Thursday, March 04, 2010

Washington to Wall Street Mishmash

The Bunning Blockade: Sen. Jim Bunning was right all along. He was just trying to get the Senate to enforce its own pay-go budget rule and actually find $10 billion of spending cuts out of a $3.5 trillion budget to pay for extended unemployment benefits and other items in a catch-all spending bill.

For this, an act of integrity, everyone in Washington and the media piled on him. So I’ll defend him. Bunning actually favors unemployment benefits, but he wants Congress to find $10 billion in a $3.5 trillion budget to pay for it.

Look, it was only a month ago that Congress passed a new pay-as-you-go bill. And now they’re going to break it. That’s insane. That’s one of the many reasons why voters are furious with Congress. It’s called hypocrisy.

Bunning’s objection to a unanimous consent was not a filibuster. It just says vote on it. Go on the record. Show how hypocritical you really are when it comes to spending taxpayer dollars.

By the way, do we really need two years of unemployment benefits? That’s more than Europe pays! Isn’t 18 months enough? We are subsidizing unemployment. As a result, we’ll just get more and more unemployment if we keep this up.

Jim Bunning is just exposing Washington hypocrisy.

Hats Off to Ford: On a more optimistic note, bravo to Ford Motor Company, which beat GM in monthly car sales in February for the first time since 1998. Ford deliveries jumped 43 percent to 142,285 cars compared to 141,951 for GM.

Remember this: Ford didn’t take a single nickel of TARP bailout-nation money. Not one nickle. And its brilliant CEO Alan Mulally has downsized, simplified, and cost-cut to make Ford a profitable winner. Ford stock has absolutely soared from a little over $1 at the end of 2008 to well over $12 bucks today.

And get this: Using the discipline of the free market, rather than a government bailout, Mulally has reduced Ford wages and benefits to about $50 an hour compared to $75 an hour just a few years ago. That’s a terrific achievement that makes Ford competitive with Toyota and Honda.

Unfortunately, overall car sales were 10.4 million at an annual rate in February. A bit slower than January’s 10.8 million.

Stocks & Bonds: The stock market is edging higher yet again this morning. Stocks have recouped roughly three-quarters of the correction that dates back to mid-January. Money may be flowing in from Europe, in flight from the bankruptcy of the European entitlement state and the slump in the currency which has boosted King Dollar by about 10 percent.

The Treasury yield curve is still steeply positive. That’s a bullish signal. And corporate credit risk spreads, especially the high-yield junk spread compared to 10-year Treasuries, have narrowed enough to indicate confidence in future profits and the possibility that stocks have at least one more big upward move in front of them.

Real Housewives at the Fed: There are currently three open seats at the Fed, following news of vice chairman Donald Kohn’s resignation come June. What we need is a real housewife, someone who actually shops for food and gasoline, to go on the Federal Reserve Board. We need a real, commonsense, cost-conscious U.S. housewife. Not another Princeton PhD academic. Anyone who targets the so-called core-inflation rate excluding food and energy should be constitutionally barred from serving at the central bank.