Sunday, October 30, 2011

Indian Grand Prix

With the successful completion of the inaugural Indian Grand Prix at Buddha International Circuit, India kind of overcomes blemishes it got when it botched Commonwealth Games. The contrast between  government run affairs and private organization cannot come any starker than this.

The foray of Formula One racing in South Asia will only go on ascend from this seminal point. With solid young population, the racing extravaganza makes commercial sense even though India at large continues to be beset by lack of basic roads, transportation and amenities. It is just the reality of Global Capitalism that while poverty is present in huge pockets of the country; India's privileged class in urban areas will continue its assimilation with global lifestyle. May be Formula One racing and new types of sports are insurances in Indian System so as privileged youth does not get too much agitated with contradictions of Indian Society.

To see Sachin Tendulkar waving a checker flag to signal end of a race without any incident is a relief. Kudos to drivers and private - state partnership to pull off a race where safety measures worked. (Just couple of weeks back there was carnage at a similar event in Las Vegas.) One just wishes India continues on this path of fruitful engagement between state and private sector. 

(I was curious why the name Buddha to the circuit, but once I saw the powerful Indian Politician Mayawati handing over the prize cup to Vettel, it kind of explained....)

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Game is Rigged

Our Congress today is a forum for legalized bribery.

Why are there 61 members on the House Committee on Financial Services? So many congressmen want to be in a position to sell votes to Wall Street.

-- Tom Friedman, New York Times

Looks like that is the realization which is slowly sipping through America. Occupy Wall Street may fold soon, but American Public is going in that direction. Not for nothing, a new rock start gets minted on Left.

I believe Republicans sense this risk, but do not consider it important enough to alter their game plan of continuing to shelter 1% of this country. Kind of how Obama Administration did not alter the game plan when Tea Party was nascent. But I doubt how long Republicans would be able to sustain a tone deaf approach to American reality of inequality. Sense is time is running out for this policy of protecting rich under a squarely challenged premise of rich creates jobs in this country.  No, rich are not the reason for new jobs, it is Demand; and it will not come unless policies are ready to address the stark income imbalance.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Working Government?

Looks like someone is actually doing a job in Federal Government. 

Don't bother telling your Tea Party brothers and sisters. By definition they do not believe in such things. Just be happy that sometimes you may reap benefits of working Government.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Adult Play by Chancellor

All along Chancellor Merkel had been going out of her ways to lower Market expectations. It was a no brainier play, but important thing is she did that. Because if things did not pan out she would not have lost lot while if there is a pleasant surprise that will boost her politically. Seems like EU folks are going on the positive side - some reasonable deal instead of total failure.

(Are Speaker Boehner and Obama going to follow the same technique for the coming Debt deal to achieve 1.2 Trillion Savings?)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

How Herman Cain will Help American Politics

As Herman Cain starts getting  limelight, his 9-9-9 Tax plan is going to invoke more scrutiny. It will be just a matter of time before competing Republican contestants start pointing out the total retrogressive nature of this policy snake oil - favoring rich at the cost of poor. After all majority rich people may be backing GOP, but majority of GOP voters are not rich. It will not be just Eric Cantor, but many more in Republican Party will be forced to talk about poverty and income distribution in this country. That is the whole point Occupy Wall Street Protester would have driven home by then. So stupidity of one Herman Cain is forcing finally GOP to talk about issues it wanted to avoid so long - totally destructive consequences like income inequality of today's global capitalism. Frank-Dodd Law was one way Congress reacted to constrain 'too much destructive creation' of Wall Street and these bright lights of GOP want to repeal this Law instead repairing it any further! All that will start surfacing prominently as Herman Cain exposes himself more and that will be Herman's great contribution to American Politics.

Frantic Pace of Bachmann Non-sense

So it was wrong for Obama to intervene in Libya whereas it was all Kosher for Bush to intervene in Iraq! And as far as Iraq goes, her theory is USA should have joined Sadr in demanding compensations. Forget about Bush who never bothered about American Treasury or she never bothered to introduce any bill in Congress during Bush times to ask the same while America's Iraq Occupation was bleeding tax payers money; but she thinks that is what Obama should have done as well as continue to keep American forces there!

Seems like there is no limit to the non-sense of these GOP candidates. And oh ya, we Americans are stupid to tolerate all this for so long. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

Classic Pol Business

That is what a seasoned politician does - when you are riding high on your triumphs; you declare how you are going to remove your hand under the rock i.e. release the 'tough news'. With his Libya victory lap, President Obama was in a perfect position to clear the stuff for Iraq and that is what he did.

With Hillary rattling cages in Pakistan and daggers coming out for Iran; this Presidency has lot of juice left to accomplish some far reaching consequences in remaining months of this term. On domestic policy front President Obama may look like 'been done' or he may be hostage to vagaries of European Politicians as far as protecting fragile American Economy from Global Shocks goes; but when it comes to National Security, this Presidency already looks stellar and has substantial room to achieve greater heights. I am sure that must be GOP's nightmare for 2012 Election. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

EU Rescue - $3 Trillion Price Tag

That would give for sure a sticker shock to EU Politicians. But that is what Bloomberg says EU would need to save itself and the world economy. I think today Bloomberg News has more credibility than EU. This would mean anything less than this figure would disappoint the market. Chances are that EU is very unlikely to accept such a large figure, especially when USA with EU keeps rejecting BRIC plan of shoring IMF. Rejection of BRIC plan to beef up IMF is nothing but a power play, it is a reflection of West's Colonial hangover. Unfortunately all this means more pains along the line even if American Economy is holding up.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Why America does not believe Global Warming

I think Elizabeth Rosenthal circles wagons around and fails to come to grips with the reality that USA is the third largest producer of Oil and Gas in the world after Russia and Saudi Arabia. Given that, attitude of America is really to be compared with Russia and Saudi Arabia and not with EU which hardly digs any carbon fuels. Within Europe, let us see how one of the most progressive countries - Norway - reacts as it continues to hit jackpots of huge oil finds.

Point is, education and knowledge do not make societies enlightened. In the end, it is all about money and vested interests. GOP in USA just happens to carry waters for Oil and Gas Industry. I have no doubt in my mind, if Democrats were popular in Texas and Democrats were to carry waters for Oil and Gas Industry; all these progressives would have got same 'fits' when anyone would start complaining about global warming.

Given this political economic reality, the deal on the table is - defend Koch Brothers, Exxon Mobile and Carbon spouting American Airlines against the global on-slaughter; but within American Economy make these guys to pay for. In other words, fight 'class warfare' for these players on the global stage but on national stage make them pay for the 'class warfare'.

As usual suspicion is Obama Administration would be doing only the first part and not the latter. During 2009 Great Recession Times, Obama Administration saved Banks with TARP; and completely lost an opportunity to make these Banks pay for (for example across the board mortgage deal). Fear is same thing would happen here - it will let free ride Oil & Gas Industry while it carries the 'cross for that industry' in the name of protecting and nurturing jobs. COS Daley - where are you? Would you mind doing something here?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Inane Politics of Democrats in Senate

"Nothing quite illustrates the depth of Barack Obama's weakness in Washington better than the painfully public defeat the Senate handed him Tuesday by blocking his signature American Jobs Act.

The defeat was a sharp rebuke for Obama that amounted to a vote of no confidence on the economic policies of recovery spending that he’s championed for years,..."

"...since the Senate Democrats’ proposed surtax would apply to capital gains as well as ordinary income, it would mute the “carried interest” break and others like it. But it would do nothing to correct the fundamental flaw — which is the 20-percentage-point differential between the maximum marginal tax rates on capital gains and ordinary income. That differential should be eliminated for everyone, not just for hedge fund managers."

"The president’s jobs initiative is at the end of its legislative life -- not that it really had one."

Sen. Jim Webb (D VA), who voted for the bill, explained that in the end he opposed the bill because it would not address the fundamental issue of reduced capital gain tax to ordinary income.

In a sense that is the whole fuss about Occupy Wall Street.

So in the end Barack Obama got this thumping defeat on his hand because Democratic Senators could not agree for how to pay for the price tag. The tax debate is too complex and politically fraught and unlikely to be solved without an electoral mandate (well, things can be nasty there too).

All this jumping around -  pass this jobs bill now - has been simply 'waste' for Obama in terms of concrete results. Politically it might not be all wash as he would start to make the case that it is GOP obstruction which is responsible for the possibly impeding economic hardship.

What all this tells us is that not only Europe is helpless in solving its own problem, Washington is no different. Tactically it seems Obama jumped the gun without getting Senate Democrats coalesced around a single funding source. If you cannot get 53 Senators on board, how are you going to lead this divided nation to agree to fund your program? May be White House thought not worth to spend any political capital on Senate Democrats as GOP House is unlikely to take anything on this. May be this is just an opening bid so as individual items can get realistic shots. But that seems doubtful. The only choice left for President Obama is to keep going to American People telling how 'Congress' is against doing something meaningful to solve problems of Americans and hence he would need a full mandate with majorities in both chambers of Congress. Ya right, we all know how well that is going!

Sunday, October 09, 2011

Looking Back

There is a kind of Carter Regime ting to what Ezra Klein has rendered in a well written column about travails of Obama Administration in battling 2008 Great Recession. Eventually Ezra says that probably other paths would not have had much different result than where we are in terms of recovery; but still 'we missed the bus...' sense is in the air.

The single most important thing Obama and his administration would have done was to be cautious and keep reminding Americans that indeed we are 'in this' for a long haul. This means, there would not have any pretense of 'recovery is around the corner'. Politically that would have made it harder to 'sale' stimulus and some other policy measures. But it would have been much better to deal with such political difficulties then - when Obama administration had political capital - than dealing them now when practically all policy options are closed.

Ezra talks about how in the last quarter of 2008 Economy contracted almost by 9% which we happened to know for sure only this year. Point well taken. Then on similar lines, what policies you are adopting today on today's data are also equally on shaky data. That is what folks like David Brooks want to argue - to pretend your policy prescription can be based on solid factual information all the time is less convincing as well as less useful to us in the end. Hence it has been always important politically to support and argue your policy prescription by pointing out caveats and it's limitations. That is what is missed by Obama Administration.

Even today, the primary thing what President Obama can do is to argue that whatever policy prescription he is offering (Jobs Bill for example); those are means to lessen the impact only, those simply insurances. True Obama Administration is careful today while advocating its prescriptions. Beyond that he should also argue for household debt reduction (does not have to be necessarily 'hair cut'; but even letting home owners to take advantage of lower rates regardless of equity left) and necessary cultural shift in the country so that 'there is a compact between workers and employers'. Those all are longer term changes needed in this country.

President Obama is unlikely to get any of these changes unless he has workable majority in both chambers of Congress. The model of bi-partisan achievements because of a towering personality president reaching to Americans 'over Congress' to put real, workable pressure on Congress; that is unlikely to work in the given hyper partisan politics and divided country. In other words, Obama needs to change 'the game of American Politics' by practically conducting 2012 elections as like parliamentary elections where he asks Americans to give him the majority mandate across the board to make changes possible. Electing a president - that should be practically a simple consequence of electing 'head of a Congressional majority'; that is the change we need. Regan style bi-partisan politics is no more possible and Obama needs to cut that chase. Only when he gets this politics right in 2012; he would get another chance to correct what he missed in his first 3 years.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

RIP - Steve Jobs

It will be a while before we start to understand the full legacy of this remarkable person. His last call - when to retire as CEO - was close; but still right.

In these dog days of America, there were only few pinnacles of individual achievements which would inspire us, sustain us to remain positive. Steve's life was one of them.

Thank you Steve Jobs and rest in peace. 

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Move On Mr. President

Yes, we know that Mr. President you are not far from truth when you say you are the underdog for 2012 election. That is a rational conclusion from these numbers.

But beyond a point shedding tears on shoulders of Americans for 'how mean GOP has been to you' would neither solve problems of we Americans nor would it give you a second opportunity to solve our problems. The issue is whether you have 'keys' for our quagmire or not. If you don't, then move on Mr. President, let Americans try someone else. That does not necessarily have to be some one from the GOP Parade of Extremism; but who knows it could be very well someone from Occupy Wall Street. Americans have a right to turn down someone who they have tried and who does not have any 'magic keys' left; in the hope of someone else who will part the skies. (As you know we voted you with that, alas, wishful thinking.)

Think hard and tell us what would genuinely solve our issues. Tell us fearlessly where we have messed up and what specific hard work we have to do. Articulate how we can insulate ourselves from impeding European Economic Collapse. Smarting over John Boehner and Paul Ryan, it can only take you so far.

And not that you have not shown such leadership. Nobody told you how to do the OBL raid or how to wage a successful 'drone war'. You did improvisation on your own. We need that leader - the one who 'leads us' in our economic calamity, who is equally calm and non-boasting and at the same time keep executing relentlessly like how you have been working hard to eliminate the rouge gallery of terrorists.