Economics and politics

Nov 05 2008 Published by under Uncategorized

I was talking to my brother yesterday as the election results were coming in and it was pretty clear that Obama was going to win, which was about an hour into the coverage. We got talking about the economy and the surprising public de-panting of Alan Greenspan as an economic mastermind and we both came to the same selfish conclusion - the economic slow-down has been good for us. As a new prof without much in the way of retirement savings, very modest stock holdings and someone who is about to be looking to buy a house, the timing of a massive reduction in the cost of investments (be they house or stock) could not have come at a better time. My brother just graduated law school and is finally getting paid a real salary and felt the same way. And so it made me think a bit about how if you are in the right place at the right time, a down economy can be good. Just ask Warren Buffet, who now owns half of the fortune 500 because he had liquid assets when no one else did.
But then of course, I realized that everything about my job (at least from a research perspective) depends on federal money. The budgets of NIH and NSF have been only slightly increased under the Bush regime and there was a decent amount of political talk about significantly increasing money to both agencies in the next fiscal, particularly by the democrats. We'll have to see how that goes, but I should be hearing about two grants in the next month or so. Given the state of things, I am fully expecting to have to re-submit the NSF grant in January, but at least I will have comments back and be able to make improvements for a round of funding that might coincide with a loosening of purse-strings. A new president and a congressional majority should motivate the democrats to push through some of the campaign promises in short order.

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