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April 9, 2014

Via Kevin Drum, we find that Greece might have a successful debt auction:

Greece is undergoing an astonishing financial rebound. Two years ago, the country looked like it was set for a messy default and exit from the euro. Now it is on the verge of returning to the bond market with the issue of 2 billion euros of five-year paper.

There are still political risks, and the real economy is only now starting to turn. But the financial recovery is impressive. The 10-year bond yield, which hit 30 percent after the debt restructuring of two years ago, is now 6.2 percent....The changed mood in the markets is mainly down to external factors: the European Central Bank's promise to "do whatever it takes" to save the euro two years ago; and the more recent end of investors' love affair with emerging markets, meaning the liquidity sloshing around the global economy has been hunting for bargains in other places such as Greece.

That said, the center-right government of Antonis Samaras has surprised observers at home and abroad by its ability to continue with the fiscal and structural reforms started by his predecessors. The most important successes have been reform of the labor market, which has restored Greece's competitiveness, and the achievement last year of a "primary" budgetary surplus before interest payments. [Reuters]

But let's not get ahead of ourselves:

(Source: tradingeconomics.com)

Given the kind of people who have been in charge of the thing, I guess it's sort of impressive that the European Central Bank has finally figured out how to use their infinite Euro-creation power to keep member nations from defaulting on Euro-denominated debt. But with unemployment still over 27 percent, I'd say let's hold off on talk of a recovery.

Indeed, I rather fear this could be the worst of all worlds. Moving off the Euro would have been awful, but at least held the prospect of returning to growth and full employment within a couple years (from a much lower base). By contrast, the bank Natixis recently estimated that, given very generous assumptions, it will take Spain (which is in similarly dire straits) 25 years to return to 2007-era employment. A nation can do a great deal of catch-up growth in that time.

Realistically, I'd guess this means that Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, etc., will never recover fully, and instead we're witnessing the birth of a crummy, tattered Franco-German empire with a permanently depressed periphery. Ryan Cooper

1:00 p.m. ET
Saul Loeb/Getty Images

While many Americans tune in to Sunday night's Oscars ceremony, the Trump White House will host its first major social event: the 2017 Governors' Dinner. The black tie affair includes a receiving line, reception, and formal dinner with the First and Second Couples. It is timed to correspond with the National Governors Association's winter meeting in Washington each year.

"The Governors' Dinner is one of the most important social events held at the White House each year," said Laura Dowling, who was the chief White House floral designer for six of President Obama's eight years in office. "In terms of scope, style and planning requirements, it is just one step below a state dinner in organizational complexity."

The dinner is First Lady Melania Trump's first in her new role as White House hostess. "The first lady has put a lot of time into this event, welcoming our nation's governors to the capital," said White House Press Secretary of the evening's festivities. Bonnie Kristian

12:24 p.m. ET

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sunday offered a dismissive assessment of President Trump's first month in office in conversation with ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "What has the Trump administration done?" she asked. "From their inaugural address, where they talked about decay and carnage, they've done nothing except put Wall Street first, make America sick again, instill fear in our immigration population in our country, and make sure Russia maintains its grip on our foreign policy."

"I call him the deflector-in-chief," Pelosi added. "He has no jobs bill, so he has got to talk about the press. He has no jobs bill, so he has to talk about kids, transgender kids in school. He has no jobs bill, so he has to talk about immigrants and have a ban on Muslims coming to country." Watch an excerpt of her comments below. Bonnie Kristian

11:47 a.m. ET

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and former Republican Senator Rick Santorum all said in interviews Sunday that calls for a special prosecutor to investigate alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election are premature. The possibility of such an appointment was raised Friday by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who argued it is inappropriate for the investigation to be performed by someone, like new Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is a political appointee.

"The Justice Department over the course of time has shown itself, with the professionals that are there, to have the ability to investigate these type of things," Christie said in a conversation with CNN's Jake Tapper. "When a special prosecutor gets involved, the thing gets completely out of control."

"I think that's way, way getting ahead of ourselves here," Cotton said while talking with Chuck Todd on NBC. "There's no allegations of any crime occurring, there's not even an indication that there's criminal investigations underway by the FBI as opposed to counterintelligence investigations, which the FBI conducts all the time."

"The rush to a special prosecutor is always a dangerous thing," Santorum said in a different segment of Tapper's show, contending that appointing a special prosecutor would usurp congressional power. Watch comments from all three below. Bonnie Kristian

11:25 a.m. ET
Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Oscar-nominated actress Meryl Streep has accused Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld of defamation for comments, published Thursday in Women's Wear Daily, in which he said she declined to wear his dress to Sunday's the Academy Awards ceremony because another designer offered to pay her for the exposure.

"Don't continue the dress. We found somebody who will pay us," Lagerfeld said he was told after beginning work on Streep's gown. He added, "A genius actress, but cheapness also, no?"

Streep denied Lagerfeld's account Thursday, and Chanel issued a statement confirming her claim that "there was no mention of the reason" she chose a different designer. But late Saturday evening, Streep issued a vehement second statement. "Karl Lagerfeld, a prominent designer, defamed me, my stylist, and the illustrious designer whose dress I chose to wear, in an important industry publication," she said. "That publication printed this defamation, unchecked. Subsequently, the story was picked up globally, and continues, globally, to overwhelm my appearance at the Oscars, on the occasion of my record breaking 20th nomination, and to eclipse this honor in the eyes of the media, my colleagues and the audience."

Streep ended her statement with a demand for an explicit apology from Lagerfeld: "He lied, they printed the lie, and I am still waiting." Bonnie Kristian

11:05 a.m. ET

Emmy-winning actor Bill Paxton died Saturday due to complications from surgery, his family confirmed Sunday morning. He was 61 years old.

Paxton was known for his appearances in films including Terminator, Aliens, Apollo 13, Twister, and Titanic. He had a lead role in HBO’s Big Love and was shooting a new cop drama for CBS called Training Day.

"A loving husband and father, Bill began his career in Hollywood working on films in the art department and went on to have an illustrious career spanning four decades as a beloved and prolific actor and filmmaker," said a statement from Paxton's family. "Bill's passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable." Bonnie Kristian

10:51 a.m. ET

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) refused during an interview on CNN's State of the Union to say he would share his presidential campaign email list with the Democratic National Committee. His evasion came less than 24 hours after his preferred candidate for DNC chair, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), lost to the establishment-supported former Labor Secretary Tom Perez.

"Where we are right now is that we are going to support and have supported and will continue to support those candidates who have the guts to stand up for working families and take on the big money interests," Sanders said in response to a question about the list from host Jake Tapper. "What we are going to do is support those candidates who have the guts to stand up to the 1 percent and fight for the 99 percent."

As Tim Murphy explained at Mother Jones earlier this month, Sanders' campaign "rewrote the rules of email fundraising during his campaign by relentlessly courting small-dollar contributors," many of them first-time political donors. The DNC is "desperate" for the list, Murphy said, though the Sanders camp believes party leadership is missing the point: "The list wasn't the campaign's secret weapon; Sanders was."

Watch an excerpt of his remarks to Tapper below. Bonnie Kristian

10:33 a.m. ET

The impulse of some conservative House Republicans "to say just get rid of the whole thing" in the ObamaCare reform process is "not acceptable," Ohio Governor John Kasich argued during an appearance on CBS' Face the Nation Sunday. "Republicans have to reach out to some of the Democrats" in Congress if they are to craft a new health care program "that still provides coverage to people," the former Republican presidential candidate told host John Dickerson.

"You have 20 million people, or 700,000 people in my state" whose health coverage is now provided through the Affordable Care Act, Kasich said. "Where do the mentally ill go? Where do the drug addicted go?" Kasich conceded reforms are needed to make the system functional and affordable, but, he added, "we're just not going to pull the rug out from under people." Watch his comments in context below, and see this analysis from The Week's Ryan Cooper on how Kasich's fears could come true. Bonnie Kristian

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