Three cheers for Mr. Rosengren

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By Barry Bluestone | Boston.com | August 7, 2012

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston has been blessed with extraordinary leadership since the 1960s, if not longer. Eric Rosengren has continued that tradition since he became president of the bank in 2007. Now he is speaking out calmly and intelligently about the state of the economy and the need for his Federal Reserve colleagues in Washington to take greater action to accelerate economic growth. With the domestic economy’s annual growth rate slowing to 1.5 percent this past spring, the national unemployment rate rising to 8.3 percent, and Europe’s economy on the brink of another deep recession, Rosengren is urging the Fed to keep interest rates low by aggressively buying up bonds – possibly trillions of dollars of them.

In particular, the Boston Fed President would like to see the Fed buy mortgage securities in order to lower home loan rates further. This would make it possible for more households to refinance their mortgages at lower rates, leaving them with additional money each month to purchase other goods and services. It would also encourage renter households with good credit ratings to purchase homes, encouraging more housing construction. Lower interest rates would likewise help families pay off credit card debt. Interest rates are already at an all-time low, but driving them down further could spur at least a bit more investment activity. Read More

Allentown: Electronic billboard network coming

image from http://articles.mcall.com/2012-07-21/news/mc-allentown-electronic-billboards-20120721_1_digital-billboards-water-and-sewer-allentown-plans

By Scott Kraus | The Morning Call | July 21, 2012

Few would confuse Ed Pawlowski with Don Draper.

But Allentown’s mayor and the dashing lead character of AMC’s hit series “Mad Men” will soon be linked by a common business: advertising.

While Draper dreams up the ads, Pawlowski is just hoping to place them on any manner of city-owned stuff.

If all goes as planned, the city will soon begin squeezing revenue out of ads plastered on everything from public trash receptacles to digital billboards built on city property.

With a pensions-fueled financial cliff looming, Allentown launched an all-out search for cash this spring, capped by the announcement Tuesday that the city hopes to raise as much as $100 million by leasing out its water and sewer systems. Read More

A fiscal forecast for Massachusetts

stethoscope and dollar

By Barry Bluestone | OpEd The Boston Globe | May 30, 2012

IF 40 PAGES of statistics, tables, graphs, and economic analysis could generate any buzz at all, the state’s release of its report on long-term fiscal policy would have garnered front-page headlines. Indeed, it should have, for this may be the first time ever a governor has asked for a five-year budget plan anticipating future revenues and expenditures. We can be proud of the fact that the leaders of the state have been excellent fiscal stewards through the most difficult economic period since the Great Depression, implementing difficult budget cuts and improving our bond ratings to their highest levels in history. But we are hardly out of the fiscal woods.

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