighting country experiences also raised significant issues. Moreover, the authors implied there was some magic to 90% when the same point would be true at different percentages and they either said and implied, or let others conclude from their paper without correction, that there was a magic to 90% that had to be addressed now.
I believe you give too much credit to Bush on this point. You first have to clarify what type weapons of mass destruction are you speaking about? Chemical weapons, biological or nuclear? Moreover, the need for war was sold to the American people on the basis that Saddam's alleged possession of mass destruction was an imminent threat to the United States. I do not believe that was a view widely shared by other countries.
It is always interesting to read a carefully balanced and thoughtful analysis of the constraints upon the candidates and the issues they should be confronting. The author states "This is not really an election about such hotly-debated issues as outsourcing, tax increases versus entitlement reforms, government control of production versus unfettered private sector activity, or job creators versus free riders. It is much more about the accompanying concepts of social fairness, entitlement, equality and, yes, standards of behavior for a rich and civilized society.
CommentsThis is an election about social responsibility – a society’s obligation to support those who are struggling, through no fault of their own, to find jobs and make ends meet."
The author presumably having had months to consider the views of the candidates, it would have been of interest to get his perspective upon how the candidates are approaching the issues he sees as central. And, whether he sees any differences in their approach worth commenting upon.
The writer states "But, on the receiving end of the message in southern Europe (and across the Atlantic), “austerity” is interpreted largely in fiscal terms – as an excessively rapid and potentially growth-destroying drive to cut deficits faster than the economy can structurally adjust and fill the gap in aggregate demand." It would have been of interest had he address whether in his view the terms that have been imposed to date on Greece and other countries reflected the balanced burden sharing he suggests or excessively rapid and growth destroying policies. As best I can tell, the better argument is that at least to date it has been the latter.
It strikes me that the "clear example" is largely meaningless when immediately qualified by "in many ways." Putting aside the points made by others concerning the fundamental error in asserting that it was the government -- as opposed to decisions by rating agencies, managements , Boards and the markets -- that in a meaning way assigned the level of risk to the investments, how would the author deal with the situation without government regulation? We have had more than sufficient experience in allowing financial institutions using guaranteed deposits and similar instruments to create short term profits and enormous levels of compensation, only to leave taxpayers to deal with the consequences. It was not the government that pronounced mortgage backed securities safe safe. The growth in the volume of such securities, and the willingness of many who knew better to trade in them, was based upon the enormous profits/compensation that could be generated by packaging and reselling. Regulation may not have been as effective as it should have been. But suggesting that the problem was caused by paternalistic regulation does not pass the laugh test.