Monday, April 30, 2012

Working on Caro Review

Robert Caro has been working on a multi-volume life of the 36th President, called The Years of Lyndon Johnson, for more than forty of his and our years now. The first volume of the set, The Path to Power, appeared in 1982, when Caro’s professional reputation as historian and biographer turned on his work on the New York parks-and-highways maven Robert Moses. Important as Moses was for that metro area: this was bigger game.
The Path to Power related the first thirty-three years of Johnson’s life, including his first election to the House of Representatives in 1937. In that period, Johnson was at least on the surface a devotee of the New Deal, and was in particular associated with rural electrification. But Caro sees all of Johnson’s devotions during the Roosevelt years through the lens of his protagonist's overweening ambition. In this 1982 volume, Caro stressed that a close tie to the REA gave Johnson an instrument, one that he could and did use to build his own political machine in Texas.

The second volume, Means of Ascent (1990), focused on Johnson’s elevation to the U.S. Senate in 1948. The key votes, in the Texas of that time, were those cast in the Democratic primary, since the defeat of the Republican was a mere formality. Johnson’s primary election opponent in 1948 was former Governor Coke Stevenson. Caro argues that Johnson’s defeat of Stevenson was blatant theft. Nonetheless, the Democratic state convention upheld Johnson’s victory, and he prevailed in the resulting litigation with some help from attorney Abe Fortas, a man he would in the fullness of time put on the U.S. Supreme Court.

TESTING:  DO I HAVE THE SAME TROUBLES here as with the other blog?  If not, one plausible hypothesis is that there is just too much in the other blog, and it may make sense to start from scratch.


The IRS Code permits the owner of mineral rights to account for the reduction of the available value as reserves are brought to the surface and exploited. This is not on its face a glaring “loophole;” it is closely analogous to the depreciation of the value of machinery.

Whatever the factual rate of depletion might be, the statutory (?) rate of depletion in the case of oil and gas is 15 percent of the gross income from the property, based on average daily production, up to the depletable quantity.   

The review in the form in which I sent it to Henry did not contain any material about Johnson's role in depletion allowance controversy.  Hey. This is neat.  I can type at will in this blog. So the problem must be overcrowding.


LBJ told Weisl that "your folks (his clients in the securities business, presumably) should take the hint that"this thing ... this assassin may ... have a lot more complications that you know about....It may lie deeper than you think."

The message clearly was that Wall Street should show its own faith in and solidarity with Johnson, because he was going to save the system from the shadowy forces represented by the assassin.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


That is my own clumsy graphing, assisted by and an educational website.

The subject of the graph is the fluctuations of the euro against the dollar over the last crisis-ridden year.

I've used an arbitrary date in the middle of each covered month (the 12th) as that month's data point.

How does this correlate with some of the events of the unfolding crises regarding Euro sovereign debt during this period?

Last May and June, when the euro was circa .70, saw German politicians in particular taking a hard stand against assistance for Greece. That stance began to soften a bit in late June, when Merkel agreed to work with the ECB to line up the participation on private investors in a restructuring. It appears that this helped the euro's value, which reached .73 that September.

The markets' attentions shifted to Italy by September, though. That month S&P downgraded seven Italian banks, and there was some fall-back. Then in November, the Italians managed to rid themselves of Silvio Berlusconi and  Mario Monti became the new PM there. Europe's bankers have confidence in Monti, who has a reputation as a competent, boring, technocrat, a good reputation to have at such times, and the value of the euro climbed through December and into January of this year.

The most recent fall-off, since the January peak, may represent more a strengthening of the US dollar than a weakening of the euro.