November 25, 2003

A READER SENDS THIS INTERESTING SUMMARY of Gallup’s latest poll on Baghdadis’ attitudes, this time involving the economy:

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being very bad and 5 being very good, most respondents characterized economic conditions in the city as “bad.” Nearly half of Baghdad’s citizens rated economic conditions as a 1 (22%) or a 2 (25%). Although a third (34%) gave a middle rating of 3, few Baghdadis rated economic conditions toward the positive end of the scale — with 16% rating it a 4 and only 1% giving a 5.

When Baghdadis were probed about whether the economic picture in Baghdad as getting brighter or darker, opinions were more positive. A clear plurality (48%) said that conditions were getting better, 29% said they were getting worse, and another 20% volunteered that things were staying about the same. Citizens’ views about Baghdad’s economic direction were affected by their own personal economic vantage: Baghdadis who said their family income has increased from what it was before the war were more likely to say conditions are getting better than were those who said their family income had decreased since the war (58% and 38%, respectively).

Among the most remarkable findings were Baghdadis’ hopeful views about their own financial situations one year in the future. About 6 in 10 Baghdad citizens (61%) said they expected that they would be better off financially in a year, and only 1 in 10 (11%) anticipated being worse off. Even among low-income Baghdadis, a majority held an optimistic view of their economic futures (53% expecting that they would be better off next year).

That’s good news, I think. Meanwhile, economic news in the United States looks good, though I don’t understand this technical economist-talk:

“Growth is now super-super strong compared to super strong,” said Joseph LaVorgna, senior U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank Securities, whose forecast of 8.3 percent was the highest in a Bloomberg News survey.

Help me out here: I think that “super-super strong” is better than “really boss” but not as good as “bitchin’.” This, however, strikes me as very good news: “The GDP price deflator, a measure of prices tied to the report, was unchanged from the previous estimate at a 1.7 percent pace.”

My worry at the moment is Nixonian inflation. So far, no sign.