By Geoff Colvin and Ryan Derousseau
December 14, 2015

We get excellent opportunities to assess the performance of in-the-news leaders every day this week:

Monday – German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses a convention of her Christian Democratic Union party. Time, which last week named her its Person of the Year, notes that she’s the world’s most powerful woman and head of the country that drives the world’s largest economy, Europe’s. But her policy of welcoming refugees threatens her political future.

Tuesday – The Republican presidential candidates debate in Las Vegas. There’s only one story: Will Donald Trump’s opponents be able to make hay from his increasingly outrageous statements? Or will they continue to hold back, on the weakening theory that he will inevitably flame out, and his supporters will be up for grabs? The furor over his call for a temporary ban on all Muslims entering the U.S. hasn’t died down, and yesterday he told Fox News that Hillary Clinton has “killed hundreds of thousands of people with her stupidity.” A new WSJ/NBC News poll show his support higher than ever.

Wednesday – The Fed announces its interest rate decision. Chair Janet Yellen has done an excellent job of telegraphing an increase in rates – at least it’s excellent if the Fed actually, finally, really raises rates. If it does, the move will be the biggest anticlimax in memory, which is just what markets like. Anything else will seriously compromise Yellen’s leadership.

Also on Wednesday, Valeant Pharmaceuticals holds a half-day presentation for Wall Street analysts. It will be instructive to see what kind of leadership CEO J. Michael Pearson shows his investors amid the hurricane over drug pricing that has engulfed his company. And Wednesday is when the stopgap government funding measure passed by Congress last week runs out. The big story will be whether House Speaker Paul Ryan can organize enough Republican votes to pass a full-year bill. He and minority leader Nancy Pelosi had dinner in his office Friday night.

Thursday – Russian President Vladimir Putin holds his annual press conference. You read that right. The head of a 143-million-person democracy holds one regularly scheduled press conference per year at which over 1,000 journalists attempt to ask him questions. Putin does respond to the press on other occasions, for example when meeting with leaders of other nations.

Friday – Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in theaters. If it’s anything less than the biggest opening in the history of the universe, it could be a serious problem for Walt Disney CEO Robert Iger. His overall record is stellar, but a plunge in the stock price over the summer put him on the defensive. The stock has recovered, but that’s with a mega-success for the new film, the first Star Wars entry under Disney ownership, built into the price.

Saturday – The Democratic presidential candidates debate in Manchester, New Hampshire. Will Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley gain any traction at all against Hillary Clinton? Will she bother to talk about those two, or use her time to attack the Republicans as the party of Trump? In the latest CBS/New York Times poll of likely Democratic primary voters, Clinton has 52% support, Sanders 32%, and O’Malley 2%.

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