Saturday News and Notes
Both the Syrian government and the opposition forces place blame on each other for being the first to break the “peace.”
On a related note, Natan Sharansky, a human rights activist and former political prisoner, makes the case that Israel and the West have gained nothing by pursuing a policy of negotiating with dictators, including Syria’s Bashar al-Assad.
“One need not indulge in nightmare scenarios to raise the pressing question: Have the horrors being perpetrated in Syria, let alone the dismal aftermath of the revolts in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia, roused Western governments and opinion makers from their blind faith in dictatorial regimes as a force for stability or reform?,” he asks.
A Plan To Avoid The Fiscal Cliff
Former Sens. Sam Nunn (D) and Pete Domenici (R) disagree with the argument that the lame duck Congress will be unable to reach a consensus on a solution to the fiscal cliff. In fact, they contend, it is necessary they act and do not “kick the can” down the road to the next Congress.
“The policies embedded in the fiscal cliff were never intended to be a rational deficit-reduction plan. They are a default position designed — like a suicide pact — to force reluctant policymakers to make hard choices. So far, that has not worked. A “grand bargain” of some sort — including spending cuts and higher revenue in the same legislative package — will eventually be needed,” they write.
In an interview with CNBC, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink became yet another executive speaking out about his concerns that the going off the fiscal cliff will lead to another recession.
The Not-So-Normal Recovery
A Wall Street Journal editorial notes – when compared to previous recoveries – the “typical growth rate at this stage of the previous nine recoveries (13 quarters) averaged 16.8%, and 19.6% in the Reagan expansion. The figure for this recovery is a meager 7.2%. That’s about $1.2 trillion in foregone output. The budget deficit would be half as large today if this were a normal expansion.”
The Pain In Spain
Spain sets a record as unemployment eclipses the 25 percent mark.