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from Nicholas Wapshott:

The EU-U.S. love-hate relationship

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The elaborate gavotte between the American and European economies continues.

While the Federal Reserve has begun to wind down its controversial quantitative easing (QE) program, the European Central Bank (ECB) the federal reserve of the eurozone, has announced it is considering a QE program of its own.

It is a belated acknowledgement, if not an outright admission, from Mario Draghi, president of the ECB, that five years of the European Union’s austerity policy has failed to lift the eurozone nations out of the economic mire. The ECB has presided over a wholly unnecessary triple-dip recession in the eurozone and sparked a bitter rift between the German-dominated European Union bureaucracy and the Mediterranean nations that must endure the rigors imposed from Brussels. All to little avail.

If there are any “austerians” left standing, let them explain this. Ignoring the cries of the unemployed and those pressing for urgent measures to promote growth in Europe, the ECB blithely imposed its punishing creed, arguing that there would be no gain without pain. The result? Little gain, endless pain.

The eurozone economy endured growth at a miserable 0.2 percent year-on-year in the last quarter of 2013 (after an 18-month-long eurozone recession). Unemployment is at a wretched 11.9 percent. The eurozone is suffering from chronic “lowflation,” with inflation at an annual 0.5 percent,  heading toward perhaps the most destructive economic condition of all -- deflation.

from The Great Debate:

Obama: Ineffectually Challenged

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President Barack Obama is in a funk. Americans are coming to see the president as ineffectual. That is a dangerous perception.

Obama's job approval rating is at risk of dropping below 40 percent. Democrats may lose their majority in the Senate this fall. It may be difficult for the president to accomplish anything during his last two years.

from Nicholas Wapshott:

On jobs: Be bold, Obama

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union was all about jobs. He said the word 23 times, often congratulating himself on having helped create 4 million. He urged a “year of action” to make more jobs, raise wages and create opportunities for social mobility. Then he set out on a jobs tour to persuade large companies to start hiring and pay more.

But if we assume the Tea Party-dominated House of Representatives is not going to help him here and will block any new public borrowing for infrastructure projects, what is the president to do?

from Expert Zone:

How much will U.S. recovery help India?

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(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters)

After a prolonged slowdown, the U.S. economy is finally showing signs of recovery though much of it comes from investment in inventories and may not be sustained at the present high rate.

The United States is the largest economy with a share of more than 22 percent in the world GDP. Naturally, even small changes in its behaviour have a perceptible impact worldwide. To India, the United States counts for a lot, although possibly less than it does for China.

from MuniLand:

Are local governments really recovering?

Janney Montgomery director and credit analyst Tom Kozlik issued a short research piece that highlighted U.S. Census data for local government revenues. The Census data suggests that local governments, in aggregate, will continue to face a difficult time in years ahead because revenues have flattened since 2009. Here is Kozlik’s chart, which maps the Census data:

Moody’s changed its view of local governments to stable from negative in a December report for the first time in four years, but cautioned that the credit quality of local governments was not as steady or solid as it had been prior to the recession:

from Breakingviews:

GOP’s best bargaining tactic: raise debt ceiling

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By Daniel Indiviglio
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Congressional Republicans might want to consider a new bargaining tactic: raising the debt ceiling. Using the prospect of imminent default to force the White House to a compromise on the government shutdown isn’t working. Removing it from the table would show that the GOP can be reasonable – and allow the funding debate to rage without roiling global financial markets.

from Breakingviews:

Billionaire offers YouTube clue to U.S. torpor

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By Martin Hutchinson
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Ray Dalio is offering a YouTube clue to U.S. economic torpor. The billionaire founder of the $150 billion hedge fund Bridgewater Associates argues that Uncle Sam is stuck in a deleveraging recession. Federal Reserve policy largesse, meanwhile, keeps prices stable as debt declines. It’s a useful idea.

from Breakingviews:

Fracking may change U.S. foreign policy for good

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By Rob Cox and Christopher Swann
The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

 

Fracking may be changing U.S. foreign policy. The abundant supply of hydrocarbons made accessible by hydraulic fracturing has nudged the United States the closest it’s been to energy independence in a generation and also creates a buffer for the global oil price. While all of this is relatively recent, the shift may give Uncle Sam new latitude in handling knotty affairs in Syria and throughout the Middle East.

from MacroScope:

Forecasters more accurate on U.S. payrolls: perhaps a good sign

Financial and economic forecasters have long been the punching bag of punters and traders for making spectacularly wrong calls. But a clutch of economists looked exceptionally good on Friday. Nine of them, or about 10 percent of the latest Reuters Polls sample on U.S. non-farm payrolls, got the net number of new jobs created in May exactly right at 175,000. And a whole lot of them came very close.

For a survey of companies conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that itself has a margin of error of plus or minus 100,000 this is no small achievement - or stroke of luck.

from MuniLand:

America is not growing, it’s contracting

The Guardian’s Heidi Moore wrote an epic screed about the illusion of economic recovery and waded through a river of micro data to prove her point. She highlighted how the housing recovery was driven by banks withholding their foreclosure inventories from markets and how three large banks halted foreclosures, which slowed supply. Unfortunately, she only had anecdotal evidence to support these ideas. She berated consumers for their increasing confidence in the economy and called it unfounded. She blasted the federal government, Congress and corporate CEOs for doing nothing to revive employment and stimulate economic growth. Moore writes:

The reason to maintain skepticism of good times a-coming is that an economic recovery can – and is – used to package a lot of political snake oil. As long as people believe in a recovery, Congress can keep ignoring the unemployment and equality crises and enjoy ginning up imaginary problems like the plague of corporate tax rates.

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