10-29-08Merced Sun-StarMerced woman to serve as Great Valley Center director...Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2008http://www.mercedsunstar.com/167/story/520923.htmlThe Great Valley Center said Mercedian Amy A. Moffat is joining it in Modesto as Director of Research and Communications. She replaces Richard Cummings, who now serves UC Merced as Principal Planner for Physical Planning Design and Construction.Moffat, a Merced resident, has been a project director for the Dar a Luz Childbirth Education and Support Program at Healthy House. She has had responsibility for program development and implementation for prenatal education and a community-based doula program. She also handled media and community relations for the projects. Earlier, she worked for the Alliance for Community Research and Development, also in Merced.Moffat's responsibilities will include oversight of the regional planning and action organization's annual indicator reports, white papers and other research projects. She will also supervise communications and facilitation for the San Joaquin Valley Blueprint and the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley. "Often our local problems seem isolated, when in fact the same problem afflicts communities throughout the region and could potentially be addressed utilizing a regional approach," Moffat said in a statement.Founded in 1997, the Great Valley Center is a nonprofit organization that supports organizations and activities working to improve the economic, social and environmental well-being of California's Central Valley, in partnership with UC Merced.Merced farmers gather for irrigation talk...CAROL REITERhttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/167/story/520882.htmlWhile most growers in Merced County were trying to wrap up harvest before a forecast of rain on Friday, a small group of growers gathered at the Branding Iron Restaurant in Merced to hear about the best way to use water.A seminar put on by PureSense, an agronomic service based in Oakland, showed ways that growers could use their irrigation water to the best advantage."A greater mass of roots means higher yields," said David Clay, a regional sales manager for PureSense.The company markets a water sensor that can be used on row crops, vines and trees, Clay said. The sensor goes five feet underground, data are sent to a cell tower and then can be accessed by the grower online.Making sure water gets deep enough for the roots is the difference between a shallow-rooted crop and a deep-rooted crop. "Deep roots are what you want -- they go where the water is," Clay said.Along with increasing yields, prudent use of irrigation water also decreases growers' operating costs, along with keeping pests and disease to a minimum."Different soil types need different water, and salt can also affect how water is taken up by the soil," said Clay.Tony Vaccarezza, regional sales manager for PureSense, told the growers that being able to access their water information at any time will help them be better farmers."From low blueberries, to the highest trees, water is the most important part of growing," Vaccarezza said.Modesto BeeReal estate near bottom?Comparing rent to sale value shows that now is time to buy, study says...J.N. Sbrantihttp://www.modbee.com/local/story/479278.htmlA new way of calculating the actual value of a house indicates that maybe, just maybe, Northern San Joaquin Valley home prices have hit bottom.A national analysis on the cost of renting versus owning a home uses historic trends to determine a "floor" for home prices. That study, released Tuesday, predicts whether those who buy homes today will gain or lose equity during the next four years. It's based on ratios comparing rental costs to home prices, dating back to 1895.The formula determines that the right price for a house is roughly 15 times its annual fair market rental rate.So if a Modesto home can be rented for $1,000 a month, its value would be about $180,000 ($12,000 per year multiplied by 15).The median sales price for Stanislaus County homes fell to $179,000 in September. The county's median rental home rates, meanwhile, are more than $1,000 per month. Therefore, the "theoretical and empirical underpinnings of the relationship between home prices and rents" could indicate that now is the time to buy.That's at least one interpretation of the findings in "The Changing Prospects for Building Home Equity: An Updated Analysis of Rents and the Price of Housing in 100 Metropolitan Areas."The study is by Dean Baker and Hye Jin Rho from the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Danilo Pelletiere from the National Low Income Housing Coalition."It is a very well-reasoned study," said Mike Zagaris, president of PMZ Real Estate in Modesto. "It's based on facts and historical evidence, and it uses a understandable rationale. I plan to send a copy to my banker to help him understand the market."The study itself may confuse those who read it unless they realize it's based on June 2008 housing data. Four-month-old statistics may be reliable during a normal housing market, but Northern San Joaquin Valley home prices have been in free-fall.The median sales price for Stanislaus County homes was $201,000 in June, but it has declined by $22,000 since. Big decline in 4 monthsWorking off the June statistics, the study concludes that people buying modest Stanislaus homes would lose at least $21,000 in equity by 2012. The authors, obviously, didn't know Stanislaus home prices would drop more than that before they could publish their study."Based on their analysis, we're in the zone to buy something at a reasonable price today," said Zagaris. He and a group of investors are in the process of buying a large "portfolio of properties" for an average $210,000 each that he expects to rent for $1,300 a month.According to the study, the current cost for rent and utilities of a privately owned, decent, safe and modest three-bedroom Stanislaus home is $1,248 per month.The study's authors, of course, didn't do their analysis to help individual home buyers or investors decide whether to purchase a house. Their work was designed to provide facts for public policy-makers, who are considering more laws and programs to help the ailing housing market.Their primary conclusion "is that policy-makers (nationwide) must be extremely cautious in intervening in housing markets, particularly either purchasing or encouraging others to purchase homes with the goal of increasing equity in the short term." In July, federal lawmakers approved a $3.9 billion federal program to help local governments deal with abandoned and foreclosed homes. Of that, Modesto is expected to get $8.1 million and Stanislaus County's government should get $9.7 million.The study argues against the government buying homes and directly intervening in housing markets nationwide."A top priority must be efforts to limit displacement and community disruption by keeping current owners in their homes, either as owners with more affordable mortgages that reflect lower post-deflation prices or as renters," the study says. "Without such efforts, backed by government influence and money, a vicious cycle of extreme disinvestment is likely to develop in many communities."Zagaris praised the study's opposition to the government buying houses. He said families and investors have jumped in to purchase the valley's bargain-priced houses, and they shouldn't have to bid against the government."The housing market is clearing away (the excess inventory) on its own. It doesn't need trillions of dollars from the government to do it," he said.PMZ statistics show that home sales have been soaring since spring, while the total number of houses on the market steadily has declined. Rather than use federal funds to buy houses, Zagaris said local governments should provide first-time buyers with down payment assistance.Turlock not looking for a changeCity wants to keep growth plan as is...Merrill Balassonehttp://www.modbee.com/local/story/479216.htmlWhen the Turlock representative sits at the table with planning leaders next month, he will push to keep the status quo when it comes to finalizing a first-of-its-kind growth scenario covering all of Stanislaus County.At Tuesday night's meeting, council members agreed that Councilman Ted Howze should be given freedom to negotiate with the Stanislaus Council of Governments, guided by plans that construction should adhere closely to densities already cited in the city's general plan.StanCOG, a policy board made up of representatives from the county Board of Supervisors and the county's nine cities, will meet again Nov. 12.Six counties to the south -- Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Kern and Tulare -- this year produced countywide growth scenarios that called for higher living density, a change from the valley's historic pattern of about 91 percent single-family houses. Turlock is 77 percent single-family houses.The new scenario Stanislaus leaders took to their respective city councils abandons progressive change, calling simply to adhere to densities already cited in general plans of the 10 agencies. They range from 4.5 units per acre to 30, StanCOG's Vince Harris said.Fewer reasons to driveFresno County's scenario sees three of every four new units in higher-density duplexes and apartments along transportation routes. Fewer reasons to drive should translate into less pollution and climate change, the theory goes.That's what state officials want, reflected in a law recently signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger, a landmark attempt at addressing climate change with new rules for development. Senate Bill 375 would direct transportation money to sprawl-curbing projects.Howze called the law a "bad deal." Because the San Joaquin Valley still lacks some infrastructure, unlike Southern California, he said, not meeting environmental goals may mean losing badly needed transportation funding."They're going to take care of greenhouse gas emission on the back of the valley," he said.Water rights for Auburn dam could be revoked...Auburn Journal, http://www.auburnjournal.comhttp://www.modbee.com/state_wire/story/478345.htmlU.S. Rep. John Doolittle is upset that water storage rights for a long-stalled dam project could be revoked.The Republican lawmaker, who is serving his last year in Congress, says California should continue to support construction of the Auburn dam to help boost the state's water supply.The project is in his Northern California district but has been stalled for more than three decades.The California Water Resources Control Board has scheduled a Dec. 2 vote on whether to revoke water storage rights for the project. If the board approves the action, the federal Bureau of Reclamation could file a new application if Congress reauthorizes money for the project.Opponents of the dam, planned near the Sierra foothill town of Auburn, say the order would allow the state to pursue permits at other potential reservoir sites.Fresno BeeAgencies ordered to cut arsenic in waterEleven face fines, including three in the Valley...E.J. Schultz, Bee Capitol Bureauhttp://www.fresnobee.com/local/v-printerfriendly/story/970960.htmlThe federal government has ordered three Valley water agencies to cut arsenic levels by 2010 or face hefty fines. The order, made public Tuesday by the Environmental Protection Agency, comes as small water systems struggle to comply with tighter standards to control arsenic, a naturally occurring mineral known to cause cancer. Eleven California water agencies face fines, including Tranquillity Irrigation District and Riverdale Public Utility District in Fresno County and Armona Community Service District in Kings County. The three central San Joaquin Valley agencies provide drinking water to a combined 6,559 residents. Public water supplies must contain no more than 10 parts of arsenic per billion. The new rule was issued in 2001 as federal scientists concluded that the old standard of 50 parts per billion did not do enough to protect public health. Arsenic is found in rocks and soil and has long-plagued some Valley communities that rely on groundwater. The mineral can enter drinking water naturally or as a byproduct of agriculture or industrial activities, according to the EPA. Studies have linked long-term arsenic exposure to cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidney, nasal passages, liver, and prostate. Recent studies have even suggested a connection between low-level arsenic exposure and Type 2 diabetes. Water systems had until January 2006 to meet the new standard, but the fines won't kick in until 2010, EPA officials said. By then, the agencies must meet the new standard or at least have an EPA-approved plan in place to get there. Violators face fines of up to $32,500 per day. "So far, all the systems appear that they are going to meet that date," said Everett Pringle, an EPA enforcement official. But to comply, some agencies will have to invest millions of dollars into new wells or treatment equipment. In Riverdale, a small farming community in the west Valley, arsenic readings have ranged from 25 parts per billion to 39 parts per billion, the highest of the three Valley agencies, according to the EPA. The district is seeking a $5 million state grant to pay for a filtration plant, said Ronald Bass, the district's superintendent. Customers were also recently hit with a rate increase, from $16.15 a month to $24 a month to help pay for arsenic cleanup, he said. Sacramento BeePlacer water heading south to ease shortage...Niesha Lofing http://www.sacbee.com/latest/story/1353272.htmlThe Placer County Water Agency recently sold up to 20,000 acre-feet of water to a water district serving Fresno and Kings County farmland.The water will be moved to the Westlands Water District through the Bureau of Reclamation canal system to the San Luis Reservoir, where it could be used immediately or stored for later use, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation.The transfer is scheduled for November and December, and is the latest indicator of water shortages throughout the state, a farm bureau e-newsletter states. The Placer County water agency's Board of Directors also recently approved increasing water rates for cities and local water companies it supplies, and will consider similar increases for the agency's ratepayers during the board's November meeting.Water agency officials said the increases are needed to help the agency meet increased business costs, preserve water system reliability and upgrade portions of an aging water delivery infrastructure, according to an agency news release.The board approved a 3.25 percent increase in monthly service charges for treated water supplied to Lincoln, the California American Water Company and five smaller treated water retailers. The water usage charge, another component of the water bill, was increased 3.8 percent, the release states.Directors considered increasing the renewal and replacement charge, a third component of water bills, by $1.19, but decided to increase it by 50 cents per month, resulting in a reduction of 2009 funding for system maintenance.Also, beginning next year, water bills will not include a charge for state and federal mandated programs as a water bill line item. Instead, the costs are being included in the water usage charge, the release states.The board also approved 3.25 percent increases in usage rates for the nine large commercial agricultural water users in one area and similar increased for six untreated water resale customers in two other areas of the county.All of the rate adjustments will go into effect Jan. 1. Rate adjustments for Lincoln will begin March 1.A public hearing on the proposed increases for the water agency's ratepayers will be held as part of the board's meeting at 2 p.m. Nov. 6 in the water agency's business center, located at 144 Ferguson Rd., Auburn. Stockton RecordCity approves tax-funded subdivisionsResidents will pay for growth, police impact...David Sidershttp://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081029/A_NEWS/810290329/-1/A_NEWSSTOCKTON - Plans to build about 13,000 homes in two subdivisions in south Stockton were approved by the City Council late Tuesday, requiring for the first time that the developer and residents of new subdivisions pay special taxes and fees to pay fully for growth's impact on police and other city services, officials said.The larger of the two projects, John Verner's 10,562-home Mariposa Lakes project, is to be built on 3,810 acres of farmland over 25 years, eventually housing about 33,000 people.Mariposa Lakes and Arnaiz Development Co.'s 2,365-home Tidewater Crossing project are the first major projects approved since the council adopted a growth-governing General Plan in December. They are among a number of suburban villages contemplated by the General Plan to include houses, apartments and industrial sites built around shops and businesses in a village center.Several French Camp residents protested the Tidewater Crossing project, claiming Stockton was sprawling needlessly toward them. Mariposa Lakes was opposed by the Morada Area Association, a group of east San Joaquin County residents who claimed the development would deplete groundwater and harm the environment.Some nearby residents opposed the project, too."I moved from San Jose to come to the country," said Cathleen Campi, who lives near where Mariposa Lakes is to be built. "You're putting a whole city right next to me."Community Development Director Michael Niblock said the projects - like all others hereafter - would pay for themselves. Unlike some previous developments, he said, they would be required to include job-producing uses such as commercial, industrial and office sites.The council approved Mariposa Lakes on a 4-2 vote. Councilman Steve Bestolarides and Councilwoman Susan Eggman dissented. Vice Mayor Leslie Baranco Martin was absent.Some critics had said it was irresponsible to approve growth when thousands of homes are vacant and in foreclosure. Eggman said, "I do have some concerns about the timing."Councilwoman Rebecca Nabors, who represents south Stockton, said the city is in an economic slump but eventually will recover. She said it is wise to plan for development she said could benefit the south side."I think it's long overdue," she said.Mariposa Lakes is to include 168 acres of artificial lakes, six elementary schools, a high school, an Amtrak station and a site for a community college satellite campus. The development was a campaign issue in 2004, when voters approved a measure Verner placed on the ballot to protect the project from a growth-limiting measure.Tidewater Crossing is to be built on 909 acres of fields and orchards near Stockton Metropolitan Airport, likely over 10 to 15 years. It eventually would house about 7,300 people, officials saidThe project has been controversial, with critics claiming it is unwise to build homes so near an airport. The council approved the project 4-2, amending it to avoid interfering with California National Guard activities. Martin was absent, and Eggman and Nabors dissented.Both Mariposa Lakes and Tidewater Crossing require that fees and taxes on developers and future homeowners - or the tax revenue those residents generate - pay for fire, police and other city services and to install millions of dollars worth of roads, sewers and other infrastructure, officials said.Tracy PressAnchor's awayWhat was planned as Mountain House’s anchor business center is folding under mounting economic pressure...Mountain House Press   http://tracypress.com/content/view/16270/2268/MOUNTAIN HOUSE — What developers had hoped would be the first retail-office-industrial anchor in Mountain House has folded under the weight of a foreclosure-saturated housing market and the national credit crisis.Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Pegasus MH Ventures I LLC forced parent company Pegasus Development to cancel plans to build a business park on 140 acres of land along Interstate 580 and near the Alameda, Contra Costa and San Joaquin county lines. The Pleasanton-based company three years ago touted the proposed business park as a way to give residents a chance to work in Mountain House, the idea being that one day the town of 8,000 — which is master-planned for a population approaching 45,000 — would grow into more than just a bedroom community. The Pegasus affiliate bought the land from Tracy husband-and-wife Charles and Margaret Spatafore in 2004 for $11.9 million. The family gave Pegasus $6.7 million to finance the proposed business park. Two months ago, the family took back the land through foreclosure, after San Joaquin County recorded a default notice on the loan, according to the clerk-recorder’s office. A Pegasus attorney said the company got the short shrift when lenders failed to live up to an agreement to finance the project. La Jolla-based Scripps Investments & Loans was supposed to supply long-term financing in 2007 that would help the office park get off the ground, according to the Mountain House Community Services District. The Spatafores and Scripps did not return calls for comment as of press time. A community service district official said nothing else is in the works, and until the economy picks up again, residents will have to continue making out-of-town trips to shop and hours-long commutes to work. Several candidates for the to-be-formed community services district board have touted bringing businesses to Mountain House as a top priority. Contra Costa TimesWetland restoration will be first in Delta history...Paul Kinghttp://www.contracostatimes.com/environment/ci_10840062OAKLEY — The first wetlands restoration project in the Delta promises to turn Dutch Slough into a learning laboratory that will provide scientists and the public a glimpse into the region's early ecology.After years of planning, environmental documents for the project will be released in November and the initial funding has been secured. The 1,166-acre former cattle grazing and dairy operations in Oakley will be transformed into habitats for freshwater tidal marsh and sand dunes."We have specifically designed the restoration project to teach us more about the role of tidal marshes in the ecology of the Delta," Natural Heritage Institute restoration ecologist John Cain said. "We don't have significant natural tidal marsh in the Delta today to adequately measure how native fish use tidal marsh." The $30 million project should receive the bulk of its funding from Proposition 84, a safe drinking water and water quality act passed in 2006. It will be constructed in phases, with completion expected around 2012. The construction process will include bringing in fill material, contouring the site, and breaching the levee.The environmental report will cover how the plans will affect air quality, noise, dust, water quality, aesthetics and endangered species. The project's main goals are to create habitats for species and improve the ecosystem there."It is not an experiment because we have a high level of confidence that it would result in a lot of benefits for the Delta," Cain said. Scientific monitoring of the project will help guide future decisions on other large-scale, freshwater tidal restoration projects, according to Jeff Melby of the State Coastal Conservancy. Scientists and experts have said Dutch Slough is a good beginning for tidal restoration."We have made a lot of changes, and that is why these species are in peril. This is the type of habitat that was there historically, and this is the type of habitat that will benefit these species," said Patty Quickert, a scientist with the California Department of Water Resources. From the Gold Rush days to the 1950s, most of the tidal marsh was destroyed as Delta islands were reclaimed for agriculture and dredging was conducted for levee maintenance, Cain said. Most of the 538,000 leveed acres of the Delta were tidal marshes historically.Dutch Slough is an ideal site for restoration, Cain noted."The lands at Dutch Slough are not as subsided as other areas of the Delta. It has the right elevation for tidal marsh restoration," he said.Among the species that will benefit from the project is the Chinook salmon. Cain said the project will help juvenile salmon grow and return to the area every year.It will also help freshwater duck species and the Sacramento split tail, he added. In addition to protecting native species, the project will not harm non-native species such as largemouth or striped bass. It will just give native fish a better chance of surviving among non-native ones."We hope that the project will also generate food web resources to benefit all of the fish that depend on the Delta ecosystem from largemouth bass to Delta smelt," Cain said.Oakley officials have raised concerns about methyl mercury levels because of fears that wetlands cause mercury to be exported, but experts said this isn't a concern with Dutch Slough.Dutch Slough has the lowest methyl mercury levels in this region of the Delta, Cain said, and recent studies indicate that tidal restoration can lessen the amount of mercury when designed properly.Some of the greatest benefits of tidal marsh are in the areas of flood control and water quality, said Save the Bay Executive Director David Lewis. "Re-creating this part of the Delta does improve water quality because it does reduce sediment and pollutants from the water," he said.The project is a partnership among the Department of Water Resources, California Coastal Conservancy, Natural Heritage Institute and the city of Oakley. A newer partner in the project is the Ironhouse Sanitary District, which will provide fill material. Public access and recreational opportunities are other benefits through a 55-acre community park and miles of Delta trail access. Oakley doesn't own the land for the park yet and its construction depends on future development in that area, so it is likely several years away from being completed, city officials said."We think this will be a great opportunity for people to see what the primeval Delta looked like, and give people the opportunity to safely view birds and go fishing," Cain said. "The goal of the park is to create a destination for not only the people of Oakley but for people from all over the region."Track the salmon in California...MediaNews editorialhttp://www.contracostatimes.com/opinion/ci_10838356?nclick_check=1AN INNOVATIVE TRACKING system used in the Northwest came to some surprising discoveries while tracking juvenile salmon migrating downstream to the Pacific Ocean. Scientists learned that just as many salmon or more survived going over eight dams on the Northwest's Snake and Columbia Rivers as others did going down a major river in British Columbia without any dams at all.The study was published in the online edition of the Public Library of Science Biology and it arrives just when salmon advocates are in a battle in federal court with the Bush administration and dam advocates over whether the Columbia Basin dam system can be made safe enough for salmon to satisfy regulations under the Endangered Species Act. What the study suggests is that there's a chance salmon can survive going over dams as easily as traveling down rivers that do not have dams.The tracking system used is called the Pacific Ocean Shelf Tracking, where fish were implanted with an acoustic transmitter about the size of an almond.It sends out a signal tracked by many receivers in the rivers and ocean. Also, salmon were monitored with Passive Integrated Transponder tags to see their survival rate over dams. This testing, however, was limited to juvenile salmon. This discovery should act as a springboard to conduct studies in California, where a complete collapse of the salmon population nearly shut down salmon fishing off the West Coast, and all types of salmon should be monitored. NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency in charge of restoring threatened and endangered salmon, has asked POST developer David Welch to monitor salmon in the Sacramento River. We hope he takes the offer.While the study was limited to juvenile salmon, an expansion of POST examination of state rivers and dams could be the start of improving dwindling salmon runs and help the fishing industry in the future.CommonDreams.orgGreenspan Says, 'Who Could Have Known?'...Dean Baker...10-28-08http://www.commondreams.org/view/2008/10/28-2That's right, the former Maestro told Congress last week, when asked about the meltdown of the housing bubble and the resulting financial crisis, 'we're not smart enough as people. We just cannot see events that far in advance.' Unfortunately, this sentence is even worse in context. Greenspan told the committee about the brilliant economists on staff at the Federal Reserve Board. His point was that if this group could not see the housing bubble, and the risks it posed to the economy, then it was not humanly possible to see it.The reality is that it was possible -- in fact, easy -- to recognize the housing bubble as early as the summer of 2002. House prices nationwide had substantially outpaced inflation in the years since 1996 (coinciding with the stock bubble) after just tracking the rate of inflation for the prior hundred years. There was nothing in the fundamentals of supply or demand that could explain this run-up.Furthermore, there was no corresponding increase in rents. Since people always have the choice to buy or rent, house sale prices and rents should rise and fall together over time, although not necessarily at the exact same pace. In the years since 1996, rents had only modestly outpaced inflation. And they had begun dropping in real terms by 2002. This was not consistent with house prices being driven by fundamentals.It was also easy to see that the collapse of the housing bubble would cause enormous damage to the economy. Housing itself accounted for more than 6 percent of GDP at the peak of the boom in 2006. Today, it accounts for just over 3 percent.More importantly, housing wealth provided the base for the consumption boom of this period. Research from the Federal Reserve Board and elsewhere shows that annual consumption is increased by 5 to 7 cents for each dollar of housing wealth. This means that the collapse of a bubble that eventually grew to $8 trillion would lead to a reduction in annual consumption on the order of $400 billion to $560 billion (2.6 percent to 3.7 percent of GDP).In addition, housing is a highly leveraged asset. In normal times, buyers typically borrow 80 to 90 percent of the purchase price. Of course, housing became much more highly leveraged during the bubble with many borrowers putting zero down.The heavy leverage in the housing market meant that it was inconceivable that a collapse of the housing bubble would not lead to serious consequences for the banking industry. I first warned that the collapse of the bubble would imperil the survival of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in September of 2002.Greenspan would have been correct if he said that we are not smart enough as human beings to know when the bubble would finally burst. I did not expect the bubble to last as long as it did.Of course, I did not bet on there being such a vast reservoir of foolish investors, not only in the United States but also in Asia and Europe, willing to buy garbage mortgages buried in complex derivative instruments. I also didn't imagine the Fed and other regulatory agencies would ever be so completely out-to-lunch in policing mortgage issuance and the practices of the investment banks.But the basic story, that there was a housing bubble that would burst, and that it would cause enormous damage to the economy, was completely knowable to any competent economist long ago. The failure of the economists at the Fed, as well as the vast majority of the economists elsewhere, to see the housing bubble and to recognize the damage that would be caused by its collapse, is a testament to the failure of the profession.Greenspan's claim that the crisis was not foreseeable is a cover-up for a profession that has badly failed the public. If factory workers or custodians had failed so miserably in their jobs, they would quickly find themselves unemployed.Remarkably, in economics, the people responsible for this easily preventable disaster are suffering no negative consequences and, in fact, are still the ones designing the nation's economic policies. Economists believe that if workers are not held accountable for their performance, then they will not do good work. If economists are not held accountable for their performance, then we should not expect good economic policy.Contrary to what Greenspan told Congress, 'we' are smart enough as people to see asset bubbles like the housing bubble. If his 'we' are not smart enough, as he claims, then the current group of economic policymakers must be replaced with people qualified to do the job.