Libertarian Hawk


If Obama Jumped Off a Cliff, Would You Do It, Too?

November 17, 2010 By: Scott Spiegel Category: Economy

Image by Scott Spiegel via Flickr

During President Obama’s recent 10-day Asia Fantasia expedition, the leaders of the G-20 seemed to demonstrate a modified version of the Golden Rule: Don’t do unto Obama what he never had the courtesy to do unto you.

Namely, don’t adopt his crackpot ideas on economic policy—pumping billions more in currency into your economies—in the same way he didn’t stop the Federal Reserve from enacting similar measures when the world warned him not to the first year-and-a-half of his presidency.

Also, don’t jump on the Obama bandwagon of loudly scolding China for its currency manipulation, when the U.S. is doing the same or worse via cockamamie quantitative easing and currency devaluation schemes.

You know your president’s “progressive” ideas are behind the times when the Communist Chinese Foreign Minister rebukes him for relying on “outmoded central planning.”

On his mega-expensive trip to India, Indonesia, South Korea, and Japan last week (which didn’t cost $200 million a day, no way!), Obama failed to achieve a free trade agreement with South Korea, which was supposed to be one of the highlights of his trip.

Kind of reminds you of how Obama’s excursions to Copenhagen were supposed to hand Chicago the 2016 Olympics and the U.S. an international climate change summit, and his jaunts to New Jersey, Virginia, and Massachusetts were supposed to produce electoral wins for John Corzine, Creigh Deeds, and Martha Coakley.

But at least Obama got to dance awkwardly on camera with Indian toddlers!  Also, he had time to thank Indonesia for the sacrifices of their “great nation” on Veteran’s Day.

The San Francisco Examiner’s headline says it all: “Diplomatic success and economic failure on Asian trip show limits for Obama on global stage”—or, “Once again, Obama flashes his pearly whites, charms the pants off people who don’t know better, and fails miserably to get what he wants.”

Cranky Fed officials shot back at international criticism of Reserve policies, arguing that QE2 and inflation-promoting measures are necessary to get the economy going.  How many times have we heard that one before?

These days the Fed isn’t even pretending their latest round of mad experimentation won’t be their last.  Charles Evans, head of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, mused that the Fed’s recent decision to buy $600 billion of government debt was a “good place to start” but “I would continue to want to apply accommodative monetary policy until I had some confidence that that situation was changing.”  Eric Rosengren, head of the Federal Reserve Bank in Boston, hints, “[I]f the economy were to weaken and we were to get further disinflation and a higher unemployment rate, then we would have to reflect on whether we should take additional action.”

This week, Obama will be attending economic summits held by members of NATO and the European Union, where he will be lucky not to have his policy ideas served back to him via a swift palm to the cheek.

Obama’s fiscal and monetary policies aren’t popular in Asia, but they’re certainly even more detested in Europe, where the economies of Greece, Spain, Ireland, and Iceland have already tanked and others are on the brink of ruin.

To summarize our president’s recent forays onto the global stage: Obama is off to Europe for another shot at redeeming his image after failing to redeem his image in Asia, which he attempted after failing to redeem his image as a popular leader in the midterm elections.  Where’s he going to go after he fails in Europe—where is there a place where residents don’t already hate him and haven’t been materially harmed by his policies?  Mars?

As Reuters put it, “If President Barack Obama is not yet convinced that his international star power has faded, his next round of transatlantic summitry should clear up any lingering doubts.”  As I put it, “If Reuters thinks that Obama’s next round of transatlantic summitry will have a humbling effect on the president, they haven’t met Obama.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have already sent out advance notice to Obama that Western Europe is not about to go the way of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.  So all-in-all I think it’s going to be a big success.

The world supposedly once hated President George W. Bush for his “cowboy diplomacy.”  What’s the appropriate metaphor for Obama—a sleazy, destructive friend who encourages you to blow all your money in Vegas?

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