David Beers

Obama’s Worst Year

Shortly after four o’clock on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 13, 2011, U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner walked down the hallway near his office toward a large conference room facing the building’s interior. He was accompanied by a retinue of counselors and aides. When they arrived in the room—known around Treasury simply as “the large”—four people were seated at a long walnut table on the side near the door.

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Nate Silver gently suggests the S&P analysts may not be terribly bright, brainwise: What factors is S.&P. looking at when it rates sovereign debt? A country’s debt-to-G.D.P. ratio? Its inflation rate? The size of its annual deficits? S.&P. does look at each of these factors. But it also places very heavy emphasis on subjective views about a country’s political environment. In fact, these political factors are at least as important as economic variables in determining their ratings. For instance, the S.&P.

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