Sydney Williams

Sydney Williams

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The Volker Rule: It's No Panacea

Once liberated from the constraints of Glass-Steagall, American bankers, like America’s farm boys on leave in Paris in 1917, let loose. Exuberance and profligacy saw no bounds, especially as losses could be socialized, while profits would remain private. The death of Glass-Steagall, in my opinion, abetted the credit crisis of 2008. It had become easier for banks to speculate. Dec 18, 2013 4:30 PM PT

Budget Accord: Necessary Perhaps, But No Applause

Neither party got what they wanted in the Budget resolution that passed the House last week. But, assuming the Senate passes the bill, the government will not shut down in January and that will be good for Republicans. It remains a mystery to me that when politics in Washington do not work, the inevitable goat is the Republican Party. Democrats walk away, scent free. The current agreement is modest in scope. It represents a baby step toward conciliation. Dec 18, 2013 4:23 PM PT

The Month that Was: November

We enter December with stocks at all-time highs and opinions of politicians at all-time lows. Like stocks, opinion polls are notoriously volatile; so while Mr. Obama is currently not very popular, that is bound to change. Anyone who thinks that one Party has a lock on next year’s elections is smoking something that should be shared with the rest of us. Dec 2, 2013 8:07 PM PT

Thought of the Day: Whistleblowers and Extortion

There is no question that boardrooms and government agencies house few angels. In a nation of 330 million, there will always be corruption. But I worry less about corrupt business practices, which are usually outed by whistleblowers, competitors and the media, than I do about cover-ups in government, where mainstream media shows little interest and where employees, governed either by undue loyalty or fear, stand mute. Nov 27, 2013 1:38 PM PT

The American Experiment: A Lesson for Today

The Founders recognized that what they produced in Philadelphia was an experiment, unlike anything before attempted. They also recognized its fragility. Benjamin Franklin, exiting what is now Independence Hall in September 1787, was asked by a passer-by: “what have you accomplished?” Allegedly, his response was, “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.” Nov 21, 2013 5:13 AM PT

Thought of the Day: CEO Pay and Social Responsibility

The concept of focusing on increasing profits should be the primary goal of every business. Ignoring the needs of customers is obviously tantamount to failure, and their needs can only be satisfied with happy employees. Similarly, good relations with the community are second nature for any well-run business. Oct 29, 2013 7:23 AM PT

Paul Ryan Is Back

Paul Ryan’s call for fiscal sanity in early 2010 with his “Roadmap for America’s Future” was a rare voice of reason that periodically emanates from the asylum that masquerades as Congress. That he did so when he was barely 40 says something about his common sense, but a lot more about the older (but less mature) inmates with whom he must deal, including the President. Oct 14, 2013 3:48 PM PT

Thought of the Day: Twenty-One Hours with Ted Cruz

Senator Ted Cruz of Texas may not have advanced the cause of defunding ObamaCare on last Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, with his rhetorically fluent arguments on the floor of the Senate (and his still standing at the end), but he did serve to highlight a critical issue: The problem is not just ObamaCare, it is the increasing encroachment of the state into our daily lives. Sep 30, 2013 6:42 AM PT

Climate Change: Who Are the Real Deniers?

Unfortunately the subject of climate change has become a political football, with extremists uttering hyperboles on both sides. There are those who deny that man has had any affect, which is absurd given that global energy use is roughly 250 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, and as cities like Beijing and Mexico City become engulfed in man-induced smog. There are others, like Mr. Gore, who have made millions by inflicting fear on gullible people. Sep 28, 2013 1:59 PM PT

American Exceptionalism

Thanks to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the generally mis-defined concept of American exceptionalism has again come to the fore. In last week’s New York Times, Mr. Putin displayed his lack of knowledge of the United States’ founding. Toward the end of his op-ed, he attacked President Obama for stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” Sep 21, 2013 5:32 PM PT

Sydney Williams' Thought of the Day: Five Years On

The cover of New York magazine, for the issue dated September 29, 2008, depicted a trader on the NYSE, his right hand covering his face, which has been thrown back in despair. The lead article was entitled “The Great Shakeout: Goodbye Masters of the Universe, Hello Ron Hermance of Paramus, New Jersey.” Sep 16, 2013 5:12 PM PT

No Easy Answers on Syria

Another question concerns our responsibility and role as Americans: Is it to police the world? Surely we can not become isolationists, but neither can we afford the manpower or the funds to watch over every dictator and respond to every mass killing. We are the dominant military power in the world, but more important we are the best example of democracy and the most compassionate nation the world has ever seen. By our very existence we are a manifestation of the promise of freedom and liberty. Sep 4, 2013 3:39 PM PT

The President and His Higher Ed Plan

In the real world, demand affects cost – the higher the price, the fewer the takers. In President Obama’s Washington, there is the belief that government policies – not markets – can better influence price, at least as far as consumers (read: voters) are concerned. Aug 30, 2013 3:29 PM PT


Armed insurrection, as Egypt is experiencing, is unlikely in America, but there are threats to democracy, many of which are more subtle. As much as anything, the founding fathers feared that too much power might accrue to any one individual or segment of society. Aug 26, 2013 4:37 PM PT

China and the Four Winds

The concern of Mr. Xi is that the widening wealth gap and political corruption is dangerous to the long-term stability of the Communist party. As more Chinese enter the middle classes and as technology permits them to interact with the rest of the world, it is only to be expected that control will be lessened. Cadres, who had been relying on the presumption that middle-class wealth will act as a pacifier, fail to understand the universal nature of the human psyche – that the more you have, the more you want. Jun 27, 2013 7:31 PM PT


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