Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Boring Democrats, Always Solving Problems and Shit


Image via Nikkei Asia.

Thought I was somewhere back in the 80s yesterday as the stock indexes crashed and soared out of "uncertainty" over inflation, ostensibly, though in fact over the cure for inflation, which includes the Federal Reserve Bank ticking up interest rates. Of course in the mid-80s the federal funds rate was running around 7 or 8%, occasionally higher, and had recently gone as high as 19%, during the Volcker shocks, while now it's effectively zero, with plans to get it up to 0.75% or even 1.0% in the course of the year (those plans could be changing at this very moment, as I type, as the governors are in the first day of their two-day meeting, but it's not considered likely). 

One percent isn't exactly a nightmare, is it?

I found myself wondering about the actual issues that are causing price hikes, the Covid-caused international supply chain breakage and labor shortage, and what the Biden administration is doing about them. Leading up to Christmas, there was a profusion of news coverage of how, basically, Santa's sleigh was stuck on the freeway and everybody's holiday was going to be wrecked by the failure, and how badly the government was handling it, and how the public wasn't impressed (and horserace gossip: when Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg informed the nation in late November that $17 billion had been allocated to keeping the ports working around the clock and other measures, the media coverage was all about the stupid question of whether "Mayor Pete" might challenge Kamala Harris for the vice presidency). And then, after Biden announced on 22 December that, in fact, the toys had all arrived on time, the discussion kind of went quiet.

It took me three or four pages of Google results to get to some circumstantiated coverage, in a pretty unexpected source, Iowa Starting Line (Your Home for Iowa Politics)

The Biden administration on Wednesday [19 January] announced a major effort to address supply chain backlogs caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The federal government released $14 billion to the US Army Corps of Engineers to fund 500 projects, which will make it easier to transport goods, allow the passage of larger ships, and expand capacity at key ports, according to a White House fact sheet.

Also in the same report legislation in the House to do various reforms in the shipping industry to free up movement of goods, introduced by Rep. Cindy Axne (D-IA), which is probably how the story ended up on an Iowa site. Good for her! Show her some love, if you can, and give her some publicity!

But the story of the big Biden initiative, now almost a week old, still hasn't really shown up in the mainstream news sources (a quick Google search finds it's been on ABC and CBS but not in New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, MSNBC, Politico or Axios, or, like, anywhere people go), and lots of people think the interest rate thing is the only thing the administration is doing about inflation. I guess the political reporters think it's boring. That's why Democrats don't get a break.

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