Baum's View on Money
Starting today, I will be sharing with readers what I think are interesting stories and commentary on U.S. economic policy.
Some politicians go on a listening tour. President Barack Obama has embarked on a talking tour. Don't take my word for it. Listen to what he had to say in an extended interview with the New York Times on July 24 after an hour-plus speech at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. "If once a week I'm not talking about jobs, the economy and the middle class, then all matter of distraction fills the void." I think the distraction is more interesting than the same old spiel about "growing the economy," an awful phrase that ignores who and what does the growing.
Who's economy is it? Obama may have inherited the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, but by his measure, things have gotten worse under his watch. Median household income has fallen by 5 percent since 2009 even as the stock market and corporate profits set records. The Washington Examiner's Tim Carney wonders why middle-class stagnation under Obama's economic policies argues for more of the same.
From the Stunning Statistics Department: "Four out of five U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near-poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream, according to an exclusive AP survey. Unless this trend reverses soon, Hillary Clinton will have to differentiate herself from her party's policies if she wants at shot at the presidency in 2016. On the other hand, if the Republicans would stop acting like children and spare us a 40th vote to repeal Obamacare, they might actually stand a chance. Offering up ideas rather than roadblocks might help as well.
Let's do lunch. Hillary Clinton stops by her old house (the White one) today to break bread with Obama. Aside from giving the Washington press corps a diversion from "phony scandals," today's lunch provides another entry in the Clinton-Obama complex relationship. Was it true that Bill agreed to speak at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in exchange for Obama's support for Hillary in 2016? Stay tuned.
She's No. 1. Janet Yellen, considered one of Obama's likely nominees to replace Ben Bernanke at the Fed, has the best forecasting record of anyone on the Federal Open Market Committee. The Wall Street Journal examined 700 predictions in speeches and testimony from 2009 to 2012 and found that Yellen and the doves outdid the hawks. Past performance is no guarantee of future success, however. Historically the Fed's biggest mistakes have been at turning points, staying tight (or easy) too long when the business cycle has already rolled over. Some curious findings: the non-Ph.Ds scored better than their academic brethren, perhaps a function of their greater reliance on econometric models.