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July 14, 2005

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Re: economic news. IANAE, so i rely on DeLong, who (yes, not surprisingly,) is not so sanguine. See here.

As an attorney who largely represents developers, i am profoundly concerned by the percentage of mortgages that are interest-only. See, eg, Angry Bear here.

A very small change in mortgage rates, like 1-2%, could result in a massive number of workouts / foreclosures / growing REO portfolios here in CA. Not good news for the state or the country.

the economy continues to look good

Let's see, real hourly wages are below where they were when Bush took office, and the percentage of people with jobs is below where it was when Bush took office. That looks good to you? It sure doesn't look good to the working class.

the deficit, though still extraordinarily high, is marginally improved

Yeah, right. Click here to see how marginal that improvement is.

and the S&P is nearing a four-year high

Real returns on equities have been negative since Bush took office. That is what passes for good news to you?

And as Francis points out, there is an asset bubble that could be about to deflate. It is amazing what passes for "good news" these days.

Today the Dow managed to break through the point where it was when Bush took office - 10,587. But the broader-based S+P 500 is 9% lower. It's a good thing we don't all have stock-based private investment accounts for Social Security - on average we would be behind.

So things are still much worse than before Bush took office but marginally less worse than they were a month ago. Mission Accomplished!

The Muslim thing is good news, though. Although I'm not sure to what extent Bush can take credit for it, we can probably say his stomping around in the middle east has had some effect.

Kevin Drum over at the erstwhile Calpundit has a few interesting things to say about the report.

McDuff, I think Bush can take some credit for this part: "Yet solid majorities in five of the six Muslim countries surveyed -- Indonesia, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan and Turkey -- also now have unfavorable views of the United States."

"also now have unfavorable views of the United States."

Without having access to the data, I would bet that Jordan, Lebanon and Pakistan have had such majorities for quite some time and that Indonesia very likely did too.

Y'know, but for Rove's stupidity and/or ciminality; Bush's mis-sell of Social Security reform; and "Let's-Call-It-Abuse-Of-Prisoner-Gate" (see also Sullivan), Bush would be riding a wave of good news right about now. Yet, it's all buried, gone, wasted. Were I him, I'd be a bit pissed.

Pissed? He's the one who talks about his Christianity, but has as his senior political advisor a man who has few, if any, scruples; who has smeared honorable men with vicious lies. He's the one who approved the SS plan he touted at carefully-controlled, scripted, and possibly criminally limited "town hall" meetings. He's the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and his attorney general wrote the memo on torture, his SecDef approved actions at Guantanamo that made their way to Abu Ghraib.

The only person he should be pissed at is himself. Yeah, when pigs fly.

possibly criminally limited "town hall" meetings

One more reason to throw the entire administration in prison. Were the limitations on the mettings racially motivated?

Without having access to the data, I would bet...

That's precious.

Actually, for Indonesia, I believe there was an upward blip because of tsunami aid

In a recent poll of attitudes in Indonesia, 65 percent of respondents said they viewed the U.S. in a more favorable light as a result of the U.S. tsunami relief effort. The group which commissioned the poll said the results reflected "the first substantial shift of public opinion in the Muslim world" since 9/11.

snip

An earlier hint of changes in Indonesian public opinion came last September, when another poll found more support there than expected for U.S. policies.

A poll of 35 countries surveyed by the University of Maryland's program on international policy attitudes (PIPA) focused on the Bush-Kerry campaign, but respondents were also asked whether Bush's foreign policy decisions made them feel "better" or "worse" about the U.S.

In only three countries did more respondents say Bush policies made them feel better about the U.S., and all three - the Philippines, Thailand and India - were in Asia.

Although Indonesia wasn't one of them, opinion there was fairly evenly divided - 49 percent of respondents said the foreign policies made them feel worse about the U.S., and 44 percent said the policies made them feel better.
link

Also, this pdf might be grist for the mill.

Without having access to the data, I would bet that Jordan, Lebanon and Pakistan have had such majorities for quite some time and that Indonesia very likely did too.

I'd actually bet the contrary on at least two of those countries (Pakistan and Indonesia) and possibly the other two as well. I also think that such results are not particularly useful, however, because most people's reactions to the US are so damn complicated, such an overwhelmingly mixed reaction, as to defer a simple descriptor like "love" or "hate"; the only thing to extract from this IMO is that more people are willing declare themselves on one side instead of the other.

"the economy continues to look good

Let's see, real hourly wages are below where they were when Bush took office, and the percentage of people with jobs is below where it was when Bush took office. That looks good to you? It sure doesn't look good to the working class."

I'm no fan of Shrub and think that Snow is a useless PR man, but still the economy in the last six months has been a lot stronger than I anticipated - especially with oil at the price level it is now. What can I say - it's better to be lucky than smart.

The job market is still weaker than it should be, but better than last year.

Both the percentage of people with jobs and real hourly wages are identical to what they were last year at this time. What metric are you using that tells you the job market is better than it was then?

And is the fact that things have, for the moment, stopped getting worse what passes for "good news" these days? Has everyone already forgotten what a good labor market looks like?

Has everyone already forgotten what a good labor market looks like?

I'm in grad school so, um, yes :)

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