Monthly Archives: December 2009

From the FT’s comment section:
FT writers: Heatwaves, trade wars and a world cup win for Brazil
Gideon Rachman: How long can the Iranian government last?
Editorial: Iran protests turn into open rebellion
Editorial: Awaiting the start of the 21st century
Markets Insight: Robert Jaeger and Cyrus Taraporevala, Buckets of risk and successful diversification
Notebook: Robert Shrimsley, The pants plot and the first degree     
Lex: The agenda-setting column on business and finance

From the FT’s comment section:
Martin Wolf: The challenges of managing our post-crisis world
William Hague and Paddy Ashdown: Broken Bosnia needs western attention
Paul Kennedy: Rome offers Obama a lesson in limits
Editorial: Time to solve some cosmic mysteries
Editorial: Investors should focus on high pay
Market Insight: Chris Watling, Prepare for lower oil prices
Notebook: Sue Cameron, Sir Humphrey’s world conquest
Lex: The agenda-setting column on business and finance

From the FT’s comment section:
Simon Schama: Global tides that shaped the Noughties
John Kay: Look back in anger at the spirit of the age
Martin Dickson: The bankers who wouldn’t say sorry
Editorial: Obama’s first year in the oval office
Editorial: The next decade of monetary union
Notebook: Brian Groom, How bonus culture sealed the deal
Lex: The agenda-setting column on business and finance

From the FT’s comment section:
Niall Ferguson: The decade the world tilted east
Clive Crook: The real missed opportunity in Obama’s first year
Arvind Subramanian: How economics managed to make amends
Editorial: Decision time for UK’s military role
Editorial: Still lost in the old Bretton Woods
Lex: The agenda-setting column on business and finance

From the FT’s comment section:
John Gapper: Master of risk who did God’s work for Goldman Sachs but won it little love
Martin Wolf: How the noughties proved to be a hinge of history
Gideon Rachman: The grim theme that links the year’s main events
Editorial: The need for peace in the Holy Land
Editorial: Deck the halls with shop-bought holly
Notebook: Stefan Stern, Telling tales from Hollywood at Xmas
Lex: The agenda-setting column on business and finance

James Mackintosh

Speaking as an atheist, I should really say Season’s Greetings, like so many of the bland corporate emails that are wasting my bandwidth at this time of year.

Or, worse, I could pretend that we’re about to celebrate just the New Year, as several cards sent to me by PR agencies make out.

Hedge funds don’t seem to care so much; Crispin Odey, who delights in his own political incorrectness, sticks to a standard Merry Christmas – and appears to feature himself and colleagues, along with Santa Claus, on the front. And the Italians, of course, have no term for political correctness (perhaps I exaggerate). But the only Italian card I received this year (where’s the love, Turin?) has Merry Christmas not only in English, Italian, French, Spanish and German, but Chinese, Japanese and Greek too.

Whatever you speak, have a great holiday and we’ll be back in the new year.

From the FT’s comment section:
Robert Skidelsky: Why market sentiment has no credibility
Bjørn Lomborg: We should change tack on climate after Copenhagen
Bryan Ward-Perkins: Call this a recession? It isn’t the Dark Ages
Economists’ Forum: Martin Wolf answers your questions
Editorial: Europe must find a life after Lisbon
Editorial: How to rebalance the world economy
Global Insight: Krishna Guha, Treasury still gripped by Fannie and Freddie
Markets Insight: Derek Scott, More capitalism, less regulation
Notebook: Sue Cameron, Mandy and Gordon – the unravelling   
: The agenda-setting column on business and finance

James Mackintosh

So Barack Obama has been US president for 11 months and two days. How has he done on the economic front? Taking the narrow view of the markets, pretty damn well. After all, he inherited the worst financial crisis since (insert your favourite long-ago event), and now the US is out of recession and the focus is on (the admittedly terrible) jobs situation, rather than economy-destroying bank failures.

How the markets did under Obama and other presidents

How the markets did under Obama and other presidents

I’ve run the numbers, and looking at recent notable presidents, Obama has overseen the second-biggest jump in the markets of any of them. In his first 11 months, the S&P 500 overall rose almost 37 per cent, behind only Roosevelt’s first term (when the back-calculated version of the index soared just under 90 per cent). That makes Obama better for Wall Street’s rich than Reagan, Nixon, or either of the Bushes. And not just a bit better: Reagan’s best performance, in his second term, was a 23 per cent rise, while Dubya managed just 7 per cent, in his second term (in both their first terms the markets fell).

Back when he hit the 50 day mark, the commentators were quick to point out the disastrous performance of the markets: the fastest drop in a president’s first 50 days for at least 90 years (nice graphic here). But while this led to attempts to dub the fall the “Obama bear market”, little has been said about the rebound.

It is unreasonable to judge Obama by the market’s performance; apart from anything else, the fall was overdone, and so is the rebound. But he had a hand in both; the fall was worsened by fears of government meddling (General Motors being the worst example), and the rise exacerbated by exactly the same government meddling (as vast cash and liquidity injections made their way rapidly into asset prices).

It is too early to conclude that Obama has done well, or badly, in managing the economy. But on the Roosevelt comparison, it is worth noting that in FDR’s second term, the markets plunged more than 36 per cent in the first 11 months. Given the vast increase in the deficit and in public debt under Obama, and the increased healthcare spending still to come, a lot of pain has been deferred. When the markets finally wake up to the future costs of that to the economy and to US consumers (and so businesses), US Treasuries could tumble – which would hammer share prices.

Kiran Stacey

The Guardian
Polly Toynbee, Justice in pay packets starts at the top. Across the board
Naomi Klein, Copenhagen’s failure belongs to Obama

The Times
Nader Mousavizadeh, Help Iranians. Stop worrying about the bomb
Paul Simons, Christmas day is just an odd version of Sunday

The New York Times
David Brooks, The protocol society
Fernanda Viegas and Martin Wattenberg, Answering machine

The Telegraph
Jeremy Hunt, If politicians want to be trusted again, they must learn to listen
Aidan Bridge, Eurostar is not the only way

The Independent
Dominic Lawson, Don’t forget that Jesus was a Jew
Mary Dejevsky, Don’t panic, Copenhagen wasn’t really such a disaster

The Wall Street Journal
Nigel Lawson, Time for a climate change plan B
Lawrence Krauss, A dark matter breakthrough?

From the FT’s comment section:
Rodric Braithwaite: The familiar road to failure in Afghanistan
Philip Stephens: It’s too late to take the politics out of banking
Michael Skapinker: Time to take off the blinkers in business class
Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff: Lessons of the Copenhagen discord
Jurek Martin: ’Tis the season to put a sock in it
Editorial: Third time lucky for Basel rules?
Editorial: How Obama can earn peace prize
Global Insight: Gillian Tett, Bankers fear sovereign risk in 2010
Markets Insight: Charles Dumas, Testing times for gilts and sterling
Notebook: Jim Pickard: How to tackle Yule savings – the split    
: The agenda-setting column on business and finance

FT dot comment

FT dot comment is no longer updated but it remains open as an archive.

Politics, economics, high finance and morality – this blog addresses the issues being considered by the FT’s comment team, and their thoughts.

FT dot comment: a guide

Christopher Cook is an FT editorial writer. Before joining the FT in 2008 as a Peter Martin Fellow, he worked for three years for the Conservative party.

Lorien Kite is deputy comment editor, a post he took up in 2009 after four years as a commissioning editor on the analysis page. He joined the FT in 2000.

Ian Holdsworth became assistant features editor in 2009 and was previously chief production journalist for the features pages.