I must confess I’ve never been much of an optimist. Whenever I see a truly beautiful day, my mind tends to focus on the clouds that I’m sure are coming over the horizon to ruin it. For nearly fifty years, I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop. Whoever came up with “May the bluebird of paradise shit on your head” must’ve been thinking of me. Taking good news in stride has been the biggest challenge in my life.
But this week two things occurred that lifted my spirits up several notches. The first was today’s news that European leaders have apparently reached a deal to save the euro, sending the Dow up more than 300 points. The S&P 500 is up more than 13% this month, its biggest gain since 1974. For those of you who’ve been paying attention, this could be the biggest break – and by break I mean good – the economy has gotten in years. The sword of Damocles that was hanging over the head of most of the Western world has, for the moment, been stilled.
While details are still a bit sketchy, the highlights are as follows: a 50% write down of all Greek debt (which still has to be agreed to by Greek bondholders); and the setting aside of $1.4 trillion in rescue funds for other fragile economies on the Continent, including Italy and Spain. Assuming there are no last-minute snags or foul-ups, 2012 could be a very good year, economically speaking.
And speaking of 2012, that brings me to the second bit of good news that greeted my weary eyes. And that was the results of a new poll (albeit a Democratic one) that revealed that Republicans are in trouble as far as the House goes for next year’s election. Seems the incumbent curse is now afflicting them just like it did the Dems in 2010. With Congressional approval now sitting at 9% - the lowest ever recorded – voters are far more likely to support potential challengers, even if the challenger happens to be a Democrat. If they manage to gain 25 seats next year, the Democrats will take back control of the House after having been thoroughly trounced in the previous election.
Don’t laugh; they might just pull it off, for the poll also shows that the public has grown tired of the Tea Party shenanigans. Tom Jensen, Director of Public Policy Polling, which conducted the poll, said, “The reality at the district level matches the reality at the national level: Americans think John Boehner and the new majority have gone too far.” And the news gets even better. Polls taken by Reuters and NBC/Wall Street Journal – both taken on October 10th – show Democrats ahead of Republicans by margins of 48% to 40% and 45% to 41% respectively.
For once that light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t appear to be a train coming. Of course my lesser angels will do their best to try and ruin my spirits. After all, if we’ve learned anything about Europe and early polling it’s that neither can be depended on when push comes to shove. But, for now at least, I’m choosing to see the glass as half-filled.
The clouds be damned.