Posts tagged 2012

jakke:

"If it looks like I’m going to win, the markets will be happy. If it looks like the president’s going to win, the markets should not be terribly happy. It depends of course which markets you’re talking about, which types of commodities and so forth, but my own view is that if we win on November 6th, there will be a great deal of optimism about the future of this country. We’ll see capital come back and we’ll see - without actually doing anything - we’ll actually get a boost in the economy."

Mitt Romney, in that closed-door fundraiser that Mother Jones somehow secretly taped. The one thing you might expect a bunch of Republican plutocrats to be ruthlessly good at would be capital market dynamics, right?

Apparently not, if this is what passes as a winning line. His argument is that people will be so happy with a Romney presidency and so reassured by his presence that financial markets will suddenly improve - even if he never actually changes anything! Just the phrase “President Mitt Romney” means boom times, apparently.

How could this possibly be? I can only think of three narratives that would be consistent here. The audience here probably collectively had hundreds of millions in investments, so they’d be pretty sensitive to Romney’s opinions on the financial market, right? But none of these options seem so great:

  1. A bubble will form until people realize Romney’s not doing anything. Stocks and commodities and interest rates soar for a few weeks, and then when they realize that Romney’s actually not planning on deregulating or guaranteeing or subsidizing anything but instead is just relaxing on a yacht in the Caribbean while someone feeds him peeled grapes and someone else is reading him record high stock prices everything crashes. No one’s going to cheer for a bubble, right? Because it’s super difficult to reliably realize investment profits in a bubble.
  2. Everyone will be buoyed by irrational exuberance. Like, optimism will beget optimism, and markets will somehow rise. This is actually something that Keynes proposed back in the day - he called it “animal spirits”. It sounds like a nice story, but there’s a whole lot of empirical evidence that suggests no one really invests like this. If you’re an irrationally exuberant type trade, you’re very quickly going to become an unemployed type trader for obvious reasons. Also, it’s hard to imagine that this wouldn’t lead to a steep market crash the first time there was any negative news, right? And steep crashes lose tons of money.
  3. Large market-moving institutional investors are somehow malicious. They could be getting returns in the market, but they’re holding back because they hate Obama sooo much. I find it really hard to believe that any large investment firm could ever be successful with a position like this. Someone else would definitely come in and take those returns, right?

Under any other situation, how could this possibly be a winning line? Like, how would this be something the donors could possibly want to hear if they think that financial markets function anything like how basic economic principles tell us they should?

This isn’t intended to be disingenuous; I legitimately can’t understand what’s going on here. I would think that the kind of donor willing to shell out $50k to eat a plate of chicken in the presence of Mitt Romney would be hugely motivated by selecting a candidate who knows how markets work and will make policy to ensure steady capital returns. And I can’t imagine any such donor would believe that preserving the status quo (neither more nor less regulation, more nor less guarantees, and so on) but just electing someone more business-y would be the best way to do that.

This is a classic cable news overstatement. Certainly a bit more time is needed before declaring the convention over, let alone the election. But the comment still underscores the advantage the Democrats have in being able to trot out a former president to help with the sell. While Clinton brought down the house at the Democratic convention, both former Presidents Bush addressed the Republican convention via a largely humorous, somewhat nostalgic video.
Sam Stein, on GOP strategist Alex Castellanos’s remark that Bill Clinton’s convention speech was the “moment that probably reelected Obama.”

Journalists tend to mistake the part of the campaign that is exposed to their view — the candidate’s travel and speeches, television ads, public pronouncements of spokesmen and surrogates — for the entirety of the enterprise. They treat elections almost exclusively as an epic strategic battle to win hearts and minds whose primary tools are image-making and storytelling.

But particularly in a polarized race like this one, where fewer than one-tenth of voters are moving between candidates, the most advanced thinking inside a campaign is just as likely to focus on fine-tuning statistical models to refine vote counts and improve techniques for efficiently identifying and mobilizing existing supporters.

Memo to the Obama re-election campaign: You should probably use this:

[F]ederal records, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal that Romney’s initial rescue attempt at Bain & Company was actually a disaster – leaving the firm so financially strapped that it had “no value as a going concern.” Even worse, the federal bailout ultimately engineered by Romney screwed the FDIC – the bank insurance system backed by taxpayers – out of at least $10 million. And in an added insult, Romney rewarded top executives at Bain with hefty bonuses at the very moment that he was demanding his handout from the feds. …

[T]he FDIC documents on the Bain deal – which were heavily redacted by the firm prior to release – show that as a wealthy businessman, Romney was willing to go to extremes to secure a federal bailout to serve his own interests. He had a lot at stake, both financially and politically. Had Bain & Company collapsed, insiders say, it would have dealt a grave setback to Bain Capital, where Romney went on to build a personal fortune valued at as much as $250 million. It would also have short-circuited his political career before it began, tagging Romney as a failed businessman unable to rescue his own firm.

"None of us wanted to see Bain be the laughingstock of the business world," recalls a longtime Romney lieutenant who asked not to be identified. "But Mitt’s reputation was on the line."

Memo to the Obama re-election campaign: You should probably use this:

[F]ederal records, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal that Romney’s initial rescue attempt at Bain & Company was actually a disaster – leaving the firm so financially strapped that it had “no value as a going concern.” Even worse, the federal bailout ultimately engineered by Romney screwed the FDIC – the bank insurance system backed by taxpayers – out of at least $10 million. And in an added insult, Romney rewarded top executives at Bain with hefty bonuses at the very moment that he was demanding his handout from the feds. …

[T]he FDIC documents on the Bain deal – which were heavily redacted by the firm prior to release – show that as a wealthy businessman, Romney was willing to go to extremes to secure a federal bailout to serve his own interests. He had a lot at stake, both financially and politically. Had Bain & Company collapsed, insiders say, it would have dealt a grave setback to Bain Capital, where Romney went on to build a personal fortune valued at as much as $250 million. It would also have short-circuited his political career before it began, tagging Romney as a failed businessman unable to rescue his own firm.

"None of us wanted to see Bain be the laughingstock of the business world," recalls a longtime Romney lieutenant who asked not to be identified. "But Mitt’s reputation was on the line."

The Dems should have an empty chair on stage for the entire DNC, & when anyone asks who it belongs to, they can say Osama bin Laden.
Putting aside [Mitt Romney’s] remedies for the US’ domestic problems and whether they would be effective or not, his China policy, if implemented, would cause a retrogression in bilateral ties and turn the region into a venue for open confrontation between China and the US.
China Daily editorial: Policy will poison relations
A word cloud of nearly every speech from yesterday’s GOP convention. (via Slate)

A word cloud of nearly every speech from yesterday’s GOP convention. (via Slate)

Young Mitt Romney took full advantage of every opportunity he was granted and is clearly a genuinely successful businessman. Anyone can — and should — applaud the young Romneys’ frugality, determination and dedication. But that success must also be credited in large part to his unique level of privilege, which clearly shielded the young couple from the true nature of poverty. And real poverty, I am afraid to inform Mrs. Romney, is not merely a series of choices in décor. It is not some sort of a lark. It is not an act of youthful defiance. It is not living frugally simply because you want to prove a point. It is having nothing to fall back on. It is knowing that if you fail or run into even a tiny bit of bad luck, you and your family will not have food or shelter.

Go ahead and guess how much support Mitt Romney has among African Americans, according to the latest NBC/WSJ poll.

The answer is zero.

How Politicalprof Almost Went to the Democratic and Republican Conventions

politicalprof:

So by now, many of you may have seen that Tumblr is doing something really great: they are, at Tumblr’s expense, sending six bloggers to the Democratic and Republican conventions to explore various aspects of the conventions and then reporting their perspectives back to the Tumblrverse. Which is amazing.

As it happens, Politicalprof was one of the people Tumblr contacted about going to the conventions, although I was not one of those selected. That’s fine: Tumblr owes me nothing, and to be honest I was astonished to have been considered. After all, all anyone at Tumblr knows about me are the words that come from my fingertips. That those words got Tumblr’s attention is amazing to me. I was sincerely flattered to be considered.

That said, I do have one professional concern and one personal concern.

—On a professional level, I am disappointed Tumblr made the decision to send no trained, professional observers of politics to the conventions. (You can check out who is going here.) I don’t doubt the people they are sending will do a great job, but this strikes me as a missed opportunity. A lot of people appear to get their political news and information from Tumblr, and not having at least one person there who knows who [sic] campaigns work, how elections and finance laws are organized, how conventions fit in the history and discourse of American and global politics seems to me to be a mistake. Again, I do not think that it has to be Politicalprof’s voice beaming from the conventions … there are other great professional bloggers out there. But the fact that no one who is going is trained in the complexities of American politics seems to be a real missed chance to link academic/professional perspectives with those of Tumblr’s broader audience. 

—On a personal level, simple human decency requires that when you contact someone about an opportunity, you tell them that they were not selected for the opportunity BEFORE publicly announcing who has been selected. Not only did no one at Tumblr directly contact me to inform me of my non-selection BEFORE the announcement, but no one has bothered to contact me AFTER the announcement either. I have worked too hard as a professional, and too hard as an editor of the Tumblr #politics tag, to be ignored in favor of a marketing “drop.” Read a little Kant folks (hmm … professional knowledge!): I wish to be treated as an end in myself, not as a means to some other end.

And before any Tumblr staffers tell me they didn’t want to risk blowing their secret, I would remind them that you contacted me about this opportunity at the end of July, and other than Mrs. Prof, my department chair, and one friend who isn’t on Tumblr, I didn’t tell anyone. I know how to keep a secret. 

That was low rent, Tumblr. Just low rent. 

Emphasis mine.