Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

Issue: "1st-grade murder," March 11, 2000

Greenspan: Another rate hike coming to cool economy
Chill out
Will Alan Greenspan freeze the bull market? The Federal Reserve chairman is sending strong signals that another interest rate hike is in the works for the following reason: High interest rates are needed to cool the too-hot economy and head off inflation, which could cool the too-hot economy. Got that? Is America too prosperous? Maybe. What Mr. Greenspan is saying is that a little cooling by way of higher interest rates is preferable to the deep freeze he fears a round of inflation would cause. His Federal Reserve Board predicts that the gross domestic product will expand by around 3.5 percent this year. Numbers released last week added credibility to the prediction: An industry group reported that the manufacturing economy experienced growth in February, and the government noted that construction spending-despite rising interest rates-shot up in January by 2.7 percent, the biggest spike in almost two years. He says Fed policymakers are being super-cautious about the nation's unprecedented economic boom. In remarks to the House Banking Committee, he said that low unemployment could cause higher wages and therefore higher prices for products. "At some point in the continuous reduction in the number of available workers willing to take jobs ... wage increases must rise above even impressive gains in productivity" that have helped to keep inflation low. The Fed chairman also opposes tax cuts due to the federal budget surpluses. Instead he wants the money used to pay down the national debt. If pressed, however, he prefers tax cuts to more federal spending. Mr. Greenspan also told Congress he was concerned about soaring oil prices. He said there was some worry about the "extraordinarily low level" of worldwide oil stocks-so low, he said, some people "are joking that we need to measure the fumes to get any measurable inventory."

Ups & Downs of the Week

  • Charlie Trie admitted what everyone knew all along. Nevertheless, the testimony of the Little Rock restaurateur and friend of Bill was revealing. Mr. Trie acknowledged raising roughly a million dollars in illegal funds for the Democratic National Committee. He admitted to bringing Chinese arms dealer Wang Jun to a White House coffee. He admitted he paid to get clients into White House coffees, events the White House still denies were fundraisers. Mr. Trie told the House Government Reform Committee it was "well known that it cost $50,000 to attend a coffee." But he continued to deny that he used the inside track to commit espionage or to gain favors. Last May, Mr. Trie cut a plea deal with the Justice Department, and is serving a four-month home detention sentence.
  • John Rocker, hurler of fastballs and high-and-tight rhetoric, reported to spring training after an arbitrator cut the suspension and fine of the Atlanta Braves reliever in half. Mr. Rocker will still miss the first two weeks of the regular season. In the NFL, Josh Evans of the Super Bowl runner-up Tennessee Titans, was suspended for the entire 2000 season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. Mr. Evans, suspended for four games last year on substance-abuse charges, is appealing.
  • The Buzz applauds Sen. Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, for bringing some needed perspective to the Elián Gonzalez matter. In a hearing on whether to grant the boy U.S. citizenship, Sen. Hatch said, "This is not just a custody matter, but a case where one of the options ... is returning this child to one of the last prison nations in the world, Fidel Castro's wretched communist dictatorship.... As Elián grows up in Castro's island jail, he will never be able to express his political views in public, he will never have a choice as to what he can read, and he will never be free to come here again."

Gender "equity": Title IX forces men's sports cuts
All things being equal
What began as a mandate to add has become a measure to subtract. The University of Miami, a hot-climate school where water sports have always been cool, will disband its men's swimming/diving and crew teams after this season in order to comply with Title IX gender-equity laws. The Hurricanes have produced 20 men's NCAA champions and 15 Olympians; Miami divers have won at least one national title in each of the past nine years. The male swimmers were, of course, upset: "It's like taking the sunshine away from Florida," team captain Tom Caplis said. But school officials said Miami had no choice but to cut the programs so as to comply with Title IX proportionality laws. One element requires schools to have athletic participation similar to the male/female ratio of the student body. When Miami began implementing a Title IX plan four years ago, the school's undergraduate population was 55 percent male and 45 percent female. By adding women's soccer and crew and limiting non-scholarship players in football and baseball, Miami achieved a 56-44 split early this year. But by then the percentage of female students had jumped to 54 percent, leaving Miami still 10 percent shy of compliance. The moves will leave Miami with seven men's sports and 10 for women. Other universities are facing the same problems and also restricting male sports participation. UCLA, for example, has also purged its male swimmers, even though the team had 41 individual NCAA champions over the years. And male college wrestlers are an endangered species throughout the United States.

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