Friday Around The Watercooler

Economics Are More A Social Science Than A Real Science
Anne Applebaum asks whether discussions about “economics is ever really about economics, and how much of it is emotion, or perhaps national psychology?”

Applebaum looks at how different European nations have reacted to the economic circumstances in their own countries, particularly in Latvia and Greece. She notes that Latvians responded to austerity not with riots or protests, but by reelecting the politicians who imposed it – a stark contrast to citizens in Greece.

Differences Extend Beyond Economies
The “differences between Latvia and Greece also lie in history, in culture and, again, in emotion and national psychology,” says Applebaum, adding that Latvia is “small, homogenous, accustomed to hardship,” while “Greece is bigger, less cohesive and politically divided.”

Her conclusion? Politicians should realize that economics is not science and that the “viability of an austerity policy — or a fiscal stimulus — in the United States might also depend on the political climate in which it is introduced.”

Lew To Be Picked To Head Treasury Department
President Obama is set to announce that Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew will be selected to replace Timothy Geithner as Treasury Secretary.

While his knowledge of budget issues is not in question, the tactics he employed during the debate over the fiscal cliff has caused consternation among Senate Republicans, which reflects a sense that Obama plans to be more aggressive in setting fiscal policy in his second term.

Isaac Boltansky of Compass Points analyzes what the nomination of Jack Lew to Treasury will mean for the markets, while Jia Lynn Yang of the Washington Post examines Lew’s tenure at CitiGroup – a time in which the financial giant was nearing implosion.

Is Moderate Growth The New Normal?
MarketWatch makes the case that moderate growth seems to be the new normal.

Business May Be Best Obama Ally On Immigration Reform
Tom Donahue of the Chamber of Commerce may be the Obama administration’s best ally in the effort to pass comprehensive immigration reform. He speaks with the Christian Science Monitor about his hopes for achieving real reforms.

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