links for 2008-04-30
Andrew Samwick on Spend-and-Borrow

Felix Salmon Goes to the Milken Conference

He sees signs of increasing non-stupidity in the public discussion of economic policy:

Political Hacks: The Backlash: Macroeconomic discussions at the Milken Conference tend to feature a great deal of party-political Republican talking points... Steve Forbes... Paul Gigot... political speechifying and pandering to the assembled plutocrats tends to obscure any substantive points....

But when Tom Donohue, President and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce, said this morning that "Nancy Pelosi is an agent for Chávez", he actually got booed.... The CBO's Peter Orszag, on the same panel, said that many of the free-trade types on the right were increasingly out of touch when it comes to the deep-felt anti-trade sentiments in most of the country; Donohue simply responded by saying that pro-trade proponents should work on their vocabulary.

Orszag touched on something real, not only in the nation but even at the conference. the mood... is one of pervasive worry and uncertainty. People are losing equity in their homes, they're scared of inflation, they fear the implications of a deep recession, they're more interested in not losing money than they are in making it.... [T]he kind of rah-rah rhetoric which went down well last year is increasingly sounding rather hollow. That's a good thing: it means that always-cut-taxes wing of the Republican Party is going to either moderate itself a bit or else become irrelevant. After the panel, one delegate came up to me and complained, apropos of nothing, that the panelists were "ideologues, when we're looking for objective analysis from an independent think tank"...