Steve Klingaman

Steve Klingaman
Minneapolis, Minnesota,
January 01
Steve Klingaman is a nonprofit development consultant and nonfiction writer specializing in personal finance and public policy. His music reviews can be found at

Editor’s Pick
MAY 14, 2009 11:23AM

Why Not Use the Sin Tax on Cigarettes to Save Lives?

   When the price of cigarettes goes up, the smoking rate decreases.  On the face of it, that sounds like good public policy—using market forces for a good cause.  Young people in particular are price sensitive to tobacco costs.  A good jolt to the tax on tobacco/… Read full post »

  Sometimes  unfortunate timing ruins everything.  Yesterday I wrote in my post, Stress Tests:  “Okay, everyone back in the pool!” the following statements about Wells Fargo:

  • “Wells Fargo, the best-run big bank in America.  No shenanigans there. /
  • Read full post »

  Problem, what problem?  We’re all good.  Everybody passes!  Yeah, you guys need to go raise some more money, but don’t worry, if things get tough we’ll just convert a little stock to get you through.  Think of us as your ATM.

    Read full post »

      The impressive record of Barack Obama’s first 100 days inspires hope and raises expectations regarding the next phase of his first year in office.  The economic meltdown is bad, very bad, but is proving to be manageable as compared to earlier predictions of a new/… Read full post »

APRIL 23, 2009 11:29AM

The Dow Jumps the Gun

    The Dow is up 25 percent since its March 6 low of 6,469.  It flitted above 8,100 last Friday and currently hovers around 7,900.  A spate of articles and blogs are asking if the rally is for real.  But the coverage has not been dispassionate.  Everybody is teasi/… Read full post »

Did you happen to hear last week’s National Public Radio interview with Johnny Dury, a gun dealer at Dury’s Gun Shop in San Antonio, Texas?  He was commenting on a national ammo shortage that he linked to the election of President Obama.  I could not resist the temptation t… Read full post »

            Beyond the bloviation that passes for discourse on the topic of health care reform lies a simple truth:  there are two classes of people on either side of a great divide—those who can get health care insurance and those who can’t. Read full post »

    What takes 480 million years to create and an instant to destroy?  Answer:  the coal-rich mountain peaks of Appalachia.  Imagine filling the Grand Canyon, building a nuclear power plant at Big Sur, leveling El Capitan, or clear-cutting the Olympics.  Unthinkabl/… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
MARCH 26, 2009 4:04PM

AIG is Brand-Dead

            Now that AIG has become the most prominent marquee brand on the economic meltdown wall of shame, it’s time to recognize the obvious:  AIG is brand-dead.  If you want to know what an actual zombie corporation looks like, take a good look n/… Read full post »

MARCH 16, 2009 10:08AM

Deconstructing Cramer

  Before the showdown with Jon Stewart, I would never have discovered the trainwreck that is Cramer if it had not been for those moments of aimless channel surfing, the kind I occasionally do when I should be sleeping.  I would be compelled by morbid curiosity to take in whatever his/… Read full post »

Okay, They May Not Be Zombie Banks Yet, But They Sure Are Predatory

            The realm of economics has given us some colorful new terms in this bleak season.  My current favorite is “zombie bank.”  You go in, the teller/… Read full post »

    If the 2009 status symbol is a job, the status symbol for the future will be a pension.  A public high school math teacher with a 30-year service record can earn more than $100,000 a year in many school districts in New York.  Not too shabby.  But here’s kicke/… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
FEBRUARY 26, 2009 1:23PM

“When Will My Portfolio Be Made Whole?” Part 1

    We’ve just experienced the greatest fall in the Dow Jones Industrial Index since the Great Depression.  On Monday, February 23, the Dow closed at 7150. This marked its greatest sustained decline since 1929.  The Dow Jones Index has lost 49% of its value since its h/… Read full post »

           On Friday the 13th, two Pennsylvania juvenile court judges pled guilty to charges of jailing kids for cash.  Judges Mark A. Ciavarella Jr. and Michael T. Conahan of the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas entered guilty pleas to accepting $2.6 milli/… Read full post »

Back in November I pointed out that economists would be of little use in getting us out of the meltdown mess because they were hopelessly divided on the fundamental issues we face.  The Cato Institute was kind enough to make that case for me as it released a full-page ad… Read full post »

   Republicans have been quick to decry the evidence of pork in the House-passed stimulus package.  Combat the flu?  TV converter boxes?  Those items aren’t likely to jump start anybody’s economy.  President Obama has rightly pointed out that such provi/… Read full post »

  Whacked is the term my wife and I use to describe losing a job.  Getting layed off, fired, declared redundant, downsized, rightsized, capsized; you name it, it’s all whacked to us.  The term conveys a certain Sopranos-style drama—and for the person getting whacked,Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 22, 2009 12:14PM

Would-Be Retirees Confront the Doom Loop

    Pretty much everyone gets hurt in our economic meltdown, save for the first-time homebuyer with a secure job and great credit.  One group about which we’ve heard very little is those who were about to retire when the crisis hit.  They are the vanguard of the Boomer/… Read full post »

 If ever a new presidency could be said to usher in a new era, that moment would be now.  The collapse of the economy and the revelations of profligacy that fueled its collapse created an emotional fulcrum, a moment of profound uncertainty, that had the effect of forcing a withdrawal/… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
JANUARY 8, 2009 11:36AM

Status Symbol for 2009: A Secure Job

A January 7th report issued by Chicago placement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas highlighted dire prospects facing American workers in 2009.  Here is some of the bad news:

  • Announcements of layoffs rose 275 percent in December as compared to December 2007
  • 1.2 million job cuts were announ/
  • Read full post »

Here in Minnesota, we thought we had a pretty big-time alleged Ponzi scheme in the form of the Petters companies bust.  Thomas Petters, CEO of the Petters Group, was arrested in October for being the mastermind behind the alleged criminal corporate ring.  He is said to have bilked individua/… Read full post »

            Over Thanksgiving weekend I happened to visit the amazing Titanic exhibit at the Milwaukee Public Museum.  Some powerful lessons and images from that experience have been difficult to shake.  One lesson was that the entire disaster could have b/Read full post »

A humungous collective credit card debt load is one of the unexamined niches of the economic meltdown.  That load is certain to grow as the holidays approach.  You know the drill:  spot the item, something in the lizard part of your brain says “Yes!” then whip out the plast/… Read full post »

Editor’s Pick
NOVEMBER 25, 2008 7:23PM

The Why of Citigroup’s Near-Death Experience

This Thanksgiving will be a bitter one for 75,000 former or soon-to-be former Citigroup employees.  All but a handful had nothing to do with the renegade collateralized debt obligation (C.D.O) business that led to the mega-bank’s downfall.  But the handful of mumbo-jumbo top trad/Read full post »

The Bush administration is working feverishly to come up with a bumper crop of 250+ so-called midnight regulations designed to undermine environmental and consumer safeguards in the waning days of its rule.  These regulatory decisions are designed to project the legacy of Bush administration int/… Read full post »