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Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

Irony Curtain.

In Economy on July 18, 2012 at 11:55 am

Around the world, economies remain on shaky ground. Even the BRICs are breaking. Brazil, Russia, India, and China are all reporting slower growth or swallowing diluted forecasts from analysts.

Of course, nowhere has the situation been more dire, tenuous, or fraught than in Europe, where the insolvency of banks and governments inside the eurozone is more than enough to make you skip ordering that soufflé. Finance ministers from across the continent have basically been in a six-month long meeting working to address it, and it feels like they may just be up to the task after all. Then again, who knows.

Nonetheless, in most articles I read that reference the economy in the context of the presidential election, President Obama is handicapped for the state of the European economy, because its turmoil affects us.

A weak American economy is never going to aid an incumbent, no matter what causes it. But shouldn’t the fiscal crisis in Europe actually be something that makes Obama look more favorable? Read the rest of this entry »

(White) House of Lies?

In Economy, Politics on May 27, 2012 at 2:19 pm

What in tarnation is going on? Since when did people in finance get defended in any real significant way?

Private equity, investment banking, and hedge funds were universally loathed in 2009 for collectively throwing us off a cliff economically in 2008, and (begrudgingly) the government had to, and was somehow able to, grab a hold of the ledge with one hand and start pulling us back up, with TARP and then the Stimulus. And now we’re going to elect someone from their ranks? Read the rest of this entry »

Nuanced Newt?

In Economy, Politics on February 7, 2012 at 7:34 pm

Are we six weeks into 2012 already? I’ve just been so strapped for time, what with January being National Braille Literacy Month and all. And of course now that it’s Febru-ANY, you can imagine why my schedule is packed.

Rest assured, I’ve kept tabs on the medio-political developments in this young Year of the Dragon. And the contest for the Republican presidential nomination remains front and center.

With his vigorous rejuvenations in the polls and support-sapping slides, Newt Gingrich is the Ra’s al Ghul of the GOP field. He has been around forever. On a respirator after the pointy barrage of negative ads hurled at him, he’s used the debates like a Lazarus Pit.

After an important win over frontrunner Mitt Romney in South Carolina, followed by a rough defeat in Florida, and a foregone loss in Nevada, he’s pressing on, marital baggage and all.

(By the way, I don’t believe Newt’s wife is a robot the way Romney is. Rather, I’m convinced Callista is actually controlled by a tiny alien inside her head, à la Men in Black.)

Gingrich has an uncanny ability to say the best possible thing in the moment to make himself look as favorable as is possible. Whether those comments also end up being absurd, insensitive, ignorant, or plain abhorrent, I leave up to you. Read the rest of this entry »

Keep Your Eye On The Wall.

In Economy, Politics on November 16, 2011 at 4:42 pm

We all know now that the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators living in Zuccotti Park for almost two months were methodically uprooted by the NYPD Tuesday.

So what?

As I said before, I support the spirit of the Occupy Wall Street movement, but I’m not sold on all the tactics. Chief among these is the persistent inclination of a couple hundred people to live all day and night in, what is by most accounts, not just a pretty shitty excuse for a park, but also a pretty arbitrary spot.

It’s been noted by lots of onlookers: Zuccotti Park is not even on Wall Street. The park itself has no meaning to banker types, and most New Yorkers hadn’t even heard of it before September 17. It was selected as the rallying point for OWS because it’s an open space in the Financial District.

And yet, all day Tuesday and into Wednesday, peeved protesters plotted to take it back, rising and then falling with judicial rulings on whether they could re-colonize it with their gear.

As the Times reported, “one protester, Nate Barchus, 23, said the eviction from Zuccotti Park was likely to galvanize supporters… ‘This,’ he said, referring to the early morning sweep, ‘reminds everyone who was occupying exactly why they were occupying.’ ”

That’s exactly wrong!

Read the rest of this entry »

The Occupy Wall Street Tasting Menu.

In Economy, Politics on October 27, 2011 at 11:15 pm

As a reader pointed out, my stuff’s been a bit esoteric of late. So, it’s time to weigh in on some broader happenings. Thus, I give you my take on Occupy Wall Street: that rambunctious rebellion, that righteous resistance, that random ruckus, that risible revolt (depending on your mood, or if you are part of the NYPD crew that has to work an extra shift).

I hadn’t been down to Zuccotti Park since it began, except for the movement’s first Monday, when I passed by while visiting the 9/11 Memorial. After a coup at lunch this week (aka a tasty turkey burger in the Financial District), I was nearby and checked it out.

I walked around the perimeter, scoping out the scene, and eventually walked through the tarp city that has sprouted up, bearing a passing resemblance to Krzyzewskiville. Read the rest of this entry »

Talk To Me, Goose.

In Economy, Politics on September 1, 2011 at 1:27 am

So, there I was the other night, catching the last 15 minutes of Top Gun on AMC, when something that’s happening in the real world somehow dovetailed in my head (it’s been known to wander) with the climactic scene.

It came to me: for the last month or so, President Obama’s been like Maverick after Goose dies. Tom Cruise’s uber-confident Maverick becomes hesitant and unsure of himself. He’s lost his best friend and co-pilot, and calls out for help, for what to do next: “Talk to me, Goose.” (I mean, I get it: Anthony Edwards would be a great life coach.) Eventually, sweating profusely as a dogfight breaks out in his midst, he snaps out of it, and we hear, “Maverick’s re-engaging, sir!”

Now, I don’t know who Obama’s Goose is (perhaps the New Deal-toting ghost of FDR), but after a debt ceiling marathon that took it’s toll on him, it seems like we just might be seeing Obama re-engaging.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bummer: Live-Blogging The President’s Remarks.

In Economy, Government, War on August 8, 2011 at 1:38 pm

The country’s first-ever credit downgrade. Stocks tanking. 30 American soldiers killed in Afghanistan. President Obama is expected to speak shortly, presumably about all of these topics. So, I’ve come out of hibernation for some impromptu live-blogging. Let’s see if I have anything useful to say…

Behind Schedule | 1:47 p.m. It’s 47 minutes past the announced start time. The Dow appears to have taken this into account and gone down another 47 points. Or is it 147?

The Walk Out | 1:54 p.m. Obama came out in a brisk, solemn walk, and got right to the credit rating issue, pushing back on the S&P hard.

Details | 1:58 p.m. He is speaking to specific things we can do (not many with Congress’ hand-tying) to spur economic growth: payroll tax credits and such. He is pretty stern.

Unusual Wording | 2:00 p.m. As part of a stanza to remind and inspire us of our self-worth, he said that the U.S. has “some of the most productive workers” in the world. He, and other politicians, usually say something along the lines of, “We have the best workers in the world,” so this stuck out for me. Will some Republican presidential candidate criticize him for this? The more important thing is that he is right: it seems to me that while our workers are great, so now are those of the other countries we hear about frequently: India, China, et al.

Let’s Be Army Strong | 2:04 p.m. Obama pivoted from our tough economic situation to the grim news in Afghanistan, honoring the commitment and sacrifice of those we lost. He said that soldiers put aside their differences for the sake of a vital mission, and that we should do the same. He used it is a rallying cry for the country to live up to the best of what they fought for.

That’s It | 2:11 p.m. The comments were over in a fast 10 minutes. There was no real news here it seems, and little concerted effort to lift us up. Perhaps that is part of the problem.

Useless | 5:10 p.m. Re-reading confirms: this is my most useless post ever.

A Cents Of Entitlement.

In Economy, Government, Television on January 25, 2011 at 8:04 pm

The State of the Union address is less than an hour away and there have been hints and suggestions from the president as to what major themes and issues he will highlight. Republicans have been laying down the sand and salt to contain any new spending proposals slipped in by Obama tonight.

I’m taking a year off from live-blogging the event, because I haven’t yet mastered how to juggle that task while engaging in a rigorous drinking game, rife with sips and gulps on buzzwords like “bipartisan” and “competitiveness,” and selected prepositions like “by” and “on.”

Undoubtedly, the horrific shootings in Tucson will be referenced in the speech. Job growth and American perseverance will be a key component, with the unemployment rate stubbornly in the 9%-range, and China, brimming with production, on the brink of becoming a full-fledged global rival.

Other topics that will likely be broached are Social Security, Medicare, the national deficit, and tax policy. The debate around these subjects has increased in the last few months, not only with the November elections, but with the plan unveiled by a bipartisan panel on addressing the debt, commissioned by the White House.

The panel released an extensive set of recommendations to bring our maxed out credit card into balance. I wonder if anyone on it considered redeeming our Membership Rewards points to do this. We must have enough now to at least pay for the flight to China, so that we can then bust open the main cabin door and hose them down with all their gobs of money. If they did mull this one over, they didn’t opt for it. Read the rest of this entry »

Train In Vain.

In Economy, Travel on October 9, 2010 at 6:10 pm

The third post I ever wrote for Brief Wit was about the Obama Administration’s overarching vision for high-speed rail in America and funding for it included in the Stimulus. The map and the routes were very inspiring, and while the $8 billion allocated is a big number, it’s a small fraction of what is needed to do the job.

Fast forward to a week ago, when Amtrak unveiled details for building a high-speed rail (HSR) network for the Northeast Corridor, spanning Boston to Washington D.C. “The high-speed line would have four ‘hub’ stops: Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington. ‘Super Express’ trains would stop only in those cities and make the 426-mile trip between Boston and Washington in 3 hours and 23 minutes (compared to the current 8 hours on Amtrak’s Northeast Regional trains or 6 hours and 37 minutes on Acela Express).” Second-tier stops would include Baltimore, Wilmington, Newark, and Hartford.

The proposal will enable Red Sox fans and Yankees fans to argue in person in a mere 86 minutes! The facilitation of ballpark brawls will be something to marvel at. From there, they can make up and head down to D.C. together and rag on Nationals players in a little over an hour and a half, thanks to a 220 mph bullet train. The completed infrastructure would create thousands of jobs, reduce pollution, alleviate air and auto congestion (since the largest percentage of delays are in the Northeast), and generate an estimated $900 million a year.

Read the rest of this entry »

It’s The Economy, Genius.

In Economy, Politics, Television on September 21, 2010 at 8:40 am

Monday at noon, President Obama sat with John Harwood and a town hall audience for an hour at the Newseum in Washington to discuss the economy live on CNBC. Talk about stretching it out. CNBC took a rolling pin to that hour’s worth of content and spread it out over multiple dayparts. The morning preview/speculation coverage was already well underway at 9:00AM on Squawk on the Street and the screen was adorned with obligatory countdown clock to boot.

Leading up to the event, regional focus group viewing panels were asked for their opinions. Pundits pundited. Correspondents corresponded. “What do traders and bankers want to hear?” “It’s live… what if some question comes out of left field, I mean, the market is open!?” Afterwards, they did it all over again, but this time at least with clips, something to go on. And for twice as long. C’est la media.

So, what about the actual town hall? Well, it was pretty candid. On both sides. Definitely from the questioners, arguably from the president. The audience was respectful, if not deferential and admiring, but visibly shaken and frustrated by their collective lot in life.

Read the rest of this entry »