Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Obama Needs to Channel Richard Nixon

Nixon's the one to emulate.

I just listened to President Obama's latest pronouncement on the economy, delivered live on CNN. All good stuff, as usual. But with one element missing: Obama again didn't say anything that was particularly helpful to the markets. As a matter of fact, it may be unrelated but the market declined during his remarks.

What's missing is the kind of helpful nudge that came from none other than Richard Nixon in 1970, during the depths of what then seemed like a pretty deep recession. Nixon said: “Frankly, if I had any money, I’d be buying stocks right now.” The market soared.

Roger Cohen archly suggested in the New York Times in October that if Bush said that, "the market could tank in ways that would make this week’s one-day 777 point plunge look paltry." Maybe, but I'd like to see Obama give it a try. What has he got to lose? Things can't get much worse. Besides, he has only a 50% chance of being wrong.

UPDATE: Obama must be channeling me, because he talked up buying stocks (albeit in his usually carefully hedged manner) in an impromptu press briefing a couple of hours after this item appeared. I think that he needs to make that point again during one of his addresses to the nation, and he needs to sing out loud and strong "buy stocks!" Just as Warren Buffett did a few months ago, to no effect.

© 2009 Gary Weiss. All rights reserved.

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