You can find Steve Pearlstein's latest anti-business diatribe in today's WaPo. The WaPo seems to have a penchant for hiring people with contempt for the people they cover -- Pearlstein seems not to like business, Dave Weigel apparently didn't think much of the conservatives he covered and Jeff Birnbaum at times seemed to have open contempt for the lobbyists he wrote about for his many years on the lobbying beat. The latter two are gone and Pearlstein is sliding into irrelevancy, but he still has the ability to annoy.
Today, Pearlstein's beef is with the fact that businesses are holding on to $1.8 trillion in reserves and are not using the money to create jobs. You can read it yourself and try to follow the pretzel logic of why, but along the way, he totally misses the real reason why businesses are holding on to $1.8 trillion in reserves: Uncertainty. Maybe the WaPo has blocked access to Google from its computers or something, but heck, he only needed to read his own paper to see this piece just a few weeks ago from Fareed Zakaria entitled, "Obama's CEO problem -- and ours." In it, he cites the unprecedented corporate reserves and asks several CEO's why. "They kept talking about politics, about the uncertainty surrounding regulations and taxes," he says.
Only a few days ago, in fact, Pearlstein's thoughtful colleague Bob Samuelson wrote an op-ed entitled, "Why CEOs aren't hiring." There he says,
"But it's unclear whether corporate elites were so traumatized by the crisis that they've adopted a bunker mentality. That, as much as uncertainty over Obama administration policies, could be fearsome." (Emphasis mine)
Don't believe Zakaria or Samuelson? Then how 'bout Richard Fisher, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, who said that uncertainty was "strangling growth." Or Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard who said essentially the same thing?
In fact, just about every business person or analyst will tell you that uncertainty about the economy, about Washington's many plans -- from increased taxes to a health care plan that we can ill-afford - are a brake on the economy and on spending. They need certainty, while Washington provides the opposite. When the sponsor of the financial reform bill, Sen. Dodd, even admits that it'll take years to figure out what's in the bill, it doesn't provide the confidence that businesses need before they invest.
If the WaPo business reporter bothered to introduce himself to any business person and ask them - rather than repeating the left's palaver - that's precisely what he would have found.