Blog - Page 62

Video franchise reform gets push from Martin

“Section 621 of the statute prohibits local authorities from granting exclusive franchises and from unreasonably refusing to award a second franchise.” FCC Chairman Kevin Martin told a trade group yesterday that the FCC should fulfill Congress’s directive that franchising authorities not grant exclusive franchises or unreasonably refuse to award additional competitive franchises. He has circulated a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to his colleagues and plans for the Commission to consider the item next month. This is exactly the right thing to do, but it will be very controversial. Irrational local officials want to be able to tax IPTV to death and then blame the industry for taking too long to wire their communities. Congress should provide cover for Martin and Read More ›

Consolation Prize

Well, our favorite for Fed chair David Malpass of Bear Stearns didn’t get the top central banking job. But congratulations are still in order. Institutional Investor Magazine (sub. req.) has named Malpass the number two economist on its 2005 All-American Research Team. Ed Hyman of ISI was number one for the 87th year in a row (or something like that). -Bret Swanson

Andean Free Trade Agreement would spread harmful regulation

Word is the U.S. Trade Representative is prepared to capitulate to a South American country that wants to regulate mobile phone service like a state-owned monopoly. Colombia is pushing the plan, which flies in the face of all the available evidence that wireless is as competitive as you can get, and is contrary to recent Free Trade Agreements with Chile, Singapore and Central America. Colombia wants language included in the Andean Free Trade Agreement defining CMRS as a “major supplier” that should be subject to confiscatory regulation that was in vogue at the FCC in the Clinton years. Bureaucrats at USTR reportedly like the idea.

Ashland still searching for ways to save municipal network

City officials in Ashland, Oreg. have delayed their plans to raise electricity rates by $7.50 per month to cover the unexpected cost of their municipal fiber network. Meanwhile, the local newspaper calculates the problem could be solved if 90% of the customers of Charter Communications switch over to the municipal network and “accept steep price increases to top market rates.” They might as well outlaw private enterprise while they’re at it.

Buying Time in China

The Wall Street Journal notes Monday that “U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow struck a surprisingly conciliatory tone after talks with China’s top economic leaders,” and that his comments “seem to put to rest speculation that the administration of U.S. President George W. Bush might declare China a ‘currency manipulator’ in a coming report as many in Congress are demanding.” This jibes with our view, expressed yesterday, that the chances of a continued high-intensity currency and trade battle have diminished. The Journal also notes, however, that “Mr. Snow’s new stance could draw increased opposition from Congress, where a number of lawmakers are threatening to impose large tariffs on Chinese imports unless Beijing lets the yuan appreciate more sharply.” The Treasury and Read More ›

Snow in China: The Latest

Has John Snow’s China trip turned from expected blizzard to a light dusting instead? Secretary Snow and other U.S. Treasury officials in China are attempting to broaden their message beyond criticism of a supposedly undervalued yuan. Snow has spent the last few days urging China to modernize its financial, credit, equity, debt, and commodity markets. This is all fine advice, as far as it goes. China knows it must establish advanced financial institutions, markets, and services. It wants to do so. It is doing so. The process is already well underway, with functioning stock markets in Shanghai and Shenzhen, a new commodities market about to open in Shanghai, and rapidly developing consumer credit and mortgage markets. Of course, many interior Read More ›

Hu’s the Supply-sider Now?

U.S. Treasury Secretary John Snow is in China for a nine day visit. But which nation’s leader is offering supply-side economic advice? If you guessed Chinese President Hu Jintao, you are correct. Citing evanescent “imbalances,” Snow continues his calls for de-linkage of the yuan from the dollar and subtly still pushes for a major yuan appreciation. The U.S. thus inexplicably continues its weak dollar currency policy. Hu, on the other hand, believes that “All countries, major economies in particular, should keep major currencies reasonably stable and prevent trade protectionism.” Bingo. Over the past decade, the dollar-yuan link has been a key source of growth and stability not only for the U.S. and China but also across the global economy. China’s Read More ›

The Tax Reform Swamp

“The President’s Advisory Panel on Middle Class Tax Hikes” That’s what the Free Enterprise Fund is calling the Tax Reform Commission that met for the 11th time this year on Tuesday. The meeting focused on ways to limit the home mortgage deduction, thus raising revenue to “pay for” the elimination of the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). Although we don’t yet know what the Panel’s final report will say when it is released on November 1, it looks like its recommendations will be much less ambitious than many of us would like — and less ambitious than the U.S. economy needs. News accounts today suggest that the major “reform” will be elimination of the AMT in return for limits on the Read More ›

Wireless: Listen to the Technology

Often lost in the public policy debate on municipal telecom networks is any halfway serious discussion of technology, and thus of economics. Yes, I know that Wi-Fi wireless access has been upgraded to a “fundamental right” in San Francisco even as the Supreme Court says mere property rights have now been Constitutionally downgraded. But beyond these silly new assertions by politicians and judges, what does the technology tell us about where broadband access in general and wireless access in particular are headed? Helping to answer these questions is a Qualcomm marketing executive named Jeff Belk. Several years ago, Jeff penned a series of popular riffs and white papers chronicling his experiences with Wi-Fi hotspots. Wi-Fi is great, he insisted, for Read More ›

Surprising Media Numbers from the Heartland

Ball State University has released findings from Middletown University Studies 2, which it terms “the most comrehensive observational media use study ever undertaken”: involving 400 participants, 5,000 hours of media use in Muncie and Indianapolis, recording information every 15 seconds on the use of 15 varieties of media–print, broadcast, telecom and Internet. The study’s key findings: (1) per waking day (figure 16 hours), 30% with media as sole activiy, 39% with media while doing something else and 21% work activity; (2) in any given hour 30% had the TV on, with 70% in peak hours; (3) TV still tops at 240.9 minutes (4 hours). cedon is the computer at 120 mins. (2 hours); (4) 30% of all media time is Read More ›