Budget Set Asides

In Rome, the Catholic Church has a new Pope.

When I read the news, I couldn’t help but be impressed by how efficiently they acted. For an office that’s a lifetime appointment, that holds tremendous moral, spiritual, and worldly power, that has millennia of history behind it, the conclave of Cardinals took only 2 ½ days and 5 ballots to make their decision.

Maybe it was the inspiring frescoes by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel where they met; maybe it was the delightful Italian weather; but whatever it was, the conclave acted with efficiency and dispatch.

Well, all I can say is: put these guys in charge of the Federal Budget! Clearly, they know how to reach a compromise without causing a crisis. Their choice of pontiff isn’t without controversy, and pundits around the world are weighing in with their opinions. But there doesn’t seem to be a lot of grumbling from various factions within the Church. And as far as I can tell, not a single Bishop staged a filibuster.

Before they all hop on their planes and head back home, why not ask the Cardinals to go back into the Chapel and take a stab at balancing the budget? Heaven knows it couldn’t hurt. And even if they take twice as long as they did choosing a pope, we’ll still be way ahead of where we are now.

But when the smoke comes out of the chimney, we just have to pray that they haven’t given up and burned the thing up.

Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA

Chief Investment Officer

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