Wednesday, August 29, 2012

GOP Convention: Speeches Are Good But Specifics Are Better


I did not want to, but I did anyway... listen to the GOP convention speeches last night.  Really, I had some recorded programs to watch, but my wife insisted on listening to the speeches.  So here's my assessment of Ann Romney and Chris Christie's speeches... the other droning was not worth the effort.

Ann Romney is not a great public speaker, but she does pretty well for someone who is not called upon for that task too often.  [image and video from CBS] There was a lot of nervous laughter at first.  That's understandable.  She pushed the importance of women and the sacrifice of women.  That's a bit of pandering, but I'm sure she believes what she said and is, no doubt, correct.  Then she settled down and talked about her marriage and how it was not a "story book" one, but rather one built around fidelity, integrity, and extremely hard work.  She did not apologize for their success.  Why should she?  For those who have followed similar paths, there is never going to be an apology for success.  She emphasized the positives that have come from their marriage... both personal and public... and only briefly alluded to their personal problems... cancer and multiple sclerosis.

Ann Romney doesn't come across as the girl-next-door college student anymore.  That was decades ago.  She comes across as a cool, tough partner who can smile and laugh... but a woman who won't accept the label of pampered and privileged.  She's paid her dues and given back.  Don't mess with her.

Chris Christie is a very good public speaker.  He is a Jake LaMotta of politics... direct, aggressive, don't-stand-in-front-of-me-with-your-bullshit kind of politician.  He's not the prettiest politician in the place, but he knows how to get things done... and does it.  He talked about "respect" and how it was more important than love.  That somewhat contradicted Ann Romney's position, but she was talking about personal relationships and he was talking about political leadership.  Christie was talking about earning respect rather than demanding it.  He was talking about leadership by example rather than being a thug and intimidator.  He was talking about ability, accomplishment, and character and pointing to Mitt Romney as an example.

Chris Christie has his faults.  His weight makes one wince and wonder why a man who can accomplish so much in his home state can't manage his own health.  But it wasn't his personal weight that mattered; it was the weight of his words.  You can watch it below if you wish [video from ABC News].

But now that some of the preliminary speeches are over and we await the nominee's speech, the larger questions still remain: what specific changes will be recommended and pursued to right the Ship of State?  Will we hear, "This is what President Obama has done and this is what we will do that is different and better."  Or will we hear generalizations about "failed policies?"  I can come up with a list of specifics and hope that Mitt Romney is prepared to do the same.
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“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
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SEARCH BLOG: FEDERAL RESERVE for full versions... or use the Blog Archive pulldown menu.

February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
[Image from:]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

About Me

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)