Stan Collender's blog
I used to write a weekly column for NationalJournal.com called "Budget Battles." My editor and publisher there was Troy Schneider, who 11 years later was one of the founders of Capital Gains and Games.
That's also where I started giving away T-shirts (Other giveaways included mouse pads and coffee mugs. In fact, I'm using one of those mugs now at this ridiculously early time of the morning.)
Anyway, back to the T-shirts.
Most weeks you won a shirt if you submitted the correct response to a very obscure budget question and had your name selected at random from all those who got it right.
Combined with all the travel I've been doing lately (see my post above on "Democracy in America"), this article by Ron Lieber in yesterday's New York Times got my juices flowing about a subject that I'm close to irrational about to begin with: frequent flier programs.
With the exception of one mid-day, mid-week trip between DC and New York, I haven't been on one flight in the past six months that hasn't been close to or completely full. Many of these flights were oversold. Cancelled afternoon flights meant that passengers had to wait until the next day because there were no other flights to the same destination that day or, if there were, no seats were available.
Yes, I know the summer is a heavy travel season. But I also know that the airlines are planning substantial cutbacks in the number of flights starting in September and that the number of seats will be reduced at the same time that demand is falling.
I am flattering myself by using the headline above and comparing what I've done the past few months to the travels and writings of Alexis de Tocqueville in the early 19th century.
Please forgive me for this conceit. But the truth is that I've actually visited more states -- 28 so far -- than existed when de Tocqueville traveled.
I've been traveling on business and have talked to around two hundred financial and investor groups about the 2008 election and what it could mean for Wall Street. The people I've spoken with have been high income (in some cases very high), highly educated, and far more Republican than what you're likely to find with a truly representative sample of Americans.
But in spite of the apparent homogenity of the groups, what I've heard and discovered so far has been truly surprising.
Several weeks ago I said in a post on the Bush midsession review of the budget that, given where the deficit was going, we probably shouldn't take the candidates spending and taxing plans too seriously. My thinking was that, given where the deficit was heading, neither a President McCain or Obama would have much of a chance to do what what they were saying they wanted to do.
An article this morning by Matt Benjamin at Bloomberg now shows that's indeed possible. The bond market "vigilantes" -- the same people who forced the Clinton administration to propose and push for deficit reduction -- are starting to say that the moon, stars, and planets may line up again in 2009 to force the next president to do the same thing.
Here's the money quote:
Andrew...I read and, as usual, learned much from your August 7 post about Martin Feldstein's Wall Street Journal article on the economic bailout. Let me note for the record that, like you, I thought it wasn't going to accomplish much of anything.
But I have a few questions:
First, isn't it too early to determine how much of the stimulus has been and will be spent? Isn't it possible that at least some of the 80 percent that hasn't yet been spent will be spent in the coming months. Does a stimulus have to have an immediate impact (and what do we mean by "immediate"?) to be considered a success?
Second, hasn't the Bush administration declared the stimulus a success because, according to the White House, economic growth was much higher last quarter than it would have otherwise have been? If Feldstein is right, is the administration wrong?