Marketplace Scratch Pad

Hundred days

Paddy Hirsch Apr 29, 2009

A lot of bits and bytes being expended on the first hundred days of the Obama adminstration this week. The BBC has a nice slideshow, the LA Times has videos, picture galleries, reader commentary, the whole nine yards.

I thought it might be useful to look at the trajectory of the Dow Jones Industrial Index over the first hundred days (or thereabouts).

Most of what I’ve been reading today puts a positive spin on the president’s achievements in the first hundred days of his administration. But there’s a lot of counter-talk out there, too. Charges that the stimulus package has levied a colossal invoice on future generations, for example, and that much of the president’s new legislation has swollen government and neutered competition.

Reuters focuses on the next 100 days, and highlights healthcare and the Middle East as potential sticking points beyond the economic mess.

If you’re wondering why this focus on a hundred days, Time has a neat piece explaining the origin of our obsession. It all has to do with a Frenchman (a Corsican, to be precise). Obama may look like an overachiever to us, but he looks like milquetoast when compared with Napoleon Bonaparte. Back in 1815, Boney (as the English called him) escaped from exile in Elba (off the coast of Italy), marched across the Alps with 600 men, arrived in Paris with 6000, deposed the French King, recruited an army, and marched into Belgium to fight the English. All in 111 days.

Not bad, eh? Except the battle in Belgium took place at a village called Waterloo, the British were led by a chap called Arthur Wellesley, and Napoleon was so humiliated that he was forced to abdicate. To St Helena he went, until he died.

So, no overreaching, please, Mr President. For all our sakes.

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