Five Best Monday Columns

Bill Keller on Vice President Clinton, L. Gordon Crovitz on internet regulation, James Surowiecki on volatile markets, Jon Sununu on Romney's steady campaign, and William Cohan on Wall Street cartels.

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Bill Keller in The New York Times on Vice President Clinton Hillary Clinton supporters have suggested she, and not President Obama, should take the Democratic nomination for 2012, while others want Obama to switch her out with Vice President Biden. "The proposal to draft her in place of President Obama this year is preposterous ... But the idea that she should replace Joe Biden as Obama's running mate in 2012 is something else," writes Keller, echoing the call that others have made this year. Keller has high praise for Clinton's work ethic and ability, and he argues the plan rejuvenates Obama's campaign, gives him a mandate if he wins, and sets Clinton up to run in 2016. He notes, though, that the Obama camp is often suspicious of the Clintons, unwilling to credit Hillary for the help campaigning and governing that she'd bring. Finally, to give Biden his credit, Keller supports the idea of switching him to the State Dept. to replace Clinton.

L. Gordon Crovitz in The Wall Street Journal on governing the internet This week, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, a small non-profit that regulates the web, will accept applications for new web suffixes beyond the existing .coms, .orgs, and whatnot that now confine us, but some are resisting the expansion. "This controversy over domains is a reminder that the Internet is both the greatest technological advance of our era and also the greatest example of a self-regulating industry," writes Crovitz. He outlines the arguments against the move, that it will reward search engines, confuse users, and force companies to buy up domains to protect their brands. He describes the recent attempt of governments to get involved, saying that all sides agree more government oversight of the web would be dangerous. Crovitz doesn't rule one way or the other, instead broadly noting the success ICANN has acting as a relatively controversy-free authority for the web. "ICANN proves that a self-regulating body can do its job, if it has limited powers and isn't burdened by political agendas."

James Surowiecki in The New Yorker on volatile markets At the end of 2011, the S&P 500 finished almost exactly where it started, masking a year of incredibly volatile markets. "While crazy volatility may be great for traders (who live for the chance to make two percent a day), it's lousy for the rest of us, and for the economy as a whole," writes Surowiecki. He notes, though, that money managers and hedge funders did a surprisingly poor job playing the market's swings. And by chasing short-term performance, though its mostly based on luck, investors probably fared worse than the numbers suggest, too, he argues. He says this is convincing many to pull their capital out of stock markets entirely, which doesn't bode well for any of us. "In effect, they've decided that, in a market as volatile as this one, the only way to win the game is simply not to play."

Jon Sununu in The Boston Globe on Romney's boring strategy Mitt Romney has executed a boring, but effective plan of careful organizing and avoidance of mistakes. "Not very entertaining, but at the moment it looks like a pretty good recipe," writes Sununu, a Romney supporter. He describes how many pundits wrongly saw the many not-Romneys as evidence of a long nominating process. He notes how Romney expertly dampened expectations in Iowa while providing a strong ground organization there so that, when it became clear he might be competitive, he could deliver. It positioned him well for New Hampshire, where the broader electorate will be important. He notes though, that a well-executed, riskless campaign to critics can be seen as evidence of a " boring and mechanical" candidate. "It may be dull to watch, but - in what may be the candidate's ultimate appeal - it's a style that's getting the job done."

William Cohan in Bloomberg View on the Wall Street cartel In 1947, the government sued 17 investment banks, accusing them of colluding to set prices and deny competitors access to clients. "The government was spot on: The investment-banking business was then a cartel where the biggest and most powerful firms controlled the market ... The same argument can be made today," writes Cohan. He notes that the 2008 crisis eliminated competitors so that this time, far fewer than 17 firms control the market. It happened because the 1947 anti-trust suit was thrown out, but Cohan says there's evidence the banks still collude to set fees. He says that the consideration of an "auction IPO" when Google went public threatened to upend the system, but it has since fallen by the way side in similar high-profile tech IPOs. Cohan applauds the Obama administration's opposition to an AT&T merger last year. "The administration should build on that success. Sixty-five years late, let’s break up the Wall Street cartel and re-establish the integrity of the capital markets."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.