WASHINGTON -- Fifty years ago, in mid-April 1965, the trade magazine Electronics published an article by an obscure engineer making a seemingly preposterous prediction: The number of electronic components (transistors, resistors, capacitors) that could be squeezed onto integrated circuits -- what we now call computer chips -- would double every ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- It's mid-April, and Karlyn Bowman -- the astute public opinion analyst at the American Enterprise Institute -- has noticed something significant. Tax Day "comes and goes without a ripple," she recently wrote. There's not much fuss.
Discontent with the income tax has ebbed. To buttress the point, Bowman cited intriguing survey data...Read more
WASHINGTON -- On any given day, you can expect news of major corporate mergers. Last week, we had decisions from FedEx to buy the Dutch delivery company TNT for $4.8 billion and from Royal Dutch Shell to acquire the BG Group, a British natural gas company, for $70 billion. Mergers and acquisitions have become a staple of modern capitalism. In ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- One of the great disappointments of the weak economic recovery has been the sluggish revival of business investment -- spending on new buildings, factories, equipment and intellectual property (mainly research and development, and software). For the United States, this spending in 2014 was about 9 percent above its 2007 record high...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Concerning economic policy, it's back to the future. As the unemployment rate (5.5 percent in March) has dropped, there's been a shift in language. We're told increasingly that we should aim for more than job growth. Our goal should be "full employment." This recalls an earlier era, the 1960s and '70s, when the pursuit of "full ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Every so often, we ought to celebrate our victories. The auto bailout is a case in point. Six years ago, it was wildly controversial, with the fate of General Motors and Chrysler hanging in the balance. Now, it's clear that the bailout was a solid success.
The revitalized auto industry has been a pocket of strength in a lackluster...Read more
WASHINGTON -- When it comes to the federal budget, what consistently unites Democrats and Republicans is their common capacity to lie to themselves, lie to the public and postpone any serious discussion of the central issues of government spending and taxes. I use the word "lie" reluctantly because it is an unforgiving moral marker. Still, it is...Read more
WASHINGTON -- How fast should the Federal Reserve tighten monetary policy? Should it tighten at all? I recently wrote about these issues but didn't have the space to explore a fascinating aspect of the debate: the mostly forgotten 1937-38 recession. To many, it's a cautionary tale against adopting tighter policies too soon. The latest to sound ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- The Federal Reserve is at a crossroads, and it doesn't know where it's going. After holding short-term interest rates near zero for six years, Fed policymakers, led by chair Janet Yellen, are prepared to raise them -- but when, how much and with what consequences they haven't said.
Higher short-term rates might trigger turmoil in ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- The latest rap against big corporations is that they're returning too much money to shareholders through dividends and stock repurchases. What they should be doing, the complaint goes, is using that money to build new factories, create new products and increase research. Their stinginess, the argument continues, is one reason for ...Read more