Friday, May 30, 2008

Alcopop Tax Folly Redux

About a month ago, I predicted that the alcopop tax would simply lead to a substitution away from premixed drinks into other alcoholic beverages. Looks like I was right. This article in the Sydney Morning Herald cites a recent industry study, finding that while alcopop sales dropped 38% as a result of the tax, the sale of 700ml bottles of spirits rose by 21%. And the industry is speculating that when one factors in other alcoholic beverages, total alcohol sales may have actually risen in the past month!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Like a Deer in Headlights

One element of the US slowdown that has been overlooked (at least I don't recall seeing it mentioned before) in the media thus far is the election--not in terms of how elected officials plan on fixing it (which is talked about), but rather, how the election itself might affect the economy. As of right now, US residents have no idea as to who will be in office in 2009, be it the neo-populist Hillary Clinton, the enigmatic John McCain, or the New Deal inspired Barack Obama. As of last night, the Iowa Electronic Markets have the Democrats trading at .513 and the Republicans at .473, pretty much a dead heat. And while Obama is currently well ahead of Clinton in terms of the Democratic nomination, it is only very recently that Hillary has fallen well behind.

The upshot of all of this is that the participants in the market are pretty much clueless as to who will win the election, and as a result, as to what direction the new leader will attempt to push the economy. Add to this the fact that the economy is one of the most salient issues in the US right now, along with the traditional "100 day honeymoon" where new presidents are pretty much given what they want in terms of policies, and you will expect to see some significant change in the American economic landscape come January-April 2009.

So maybe we should ask a different question. Is the US economy faltering? Or is it just a deer in the headlights of an 18-wheeler sized election barreling down on it, frozen due to the unpredictability the outcome? If so, we might see an economic recovery start as we get closer to the election--not because of Bush's silly stimulus package, but rather because the likelihood of each possible election outcome will become a lot more clear at that time!