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Dooby
04-14-2004, 11:56 AM
"History shows if the GDP is 3.5 percent or higher, the incumbent president wins," said Van Jolissant, chief economist for the Chrysler Group. "

FYI-2004 GDP forecast was recently adjusted upward to 4.7% from 4.5%.

FishForLunch
04-14-2004, 12:23 PM
Trade Gap Shrinks as Imports, Exports Hit Record

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in February as a combination of the weak U.S. dollar and stronger economic growth propelled both exports and imports to record levels, a government report showed on Wednesday.

The February trade gap totaled $42.1 billion, down more than 3 percent from January and slightly below analysts' pre-report expectations of $42.5 billion.

U.S. exports leapt four percent -- the highest monthly increase since October 1996 -- to a record $92.4 billion, while imports rose 1.6 percent to a record $134.5 billion.

The politically sensitive trade gap with China fell nearly 28 percent in February as imports from that country slipped to $11.3 billion, the lowest level in nearly a year, and exports to China rose 17 percent to $3.0 billion.

The lower dollar appeared to help all categories of exports, as shipments of industrial supplies and materials and autos and auto parts both set records. Exports of consumer goods were only slightly below the record set in November and exports of capital goods, such as aircraft and industrial machines, were the highest since May 2001.

Exports of services, which include travel, also set a record.

Meanwhile, the surging U.S. economy sucked in record agricultural and industrial imports, while auto and auto parts imports had their second best showing.

However, oil imports fell to their lowest level since February 2003, while average oil prices rose for the fourth consecutive month to $29.17 per barrel.

Despite the monthly improvement in the trade deficit, analysts have said it could take several quarters to see a permanent improvement, in part because the weaker dollar and production cuts by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries have driven up the cost of petroleum imports.

madape
04-14-2004, 03:13 PM
A strong GDP is great, but it is a metric mostly transparent to the average working American. To voters, employment and wage increases are much more tangible indicators of a strong economy.

We had a rising GDP during the '92 elections, but slow job growth. There was still lingering frustration among the voters about the recession they felt still was going on. Bill Clinton "felt their pain", and the incumbent was defeated.

Bush is fortunate. Last year at this time, the job market looked pathetic. However, if job growth unfolds the way it's looking like it's going to, come November, we'll have logged over a year's worth of significant positive job growth. The voters will notice.

.Here's a link (http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0002-8282%28199509%2985%3A4%3C828%3AWPAERF%3E2.0.CO%3B2-D) to a 1995 research paper that models voters as caring about two presidential abilities: the ability to make war and the ability to manage the economy. Unfortunately, the paper is only available by subscription, but the basic idea is this: To get reelected an incumbent President must convince voters that his combined abilities make him better than a challenger. Apparently this model has incredible predictive power.

You can understand why the Democrats are so desperate to paint the Iraq war as a failure, and why they have invented a bizarre metric called the "Misery Index" in a desperate attempt to describe a booming economy as anything but what it is.

If the Dems critisms lose credibility on either front defined in this model, the election is essentially over.

Dooby
04-14-2004, 03:20 PM
Kerry's Middle Class Misery Index is a pure joke. I hadn't read about until today. Is this the kind of crap his staff was working on while he was on vacation? I am telling you. His staff is a bunch of morons.

Mavdog
04-14-2004, 04:17 PM
As you say ape, it is difficult for the average American to grasp GDP. They really look at their personal situation, and of course what they synthesize through the press. They look at their situation, if their friends are working, do they have enough $ for the little things that give them enjoyment, and that is the extent of their economic analysis.

If the job creation continues at an average growth of around 200,000 jobs/month, the economy will not be a negative for Bush in November. If the job creation slows to 100K or less, the economy will be an issue, and a negative one for Bush. In as much as I am not a big fan of Bush, it is not reasonable to lay the blame for an anemic economy solely at his feet. Likewise a boom is also not the President's work either; it's really due to some forces outside his control. Nevertheless, the public thinks that the pres can make or break an economic cycle and expect results.

The "misery index" worked well last time it was used, it's a damn good campaign tactic because it is a simple concept that the average American can grasp. To be effective tho there has to be an acceptance of the thought that times are indeed tough and that there truly are some who are in "misery". It's all about perception, it's not about reality...

The war will be a drag on Bush unless the situation changes quickly. The scenes of chaos, of the American forces facing civilians who don't give the image of a combatant, are all eroding the support of Americans for this campaign. I have been critical, and will continue to do so, of the missteps the WH has made in this war, and others are as well.

There is one big accomplishment of the war in Iraq, Bush has managed to get the Sunni and the Shia to work together...unfortunately it is working in unison against us,

Dooby
04-14-2004, 04:35 PM
The Misery Index is a real statistic-unemployment plus inflation. Although whose misery it actually guages I am not really clear. But Kerry's "Middle Class Misery Index" is something he and his staff made up to make the economy look bad. And it is based on odd factors that are not particularly relevant or insightful. For example, one of the factors is the number of bankruptcies filed. I am practicing bankruptcy attorney. There were a lot of bankruptcy filings this year; more than last year. With rare exception, there are more bankruptcy filings than the previous year every year dating back to 1978 when the modern bankruptcy code was passed, even during the tech boom. In other words, it really isn't a mearsure of the economy on any scale.

Despite Kerry's best efforts to make it look this way, the great depression it ain't.

BTW, going back and looking at Kerry's "Middle Class Misery Index", the heyday for America's economy was under Carter in 1978-80. Genius. Energy crisis and double-digit inflation. Good times.

Mavdog
04-14-2004, 05:07 PM
Originally posted by: Dooby
The Misery Index is a real statistic-unemployment plus inflation. Although whose misery it actually guages I am not really clear. But Kerry's "Middle Class Misery Index" is something he and his staff made up to make the economy look bad. And it is based on odd factors that are not particularly relevant or insightful. For example, one of the factors is the number of bankruptcies filed. I am practicing bankruptcy attorney. There were a lot of bankruptcy filings this year; more than last year. With rare exception, there are more bankruptcy filings than the previous year every year dating back to 1978 when the modern bankruptcy code was passed, even during the tech boom. In other words, it really isn't a mearsure of the economy on any scale.

Not to quibble, but non-business bankruptcy filings have varied, decreasing from year before figures in 93, 94, 99 and 00, or 4 years out of the past 14.

The phrase is good, it resonates with the largest group of probable voters (the middle class), and its pretty deft in that it is including some of the real expense issues with many- the increasing cost of health care, college tuition (hits home with me paving for a freshman this year...) and the gastly (or so it seems) cost of gas. These may be minor in the world of real issues but as I said it is a simple phrase that will get Kerry some mileage IMHO.


Despite Kerry's best efforts to make it look this way, the great depression it ain't.

Nope, not even close to what we went through in the late 70's much less the 30's. But that is not the point...


BTW, going back and looking at Kerry's "Middle Class Misery Index", the heyday for America's economy was under Carter in 1978-80. Genius. Energy crisis and double-digit inflation. Good times.

Actually it was under Clinton that the index was at its lowest. Do you think that the Kerry campaign would put out something that makes Bill look bad? They're going to use him this campaign season, they don't want to alienate him.

FishForLunch
04-14-2004, 09:34 PM
There is one big accomplishment of the war in Iraq, Bush has managed to get the Sunni and the Shia to work together...unfortunately it is working in unison against us

Mavdog pull your head out the sand the Sunni resistance in Fallujah was comprised of Islamist and common criminals. As for Sadr he is disliked by most Shia, and now he is negotiating to disband his militia. I have faith in the Marines to get the Fallujah situation under control, please give them time. It is a difficult fight but the marines will crush those thugs. Sadr over-estimated his popular support and now he is retreating fast.

Yes Bush managed to get the Sunni and Shia thugs together, better that it happened now before the hand over on June 30th. We now know who the trouble makers are.

I know you wont belive me but here is a account from an Iraqi.

The myth and the reality.
Despite the tragic loses on the part of the coalition forces and the innocent Iraqis who were accidentally trapped in between, I think that what's happening in Iraq now (al-Mahdi army revolt) will end up in a good way for Iraq. Why do I say that?

This was bound to happen. It was in the air since the 9th of April 2003. Most of the Shea’at in Iraq (as well as allover the world) generally believes in Al-Mahdi state, but they differ in the way they look at it. One part remained faithful to the old myth that someday the 12th Imam who disappeared mysteriously, will appear and start to lead the Shea’at to victory over all their enemies, starting with the hypocrite mullahs and ending with the Jews, and that all they have to do is sit and wait for his appearance. This part is represented by Sistani and his followers in Iraq. These are the people who refused to revolt against Saddam. The other part represented by the late Sadir and before that by Khomaini, saw that this ideology will put the Shea’at out of the political struggle, which led Khomaini to come up with the theory of (wilayat Al-faqiuh) which means that an honest and highly educated cleric can serve as a deputy for the Mahdi and lead the Shea’at to fight and find their way between the lines and prepare for the appearance of the Mahdi.

The Shea’at in Iraq were divided nearly equally in their loyalty between Al-Sadir and Sistani. After the fall of Saddam the Shea’at on both parts found that democracy will give them their golden opportunity to take the lead in Iraq for the first time since the seventh century. The fanatic Shea’at started a muscle show allover Iraq and found lately that their dreams were very ambitious as it appeared that the democracy that is about to take place in Iraq, was not the dictatorship of the majority they were dreaming about. Instead the democracy that was presented to them and which they couldn’t refuse was a liberal democracy that gave all minorities their right to preserve their religious and ethnic identity. As this was obviously presented by the Kurdish parties and was approved by the GC, many Shea’at went mad. It was as if they were going to lose control over a territory that is theirs by law. They demonstrated, hanging posters showing their leaders and their legendary heroes allover Iraq, showed aggressiveness to those who opposed them, but they avoided violence. They were annoyed to be awakened from their vivid dreams in such a 'vulgar' way. During the course of their demonstrations and objections, and as no one opposed them on the streets, they overestimated their power and forgot who gave them their right place to talk, preach for their political programs in public and take their right place as the majority in Iraq. They forgot that this was only granted to them for the first time by the USA and as a result of her efforts in toppling Saddam and promoting democracy in Iraq.

The 1st part, Sistani’s followers, didn’t go further than demonstrating and objecting, because it’s part of their ideology not to use violence, but they were frustrated. The other part, who were scattered after the death of Sadir the father and whom some of them joined his young, ignorant and Iran’s puppet (Muqtada), couldn’t remain peaceful. Poor Sistani was trapped in a difficult position. He was forced to follow the sentiments of the mob, as this is a chronic problem for the Shea’at clerics. They derive their influence and finance from the mob, unlike the Sunni clerics who were always the traditional allies of the ruling regimes throughout the history of Iraq. Sistani couldn’t oppose America directly and he doesn’t like to support his opponent, but at the same time he couldn’t condemn him, otherwise he would have lost his position. It would be an unforgivable blunder to ally with the 'infidels' against a Shea’at Muslim whoever he was. Thus came his weak and rather late fatwa.

So what’s good about this riot? As I said this is a very old dream that is strongly rooted to the conscience of the majority of the Shea’at. And with the freedom of speech and with the defeat of the Arab Sunni and with the support and motivation from Iran, this was bound to happen. It could’ve been worse if a leader with more brains and popularity than this clown carried it.

This riot should be and will be crushed sooner or later, because of the ignorance of the leadership and the lack of support of the majority of Iraqis including Shea’at which made those fanatics resort to terrorizing the people to show that they have the support of the Iraqis like their demand for a general strike which was associated with clear threats.

Another good outcome of this riot is that it showed that the influence of clerics including Sistani, is much smaller than they and their followers were claiming. I’ve heard it from most of the Shea’at that the whole Iraq supports Sistani and that the Americans don’t dare to defy him! They really believed their illusions. Now it appears that the fatwa of Sistani didn’t have any significant effect on the Americans’ determination to end this riot, nor it convinced the fanatic Shea’at to stay calm. Even the GC paid no attention to him and showed readiness to use force if it is needed.
When this riot will be crushed, and it will be, Sistani and all the clerics will no longer seem as strong as they seemed before, and once they see the 'wholly' name Al-Sadir in handcuffs, they will think a million times before committing a similar stupidity in the future. Even some members of the GC with its religious, tribal and ethnic composition, proved to be short of meeting the challenge. This should clear the political field from these traditional representatives of the Iraqis and surly Iraqis in the future will be forced to search for alternatives once they realize how hypocrite, feeble and lacking their current leaderships are.

This will certainly not happen tomorrow, nor will it happen soon after crushing this riot, but certainly the results will make Iraqis aware of the fact that their leaders are actually not as smart and strong as they look, and that their religious, tribal and ethnic groups will not provide them with their needs. Once that happen they will start to reconsider their goals and their loyalty and the voice of reason, logic will certainly be more heard once the horns of ignorance get silenced or ignored by the majority.

-By Ali.



:: Baghdad is quiet today, probably this is the most quiet day since a week or more.
The She'at practiced their ceremonies peacefully today (although in smaller numbers if compared with A'ashoura) in Kerbala and in Kadhimiyah in Baghdad as well. We were worried that something tragic -like what happened in the same place 40 days ago- might happen but, thank God, nothing bad happened as I know.
Something we noticed recently is that we had no car bombs or suicidal attacks in Baghdad or other cities in the last ten days, this is good of course as we used to suffer from such attacks almost daily, but this gives rise to a question; why? Is it a shift in their strategies, or what?
There are some possibilities, one is that the terrorists are having their plans carried out by some small radical fanatic Iraqi groups who are giving rise to the instability they desire, so why should they bother themselves if someone else is doing the job for them?!
The other possibility is that the foreigner terrorists are relying on the temporary alliance (or cease fire) between the radical Wahabis and the radical aggressive minority of the She'at that follow Muqtada. They probably think that this can be promoted to an allience between all the Sunni and all the She'at against the coalition which will never happen because the majority of the She'at still shows their disapproval with Muqtada's ways, and this was strengthened by Sistani's words
They dream that history can repeat itself (the revolt against the British in 1920) but they forgot that the circumstances now are very different from that time, and even that alliance at that time didn't last long as the radical groups on both sides hate each other more than anything else. I heard it from many Wahabis years ago that the most dangerous enemies to Islam are the Islamic brotherhood and the Wahabis and there's no reason for me to believe that they have changed their minds as fanatics never change their mind.
There's also another possible factor, which is that the majority of foreigner terrorists are now trapped in Fallujah and cannot break through the siege.
Whatever the reason is, I think it's just a matter of time before this honeymoon (the alliance between the to extremes) reaches an end.



Link (http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/archives/2004_04_01_iraqthemodel_archive.html#1081601452739 70846)

If you still think this is propoganga too bad.

Mavdog
04-15-2004, 08:41 AM
Originally posted by: FishForLunch

There is one big accomplishment of the war in Iraq, Bush has managed to get the Sunni and the Shia to work together...unfortunately it is working in unison against us

Mavdog pull your head out the sand the Sunni resistance in Fallujah was comprised of Islamist and common criminals. As for Sadr he is disliked by most Shia, and now he is negotiating to disband his militia. I have faith in the Marines to get the Fallujah situation under control, please give them time. It is a difficult fight but the marines will crush those thugs. Sadr over-estimated his popular support and now he is retreating fast.

Yes Bush managed to get the Sunni and Shia thugs together, better that it happened now before the hand over on June 30th. We now know who the trouble makers are.

I know you wont belive me but here is a account from an Iraqi.

Yes, the attack on the civilian convoy that resulted in the vivid pictures of mutalated bodies in Fallujah was the work of those you call "common criminals" or perhaps true Islamist radicals. To extend that to all those who have vocally or physically opposed the US in the last weeks is not accurate it seems.

The confrontation by al Sadr was unleashed IMHO because al Sadr believed the time was right as the US was already focused on the Fallujah situation and he could make gains in his desire to be the leader of the Shia. Why he would act now rather than after June 30 is a good question, perhaps he isn't as bright as he thinks he is. Many Shia do not approve of the new Iraq Constitution as it does not give them true control of Iraq, which they though would happen as they are the majority of the people, but guarantees that the Kurds or the Sunnis will have equal control. al Sadr is playing on that frustration. The June 30 deadline is merely a function of Bush desiring to minimize Iraq as an election issue IMHO, it is very clear that the Iraqis are not ready, their framework to establish a legitimate government is not ready, their civil authorities are not ready...the only ones ready are the Bush WH and campaign staff. Oh, and those like al Sadr

It is difficult to conclude just why al Sadr made his move when he did. Some have speculated there is a role behind his decision of the Iranians or Hizbollah, If that were the case then why would the Iranian clerics call for him to stand down? A very confusing scene to say the least, yet to merely call al Sadr a "thug" and without any support of the Iraqi people is contradicted by the verbal support as well as the thousands who rally to his side. Are there much more who owe their allegiance to Ayatollah Sistani? clearly yes, yet it is fair to say that many of these people sympathize with al Sadr's cause due to the current situation in Iraq. al Sadr acted because he knew the common Iraqi felt these frustrations with the disappointment of the structure of the Constitution, American control of their country that was not delivering the security, the safety and the near term of improving those conditions wasn't too positive.

From everthing that I have read, from both domestic and intl news organizations, is the Iraqis are very frustrated by the chaotic social and political situation. They are not seeing progress in some of the basic needs- security for instance, the reliable delivery of services like electricity, water and sewer. They are not parading through the streets extolling the virtues of our administration of their country are they?

Yes, the US forces can gain control of Fallujah by intense combat. This may be a short term victory that results in many more Iraqis prepared to act against us however, we need to use caution in how this pacification of Fallujah is accomplished. If the Iraqis view the US as causing many innocent Iraqis to suffer for the actions of a few in Fallujah, we have given our enemies new supporters. If the US attacks the mosques where al Sadr's fighters are holed up, we will give to al Sadr much sympathy from the Iraqi people. A very difficult line to walk.

No, I don't have "my head in the sand" as the very real difficulties I have mentioned truly exist. If you believe that these events are minor, or that the average Iraqi is pleased with the current state of affairs in their country a year after we invaded and is solidly behind the US policies there, it is you who has their "head in the sand".

Drbio
04-15-2004, 09:05 AM
I don't think Mavdog had his head in the sand either. Clearly it was entrenched somewhere else. i/expressions/face-icon-small-wink.gif

FishForLunch
04-15-2004, 11:24 AM
Each person has his own reasons why the War in Iraq is a legitimate one. For me it was to get rid of the Arab Hitler, with some fringe benefits like like denying Hamas, Hizbollah and maybe Alqeda from getting State support for their terrorist activities. So I am glad an US president had the resolve to tackle this situation like Clinton in Kosovo.

I also feel it is an election year issue regarding the June 30th handover uproar created by Ted Kennedy and JFKerry, but I agree with the Iraqis nobody wants to be ruled by occupiers indefinetely, it not as if the US troops will leave Iraq June 30th.

I have patience regarding the Iraqi situation, unlike some from the left. I know it is an difficult situation in Iraq and it takes time normalize the situation. I will believe the writing of Iraqis anyday than read stuff in the WP, NYT and BBC.




Read this blog and other Iraqi blog linked on this site to get the views of the Iraqis.

Link (http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com)

Mavdog
04-15-2004, 12:29 PM
Originally posted by: FishForLunch
Each person has his own reasons why the War in Iraq is a legitimate one. For me it was to get rid of the Arab Hitler, with some fringe benefits like like denying Hamas, Hizbollah and maybe Alqeda from getting State support for their terrorist activities. So I am glad an US president had the resolve to tackle this situation like Clinton in Kosovo.

The goal of removing Saddam Hussein, which is clearly a good thing, did not require a unilateral action by the US as it could (IMHO) have been better accomplished with multi-national support.


I also feel it is an election year issue regarding the June 30th handover uproar created by Ted Kennedy and JFKerry, but I agree with the Iraqis nobody wants to be ruled by occupiers indefinetely, it not as if the US troops will leave Iraq June 30th.

Not quite sure what you're saying here, it certainly is not "Ted Kennedy and JFKerry" who are pushing for the quick handoff but the Bush WH. They didn't cause an "uproar" either, for it is clear that the Iraqis are NOT ready, the systems of goverance are NOT ready, and without the legitimacy that an elected (rather than appointed) government gets the probability for its success is limited. Why the rush? Answer: Fall elections, and the ability of GWBush to make the claim that Iraq is making progress in its new government.


I have patience regarding the Iraqi situation, unlike some from the left. I know it is an difficult situation in Iraq and it takes time normalize the situation. I will believe the writing of Iraqis anyday than read stuff in the WP, NYT and BBC.

Read this blog and other Iraqi blog linked on this site to get the views of the Iraqis.

Link (http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com)


Yes it does take time, so why the rush to orchestrate a faux Government handover at the end of July?

Here's another blog on the same site that also is (presumably) "the writing of Iraqis" that has a bit different view than your writer. Here's what they wrote last Sunday:

"A whole year has passed now and I can't help but feel that we are back at the starting point again. The sense of an impending disaster, the ominous silence, the breakdown of most governmental facilities, the absence of any police or security forces, contradicting news reports, rumours everywhere, and a complete disruption in the flow of everyday life chores.
All signs indicate that it's all spiralling out of control, and any statements by CPA and US officials suggesting otherwise are blatantly absurd"

Iraqi Blog (http://healingiraq.blogspot.com/)

FishForLunch
04-15-2004, 12:41 PM
ot quite sure what you're saying here, it certainly is not "Ted Kennedy and JFKerry" who are pushing for the quick handoff but the Bush WH. They didn't cause an "uproar" either, for it is clear that the Iraqis are NOT ready, the systems of goverance are NOT ready, and without the legitimacy that an elected (rather than appointed) government gets the probability for its success is limited. Why the rush? Answer: Fall elections, and the ability of GWBush to make the claim that Iraq is making progress in its new government.

No "Ted Kennedy and JFKerry" are the ones that are rejoicing that the Iraqi situation is proving difficult and want Bush to extend the handover so they can bash him more untill the November election. You say the Iraqis are not ready but they will be when they have control, the US army will be there to help them.

You may trust the UN but I sure dont trust those corrupt people who screwed the Iraqi people in the Oil for Food program.

So you think Russsia and France would ever joined the coalition when they had businees ties with Saddam. I dont belive that.