James Pethokoukis

A somewhat more bullish outlook

June 9, 2009

From Macroeconomic Advisers:

GDP declined at a 5.7% annual rate in the first quarter following a 6.3% decline in the fourth quarter of last year. Together, these declines constitute the second sharpest two-quarter decline in GDP in the postwar period. But a bottom in GDP is forming, and we look for a modest 0.9% decline in the second quarter followed by moderate growth in the second half of this year and above-trend growth in 2010 and 2011. The sources of the rebound continue to be the aggressive monetary and fiscal policy responses under way; the success in Treasury’s efforts to recapitalize the major banks and to provide sufficient capital buffers, if necessary, so that banks are more likely to make loans; diminished drag from housing and credit conditions; and a rebound in equities that is already under way. In this forecast, the unemployment rate peaks at 9.6% at the end of this year and declines only slowly thereafter. Inflation falls significantly, and the FOMC is expected to maintain a near-zero federal funds rate for a very extended period.

Study: Climate legislation could cost $2 trillion by 2050

June 9, 2009

Here some results from a Brookings study on the costs of reducing carbon emissions:

More bank stress tests an unnecessary sequel

June 9, 2009

Elizabeth Warren, chair of the TARP oversight panel, must not be on the White House email list. Is she was, then surely she wouldn’t be recommending that the U.S. government rerun its controversial “stress tests” on the nation’s largest banks. Warren rightly notes that the current 9.4 percent unemployment rate already exceeds the test’s 2009 worst-case scenario of 8.9 percent and is bearing down hard on the 2010 worst-case rate of 10.3 percent. “We have not actually broken through the worst-case scenario, but let’s face it, the numbers are bad and they’re heading in the wrong direction,” she told the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress.

How to pay for healthcare

June 9, 2009

Capitol Hill watcher Pete Davis gives the breakdown:

Health care reform financing options estimated by JCT. Yesterday, June 2 Joint Committee on Taxation “very preliminary” revenue estimates were obtained by the Bureau of National Affairs showing the following 10 year revenue increases:

Obamanomics and voter patience

June 9, 2009

My pal Ed Morrissey tries to get a handle on the depth of reservoir of voter goodwill:

More unemployment gloom

June 9, 2009

From IHS Global:

The economy remains on track to bottom out soon—at least in output terms. We expect the rate of contraction in GDP to slow in the current quarter (to minus 2.8%), before GDP edges higher in the second half of the year. But a rapid recovery is not in prospect, after so extreme a financial shock. Economists may be able to declare the recession technically “over” some time in the third quarter, but it won’t feel that way for the unemployed, with the unemployment rate peaking at 10.3% in the first half of 2010.

More stress tests for the banks?

June 9, 2009

The TARP oversight panel, led by medical bankruptcy alarmist Elizabeth Warren, thinks it’s about time to redo the strest tests. Just talked to banking guru Bert Ely about this. He had a number of objections including a) allowing the repayment of$68 billion TARP money probably means the government is already factoring in worsening economic conditions , b) it raises the possibility of reigniting investors anxiety, and c) it continues the politicization of the bank via government control. To what end? To keep the banks under the thumb of Uncle Sam and influence lending. If you control credit allocation, you control the economy.

Has Obamanomics already failed?

June 9, 2009

That is is the insta-conclusion of Newt Gingrich. What you can say, I think, is that the administration appears to have been overly optimistic. Indeed, Obama advisers are already admitting that. The economic forecasts driving the stimulus package were too rosy, as was the “stress test” worst case scenario. And had Team Obama been gloomier — as gloomy as the Inauguration Day speech, say — would their policies have been different, would they have followed the advice of folks like Paul Krugman and Robert Kuttner and pushed for a much bigger stimulus package? Or would they have at least front loaded the existing stimulus package by increasing the emphasis on tax cuts vs. “investment” spending? Perhaps. But the gamble they took was to let the Fed pretty much handle the near term (and avoid a depression) while they would focus on bolstering the economy for the longer term and pushing through their policy agenda.

Roubini: 9 reasons why the recover will be a bust

June 9, 2009

Nouriel Roubini tries to grind his heel into the green shoots:

First, employment is still falling sharply in the US and other economies. Indeed, in advanced economies, the unemployment rate will be above 10% by 2010. This will be bad news for consumption and the size of bank losses.