Politics, Moderate

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Politics

Minimum Wage Roulette

WASHINGTON -- The minimum wage -- long relegated to the sidelines in the war against poverty and inequality -- is back in the game. Los Angeles has just decreed that by 2020 the city's minimum should rise in steps to $15 an hour, a 67 percent increase over California's minimum of $9. Previously, San Francisco and Seattle had approved $15. ...Read more

China's Coming Crash?

WASHINGTON -- It's time to worry about China.

On any list of calamities threatening the world economy, a China crash ranks at or near the top. Just what would constitute a "crash" is murky. Already, China's sizzling rate of economic growth has declined from 10 percent annually -- the average from the late 1970s until 2011 -- to 7 percent, which...Read more

The Job Recovery's Big Surprise

WASHINGTON -- Guess what? This isn't a low-wage job recovery. Listen to the media, and you might think that the only kind of jobs being created are in fast-food restaurants and retail chains. It turns out that this is wildly misleading and that the economy's employment profile -- the split between high- and low-paying jobs -- hasn't changed much...Read more

The Next Smoot-Hawley?

WASHINGTON -- This is no time to get all worked up over China's currency manipulation. To use it as an excuse to resist the Obama administration's pro-trade posture is perverse. This opposition weakens America's competitive position. All of Asia -- the fastest growing part of the world economy -- is watching the debate over the Trans-Pacific ...Read more

Why We Love World War II

WASHINGTON -- To mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II -- Victory in Europe Day occurred on May 8, Victory over Japan Day happens on Aug. 14 -- the Census Bureau has published some fascinating numbers that also throw light on the war's larger historical meaning. They help explain why WWII remains our favorite war. Here's an ...Read more

Poof Goes the Big Tradeoff!

WASHINGTON -- In 1975, the Brookings Institution -- perhaps Washington's best known think tank -- published an elegant essay by Arthur Okun, who had been one of the leading economists of the Johnson administration. The essay was called "Equality and Efficiency: The Big Tradeoff." Its premise, as the title suggests, was that government faced a ...Read more

The Curse of the Dollar

WASHINGTON -- It's been called the "exorbitant privilege"; it might also be termed "the indestructible curse." Americans are proud of the fact that the dollar -- their money -- is also the world's dominant international currency. But this very same global role also helps explain some of Americans' major complaints about the world economy: why we...Read more

A Trade Watershed?

WASHINGTON -- The trouble with our trade debates is that people assume that they're only about economics. Since World War II, U.S. trade policy has also been a pillar of U.S. foreign policy. In the early postwar decades, America encouraged trade with Europe and Japan -- allowing more of their exports into the United States -- as a way of ...Read more

China's Science 'Leap Forward'

WASHINGTON -- No country can be a global power without an engineering and scientific base. It's necessary to run modern factories, develop new products, analyze and deal with complex social problems -- pollution, food safety, sickness and disease -- and (if the country chooses) to build and project military might. China's rise to power once ...Read more

The GOP's Death Trap

WASHINGTON -- Maybe congressional Republicans really are nuts, suicidal or both. The latest evidence is House approval of legislation abolishing the estate tax, sometimes called the "death tax." The chances of this soon becoming law are slim, because even if it passes the Senate, congressional Republicans probably won't be able to override ...Read more

Debating Generational Justice

WASHINGTON -- If New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has his way, the unfolding presidential campaign will focus on generational fairness. It will seek to curb spending on the elderly -- mainly Social Security and Medicare -- without putting the elderly at risk. This debate would be good for the country, but whether the country can conduct it without...Read more

The Power of Moore's Law

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

The Tax Revolt, RIP?

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

Middle-Aged Capitalism

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

The Investment Bust (Explained)

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

The Quest for 'Full Employment'

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

Here's Something That Worked

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

Partners in Posturing

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

Remember the 1937-38 Recession!

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

The Fed's Reckoning

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

 

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Mike Lester Darrin Bell Lisa Benson Steve Benson Clay Bennett Chip Bok