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Saturday, February 14, 2004

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OKRENT AND HE WHO MUST NOT BE NAMED   
The New York Times must think I'm that character in the Harry Potter books. First there was that correction last week in which they studiously avoided mentioning my name -- though on the same corrections page, gave the names of everyone else in a position similar to mine. And then there's "public editor" Dan Okrent's column in tomorrow's (Sunday's) "Week in Review" section. He's finally dared to mention that he's looking at columnist policy, which is a good thing. And he quotes me: I'm the "especially determined critic" who keeps asking "whether there is such a thing as an unfair opinion." This quote comes from an email I sent to Okren last December, reported on this blog on December 29. But, apparently, I must not be named. Here's Okrent:
Q. What about the editorial page and the columnists? You never write about them.

A. As it largely should be. Most correspondents who complain to me about opinions expressed in editorials or in the space allotted regular columnists are likely to receive this reply: "Editorial writers and columnists are free to express whatever opinions they wish, and readers are free to disagree with them."

However, some related issues that have come up have attracted my attention. One is whether (or how) The Times's editorial positions determine its news coverage. Another is whether columnists should be free, as they are now, to decide whether and when to publish corrections of their own mistakes. One especially determined critic keeps asking "whether there is such a thing as an unfair opinion." (An e-mail note I received this week charged that one columnist "has crossed the line from acceptable or at least standard partisan nonsense to actual irresponsible journalism.") These are all provocative questions, and I hope to be addressing each of them at some point - the corrections policy first, certainly within the next couple of months.

And who's that other fellow who must not be named... the one who "has crossed the line from acceptable or at least standard partisan nonsense to actual irresponsible journalism"? As that person himself might say, "One wonders..."

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:52 PM | link  


Friday, February 13, 2004

WE, THE PEOPLESOFT   Here's my SmartMoney.com column today. More on the PeopleSoft/Oracle deal.
When I started out as an investment professional 25 years ago, my mentor told me something I've never let myself forget. He said, "As an investor, you're like a boat. If you've got a leak, the water will find it."

What he meant, of course, is that if you make a mistake — if you betray any weakness, permit any sentimentality, harbor any illusions — you will lose money. And there are millions of smart people out there just waiting to take full advantage of you when you do make a mistake (collectively, they are "the market"). So to protect yourself — and to make money — you have to be a bit tough-minded.

I thought of what my mentor told me so long ago as hundreds of emails from readers flooded my inbox after last week's column about PeopleSoft's efforts to use antitrust laws to fend off a hostile acquisition by Oracle. I was accused of selfishly wanting to see PeopleSoft's employees thrown out of work, its headquarters in the city of Pleasanton, California, turned into a ghost town and its customers left high and dry with nobody to support their software — all just to make a few extra bucks on my PeopleSoft stock (I had disclosed that I'm a shareholder). A couple of folks even accused me of taking money from Oracle for writing the column (yeah, right…I wish!).

It's not that people are worried for no reason. When Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison first launched the takeover attempt last June, he made some pretty harsh statements about what Oracle would do with PeopleSoft's employees and products. So lots of people who sent me emails lectured me that PeopleSoft CEO Craig Conway had a duty to protect his employees and customers, not just to maximize the company's stock price for shareholders.

Funny thing, though. Most of these emails came from PeopleSoft employees — probably not regular readers of this column, but people who saw it posted on an investing message board. According to them, I'm a greedy capitalist pig because I insist that the CEO watch out for my financial interests. Yet somehow these employees are noble and selfless when they insist that the CEO watch out for their financial interests.

How can people be such hypocrites? Is it because there's something sacred about money earned by labor, and something profane about money earned by investing? Some people certainly feel that way about jobs. Just ask N. Gregory Mankiw, the head of the president's Council of Economic Advisors, who has been pilloried in the press this week for publicly stating the self-evident economic truth that the relocation of American jobs to lower-wage countries is for the best in the long run, even if it involves short-term dislocations.

When jobs are done by the most efficient workers — that is, the lowest cost ones — wherever they may be in the world, the overall efficiency of the global economy is maximized. Workers who are dislocated when they lose their jobs to overseas competitors certainly suffer in the short term, but a more efficient global economy will create new opportunities for them. And Mankiw spoke explicitly of policies to help them through the transition. But that didn't stop the administration's opponents from acting as though destruction of US jobs were a part of President Bush's economic program. And it hasn't stopped PeopleSoft employees from arguing that their own jobs are more important than any other economic consideration.

But I think it's actually simpler than that, and it gets back to what my mentor taught me about how important it is not to make mistakes as an investor. The PeopleSoft employees are simply looking out for their own best economic interests as they perceive them. So they want me to make a mistake — to let some water into my boat — by making me feel sorry for them. They want me to think that their money should take precedence over my money — and to should stop saying things in print that would help the acquisition move forward.

I have absolutely no doubt that if our roles were reversed, these very same people would see it my way. Visualize this: Suppose I asked them whether they'd want to deposit their money in a bank that makes loans to companies based simply on whether they would use the money to keep people in their jobs — without even thinking about whether the money would be paid back. Believe me, all of a sudden jobs wouldn't seem so important. "Not with my money, you don't," they'd say.

And that's precisely the attitude you have to take as an investor. Be tough. Sentiment be damned.

Take this little test. Let's say you really believe in some important cause such as clean air. There are three companies you can invest in: Two are polluters, one isn't. But the one that isn't spends so much money on antipollution equipment that it's not profitable. Which should you invest in?

The correct answer to the test is "none of the above." If your principles prohibit you from investing in polluters, then don't. But for heaven's sake, don't throw your money away investing in a company that's destined to go out of business just because it doesn't pollute.

But, of course, the company that's destined to go out of business won't tell you that. It will tell you that it's noble to support the cause of clean air, and that there are things that are more important than money (yet it is precisely your money that they are asking for, so it must be pretty important to them).

The best investment of all would be in a company that can become wildly profitable by inventing some new gizmo that controls pollution at low cost. By all means, invest in that company. You'll do well and do good at the same time. But if for one minute you think you can change the world by throwing money away on noble failures, then the water will find your leak and you'll go down with the ship.

That's why I want CEO Conway to fulfill his legal duty to his shareholders and sell PeopleSoft to the highest bidder. If he has various legal obligations to his employees, so be it — but lifetime employment isn't one of them. If he has contractual obligations to his customers, so be it — but not getting bought by Oracle isn't one of them.

At the moment, it looks like Conway's strategy is working. The Department of Justice staff recommended this week that an injunction against the Oracle takeover be filed — just the way Conway wanted it. The means that even if Oracle were to bid a million dollars a share for PeopleSoft, the DOJ would keep the deal from getting done.

If that happened, I and other shareholders would be out millions. But all of those people who sent me emails accusing me of being selfish would have their jobs.

Or would they? Did it ever occur to them that there's a reason PeopleSoft's stock is so cheap that Oracle wants to buy the company? In a couple of years, after Oracle and SAP have bludgeoned PeopleSoft some more in the market — and after Microsoft comes in as a new competitor, turning Conway's flimsy antitrust theories on their head — what will be left of PeopleSoft, and what will be left of those jobs?

So, dear readers, if you want to be sentimental, contribute some money to charity. That's terrific — that's what charities are for. But if you want to be a successful investor, don't be sentimental, and don't make the mistake of thinking that a company or its employees are a charity.

Invest to make money. Think about it this way: If you make money investing, you can give more to charity.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 3:49 PM | link  

JOKE OF THE DAY   

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 9:03 AM | link  

REYNOLDS ON GREENSPAN DEFICIT MYTHS   Must reading from Alan Reynolds:
The idea is that government borrowing must be subtracted from an otherwise fixed amount of saving. Proponents of this idea imagine that if tax collectors would simply take more money from the private sector and give it to the government, the sum of both public and private budgets would be magically improved. It is on the basis of this sort of imaginative bookkeeping that Greenspan and others once predicted that moving from deficits to surpluses would greatly increase the "national savings rate" (public and private saving as a percent of GDP).

Did moving to surpluses from 1998 to 2001 really raise the savings rate? ...From 1998 to 2001, the budget was in surplus and national savings was 17.5 percent of GDP. From 1981 to 1989, when budget deficits averaged 3.8 percent of GDP, the national savings rate was higher -- 18.2 percent.

Thanks to Ed Rombach for the link.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 8:48 AM | link  

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THE WIND-UP... OKRENT PITCHES...   
This should be interesting. One of my many spies reports the following email from the office of New York Times "public editor" Daniel Okrent:

Dear Mr. [omitted],

Mr. Okrent will be briefly discussing his stance on columnists in his column this Sunday and writing about it in depth at some point in the next two months.

Cheers,
Arthur Bovino
Office of the Public Editor
 

Shots across the bow, coming up? Let's hope.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 12:04 AM | link  


Thursday, February 12, 2004

DELONG DEFENDS HIMSELF    Here's how Brad DeLong has been answering the people who've written to him protesting his serial fraudulent misrepresentations of my view on Bush's economic plan. Note that he started out challenging us to sign up again for Bush's "economic plan." Then he claimed it was signing up for Bush's "budget." Now he's turned it into signing up for Bush's "domestic agenda." Look what DeLong wrote to one of my readers,

"Then what's his complaint? I asked if he would sign a letter saying that hte [sic] was an enthusiastic supporter of Bush's budget proposals--which are the domestic agenda. I interpreted his answer to be 'no.' And he went ballistic."

How he could have interpreted a post titled "Sign Me Up, DeLong" as "no" is beyond imagination. Another reader asked him why he refused to link to my posting so that his readers could judge my view for themselves. DeLong snapped back,

"Can you read? Do you check links?"

As someone who pays DeLong's salary -- I'm a California taxpayer -- I'm outraged that this fatuous fraud lounges at the public trough all day churning out these lies. But I suppose that's better than doing what I actually pay him to do -- corrupting the youth of Berkeley by teaching them his bogus brand of the pseudoscience of economics.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:38 PM | link  

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DELONG COMPOUNDS THE FRAUD  
Brad DeLong has gone from fraudulently saying that I would not sign today last year's letter endorsing Bush's "economic plan" to now fraudulently saying I am "an enthusiastic supporter of the proposed Bush 2005-2009 budgets." I simply never said any such thing, as DeLong must know because he continues to fail to provide a link to my actual statement on the subject. What gain does DeLong hope to achieve by lying about my position? He is certainly free to disagree with it. But why lie about it? Why pretend there's no difference between an "economic plan" and a "budget"? Why switch fraudulently between the two, depending on how he wishes to misrepresent me at the moment?

Here is the full text of the latest version of DeLong's lies:

FURTHER UPDATE: Donald Luskin protests that I have misinterpreted him: that he is in fact an enthusiastic supporter of the proposed Bush 2005-2009 budgets.
Let it also be noted that I posted a comment on DeLong's site respectfully protesting these lies, and providing a link to my original post. In under an hour, DeLong had removed it. All you bloggers out there on both sides of the political spectrum who seem to automatically link to DeLong as some kind of unquestionable "authority" on economics -- you might want to think about the quality of person you are endorsing.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 2:21 PM | link  

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ABJECT FRAUD BY DELONG   
Brad DeLong has fraudulently misrepresented my views in an update to a posting on his website. He had asked those who sign a letter last year endorsing Bush's "economic plan" -- i.e., the tax cuts -- whether they would sign again today. I said "yes" in a posting earlier today, but sought to avoid being seen as endorsing every single thing the administration has done since then (which I do not), by being clear that I don't see most things as part of an "economic plan", and indeed the scope of the letter was very narrow. Now DeLong has fraudulently extracted only those parts of my posting that criticize the Bush administration, and completely omits the parts -- the main parts, the thrust of my posting -- where I say I would sign the letter again gladly. He provided no link to my original posting, so his readers have no opportunity to discover his lie. This has nothing to do with partisan beliefs -- this is just plain old out-and-out lying cheating fraud. Even virulently anti-Bush partisans should condemn DeLong for this lie. I demand a correction on DeLong's site, and urge anyone interested in the truth to email DeLong making a similar demand. His email address is: delong@econ.berkeley.edu.

Here is what I originally wrote:

SIGN ME UP, DELONG Brad DeLong is asking for economists who signed a public letter last year endorsing Bush's "economic plan" to declare whether they would sign again now. As of this moment he says only Larry Kudlow has stood up to be counted (perhaps that's because of all the busy people who signed the letter, Kudlow is the only one who took the time to glance at DeLong's excruciatingly boring website... who knows... I just happened to see it tonight looking for something else). At any rate, DeLong can add my name next to Kudlow's. I signed the letter last year, and I'd sign it today. But let's be clear about what I'm signing. I'm signing up for a supply-side tax cut. That's the "economic plan" being referred to here. I'm not signing up for steel tariffs or a farm bill or Medicare prescription benefits or abstinence counseling in Baghdad anything else. All those things have economic impact, but they are not part of the "economic plan." But if the question is cuts in marginal tax rates on labor and investment income, then bring 'em on, DeLong.
Here is DeLong's fraudulent version:
UPDATE: Not even Donald Luskin will sign on to the Bush budget plan: "...let's be clear.... I'm not signing up for steel tariffs or a farm bill or Medicare prescription benefits or abstinence counseling in Baghdad." But it is the same administration with the same policies that it had last year (better policies, in some respects: the free-trade forces within the administration are stronger than they were), when he signed on gladly. But I'm glad to have him aboard.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 12:58 PM | link  

READERS RESPOND ON SPENDING    A brave reader temporarily adopts a clever Dennis Kucinich disguise...
I've decided you are the most brilliant blogger, because I agree 100% with you. Particularly on Andrew Sullivan. Here's a response to his taunt yesterday.
Andrew, Dennis Kucinich here. I looked at the first graph, which shows spending as a percentage of GDP. I'm not an economist, but I think this is a useful measure of whether spending is exploding. Cato's graph, compressing the range, is truly misleading, and only by looking at the numbers can any conclusion be drawn. It seems the Republican majority inherited a spending rate of 20.75%. They reduced that to as low as 18.4%. Today it is at 19.9%, projected to go to 20% next fiscal year, and back down to 19.9% the following year. The rate indeed jumped from its low in 2000. (Could something have happened in 2001 to affect this?) But, over the period selected by Cato, it has not exploded, nor has it even grown a little bit. It has gone down by nearly a whole percentage point and continues downward. Peace, Brother.
John L. Primmer

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:43 AM | link  

JOKE OF THE DAY   

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:37 AM | link  

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SIGN ME UP, DELONG   
Brad DeLong is asking for economists who signed a public letter last year endorsing Bush's "economic plan" to declare whether they would sign again now. As of this moment he says only Larry Kudlow has stood up to be counted (perhaps that's because of all the busy people who signed the letter, Kudlow is the only one who took the time to glance at DeLong's excruciatingly boring website... who knows... I just happened to see it tonight looking for something else). At any rate, DeLong can add my name next to Kudlow's. I signed the letter last year, and I'd sign it today. But let's be clear about what I'm signing. I'm signing up for a supply-side tax cut. That's the "economic plan" being referred to here. I'm not signing up for steel tariffs or a farm bill or Medicare prescription benefits or abstinence counseling in Baghdad anything else. All those things have economic impact, but they are not part of the "economic plan." But if the question is cuts in marginal tax rates on labor and investment income, then bring 'em on, DeLong.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 12:19 AM | link  


Wednesday, February 11, 2004

OKRENT: BLOGGER    New York Times "public editor" Dan Okrent has a blog, of sorts, now. Thanks to reader Jameson Campaigne for pointing it out.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 5:14 PM | link  

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THE FACE ON THE CORRECTIONS ROOM FLOOR   
Take this simple test. Here are several corrections from New York Times today. Can you tell which one is different?

  • An article in Business Day on Saturday about efforts by US Airways to make its case for more wage and benefit cuts paraphrased incorrectly from remarks by David N. Siegel, its chief executive, in a conference call with analysts about the entry of Southwest Airlines into Philadelphia, a US Airways hub. He said Southwest's entry was aimed as much at low-fare carriers as it was at US Airways — not that Southwest posed a bigger threat to the low-fare airlines.
  • A front-page article yesterday about the plans of Joseph Volpe, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, to retire in 2006 misstated his age. He is 63, not 64. The article also misspelled the given name of a predecessor. He was Sir Rudolf Bing, not Rudolph.
  • An article in The Arts yesterday about the career of Clive Davis, the BMG record executive, misstated the timing of two other executives' departure from the company. It was before Thomas Middelhoff, chief executive of BMG's parent company, Bertelsmann, was forced out in 2002, not soon after.
  • An article in Business Day yesterday about PeopleSoft's rejection of the latest takeover offer from Oracle misstated the name of an economics consulting firm whose chief investment officer said many stockholders were waiting as long as possible to tender their PeopleSoft shares in case a better offer came along. It is Trend Macrolytics, not Trend Macroanalytics.

Give up? Okay, here's the answer. The last one is different. The first one refers to "David N. Siegel, its chief executive"; the second refers to "Joseph Volpe, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera"; and the third refers to "Clive Davis, the BMG record executive." But the fourth refers only to an anonymous "chief investment officer."

Gee, I wonder why the Times didn't want to say, "chief investment officer, Donald Luskin"?

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 3:21 PM | link  

JOKE OF THE DAY   

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 3:01 PM | link  

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CRITIQUING SPENDING   
Here's a stunning correction on today's New York Times op-ed page.

"An Op-Ed article on Saturday about President Richard M. Nixon's management of the economy misstated the amount of the projected budget deficit for 2004. It is $521 billion, not trillion."

Of course it was on outside "op-ed contributor" who made the goof, not a Times columnist (or there would have been no correction). Same order of magnitude as Graydon Carter's error that moved the federal debt from trillions to quadrillions. And, naturally, the error was in a direction unflattering to the Bush administration. If this same kind of error had been made and corrected with respect to Iraq policy, Andrew Sullivan would have been all over it. So where is he now? Nowhere -- because spending and deficits are issues where he agrees with the Times, and is content to let them err as they will and make all manner of errors himself.

Let me be clear here. I basically agree with Sullivan on spending, and I agree with him on Iraq, too. Hey, I even agree with him on same-sex marriage (and it's fine with me if he wants to write about it a lot). I shouldn't have to say any of that. I think I've been on record plenty as to my opposition to the expansion in government spending (and the associated expansion in government itself) on Bush's watch. My point was never to defend the spending, but only to highlight the sloppy, ill-informed and ad hominem nature of Sullivan's critique -- even though I agree with his general view on this. I'm not even trying to pick on Sullivan, in particular. He's just another example of how pundits start with a set of priors about some issue, and then reflexively defend to the death any politician who embodies that point of view or, conversely, savagely attack any one who doesn't (calling him a liar, etc.), whether or not the pundit clearly understands the facts or has any idea how to qualify the sources he cites in the attack or the defense. Sullivan's record of howlers on this issue speaks for itself, and are especially disturbing considering that he plays both sides of the fence with Bush -- praising him on Iraq as though he were a genius and a sincere man and protecting him against all critics, and damning him on spending as though he were a lying imbecile and embracing even the most wrong-headed critiques. One man can't be both things, and that's the problem with ad hominem analyses of issues -- and a problem when pundits get into areas requiring domain expertise they don't really have. What does Sullivan really know about public economics? Nothing. For that matter, what does he know about military affairs? Nothing. But that's the pundit game, I suppose. Sullivan is not an especially egregious example. Happens all the time.

With all that as background, I was distressed to get this stinging letter from my colleague Bruce Bartlett in response to my post clarifying what President Bush meant about spending on "Meet the Press." I've reminded Bruce of my bona fides on this issue, but I thought his letter made a lot of great points, so I will run it here anyway:

I think you have made the same mistake Bush made on spending. If you look at your chart it is clearly labeled "budget authority." This is not the same thing as spending, which most people would equate to "outlays." By that measure, spending is way up.

Just so you understand, theoretically, Congress must first authorize appropriations. Only after there has been an authorization can funds be appropriated. Thus an authorization allows spending and in principle puts a lid on what can be spent. The problem is that in any given year there is very little relationship between the two because authorizations can carry over from previous years. Thus Congress may appropriate far more than is authorized in any given year. Consequently, looking only at authorizations is virtually meaningless in terms of determining how tight or loose the budget is. You would probably have to cut authorizations by 25% to get any meaningful reduction in appropriations.

Furthermore, authorizations by definition exclude supplementals. This is spending over and above regular appropriations. In principle, supplementals should only be used for special, unanticipated, one-time expenses. However, the administration has used supplementals as a kind of loophole to hide the cost of the Iraq operation. In the latest budget, for example, there is no money in the defense budget for the Iraq operation, even though everyone knows it will cost at least $50 billion this year. The administration said it would make a supplemental request for Iraq subsequently.

From this I think you can see that the administration has been utterly dishonest in its portrayal of its budget policy. It ignores outlays, which are all that matter, and focuses on the meaningless figure of authorizations, and pretends that supplementals don't exist. This is as bad as anything Enron ever did. You should not be defending the administration for such behavior.

Update...Reader Steve Melancon adds:
The Times wrote in its correction:
"An Op-Ed article on Saturday about President Richard M. Nixon's management of the economy misstated the amount of the projected budget deficit for 2004. It is $521 billion, not trillion."
They'll have to run a correction for that correction, since Richard M. Nixon hasn't projected any budget deficits for quite some time. Certainly none since his death in 1994, and not many after 1974, either.
Update... Econopundit weighs in.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 2:49 PM | link  

ANTITRUST: CAPITALIST TOOL    PeopleSoft seems to have succeeded in using the Department of Justice as a cat's paw in preserving the executive prerogatives of CEO Craig Conway against a hostile takeover by Oracle. DOJ staff has recommended blocking the merger. From the WSJ:"The staff's recommendation is a victory for PeopleSoft Chief Executive Craig Conway, who has relied heavily on antitrust concerns to fight the deal from the beginning. "

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 9:55 AM | link  


Tuesday, February 10, 2004

JOKE OF THE DAY   

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:55 PM | link  

GET ME REWRITE    If Howell Raines' New York Times had written this headline Andrew Sullivan would have been all over them. Can anyone explain to me why the following quotation from a Rasmussen poll justifies Sullivan's headline "Kerry Beats Bush on Spending"?
"[O]nly 60 percent of Republicans say their party leader is better at controlling government spending than the Democratic contender. Democrats and unaffiliated voters say that Kerry is better. Fifty-three percent (53%) of conservative voters say Bush is better on controlling spending while 21% name Kerry. Among moderates, 20% think the President is better while 54% name Kerry. Self-identified liberal voters overwhelmingly say Kerry is better."
I don't know what's got Sullivan's head so twisted around on this issue. He continues to make the most egregious errors when this topic is concerned, and I've never seen him correct a single one.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 4:26 PM | link  

"WE DON'T KNOW"    ...why the Department of Labor's household survey shows more jobs being created than its establishment survey, says Paul Krugman in today's column. Or, is the real point that "we don't want to ask, because we like using the more pessimistic version?" Unfunny Politics has more.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 1:39 PM | link  

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EARTH TO SPENDING-HAWK BLOGGERS...   
Andrew Sullivan continues to pick at President Bush's comments about spending on "Meet the Press." Bush said, "If you look at the appropriations bills that were passed under my watch, in the last year of President Clinton, discretionary spending was up 15 percent, and ours have steadily declined." After two days of carping about it and quoting as authorities such non-authorities as Spinsanity and Josh Claybourne, Sullivan still has to ask, "So where does the 15 percent of Clinton's last year come from?" Well, all you had to do was go to the website of the Office of Management and Budget and look at the "2005 Budget Overview" -- this chart is about one page-scroll down. The 15% figure is the first column in the right-most segment of the chart.

But let's take the same lofty view on this matter that Sullivan takes when it comes to another matter where he is in agreement with the administration -- the war in Iraq. Let's not parse words, and worry about who said or didn't say "imminent" or, in this case, whether there's an important difference between "budget authority" and what really gets spent. The real issue isn't in the arena of discretionary spending at all. It's in the arena of entitlements -- the massive new entitlements that have been adopted with bipartisan cooperation during this administration, such as the Medicare prescription drug benefit. Get real, all you spending hawks. Bush campaigned in 2000 on this one. Don't get all huffy now that your "compassionate conservative" has simply done exactly what he promised. Did you expect him to change his mind and grant your wishes to the contrary of his campaign promises once elected? And let's not have any fantasies that Bush would have gotten elected in 2000 without taking such positions, or that John Kerry is going to do a better job in this domain if elected in 2004. We're all just getting the spending we voted for.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 12:51 PM | link  

NOW HERE'S A NEWSPAPER OF RECORD    The Tri-Valley Herald can get it right. Why can't the New York Times?
"'They [PeopleSoft management] are simply going to make a deal impossible, period,' said Donald Luskin, an unhappy PeopleSoft shareholder and chief investment officer of Trend Macrolytics in Menlo Park."

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 10:06 AM | link  

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TIMES SCREWS UP LUSKIN QUOTE -- CORRECTION DEMANDED   
San Francisco-based New York Times reporter Laurie J. Flynn obviously didn't realize who I am when she interviewed me yesterday morning for an Oracle/PeopleSoft story. So here I am today, quoted in the Times:

"Donald Luskin, a PeopleSoft shareholder who is chief investment officer at Trend Macroanalytics, an economics consulting firm, agreed, saying that shareholders like him are waiting as long as possible in the event a better offer comes along."

But here's the best part. They're going to have to do it twice. Because the "newspaper of record"  f**ked this one up. The name of my firm is Trend Macrolytics, not "Trend Macroanalytics."

Look for me on the corrections page. I'm afraid that I'm going to have to insist. Let's see how long it takes them this time.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 1:45 AM | link  


Monday, February 09, 2004

RATING BUSH, RATING ONE'S SELF    Has it occurred to Andrew Sullivan that he liked Bush's "Meet the Press" performance when Bush agreed with him (war), and hated Bush's performance when Bush disagreed (spending)? Same president, guy... same performance...

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 7:48 PM | link  

ATKINS LIVES    An AC Nielsen poll reports that 17% of American households have at least one member on a low-carb diet.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 2:18 PM | link  

JOKE OF THE DAY   

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:30 AM | link  

FRANKEN VERSUS THE POST    Now someone on the left knows what it's like to be called a stalker.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:28 AM | link  


Sunday, February 08, 2004

BUSH SIDES WITH KRUGMAN    On "Meet the Press," the president echoes Paul Krugman's opinion of how conservative think tanks see federal spending:
RUSSERT: But your base conservatives -- listen to Rush Limbaugh, the Heritage Foundation, CATO Institute -- they're all saying you're the biggest spender in American history.

BUSH: Well, they're wrong.

RUSSERT: Mr. President...

BUSH: If you look at the appropriations bills that were passed under my watch, in the last year of President Clinton, discretionary spending was up 15 percent, and ours have steadily declined.


Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 4:16 PM | link  

EXPORTING RADICALISM TO THE CARIBBEAN    Here's a cute little online edition of a cute little Jamaican newspaper, complete with cute little button ads for Foska Oats -- "The Healthy Way Everyday". Too bad its editorial consists entirely of quoting US editorials attacking Bush. Including, of course, Viva Paul.

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 12:56 PM | link  

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TIMES BOOK REVIEW JABS KRUGMAN   
Even as the New York Times' Sunday books supplement drafts the wealthy professor, columnist and author Paul Krugman to review a books on the excesses of executive wealth, another review slaps an author who quotes Krugman on the excesses of executive wealth. And it's actually a remarkably perceptive and concise statement of everything that's wrong with the usual liberal critiques of today's deregulated and hyper-competitive corporate culture. Reviewing The Cheating Culture by David Callahan, Timesman John Leland writes,
"Callahan invokes a lost age of corporate altruism. He quotes Krugman that before the deregulation of the 1970's, 'America's great corporations behaved more like socialist republics than like cutthroat capitalist enterprises, and top executives behaved more like public-spirited bureaucrats than like captains of industry.' Even if this portrait were accurate, who would want our economic engines to follow socialist republics, given the way things worked out? Callahan's proposed remedies -- an $8.50 minimum wage, affordable health care, increased financial aid for college, ethics curricula in professional schools, a tougher S.E.C. -- are bigger than the problems they're meant to fix..."

Posted by Donald L. Luskin at 11:55 AM | link