James Pethokoukis

Kudlow: Profits today, politics tomorrow

April 28, 2010

The Great One opines thusly:

To be perfectly honest here, as much as I love to dig into all the money-politics issues — including the financial-reform bill — I’m much more interested in these big profits and capital gains. This V-shaped recovery is the most important item on my radar screen. It’s the single-biggest investor issue out there right now. I don’t think the bull market in stocks is over yet. Again, regarding taxes and regulations, I’ll warn about next year. But frankly, I think the prosperity theme is issue number one.

Has the Obama deficit panel already failed?

April 28, 2010

Well, if you define success as having the commission come up with solutions that can pass Congress, then yes. I am watching several commission members at the Peterson Foundation Fiscal Summit.  They are all downplaying what the commission can accomplish, saying that as long as the panel educates the American public on the debt problem, they will consider it a success.  But will bondholders of U.S. debt agree? Downplaying expectations may avoid an adverse financial market reaction to failure, but I am not sure it should. We won’t cut spending. We won’t raise taxes broadly. And we ignore policies that would boost economic growth. What else is there?

Volcanoes, healthcare reform and global warming

April 27, 2010

Over at Edge, a variety of scientists give their take on the Iceland volcano eruption and its impact on air travel. Two really stood out to me. The first also highlights the problem of defensive medicine; the second shows the downside to action dealing with global warming:

Government and venture capital

April 27, 2010

Stumbled across some interesting research on government support of startup businesses. First, this new piece on the Vox site:

Obama’s deficit commission and the politics of crisis

April 27, 2010

Good luck to the Obama deficit commission. In my heart, I do not believe Congress will pass huge entitlement cuts (preferable)  or tax increases without a  crisis.  (There needs to be a focus on boosting economic growth.) To quote Milton Friedman in Capitalism and Freedom:

The Fantastic Four … Fed presidents against the Dodd bill

April 26, 2010

ffAgain, it isn’t just Republicans making the charge that the Dodd bill does not end Too Big To Fail. So are a quartet of regional Fed bank presidents:

Becker vs. Posner on the VAT

April 26, 2010

The online conversation between Gary Becker and Richard Posner is one of my favorite things on the web. Currently they are taking on the the idea of the US implementing a value-added tax. First a bit from Becker, as excerpted by me:

American job insecurity

April 26, 2010

Two interesting polls from Gallup show why a few ticks in the unemployment rate here and there are really besides the point. (Thanks to Jim Geraghty of NR.)  This downturn has scarred the American psyche. The first chart shows how worried workers are about finding a comparable job if they ever lose their current one. The second chart shows that they are still pretty worried about losing their existing job.

The state of play for financial reform

April 26, 2010

A few observations, comments and highlights:

1) Three things can happen today, as I see it: a) Chris Dodd and Richard Shelby reach a deal; b) Dems pick off a few Rs, get cloture, and the debate on the bill proceeds; or c) no deal, Rs stay unified and negotiations continue. Of those “c’ is the likely option — and that will eventually lead to a bill that may be getting tougher by moment. On Good Morning America today, Shelby seemed supportive of tougher derivatives language. And although it will not be in the bill, Kent Conrad’s comments that a bank tax is coming is reflective of the growing anti-Wall Street mood on Capitol Hill.

The reality behind the VAT

April 22, 2010

Over at the very fine TaxVox blog, Howard Gleckman writes a good explanatory piece on the current VAT debate. But this one  part really struck me: