Archive

  • DOW DOWNER. ...

    DOW DOWNER. Speaking of stock market stuff, expect to see the GOP trumpeting the Dow's ascension to a new high of 11,727.34 yesterday. While it's a good number, it's a bit illusory. The Dow is reported in terms of absolute values, but as with everything else in economics, those are rarely so absolute. Indeed, if inflation is taken into account -- and why wouldn't it be? -- the Dow would need to jump another 2,150 points before matching its past high. Today's number is good, but in terms of metrics like the ability to actually buy things, it's no high. -- Ezra Klein
  • THE INVISIBLE RIGHT...

    THE INVISIBLE RIGHT HAND. It's a hoary truism that markets favor Republican rule, though one that, till now, lacked much evidence. Stock prices, after all, have consistently done better under Democratic administrations than Republican rule. But Justin Wolfers at the Wharton School of Business and Erik Snowberg and Eric Zitzewitz at Stanford University found a more telling methodology for testing the preference: They researched how markets performed during the 48-hour period starting when the American people were actually voting for president. And, indeed, when exit polls, expectations, or events favor Democrats, the markets make a sad face and begin erasing investor money. When things swing back towards the right, spirits -- and stock portfolios -- lift. Rightly or wrongly, Republican victories cheer markets. Just to note the illogic here: It's literally true that markets do better under Democrats, yet they still prefer Republicans. Possible explanations abound, from rich investors...
  • BUSH: BLACKWELL...

    BUSH: BLACKWELL IS A �NUT.� The Toledo Blade pointed out yesterday that buried on page 347 of Bob Woodward�s State of Denial is this not so flattering Bush remark about Ken Blackwell , who other Republicans -- including the President�s brother -- have touted as a rising GOP star: Mr. Woodward writes that around 3 a.m. - which Mr. Bush called "the latest I've been up since college" - the White House was expecting to hear from Ohio's top election official. That, of course, was Mr. Blackwell, who was co-chairman of the Bush campaign in the Buckeye State. "Blackwell," Mr. Woodward writes, "a former black-power-saluting student leader who had shifted to the Republican Party, was a lone ranger who shunned party discipline. 'I'm the President of the United States,' Mr. Bush said fuming, 'waiting on a secretary of state who is a nut.'" What did that mean, exactly? Surely Bush -- who used Blackwell�s help to make the exploitation of the fundamentalist Christian vote a particularly lucrative...
  • The Stock Market is Not the Home Team

    One infuriating feature of business reporting is the constant cheering for a higher stock market. I have nothing against a higher market, but I know of no general public interest in a high stock market. In principle, the stock market represents the discounted value of the future profits of corporate America. If the value rises because the economy can now be seen as growing more rapidly, then this is certainly good news. But, if future profits are projected to be higher because of lower wages or lower corporate taxes (e.g. a higher tax burden on workers or fewer public services), why should the mass of the population, who own little or no stock celebrate? Of course, the higher stock market may just be due to the irrational exuberance of people who control lots of money, as happened in the nineties. This is also not obviously good news. In this case, a higher stock market will shift wealth to those smart enough to get out, from those stupid enough to get in. In short, there is no...
  • SPEAKER BOEHNER.

    SPEAKER BOEHNER. Via Josh Marshall , check out this article reporting that Dennis Haster may "have just one or two days to turn the affair around -- or quiet it -- or face being forced to step aside." Assuming the latter development for a moment, what would happen next? In the event of Hastert's resignation, John Boehner is the favorite to step up to the Speakership, and presumably his former rival for majority leader, Roy Blunt , would take over his current role. Incidentally, this paragraph from the U.S. News and World Report piece, assessing an alternative option, captures the amusingly complex tangle of hypocrisy considerations in which Republicans find themselves enmeshed: Other names include retiring Rep. Henry Hyde. The Washington Times , which today called for Hastert's resignation, nominated Hyde. But GOP strategists said that would only compound the party's problem because of Hyde's admitted affair while he was married and was a rising star in Illinois politics. At the time...
  • AL-QAEDA WANTS THE U.S. IN IRAQ.

    AL-QAEDA WANTS THE U.S. IN IRAQ. Marc Lynch asks why so few in the media seem to have mentioned this. In a letter purportedly from a top al-Qaeda leader to the organization's Iraqi branch, the author writes: Indeed, prolonging the war is in our interest, with God's permission. Think about that. The full text of the letter, translated by the excellent Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, is available in PDF format here . -- Blake Hounshell
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: ALONG CAME A SPIDER.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: ALONG CAME A SPIDER. As Christopher Moraff reports , the U.S. isn't merely continuing its longstanding opposition to international efforts to ban landmines -- it's actually reviving an active landmine program of its own. --The Editors
  • RETURN OF THE...

    RETURN OF THE LIBERTARIAN DEMOCRATS. Writing in this month's Cato Unbound, Markos lays out the case for Libertarian Democrats -- a socially libertarian , fiscally moderate ideology he's been formulating over the past couple of months. Reading the essay, it would seem we could as easily be talking about Technocratic Democrats, or Silicon Valley voters, or some fraction of the electorate completely driven by upwardly mobile, white collar concerns. His primary examples of the market's magic are how Google outraced Microsoft, and how Indians have ascended to high positions in software development. All good things, but potentially limited in explanatory or predictive potential when you slip down a couple rungs on the economic ladder. Backing slowly away from the specific instances he cites, Kos's schema seems to be in the positive freedoms model. Lauding the government's role in infrastructure creation and universal K-12, he writes that "[t]his isn�t a question of equality, it�s one of...
  • JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: STONE COLD UNTRUTHS.

    JUST POSTED ON TAP ONLINE: STONE COLD UNTRUTHS. It's Alterman on Berman on McPherson on Stone . Eric Alterman was angered by Paul Berman's review essay about I.F. Stone in Sunday's New York Times Book Review , and he's written a rejoinder. Take a look . --The Editors
  • BAI ON DEAN.

    BAI ON DEAN. Matt Bai 's piece in The New York Times Magazine about Howard Dean 's tenure at the Democratic National Committee bodes well for Bai's upcoming book on the Democrats, the lead time on which I do not envy him, since I can see about three perfectly valid, if mutually exclusive, premises for such a project all going completely up the spout in the next three weeks. The magazine feature was nuanced, subtle, and, for the first time in a long while, treated Dean as someone who might actually know what he's doing. (OK, there was this one over a year ago, but modesty must occasionally prevail.) The piece even redeemed the cover photo, which made Dean look very much like someone who flunked the audition for a death-metal band from New Jersey. (What is it with these guys? Earlier this year, they ran a picture of Mark Warner that looked like it had been done by Hanna-Barbera.) The respect given to Dean therein is another small bit of evidence -- as opposed to the huge honking...

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