There hasn’t been much new to blog about except the same old, same old bad news.
The Republicans and Democrats fail to produce a budget deal — is that news? About as much as dogs chewing bones or cats chasing mice. Oh yes, sequestration kicks in; calamity or not? Too soon to tell, because the effects won’t become major until after this month, and we have a far, far bigger budget brouhaha pending over the federal budget, with all federal spending authority, not just the piddling $85 billion in sequesters, up for continuation or not.
So I’m betting that sequestration is dealt with — or not — in the course of that bigger deal, and there is not much point worrying about its effects until we learn how that plays out.
In Europe, more of the same. EU unemployment hits a record, UK growth and manufacturing come in much worse than expected for the the final quarter, Spanish unemployment tops 5 million, and not a single leading politician determines this might indicate anything is wrong with continuing austerity policies.
Italy has an election and a majority of voters favor candidates who oppose austerity — is that a surprise? Not really, and this being Italy, the voters were so divided that the parties look unable to form a government. Fortunately, Italy has long demonstrated that it can function without a competent government in Rome (how else to explain the long reign of Berlusconi?). Bond yields remain low, despite a bit of a pop, because everyone believes the ECB has things well in hand, and just because it says it will do everything needed to save the Euro, the Euro will never falter. Despite, the magic of the bank, at some point voters will have to decide between future prosperity and the single currency, which are increasingly incompatible. At that point, we may have some real news.
Syria sadly remains Syria — a country disintegrating amid the deaths of thousands and the displacement of millions, while the world looks on. Or the western world; Iran is knee-deep in keeping the Assad regime going with advisors, arms, and money.
Egypt remains factionalized, Tunisia and Libya are — as expected — struggling to create true democracies, and freedom in Bahrain remains deeply elusive.
So when will things change, at home or abroad? No time soon, I fear. We are like sailors at sea, adrift in currents that are not taking us where we want to go, but that we seem to lack the means to fight.