A remarkable feat of public relations

Something doesn’t add up here.

A vast majority of Americans is optimistic about the new president and the economy, and yet is skeptical about one of the main planks of his economic plan.

It’s all there in the poll data. It’s just that the only data you’re hearing about is the Associated Press poll that says this…

71 per cent of Americans believe the economy will improve during the first year of the Obama presidency and 65 per cent said they think unemployment will drop.

Asked about cash-strapped Wall Street, 72 per cent said they thought the stock market would recover.

Some 63 per cent were confident that their personal financial situation would improve.

That’s a really remarkable feat of public relations when you examine this poll from Gallup:

A majority of Americans (62%) say Congress should block President-elect Obama’s request to release the remaining $350 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program funds until more details are provided about how the funds will be spent. The rest of Americans are split between saying the funds should be released immediately and saying they should not be released at all. . .

The differences by political orientation in response to this question are not as large as one might expect or as large as is typical in such situations, particularly given that the survey question explicitly referred to Obama in connection with allowing the release of the funds.

One wonders how people might respond to the confirmation over the weekend that the new president’s team is looking into establishing a “bad bank” to buy up some of the toxic debt the major banks have built up. (Wait, wasn’t that the original idea behind TARP, only then Hank Paulson changed his mind because nearly everybody told him it wouldn’t work and money needed to be injected directly into the banks? Why yes, it says so right here in this article about the plan.) I see the term “bad bank” floated last week is already giving way to “aggregator bank.” That too is brilliant PR. It’s so hip and net-savvy, conjuring up the feed reader you might be using to read this blog.

The point is this. At this time, and I don’t know how long it will last, the halo effect on the new administration is strong enough that people will not only cut it slack if the economy doesn’t turn around right away, people are lending it their support even when it adopts policies they oppose.

That’s why we don’t have riots like in Greece or Latvia, even though the level of incompetence and corruption in the United States equals or exceeds what’s going on in those countries.

So enjoy the honeymoon while it lasts. In fact, it behooves you to look for ways to profit from it. Here’s one possibility.