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How ‘payment banks’ can prevent the next bank crash



At the heart of Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse were uninsured savers — specifically start-ups that have much more than the $250,000 insured limit and can’t get paid without access to their accounts. This is tempting given SVB’s inability to suggest that the insured deposit limit needs to be raised, but this decision creates new problems. The best approach for the US would be to follow the example of other countries and create “payment banks” that are virtually risk-free, highly regulated, and have access to the payment network. They will be a place where companies can place funds – such as venture capital investments meant to pay wages – without exposing themselves to the risks that conventional banks create.

The failure of Silicon Valley Bank highlighted the underestimated weaknesses of the US banking system. While banking crises have historically been linked to credit risk, the recent crisis of confidence has arisen from unrealized losses on safe-haven securities that have left savers anxiously seeking liquidity. The liquidation of these securities resulted in losses in current market prices and heightened the fears of these depositors, leading to a bank run.

While insured savers have little to worry about, the recent crisis has highlighted the critical role of large uninsured savers who are understandably prone to worry. They make up more $8 trillion — or about 40% of all US deposits.

And one concern in particular stands out: the prospect of many companies inability to pay wages was a critical aspect of this crisis, as it became clear that some uninsured depositors were business customers who could not pay their employees without access to their accounts.

The problem of uninsured deposits

As an emergency response, the FDIC needed to effectively remove the deposit insurance limit and declare troubled banks systemically important to restoring calm. This solution is problematic for many reasons. In the absence of many new rules, unlimited deposit insurance gives banks a terrible incentive. And the rules needed to dampen those dire stimuli could stifle risk in the economy as a whole.

A deeper solution to this problem lies in understanding the dilemma of uninsured savers and addressing their needs more directly. It is easy to portray the uninsured saver as a reckless risk seeker. who flutters between banks in search of profitability. This caricature does not deserve saving or much sympathy. But the reality is that many uninsured savers face a huge dilemma.

Consider the problem of wages in the private sector, which is more than $9 trillion in annual cash flows in the US only. Large sums of money must be deposited on a regular basis, and this money must be placed in a bank in order to access the payment system. These deposits simply have no alternative other than banks, and are therefore susceptible to banks lending or buying assets. with these large deposits. In this process, all of our paychecks are dependent on the decisions of the bankers, who can take these large, unstable deposits, risk them, and then socialize the losses when we are forced to withdraw deposit insurance.

The case of “payment banks”

The problem of uninsured savers is really a problem of access to the payment system – a system monopolized by central banks and then delegated to banks. The problem of wages is a prime example of this problem, since wage funds must necessarily be kept in banks, where they are exposed to the risks mentioned above.

happy, other countries began to look for ways to solve this problem. V Great Britain, AustraliaAnd Singapore everyone has been innovating and we can learn a useful lesson from their efforts. Basically, there are two possible solutions: allow non-banks access to the payment system, as the UK and other countries have allowed, or create banks that do nothing more than solve this “wage problem”. We prefer the latter.

To solve the problem of uninsured creditors without distorting incentives to take risks, the US should create a special class of banks called a “payment bank” that does nothing but process payments. Their deposit base will be large and potentially volatile, they will be highly regulated (even more so than money market funds), and they will not be able to take on credit or repayment risk. In short, they will accept payroll deposits and other such large B2B transactions and facilitate access to the payment system.

What will be the business model for these payment banks? There are two possibilities: they can make a safe profit by investing these deposits in the Federal Reserve at the federal funds rate, or they can charge their clients a very small fee for facilitating these large payments. Investing large amounts of these deposits for very short periods without risk can generate significant returns, especially in the current environment, and it is possible that some of this income may even be returned to depositors.

While we have characterized this as a wage problem, there are many other economic agents with large, unstable deposits who are just looking to get into the payment system. Consider a $100 million business that has $70 million in annual costs and prudently keeps cash equivalent to monthly expenses in the bank to cover payments. Alternatively, consider starting a venture capital or private equity fund that seeks to raise capital or use capital to acquire companies.

Currently, these funds must be accessed by traditional banks in order to access payment features. Indeed, this is precisely the business model for both Silicon Valley Bank and Bank of the First Republic. But every bank has such clients. Indeed, the broader scope of card payments is Where 9 trillion dollars in card payments must be routed to merchant bank accounts through merchant acquirers – has similar features.

By creating payment banks, large unstable deposits that far exceed any reasonable deposit insurance limit will find a suitable place in a highly regulated bank that carries virtually no credit or repayment risk and can facilitate their transactions. More importantly, the entire banking system will no longer bear the burden of these uninsured deposits and will be able to return to its core function of retail deposits and making sound lending and asset management decisions. And we can avoid lifting the limit on deposit insurance and turning all banks into systemic ones. In some ways, this solution is less ambitious and far more realistic than using stablecoins or central bank digital currency to facilitate B2B payments on alternative payment rails. In many ways, this idea reflects the principles of industrial power. clearing and settlement applied in financial markets to a wider range of payments.

The reality is that the US banking system has become much less dynamic since the global financial crisis. Almost no entrance. while number of US banks may be high compared to many other countries, the truth is that we do not need more traditional banks – we need different types of banks. Crises are terrible things to wasteand it could lead us to a much safer banking system by recognizing the problem of uninsured depositors and creating a home for them.


Shares of UBS and other banks fell after the sale of Credit Suisse



Andrew is here. After the historic sale of Credit Suisse to UBS last weekend, the question is whether the 166-year-old bank will be the last domino to fall, or the first.

Just two weeks ago, Silicon Valley Bank, a medium-sized niche lender in California, went bankrupt. Now one of the most legendary firms in Europe has collapsed.

The connection between them is tangential, except for this: Markets around the world are in a panic. Any institution that has raised questions among investors (Credit Suisse has had problems for years) is now on the radar.

The probability of new transactions is high. And truth be told, they can’t come soon enough. If we’ve learned anything from the 2008 financial crisis, it’s that banks and regulators need to stay ahead of problems before they metastasize. After Bear Stearns was sold to JPMorgan Chase in March 2008, government officials began pushing Lehman Brothers to close the deal. But Lehman’s leadership and board refused for months—until it was too late.

Some regional banks around the country used one of the risky practices of the Silicon Valley bank: they bought long-term bonds with low interest rates, price has dropped now because interest rates have risen. The current chaos has less to do with the infection of one firm’s collapse than with embedded losses lurking on bank balance sheets. One study says that as much as another 190 creditors may fail.

First Republic, which has attracted potential fans like Morgan Stanley, must quickly sell itself or raise more capital after $30 billion in cash injections from big banks failed to power the markets. But its management still believes that it costs more than the market, and buyers believe that they could get it even cheaper.

A similar story is being played out in other regional banks. under pressure from the West Coast, including PacWest. And some potential buyers think that if they wait long enough, they can get financial assistance from the US government, or at least some guarantee of legal obligations. (The government has already $2.5 billion hit from the sale of Signature to the New York Community Bancorp.) But it’s unclear what the government has to offer, as many of the powers it exercised in 2008 were denied Dodd-Frank’s revision of banking rules.

The only good news is that the flight of uninsured deposits from many regional banks has, at least anecdotally, stopped or at least slowed down. (Clients reportedly pulled $70 billion out of the First Republic.) If this is true, then banks should go public and detail their position on deposits. This could help start rebuilding confidence in a sector that badly needs it.

Goldman Sachs is dropping its $100 a barrel oil price forecast. Bank analysts, who were particularly optimistic about oil prices, cited fear of a global recession and recent stock market volatility in downgrading their outlook. Global benchmark Brent crude has fallen nearly 20 percent over the past two weeks and is currently trading at around $70 a barrel.

Xi Jinping from China arrived in Moscow. The Chinese leader will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss, among other things, Beijing’s proposal to end the war in Ukraine. Xi’s state visit highlights increasingly close ties with Russia as China faces growing tensions with the US and other Western countries.

French President Emmanuel Macron faces a vote of no confidence. France’s lower house of parliament is due to vote on two proposals to force Macron to raise the country’s retirement age to 64 from 62 without the right to vote. If even one passes, Macron’s cabinet will be forced to resign, throwing the Western power’s government into chaos at a critical moment.

TikTok influencers are heading to Washington. Video service content creators are set to lobby of american politicians over three days this week as part of a Chinese company’s efforts to stave off a US ban.

The merger of the largest banks in Switzerland and new agreed measure A quintet of major central banks, including the Fed, to inject liquidity into the global economy failed to restore calm to the markets.

From Tokyo to London, stocks, commodities and bond yields fell this morning, fueling fears that volatility in the banking sector will spill over into the wider economy.

UBS shares fell 15 percent in the first hour of trading in Zurich before recouping some of those losses., as investors massively dumped shares of banks. The Stoxx Europe 600 Banks and KBW Bank Index were both lower than they were at 6 am ET.

Uncertainty in the market calls into question the next step of the central banks. This week, the Fed and the Bank of England will announce a decision on interest rates. “The turmoil is reducing the likely peak in central bank rates on both sides of the Atlantic,” Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank, wrote in a note to clients this morning. Berenberg predicts that the Fed will raise its key interest rate by 0.25% on Wednesday, rather than by half a percentage point as predicted a few weeks ago.

Other bank and market news:

  • Investment managers betting heavily on AT1 bonds, some of the riskiest bank bonds, including the Credit Suisse bonds that were wiped out in the UBS deal, preparing for staggering losses.

  • S&P Global is the latest rating agency lower the rank of the First Republic, suggesting that last week’s $30 billion capital injection may not be enough to support the firm. Its shares fell sharply in premarket trading.

  • Regulators may part The Silicon Valley Bank is again trying to sell it. And, FDIC there is a buyer for Signature Bridge Bench parts.

  • Warren Buffett reportedly been in contact with the Biden administration about possible investment in the beleaguered US regional banks. So far, the billionaire investor hasn’t written a check.

Swiss regulators may have hoped that pushing UBS to buy its ailing rival Credit Suisse would stem the tide of global banking panic. But investors weren’t convinced, and UBS shares fell on Monday amid growing concerns about the risk of a collision between the two Swiss banking giants.

Summary of what happened: Shares and bonds of Credit Suisse fell last week to record lows amid market fears about which bank will collapse next. Although Credit Suisse was much larger and better capitalized than Silicon Valley Bank, investors finally concluded that the Swiss bank could not recover from years of scandals and billions in losses.

But the Swiss government, determined to avoid a catastrophic collapse, pushed the reluctant UBS into action. Over the weekend, UBS agreed to buy Credit Suisse for a fraction of its market value.

One of the main consequences is the end of the investment bank Credit Suisse. The Swiss lender achieved global financial fame when he became a partner and then acquired the legendary American brokerage First Boston. (Think how many stellar alumni the company has produced, including Doug Brownstein, Larry Fink, Ray McGuire, Joe Perella, Frank Quattron, Gordon Rich, and Bruce Wasserstein.)

But his trading business has caused endless headaches for the past two decades, mortgage-backed securities to a $5.5 billion loss related to the bankrupt investment firm Archegos.

Credit Suisse intended to spin off its investment bank and revive the First Boston name, bringing in former Citigroup rainmaker Michael Klein to head the business. But UBS executives said Sunday they plan to actually wind it up instead.

UBS executives and investors appear to be concerned about the risks of the deal. One is the prospect of litigation: UBS leaders stressed Sunday that the Swiss government is responsible for controversial decisions such as destroying $17 billion in Credit Suisse bonds to ease the strain on UBS’s finances.

It also raises the question of how to look through Credit Suisse’s huge book of assets, including many of dubious value. UBS executives told analysts they have 25 billion Swiss francs ($27 billion) of fall protection from Swiss regulators against things like asset write-offs.

UBS Chairman Colm Kelleher is particularly aware of the risks involved in bailing out a bankrupt bank: As CFO of Morgan Stanley during the 2008 financial crisis — an experience he recounted on Sunday — he saw JPMorgan Chase buy Bear Stearns and Washington Mutual only in order to be bound by years of litigation and work with their distressed assets.

Washington’s role in trying to contain the fallout from the Silicon Valley Bank collapse has prompted calls for the Biden administration to take more action, as well as warnings that it has already done too much.

Mid-sized banks are calling for more help. Coalition of Small Regional Creditors asked the FDIC to insure all deposits for two years, and lawmakers have called for additional measures over the weekend. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, also wants the restriction to be lifted. House Financial Services Committee Chairman Patrick McHenry, a Georgia Republican, said he was open to change but warned that removing the cover would cost “the financial system significantly”.

Did political connections matter above all else? Bank officials and the president say the emergency measures won’t cost taxpayers. But some argue that the Biden administration insured only Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank depositors because those companies had strong Democratic political ties and were based in New York and California.

Oklahoma Republican Senator James Lankford told Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen last week that the higher fees banks will have to pay after Silicon Valley Bank’s fall are likely to be passed on to customers. He also asked if the federal government would bail out small rural banks in his state that didn’t engage in the risky behavior that killed the California lender. This hinted at another big problem: Should there be new rules to determine if an institution is important enough to merit emergency assistance?

What’s next? On March 29, the House Financial Services Committee will hold a hearing on bank failures with the FDIC’s Martin Grunberg and the Fed’s Michael Barr to see how regulators have reacted.

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On changes in the UK, political agreements and missing Scots



I was very impressed with Heidi Allen’s first speech when she left the Conservative Party to join the Independent group, now known as the Change Party in the UK. How could the Conservative high command ignore such an outstanding talent? But I’m afraid I wasn’t very impressed with her performance at the beer and Brexit debate on May 14 hosted by King’s College London. Ms. Allen is now the acting leader of Change UK. But even as her position grew, she seemed to shrink as a politician. Gently interrogated by Anand Menon, the reigning Brexit guru at King’s, she gave a series of mild and vague answers that suggested she was incapable of either strict thinking or vigorous organization.

Ms Allen spouted a torrent of good government platitudes about how Britain should make much better use of the experience. Politics should be run more like a business. Parties must take stock of the skills and talents of each new set of deputies. Parliament operates like an old-fashioned gentlemen’s club, and so on and so forth. This makes some sense, especially with regard to the list of skills. But isn’t the call for politics to be run more like a business a bit old hat for a party that positions itself as an agent of change? Donald Trump ran for a promise to use his businessman skills to shake up Washington D.C. in 2016, and Silvio Berlusconi said the same about Rome in the 1990s. And isn’t the Change UK boss a pretty bad place to call for a more businesslike approach to politics? The party rushed from one disaster to another: failed to create a brand; fiddling with his name; public disagreement with the policy; the production of ridiculously sloppy propaganda literature; and, in every possible sense, allowing itself to be inefficient, disorganized and ill-conceived by what is considered the party of out-of-world fanatics, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

The UK looks set to receive the Palme d’Or for the most risky projects in recent political history. For a moment, it looked like Tom Watson and the Social Democratic wing of the Labor Party might go on a mass strike and join the Tigers (as Change UK members were called when their nascent party was the Independent Group). But Mr. Watson chose to stay and fight, and the Tigers had to rely on the strength of their personalities rather than numbers. The trouble is that this is far from enough: the founders of the Social Democratic Party back in 1983 were big weather-making beasts. Change UK is a collection of little animals that are likely to be blown away by a storm.


In EDINBURGH – this is a wonderful exploration of stone as poetry – to discuss the future of capitalism with Stuart Wood, a Labor colleague courtesy of Reform Scotland, a think tank. To be honest, we struggled to find important things to disagree about. Across the political spectrum, there is broad agreement on the biggest challenges facing the UK: the over-centralization of economic and political power in London; a long tail of low-skilled workers stuck in low-paying jobs; the cult of the short term; financial design; lack of respect for the manufacturing sector. And yet the British political class is instead focusing on policies that are as divisive as possible: on the right, exit from the European Union, and on the left, massive state intervention in the “commanding heights” of the economy, such as the renationalization of housing and communal services and taking 10% of the country’s largest public companies. As long as we quarrel over what is controversial, we cannot decide what we agree on.


SCOTLAND and England are perhaps politically further apart than at any time in the history of the Union, and not just because the Scots voted to stay in the EU and the British voted to leave. The Labor Party once specialized in pushing Scottish politicians to the heights of power in Westminster – Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, John Smith, Ramsay Macdonald, Keir Hardy. The Liberal Party and its various offshoots had deep roots in Scotland as well as in the English provinces (think of Joe Grimond and Charles Kennedy). The aristocratic wing of the Tory party also boasted deep Scottish connections: Alec Douglas-Home had an estate there, and even David Cameron boasted a Scottish name and Scottish shooting buddies.

British politics are now as English as they ever were. The only Scot at the forefront of politics is Michael Gove, the adopted son of a Scottish fishmonger and a man who could switch from Oxbridge English to Aberdeen Scots if necessary. People in high government positions (prime minister, chancellor, minister of foreign affairs) seem to be competing to be the most southerly. The Scottish Labor Party has all but died of complacency and mediocrity, and the National Party has been taken over by a cabal of London MPs: Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry sit next door in Islington, while Diane Abbott and John McDonnell represent London. places. The Scottish dominion that once ruled over its southern neighbor has been blown to the wind: Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling are back in Scotland, and Tony Blair is flying in a private jet somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic.

Political life in Scotland is dominated by the Scottish National Party (SNP), which has no real importance in the south (although it has 35 MPs and their leader, Ian Blackford, courageously delivers the same Prime Minister’s Questions speech every week on the state of Britain ). take Scotland out of the EU against her will). The hottest issue in the north right now is the upcoming trial of Alex Salmond on charges including sexual harassment and attempted rape. (He says he is innocent of any crimes.) This separates the SNP and Scottish politics in general into fans of Nicola Sturgeon, who began her political life as a protégé of Mr Salmond but has since turned her back on him, and Salmond’s supporters who feel he is being unfairly accused. The row could loosen the SNP’s (increasingly deadly) grip on Scottish politics and set the stage for significant gains for either the Tories or the Labor Party, with major implications for the next general election in the south.

Another big issue is Ruth Davidson’s return to the stage after a few months on maternity leave. If things had gone well with Brexit, Ms Davidson would have reappeared at a time when the Tory party would have put Brexit behind us and addressed the question of where Britain needs to go now that it is leaving the EU (Ms Davidson is the remaining who resigned herself to fulfilling the will of the people). But the Brexit problem is even more serious today than when she went on vacation, and the Tory brand is far more toxic. Ms. Davidson has resisted enormous pressure from within her party to weaken her ties to the Conservative Party south of the border. As Brexit swings from disaster to disaster, and as the Tory party becomes more associated with the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg, she may regret her decision.

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On post-Brexit Britain and the future of conservatism



The message of the end of austerity has certainly reached the Center for Policy Studies (CPS). On June 10, the CPS launched Post-Brexit Britain, a new collection of essays edited by George Freeman, written largely by his fellow 2010 MP recruiters. CPS rented the largest room at 1 George Street, a huge hall adorned with gilding and portraits of bearded Victorians, and treated guests not only to decent sandwiches, but also to champagne and scones with cream and strawberries. Several leadership candidates such as Sajid Javid and Dominic Raab made speeches. Penny Mordaunt cackled like a mother hen (I wonder if her decision not to run in this leadership election could prove that she is the most sensitive student in the class of 2010). Mr. Freeman loudly declared that his book gives the party “a new conservatism for a new generation” and the intellectual tools it needs to fight the resurgent far left.

His enthusiasm is infectious. But he asks too much. His book is more like a priest’s egg than a Viagra pill capable of resurrecting a flagging conservative philosophy, not to mention a hand grenade aimed at the headquarters of Corbinism. In his preface, Mr. Freeman rightly argues that the Conservative Party is facing a crisis of the same magnitude as it faced in 1848, 1901, and 1945. to the fact that Thatcherism offers no obvious solution to pressing problems like overcrowded suburban trains. Various participants are also addressing issues that conservatives have shied away from, such as the importance of devolution.

However, much of the book demonstrates how difficult it is for a party to get intellectual refueling while still in government. Matt Hancock’s head of health secretary is startlingly bad: predictable praise for technological innovation, devoid of interesting examples, and written in a string of clichés. (One well-read Tory quipped that the fact that the chapter was so bad proved that it was written by its supposed author and not by an assistant.) The book as a whole is noticeably free from detailed discussion of such topics as social assistance. (the issue that killed the party in the last election) or corporate reform. The Conservative Party as a whole will have to do more than that if it is to make a strong case against the resurgent far-left Labor Party.


Great cover pack this week New statesman to “Closing the Conservative Mind” (with the promise of more!). Robert Saunders argues that the Conservative Party has always been a party of ideas much more than it wants to pretend: its resurgence in the 1940s and especially in the 1980s was due to its willingness to embrace radical new thinking about the basic building blocks of society. . But now, instead of ideas, the party has nothing but the ideology of kamikaze (“Brexit or crash”) and empty faith in markets and technologies (see above). Theresa May was an idea-free zone (compare her to Lord Salisbury or Arthur Balfour). Boris Johnson, her almost certain successor, is no longer an intellectual, despite his ability to quote Latin tags. There are some interesting thinkers in the party, like Jesse Norman and Rory Stewart (both sadly old Etonians), but it’s much more the party of Gavin Williamson, a former fireplace salesman who boasts of a lack of interest in political theory. than a party of these eccentric “reading men”.

The job is well done. But can’t this apply equally well to liberal thinking or Labor thinking – or perhaps to Western thinking in general? The Blair-Cameron-Clinton liberalism that dominated politics in the 1990s and early 2000s has run its course. This liberalism was based on a simple formula: just add social liberalism to economic liberalism and you have the ingredients of a good society. More astute observers of politics have always known that this is too good to be true: Daniel Bell, in his book The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism, demonstrated that social liberalism can destroy the moral capital that forms the basis of economic liberalism.

But over the past few years, we have learned that Mr. Bell rather underestimated the contradictions of his position. The biggest problems that most capitalist societies currently face stem from the extremes of both forms of liberalism. The excesses of economic liberalism have given us giant corporations that stifle competition and, in the case of Internet companies, develop a sinister form of surveillance capitalism. The excesses of social liberalism have given us various forms of social breakdown that can be seen in the most extreme manifestations in America: a record number of broken families; an epidemic of drugs, especially opioids; millions of men who have dropped out of the labor force and lead a life of petty crime and binge watching TV. It is unfair to blame only social liberalism for these problems. They have a lot to do with the destruction of manufacturing jobs and the legacy of slavery. But social liberalism clearly has something to do with it: loosening inhibitions on self-destructive behavior leads people to make decisions that, in the long run, may leave them either addicted to drugs or lacking the skills or self-discipline to become productive members of society. A prime example of the collapse of dual liberalism is San Francisco, where hundreds of homeless drug addicts live on the streets, and tech billionaires and would-be billionaires must dodge piles of human feces as they go to the latest sushi craze. compound.

And then there is Labor thinking. The Labor Party responded to the collapse of neoliberalism not by trying to create a new progressive synthesis, but by re-embracing one of the bloodiest ideologies of the 20th century. Jeremy Corbyn, the man who makes Theresa May look like an intellectual, has surrounded himself with hardline Marxists like Andrew Murray and Seamus Milne. pages of David Kot’s book “Companion Travelers”. John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, is undoubtedly one of the smartest men in Parliament, inclined to reinforce his Trotskyism with ideas borrowed from other traditions, especially the cooperative one, and able to use new ideas (such as taking 10% of the shares into state ownership) for old purposes. But the fact that he is such an energetic walker should not hide from us the fact that he is going in the wrong direction and is trying to bring his country off the cliff. As long as this gang is in power, Labor’s mind is not so much closed as dead.


V New statesman the cover more or less coincides with the publication of George Will’s new great work, a 640-page study of conservatism called “Conservative Sensibility” (Mr. Will says he chose “sensibility” over “reason” because “reason” was already occupied by Russell Kirk). The “Conservative Sensibility” – a stream of philosophical reflection on the great American and European conservative traditions – is proof that at least one conservative mind is still open. Mr. Will still surpasses all his rivals in his ability to combine high thinking with a shrewd ability to understand everyday American politics. The reception of the book is also evidence that it was not only conservative minds that were closed: when, as a Princeton graduate, he recently approached a group of Princeton students, these privileged children decided to turn their backs on him for various unknown intellectual sins. But Mr. Will’s book also implicitly supports the thesis of closing the conservative mind: it’s hard to imagine any of today’s embittered young conservatives of the “movement” who would have lasted fifty years in journalism like Mr. Will, and still have enough strength. to, let’s say, release a big book at 78 years old.

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