Yesterday, I came across two very good pieces of commentary on Demopalooza 2008, which is my new name for this extended primary:
- Charlie Wheelan gives the best analysis I've seen of the subject of Senator Obama's infamous San Francisco remarks in "Small Towns, Big Problems." I wish I could write that well. Charlie will be teaching again this summer in the Public Policy Minor at the Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth.
- Thomas Palley holds forth on "The Curse of the Clintons." For the record, I do not begrudge Senator Clinton for staying in the race against long odds. I do fault her for her tactics. It's hard to come up with a better explanation for them than Palley gives.
I've just signed a contract to write a book on (what else?) the federal budget.
My Beautiful and Talented Wife (The BTW) has mixed emotions. On the one hand, she's of course happy for me. On the other hand, she's looking at a summer where we -- actually I -- won't have much time to do anything. The manuscript is due to the publisher September 1, just before I leave for two weeks of hiking in the mountains where hopefully my cell phone and Blackberry won't work.
So...a little help please. The goal is to have the book out the first week in January as the new Congress and president are getting ready to take the oath of office. The premise is that the federal budget issues that have either been ignored or made worse over the past decade now have to be dealt with. The alternative minimum tax, the tax changes that will expire in 2010, Medicare, and a host of other issues will literally demand attention.
Here is my question:
What in January 20009 would make you read (or better yet buy) a book about the federal budget?
All comments much appreciated.
Large foreign holdings of U.S. debt can pose a risk to the U.S. economy, but, so far at least, we have benefited. The "carry trade," borrowing undervalued currencies, mostly the Japanese Yen, and investing it in U.S. debt has been around for a long time. When the dollar is falling, why are Japan and China continuing to hold such large positions? The short answer is we are their largest customer, and they are struggling to hang on to their export business with us.
Japanese holdings of Treasury debt as of the end of February totaled $586.6 billion, down 5.8% from last June. China increased its holdings over the same period from $477.3 billion to $486.9 billion, a 2.0% increase. Considering the dollar has depreciated since then by 9.6% against the Yen and by 8.1% against the Yuan, that's quite a loss the Japanese and Chinese have suffered in the value of those holdings and of the interest income streams they yield.
Here's my "Fiscal Fitness" column from Roll Call.
The Checks AreComing!
TheChecks Are Coming!
Stan's post this morning brought to mind the old joke with the punchline in the title of this post. When there's a panic, you need to make sure you are at the front of the line to get out. Japan is the largest external holder of federal debt, but it's not the only one. The financial meltdown scenario is one I posted about last year at Vox Baby, in response to a poorly elocuted (though certainly not discredited) speech given by Senator Clinton after a stock market selloff. Here's what she said: