James Pethokoukis

WH adviser Romer: ‘Cringes’ at talk of exit strategy

September 25, 2009

CEA Chair Christina Romer at the Chicago Fed:

The economic historian in me cringes every time I hear mention of “exit” from fiscal
stimulus and rescue operations in the current situation. “Exit strategy” is one thing—of course
we should be planning for the time when private demand has recovered and governmentstimulated
demand can be withdrawn. But to talk seriously about stopping policy support at a
time when the unemployment rate is nearing 10 percent and still rising is to risk nipping the
nascent recovery in the bud.

More evidence of rising trade protectionism

September 24, 2009

As Reuters reports it:

The United Steelworkers union, fresh from persuading President Barack Obama to restrict tire imports from China, filed a new case Wednesday asking for duties on coated paper from both China and Indonesia. The action came just one day after Chinese President Hu Jintao complained to Obama about the tires decision in a meeting on the sidelines of a United Nations summit in New York. … The steelworkers union, which represents workers in a number of industries, sees itself in a battle against what it believes are unfair foreign trade practices that have led to the loss of millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs. They are joined in their latest trade case by paper manufacturers NewPage Corp of Miamisburg, Ohio; Appleton Coated LLC of Kimberly, Wisconsin; and Sappi Fine Paper North America of Boston, Massachusetts, which together employ about 6,000 union workers at paper mills in nine states. … Unlike the steelworkers’ petition in the tires case, this complaint will not land on Obama’s desk. Instead, the U.S. International Trade Commission, a U.S. federal agency, will have the final word on whether anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties will be imposed after an investigation by the U.S. Commerce Department.

Kudlow: Maybe a V for 2010

September 16, 2009

Larry Kudlow gives the bull case:

I wonder if Mr. Bernanke isn’t underestimating the very substantial monetary stimulus that he has injected into the economy, going back about nine months. This is the Milton Friedman monetarist experiment. The Fed’s balance sheet has grown by over $1 trillion; various money-supply measures are running about 10 percent on average; the Treasury yield curve is very steep and positively sloped; and of course the target rate is near zero. Add to that $1,000 gold and a weak dollar.

The Japan comparison

September 16, 2009

David Rosenberg draws an uncomfortable parallel:

Speaking of Japan, and we say this because the U.S. is following a very similar post-credit collapse pattern, we note that the Nikkei posted six 20%+ rallies since its bubble burst in 1990 and no fewer than four 50%+ rallies.  … So actually there is nothing in this flashy move off the lows in the S&P 500 that is inconsistent with a pattern of a bear market rally — this is not the onset of a whole new sustainable bull market.  … They are not premised on improved fundamentals, despite data that are skewed to the upside by rampant government intervention. Just remember, nobody built more bridges or paved more river beds to skew the economic data than the LDP did in Japan for much of the 1990s. With U.S. T-bill yields close to zero, as they were in Japan, we have at least one market — the money market — that sees what we see, which is an economic outlook fraught with fragility, as is typically the case after a secular credit expansion moves shifts into reverse.

Why the Dems may implode in 2010: 4 scenarios

September 9, 2009

A Democratic meltdown next year? Washington is abuzz with speculation by prominent political handicappers such as Charlie Cook and Stuart Rothenberg. Republican hopes for a huge congressional comeback in the 2010 midterm elections rest on three pillars:

More on the weak U.S. labor market

September 8, 2009

This analysis from Ed Yardeni:

Based on the previous two cycles, the unemployment rate should peak in 15-19 months, or sometime between September 2010 and January 2011! When might employment recover? The previous two experiences suggest this might occur within the next 11-21 months after June, or between May 2010 and March 2011.

America’s battered labor market

September 8, 2009

David Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff analyzes thusly:

1) Jobless claims stuck at 570k — basically in line with a sustained 200k-300k payroll losses.

What does 9.7 percent unemployment mean for Democrats?

September 4, 2009

Marc Ambinder looks at this question and concludes a) that anything under 10 percent is better than expected, b) 0.3 percent makes a big difference politically, and c) Team Obama will be able to more or less successfully blame Bush. His bottom line:

The worrisome fiscal situation of states

September 4, 2009

A fun factoid from Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana shows just how much trouble states are in (via WSJ):

August unemployment at 9.7 percent; 216,000 jobs lost

September 4, 2009

The unemployment rate in August jumped to 9.7 percent from 9.4 percent. The economy lost another 216,000 jobs. While the economy may be shifting into recovery mode, the labor market clearly still needs lots of work. The best-case scenario I can find (4 percent GDP growth next year) still would have the jobless rate at 8.5 percent or so a year from now. Also note that the labor force participation rate remained steady last month. So the blip up in unemployment was not caused by discouraged workers returning to the workforce. Also the broader U6 rate surged to 16.8 percent.