The Lookout
  • Financial crisis panel: This was “avoidable”

    Angelides ThomasThe financial crisis was "avoidable"--the product offailures of government regulation, and reckless risk-taking and mismanagement on Wall Street--the congressional panel probing the episode has concluded.

    "The greatest tragedy would be to accept the refrain that no one could have seen this coming and thus nothing could have been done," the final report from the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission concludes. "If we accept this notion, it will happen again."

    The full report -- the result of an exhaustive investigation -- is set to be released tomorrow morning, but several news outlets got an advance look at its conclusions.

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  • AP07051509574Last night, President Obama said American has to "out-innovate" the rest of the world, saying, "The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation."

    But the economists Tyler Cowen and Benjamin Jones have both painted a troubling picture of the state of innovation in the country.

    Cowen, in his new book "The Great Stagnation," points to work that shows that 80 percent of America's economic growth from 1950 to 1993 came from the application of ideas that had been invented or discovered before that time, and heavy investment in research and education. "In other words, we've been riding off the past," he writes.

    (The tech entrepreneur and PayPal founder Peter Thiel also theorizes that the pace of technological innovation has been overstated.)

    Mike Gibson at A Thousand Nations blog breaks down some fascinating research by Benjamin Jones at Northwestern University that may explain some of this lag: Innovators are getting old. The average age of Nobel laureates and tech

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  • Obama makes no reference to BP oil disaster in SOTU speech


    In an address to the nation from the Oval Office seven months ago, President Obama labeled the BP oil disaster the "worst environmental disaster America has ever faced" and promised that the Gulf Coast region's troubles would continue to be a top priority for his administration.

    "The oil spill represents just the latest blow to a place that has already suffered multiple economic disasters and decades of environmental degradation that has led to disappearing wetlands and habitats," Obama said at the time. "And the region still hasn't recovered from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. That's why we must make a commitment to the Gulf Coast that goes beyond responding to the crisis of the moment. I make that commitment tonight."

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