Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Age of Uncertainty

I'm amazed at how much the world changes in a week. The uncertainty factor is huge right now, and presumably wreaking havoc on the market.

1. Political uncertainty as Republicans make great strides and become more arrogant and obstructionist. There's definite fiscal uncertainty as reducing health care costs are key to long-term fiscal solvency. Now that reform is basically dead, who knows....?

2. Political and economic uncertainty as populist anger bears its teeth against Ben Bernanke being reconfirmed. There are good criticisms of Bernanke's monetary policy (as Delong points out in the linked post--not moving the FOMC consensus towards things like an inflation target or more effective QE) but no one in congress would understand them. They're just looking for a scapegoat.

3. More uncertainty as the Obama administration announces new policy goals of reining in large banks and changing the rules of the game. I appreciate this note on the "true" story written by an insider posted by Greg Mankiw.

4. Foreign uncertainty as the rhetoric with China ramps up and it appears the U.S. will have to have a very heavy presence in Haiti for the next decade or more.

It's sorta like 2008 all over again--uncertainty is unsettling.

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