Exit Boehner, Enter …. ?

When Pope Francis came to visit Congress, everyone knew something big was going to happen. Causing Speaker Boehner (R-OH) to have an epiphany and resign was not on anyone’s list.

But, there you have it – a Pope that works strange miracles.

To say that in the aftermath all Hell will break loose depends on whether your definition of Hell is complete inaction (it probably should be). By that standard Congress has been deep in the fire for a long time so we can’t blame Boehner for seeking a cool escape once he was touched by His Holiness. But is there a way out for the rest of us?

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Good News! It’s Good News.

Before we can call the economy “good”, we have to be in a situation where good news is taken as unvarnished good news. And that seems to have finally happened.

Janet Yellen outlined in great detail exactly why interest rates not only have to start rising by the end of the year, but why they have to go up to around 2% before the Fed is done. The market responded positively, getting another shot of good news this morning. Has the monkey of cheap money finally been scraped off their backs?

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Pope Francis, Teacher

Pope Francis has arrived in the United States.

The focus on his Holiness revolves around his challenges to the American right, something that largely misses the point. There will be admonishments to the left as well when he addresses Congress and the people of our nation – and those will likely be reported with a hint of glee in the press as they search for an “objective” sense of “balance”. But that, too, will miss the point.

Francis challenges all of us to step outside of our bizzy lives and see the world as a beautiful place. The message is that it is time to stop and see creation for what it is.

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S-s-same As It Ever Was?

September is a month of change, but you’d hardly know it this year. The weather is warm, the Fed still hasn’t raised rates, and the Republican debate still focused heavily on one person (who will remain unnamed).

But that last one is where the more things change the more they stay the same.

My famously conservative friend Mitch Berg complained on facebook about a diatribe regarding parenting responsibilities by a childless 20-something associate, which sounded like an ugly situation. Turns out it was very ugly – it started as a discussion on defunding Planned Parenthood. The young woman in question, described as normally very level-headed, had a serious fire under her that needed venting. It’s a passionate issue, for sure. Mitch and his more conservative friends rolled their eyes as well as anyone can in English prose.

But they shouldn’t have – this is important stuff. Why? Because I think we’ll see a lot more of this in coming months as the Republicans do what they have to do, thus doing a lot of the work that Democrats need to do. It deserves examination.

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Anarchy in the UK?

The Labour Party has elected a new leader – one that gives the Sanders movement in the Democratic Pary hope. His name is Jeremy Corbyn, aka “The exact opposite of Ed Miliband.” Unlike his predecessor Corbyn is resolute, visionary, and a completely unabashed member of what we could call “Old Labour” – the party that existed before Tony Blair turned it into something American Democrats would recognize, especially during the (Bill) Clinton years.

Does this mean Sanders and his progressive left supporters will take the Democratic Party? Will history repeat itself yet again and see Britain lead the way for the US? Like nearly any good political question, the short answer is “Yes” but the long answer is “No”.

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The Day the World Changed

The day started with a shipment of my latest experiments from Germany. The high performance plastics (fluoropolymers) which were on the cutting edge of the technology, if everything turned out right, had to be separated from the latex solution they were made in, washed, and dried. It was a lot of labor but in the 3M lab we had to do our own workup after the fully setup lab across the Atlantic pushed through our requests.

In the middle of squeezing water out of the flaky solids with cheesecloth Steve Amos came in. “A plane hit a building in Manhattan. It’s on fire.” We talked about the news for a while even though we knew little. Steve’s dad was a pilot so I knew he had to talk for a bit.  He left after we chatted and I went back to work. When he came back in a short while later he had a more stern look.

“A second building was hit. They say we’re under attack.”

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The Case for Raising

17 September is the date. We find out then, at the end of the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, whether or not the benchmark Fed Funds Rate is raised. Nearly everyone agrees that it’s likely to happen, either in September or in December. But trillions of dollars will be riding on the moment when the press release is issued on the Fed’s website telling people what exactly is happening.

Except for one thing – we won’t know exactly what will happen because the stock and bond markets may react in odd ways that are not easily predicted. The same is true for currency traders.

What it all comes down to is whether or not the FOMC thinks it is a good time to start or not. The arguments for and against are fairly easily summarized, but to Barataria the case is strong for a rise – especially if the net medium-term effect is that consumer rates go down.

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