James Pethokoukis

TARP repayment: Letting banks ‘slither’ away?

June 10, 2009

This gem from author and former investment banker William Cohan (via PBS NewsHour):

An improving job market? Maybe not

June 10, 2009

The below chart, highlighted by Jeffrey Frankel of RGE Monitor, provides a counterpoint to the idea that the labor market is improving and employers are gearing up to hire. If they were, wouldn’t they first push their folks to work more hours?

Greens and living standards

June 10, 2009

My pal Nick Schulz comments on the political divisions between Christian Greens and Secular Greens. This bit really caught my eye:

NYTimes: In just five months, Obama almost as much to blame for deficits as Bush

June 10, 2009

Instead of running $800 billion budget surpluses — as was predicted back in the 1990s — America is running trillion dollar deficits. How did that $2 trillion swing happen? The blame breakdown, according to the NYTImes: recession, 37 percent, Bush policies (particularly tax cuts and the prescription drug benefit), 33 percent; Obama continuing Bush policies (Iraq, tax cuts) 20 percent, the Obama stimulus bill, 7 percent; and the rest of the Obama “investment agenda, 3 percent.

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.