Saturday, October 1, 2011

What Mattered This Week?

The Anwar al-Awlaki killing has got to go first, I think. Rather than give my thoughts about it, let me give you a few links: a review of the issues here, and then comments from Jack Goldsmith and Spencer Ackerman -- if I've missed other good contributions, please leave them in comments.

It's October 1st, so time to look at good news/bad news in US and coalition casualties. The bad news is that after a goose egg in August, the US had three troop deaths in Iraq in September. The good news is that coalition deaths in Afghanistan continue trending down. Total coalition deaths are down 80 from January through September 2010. For the US, this September had the lowest total troop deaths (Iraq and Afghanistan combined) since September 2003. That's something, isn't it? It's also possible, although unlikely, that combined Iraq and Afghanistan coalition deaths for the entire year will be the lowest since the Iraq War began. Of course, as usual when I discuss these stats, it doesn't say anything how any (other) war goals are going. but as usual my sense for domestic politics is that what matters, if anything, is the fate of US troops.

The government didn't shut down. The fiscal year ended. The shutdown clock is now reset for mid-November, and it's hard to see how it won't at the very least be a full-fledged showdown, although I suppose it's hard to see from here what the odds are of either a short or a prolonged shutdown.

What else? Some good economic news, some bad, but Europe looms over all of that, of course.

What am I missing? What do you think mattered this week?


  1. There was a vote in the German parliament regarding Eurozone bailouts that's going to loom very large if the Eurozone cracks up. If I understand right, it revealed that Merkel's government probably can't get any more financial backing from their Senate for the countries that are on the brink. Apparently enough German politicians are persuaded that their constituents are ready to let the euro project (and maybe the EU) fail rather than pay anything more to save it. It's not hard to believe that Europe's possible futures are being chosen right now.

  2. Oh, and: Further failures in the European periphery could be what brings on another worldwide recession, thus electing Rick Perry and destroying the United States. I forgot that part.

  3. Weird. I just posted a comment, then posted the one above as P.S. to it, whereupon the first comment disappeared. Well, it said that there was a big vote in the German parliament this week that points to the likely failure of the Euro.

  4. what signs should we look for to see if the occupy wall street protests will "matter?"

  5. @Jeff
    Well, yes, the Eurocrisis continues to be a huge issue, but the successful German ratification of the EFSF and Merkel holding her coalition together through it meant that nothing drastic changed for the worse this week. Failure would have meant that EU politics mattered this week, but it didn't, so the crucial moments will come later in October or November.

    One could say that what mattered was the German reaction in the public sphere and among rightwing politicians to the effect that no other rescue measures putting Germany at greater *explicit* liability would be allowed. But that's hard to judge because similar reaction have occurred throughout the past year and then political will was mustered nonetheless later on.

    I think it mattered that we went one more week without the ECB in any way indicating that they'd soon be willing to loosen monetary policy for the good of the entire eurozone.

  6. PF, the accounts I read seemed to say that this time the German effort had reached its limit, and that the will wouldn't be there for resolve the coming crisis. I hope you're right, though.

  7. Three things...

    1. On the health care front two things. The first is that premiums went up more than expected. Whether in anticipation of the change in laws or not, it makes the Administration look bad. The second is the White House decision to push forward with a decision from the Supreme Court on the ACA which could mean the decision is handed down before the Fall Election commences between the two party nominess.

    2. That Perry's mixed performance so far has led some to reach out to people like Governor Christie in hopes that they can avoid a nominee like Romney that many in the GOP will find hard to swallow or see Rick Perry nominated who might be a weaker candidate than the GOP might field.

    3. A quieting down of frictions / tempers / enminty between the Administration and Republicans on the Hill since much of the action is with the SuperCommittee. The Administration doesn't seem to have many good days to look forward to prior to the election but can still hope for bad days for the GOP.

  8. I think the Euros have explicitly acknowledged that Greece is gonna default. It's now just a matter of how and when, and who follows them.

    Germany has only just now approved temporary bailout policy agreed back in July. For obvious reasons, no German government can be seen as blowing up either the EU or the euro, unless preceded by an election in which that was the directive. We'll see such an election if more permanent bailout policy comes up... and it will have to.

    But the biggest issue is the UK's rumblings about additional QE. They'll have to go first on that, as Zimbabwe Ben is sorta hamstrung over here, as the peasants are revolting. Perhaps he can sneak in something if the BoE goes first, but I doubt it. His head is gonna get mounted if he mentions QE again.

  9. The Senate saved Congress's bacon this week. Its fast bi-partisan conciliation around a clean continuing resolution probably has a bunch of implications.

    The Senate will probably welcome the results of the super committee, and that can present a strong contrast to what may await in House. The House is still looking hyper-partisan and dysfunctional. I won't predict that the House will learn a lesson from this, though.

    I can't wait for the super committee!

  10. Definitely the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, and the precedent it sets.

  11. The protests in new york city are spreading to other cities. Either by eventual success or eventual failure this is the key story of the week.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?