Audit D.C. Notes: The FT Talks Turkey Lamb in Greece; Bloomberg Flexes Its Bond Stuff; NYT on Overqualified and Employed

There’s nothing better on a big, complicated story like the Greek debt crisis than heading out for a walk and a talk to find out what ordinary people think.

The FT brings the form to the level of high art or low farce, depending on how you feel about random interviews, contrasting the relief—“even euphoria”—in Greek political circles that followed the EU’s backing of a financial support mechanism for the country with the anxiety over government cuts and the deepening recession felt by “middle-income Greeks” getting ready for Easter. Check out this key detail (emphasis mine):

“We’ll pay a lot more for petrol this year but we’ll stay with relatives…and we’ll all chip in to buy a whole lamb for Easter lunch,” he says. Mr Iliades, a driver at a state-controlled company, says he expects his monthly income of €3,300 ($4,400) after tax to fall by around 15-20 per cent following unprecedented wage cuts imposed by the government’s austerity programme.

That’s putting things in perspective. It is good to know what the People of Greece think. We should definitely check back with them in another five years or so.

—Nobody covers bonds like Bloomberg, a fact on clear display in today’s story about what big bond traders think is on the way for U.S. Treasuries.

The story starts by showing off what Alan Greenspan said on Bloomberg TV last week, when he called higher yields the “canary in the mine.”

The increases reflect concern over “this huge overhang of federal debt which we have never seen before,” he said. The budget deficit, which hit $1.4 trillion in fiscal 2009, will drive Treasury sales to a record $2.43 trillion this year, a February survey of 10 dealers showed.

But Bloomberg moves from there to highlight an interesting split, with Greenspan and Pimco guru Bill Gross on one side (“Bonds have seen their best days.”), and Goldman Sachs on the other.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc., the world’s most profitable securities firm, is bullish on bonds. It expects inflation will remain in check as the economy expands slower than investors anticipate. Consumer prices excluding food and energy will rise at a 1 percent annual rate over the next few months, from 1.3 percent in February, the firm predicts.

—Overqualified and unemployed is a bad place to be. But The New York Times does some nice on-the-ground reporting, supplemented with an appraisal of academic research, to find that this recession may be overturning the conventional wisdom that it’s a bad idea to hire overqualified candidates.

A result is a new cadre of underemployed workers dotting American companies, occupying slots several rungs below where they are accustomed to working. These are not the more drastic examples of former professionals toiling away at “survival jobs” at Home Depot or Starbucks. They are the former chief financial officer working as comptroller, the onetime marketing director who is back to being an analyst, the former manager who is once again an “individual contributor.”

It’s a smart idea for a story, executed well.

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Holly Yeager is CJR's Peterson Fellow, covering fiscal and economic policy. She is based in Washington and reachable at