Politics, Moderate



The Crash of 2016?

WASHINGTON -- You cannot understand the vulnerable state of the U.S. and global economies -- and nervous stock markets -- without coming to grips with the crash of "emerging-market" countries. Led by China, these are middle-income countries that, along with the poorest countries, account for 85 percent of the world's population and 60 percent of...Read more

The False Charms of Single-Payer

WASHINGTON -- Could Bernie Sanders' "Medicare for all" proposal -- national health insurance -- be as good as he says? It's doubtful.

No one claims that today's system is ideal. It's complex, confusing, costly and incomplete. Even after the Affordable Care Act, about 30 million people remain uninsured. For decades, rapid spending increased ...Read more

It's Still the Economy, Stupid!

WASHINGTON -- In 1992, James Carville popularized the adage "It's the economy, stupid." If the economy is ailing, people tend to vote against the party in the White House. That happened in the 1992 election. A recession that started in 1990 was officially over, but it didn't seem over to millions of Americans. They sent President George H.W. ...Read more

Deficits ... Who Cares?

WASHINGTON -- Just how far have budget deficits drifted off the radar screen of presidential politics? Here's one indicator: Last week, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued its annual "Budget and Economic Outlook" report -- a detailed examination of White House and congressional policies -- and hardly anyone paid heed. The ...Read more

An Upbeat Economic Story

WASHINGTON -- Here's some good -- and generally overlooked -- news about the U.S. economy: Among major ethnic and racial groups, African-Americans scored the biggest job advances in 2015. This conclusion comes from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), a left-leaning think tank and advocacy group. It reports that black Americans made "notable ...Read more

What's Behind the Stock Selloff?

WASHINGTON -- Capitalism has always been an epic struggle between risk and reward, and the easiest way to understand the present turmoil in world stock markets is to recognize that the two have reversed. Risk has gone up, and reward has come down. Investors have reacted by selling. Fear triumphs over greed. This, of course, increases risk and ...Read more

What is The Stock Market Saying?

WASHINGTON -- Just whether the sharp selloff of stocks signals an economic slowdown or recession is an open question. Most economists seem to think not. Strong job growth (2.7 million more payroll jobs in 2015) and low interest rates will sustain slow but steady growth. Still, the dramatic stock market decline raises other possibilities. In the ...Read more

Why Economic Growth Lags

WASHINGTON -- It's only January, but what may be the year's most important book on economics has already been published. Called "The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War," it argues that we can't expect new technologies to rekindle rapid economic growth. Despite all the Internet hoopla, advances in ...Read more

The China Bubble Pops

WASHINGTON -- The China bubble has burst. No longer are the country's economic managers viewed as magicians who can orchestrate rapid growth whatever the obstacles. No one ever believed that China's economy would grow 10 percent annually forever, but the retreat from double-digit growth has been faster than expected and underlies the country's ...Read more

The Next Recession?

EDITORS: We will update the status of the stocks after the markets close today at 4 p.m. The updated data is usually available around 5 p.m.

WASHINGTON -- It's hard not to wonder: Is the stock market telling us something? True, the market's record in forecasting recessions is horrendous. Stocks often move according to whim or fad. But just ...Read more

The Republicans' Civil War

WASHINGTON -- The Donald Trump phenomenon ranks as the great political story of 2015 -- and maybe 2016 -- but could it simply be a subplot of a bigger story: what commentator David Frum, once a speechwriter for President George W. Bush, calls the Republican party's "internal class war"? Yes, argues Frum. His thesis is laid out in engrossing ...Read more

The "Hollowing" of the Middle Class?

WASHINGTON -- We'll be hearing a lot about the middle class in the coming months. That's one sure bet for 2016, as both parties compete for votes. What's less sure is whether we'll get an accurate assessment of the middle class' condition. By now, the conventional wisdom is familiar: The top 1 percent has skimmed most income gains for itself, ...Read more

Can We Set the World's Temperature?

WASHINGTON -- On climate change, curb your enthusiasm. It's not that the recent international conference in Paris didn't take significant steps to check global warming. It did. Nearly 200 countries committed to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The goal of limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) from preindustrial ...Read more

America's Stubborn Poverty

WASHINGTON -- Should we fight the "war on poverty" all over again?

Well, yes. That's the recommendation of a group of liberal and conservative poverty scholars, who spent months discussing and arguing to see if they could find common ground. They did. Their new report -- "Opportunity, Responsibility and Security" -- lays out a plausible ...Read more

How Trump Does It

WASHINGTON -- Welcome to what I've called "the politics of self-esteem." By this, I mean that increasing numbers of people, on both the right and left and most with good intentions, have become politically engaged because it makes them feel better. It raises their self-esteem. This phenomenon predates Donald Trump's candidacy, but it helps ...Read more

The Startup Slump

WASHINGTON -- There's more discouraging news about American business -- specifically about entrepreneurship.

We confidently assume that we have the world's most entrepreneurial nation, and the proof seems overwhelming. Google, Facebook and Twitter are but three (relatively) recent startups that have become corporate titans. Before them, there ...Read more

Generational Conflict: Another View

WASHINGTON -- Comes now economist Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, with another view of government spending on the elderly. People like me have complained for years that government is too generous, especially toward the affluent elderly. This largesse, we argue, shortchanges the young. Not so, says Burtless.

...Read more


WASHINGTON -- When it comes to cyberwar and cyberterrorism, we need to think the unthinkable, says veteran TV journalist Ted Koppel. And for Koppel, the unthinkable is this: Someone hacks into the nation's electric power grid and causes large parts of it to crash for a prolonged period.

Anyone who has endured a blackout from a storm or ...Read more

The Multinational Tax Muddle

WASHINGTON -- Whoever wins the White House next year will have to deal with an issue of almost-impenetrable complexity and contentiousness: How to tax multinational companies? On the one hand, large global firms -- which have never been shy about minimizing their taxes through deft accounting maneuvers -- are becoming more aggressive. On the ...Read more

Generational Warfare, Anyone?

WASHINGTON -- An enduring puzzle of our politics is why there isn't more generational conflict. By all rights, younger Americans should be resentful. Not only have they been tossed into the worst economy since the 1930s, but there's an informal consensus that the government, whatever else it does, should protect every cent of Social Security and...Read more


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