Thursday, April 20, 2006

15 down - 33 to go

Recently the illustrated daily scribble ended its run because "Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are telling the same lies and making the same excuses over and over, and that's creatively limiting to satire. " I can understand the feeling. Bush isn't doing anything especially bad now, but he's not doing much right either, so the continuing feeling of wanting to hit the fast forward button will be with me (& many others) for the rest of Bush's term.


Trade - Portman has moved on and Schwab lacks his clout. Given how the Doha round has never really gathered momentum, and how strong protectionist urges are these days, I can't see Doha ever living up to its hopes of removing farm subsidies in the 1st world. For effort, I'll give Bush a "C" overall.

Deficit - Given that recent budget negotiations broke down, I have few doubts that our annual deficit will be back in the high $300B/annum soon with the Medicare drug give away starting to kick in. Did stumble across an amusing (!) academic paper in which the authours "examine if sustainability of the US fiscal deficit holds by means of studying the univariate properties of the difference between public revenues and expenditures. However, instead of using classical approaches based on I(1) or I(0) integration techniques, we use a methodology based on fractional processes. The results show that the public deficit in the US is an I(d) process with d slightly smaller than 1, implying that fiscal deficit is mean reverting, and thus, sustainable, though the adjustment process towards equilibrium will take a very long time." Quite a mouthful.

Iraq - The US death toll is back up again this month, which once again shows why you should use some smoothing technique to look at trends, and not get too excited because 1 month has the lowest death toll of the past year. Some right wing bloggers had pointed out that the previous 5 months had been a downward trend - trend over. Iraq seems to manage to avoid a full scale civil war, but never gain any real stability.

Wager status hasn't changed. Troop levels are still high, OBL is still missing, and Hillary has a huge war chest if she decides to run in '08.

Only hot item since last month are the drum beats concerning Iran. Best article concerning Iran's "oh he so crazy leader is from Creative Loafing "Saddam is on trial, and Osama is enjoying the fifth year of his involuntary south Asian spelunking holiday. So it was only a matter of time before a new boogeyman emerged, a boogeyman whose apocalyptic speechifying and filthy mustache would fill the spider hole in our hearts, minds and cable TV schedules the way Saddam and Osama used to." Expect to hear more saber rattling concerning Iran, but Bush lacks the political capital & credibility to ask Congress for another declaration of military support, so don't see another war in our Bush future, though of course much nail biting.

The elections are less than 7 months away, but we seem to be moving towards them in slow motion. Personal predictions are that the Dems will pick up 4 Senate seats (Santorum, Jeffords, Chaffee, and 1 other) while narrowly holding on to Maryland. In the House, they'll pick up 6-7 seats which will not put them in the majority, but give them some added clout in Congress.

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