COMPLAINTS FROM THOSE MAKING THE MOST MONEY…. Bloomberg News had this report this morning, but I feel like I’ve been seeing the similar reports for quite a while.
Investors around the world say President Barack Obama is bad for the bottom line, even though U.S. corporations are on track for the biggest earnings growth in 22 years and the stock market is headed for its best back-to- back annual gains since 2004.
That’s certainly one of the classic sentences of the year. The Obama White House is bad for profits, according to those making lots of money in the Obama era.
Indeed, we learned just two weeks ago that corporate profits since Obama’s inauguration that have risen faster “than during any other 18-month period since the 1920s.” All told, profits have surged 62% from the start of 2009 to mid-2010, according to the Commerce Department. “That is faster than any other year and a half in the Fabulous ’50s, the Go-Go ’60s or the booms under Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.”
Obama’s bad for the bottom line? Are these people serious?
Indeed, Jon Chait recently noted that when it comes to politics, Dems have the worst of both worlds: “A top-heavy economy is causing them massive grief among suffering voters, and the only people who are actually doing well are lambasting them as socialists.”
It’s all rather remarkable. Corporate profits are up; all of the major Wall Street indexes are up; and private-sector job growth is up.
At the exact same time, we’re also told that President Obama and the Democratic agenda are somehow “anti-business.” It’s so drastic, in fact, that fat-cat conservatives and corporate lobbyists spent the entire year furiously raising money to elect Republicans. They were, apparently, outraged by the scourge of corporate prosperity.
What in the hell is going on here? Kevin Drum recently had a good item on the subject.
What’s remarkable about all this is that Obama is, patently, not anti-business. All of the corporate complaints above, when you dig an inch below the surface, amount to lashing out at phantasms. However, although Obama isn’t anti-business, it is fair to say that he’s not especially business friendly. And after decades of almost literally getting their every heart’s desire from Republican presidents and congresses, this has come as something as a shock to the corporate community. When Obama puts a tax break in the stimulus bill, it’s aimed mainly at the middle class, not the rich. When he hires a labor secretary, it’s someone who actually thinks labor laws should be enforced. When he says he wants to pass a healthcare reform bill, he actually does it. (Its impact on big business is close to zero, but no matter.) There’s no evidence at all that Obama wants to punish big business, but at the same time it’s quite plain that he cares much more about the middle class than he does about the rich.
And that’s pretty hard for them to take. So they’re apoplectic.
That strikes me as entirely right, but it’s also reminder not to take the big babies seriously when they complain about their already-big profits.