Silent Archimedes

Posts Tagged ‘approval ratings’

My 2009 Predictions

Posted by silentarchimedes on January 22, 2009

Here are my 2009 predictions. None that are too far out there. Just a basic assessment of what I think might happen in 2009.

POLITICS

Barack the Celebrity

Barack the Celebrity

Obama’s approval ratings remain historically high but lower than the inauguration euphoria – Obama’s ability to inspire change and leadership at such a dour time in America gives him public leeway not seen since, well, 9/11. However, Obama’s pragmatism will help him keep the country on course and inspired throughout 2009. He has already made key changes in ethics regulations and state diplomacy in his first days in office. The only thing that will stop him will be… Congress.

Don’t expect much from Congress – Congress had lower approval ratings than President Bush in 2008, even with the Democratic majority and push for change. Expect the same from Pelosi and Reid, who are not strong leaders and have plenty of personal ambitions to prove Congressional strength to the Executive strength. Couple with the Republicans fight for relevancy, expect a 2009 of posturing and tit-for-tats. 2010 seems like a better year for Congress because the public will side with Obama over the frustrating bureaucracy in Congress in 2009.

ECONOMICS

The market moves sideways – There will be strong forces pulling the economy from both the recession side and the growth side. It is what I call the economic paradox. As the economy falls, oil prices drop and the US Dollar rises (somewhat surprisingly). However, as global growth resumes, oil demand and  commodity prices rise again and the US Dollar falls (since investors will begin investing in riskier assets instead of US Treasuries). Both are problems for America. Obama seems focused on passing bills and bailouts that will help light a fire under the economy, especially job market. However, the more he does the more inflation becomes a risk. Expect several major rises and several major slides, but by the end of 2009, the Dow Jones will still be in the 7500-9000 range.

Gold surpasses $1000/oz again – Because of the economic paradox, gold will continue to maintain its safe haven status in 2009. One of these days, gold will surpass $1000/oz again. In looking at the GLD chart, gold hit a low in mid-Nov 08 and has since built a nice rising linear resistance that it bounded in early Dec 08 and mid Jan 09. If gold breaks the upper linear resistance of $900/oz expect $1000/oz in Feb 09. If it does not expect a pullback. Aside from the technicals, 2009 is still a year of unforeseen economic strife and that will keep the price of gold high. Depending on where the economic paradox is at the end of 2009, gold will either be well above $1000/oz or testing it’s multi-year lows of $700/oz again.

Gold (GLD) prices from Jan 2008 to Jan 2009

Gold (GLD) prices from Jan 2008 to Jan 2009 (12-EMA green, 50-EMA red)

There will only be one viable American automaker by year’s end – The Big Three is already, in essence, the Small Two. Chrysler’s recent gift of 35% stake to Fiat for its access to technology and services is a desperation move to prove to the U.S. government that it has a viable plan to survive. However, the U.S. government is not going to perpetually support a half-foreign owned company at taxpayers expense. As for GM and Ford, 2009 will still be a very tough market. Any uptick by buyers will simply be for fuel efficient cars built by Toyota, Honda and even Hyundai. GM is effectively surviving on federal assistance, which runs out every few months. A radical solution has to found soon. Don’t fret though, because of the uniqueness of this market, hopes abound for small automakers that can make a difference in “green” vehicles.

SPORTS

yankeesYankees back in business – Sorry non-Yankees fans, but 2009 is appearing to be the Year of the Yankees. A new stadium, a team salary in excess of $200 million, a re-focused Arod with Mark Texeira pushing him, injury free Posada, Matsui and Chamberlain? It’s gonna be a great three-team AL East battle all summer. Yankees will win the division and make it to the World Series once again.

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Posted in Economics, List, Opinion, Politics, Sports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Commentary: The legacy of President George Bush

Posted by silentarchimedes on October 17, 2008

A Downtrodden President BUsh

A Downtrodden President Bush

I have never seen a more lame duck president than President George Bush right now. His credibility and approval at an all-time low, and historically tied with Richard Nixon’s lowest approval rating of 24% or 25%, depending on which polls you look at. Trailling only President Truman’s record low 22% in 1952. As the economic crisis deepens under his watch, and candidates in the presidential campaign either desperately trying to dissociate from him or successfully associating the other with him, it is only the laws of the Constitution that keeps such an unpopular president in power. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has more clout than the president. When Bush speaks to the public now about staying calm and having patience for the bailouts to work, does anyone listen to him? What could be going through his mind knowing that even the majority of his own party has disowned him?

The amazing thing about George Bush is that he thinks in a very idealistic way. He has never seemed affected by the low approval ratings because he truly believes that what he is doing is the right thing and that history will judge him positively. He believes that he is making the tough unpopular choices for the better of the country’s future. It is a very hubristic and self-righteous way of deciding things and is ultimately at the core of the Bush Doctrine that  says he has the right to decide what this country and the world needs, even through unprovoked offensive attacks. It is a very risky proposition because the unpopular decisions might never turn out the way he envisioned. For example, if Iraq’s fledgling democracy never takes hold and brings peace to a war torn region, and even worse, Iraq falls into sectarian chaos again, history will judge the decision to remove Saddam Hussein without clear public and world approval as one of the worst decisions in American history. If Afghanistan falls into eternal chaos again, history will judge the decision to open another  war in Iraq as one of the worst strategic moves in American history. If Pakistan, a nuclear power, falls into extreme political strife, the unwavering yet inconsistent support of Musharraf will be seen as a highly expensive and  unsuccessful decision. If America goes into the longest recession or depression since the Great Depression, no matter how the foreign policies have worked out, history will see this period negatively.

Although everything looks bleak now, the possibility that all things will work out still exists, at least in theory. Iraq becomes the stable democracy that is so badly needed in the Middle East. As a result, moderate politics are demanded by the public of countries in the region with autocratic governments. Pakistan’s transition from a military dictatorship of Musharraf to a democratically elected government takes hold and the restive public calms down. The Pakistani economy stabilizes and extremist views are pushed out of society. Afghanistan and the Taliban reach a peace accord and the country finally experiences stability and democracy. The US economy bottoms out.  The wanton spending of the consumers, corporations and government is curbed. American values revert back to saving and frugality. As a result, the economy is more sound then ever. The Bush presidency is seen as the turning point to a more stable and economically sound America. All these still remain possible, however small they may be. Historians could potentially point to the Bush decisions as the start of an eventual stable Middle East and Central Asia. However, even if everything turns out well, history will most likely give the credit to the decisions made by presidents after Bush. Especially for the economy, history will most likely give credit to the future president that makes the hard sacrifices to stabilize our economy. The credit of a stable Pakistan will most likely go to its own people and government. A peace accord between the Taliban and Afghanistan will be seen as a last resort to bring peace to the war torn region, especially when things looked so good back in 2002.

The next twenty years will greatly determine the effects the eight years of Bush presidency has done to America and the world…

Bush Presidency Events Timeline (courtesy of MapReport)

Bush Presidency Events Timeline (courtesy of MapReport)

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Striking similarities between the two Bush presidencies

Posted by silentarchimedes on August 23, 2008

You would think that after the elder George Bush presidency ended in such economic turmoil and low approval ratings that the country would think twice about picking another Bush as president. Well, it happened. As the younger Bush’s two-term presidency comes to a close this year, one can’t help but look back at the eight years of chaos and controversy to see striking similarities between the two presidencies.

George H.W. Bush George W. Bush
George H.W. Bush George W. Bush

1. Approval ratings – Both Bush presidents saw very high approval ratings in the early part of their presidencies. However, this had more to do with patriotism at the start of wars rather than what the presidents had actually done. This point is supported by looking at Truman’s approval ratings during WWII.

What makes the Bushs similar is the precipitous drop of approval ratings for the rest of their presidencies.  Neither was able to transform early support to long-term success. The elder Bush was unable to transform a very popular and successful Persian Gulf War into domestic success. Note that the graph below shows younger Bush’s lowest approval above 30%. However, many polls had it in the 20s.

Approval Ratings of US Presidents since 1945

Approval Ratings of Past and Current Presidents

Iraq War

Iraq War

2. Iraq War – Both presidencies have been defined by a war in the middle East. Not just any war, but wars led by the United States against Saddam Hussein and Iraq. The first Persian Gulf War was highly successful, both in terms of tactical combat and political endearment. The unprovoked invasion of Kuwait by Iraq led to a swift overwhelming response by the rest of the world, including most of the other Middle East countries. The second Gulf War has become a completely different story. A preemptive offensive led by W. and the United States against Iraq for its supposed burgeoning nuclear capabilities has led to far-reaching implications. The evidence for war has since proven highly exaggerated. The complications of ethnic fighting has drawn the war into its fifth year. With recent lowering of violence, the key issue now becomes how long the United States will have a presence in Baghdad.

3. Economic turmoil – The past two recessions in the United States have both been under the Bush presidencies. With a third, and a second in W.’s reign, possibly on the way. Although both have been relatively short, it can be argued that the irresponsible short-term actions of the Feds and Alan Greenspan prematurely moved the United States out of the recessions, but at the expense of future credit.  The Persian Gulf wars also took much needed domestic cash and credit to fund the wars, which led to huge increases in national debt.

Recessions and Job Growth in the U.S.

Recessions and Job Growth in the U.S.

Dan Quayle

Dan Quayle

3. Incompetent vice-president Dan Quayle and Dick Cheney? ‘Nuff said. The first was intellectually incompetent and had the foot-in-mouth disease. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to, either one is fine. But potatoe?? What about Quayle comparing himself to JFK during the election campaign? Other funny sayings? “We don’t want to go back to tomorrow, we want to go forward“, “The future will be better tomorrow“, “I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix“, and “It’s time for the human race to enter the solar system“. Although the country mostly knows him as the vice-president, another interesting question that needed to be asked, what were the people in Indiana thinking electing him to the House in1976 and 1978, and Senate in 1980 and 1986?

Richard Cheney

Richard Cheney

Then there’s Cheney. The ultra-hawk who is more inconspicuous than Ed Harris as a sniper in Enemy at the Gates. Actually, Cheney’s head is just a rounder version of Harris’. Cheney acted like a sniper, incognito, firing barbs from behind the scenes, or inside a bunker. Round after round of incidents, Cheney appeared impervious to controversy. He weathered the weak WMD evidence for attacking Iraq, the CIA leak scandal, the hunting incident, CDC global warming testimony deletions, health problems, and completely elitist, hawkish comments. Both supporters and detractors of Cheney regard him as a shrewd and knowledgeable politician who knows the functions and intricacies of the federal government. This is a major contributor to him weathering controversies.

Can you believe that both Quayle and Cheney were each one incident away from becoming president of the United States?

Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

5. The Russian Bear – Both presidents had issues with Russia, although in differing directions. The elder Bush oversaw the end of the Cold War and the deconstruction of the Soviet Union. The younger Bush is seeing the return of the Russian Bear led by former KGB man, Vladimir Putin. As Russia’s fortunes increase due to expansive petroleum exports, it has steadfastly returned to old Moscow traditions and become more emboldened. The recent Russia-Georgia war shows its increasing power to defend and expand its circle of influence.

6. Supreme Court appointments – Both presidents oversaw the appointment of two Supreme Court justices. H.W. appointed David Souter and Clarence Thomas, to replace William Brennan and Thurgood Marshall, respectively. W. appointed John Roberts and Samuel Alito to replace William Rehnquist and Sandra Day O’Connor. Although Bill Clinton also appointed two new justices, the appointment of four by the Bushs has kept the Supreme Court in a slight conservative slant.

7. Next president is young and new to national scene – If Barack Obama wins the 2008 presidential election, both Bushs will have been succeeded by young Democratic presidents in their 40’s, Bill Clinton and Obama. The Democratic presidents will both be elected on a change platform that invigorated the public. Both will also have been new to the national scene.

With such striking similarities between the Bush presidencies, a lot of people were a bit hesitant to support another candidate, Hillary Clinton, that would have led to comparisons to her husband’s presidency. Had that happened, the United States would have had either a Bush or Clinton in the top two positions of the country for atleast 32 years!

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