James Pethokoukis

An August Surprise from Obama?

August 5, 2010

Main Street may be about to get its own gigantic bailout. Rumors are running wild from Washington to Wall Street that the Obama administration is about to order government-controlled lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to forgive a portion of the mortgage debt of millions of Americans who owe more than what their homes are worth. An estimated 15 million U.S. mortgages – one in five – are underwater with negative equity of some $800 billion. Recall that on Christmas Eve 2009, the Treasury Department waived a $400 billion limit on financial assistance to Fannie and Freddie, pledging unlimited help. The actual vehicle for the bailout could be the Bush-era Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP, a sister program to Obama’s loan modification effort. HARP was just extended through June 30, 2011.

The political blowback from healthcare reform

December 18, 2009

Kim Strassel of the WSJ states her case:

1) Consider North Dakota. A recent Zogby poll showed 28% (you read that right) of state voters support “reform.” A full 40% said they’d be less likely to vote for Democratic Sen. Byron Dorgan next year if he supports a bill. In a theoretical matchup with Republican Gov. John Hoeven (who has yet to announce), Mr. Hoeven wins 55% to 36%. Mr. Dorgan has been in the Senate 17 years; he won his last election with 68% of the vote.

Goldman Sachs still believes in the New Normal despite rosier growth forecast

December 15, 2009

Goldman Sachs has boosted its 4Q GDP outlook to 4 percent from 3 percent, yet continues to believe in the gloomy New Normal. Here’s why:

‘A whole mess of crazy’ coming from Capitol Hill

November 20, 2009

That is how one Congress watcher from the financial industry describes the current state of affairs, from the Fed audit bill to calls for a transaction tax. I think this William Greider piece gets at the heart of it:

Best campaign tag line …

August 18, 2009

… comes from my pal Dan Proft who is running for governor of Illinois: “Illinois isn’t broken. It’s fixed.” Nice.