Biden, as usual, calls on Zandi as economics analyst; Penn Wharton Budget Model study sees little gain from Infrastructure Plan

Mark Zandi (Wikipedia)

Tom Paine

Mark Zandi, founder of West Chester-based Moody’s Analytics (originally , a Wharton Grad and Penn Economics Ph.d, has long been a backstop for Democrats on economic policy. I’m sure there are more nuances to his stances in private, but publicly he’s President Biden’s go-to guy for comments backing up administrative policy. On Wednesday night’s CNN Town Hall, Biden commented referring to Zandi:

“No, look, here’s the deal, Moody’s today … a Wall Street firm, not some liberal think tank, said, if we pass the other two things I’m trying to get done, we will, in fact, reduce inflation, reduce inflation, reduce inflation,” Biden said, “because we’re going to be providing good opportunities and jobs for people who, in fact, are going to be reinvesting that money back in all the things we’re talking about, driving down prices, not raising prices.”

Zandi’s report, released Wedesday, states:

“The nation has long underinvested in both physical and human infrastructure and has been slow to respond to the threat posed by climate change, with mounting economic consequences. The bipartisan infrastructure deal and reconciliation package help address this.”

“Worries that the plan will ignite undesirably high inflation and an overheating economy are overdone. The fiscal support it provides is only sufficient to push the economy back to full employment from the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Zandi wrote.

Most economists I read (even Democrat regular Larry Summers) are skeptical about the latter argument, that pouring trillions more of borrowed money into an already gorged ecnonomy will help to reduce inflamed inflationary pressures.

While Zandi did say in the report that Biden’s investment plan would “lift productivity and labor force growth”, I haven’t seen where he precisely says that it will reduce inflation, though he expects inflation to stabilize in the near term anyway.

Update 8/9:

In a study released at the end of June authored by Jon Huntley, senior economist, The Penn Wharton Budget Model took a longer view and predicted an almost net zero macro impact on the economy from the Infrastructure bill looking out to 2040 and 2050.

“The headline numbers look small—0.1 percent of GDP does not appear to be a large number—however, these benefits continue to accumulate year after year for as long as the infrastructure is in use,” Huntley says.

Trump bashes Comcast in Vegas speech; Amazon wins injunction against DOD’s JEDI contract, awarded to MSFT

Tom Paine

The question of whether President Trump has it in for three of his self-described media nemeses – Comcast NBCU , AT&T (having swallowed Time Warner / CNN), and Amazon boss Jeff Bezos’ Washington Post – remains an issue. Trump declared each a target of his wrath prior to his election in 2016.

On Friday night in a speech Las Vegas, Trump ripped into Comcast:

“Comcast – terrible company – terrible people in that company”

(Transcript of lengthly diatribe via

But how bout MSDNC? They’re worse than CNN. And they’re owned by people that really are bad. I think they’re very bad for our country. The owners of Comcast, rotten company, bad for our country, very bad. They try, they have all these PR things to try and keep their image nice and clean. What they do on television is so disgusting. I think in the old days you had to have licenses for this stuff, right? They can say whatever they want to say. Let’s see what happens over the next period of time. Bunch of dishonest people. Comcast, terrible company. Terrible people running that company. And you know what, I had Celebrity Apprentice, I had the Apprentice on for 14 seasons, 14 seasons, and they used to come to my office and they would kiss my ass. Please sign. Please. Please sign.

It’s an interesting story. They came and we signed, you know who signed me, Jeff Zucker. It’s one of the only things he’s done good in broadcasting, but I signed and NBC, as you know, is owned by Comcast, but I signed and they figured the show would be a total failure. So they only signed me for one season. You know I was going to have it. It was go on and then the show goes, started at ten went to eight, went to seven, went to five, went to four, went to two. It went to one. I had the number one show in all of television. Number one. It was a phenomenal and the final episode, remember that? With the, you remember that? Do you remember the final? We had, I don’t know, it was one of the biggest shows of the year. It was a tremendous success there.

But here I was, I signed with NBC and they didn’t even want to waste the ink on an option. Usually they have an option for not, you know, just like they didn’t do it. You stupid people. So they paid me very little for the first season I think $25,000 a show, which is considered not good. That’s okay. It was fun. I didn’t know it was going to be success, you know? Hey, just like this was successful. It’s a recent.

Because when I left and Arnold Schwarzenegger and I like Arnold said some very nice things, so I’m not, but the show did not exactly succeed when I left, but I had it on and they wanted me to sign for more and I said, no, I’m going to run for president but I’ll never forget.

I looked at, I didn’t know anything about this business and I had an agent, wonderful guy from William Morris, and he said, sir, I don’t want you to sign. No business show has ever done well on network television. Well, it’s not business, it’s entertainment, celebrity. Sir, I don’t want you to sign. Sir, don’t sign. I said, yeah, okay. But I have a problem. I shook the hand of somebody I have to.

And Mark Burnett was great. He was my guy and but we shook hands. So I have to, but I agreed, you know, I didn’t know that no business or no business type show had ever succeeded on a network television. So he said, I don’t want you to sign sir, break it. I said, I can’t break it. Can’t break it. Anyway, so the show I said started at ten, went to nine, went to became, it was the number one show all of a sudden, and the agent called me up and he said, sir, I remember it was six in the morning. I was in bed. He said, sir, the show just went to number one. I’d love to see you because I think I’m entitled to more money. I said, you didn’t want me to do the show. Well, not really. I mean, I was okay. He said, I’d really like more money. I said, Jim, I like you very much, Jim, you’re fired. Get out.

Anyway, I had 14 great seasons over about 11 years because it was so successful, they kept… They would have run it. Remember when they did the three hours, the whole night was the Apprentice. I said, wait a minute. Gone With the Wind, to mention the movie a second time, Gone With the Wind is shorter. They had the Apprentice on for three hours. I said even I think it’s too long. You can’t put it up for three. You got leave a little bit like I want to come back next week.

But they had it on for three weeks. We did fantastically with it. Comcast did great. NBC did great. They wanted me to sign for another three years. I said, no, I’m going to for president. And that was actually the time when I knew I was going to run. Because you know how they were paying a lot of money and whether you’re rich or not, it’s still a lot of money. I don’t care how rich you are. It’s a lot. Millions and millions of dollars. And I said no, I’m going to run for president. And I did that. But from the day I ran, they went from being, you know one…

But from the day I ran, they went from being wonderful, they were nice. They were nice. I guess if I didn’t do well with the show they wouldn’t have been nice because they weren’t nice to other people that failed. People that didn’t have good ratings, that business is a very simple business. If you have good ratings, you can treat them like garbage. If you have bad ratings, you can say, “Sir, I really respect you so much.”

Get out of here. Get him out of my yard. They’re very ruthless people. But Comcast is a rotten company. They forgot totally. And they are worse than CNN. I will tell you that right now. Comcast is worse than CNN. We should call it Comcast, because that’s their beautiful maiden name, Comcast. They’re worse than CNN.”

In late 2018, Trump responded favorably on Twitter to complaints by the trade group representing small cable system operators (the ACA) that Comcast, in the president’s words, “routinely violates Antitrust Laws.”.

A week ago, Amazon won an injunction, blocking the Department of Defense from proceeding with work on the JEDI project, a $10 billion DOD contract that was initially reported headed to Amazon Web Services but awarded to Microsoft after the Administration alledgedly interfered. Amazon stated that it was “important that the numerous evaluation errors and blatant political interference that impacted the Jedi award decision be reviewed”.

One year ago, a federal appellate judge upheld a lower court ruling against the Justice Department’s suit to stop the AT&T / Time Warner merger. It was surprising to some observers that DOJ had sued in the first place, as. this was a type of merger that antitrust law usually doesn’t address, and even more surprising that DOJ appealed.