Stocks end January in the red -- a bad sign, historically
Stocks ended the first month of the year in the red, which historically has been a bad sign for the remainder of the year.
For all of January, the Dow was down 360.72 points, or 3.46 percent, closing the month at 10,067.33.
It was the largest monthly percentage and point drop since February 2009, the month right before the market bottomed. It was also the third losing January in a row.
As I've written here before, January is historically a pretty decent predictor of market performance for the year, at least with the S&P 500.
The S&P 500 also had a bad month, finishing January down by about the same amount as the Dow.
If the S&P 500 is up for the first five days of the year, there's a 75 percent chance it will be up for the remainder of the year. If it is down for the first five days of the year, there's only a 44 percent chance it will be up for the year. (The S&P 500 was up for the first five trading days of this year.)
For the whole month of January, from 1960 through 2007, the S&P 500 finished with a negative return 17 times. Of those 17 years, there were only three when the S&P 500 finished the full year with a gain of more than 5 percent. So it's accurate to say that in 14 of the 17 years, a poor January predicted a poor full year.
(And we won't even get into the Nasdaq, which had a terrible month -- down more than 5 percent.)
A stock-picker on CNBC this morning predicted that the markets will test their March 2009 lows. That would mean, for instance, that the Dow would have to lose 3,500 points, falling from just over 10,000 to 6,500. That seems like a radical prediction, but if you were expecting the March-to-December rally to continue, that sounds even more far-fetched to me -- especially with unemployment at 10 percent.
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S&P Puts Negative Outlook on Japan
Standard & Poor's Ratings Services Tuesday threatened to cut Japan's government debt rating by a notch, saying the Democratic Party government isn't fixing the nation's bloated finances as fast as expected.
Lowering the outlook on Japan's AA rating to negative from stable, S&P said, "The Japanese government's diminishing economic policy flexibility may lead to a downgrade unless measures can be taken to stem fiscal and deflationary pressures."
The threat to Japan's rating, the third-highest that S&P assigns, hit the yen and Japanese government bond prices and prompted concern that the move might dim previously robust prospects for bond issuance throughout Asia over the near term.
"The ratings on Japan could fall by one notch if economic data remain weak and measures to boost medium-term growth are not forthcoming, given the country's high government-debt burden and its weak demographic profile," S&P said.
Net general government debt burden, forecast to be 100% of gross domestic product at the end of March, "is among the highest for rated sovereigns" and looks set to peak at 115% of GDP over the next several years, S&P said.
"The policies of the new Democratic Party of Japan government point to a slower pace of fiscal consolidation than we had previously expected," S&P said.
But it said Japan's high rating was sustained by such strengths as its status as the world's biggest net creditor, massive foreign reserves and the yen as a reserve currency.
S&P said it will look for signs of fiscal consolidation in the government's medium-term fiscal plan due in the first half of the year, as well as after Upper House elections in July.
If "we conclude that government policies, either on the fiscal side or structural reform side, will moderate the government's debt trajectory, the ratings could stabilize at the current levels," S&P said.
Pakistani government, military wary of U.S. overtures
By Pamela Constable
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, January 25, 2010
ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN -- Despite a string of high-profile visits designed to reassure Pakistan of Washington's commitment, U.S. officials have failed to win over a military and civilian establishment here that remains suspicious of U.S. ties to India and reluctant to plunge into war with Afghan militants who may outlast the U.S. presence.
Differences between the two partners could cause problems at the international conference on Afghanistan that opens Thursday in London, which will be attended by 60 countries. President Obama has called Pakistan crucial to the success of the new U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.
In a visit here last week that included speeches and interviews on local television, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates declared repeatedly that the United States respects Pakistani sovereignty, regrets having curtailed military ties with Islamabad after the end of the Afghan-Soviet war in 1989 and has no desire to open military bases here or seize control of Pakistan's nuclear assets.
Gates also offered to provide Pakistan with unarmed, unmanned surveillance planes. The gesture intended to ease Pakistani concerns about the increasing use of U.S. armed drones to launch missile strikes against al-Qaeda and Taliban targets in Pakistan's remote tribal areas.
' Nevertheless, the responses he received from the army and the press here were either skeptical or defiant. Washington has been urgently pressing military officials to take on Islamic militants in the tribal area of North Waziristan, but the officials announced during Gates's visit that they could not launch any operation for at least six months.
In a speech at the National Defense University in Islamabad, Gates acknowledged that the United States had made a "grave mistake" by abandoning Pakistan in the past and said it now seeks to rebuild relations with "a new generation of Pakistani officers." But once journalists were ushered out, the military audience peppered him with skeptical questions. According to several sources, one questioner even asked him, "Are you with us or against us?"
The Pakistani media focused their coverage on a gaffe by Gates on the sensitive topic of private U.S. security firms working here. Answering a question, he inadvertently implied that the security company formerly known as Blackwater is working for the U.S. government in Pakistan, which U.S. and Pakistani officials have repeatedly denied. The secretary's slip dominated the national airwaves for 48 hours, and fueled already rampant speculation that the firm's employees are serving as spies.
Although some of the negative reaction may be nationalistic hype or negotiating tactics, analysts and diplomats said, it also reflects a deep divergence of views between the two countries, even though their governments are allied in a costly fight against Islamic extremists.
"Many people here feel Pakistan and the U.S. cannot be strategic partners, that this is only a marriage of convenience. They are in the same bed but they have different dreams," said Rifaat Hussain, a professor of defense and security studies at Quaid-I-Azam University in Islamabad.
One major obstacle, analysts said, is the close relationship between the United States and India. India-Pakistan relations are mired in mistrust, with India suspecting Pakistan of colluding in a terrorist attack in Mumbai in late 2008, and Pakistan suspecting that India uses Afghanistan to launch anti-Pakistan subversion.
For some Pakistanis, the message of support delivered by Gates and other recent visitors, including special envoy Richard Holbrooke, has been discredited by similar U.S. messages of support for India. Washington sees India's active role in Afghanistan as a force for stability, but Pakistan sees it as a threat and has been reaching out to other regional powers, including Iran, for counterbalancing support.
The other major obstacle, analysts said, is Pakistan's concern that if its armed forces expand operations and go after allies of the Afghan Taliban, this will invite retribution from radical groups that have so far refrained from attacking Pakistan, and that could end up sharing power in Afghanistan after Western forces withdraw.
Analysts pointed out that key militant leaders in North Waziristan, especially Sirajuddin Haqqani and Hafiz Gulbahadur, have honored longtime peace agreements with Pakistan while attacking U.S. troops in Afghanistan. If provoked, these leaders could marshal thousands of fighters against government forces.
"If the army goes into North Waziristan, it will stir up a hornet's nest," said Imtiaz Gul, director of the Center for Research and Security Studies. He said that the region is full of young men eager to fight for Islam, and that it would be difficult to isolate militant factions from one other. "There is a fusion of interests that would be a lethal combination for the security establishment," Gul said.
The army's spokesman said that its forces were stretched too thin after months of fighting in South Waziristan and the Swat Valley to open a new front, and that they need more time to consolidate their gains.
Analysts and diplomats said the army's delaying tactics were in part a gambit to win more U.S. military aid and in part a reflection of the toll taken by the fighting. The army has said it has lost 250 to 300 troops, mostly to explosive devices, and that officers made up a disturbingly high proportion of the dead.
Other observers pointed to a cultural cause for the disconnect between the United States and Pakistan, despite the recent infusion of U.S. economic aid and the fence-mending visits from Washington. Pakistanis understand the need to curb violent militant groups, they said, but do not want to be seen as doing Washington's bidding.
"You are a superpower and we will help you fight the extremists, but you cannot buy us," said Talha Mehmood, a senator from a pro-government religious party. "You can give us aid, but give us respect and dignity, too. Otherwise, you will spill your blood and spend your money, and the people will still hate you."
昨年３月以来最大の落ち幅となった。オバマの金融、特に、メガ・バンクに規制をかける法案を懸念した。ここから、「二番底」が始まるのかもと思う。就任が不確定のバーナンキは、利息の「り」も言っていないのだが、、伊勢平次郎 ルイジアナU.S. Stocks Tumble to Cap Biggest 3-Day Retreat Since March
By Nikolaj Gammeltoft
Jan. 22 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stocks sank, extending the market’s biggest three-day tumble since March, as financial shares slumped on President Barack Obama’s plan to rein in banks and results at Google Inc. disappointed investors.
Bank of America Corp. led the S&P 500 Financials Index to a 3.3 percent drop as uncertainty over Ben S. Bernanke’s confirmation for another term as head of the Federal Reserve also weighed on lenders. Google sank 5.7 percent after fourth- quarter sales growth missed the most optimistic of analysts’ estimates. U.S. Steel Corp. fell as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said China’s move to slow its economy will hurt metal producers.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index lost 2.2 percent to 1,091.74 at 4:05 p.m. in New York, plunging the most since October and erasing its 2010 gain. The gauge slid 5.1 percent over the past three days as China moved to slow lending and Obama proposed banks be banned from proprietary trading. The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 216.9 points, or 2.1 percent, to 10,172.98. The VIX, a measure of volatility, jumped 56 percent to 27.46 in the past three days in its biggest gain since 2007.
“Bernanke is viewed by markets around the world as a positive for the U.S. economy and the uncertainty about his reconfirmation is accelerating today’s sell-off,” said Michael Holland, who oversees more than $4 billion as chairman of Holland & Co. in New York. “Tag that onto the concerns over China’s economy and Washington’s offensive against the banks.”
The S&P 500 is down 4.8 percent since Alcoa Inc. started the fourth-quarter earnings season on Jan. 11 with lower-than- estimated profit. Analyst forecast earnings for companies in the index grew 73 percent in the October-December period, according to a Bloomberg survey, following a record nine quarter slump.
Morgan Stanley lost 5.2 percent to $27.80, Bank of America fell 3.7 percent to $14.90 and Goldman Sachs declined 4.2 percent to $154.12. The S&P 500 Financials Index has slipped 6.1 percent over the past two days, its biggest decline since September.
Obama yesterday called for limiting the size and trading activities of financial institutions as a way to reduce risk- taking and prevent another financial crisis. The proposals, to be added to an overhaul of regulations being considered by Congress, would prohibit banks from running proprietary trading operations solely for their own profit and sponsoring hedge funds and private equity funds.
Meredith Whitney, the banking analyst who forecast Citigroup Inc.’s dividend cut in 2008, said Obama’s plan will probably be approved and may “dramatically” reduce trading profits.
“Short sellers have come out heavy against the financials because their view is that Washington is at war with the banks now,” said Kevin Shacknofsky, who manages $2.5 billion for Alpine Mutual Funds in Purchase, New York. “Financials will be the political scapegoat this year and it’s going to be really tough to own bank stocks until the November elections.”
Morgan Stanley Asia Chairman Stephen Roach said Obama’s plan amounts to “bank bashing” and called on politicians to take a more balanced approach. Banks may have to sell some private-equity businesses and stop investing in buyouts under the proposal.
Financial shares extended declines as Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer and Russ Feingold said they won’t support Ben S. Bernanke for a second term as the chairman of the Federal Reserve is coming up for confirmation in a Senate vote. A second term would begin on Feb. 1.
A failure to confirm Bernanke “would really rattle the market,” said Karl Mills, who helps manage about $30 million as chief investment officer for Jurika Mills & Keifer LLC in Oakland, California. “The Fed chair you know is better than the one you don’t. In this political environment, we’re not presuming anything anymore.”
Credit Card Companies Slump
American Express Co. and Capital One Financial Corp. fell 8.5 percent and 12 percent respectively as analysts at FBR Capital Markets reduced earnings estimates, citing shrinking margins and new U.S. credit-card regulations.
任期一年を過ぎたオバマ。五人の歴史家は、オバマの成績票に何点をがつけたか？「もし、医療改革が成功すれば、Bプラス～失敗すれば、F(落第）」と、、＊全く同感だ。 伊勢平次郎 ルイジアナObama Grade From Historians Will Drop Without Health-Care Bill
By Kate Andersen Brower
Jan. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Five of the U.S. historians whose insights President Barack Obama sought at a dinner last summer give him grades averaging a B-plus for his first year in office if his push for health-care legislation succeeds.
Obama’s handling of the economy won praise; what was seen as a lack of leadership on health care and a missed opportunity to seize on populist outrage about bank bonuses earned criticism. Making the judgments were Doris Kearns Goodwin, Robert Dallek, H. W. Brands, Douglas Brinkley and David Kennedy, who were among nine historians at the June 30 White House meal.
The ultimate assessment of Obama’s first year hinges on the fate of his bid to overhaul the U.S. health-care system, said Brands, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin.
If the measure passes, “then the main thing that he aimed for this year was a success,” said Brands. “If it falls apart, he’s a loser.”
Passage prospects suffered a blow Jan. 19 when Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown won the Senate seat Democrat Edward Kennedy had held. When Brown takes office, Republicans will have the 41 Senate votes needed to stall action on a bill.
“One of the things that the Massachusuetts race generates is that Obama doesn’t pull any votes,” Brands says. “And good political leaders have long coattails. Apparently Obama didn’t do that and if he can’t do it in Massachusetts where can he do it?”
In an interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired Dec. 13, Obama gave himself a “good solid B-plus,” saying the grade would become an A-minus with passage of the health-care measure. “I think that we have inherited the biggest set of challenges of any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt,” Obama said. “We stabilized the economy, prevented the possibilities of a great depression, or a significant financial meltdown.”
Kennedy, a professor at Stanford University, near Palo Alto California, said history may judge that Obama made a “tactical error in not teeing up the health-care bill a little differently, maybe waiting until there’d been more economic recovery.”
During their two-hour meal of lamb chops, tomato and mozzarella salad and peach melba, the historians said Obama pelted them with questions about how Roosevelt and President Lyndon B. Johnson cajoled legislators to pass ambitious domestic agendas.
Obama, 48, was “most interested in what you might call the mechanics of how presidents got things done,” said Kennedy.
Three of the other dinner guests, Garry Wills, Michael Beschloss and Kenneth Mack, declined to comment. Robert Caro didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Bank Fees Timing
Obama’s announcement last week of a proposed fee on the country’s largest financial institutions to help recoup taxpayer bailout money didn’t come soon enough, said most of the historians.
“Franklin Roosevelt excoriated the ‘economic royalists’, as he called them,” said Brands. “Roosevelt understood how to use political enemies, how to identify those bad people who did the bad things to the country. Obama hasn’t chosen that road.”
Brands, 56, gave the president a B-plus, based partially on “the avoidance of any major mistakes, but no huge accomplishments.”
Goodwin, author “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” said Obama should fight more aggressively for his proposed overhaul of financial regulations.
“He can get populist fervor answered by taking on that issue,” said Goodwin, 67. “He needs to reconnect with the people and mobilize the forces that were for him on the campaign.”
Goodwin and Kennedy each said their A-minus grades for Obama would become B-pluses if a health-care bill doesn’t pass.
“I think he’s done a remarkable job of maintaining his zen-like quality this year,” said Brinkley, 49, a historian at Rice University in Houston. “He always seems to be in the zone and he’s unflappable, but sometimes this year people wanted to see him flap.”
Brinkley gave the president an overall grade of B, based on foreign policy and for being the “most untarnished political figure in America.” For his relationship with Congress, though, Brinkley gave Obama a D.
“He needed to have the Obama health-care plan bound and ready so he could tell Congress, ‘this is our plan,’” rather than set broad goals as the House and Senate shaped their own bills, Brinkley said.
Brinkley wouldn’t discuss details of the June dinner because he said it was off the record.
Dallek, author of several presidential biographies, said he couldn’t decide whether Obama merited an A-minus or B-plus.
He said passage of health-care legislation would be a “minor miracle” because Obama has had to rely solely on the Democratic caucus in the Senate to advance the bill.
“The kind of bipartisanship that existed in the 1950’s” when House Speaker Sam Rayburn, a Texas Democrat, and Johnson, a Texas Democrat who was Senate majority leader, worked with Republican President Dwight Eisenhower “is not within anyone’s grasp now,” said Dallek, 75.
Kennedy, 68, agreed with Dallek. Calling Congress “an awkward-to-operate contraption,” he said Obama was hindered by “the relatively thin majorities” his party has in both chambers unlike the larger majorities Roosevelt and Johnson enjoyed during their early years in office.
Dallek praised Obama’s deliberative process as he decided to send another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. He also said the war there “has the potential to be his biggest failure” if it “drains away the energy for his domestic reform programs and traps him into something that in some way or other resembles Iraq or Vietnam.”
Scott Brown wins Massachusetts Senate special election race
State Sen. Scott Brown won a remarkable upset victory over state Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) tonight in a Massachusetts Senate special election, a victory likely to spawn broad-ranging political and policy consequences heading into the midterm elections.
With 71 percent of precincts reporting, Brown held a 53 percent to 46 percent lead over Coakley. Coakley called Brown to concede the race moments ago, according to a Democratic aide.
Brown's victory is the first for Republicans at the Senate level for Republican in Massachusetts since 1972 and he becomes the lone GOPer in the 12-person federal delegation from the Bay State.
While it is a historic win within Massachusetts, the implications of Brown's victory for the national political scene are even more critical.
Brown will give Republicans a 41st seat in the Senate, robbing Democrats of the filibuster-proof majority the party had used to pass President Obama's health care plan late last year. In the immediate lead-up to tonight's vote, Democrats -- including the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) -- insisted that the party would move forward on health care but it is unclear whether that bravado will carry over in the coming days as the party seeks to deal with Coakley's stunning upset.
"I have no interest in sugar coating what happened in Massachusetts," said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (N.J.). "There is a lot of anxiety in the country right now. Americans are understandably impatient."
Congressional strategists had warned in the closing days of the Massachusetts Senate race that a Coakley defeat had the potential to trigger a series of retirements within the Democratic ranks as members flee a political wave that could wash out dozens in the House and high single digits on the Senate side.
"My message to my clients? Jump ship now," said one Democratic operative who advises a number of targeted Members of Congress. "Obama can't help you."
Democratic leaders spent much of Tuesday reaching out to vulnerable Members to convince them that the circumstances that led to Coakley's demise were unique to her and the state and not indicative of the general political environment in which they will have to run in November.
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Chris Van Hollen (Md.) sought to downplay the Massachusetts result in a statement released after Coakley had conceded the contest. "House Democrats have been preparing since day one last year for what we knew historically would be a very challenging election cycle," said Van Hollen.
It's not clear whether these efforts will pay off as Democratic Members of Congress were already fearful of what is coming in 2010 -- particularly after five retirements and a party switch over the past two months in competitive districts around the country.
The high stakes for Democrats were apparent in the final week of the campaign as the national party poured resources and manpower into Massachusetts in hopes of saving what was clearly a flagging campaign.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spent nearly $1.5 million on ads in support of Brown and President Obama made a hastily-scheduled visit to the state on Sunday -- his wife's birthday -- in hopes of energizing a lethargic party base.
As Tuesday wore on, and it became clear that Coakley was likely to come up short, the finger pointing within the Democratic party began in earnest with the candidate's advisers insisting that they had not received nearly enough support in the past month from national Democrats and DC-based strategists alleging that the blame for the loss lie entirely on Coakley.
"The campaign failed to recognize this threat, failed to keep Coakley on the campaign trail, failed to create a negative narrative about Brown [and] failed to stay on the air in December while he was running a brilliant campaign," said one Democratic party official, adding that it is "wishful thinking" from Coakley to blame the national party for "one of the worst debacle in American political history".
Republicans, meanwhile, were gleeful -- touting the Massachusetts victory on top of wins in gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey in 2009 as evidence that the political pendulum was swinging quickly in their direction.
"Democrats will try to play this race off as an isolated incident, but the recent spate of polling in swing districts across the country proves that Massachusetts isn't the exception of the 2010 election cycle, its the rule," said National Republican Congressional Committee communications director Ken Spain. "Any Democrat who voted for the health care bill now knows how big of an albatross they will have hanging around their necks."
The Early 1980s recession in the United States is sometimes given as an example of a W-shaped recession.Percent Change From Preceding Period in Real Gross Domestic Product (annualized; seasonally adjusted); Average GDP growth 1947–2009 Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis
A W-shaped recession or "double dip" recession, occurs when the economy has a recession, emerges from the recession with a short period of growth, but quickly falls back into recession.
The Early 1980s recession in the United States is cited as an example of a W-shaped recession. The National Bureau of Economic Research considers two recessions to have occurred in the early 1980s. The economy fell into recession from January 1980 to July 1980, shrinking at an 8 percent annual rate from April to June of 1980. The economy then entered a quick period of growth, and in the first three months of 1981 grew at an 8.4 percent annual rate. As the Federal Reserve under Paul Volcker raised interest rates to fight inflation, the economy dipped back into recession (hence, the "double dip") from July 1981 to November 1982. The economy then entered a period of mostly robust growth for the rest of the decade.Obama: Too much debt could fuel double-dip recession
Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:14am EST
BEIJING, Nov 18 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama gave his sternest warning yet about the need to contain rising U.S. deficits, saying on Wednesday that if government debt were to pile up too much, it could lead to a double-dip recession.
With the U.S. unemployment rate at 10.2 percent, Obama told Fox News his administration faces a delicate balance of trying to boost the economy and spur job creation while putting the economy on a path toward long-term deficit reduction.
His administration was considering ways to accelerate economic growth, with tax measures among the options to give companies incentives to hire, Obama said in the interview with Fox conducted in Beijing during his nine-day trip to Asia.
"It is important though to recognize if we keep on adding to the debt, even in the midst of this recovery, that at some point, people could lose confidence in the U.S. economy in a way that could actually lead to a double-dip recession," he said.
Fox News, which released a transcript of the interview, showed that comment by Obama on Wednesday morning and said the full discussion would be broadcast later in the day.
去年の９月末、この二人はNYで始めて会った。以来、日米関係は退化した。その原因は、主に鳩山のわがままにある。オバマの支持率は４６％に下がった、その理由は、１）１０％の失業率の改善努力が足りないとみられた～２）TARPや、STIMULUSで公的資金を大盤振る舞いしたが、メガバンク、AIG、GMに、政府の救済金を好き勝手に分配されてしまった～３）その最大の責任者のガイトナー財務長官を更迭せず据え置いた～４）迷ったうえ、アフガン増派決定～５）中国に低姿勢を取った～５）ノーベル平和賞を受け取った～７）穴だらけの国民皆保険を疑われた、、ついで、鳩山は、汚職にまみれ、検察に追い込まれた小沢一郎を庇う姿勢にでた。読売に「一蓮托生」と書かれた。これはもうおしまいだ。伊勢平次郎 ルイジアナTo regain public favor, Obama needs a good economy and jobs Survey
Which grade would you give Obama, based on his goals -- and his ability to achieve them -- this past year?
By David S. Broder
Sunday, January 17, 2010
As Barack Obama approaches the first anniversary of his inauguration as president, a faculty friend of mine renders what strikes me as the right assessment: "If he were a student, I'd have to give him an incomplete."
That's no surprise, and it is certainly no cause for embarrassment. For all the journalistic focus on the first 100 days of FDR, no president, not even Roosevelt, accomplishes his most significant goals within weeks after being sworn in, and few make their mark in the first year. There's a good reason that the Founders gave presidents four-year terms. Even when it was a fraction of its current size, the government was relatively immobile. The larger the bureaucracy and the more clotted the political system, the more resistant is Washington to political change.
As the inheritor of two wars and a huge financial crisis, the young man from Illinois, relatively new to town, clearly was under pressure to deliver decisions more quickly than those who have come to office in calmer times. But his first task was to build his own government, and he accomplished that feat with a skill that belied his lack of executive experience.
A year in, his Cabinet has lived up to its early billing as a remarkably talented and harmonious set of men and women. The old pros at Defense and State have adapted well to the needs of the new president, and the Washington newcomers have lost little time in taking charge of their responsibilities. Even those who were second choices after Obama's original picks stumbled -- such as Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius -- have weathered their early tests well.
The broad outlines of an Obama domestic agenda have become clear during this past year. The giant economic stimulus bill that passed with next to no help from the Republicans in the early months has accomplished less in saving jobs than had been hoped. But it averted catastrophe and, with luck, could produce bigger dividends in this second year.
The other issues on which Obama campaigned -- health care, climate change and financial regulation -- have struggled in Congress despite the large Democratic majorities. Obama loaded the top of his White House staff with veterans of Capitol Hill, starting with Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. They can be faulted at this point for misjudging the capacity of Congress with its current leadership to handle an agenda so large. Some would say the problem has been compounded by an overly deferential White House approach to the Hill.
But there have been few irreparable setbacks, and the potential for more substantial accomplishments -- including health-care reform -- remains.
On the world scene, Obama has been fortunate to collect the dividends from his predecessor's undervalued policy decisions in Iraq, but he has not been able to achieve any comparable breakthroughs of his own. He has demonstrated his personal effectiveness with most but not all the leaders of key countries. Russia, China, Japan and Israel, among others, have been notably resistant to his charm.
The first year has brought him measurably closer to a showdown with Iran and has left him struggling here at home to establish a convincing approach to the broader threat of terrorism.
Politically, he is notably weaker than when he began. Not, as some of his critics maintain, because the voters have tuned him out or become indifferent to his well-crafted speeches but because none of the goals most important to the American people have been achieved. The most consequential of those, and the one with the shortest timetable, is easing the unemployment that has crippled so many families and this year will confront state and local governments with painful budgetary choices.
After running up record debts coping with emergencies, Obama is short of resources with which to reform health care, education or anything else. He badly needs a strong economy soon. Without it, the Republicans, no matter how strident and negative they may be, cannot help but benefit in November.
１６ヶ月前、リーマンが破綻した。おかげで、１０％の失業率である。去年、ゴールドマン・サックスの会長、ロイド・ブランクファイン（Goldman Sachs Chairman Lloyd Blankfein）は、＄６８ミリオン・ドルの報酬を得たのだ。この男は絶対に謝らない。“まるで、ブレーキが利かない車を売って、その買い主に保険をかけたようなものだ”と米議会公聴会で、加州議員が言った。「バンカーに責任感はゼロ」と、W・ポストのコラム二ストである、ダナ・ミルバンクが書いた。納税者を愚弄する話しだ。伊勢平次郎 ルイジアナ'Sorry' still seems to be the hardest word on Wall Street
By Dana Milbank
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Goldman Sachs Chairman Lloyd Blankfein still doesn't get it.
Unemployment is at 10 percent and Americans are suffering because of the meltdown he and his colleagues helped create. But Blankfein's firm, generously bailed out by taxpayers, has already returned to its ways of greed.
Next week, Goldman, the most powerful firm on Wall Street, will report its bonuses for 2009, and through the first nine months of the year it had set aside nearly $17 billion for compensation -- roughly on par with 2007, when Blankfein was paid a record $68 million as his firm led the country off an economic cliff.
Blankfein, called to Washington on Wednesday to testify before the federal Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, made it plain that he was done apologizing.
"Would you look back on some of the financings as negligent or improper?" asked the commission chairman, former California state treasurer Phil Angelides.
"I think those were very typical behaviors in the context that we were in," Blankfein replied.
Angelides pointed out that others regarded Goldman's behavior -- in which the firm sold mortgage securities to customers and then placed bets against those same securities -- was "the most cynical" of practices. "It sounds to me a little bit like selling a car with faulty brakes and then buying an insurance policy on the buyer of those cars," observed the chairman.
Blankfein treated the chairman to a patronizing account of Goldman's function. "That's what a market is," the CEO explained.
"I do know what a market is," Angelides replied sourly. He tried again to get Blankfein to acknowledge that "excessive risk was being taken."
"Look, how would you look at the risk of a hurricane?" the man from Goldman retorted.
"Acts of God we'll exempt," Angelides said. "These were acts of men and women."
But Blankfein seems to exempt himself from the rules of man. Last month, he blew off a meeting with President Obama at the White House because his plane was delayed by fog in New York; evidently he couldn't bring himself to fly in the night before.
When Wall Street collapsed 16 months ago, Goldman benefited from multiple forms of government bailouts: $10 billion in TARP money from the Treasury, billions more in payments to Goldman as part of the AIG bailout, and much more in the form of federal government lending programs. Regulators also allowed Goldman to convert itself into a bank holding company, an extension of federal backing that let the firm avoid the fate of Lehman Brothers. Without the federal government propping up Wall Street, Goldman, like most firms, probably would have failed.
But in the House Ways and Means Committee hearing room Wednesday, Blankfein acted as if he had been little more than a bystander during the crisis and bailout. He argued that "key attributes of our strategy, culture and processes were validated" during the crisis. Self-congratulation was woven through the testimony: "We have due diligence practices that we think were robust. . . . We had tremendous liquidity. . . . We never anticipated the government help. . . . We do a very, very good job."
Angelides asked Blankfein to elaborate on his statement last year that "we participated in things that were clearly wrong, and we have reasons to regret and apologize for."
Blankfein was not inclined to revisit this subject. He acknowledged that the firm "contributed to elements of froth in the market."
The executive offered frequent displays of low regard for his questioners. He smirked as they spoke, challenged the premises of their questions, offered frequent lectures of "let me be clear," and often responded to questions by asking questions of his own.
One commissioner, Heather Murren, said "it doesn't sound like there was a lot of challenge" to the valuations Goldman was giving assets.
"Oh, I'm sorry," Blankfein corrected her. "There is huge challenge in our organization."
Murren asked Blankfein how the nation's economic misery would be reflected in his pay.
Blankfein informed her that "we haven't announced our compensation yet."
The questions and answers continued in a similar style for two hours, and at the end, the chairman of the commission was not impressed with the Goldman boss's grudging admissions.
"I'm troubled by your inability to accept the probability or certainty that your firm would not have made it through the storm but for the vast array of federal assistance," Angelides said. Beyond that, "you were securitizing and underwriting packages of mortgages, and when it was clear the market was going bad . . . you kept moving this product."
"I know it's become part of the narrative to some extent that people knew what was going to happen," Blankfein replied. "We did not know at any minute what would happen next."
That's why they pay him $68 million a year.
私見だが、２００６年の合意を、鳩山が約束している五月以降も先延ばししたり～破棄すれば、「現状据え置き」となるであろう。沖縄県民の反米感情を煽っている民主党連立政権が県民を説得するなど不可能だ。USは、自民中心の保守連立が復活するのを待つであろう。伊勢平次郎 ルイジアナClinton seeks answer to sticky dispute with Japan
By ROBERT BURNS
The Associated Press
Tuesday, January 12, 2010; 11:19 AM
HONOLULU -- Leaping into a deepening dispute with a longtime Asian ally, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is meeting with her Japanese counterpart to discuss the future of a U.S. Marine air field and, more broadly, the U.S.-Japan security alliance.
Clinton on Tuesday was also delivering a speech designed to clarify the Obama administration's views on modernizing the groupings of Asian and Pacific nations in ways that would enhance their cooperation on a wide range of issues, including regional security, trade and the environment.
For decades the main U.S. ties to the Asia-Pacific region have been through security and trade agreements with individual countries, such as the 50-year-old security treaty with Japan that allows the basing of U.S. forces on Japanese territory.
The case of Futenma air station, on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, has become particularly sensitive. That it must be moved is not in dispute - the two countries signed a deal in 2006 to relocate it on the island. The problem is where to put it. And the U.S. position is that it cannot be shut down until a replacement is established elsewhere on Okinawa - an idea most Okinawans oppose.
A new left-leaning Japanese government that took office in September is reassessing the U.S.-Japan alliance.
It also is investigating agreements long hidden in government files that allowed nuclear-armed U.S. warships to enter Japanese ports, violating a hallowed anti-nuclear principle of postwar Japan. The findings are due out this month, and U.S. officials said prior to Clinton's arrival in Honolulu that they expect Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada to raise the matter in their talks Tuesday.
In remarks to reporters traveling with her from Washington on Monday, Clinton played down the friction over Futenma, stressing the many other areas of long-standing cooperation between the two countries.
"We've had a very positive set of interactions with the new Japanese leadership," she said. "We're grateful that they are playing such a leading role in Afghanistan. Their commitment, a very large trust fund, $5 billion, dwarfs anything that any other country has done."
The Hawaiian setting for Tuesday's meeting, in the 50th year of the U.S.-Japan defense alliance, inevitably stirred memories of darker times. Before her session with Okada, Clinton was scheduled to visit the World War II memorial to the sunken USS Arizona, which still lies in Pearl Harbor with its dead.
Nearly 2,400 Americans were killed and almost 1,180 injured when Japanese fighters bombed and sank 12 naval vessels and heavily damaged nine others on Dec. 7, 1941. The Arizona, which sank in less than nine minutes after an armor-piercing bomb breached its deck and exploded in the ship's ammunition magazine, lost 1,177 sailors and Marines. About 340 of its crew members survived.
In her remarks en route to Honolulu on Monday, Clinton defended the Obama administration's foreign policy record in its first year. She said that while the administration may not have produced major breakthroughs, it set the stage for important progress in the months ahead.
Clinton cited Iran as one of the toughest foreign policy problems for the U.S. in 2010. She also said the administration has concluded that the best way to pressure Iran to come clean on its nuclear ambitions is to impose sanctions aimed at the country's ruling elite.
"It is clear that there is a relatively small group of decision makers inside Iran," she said. "They are in both political and commercial relationships, and if we can create a sanctions track that targets those who actually make the decisions, we think that is a smarter way to do sanctions. But all that is yet to be decided upon."
Officials from the six nations trying to persuade Iran to prove its nuclear intentions are peaceful said Monday that senior diplomats from the group were preparing to meet, possibly later this week, to discuss the way ahead, including potential new sanctions.
Clinton mentioned that the meeting, of representatives of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council - the U.S., China, Russia, Britain and France - plus Germany, would be held at the end of the week in New York. She did not cite a specific day.
"They will be exploring the kind and degree of sanctions that we should be pursuing," she said.
FILE - In this 1998 photo Miep Gies displays a copy of her book "Anne Frank Remembered" at her apartment in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Anne Frank called them the Helpers. They provided food, books and good cheer while her family hid for two years from the Nazis in a tiny attic apartment. On Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009, the last surviving helper, Miep Gies, celebrates her 100th birthday, saying she has won more accolades for helping the Frank family than she deserved as if, she says, she tried to save all the Jews of occupied Holland. The Anne Frank Museum says Gies, who helped the teenage diarist's family hide from the Nazis, died Monday Jan. 11, 2010. She was 100. (AP Photo/Steve North, FILE) (Steve North - AP) Miep Gies, who helped hide Anne Frank, dies at 100
By ARTHUR MAX
The Associated Press
Monday, January 11, 2010; 9:40 PM
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- Miep Gies, the office secretary who defied the Nazi occupiers to hide Anne Frank and her family for two years and saved the teenager's diary, has died, the Anne Frank Museum said Tuesday. She was 100.
Gies' Web site reported that she died Monday after a brief illness. The report was confirmed by museum spokeswoman Maatje Mostar, but she gave no details. The British Broadcasting Corp. said she died in a nursing home after suffering a fall last month.
Gies was the last of the few non-Jews who supplied food, books and good cheer to the secret annex behind the canal warehouse where Anne, her parents, sister and four other Jews hid for 25 months during World War II.
After the apartment was raided by the German police, Gies gathered up Anne's scattered notebooks and papers and locked them in a drawer for her return after the war. The diary, which Anne Frank was given on her 13th birthday, chronicles her life in hiding from June 12, 1942 until August 1, 1944.
Gies refused to read the papers, saying even a teenager's privacy was sacred. Later, she said if she had read them she would have had to burn them because they incriminated the "helpers."
Anne Frank died of typhus at age 15 in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in March 1945, just two weeks before the camp was liberated. Gies gave the diary to Anne's father Otto, the only survivor, who published it in 1947.
After the diary was published, Gies tirelessly promoted causes of tolerance. She brushed aside the accolades for helping hide the Frank family as more than she deserved - as if, she said, she had tried to save all the Jews of occupied Holland.
"This is very unfair. So many others have done the same or even far more dangerous work," she wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press days before her 100th birthday last February.
"The Diary of Anne Frank" was the first popular book about the Holocaust, and has been read by millions of children and adults around the world in some 65 languages.
For her courage, Gies was bestowed with the "Righteous Gentile" title by the Israeli Holocaust museum Yad Vashem. She has also been honored by the German Government, Dutch monarchy and educational institutions.
Nevertheless, Gies resisted being made a character study of heroism for the young.
"I don't want to be considered a hero," she said in a 1997 online chat with schoolchildren.
“米中関係が緊張する”と外交専門家たちは言っている、、新年が明けたばかりであるが、USと中国の関係を緊張させる決定がされるようである。オバマ政権は台湾に兵器を売るという。さらに、ダライ・ラマと会見する。台湾が欲しいという兵器のリストには、ブラックホーク・ヘリコプター～MDミサイル防衛～ジーゼルエンジンの潜水艦も含まれる。超親中国の馬政権の下にある台湾へ武器を売る？この意味するところは未知だ。だが、この記事に寄せるコメントの多くが中国人と思われるのがある。英文も上手でないから、アメリカへ来ている留学生かも知れないね。コメントを入れる奴は、大した奴ではないが、中国人が神経質になっていることが判る。アメリカに留学する中国人の愛国心って何だろうね？アメリカに忠告する意味で、伊勢爺が書き入れると、必ず、中国人と思われるのが、南京や７３１部隊の石井四郎を出してくる。伊勢爺は、いちいち、そいつらにレスしない。時間のムダだからである。伊勢が、コメントを入れる理由は、日米関係の強化とISEHEIJIROの宣伝なのだ(笑）。伊勢平次郎 ルイジアナU.S.-China relations to face strains, experts say
＞＞President Obama did not meet with the Dalai Lama when he visited the United States in October, but he plans to meet with him this year.
By John Pomfret
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 3, 2010
The United States and China are headed for a rough patch in the early months of the new year as the White House appears set to sell a package of weapons to Taiwan and as President Obama plans to meet the Dalai Lama, U.S. officials and analysts said.
The Obama administration is expected to approve the sale of several billion dollars in Black Hawk helicopters and anti-missile batteries to Taiwan early this year, possibly accompanied by a plan gauging design and manufacturing capacity for diesel-powered submarines for the island, which China claims as its territory. The president is also preparing to meet the spiritual leader of Tibet, who is considered a separatist by Beijing. Obama made headlines last year when the White House, in an effort to generate goodwill from China, declined to meet the Dalai Lama, marking the first time in more than a decade that a U.S. president did not meet the religious leader during his occasional visits to Washington.
The expected downturn with Beijing comes despite a concerted effort by the Obama administration for closer ties. U.S. officials have held more high-level meetings with their Chinese counterparts -- including a summit in Beijing in November -- in the first year of this administration compared with the inaugural years of the four previous presidencies since relations were normalized with Beijing in 1979, records show.
"I think it's going to be nasty," said David M. Lampton, director of China studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and author of "The Three Faces of Chinese Power: Might, Money and Minds." That said, he added, "the U.S. and China need each other."
The White House is hopeful, too, that the damage will be limited. "The U.S.-China relationship is now far broader and deeper than any one issue alone," said Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser. "We will have disagreements . . . but we have demonstrated that we will work together on critical global and regional issues, such as economic recovery, nuclear proliferation and climate change, because doing so is in our mutual interest."
Still, the impending tension comes at a sensitive time. After hammering out a wobbly political deal with China on climate change in Copenhagen, the United States still needs China's help on three pressing international issues: Iran, North Korea and restructuring its economy so that its people consume more and export less. China recently backed a toughly worded statement on Iran by the International Atomic Energy Agency but continues to oppose enhanced sanctions, which the Obama administration has signaled it will pursue in 2010. The United States also seeks China's continued support in enforcing sanctions against North Korea and in pushing Pyongyang to return to nuclear disarmament talks.
Administration officials said they are sure China will react negatively to the arms sales and the meeting with the Dalai Lama. At a minimum, U.S. officials expect that President Hu Jintao will not attend a planned nuclear security summit scheduled for April. China could also halt the resumed U.S. dialogue with China's military, which had been one of the central goals of this White House's China policy. Any hopes for China's cooperation in Afghanistan are also in question.
One hint that China will limit the scope of its reaction came during Obama's meeting with Hu in November, analysts said. Hu used the formulation "sophisticated weapons" when speaking about any possible U.S. arms sale to Taiwan. U.S. officials took that to be a reference to a tranche of F-16 fighters that Taiwan has requested but that, according to U.S. sources, will not be on Taipei's shopping list this time.
"We hope that he [Obama] will not do that," said Zhou Wenzhong, China's ambassador to the United States, when asked about the possibility of the arms sales and the meeting with the Dalai Lama. "We have just had a very successful visit."
Still, U.S. officials and analysts have noticed a new assertiveness -- what one senior U.S. official called a "sense of triumphalism" -- on the part of officials and the public in China. This stems from a sense in Beijing that the global economic crisis proves the superiority of China's controlled economy and its authoritarian political system -- and that the West, and in particular the United States, is in decline.
This triumphalism was on display during the recently concluded climate talks in Copenhagen. China only sent a deputy foreign minister to meetings set for the level of heads of state; its representatives publicly clashed with their American counterparts. And during the climax of the conference, China's security team tried to block Obama and the rest of his entourage from entering a meeting chaired by China's prime minister, Wen Jiabao.
That type of swagger is new for China and it could make for a stronger reaction from Beijing.
"If they really believe the United States is in decline and that China will soon emerge as a superpower, they may seek to take on the U.S. in ways that will cause real problems," said Bonnie S. Glaser, an expert on China with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Complicating this picture is the view of some American analysts that the Obama administration -- with its intensive outreach to Beijing -- tried too hard in its first year to cultivate ties with China. Playing hard to get might have helped smooth out China's swagger, they suggest.
"Somehow the administration signaled to the Chinese that we need them more than they need us," Lampton said. "We're in the role of the supplicant."
The downturn would also occur at a time when China's long-established ally in the United States -- the business community -- is not as willing to argue on China's behalf as it was during rough patches in the past. China's government has made a series of moves to slow or reverse its market-oriented economic reforms over the last year that have prompted concern among many Western businesses. Although China has accused Washington of protectionist measures -- on Wednesday, the United States imposed new duties on Chinese steel-piping imports -- it also has moved aggressively to shut its markets to goods manufactured by Western companies in China. Now groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which traditionally backed ties with China, find themselves in the unusual position of organizing a public letter-writing campaign to pressure China to change its policies.
"If they continue on this particular path in a strong and inflexible way, there will be a significant political backlash not just in the United States," said a senior U.S. trade official. "China needs to be aware of that."