Tales from the Trail

Did GOP victory boost economic optimism?

USA-TAX/It’s not exactly a tsunami of euphoria. But Republican victories in the midterm elections may have helped goose economic optimism, at least among …well… Republicans.

A new Gallup survey finds that Republicans grew more optimistic during the first week of November, as Tea Party candidates led a GOP charge that captured the House and narrowed the Democratic majority in the Senate.

Republicans grew 13 points rosier on the Gallup Economic Confidence Index, compared with October, and that change appeared strong enough to drive an increase in optimism across the board.

In fact, Gallup suspects the overall performance could foreshadow improvement in the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey, which includes a barometer of current conditions that hit its lowest level since November 2009 last month. We’ll soon USA-ECONOMY/know. The next survey report comes out Friday.

Meanwhile, Gallup says other factors that may have helped make people happier on the whole include the surge on Wall Street, the Federal Reserve’s new $600 billion grove and a better-than-expected jobs report.

Washington Extra – cautionary tale

President Barack Obama signed a $600 million bill to strengthen border security, and just to make sure the message got through, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano took the podium at today’s White House media briefing. Immigration has always been a tough political issue, and in an election year no great strides are expected on major reform before the November vote. “It cannot only be done by Democrats. The Republicans need to come to the table,” Napolitano said.

WALMART/The American consumer is still a cautionary tale. But consumer sentiment appears to have stabilized in August after dropping sharply in July. “Consumers are still cautious, but it is not double-dip material,” said Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group. In a separate report, U.S. retail sales rose in July but showed hints of lingering economic softness.

And finally, I tried to find something positive to say about Friday the 13th and realized there’s no need, because it’s still Friday!