Let's hear it for the Rainbow Tour
It's been an incredible success.
We weren't quite sure,
We had a few doubts.
Would [Obama] come through?
And the answer is - Yes.
With apologies to "Evita,"it looked like our President could have been elected the leader of France or Germany after the reception he was given during his recent visit to the G-20 confab.
Merkel and Sarkozy had to have noticed the enthusiasm the student audience in Strasbourg gave President Obama during his question-and-answer session there. Critics say it wasn't a Bretton Woods moment, but then again it wasn't designed to be anything like that.
The trip achieved the political objective of reintroducing the US on the world stage, and that a total agreement on important issues was left to a later date was going to happen anyway.
Unfortunately, back home there are significant questions about this administration.
An uncomfortable number of appointees have imploded (was Bill Richardson just running for the Presidential nomination?). Recently, 21 out of 23 senior positions at the Treasury Department were vacant, which in these times is total insanity. The Obama budget rests on wholly unrealistic assumptions of future growth estimates, and the cost of some spending programs is woefully underestimated.
Politics as usual have reappeared.
It seems like the administration is trying to do too many things at once. The President scored campaign points in a debate with Senator McCain when he said the job required doing more than one thing at a time. But the truth is, getting just one thing done usually requires moving heaven and earth. His chief of staff's statement to "never waste a good crisis" shouldn't mean that the economy, health care, and the environment can be tackled all at once. "Avoid appearing in a state of chaos," should become their mantra.
FDR addressed the bank crisis first and then turned to a stimulus program. To his credit, the President has backed off bashing bankers and seems more likely to work with them. Geithner's new iteration of the P-PIP program is being cautiously (but optimistically) reviewed by the financial community. But a laser-like focus is needed, or the administration will lose its political capital. While his approval standings are high, the President should remember he is well below where Jimmy Carterstood at this point in his term and only equal to the last guy in office. And that didn't work out so well.
The market decided warmed-over news was good enough to create a reason to consolidate recent gains in Monday's trading. Mike Mayo, a noted bank analyst, changed firms and "launched" coverage of the banks with some negative views. Nothing new in his stance, but from a new platform it was a good enough excuse to sell off. At the close of business, the S&P 500 index stood at roughly 835, off 8 points on the day but still comfortably above its 50-day moving average (790) and a bit ahead of the 100-day (829).
I still think we are in a bottoming process that has some downside tests ahead of itself and a few months to go. But it is a bottoming that we are going through.
Some golf stories: Amateur golfer Curt Hockerhas become a golf legend. In the week between October 29 and November 5 of last year, he scored five holes-in-one at the El Paso Club in Kappa, Illinois, including two in one day. In the past year he scored a dozen holes-in-one or double-eagles. "I don't know what to think," he said. Also, Unni Haskell had never picked up a golf club until she took two months of lessons earlier this year. Then, last week, she went to the Cypress Links course in St. Petersburg, Florida, teed up the ball at the 100-yard par three, and swung her purple 12-degree driver. The shot sailed 75 yards, avoiding the left bunker, bounced onto the green, and rolled into the cup. She had scored a hole-in-one on her first regular shot of her life. It ain't fair. (Reported in "The Week" magazine.)