We’re less than two weeks away from the six month mark of the Obama Administration. Here is a summary I would give to someone who had missed the past six months. I think the groupings are particularly important.
- The bank stress tests worked – regulators now have a common framework to evaluate the health of the 20 largest banks, and these banks are in the process of raising private capital.
- Reports are that the Fed’s Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (TALF) is working, providing liquidity to certain markets that lacked it.
- There has not been a sudden failure of a major financial institution since the President took office, in part due to significant new government efforts with AIG and Citigroup, and an ongoing flow of hundreds of billions of dollars to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
- As a result, the severe instability that plagued inter-bank lending markets and certain credit markets last fall and winter has largely receded.
- As the Vice President said on Sunday, the Administration underestimated the severity of short-term macroeconomic decline.
- The U.S. economy has lost 2.64 million jobs since the beginning of the Administration, and the unemployment rate is now 9.5%. Most private sector forecasters project economic growth will turn positive in the fourth quarter of this year, with job growth to resume sometime in 2010. The June job report was really bad. Watch the July report closely.
- The stimulus was poorly designed by Congress, such that it is not now having any measurable economic effect, and the bulk of the GDP boost won’t come until 2010. When you combine this with the missed economic forecast, it means the next six months will be worse than they needed to be.
- The President’s budget would result in massive increases in both deficits and taxes, driving by significant proposed spending increases, especially in health care. CBO projects deficits over the next decade equal to 5.2% of GDP, more than double the cumulative deficit projected under current law. Debt held by the public would rise from 57% of GDP in 2009 to 82% of GDP by 2019, while taxes would grow from 15.5% of GDP in 2009 to almost 20% by 2019.
Too soon to tell