8 a.m. ET: Raise your hand if you understand the meaning of the bank stress tests, the results of which have been leaking out over the last few days and will be officially announced by the Obama administration this afternoon.
The Washington Post says this morning that nearly all of the tested banks "now have enough money to weather the recession" and that this is an "outcome more positive than many investors had expected." The Wall Street Journal reports that of the 19 banks tested, the Federal Reserve told seven they need to raise more money and told six others they were basically fine, while the other six results aren't known yet. Does that mean the glass is one-third full, one-third uncertain? The New York Times says the tests show "some of the nation’s largest banks still need more money" (bad!) but they won't necessarily need to get it from the government (good!) unless the economy takes another turn for the worse (oh no!).
Confusing as the results have been -- particularly the way they have leaked out slowly and in sometimes contradictory fashion -- a rough consensus does seem to be emerging that on balance, the results are more positive than negative. Stocks rose accordingly on Wednesday and look primed to rise again today. All of which is good news for President Obama, who has taken his share of criticism for his handling of the government's sundry bailout programs since taking office. Americans' confidence in the state of the economy keeps ticking up, and if the White House can keep that trendline heading in the right direction while not asking Congress for any more bank bailout money, the administration will consider this arduous exercise a victory.
An improving economy may give Obama more momentum to pass his ambitious domestic agenda. The climate change measure the White House is pushing for is proving to be a tough haul for House Democrats, particularly Henry Waxman, Moderate Democrats want a heath care bill to move first. Obama is hoping to impress those centrists with his commitment to fiscal discipline, releasing today a list of proposed cuts to trim the budget by $17 billion. Coverage of the plan has been lukewarm, with the Post noting it's "a tiny fraction of next year's $3.4 trillion budget," and the Associated Press notes that Obama "is calling on Congress to award generous budget increases to domestic programs while proposing relatively modest cuts to wasteful or obsolete programs that just won't seem to die."
In the Senate, l'affaire Specter continues, as confusion reigns over what Harry did or didn't promise Arlen. Specter is sneaking into the Senate chamber, trying to avoid reporters. The Fix reports that the White House sent two senior advisers to the Hill Wednesday to meet with the Pennsylvanian and help him through this rough patch. Most of Specter's Democratic colleagues are making conciliatory comments about him, at least in public, and they presumably realize that it doesn't help their party to damage him too badly. Barring the unlikely event that Specter loses in the primary, Senate Democrats need him to be an effective general election candidate, not a lame duck or a laughingstock.
May 7, 2009; 8:05 AM ET
Go to full archive for The Rundown »
Please email us to report offensive comments.
The comments to this entry are closed.