Obama's Rating Rise [Wall Street Journal] Anything can happen when you extend tax cuts: "President Barack Obama is riding a surge of public support into next week's State of the Union address, with more Americans approving of his performance and more seeing him as a political moderate, according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.But public concern is coalescing around the stubbornly high unemployment rate, now 9.4%, a potential pitfall for the president. If rising optimism about the economic recovery dwindles, the surge of support could fade, pollsters say."
China's Economy Still Expanding Rapidly—Tight Money Policy Notwithstanding [Wall Street Journal] "China's economy unexpectedly accelerated in the fourth quarter of 2010 despite a series of tightening measures, spotlighting Beijing's difficulties managing growth and fueling market concerns about further government moves to combat inflation. The fourth quarter's 9.8% expansion in China's gross domestic product makes it all but certain that China became the world's second largest economy in 2010, ending Japan's 42-year reign in that position—although Japan doesn't report its year-end economic data until next month. Acknowledging the milestone and the anxiety its impending arrival has caused some Japanese, Japan's minister of economic and fiscal policy, Kaoru Yosano, said it appears likely that China has surpassed Japan and that "the Japanese people should welcome our neighbor China's growth."
'Chinese Cheneys' Ascendant? [NY Times] Frankly, I'm not quite sure what to make of the phrase 'Chinese Cheneys': "The upshot is that China-Firsters — Chinese versions of Dick Cheney — have a greater voice. Brace yourself."
Traffic Costs Top $100 Billion [BusinessWeek via Bloomberg] Traffic is awful? Tell me something more, said the guy stuck on the NJ Turnpike: "Traffic congestion cost the U.S. $114.8 billion in time and fuel in 2009 as the average urban driver spent the equivalent of four work days waiting in cars, according a report by the Texas Transportation Institute. The cost of congestion increased 1.2 percent from a year earlier, excluding the cost of longer delivery times and missed meetings, the institute said in its annual Urban Mobility Report today. Chicago and Washington tied for the most congested urban area with commuters delayed by 70 hours a year on average because of traffic, according to the study."
Keeping it Real with Hu [Financial Times] "Mr Obama said China’s success was 'a tribute to the Chinese people' but also thanks 'to decades of stability in Asia made possible by America’s forward presence in the region' and a global trading system championed by the US." So very true. And more pragmatically: "At a press conference on Wednesday with Hu Jintao, China’s president, Mr Obama urged Beijing to end discrimination against US companies, allow its currency to appreciate and respect human rights, including in Tibet. Mr Obama stressed that China offered enormous opportunities for the US, saying: "We want to sell you planes, we want to sell you cars, we want to sell you software.'" Well said.