BUSINESS
10/12/2012 08:04 am ET

Jobless Lose Yet Another Debate: Seven And A Half Things To Know

Thing One: No Country For Unemployed Men: Look, I get it: Specifics are mythical things in political campaigns, like unicorns or Mitt Romney's tax returns.

But it was nevertheless disappointing to get through another debate last night, this one between Vice President "Smilin'" Joe Biden and Rep. Paul "The Undertaker" Ryan (R-Wis.), without hearing a single thing from either man about how to get people back to work tout de suite. Biden was the winner, displaying the most piss, vinegar and tooth enamel. Martha Raddatz gets the prize for not being Jim Lehrer. And Ryan went the distance, earning his debating merit badge. The clearest loser last night was, once again, the nation's jobless.

Raddatz tried to help them, asking both men how and when they'd get unemployment below 6 percent. Biden said oh, sure, the administration would get unemployment below 6 percent, but he didn't say how or when. He didn't even try -- instead, he launched into a long attack on Romney's "47 percent" comments. When it was Ryan's turn, he also attacked, saying the unemployment rate in Biden's hometown of Scranton is the same as the national unemployment rate, which it is not; saying national unemployment was moving in the wrong direction, which it is not (unless you think joblessness falling is wrong), and saying "23 million Americans are struggling to work today," which lumps together unemployed people with people who are working part-time.

Ryan did at least point to the tentpoles of Romney's economic plan, but they are not near-term job generators by any stretch: Achieve energy independence by the end of the decade. Get the deficit under control, which will likely kill jobs rather than create them. Help people get skills. Don't raise taxes. "Make trade work for America," whatever that means. These do not sound like bad ideas! But nor do they sound like ideas that will create jobs in any big hurry.

And unfortunately that is what we need: jobs in a big hurry. Hope you like unemployment at 7.8 percent, because that is what the rate will be until next June, according to a new Wall Street Journal poll of economists. That is too high, leaving people suffering for too long, and nobody is really proposing to do anything about it. Biden at least mentioned the American Jobs Act last night, the first time that year-old stimulus plan, left to rot in an obstructionist Congress, has been mentioned during this campaign, that I can tell. But no one suggested extending the expiring payroll-tax cut, an arguably easier bill to pass. Once again, the jobless were an afterthought in an election that is supposedly all about the economy.

Thing Two: Europe Is Full Of Win: Congratulations to the European Union, which this morning won the Nobel Peace Prize for not having a massive horrible war for a long time. The Nobel was apparently meant to encourage the continent to keep its shaky union together despite its never-ending debt crisis, Reuters writes. And it is as shaky as ever, with Germany butting heads with French International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde. She yesterday suggested that maybe Greece, where unemployment has hit a new record above 25 percent, should have more time to meet its debt-reduction targets. Germany shockingly does not agree, Reuters writes. But at least they are not all shooting at each other over it, so. Progress.

Thing Three: TBTF Banks Report On Bigness, Failiness: Bank earnings season kicked off this morning with reports from JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. The House of Dimon reported third-quarter results that topped Wall Street forecasts, thanks in part to higher mortgage lending. "We believe the housing market has turned the corner," CEO Jamie Dimon said in a press release." Both the Wall Street Journal's David Reilly and the New York Times' Peter Eavis pointed out that mortgages might be turning into a boon for the banks. JPMorgan also set aside less money for potential loan losses, which the bank said was a good sign. Here's hoping. A little later we get results from the biggest U.S. mortgage lender, Wells Fargo.

Thing Four: Fink The Fone Friend: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner often seems like the loneliest man in Washington, with everybody writing nasty things about him just as soon as they can when they leave government. But he has a phone friend in BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, talking on the phone with him, on average, once every 11 days, according to Shahien Nasiripour of the Financial Times. BlackRock is the world's biggest asset manager and has helped the government manage its bailouts, and Fink is sometimes mentioned as a potential replacement when Geithner retires to write his own book.

Thing Five: Help! Sprint Needs Somebody: Talk about phone tag: Wireless carrier Sprint, desperate for some kind of partnership to help it compete with the big boys, AT&T and Verizon, is in talks to merge with Japan's SoftBank, in a deal that could make it a much stronger third in the U.S. wireless market, the New York Times writes. There's been a recent flurry of deals in the wireless market, with Deutsche Telekom's T-Mobile unit buying MetroPCS just last week and Sprint looking around for something it can buy, like Clearwire. Will any of it make any sense or offer better choices or services to customers? We'll see.

Thing Six: Best Of Luck, Best Buy: Best Buy, tired of being a showroom where people try out electronics before they go buy them on Amazon, is going to cut its prices to try to match Amazon's and offer free home delivery on some items, the Wall Street Journal writes. We'll see how that goes. Best Buy will at least not be alone in fighting back -- its ploy follows by a day the news that Wal-Mart is testing out its own same-day delivery service to undercut Amazon, the WSJ notes.

Thing Seven: Yuan-ted A Stronger Currency, Didn't You? China's renminbi has risen, shockingly, to its highest rate against the U.S. dollar in 19 years, the Financial Times writes. This defies expectations that the Chinese government would try to devalue its already undervalued currency to make Chinese exporters more competitive. It also undercuts one of the big promises Mitt Romney makes all the time, that he will label China a currency manipulator on his first day in the Oval Office. If it is manipulating its currency, it's not doing such a great job. The potential good news here is that maybe the Chinese government is not as freaked out about the state of its economy as the rest of us are.

Thing Seven And One Half: Paul Ryan Is Here To Pump [Clap] You Up: Yesterday morning, ahead of Paul Ryan's big debate moment, Time magazine released some unfortunate pictures of the famously fit Congressman doing some massive curls, bro. The Internet, of course, responded as only it can, Uproxx has learned. The Huffington Post's own Arthur Delaney found the best photoshop job of all, though.

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Calendar Du Jour:

Economic Data:

8:30 a.m. ET: Producer Price Index for September

9:55 a.m. ET: University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment for October

Corporate Earnings:

JPMorgan Chase

Wells Fargo

Heard On The Tweets:

@PragCapitalist: It's sad how much money is made by people who just scare the living sh*t out of other people with pure nonsense.

@JennyJohnsonHi5: Before every big debate, Joe Biden performs the last scene of 'Boogie Nights' in front of his bathroom mirror. "I'm a star; I'm a star..."

@michaelsderby: How are there undecided voters at this point? Honestly, I don't know.

@LaurenLaCapra: Blankfein just said he remembers how things were during the period after the Great Depression. Did not know he was 100 years old.

@mslopatto: I am often reminded in elevators that New Yorkers really don't grasp the concept of personal space.

And you can follow me on Twitter, too: @markgongloff

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Fact Checking The Vice Presidential Debate's Economic Claims
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Fact Checking The Vice Presidential Debate's Economic Claims

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