Good morning. Here’s the news:1. New data posted by Gallup on Sunday show that 39% of Americans approve of President Obama’s job performance, while 54% disapprove. Both are the worst numbers of his presidency.
2. President Obama begins a bus tour of the Midwest today in Minnesota. The road trip is designed to show that Obama cares about small-town, heartland America.
3. Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty yesterday dropped out of the 2012 GOP presidential nomination race. He failed to gain “traction” with GOP primary voters and caucus attenders and ran out of money.
4. Mr. Pawlenty’s departure from the race, Texas Governor Rick Perry’s formal announcement of his candidacy and Michele Bachmann’s victory in the Iowa Straw Poll provided a bit of clarity to the 2012 GOP presidential campaign. The Washington Post says it’s a three-way race between Mitt Romney, Perry and Bachmann. The National Journal says it’s a two-way race between Romney and Perry.
5. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat takes a spin around the GOP presidential nomination race and finds: (1) the field still lacking, and (2) plenty of room for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to get in and get after it. Christie has said on about 172 occasions that he will not get in and he will not get after it.
6. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman takes a spin around the “alleged economic miracle in Texas.” He calls it a “myth” and says that rapid population growth (especially among retirees) accounts for virtually all of the “miracle.”
7. George Soros writes in today’s Financial Times: “A comprehensive solution to the euro crisis must have three major components: reform and recapitalisation of the banking system; a eurobond regime; and an exit mechanism.” Ambrose Evans-Pritchard argues that only Germany can save the eurozone now and that it will likely not do so because of parochial politics.
8. Nothing better captures the insanity of eurozone finance today than the supposed “value” of the Swiss franc. Gillian Tett writes: “…if you want to lend Swiss francs or make a deposit in the next year, you must pay for that privilege, or so the Libor market implies. The normal assumptions of finance have been turned upside down; call it Alice in Wonderland economics.”
9. According to The Washington Post, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner “don’t have the same range of policy tools and supporters they had in 2008 should the European crisis become an even greater menace to the U.S. economy.”
10. The New York Times reports: “Insurgents across Iraq launched their most significant and wide-ranging attacks in months on Monday, using suicide bombers, car bombs and gunmen to attack Iraqi security forces and civilians. At least 57 people were killed in the attacks and over 100 wounded.”
11. US-Pakistan relations continue to disintegrate. The Financial Times reports: “Pakistan allowed Chinese military engineers to photograph and take samples from the top-secret stealth helicopter that US special forces left behind when they killed Osama bin Laden.”