James Pethokoukis

Budget group: New Obama budget plan would fail, could cause tax trigger to be pulled

April 21, 2011

The bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has taken a crack at deciphering President Barack Obama’s murky new budget plan, called the “Framework for Shared Prosperity and Shared Fiscal Responsibility.” And its findings are devastating:

Should Congress raise the debt ceiling? And for what price?

April 21, 2011

Conservatives have many flavors of views on this, as can be seen at an online symposium over at National Review Online. Here are two of the more interesting takes:

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:

S&P doesn’t like any of the debt plans out there

April 19, 2011

Here’s the thing: S&P seems to want Washington to cut much faster than any of the plans currently circulating. As Goldman Sachs notes: