James Pethokoukis

The real message of the Scott Brown victory

January 29, 2010

Via John Ellis:

The answer, I think, is that whatever pivot is made will be irrelevant. The fact is President Obama doesn’t have the luxury of proposing an agenda. Agendas (or at least, agendas as we have come to think of them) are for people who have money. The United States is broke. And the debt gets worse by the day.

So-so growth for 2010?

January 29, 2010

That is how IHS Global calls it:

The fourth-quarter GDP surge was produced by a sharp turn in the inventory cycle. Firms still cut inventories in the fourth quarter, but much less severely than in the third. That led to increased production, which boosted GDP. Final sales growth, a better guide to the underlying path of the economy, was much more sedate, at 2.2%, but that was still an improvement on the third quarter’s 1.5% pace.

5.7 percent 4Q GDP growth … then a slowdown

January 29, 2010

Or so says RDQ Economics:

The recovery from the Great Recession firmed in the fourth quarter as real GDP increased at its fastest rate since the third quarter of 2003.  However, also as expected, a sharp slowing in inventory liquidation accounted for 3.4 percentage points (or 60%) of the 5.7% increase in real GDP.  We are particularly impressed by the 13.3% increase in nonresidential investment (upside risk in this area was flagged by yesterday’s durable goods report).

Bernanke wins confirmation 70-30

January 28, 2010

Almost twice as many no votes as Volcker who got 16 back in 1983. BB will have to tough it out against a Congress that wants to push the Fed around.  Barney Frank, for instance, wants to kick the regional bank president off the FOMC since they are not confirmed by Senate — and are often to hawkish for his tastes.

Dems might be in worse trouble than 1994

January 28, 2010

If Mike Barone thinks so, so do I:

I have not seen a party’s fortunes collapse so suddenly since Richard Nixon got caught up in the Watergate scandal and a president who carried 49 states was threatened with impeachment and removal from office.

A limited speech by a constrained president

January 28, 2010

The White House political team loves comparing Barack Obama to Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan, predecessors who easily won second terms despite early stumbles in their first ones. But the economic and fiscal pincers which constrain Obama are much tighter. None of the president’s proposals in Wednesday’s State of the Union speech can do much to free him.

Obama SOTU speech

January 28, 2010

It was a limited agenda outlined by a constrained president, constrained by the loss of a Senate supermajority, constrained by the Scott Brown win, constrained by his own falling popularity and constrained by investors whom he fears are reaching their debtload tolerance.

Larry Kudlow and Barack Obama

January 27, 2010

I will not read a more entertaining column all year. Mr. Kudlow paints a picture:

The Obama base

January 27, 2010

As explained by Joel Kotkin:

Gentry liberalism combines four basic elements: faith in postindustrial “creative” financial capitalism, cultural liberalism, Gore-ite environmentalism and the backing of the nation’s arguably best-organized political force, public employee unions. Obama rose to power on the back of all these forces and, until now, has governed as their tribune.

Explaining the Oregon tax hike

January 27, 2010

What does it mean that voters in the state voted for higher taxes in companies and wealthier residents? Megan McArdle take a crack at explaining it: