The Senate and "Buy America"
Ah. The Weaker Version of "Buy America" Is Not Quite Toothless After All...

Is This the Moment to Try to Block the Stimulus Package?

For at least twenty-five years Republican opposition to Democratic proposals has been really bad economics. When I ask my Republican economist friends why their political masters do it--are they really that clueless?--the model response has always been: "Yeah, they know it, but they also think it's good politics." But is trying to block Obama's economic boost program really good politics right now?

Jonathan Birchall and Alan Rappeport of the FT:

US retailers report grim January: US retailers reported a grim set of January sales figures on Thursday, as the economic gloom weighed on a month that is traditionally a time for clearance sales and heavy discounting. Retail Metrics, which tracks the monthly sales numbers, said its index of same-store sales from leading retailers fell 1.8 per cent for the month, the fourth consecutive month the index has fallen.

But Wal-Mart... outperformed the rest of the sector, reporting on Thursday that its same-store sales were up 2.1 per cent for the month.... Target, Wal-Mart’s more upmarket competitor, reported a 3.3 per cent fall in same-store sales, and lowered its fourth-quarter guidance.... Sales at comparable JC Penney stores fell by 16.4 per cent last month.... Rival Kohl’s said that same-store sales fell by 13.4 per cent in January. Macy’s, the largest US department store chain, said that same-store sales were down 4.5 per cent last month. On Tuesday the company said it would cut 7,000 jobs as it presses ahead with a wide-ranging reorganisation of its business.

Clothing retailers were among the hardest hit last month, as shoppers tightened their belts. Gap, the biggest US speciality clothing retailer, said comparable-store sales were off by 23 per cent - including a 34 per cent fall at its Old Navy brand stores - while American Eagle Outfitters reported sales down 22 per cent. Buckle, the Nebraska-based youth retailer, again bucked the trend with a 14 per cent increase in same-store sales.

At the top end of retail, Saks reported a 23.7 per cent fall in comparable sales at its luxury department stores, while its total sales fell 22.7 per cent to $147.1m...