U.S. Politicians Stink Worse Than Zuccotti Park
BOSTON (MainStreet) -- You may think the Occupy movement failed. In fact, it gets the highest marks from a range of experts comparing it with others of the nation's top economic players: President Barack Obama, the GOP candidates raring to face him in a general election, Congress and the Tea Party.
Of course, that may not be saying much.
It's hard enough to calculate a student's grade for the year before finals are turned in; harder still when there's a panel of graders running the gamut of crusty establishmentarian to young radical; and harder still when they're not grading actual students, but the nation's top economic players and prime users of weasel words and rueful excuses ("the dog ate my plan for cutting the deficit").But America understands letter grades; most of its citizens have gone through a dozen or more years of being ranked on their work from A to F. So that's what we used when we set out to understand how economists, investment managers and consumer advocates saw the work of the people whose ideas are shaping our futures and filling -- or emptying -- our wallets. Unfortunately, our experts also understand what it means to miss class and get an incomplete for the semester, and when it came time to grade their "students," they claimed the option to say so. You'll see one of our rankings averaging only two of a possible five letter grades. Some experts wanted very much to talk about our players but not give letter grades at all, even though we aggregated the results and left their individual calls ultimately anonymous. (Their comments are not.) The report cards are still awfully intriguing. Would you have guessed, for instance, that the Occupy movement -- that much derided, supposedly muzzy-headed agglomeration of hippies and hipsters, drug addicts and trustafarians -- would get the highest accumulated grade even when one economist gave it either an A (resulting in an A- for all economists and a B- for all three groups) or an F (resulting in a C+ for all economists and all three groups) "depending on which activist you talk to." But whether it's a B- or a C+, it beats the combined C- scores for Obama, the GOP candidates and Tea Party. And it by far beats Congress' combined grade of D. Read on for a further breakdown of how our experts felt about the Class of 2011. The short version is that they've all been so busy running for prom king and queen that there's not much of a race for valedictorian -- and our math club isn't even going to regionals. Our panelists: Economists
Ellen Frank, professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Boston, senior economist at the Poverty Institute and author of The Raw Deal: How Myths and Misinformation about Deficits, Inflation, and Wealth Impoverish America; Stephen M. Miller, professor and chairman of the Department of Economics at the Lee Business School at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Jonathan A. Parker, the Donald C. Clark/HSBC professor of consumer finance at Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management; Benjamin Powell, professor of economics at Suffolk University and senior fellow with the Independent Institute; and L. Randall Wray, professor of economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and senior scholar at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College. Investment managers
Jeff Auxier, president of Lake Oswego, Ore.-based Auxier Asset Management, which has $194 million in assets; James Dailey, a portfolio manager at TEAM Asset Managers, a Harrisburg, Pa.-based firm with $215 million in assets; Craig Hodges, president of Hodges Capital Management, a Dallas-based firm with $800 million in assets; Paul Nolte, managing director at Chicago-based Dearborn Partners, an investment firm with $3 billion in assets; Robert Pavlik, the New York-based chief investment officer with Banyan Partners, a firm with $1.2 billion in assets. Consumer advocates
David Arkush, director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch; Christopher Elliott, author of Scammed: How to Save Your Money and Find Better Service in a World of Schemes, Swindles, and Shady Deals (Wiley, 2011) and founder of elliott.org; Chris Morran, senior editor of The Consumerist; Wes Moss, of Capital Investment Advisors and the host of Money Matters, a live financial advice show on Atlanta's 750 WSB-AM; and Tracy Van Slyke, co-director of The New Bottom Line, former publisher for the progressive news magazine In These Times and project director for The Media Consortium.
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