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Archive for the ‘Politics’ tag

Must read: Warren Buffet on our economy’s Pearl Harbor, and Barack Obama’s fitness for duty

CNBC provides a transcript of a conversation between Warren Buffet and Tom Brokaw. Choice excerpts, in case you missed it on TV:


Is Barack Obama the right commander in chief for the economy?


He’s the absolute right commander in chief. That– you know, that’s another thing the American people seem to do, occasionally, is that we elect people that are right for the times. You know, whether it was Lincoln, Roosevelt. And– and I would say Obama– you– you couldn’t have– anybody better in charge.


But why is he right for the times?


Well, he’s– he– he’s smart, he’s got the right values, but he also– he understands economics very well. He’s cool. He’s– he’s– he’s analytical. But then, when he gets it all thought through, and he’s fast– he can convey to American– the American people what needs to be done. Not to expect miracles. That it’s gonna take time. But that we’re gonna get to the other end. And– and I– I– I don’t think there’s anybody better for the job than– than– the president-elect.


Do you think that the American taxpayer, or the American consumer, will have learned anything about proportion as a result of this experience? Because we have been on a binge.


Yeah, we’ve been on a binge.


And I count myself on that by the way.


Yeah, well– well, you look like a guy that’s been on a binge, actually. (LAUGHTER) No, I think– the– most people won’t. But some institutions will. And– and some will learn it whether they want to or not. But– but the– most people have a propensity to spend what they– what they make and maybe a little more.

And– and the trouble is they– they’ve had a friendly bartender, you know, in– in terms of this binge. And I think– I think the bartender is going to, been sobered up materially. And some of the rules about how many drinks he can serve and all of that– (LAUGHTER) will be tightened up somewhat.

So I– I– I do not think we will see a repeat of the factors that led to this soon. We will see bubbles though again in the future. Human nature, you know, greed and fear will keep– continue to exist. And– and– and we will have other bubbles, and they won’t be exactly like this one. But they won’t– you won’t see this particular type repeated for quite a while.

Let us hope.

Reading a transcript is a bit choppy but it’s worth slogging your way through.

(Hat tip to Paul Kedrosky’s Infectious Greed for the link)

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Tom Mangan posted at 10:45 am January 19th, 2009 |

Anti-war protests cite Caterpillar’s role in Israel/Palestine conflict

It’s getting so you can’t build an honest tractor these days without some fools shoving them into a war zone and dragging your good name through the muck with it. From a newspaper report in Birmingham, UK, where protesters want the fighting in the Gaza Strip to end.

Demonstrators also claimed companies, such as Caterpillar, should look at their own part in the attacks for supplying Israelis with equipment, such as bulldozers that are now flattening Palestinian homes.

Simon Furze, a member of the Stop the War Coalition in Birmingham, said: “These protests are to help build up interest in the public meeting.

“It is very important that we keep the pressure on the Government and ordinary people’s consciences.

“Companies in Britain are reticent about their part in the slaughter going on. Those providing machinery are implicit. Caterpillar for example, whose bulldozers are being used to pull down homes by the Israelis. It’s appalling.

Cat’s defense: “We can’t help what people do with our equipment.”

Well, they’ve got a point there: Osama Bin Laden’s family supposedly had the world’s largest fleet of Cat tractors for awhile there.

(On-topic observation: Mideast Unrest seems to be helping give oil prices a bit of a bump, which is among the factors propping Cat’s stock at the moment).

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Tom Mangan posted at 10:20 pm January 4th, 2009 |

Biden: Stimulus plan shaping up

VP-elect Joe Biden says an outline for Obama’s stimulus plan is firming up. Bloomberg reports:

“We’re getting awful close,” Biden said in Washington today before meeting with some of President-elect Barack Obama’s top economic advisers. “We’re all on the same page.”

Biden said a deal is nearing on both on the kind of spending and the overall cost of the package. He wouldn’t confirm reports that the plan will cost $800 billion over two years, saying only that “it will be substantial.”

The goal of the plan is to create or save 3 million jobs, up from the 2.5 million Obama announced in November. Biden said Obama and his team increased the target because conditions are getting worse in the U.S. economy.

Insert standard disclaimer that there’s no way to know how much this’ll help Cat directly, but they way things are going, it can’t hurt.

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Tom Mangan posted at 10:43 am December 23rd, 2008 |

Ray Lahood next transportation secretary

Obama figures Rep. Ray Lahood, R-Peoria, must know something about tractors after all those years in P-Town. Or maybe holding his nose and picking a Republican (ooh, that’s a gross choice of words) is easier if it’s a nice guy from down the road.

One of the tasks awaiting the transportation secretary is helping to implement the vast public works projects that Mr. Obama has proposed to jumpstart the economy. A member of the Appropriations Committee, Mr. LaHood has experience overseeing – and spending money on – such projects.

Rep. Ray Lahood, retiring Peoria congressman.Mr. LaHood, who is retiring this year after seven terms in Congress, has represented Peoria and the surrounding area in downstate Illinois. Known for moderate views, Mr. LaHood belonged to the Republican Main Street Partnership, but first rose to prominence when he presided over the House impeachment vote against President Bill Clinton.

Mr. LaHood, 63, was elected to Congress as part of the 1994 class that gave House Republicans the majority for the first time in nearly a half-century. A former state legislator and a senior congressional aide, Mr. LaHood became a leading bipartisan voice in an increasingly polarized Congress.

Cat machines build the road, we Peoria guys stand in the middle of it.

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Tom Mangan posted at 11:41 pm December 17th, 2008 |

Lobbyists lining up for Obama-dollars

Bloomberg reports that machinery lobbyists are coming out of the woodwork in Washington, hoping for slice of the proposed stimulus package. Lobbyists, being by nature devoid of shame, are untroubled by the fact that Obama is not actually president yet.

With President-elect Barack Obama promising the biggest government investment in public works since the interstate highway system began in 1956, transportation officials and the companies that design and build the projects are pressing hard to get their priorities into the package.

They’re carrying out a lobbying blitz as Obama and Congress decide on an economic-stimulus plan that some senators say may top $700 billion. By comparison, Congress earmarked $287 billion over six years on roads and transit in 2005, the last time it passed a transportation bill.

This is how it works: When the new bridge crosses your river, it’s essential infrastructure investment. When it’s built in the town down the river, it’s wasteful pork spending.

Wisecracks aside, the money won’t be poured down a rathole: it’ll be spent all over the country, and the multiplier effect will ripple throughout the economy. Taking on all this debt is a bit worrisome, but debt you can afford to pay off is just another expense like the light bill. People need jobs to keep the lights on.

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Tom Mangan posted at 8:14 am December 16th, 2008 |