The scariest sentence I’ve read today #wonkbook

at 08:23 AM ET, 06/15/2012

Scariest sentence I've read today? Oh, that's easy: "Because there has been time to prepare, some economists say, Greece’s departure from the euro will not be as much of a shock as the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, which provoked a global financial crisis."

That's from Jack Ewing and Paul Geitner in the New York Times, and it's enough to ruin your Friday morning: "Some economists say" a Greek departure wouldn't be as bad "as the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, which provoked a global financial crisis"? Yeesh. That's like some bomb units say they can get the vest off of you without it going "BOOM."
A Greek flag is covered with Euro coins. (Sean Gallup - GETTY IMAGES)

On Thursday, President Obama gave a speech trying to "reframe" the election. It was evidence of his frustration with the media's coverage thus far that the the new frame he wanted was "here is what Obama proposes to do as president and here is what Mitt Romney proposes to do as president." You'd think, given the quantity of campaign coverage thus far, would have gotten that information out there already. But Obama is probably right that most voters aren't terribly clear on either candidate's policy agenda, or its likely outcome.

But when you read things like "some economists say Greece’s departure from the euro will not be as much of a shock as the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, which provoked a global financial crisis," it's a reminder that 2012 isn't just about framing speeches, or a debate about the country's future. The president and the Congress might be called on within a couple of weeks or months to protect the U.S. economy from a Lehman-like event, the aftermath of which will not wait for the next president to settle in.

Which is why the second scariest sentence I read today is "Senate Republicans will block all of President Barack Obama’s high-level judicial nominees until after the election." This is related to something called the "Thurmond rule," which Manu Raju at Politico explains is an "informal rule [that] holds that sitting presidents should not get Senate votes on lifetime appointments to the bench in the months leading up to a presidential election." If there was some evidence that this really would be limited to lifetime judicial appointments, then fine: The aftermath of the euro zone break-up doesn't require any lifetime appointments. But combined with everything else we've seen from the House and Senate in recent months, I take it as further evidence that Congress would strongly prefer to do nothing until the next president is elected. That's not comforting at a moment when a lot might need to be done before the next president is elected.

Remember: The financial crisis also came a few months before a presidential election. In that case, the Obama campaign and congressional Democrats joined with the Bush administration to pass the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 and TARP. If similar cooperation is needed this year, is there any real chance that we'll get it?

Wonkbook dashboard

RCP Obama vs. Romney: Obama +0.8%; 7-day change: Obama -1.4%.

RCP Obama approval: 47.7%; 7-day change: +0.3%.

Top story: Waiting for the Greeks

Greece heads to the polls on Sunday. "Greek elections on Sunday could bring urgency to a debate that has been largely academic: whether the euro zone can withstand the departure of one of its members. With a good chance that the elections will produce either a political stalemate or a populist left-wing government in Athens, even people who say they do not believe Greece will drop out of the common currency are preparing for that possibility. Because there has been time to prepare, some economists say, Greece’s departure from the euro will not be as much of a shock as the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008, which provoked a global financial crisis. Nor is it likely to be as abrupt. Even if a new Greek government eventually decided it could no longer stay in the euro union, no one expects an immediate, hasty exit. Lehman was a surprise." Jack Ewing and Paul Geitner in The New York Times.

Greeks are preparing by moving their money or hiring security guards. "As Greece prepares for a weekend vote that could determine whether the country stays in Europe's common currency, many Greeks are gripped by uncertainty and taking measures large and small to prepare for what may come next. 'I don't know whom to trust or what to believe,' said Ilias Daskalopoulos, a 28-year-old unemployed writer who earlier this year went to the bank and withdrew his entire life savings--a few thousand euros that he now keeps stashed in a secret hiding spot...Other Greeks are transferring money out of the country, hiring security guards, stocking up on groceries and keeping their cars' gas tanks full--measures of the anxiety many feel as the country's economy collapses and government institutions struggle to cope. Unemployment passed 22% in the first three months of the year, and crime rates are climbing...Bankers say that in recent days, there has been a surge in withdrawals from Greek banks." Gordon Fairclough in The Wall Street Journal.

The EU is planning incentives to convince new Greek leaders to stick to the bailout deal. "European officials are preparing to dangle a package of incentives in front of a new Greek government to convince it to stick to the country’s current bailout deal after Sunday’s high-stakes elections. The package would include further reductions in interest rates and extended repayment periods for bailout loans, as well as EU money to spur investments in Greek public works programmes through the European Investment Bank. The catch is that the sweetener is currently envisioned for a new government only if it is led by Antonis Samaras, head of the pro-bailout centre-right New Democracy party...In spite of the concessions they are now preparing, officials emphasised that they remained opposed to making bigger changes to the unpopular memorandum sought by many Greeks, such as altering or delaying budget deficit targets." Joshua Chaffin and Peter Spiegel in The Financial Times.

WATCH: The Eurozone crisis explained in less than two minutes.

Central banks may step in if Greece's elections spark further crisis. "Central banks from major economies stand ready to take steps to stabilize financial markets by providing liquidity and preventing a credit squeeze if the outcome of Greek elections on Sunday causes tumultuous trading, G20 officials told Reuters. A senior U.S. official cautioned that the Greek election will not provide 'the definitive signal on what happens next' in the euro zone debt crisis. But if severe market strains emerge after an unusual confluence of three elections this weekend - there are important polls in Egypt and France as well - central bankers are on standby to ensure enough cash is flowing through the financial system. 'The central banks are preparing for coordinated action to provide liquidity,' said a senior G20 aide familiar with discussions among international financial diplomats. His statement was confirmed by several other G20 officials." Stella Dawson and Lesley Wroughton in Reuters.

@alanbeattie: In re G20 rumours, the best concerted action that central banks could take would be to gang up on the ECB and tell it to get a grip.

@BCAppelbaum: I don't really understand what's new about the existence of central banks, or their plans to remain in existence after the Greek election.

Spain's borrowing costs hit a new record. "Spain's borrowing costs jumped to a record Thursday, fanning concerns that the €100 billion ($125 billion) aid package planned for its banks won't suffice to stave off a much larger bailout for the entire country. Spain agreed last weekend to a bank-recapitalization plan it hoped would restore investor confidence in the country's credit-worthiness. Instead, investors have continued to jettison Spanish debt amid concerns that the deal for as much as €100 billion in aid will saddle the government with more debt at a time of deepening economic malaise. The yield on Spain's 10-year government bond ended Thursday's active trading at a euro-era record 6.931%, up from 6.184% before the deal was announced last weekend. That is worrying because foreign investors' appetite for new Spanish debt has already dried up, forcing the government to rely heavily on the country's troubled banks to refinance its debt." Jonathan House and William Kemble-Diaz in The Wall Street Journal.

Germany continued to insist it can't solve the crisis on its own."Germany alone can't solve the euro-area sovereign debt crisis, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Thursday, as she urged the world's largest economies to play their part in helping to restore growth. Speaking ahead of a meeting of the Group of 20 industrial and developing nations, Ms. Merkel told parliament in Berlin: 'The causes of the weakening global economy are indeed not only in the euro area...Since the start of the debt crisis, Ms. Merkel and Germany have come under intense pressure to do everything possible to keep the monetary union from breaking apart. As the euro zone's largest economy, Germany has accepted the greatest financial share of the bailout packages. The country has taken responsibility for as much as €401 billion ($503.54 billion) of the agreed temporary and permanent bailout programs' entire resources, according to an estimate from Credit Suisse." Christopher Lawton and Franziska Scheven in The Wall Street Journal.

KONSTANDARAS: Greece faces terrible choices. "At a moment when the choices should be as clear as possible -- between reform and stagnation, between Europe and isolation, between painful progress and the deceptive comfort of surrender -- the issues are hopelessly confused by false expectations, by false choices and by the total failure of a political class that can’t propose solutions to the country’s problems and can’t forge a minimal national consensus on what is at stake and what needs to be done. We face a choice between two deeply flawed alternatives. On one hand, there is New Democracy, a center-right party that has done much to undermine Greece’s economic reform and revival over the past two years...On the other hand there is Syriza, a fractious coalition of 12 radical groups that has anointed itself the herald of leftist change throughout Europe and declares that it will immediately annul the bailout agreement while demanding that our partners continue to lend us money." Nikos Konstandaras in The New York Times.

RALLO: Spanish banks need a bail-in. "Instead of a bailout, the Spanish state should force a 'bail-in,' in which much of the banks' debt is converted to equity. This would reduce the banks' leverage and increase the capital available to absorb the coming losses...Converting into equity 100% of the €88 billion of subordinated liabilities, and 40% of the €160 billion of senior unsecured debt, would generate more than €150 billion of loss-absorbing equity for the Spanish banking system. Together with the estimated €25 billion in expected operating profits for 2012, before loss provisions, that would yield about €175 billion in new bank equity, without increasing the debt burden of the Spanish taxpayer or requiring a loan from Brussels. In other words, there is a solution to the problems facing the Spanish banking system: not a bail-out, but a bail-in, whereby investors bear the vast majority of the cost of their own mistakes, without liquidating the banks and without pushing the Spanish economy into bankruptcy." Juan Ramon Rallo in The Wall Street Journal.

ECONOMIDES ET AL.: A Greek exit would be disastrous. "There are tremendous negatives to leaving the euro and printing new drachmas. If a Greek exit from the euro zone looks close to certain after Sunday's election, we will see a full-fledged bank run. Greek banks would collapse unless the European Central Bank takes extraordinary measures, possibly in violation of its charter. The market exchange-rate would likely be two or three drachmas to the euro, which would double or triple the Greek price of imported goods within a few days. Prices of assets, including real-estate assets, would crumble. Those who moved their deposits abroad would be able to buy these assets cheaply, leading to a significant, regressive redistribution of Greek wealth. Besides the supply-side inflation, there would be additional inflation as Greece would be printing drachmas to finance its deficit." Nicholas Economides, Yannis Ioannides, Emmanuel Petrakis, Christopher Pissarides, and Thanasis Stengos in The Wall Street Journal.

Top op-eds

1) KRUGMAN: Public sector job cuts are bad for the economy."The more relevant question for the moment is whether the public job cuts Mr. Romney applauds are good or bad for the economy. And we now have a lot of evidence bearing on that question...There’s our own experience. Conservatives would have you believe that our disappointing economic performance has somehow been caused by excessive government spending, which crowds out private job creation. But the reality is that private-sector job growth has more or less matched the recoveries from the last two recessions; the big difference this time is an unprecedented fall in public employment, which is now about 1.4 million jobs less than it would be if it had grown as fast as it did under President George W. Bush. And, if we had those extra jobs, the unemployment rate would be much lower than it is -- something like 7.3 percent instead of 8.2 percent. It sure looks as if cutting government when the economy is deeply depressed hurts rather than helps the American people." Paul Krugman in The New York Times.

2) COHN: There is a real difference between Obama and Romney."Obama has laid out his philosophy and proposals. So has Mitt Romney. The campaign is all about contrasting the two. And, boy, is the contrast stark. Obama would preserve the safety net and most other federal programs, including the expansions of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, then impose a combination of (relatively) moderate cuts and (relatively) moderate tax increases on the wealthy. Romney would dramatically reduce government, including the safety net, and dramatically reduce taxes, mostly to benefit the wealthy. That all sounds very esoteric, so let me put it in human terms. The difference between Romney’s vision and Obama’s is tens of millions of people losing health insurance; less money for a variety of federal programs that help young people pay for college and enable poor people to get food; fewer dollars for repairing broken down bridges and infrastructure; and much, much bigger tax cuts for wealthy Americans." Jonathan Cohn in The New Republic.

3) GOLUB: The tax code should be simplified. "Scores of common tax deductions are also unfair. Taxpayers who have mortgage-interest payments, own their homes, or make charitable donations receive deductions subsidized by those who don't. Taxpayers who buy solar panels get a deduction, and anyone who buys an electric car gets a subsidy from taxpayers...What should be done to improve our arcane, complicated and unfair tax system? First, eliminate all preferences in the tax code and, if we still want to subsidize certain behaviors, pay for them through a legislative appropriations process, making them transparent to the public. In other words, everyone earning the same amount of money should pay the same in federal taxes, regardless of how they earned their money and regardless of how they choose to spend it. What would be fair is all Americans paying federal taxes on all their income, whether it is earned in the form of cash or benefits, and paying taxes on earnings only once." Harvey Golub in The Wall Street Journal.

4) JOHNSON: The Federal Reserve's governing structure needs reform. "On Monday, Lee C. Bollinger, chairman of the board of the New York Fed and president of Columbia University, weighed in to contradict Mr. Geithner in no uncertain terms. The Wall Street Journal reported Mr. Bollinger’s view: Mr. Dimon should stay on the New York Fed’s board, and critics attacking the Fed have a 'false understanding' of how it works...Mr. Bollinger’s intervention brings a fresh spotlight to a deep governance problem at the heart of the Federal Reserve System - prominent executives in the financial sector and their close allies are much too involved in how the New York Fed operates...The Federal Reserve Act should be amended. The boards of regional Federal Reserve banks should become advisory groups. If local boards are retained in any fashion, they should be filled with distinguished experts toward the end of their careers" Simon Johnson in The New York Times.

5) SUDERMAN: Overturning Obamacare would change the health policy debate. "What happens if the Supreme Court overturns the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act? In some ways, very little: The architects of the constitutional case against the law designed their argument as a precision-guided missile that would take out ObamaCare while leaving the surrounding legal and policy edifice standing...Nor would a negative ruling have a major impact on the nation’s entitlement infrastructure. A few provisions from the law that have already been enacted would be wiped from the books, and Medicare’s budget baseline would revert to its previous state. But since the law’s major coverage provisions have not kicked in yet, most Americans would not notice the change. Would health policy simply return to its pre-2010 state? Yes, but with one major difference: ObamaCare would be discredited, legally and politically -- potentially clearing a path to more effective health care reforms." Peter Suderman in Reason.

Top long reads

Joshua Green profiles Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina and his attempt to run the campaign like a tech company: "The day after Jim Messina quit his job as White House deputy chief of staff last January, he caught a plane to Los Angeles, paid a brief visit to his girlfriend, and then commenced what may be the highest-wattage crash course in executive management ever undertaken. He was about to begin a new job as Barack Obama’s campaign manager, and being a diligent student with access to some very smart people, he arranged a rolling series of personal seminars with the CEOs and senior executives of companies that included Apple (AAPL), Facebook (FB), Zynga (ZNGA), Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), Salesforce (CRM), and DreamWorks (DWA)...His obsession runs to the future, not the past, and to business as much as politics. Messina is convinced that modern presidential campaigns are more like fast-growing tech companies than anything found in a history book and his own job like that of the executives who run them."

70s nostalgia interlude: Joni Mitchell plays "California" live on The Johnny Cash Show.

Got tips, additions, or comments?  E-mail me.

Still to come: Glimmers of hope for housing; conservative states could continue health reform; the Senate GOP will block judges; OPEC stays put; and Nashville welcomes a new giraffe into the world.

Economy

Consumer prices dropped for the first time in two years. "U.S. consumer prices declined last month for the first time in two years and separate data signaled the labor market continued to weaken, fueling market speculation of possible Federal Reserve action next week to bolster the economy. The Labor Department said Thursday its index of consumer prices fell by a seasonally adjusted 0.3% in May from the prior month, driven by falling gasoline prices. Over the past year, consumer prices increased just 1.7%, below the Fed's 2.0% annual inflation target. However, when removing volatile food and energy costs, core consumer prices rose 0.2% last month and climbed 2.3% over the past 12 months. The cost of medical services, used cars, airplane tickets and rent all rose in May...Energy prices posted their first annual decline since 2009, falling 3.9% from May 2011. For the month, energy prices declined 4.3% and gasoline sank 6.8%." Eric Morath and Jeffrey Sparshott in The Wall Street Journal.

The housing market is showing signs of revival. "Home sales up. Inventories down. Prices rising in many cities. New houses being built at the fastest pace in years. Interest rates hovering at historic lows. A vibrant rental market. A growing body of data in recent months has suggested that better days are on the horizon for the nation’s battered housing market, though it remains clear that a turnaround won’t come quickly. The latest harbinger of (mostly) encouraging news: the annual State of the Nation’s Housing report released Thursday by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, which details more signs of revival...The findings this year offer glimmers of optimism that have been largely absent in recent years. Among them: an increase in sales of existing homes, fewer homes lingering on the market, an uptick in residential construction, signs of stabilizing prices in many areas, falling rental vacancy rates and low interest rates that make purchasing more affordable." Brady Dennis in The Washington Post.

Jobless claims continued their steady rise. "Jobless claims ticked up last week, a signal that employers aren't picking up their hiring. First-time unemployment claims increased by 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 386,000, up from the previous week's upwardly revised figure of 380,000 for the week ended June 9, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The four-week moving average, a less volatile measure than the weekly figures, increased by 3,500 from the previous week's revised average of 378,500, the highest level since April 28. Applications have popped above the 375,000 level economists say reflects a healthy job market and likely means the unemployment rate will fall. The economy produced a dismal 69,000 jobs in May, the lowest in a year, as the jobless rate increased to 8.2 percent from 8.1. Economists are forecasting stronger job growth this summer but, if the weekly claims are a barometer for growth, hiring is still sluggish." Vicki Needham in The Hill.

Lowered growth forecasts could push the Fed into action."Chairman Ben S. Bernanke told lawmakers last week the 'central question' confronting the Federal Reserve at its next meeting is whether growth is fast enough to make 'material progress' reducing unemployment. The answer may well be no. Bernanke and his fellow policy makers gather June 19-20 to revise their economic projections after a report yesterday showing retail sales fell for a second month in May prompted economists at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley to cut their growth forecasts. Fed officials, including Vice Chairman Janet Yellen, have said there’s scope for further easing at some point to reduce a jobless rate persisting above 8 percent...Economists at Goldman Sachs yesterday reduced their tracking estimate for U.S. second-quarter growth to 1.6 percent from 1.8 percent. Morgan Stanley cut its projection 0.2 percentage point, to 1.8 percent, while Credit Suisse Group AG marked down growth for the period to 2.2 percent from 2.5 percent." Jeff Kearns and Aki Ito inBloomberg.

Foreign investment in the U.S. is surging. "Foreigners are stepping up investment in the U.S. after retreating during the depths of the financial crisis, with the latest flurry spurred partly by Europeans seeking havens amid the Continent's debt crisis. The U.S. attracted $28.7 billion in foreign direct investment between January and March, the 12th consecutive quarter of positive flows, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Foreign direct investment includes long-term bets by companies and individuals such as corporate acquisitions and real estate, but not purchases of Treasury bonds and other U.S. securities. Foreign investment in the U.S. last year totaled $234 billion, a 14% jump over $205.8 billion in 2010, with around two-thirds of the cash coming from Europe. The government initially estimated that investment flows dropped 4% last year. Foreign investment in the U.S. has now exceeded its average of the past 10 years in 2010 and 2011, suggesting America's lure for capital has recovered from the crisis." Neil Shah in The Wall Street Journal.

Things falling down interlude: 90,775 dominoes topple over the course of 8 minutes.

Health Care

Conservative states might keep exchanges if Obamacare falls."Some conservative experts see reason to hope the states that have been fighting the health care reform law could become hotbeds of health policymaking if the Affordable Care Act fails. They say the work many red states have been quietly doing to comply with the law in case they lose in the Supreme Court could be repurposed to create state-based reforms on a more conservative model. Some states, for instance, may look at their own version of Utah’s small-business insurance exchange. These alternative approaches are unlikely to address a key goal of President Barack Obama’s health care reform law -- expanding coverage to millions of uninsured people -- in part because without the federal law, they wouldn’t have the federal cash for subsidies. But lawmakers in conservative states still see an opportunity to address some problems and lay down a marker for eventual broader reforms requiring federal action." J. Lester Feder in Politico.

Senate Democrats defeated attempts to defund Obamacare."Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday beat back attempts by Republicans to use the 2013 Labor, Health and Human Services bill to defund President Obama’s healthcare reform. The bill was reported out to the Senate on a party-line 16-14 vote, a break from the normally bipartisan nature of the spending panel...Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) offered an amendment that would have prevented the administration from hiring any new employees to carry out healthcare reform. That failed on party lines. Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) offered an amendment that would block healthcare reform’s Prevention and Public Health Fund from spending any money. He argued that the funds are being used for lobbying and as a 'slush fund.' That too was defeated...Overall, the spending bill provides $158.8 billion for 2013, $8.8 billion more than the House is expected to provide in its bill, which is heading for a markup as soon as next week." Erik Wasson in The Hill.

Domestic Policy

The Senate GOP will block all high-level judicial nominees until after the election. "Senate Republicans will block all of President Barack Obama’s high-level judicial nominees until after the election...In keeping with a long-running practice employed by a Senate minority in an election year, Republicans will prevent Obama’s appeals court nominees from winning lifetime confirmations on the federal bench until after the November elections. The move would delay four nominees who were already approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, including Patty Shwartz, whom Christie strongly backed for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. In an interview with POLITICO, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said now was the appropriate time to employ the so-called 'Thurmond Rule,' named after the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.). That informal rule holds that sitting presidents should not get Senate votes on lifetime appointments to the bench in the months leading up to a presidential election." Manu Raju inPolitico.

@Amy_NJ: Overheard in Capitol: Sen McConnell: "We're trying to figure out a way forward." About what? Doesn't matter. Applicable to most things here.

Baby animals being baby animals interlude: The Nashville Zoo has a new baby giraffe.

Energy

May was the second-warmest on record globally. "Last month’s average global temperature made it the second-warmest May since record-keeping began in 1880, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). 'The combined average temperature over global land and ocean surfaces for May was second warmest on record for May, behind 2010, at 59.79°F (15.46°C) or 1.19°F (0.66°C) above the 20th century average,' NOAA said in its latest monthly analysis...NOAA, which is part of the Commerce Department, noted that last month was the 36th consecutive May and 327th consecutive month with temperatures above the 20th-century average. The year-to-date globally has not been as close to record-setting, but is nearing the top 10...The global temperature data follows a NOAA report a week ago that the United States has had its warmest spring, warmest year-to-date, and warmest 12-month stretch on record."Ben Geman in The Hill.

The farm bill is picking up steam. "Senate Agriculture Committee Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow said late Thursday that she expects early next week to present a consent agreement for completing the farm bill and believes 'it’s very possible' to win passage without a difficult cloture vote...Stabenow first spoke to a near-empty Senate and then briefly with a pair of reporters outside. Roberts was not present to confirm her optimism, but there is a growing sense in the GOP that she and Roberts could get 60 votes for cloture if it comes to that. Individual Republicans are already being promised slots for their amendments as part of the draft agreement, and Stabenow said she and Roberts were 'very close.' She left herself room on what path her agreement will follow but suggested it could include both a substitute bill -- incorporating changes -- and a list of votes on amendments...For the rest of the Senate, it has been a waiting game, and to pass the time, senators seem to be cooking up even more amendments -- now totaling near 250." David Rogers in Politico.

GRAPH: The Senate farm bill, in one graph.

OPEC left its ceiling for oil production unchanged. "The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries left unchanged a ceiling for oil production at a meeting in Vienna on Thursday, despite signs of a slowdown in the global economy and slumping oil prices. Saudi Arabia came to the meeting ready to raise output to stave off the risk that higher oil prices would tip vulnerable economies into recession. Iran and Venezuela, the so-called OPEC hawks, had wanted to lower production to prop up prices. The decision leaves Saudi Arabia, the largest producer in the cartel and a moderate, to decide on its own whether to influence prices by raising or lowering output before the next OPEC meeting in December. The cartel issued a statement late Thursday saying it expected supply and demand of oil in the world to remain balanced through the second half of the year, and so would leave its production ceiling unchanged." Andrew Kramer in The New York Times.

The EPA will tighten the national soot standards. "The Environmental Protection Agency will announce a proposal Friday to tighten the nation’s soot standards, a move that could help deliver major health benefits by the end of the decade but force some oil refiners, manufacturers and other operations to invest in pollution abatement upgrades. Particle pollution measuring less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, also known as fine particles or soot, is possibly the most deadly widespread air pollutant. Measuring one-thirtieth the width of a human hair, these particles come from activities ranging from wood burning to vehicle emissions and can cause respiratory and heart ailments by entering the lungs and bloodstream. Facing a court-ordered deadline, the EPA will propose tightening the annual exposure to fine-particle soot from 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air to between 12 and 13 micrograms per cubic meter of air, according to individuals who had been briefed on the rule making." Juliet Eilperin in The Washington Post.

@MajoratNJ: Mitt Romney just said if necessary, he will build the Keystone XL pipeline. If necessary, I will throw the Padres first no-hitter.

Wonkbook is compiled and produced with help from Karl Singer and Michelle Williams.

 
Read what others are saying

    Most Read: Business

    DJIA
    0.11%
    S&P 500
    0.33%
    NASDAQ
    0.50%
     Last Update: 03:51 AM 09/01/2014

    World Markets from      

     

    Other Market Data from      

     

    Key Rates from