Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Fireside chat for June 26, 2010 (VIDEO)

With Congress having finalized a strong Wall Street reform bill to avert another crisis and end bailouts, the President urges Congress to finish the job and send the bill to his desk.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The President replaces Stanley McChrystal (VIDEO)

While, I've found some of the rhetoric overheated (really, Joe Klein...his whole Presidency?) I don't think the President had much of a choice. The article was at the very least a borderline Article 88 violation of the UCMJ, which says:

"Any commissioned officer who uses contemptuous words against the President, the Vice President, Congress, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of a military department, the Secretary of Transportation, or the Governor or legislature of any State, Territory, Commonwealth, or possession in which he is on duty or present shall be punished as a court-martial may direct."

I picked that up from Thomas Ricks, who of course has had a couple of really good pieces on the McChrystal Matter.

When in doubt, go to the Bonddad...

I first heard the Bonddad (aka Hale Stewart, a Tax Lawyer from Texas) on Johnny Wendell's KTLK Radio Program, and it was their conservations that prompted my recent interest in Economics.

Whenever I read his blog, I am always reassured. Even when things look like or are actually going to hell, I understand why (a biggie in my book). He's got enough knowledge (and writing skills) to tell me what's happening, explain it clearly, and tell me what I should look for, and why I should or shouldn't be worried.

Here's his latest:

Household spending is increasing but remains constrained by high unemployment, modest income growth, lower housing wealth, and tight credit.

We've seen PCEs and retail increase for the better part of a year. But these increases are coming off of very low levels caused by the recession. In addition, there is little reason to think we'll see robust increases in this number given the unemployment and income situation.

Business spending on equipment and software has risen significantly; however, investment in nonresidential structures continues to be weak and employers remain reluctant to add to payrolls.

About half of the investment equation is solid. Businesses are increasing in capital areas that increase productivity. Commercial real estate is still in poor shape and businesses are still reluctant to hire.

Housing starts remain at a depressed level.

And they will for the foreseeable future. As NDD and I highlighted a few days ago, housing is still suffering from a massive inventory overhang.

Financial conditions have become less supportive of economic growth on balance, largely reflecting developments abroad.

Europe is a problem. I think we figured that out. The real question is what is the depth of the problem. Should the EU's policy response continue to develop positively, I think we'll be OK. The main problems is they are trying to coordinate a $1 trillion dollar plan by building a consensus in the EU community -- an obviously difficult task.

Bank lending has continued to contract in recent months

Yes it has. But that is normal. Consider this chart from the St. Louis Federal Reserve:

First, the chart is in logarithmic scale. While the depth of the latest contraction is sharper, it is normal for credit to contract at the beginning of the expansion. In other words, the latest contraction is hardly a new or historical development.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Your base + everyone else...

I'm not in the habit of quoting Conservative Pundits on this site. (Yeah, yeah, I know Andrew Sullivan's a conservative...but he supports Obama. By this point, he's practically a Democrat. Granted, a Charlie Crist Democrat -- and I mean that seriously).

David Frum, who's a Tea Party hater of the first order, put this little nugget up:

It's difficult for a political party to think strategically after a political defeat as severe as 2008's. But the Tea Party elevated the inability to think strategically into a fundamental conservative principle. Its militants denounce those Republicans who have resisted the movement as ideological traitors: "Republicans in name only" or even (charmingly) as "Vichy Republicans". In fact, the unthinking rejectionism of the Tea Party has strengthened Obama's political position. Now it threatens to deplete Republican strength in Congress, losing races that could have been won.

David Cameron's Conservatism responds to local British conditions. It's not an export product. But there is at least one big lesson that Americans could learn from him when the Tea Party finally ends: yes, a party must champion the values of the voters it already has. But it must also speak to the voters it still needs to win.