James Pethokoukis

2012 electoral map — as it stands

April 21, 2011

This is how 2012 looks right now to elections guru Larry Sabato:

electoralmap

Here is how the math works: Include the “Leans” states with the “Likely” and “Safe,” the numbers are as follows: 247 Democratic EVs,  180 Republican EVs, 111 Undecided. Just counting “Likely” and “Safe,” the numbers are as follows: 196 Democratic EVs, 170 Republican EVs, 172 Undecided.

What goes down, must come up: GE’s latest tax bill

April 21, 2011

Tell me what happened, Reuters:

The company, which has come under fire over the past month for reports of an unusually low 2010 U.S. tax bill, pointed out that its consolidated first-quarter tax rate was 53 percent as a result of the NBC Universal sale.

If Ryan Path is “cruel,” so is Obamacare

April 21, 2011

Economist Jim Capretta, co-author of the must-read “Why ObamaCare is Wrong for America,” writes the piece I’ve been waiting for him to write about Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan. First, a brief description of the Ryan plan:

Obama 2012, the dollar and the stink of instability

April 21, 2011

President Obama’s approval/disapproval ratings are now an upside-down 45 percent/50 percent, according to the RealClearPolitics average. If those numbers were to hold until Election Day 2012, Obama would be a decided underdog for a second term, at least that is what statistical  modeling tells:

Why S&P would lurv Paul Ryan’s budget plan after all

April 20, 2011

Earlier today I noted that none of the major debt reduction plans floating around would meet S&P’s key financial metrics, as well as those of its competitors. At least this was the analysis of Goldman Sachs. Here is what I wrote (plus a pretty chart):

5 reasons why S&P just guaranteed U.S. debt will lose AAA rating

April 20, 2011

By prodding Washington to agree on a debt plan, Standard & Poor’s might achieve just the opposite. Its dour take on Treasuries could inflame the debt-ceiling debate, leaving little energy for a grand budget compromise. And the severe austerity S&P desires would have few takers anyway. Consider the following:

The $4 trillion gap: Obama vs. Ryan, an apples-to-apples budget comparison

April 20, 2011

OK, let’s try and actually compare the new Obama budget plan — “The Framework for Shared Prosperity and Shared Fiscal Responsibility” — with Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity.” My calculations — partly based on work done by Goldman Sachs — find that the Ryan Path would save more than double, 130 percent. In dollars, it’s a difference of $3.9 trillion (nearly 2/3 from higher taxes, net interest expense savings).

Hacking Obama’s black box budget

April 20, 2011

On Wall Street, calling some strategy a “black box” is an epithet. The term implies financial flimflammery may be at play. Opacity may conceal trickery. Bernie Madoff had a black-box model that supposedly helped him pick winning stocks. The deception was in the details, or, rather, the lack of them.

Why U.S. debt shouldn’t be AAA rated: It’s actually worse than Spain’s

April 19, 2011

Credit rating agencies such as S&P really place a lot of emphasis on two financial metrics:  the ratio of net debt to GDP and the ratio of net interest payments to government revenues. When you look at those two factors, Goldman Sachs concludes “that the US is already at the outer edge of AAA territory. ” (Thank goodness for the supremacy of the dollar.) Look at the pretty chart from GS: