Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wednesday Morning Ramblings -- Absolutely Nothing To Do With The Bakken -- Much Political -- Read At Own Risk

1.  Note: I wrote the following note yesterday (Tuesday) evening. It is interesting that this is the discussion on CNBC this morning: whether making money is bad.

CNBC had an interesting talking head guest on an 4:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon. Martin Feldstein (Harvard, American economist, chief economic advisor to Ronald Reagan) said something that suggested one of the paradigm shifts in American thinking will be this: making money is bad.

His comments were based on a recent Obama speech. I think folks forget that presidents are change agents. I had not come across  the term "change agent" until the last seven or eight years in the Air Force when I first understood that general officers/flag officers were change agents. This may be a good starting point to understand the definition or meaning of "change agent":

Right, wrong, or indifferent, whether or not his policies stand the test of time, President Obama has changed the conversation. Parts of ObamaCare may be struck down by the Supreme Court, but already even those folks who were once adamantly opposed to ObamaCare are now talking about keeping the "better" parts of the Affordable Care Act. President Obama changed the conversation: not whether US medicine should be socialized or not, but how to do it. That's a huge step. I am not offering any opinion here on ObamaCare; I think folks would be surprised how I feel, though I have expressed my feelings in the past. For this post, I am simply stating, right, wrong, or indifferent, the president has changed the conversation regarding US health care.

Anyone who has followed this blog knows that I feel that President Obama has changed the conversation regarding energy. It is no longer about whether we move from fossil fuel to renewable energy, but how we do it.

On social issues such as same sex marriage he has changed the conversation. Pundits now talk as if it's a given, again just a matter of how we get there from here. Good, bad, indifferent -- again, I'm not offering any opinion -- I'm just noting that he has changed the conversation. 

I think that the most observant readers of the president's speeches and actions during the past several years have recognized that he was changing the conversation regarding wealth. Martin Feldstein articulated it as well as anyone in a 30-second soundbite. President Obama, good, bad, or indifferent, has changed the conversation regarding a corporation's responsibility to maximize profits for its shareholders. Folks in his own party are now taking sides on whether private equity is good or bad. Interesting.

2. Drudge Report links a story suggesting that the state of Hawaii has provided information requested by state of Arizona. No details; apparently it's still a secret to be kept from the rest of us. Update at Drudge: Arizona will place Obama on the ballot; has birth certificate. Whew!

3. Speaking of politics: Kentucky and Arkansas --
President Barack Obama continued to have trouble on Tuesday performing in Democratic primaries in traditionally conservative states, barely eking out wins in Kentucky and Arkansas.

The president didn’t even have an opponent in Kentucky, but with 99 percent of the vote counted, Obama took just 57.9 percent of the vote, with the remaining more than 42 percent of ballots cast for “uncommitted.”

In Arkansas, with 70 percent of the vote tallied, Obama nabbed just 59 percent of the vote. His opponent there, John Wolfe, was able to take 41 percent of the vote at that point, according to The Associated Press.
And in Florida, Romney by 6.

4. You will see headlines that new home sales were up a strong 3 percent month-over-month at 343,000 new home sales in April. CNBC's Santelli (one of my favorite "analysts") put this in perspective by noting that the recent "high-water" mark for home sales was 350,000 in February, 2012. I have trouble reconciling this as good news, but we will see how the mainstream media reports it.  This story does not mention the "high water" mark set in February, but says this:
Still, sales of new homes are well below the 700,000 annual sales that economists equate with healthy markets.
So, a new number (700,000) along with 200,000 and 400,000 for following the economy. 

5. Interesting.  [Later: Wednesday morning, this was a Drudge link; Wednesday evening, this was the top story, the #1 story at Yahoo!News.]

6. Is Germany driving the bus, or will French Hollande take over? If Euro breaks below $1.26, watch out for free fall. 

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