Where’s the debt ceiling after-party?
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Bob Moon: Let’s get some analysis now from Juli Niemann, who joins us from Smith, Moore & Company. Juli, let’s start with this idea from the treasury secretary that at least we’re now in a better position to make tough choices — without actually having made all those tough choices. How important is it that credit raiders might not be satisfied with that>
Juli Niemann Well, Bob, there’s no cause for a debt ceiling after party today. Probably the biggest thing is consider the source. Standard & Poor’s was the outfit that reassured the market on Lehman Brothers’ financial condition the day before they blew up. We have to keep that in mind. The debt downgrade long-term would basically — you’re wiping out any conceivable benefits from spending cuts because the cost of your debt goes up. But in the short run, the U.S. is still the safest place to be in. We’re all flea-ridden — I mean debt-ridden dogs. We’re the best looking dog in the kennel, and money is still coming here because we look better than Europe or anybody else.
Moon: Now Mr. Geithner suggests confidence in the U.S. has been damaged by what he calls this spectacle, and as if to prove that, here come these dismal consumer spending numbers. How much of a worry is that?
Niemann: Oh, this is just a continuation in a long stream of very negative economic news. Manufacturing index is only slightly positive — that’s a real struggle here. Consumer spending down for the first time in two months. The biggest problem is consumers also have too much debt and they’re still unwinding that debt. It’s not ability to pay it’s the staggering, huge amount that they have, and they have job insecurity and they can’t sell their houses, so we’re still in a downtrend on any kind of recovery here.
Moon: And just when things are not looking so good in Europe, as well. Juli Niemann from Smith, Moore & Company. Juli, thanks.
Niemann: You bet.
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