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How to tell if President Obama is getting the job done

By   /   Sunday, January 25th, 2009  /   Comments Off on How to tell if President Obama is getting the job done

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Now that the hoopla has died down and we’ve all gone back to work, it’s time to set some benchmarks for the new administration.

Having been through a few of these cycles before, I’m not inclined to accept the “this time it’s different” line from anybody. It’s also been my observation that when really good management takes over from mediocre management, changes take place slowly and incrementally, especially in really big organizations.

I’m not a big fan of the 100 days theory. But after about 18 months or so, if things are starting to dramatically improve, that means you’ve got a strong and effective administration. So, with an eye toward future columns, here are five ways you can tell whether President Barack Obama is getting the job done.

• A shift from macro to micro. Yes, this is the heyday of Paul Krugman and “think big” macroeconomic gurus who write lofty thoughts for the New York Times. But every Nobel Prize-winning economist also knows that in a recovery microeconomics matter a lot. That’s because roughly 60 percent of jobs come from companies with 500 or fewer employees, and there must be confidence, capital and opportunity for small companies to add to payrolls. The first sign that the new administration gets it will be when they start talking about new business starts and stop talking about “infrastructure.”

• Foreclosures climb down from their peak. Home values may fall for quite some time — perhaps a couple of years. But you can’t have an economy on sound footing when people are getting chucked out of their homes in large numbers. In Colorado’s horrific property meltdown in the late 1980s, which I witnessed as a reporter for The Denver Post, things didn’t start to stabilize until the foreclosure ads in local newspapers began to shrink in size. Now they sell property online, but you get the idea.

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