If Obama were a Republican...

Happy financial markets usually mean good business press for a president. But not this time

By Andrew Leonard
March 10, 2010 9:50PM (UTC)
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If the White House has a bulletin board where encouraging news articles are posted to boost esprit de corp, then I'm guessing that this extraordinarily positive piece about Obama's handling of the economy by Bloomberg reporter Mike Dorning is now front and center.

Here's how it starts:


The political consensus may be that President Barack Obama's handling of the economy has been weak. The judgment of money in all its forms has been overwhelmingly positive, and that may be the more lasting appraisal.

Dorning notes that economic growth is currently stronger than the consensus forecast of economists one year ago.

Since then, monthly job losses have abated, from 779,000 during the month Obama took office to 36,000 last month. Corporate profits have grown; among 491 companies in the S&P 500 that reported fourth-quarter earnings, profits rose 180 percent from a year ago, according to Bloomberg data. Durable goods orders in January were up 9.3 percent from a year earlier. Inflation is tame, and long-term interest rates remain low.

Piece de resistance quote:

"We've had a phenomenal run in asset classes across the board," said Dan Greenhaus, chief economic strategist for Miller Tabak & Co. in New York. "If he was a Republican, we would hear a never-ending drumbeat of news stories about markets voting in favor of the president."

But we don't, for a plethora of reasons, ranging from the comprehensive critique best articulated by Simon Johnson -- who argues convincingly that the failure to meaningfully reduce the size of banks will make the next crisis even worse than the most recent one -- to the raw truth of the state of labor markets right now.


The Labor Department announced today January employment numbers broken down by state.


The unemployment rate decreased in nine U.S. states in January and climbed in 30, signaling the thawing of the labor market is not broad-based.

Rising unemployment in 30 states in January translates to more problems with state finances, and more cuts in services. And that, in turn, means that the judgment of people, as opposed to money, is a little less than overwhelmingly positive.



Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Barack Obama How The World Works Unemployment U.s. Economy