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Monday, July 20, 2009

The Undismal Weekly Wrapup - July 12-18, 2009

Analytical Summaries of Key Stories of the Week on Economics and Public Policy

Interesting week, with major themes focusing on cautious optimism on signs of recovery (but with a tone of expectations management on its pace) and next moves for the Fed.

America Needs a National Manufacturing Policy. Now. (Huffington Post)
In a guest column for the Huffington Post, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Economic Policy, points to the pivotal role of the declining manufacturing base in the U.S. in the current plight of the middle class, and argues for an urgent need for “a national plan … that aligns federal actions with the goal of strengthening our manufacturing sector.”

Experts Tell Congress to Lay Off the Fed (Wall Street Journal)
David Wessel of the Wall Street Journal reports that 250 noted economists, including Robert Shiller, have urged congress not to cave in to pressure to intervene in the Fed’s policy making efforts, driven by critics of the central bank. They also caution that efforts currently under discussion to revisit the Fed’s powers and governance structure could backfire.

Geithner Says Global Economy Faces Recovery Setbacks (Bloomberg)
Speaking in Saudi Arabia, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner cautions that the recovery of the global economy is likely to be gradual with a higher than normal share of temporary fluctuations and reversals, due to such factors as wealth lost during the crisis and the heavy increase in public debt, according to this report for Bloomberg from Rebecca Christie.

McCulley Says Fed Needs To ‘Be Irresponsible’ If Prices Tumble (Bloomberg)
Dakin Campbell reports for Bloomberg on advice to the Fed from Paul McCulley of Pacific Investment Management Co., who argues that, if the U.S. economy falls into a protracted slump similar in character to Japan’s lengthy recession, the central bank may need to initiate radical interventions that set aside the normal context of keeping inflation within a targeted level.

Paulson Defends His Response to Economic Crisis (Associated Press)
Responding to the substantial second-guessing of the Bush administration’s responses to the economic crisis toward the end of 2008, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson contends, according to this report from AP’s Ann Flaherty, that the actions prevented suffering of a “far more profound and disturbing level.”

Summers: Economy Has Moved Back from Catastrophe (Associated Press)
Obama economic advisor Larry Summers makes a case, as reported by AP’s Jim Kuhnhenn, for cautious optimism -- based on several indicators, including a decrease in public gloom evidenced by declining Google searches for the phrase “economic depression,” a slower pace of economic contraction, improving consumer confidence, and stronger quarterly earnings reports.
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