Vigilante Chris Christie Shaping National Economic Debate

The popularity of New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie in spite of his tough, deficit-cutting ways is boosting the chances that the new Congress will follow his lead, improving the health of the country’s economy and essentially making him the ultimate bond vigilante.

“Gov. Chris Christie’s approval rating, which has improved since his budget has passed and continues to hold up, is giving ammunition to the new governors and new members of Congress to pursue spending restraint moving forward,” said Daniel Clifton, policy analyst for Strategas Research Partners. “On a macro level, that will be good for the health of the country.”

Christie’s latest approval rating stands at 51 percent while his disapproval rating comes in at just 38 percent, according to a Quinnipiac poll. The numbers are roughly the same as his August readings and up big from his 44 percent approval, 43 percent disapproval ratings in June.

The US budget deficit fell last month to $140.4 billion from $176.4 billion a year ago, according to the Treasury Department Wednesday. It is, however, still expected by economists to top $1 trillion at the end of the year.

Treasury prices have fallen this month despite the Federal Reserve’s pledge to purchase $600 billion worth of the securities in order to keep interest rates low. Bonds are falling on concern that federal spending will not be reigned in, especially with a divided Congress leading to gridlock. But Christie’s popularity could embolden winning incoming Republicans and conservative Democrats to take a stronger stance against rising government spending on infrastructure, unemployment benefits, health care and other things.

“Christie is making tough decisions at a time when tough decisions need to be made,” said Guy Adami, a managing director at Drakon Capital and a resident of Morristown, N.J. “He’s not concerned about what it does to him politically, but that type of attitude may end up making him a good presidential candidate in 2012.”

“At the end of the day, if Congress and the president take a page out of Christie’s playbook, it will be healthy for the economy and the bond market,” added Adami, who is also a ‘Fast Money’ trader.

In Wall Street terminology, the bond vigilantes are the investors that step in and aggressively sell bonds in order to drive up interest rates and control what they deem to be out-of-control spending spending and borrowing on the part of the government. It may not need to come to that if enough vigilantes are in power.

The latest salvo by Christie against the theory that government spending will boost the economy — a belief held by many of the ousted congressmen last week — was to cut a multi-billion dollar rail tunnel to New York City. Despite arguments that it would boost commerce for the state, more than half of all N.J. voters backed this decision, according to a Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday.

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