Quick Hits for Jan. 15, 2008

The Big Three, McCainonomics, and Teflon consumers.


1) With the results of the Michigan primary just hours away, my guy John Tamney, editor of RealClearMarkets, has little sympathy for the U.S. auto industry:

In truth, Michigan's economic malaise to a high degree results from the historical inability of its car manufacturers to shed workers that no longer provide value to its operations. Union pressure has made this process difficult, and the "loud sucking sound" has been capital fleeing a state unwilling to accept economic reality. Painful as layoffs are, had Michigan's auto companies addressed redundancies long ago they would be better off today, not to mention how honest appraisal of workforces would have enabled redundant workers to seek more productive employment elsewhere.

2) Larry Kudlow offers some tasty behind-the-scenes morsels about the McCain economic agenda:

Sen. McCain has tasked Jack Kemp with pulling together a growth package that will probably include a corporate tax cut. But it is all very much up in the air right now. Phil Gramm has proposed a doubling of the mortgage interest deduction, but key McCain staffers oppose this. Over in the Romney camp, tax strategists Caesar Conda and Vin Webber had hoped to get a stronger supply-side message for Michigan, but the clock ran out.

3) Where is the consumer recession? Retail sales were down 0.4 percent in December, but there is a silver lining here, courtesy of JPMorgan economist Michael Feroli: "It appears that November sales borrowed some from December sales. For the two months taken together, core retail sales increased at a 5.25% annual pace, in line with the trend over the last two years."