Credit the Good Economy

It’s becoming a common theme – the economy is in great shape! Whether you want to give credit to Trump or Obama, it’s definitely all about policy of some kind, right?

Wrong.

Barataria has been revisiting some old arguments to build a new study for how the economy is changing. As the Managed Depression of 2000-2017 moves behind us, the reshaping of how we work, shop, and generally get by is starting to take shape. It’s hard to be sure about much.

One thing we do know – none of this happened overnight. So let’s revisit some old discussion.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Confidence is Back!

Barataria has asked the question several times before – given that things are a lot better than they have been in a long time, why are people so down on the economy?

After posing a few potential reasons, we may have the answer – it was largely an artifact of the presidential campaign. That would make the most sense given that the Conference Board index of Consumer Confidence has hit 104.1, the highest it has been since 2007. Combining that with a strong net approval rating for President Obama, which has been tracking around +8 (52 approve, 44 disapprove) and we have the net positive we should expect.

Will this transfer over to Sec. Clinton in time for the election? Given her performance at the first debate, the answer is that it should.  It’s all coming just in time.

Continue reading

Grandstanding, not Governing

Unpatriotic! Unconstitutional! Treasonous! Illegal! The reaction to the letter signed by 47 Senators telling Iran that any treaty signed will be un-done in two years was swift and brutal. Some of the harshest condemnation came from those who oppose any agreement with Iran, too, so it wasn’t just Democrats this time. But was it really all those things that have been alleged?

The short answer is that today’s popular media always hyperventilates, so something this unprecedented had to test the limits of hyperbole. Sorry, this blasted through the stratosphere of outrage! But the real problem isn’t this one action, which we can be sure our foreign policy and our democratic-republic will survive. What is more troubling is the new standard set for obstruction and grandstanding that tells us nothing, absolutely nothing, is going to be accomplished in the next two years.

Continue reading

Whither, Republicans?

The Democrats lost the election bigtime, far more than the Republicans won it. As a Democrat I naturally worry more about my own party and what we should be doing, but that’s far from the most interesting story. After all, the Republicans inherited the vacuum amid 37% turnout and approval ratings for Congress at around 14%.

That’s not a win, it’s a default. And it’s not good to have power without any strong mandate.

What on earth should the Republicans do about it? There are two main schools of thought. One is to show that they deserve to be in government by demonstrating competence, the other is to keep pounding the Democrats and show how bad the other guys are. Governing seems like the obvious choice, but the landscape that has to be crossed is full of landmines. This might be an interesting two years.

Continue reading

The Moral Lowground

In case you didn’t think these are times meant for satire, take a look at business and politics in the world today. Some juicy examples of attempts at seizing the moral highground by companies and countries who have been in the news lately. Some of them fall instead into the low ground of hypocrisy1 – even laughably so.

That’s what makes programs like The Daily Show so popular – how can anyone take the news seriously when there are so many stories that need to be told with a skewer in hand rather than a microphone. The jokes are already written up by Reuters, not a satirist. Here are three that are heading up the news today make the point rather plainly. And they’re a good change from discussions about inflation and the value of the US Dollar.

Continue reading

A Not So Bold Plan

President Obama came to St Paul to propose an aggressive new investment in transportation infrastructure, $300B over 4 years.  It was a good show that messed up traffic throughout the city, which was only fitting.  That increase of $75B per year comes on top of the current $48B per year, or a 150% increase.  It’s needed, and as we’ve noted before investments in infrastructure have a great payback for the economy.

But what’s new about this is that the money to pay for it is to come from an overhaul of the corporate tax system, which is also badly needed.  The details have yet to be announced, but the overall hike is $150B per year, with half going to infrastructure and the rest to deficit reduction.   So what’s not to like about this plan?

It’s a half-step at best, and in so many ways.

Continue reading

Dear Republican Friends:

How ya doin’?  I know this is a tough time and the last person you want to hear from is a Democrat, but many of you are friends of mine.  Some of the kindest and most decent people I know are Republicans, and I care about you.  Much of my family were and are Republicans, too.  You have to know I write this from the bottom of my heart.

I’m really worried about you – as a party.  I think that this nation works best when there are two engaged, committed, fearless, and honest parties mixin’ it up – but also gettin’ ‘er done.  And …. well, rather than just get mad and blame you all for the very public way your party is ripping apart I thought I’d offer my support and encouragement for you to get better soon.  Really, anything I can do to help.  But let me tell you why this is so important to me.

Continue reading