Hot Stock Tip: Mac and Cheese
Good thing the debt-ceiling deal reassured the market.
Stocks, which have been declining steadily for the past two weeks, plunged today on poor job-creation reports in the U.S., a slowdown in manufacturing in both the U.S. and Europe, apprehension about China’s ability to keep buying construction and manufacturing equipment, the poor economic performance of Southern European nations, and the fear that the euro—and just maybe European continentalism, too—won’t withstand the doubts about Italy’s economy, Europe’s fourth largest. In Europe, stocks took their biggest one-day hit in the past 15 months. In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 512 points today, a decline of 4.3 percent - its steepest one-day drop since late 2008. The broader S&P index declined 60 points, a fall of 4.8 percent. News was just as bad at the NASDAQ, whose (largely tech) stocks fell by 137 points—5.1 percent.
Why Obama won’t face a primary challenge
President Obama is faring poorly these days, but he can console himself with the fact that he’ll probably be spared the fate of previous presidents who fell on hard times: a primary challenge. Those groups within the Democratic Party that might otherwise be shopping around for a more forthrightly progressive alternative are deterred by two factors: the likelihood that any challenge will end up helping a radicalized Republican Party and the fact that Obama is black.
New voting districts give the GOP that boxed-in feeling
The Citizens Redistricting Commission has drawn its lines, and the latest redistricting, like all redistrictings, has lessons to teach us about California.
First Lesson (for Republicans): It's not the districts, it's you.
The initial Republican reaction to the districts that the commission unveiled was to protest their presumed partisan bias. "We are concerned that this appears to be a tilt towards Democrats," said Tom DelDeccaro, chairman of the California Republican Party. His predecessor as chairman, Ron Nehring, enumerated the GOP's grievances. "The commission created 40 districts where the Democrats are the largest party, and 13 where Republicans hold the plurality," he complained.
Trailing the Dead
As a card-carrying columnist for the past couple decades, I feel compelled to note the most recent index of the public’s regard for my profession. In this month’s Advertising Age/Ipsos Observer American Consumer Survey, released on Tuesday, my countrymen and women—at least, those who still subscribe to newspapers—were asked the main reason that they subscribed. A near majority, 49.6 percent, said it was for the local news. In second place, at 21 percent, were those who subscribed for the coupons. Next, in descending order, came those who subscribed for the national and international news (14 percent), out of habit (7 percent), for other unspecified reasons (4 percent), for the obituaries (3 percent), and, coming in dead last, for the columnists (2 percent).
Forget the Super Congress
A lot of punditry today is being directed at the super-committee of 12 that the debt-ceiling deal establishes, ostensibly to bring our fiscal house in order.
But God knows why. The idea that the Republicans on the committee will accede to any tax increases—after House Republicans read John Boehner the riot act for talking tax increases with President Obama, and after Republicans in both houses unanimously rejected Harry Reid’s bill that included tax increases as part of the mix—couldn’t pass muster with Dr. Pangloss.
Let’s see, now. Unemployment is above 9 percent and shows no indication of descending anytime soon. The share of working-age Americans who are even in the workforce is lower than at any time since the early 1980s, when far fewer women worked outside the home. American multinational corporations are increasingly doing their hiring overseas, where labor is cheap and markets are expanding. The wages and benefits of those Americans who do have jobs are at their lowest level, as a share of corporate revenues, than at any time in half a century. American families are more deeply mired in debt than at any time since the nation’s founding. All of which means that American consumers aren’t doing much consuming, and they won’t be for the foreseeable future.
Sounds like there might be a role for government in perking up the economy, no?