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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

4:11 p.m. ET
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

After reports surfaced in January that Michael Bloomberg was considering an independent presidential run, the former New York City mayor confirmed the possibility himself to the Financial Times on Monday.

"I find the level of discourse and discussion distressingly banal and an outrage and an insult to the voters," Bloomberg said, adding that the public deserves "a lot better."

Bloomberg, who The New York Times reported would sink up to $1 billion of his own money into a campaign, told FT he'd need to start getting his name on ballots in March.

"I'm listening to what candidates are saying and what the primary voters appear to be doing," he said. Julie Kliegman

3:51 p.m. ET
Yana Paskova/Getty Images

There is trouble in Hillaryland: According to anonymous sources who spoke with Politico, Hillary Clinton is frustrated with her campaign staff — and vice versa. With the too-close-for-comfort win over Bernie Sanders in Iowa and a New Hampshire victory for the Vermont senator on the horizon, Clinton is reportedly looking to reassess the staff at her Brooklyn headquarters sooner rather than later.

One source who is close with both Hillary and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, said, "The Clintons are not happy, and have been letting all of us know that. The idea is that we need a more forward-looking message, for the primary — but also for the general election too… There's no sense of panic, but there is an urgency to fix these problems right now."

There is dissatisfaction among Clinton's staffers, too:

Over the summer while her campaign was bogged down in the email controversy, Clinton was deeply frustrated with her own staff, and vice versa. The candidate blamed her team for not getting her out of the mess quickly, and her team blamed Clinton for being stubbornly unwilling to take the advice of campaign chairman John Podesta and others to apologize, turn over her server, and move on. The entire experience made her a deeply vulnerable frontrunner out of the gate, and underscored a lack of trust between Clinton and her operatives, many of whom were former Obama staffers that she didn't consider part of her inner circle of trust.

Her advisers were also frustrated by having to play roles they hadn't been hired for and were ill-suited for. From the beginning, [the campaign's top pollster and strategist Joel] Benenson was frustrated that he was forced to split his time between defending his boss on emails and defining a path for her candidacy. Clinton, meanwhile, longed for a chief strategist in the Mark Penn mold who could take on a more expansive role than playing pollster. [Politico]

Read the full story in Politico. Jeva Lange

3:47 p.m. ET
NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Canada will stop its airstrikes on the Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq by Feb. 22, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Monday.

"As I said many times throughout the campaign in my commitment to Canadians, this is a non-combat mission," he said.

Trudeau, who took office in November, added that airstrikes don't help local communities attain long-term stability. Instead, he'll up military personnel in the region and train more local forces, The Washington Post reports.

The Pentagon has said it respects Trudeau's decision to halt strikes, but did not invite Canada's defense minister to recent meetings the U.S.-led coalition held in Paris. Julie Kliegman

3:25 p.m. ET

During a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Jeb Bush showed off his throwing arm by lobbing a snowball at NBC reporter Jordan J. Frasier. Only, there wasn't much to show off.

"You can't do anything about it!" Bush taunted the reporter, whose hands were full managing the camera. Bush seemed to think about it for a second and added, "That's not fair, actually." Frasier, laughing, didn't seem to mind — and he caught the whole thing on film. Watch below. Jeva Lange

3:12 p.m. ET
TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images

An average audience of 111.9 million viewers tuned into CBS for Super Bowl 50 on Sunday night, making the program the third most-watched in TV history, Variety reports. The matchup between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers trailed the 2015 and 2014 Super Bowls, which had 114.4 million viewers on NBC and 112.2 million viewers on Fox, respectively.

Viewership peaked at 115.5 million viewers Sunday between 8:30 and 9 p.m. ET, when Beyoncé and Bruno Mars joined Coldplay for the halftime show. Julie Kliegman

2:55 p.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump has captured a wide lead in New Hampshire ahead of the Tuesday primary, where voting begins as early as midnight. According to a University of Massachusetts Lowell/WHDH poll released Monday, Trump holds the support of 34 percent of likely Republican voters in the Granite State, followed by Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz with 13 percent apiece, and Jeb Bush and John Kasich with 10 percent each. Among Democrats, Bernie Sanders has a strong 56-40 lead over Hillary Clinton. However, New Hampshire is famously a "late-breaking" state with many undecided voters, and polls are typically subject to scrutiny.

Pollsters surveyed 407 likely Democrats with an adjusted margin of error of +/-5.52 percent and 464 likely Republican voters with an adjusted margin of error of +/-2.99 percent; voters were interviewed between Friday and Sunday. See the full results here. Jeva Lange

2:08 p.m. ET

A possibly very confused voter at a John Kasich town hall in Windham, New Hampshire, wanted to know why she should vote for the Ohio governor in the "Democratic primary" — and Kasich, a Republican, didn't correct her. The question did not seem to be a slip of the tongue, either: The voter said she was having a hard time deciding between Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and John Kasich in the "Democratic primary" and wanted to know why Kasich should have her vote.

"Isn't that interesting," Kasich said as the crowd around her gasped. However, without mentioning his political allegiance or correcting the voter, Kasich went on to position himself as a good compromise between Sanders and Clinton saying, "One of them's too hot, one of them's too cold, but I've got the right temperature."

When Kasich asked the voter how he did in convincing her, she awkwardly dodged by saying, "I'll let you know tomorrow." Watch the scene unfold, below. Jeva Lange

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