Yahoo’s Pick For Presidential Election?

Feb 16, 2012, 6:31 pm EDT
Yahoo’s Pick For Presidential Election?

In today’s 24/7 news cycle, where even the smallest events can get hours and hours of coverage, presidential elections are like the king’s feast. There are TV ads to talk about, stump speeches to rate, debates to grade, and more polls than you can shake a pole at. All, of course, with one goal in mind: figure out who the next president will be.

Or, if you’re Yahoo! (NASDAQ:YHOO), you write a program to do all the guessing for you.

Rather than look at polls, campaign strategies, or even the candidates themselves, Yahoo! scientists created a prediction engine based on factors that were better predictors of electoral success, like economic factors and the electorate’s political ideology. They fed this engine the results of the last 10 presidential races, along with corresponding economic, political, and social indicators, and found their algorithm was successful 88% of the time in matching historical results. Read 

Romney’s Campaign Leans on Lobbyists

Feb 15, 2012, 6:55 pm EDT
Romney’s Campaign Leans on Lobbyists

For a candidate who has based much of his campaign on running as an outsider to President Barack Obama and Washington, Mitt Romney’s campaign sure depends a lot on lobbyists.

These lobbyists have done everything for the campaign from directly donating money to him to “bundling” donations from others to serving as advisers.

For instance, nearly 300 registered lobbyists gave the campaign just over $400,000 through the end of 2011. Sixteen top “bundlers”, including supporters of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and tobacco company Altria (NYSE:MO), raised $2 million for the campaign. Read 

Hybrid PACs: More Super than Super PACs?

Feb 14, 2012, 7:10 pm EDT
Hybrid PACs: More Super than Super PACs?

In the 2012 election cycle, much attention has been focused on Super PACs, a type of political action committee made possible by the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case. Super PACs helped Romney win Florida by burying Gingrich in negative ads, may help Barack Obama win re-election, and have been satire fodder for Comedy Central.

However, a new type of PAC, called a “hybrid PAC“, could prove even more influential than Super PACs. A hybrid PAC combines the features of Super PACs with good old-fashioned campaign donations. Hybrid PACs are free to raise unlimited amounts of money to support a candidate or candidates, but they can also donate limited amounts of money directly to a candidate or candidates’ campaign, provided those accounts are segregated.

Hybrid PACs developed out of another campaign finance court case, Carey v. FEC, heard by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia last August. The court’s ruling basically set up the guidelines that all hybrid PACs must follow. Read 

Greece’s Latest Crisis

Feb 14, 2012, 12:37 pm EDT

Greece faced its latest crisis last Wednesday when it missed another deadline for spending cuts before qualifying for a second, 130 billion euro ($172 billion) bailout. The European Union essentially gave Greece an ultimatum last week: Agree to 3 billion euros ($4 billion) in new austerity cuts or prepare for a messy default. Greece’s lead creditor, Germany, has clearly lost patience. But the Greek Parliament finally agreed to these minimal ($4 billion) spending cuts.

Even though the Greek Parliament passed these cuts, the people on the street might veto their government. Last Wednesday, there was a 24-hour general strike in Athens over the announcement of 15,000 job cuts. Greek workers chanted, “That’s enough, we can’t take it anymore.” Unemployment in Greece now stands at 18.2%, while the country’s GDP is expected to contract by 4% to 5% in 2012.

It looks to me like Germany and France are trying to make an example of Greece so that Italy and Spain do not follow Greece’s example. They point to Ireland, which was able to dig itself out of its fiscal mess with austerity cuts. The EU wants Italy and Spain to emulate the Irish rather than the Greeks, but it seems to me most of the world wants to see the major banks write down their Greek debt and just move on. Read 

It’s the Jobs, Stupid

Feb 14, 2012, 12:25 pm EDT
It’s the Jobs, Stupid

Instead of trying to figure who can cut federal spending the most in the shortest period of time, they ought to be figuring out who can write the biggest check. The main problem facing the country is the fact that there are more than 10 million people out of work. If we can solve this problem, than everything else will work itself out.

Last month, President Barack Obama declared that the economic rebound had started when unemployment hit 8.5%. The jobless rate has since dipped to a three-year low of 8.3%, indicating that the economic recovery is taking hold.

The draconian plan that Obama unveiled yesterday that would cut the federal deficit by more than $1 trillion over the next decade won’t put a single jobless person back to work. In fact, it will put thousands more out of work. Read 

We Owe Our New Debt to the Fed

Feb 14, 2012, 11:47 am EDT

One of the excuses we often hear about our federal debt is that “we owe it to ourselves,” meaning our $15.4 trillion in debt really isn’t so bad since interest checks are sent to individuals, pension accounts and other private holders of U.S. Treasury bonds. But that’s no longer true.

We owe our new debt to the Fed!

On Friday, The Wall Street Journal reported the Fed’s Operation Twist has overpowered the most recent long-term Treasury bond auctions. According to the Journal, data compiled by Barclays Capital shows that since Operation Twist began in October, the Fed has bought $50.3 billion in new Treasury bonds maturing in 20 to 30 years, accounting for a whopping 91% of new long-term Treasury bonds. Read 

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