Saturday, October 29, 2011

What Mattered This Week?

Terrible news about the Taliban attack in Kabul today. The pace of allied casualties has continued to slow, but a a couple of brutal attacks have kept the death total from getting as low as it might have been.

Let's see...I guess the big news this week was more in the string of not-terrible economic news. Certainly not great, but not-terrible. It's way too early to know, but it's starting to look more and more as if we may be headed towards an economic situation that would indicate a close presidential race next year. Good news for political junkies! Of course, we could still wind up with a double-dip recession (easy to see if Europe collapses, but still possible without that); we could also still get robust growth.

I'm not sure that anything important happened in the GOP presidential race this week. I also don't really think the maneuvering around the Joint Select Committee matters much. I think I said this over at Greg's place, but I'm still convinced that FY 2012 appropriations is a much bigger story than the Joint Select Committee; it sure seems to me as if the ratio of reporting on the two is almost exactly backwards.

What do you think mattered this week?


  1. The Euro rescue plan is the most important event. I am skeptical that it will work.

    The most interesting event was Cain's smoking ad.

  2. Mercer: I am at a loss with Cain's ad. I don't think it's as meaningful or impactful as everyone else seems to think. I mean compared to the trainwreck ads made by Davis for both O'Donnell and Fiorina in the last cycle, it's positively dull.

  3. Cain's ad will appeal to people who smoke and feel that they're harrassed and demonized for it. Only about 20% of Americans smoke these days. I wonder what their voting rate is.

  4. I totally didn't make the connection til I read this thread, but did Team Obama pull off a bit of an October suprise with the Euro rescue fund?

    First of all, I'm with Mercer, there's scant hope the EFSF will solve many problems. In fact, putting in place a barely-large-enough-for-Greece backstop arguably encourages more frightening countries like Italy and Spain not to take their bitter medicine. Even the Greeks surely won't get serious: a goal of deficit/GDP of 120% by 2020? Cmon, the US is a far more prosperous country than Greece, and our dissatifieds call AM radio, they don't throw Molotov cocktails at the embassy, and even we have little hope of enforcing such a vague longer-term objective. Greece? No chance.

    However, the EFSF does solve one problem: it arguably kicks the can of catastrophe down the road far enough that Obama has a shot at a decent economy next summer when the 2012 election heats up.

    Its pretty far-fetched to think that a clever ruse from the otherwise ham-handed Obama Administration orchestrated the EFSF, but then its hard to see how anyone thinking more than 18-24 months into the future would see that thing as anything other than a bigger turd, replacing a smaller turd, waiting to bloom.

  5. Policing mattered this week. From what appears to be brutality in dealing with protests to court hearings on fixing tickets in NY, with cops chanting, "It's not a crime, it's a courtesy," outside the courtroom, police were not in their best light this week. Federal clampdowns on dispensaries in CA.

    Perhaps we'll begin to see some push-back on the growing security state.

  6. This may seem a bit idiosyncratic, since Social Security is one of my interests, but the announcement that the Medicare Part B standard premium will decrease from $115.40 to $99.90 for 2012. Combined with the 3.6% COLA, this will put extra money in seniors' pockets and might get them more on board with the ACA.

    Of political importance, it'll probably have beneficial macroeconomic effects. Had the 2011 premium stayed in effect for 2012, approximately half of the COLA would have gone towards Part B. Relative to the 2011 premium, the announced premium should add $10-15 billion (.1% or so, maybe higher with multipliers) to the economy in 2012. Not that much money, but it wasn't that matter-y of a week in my opinion.


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