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Politics

Will TPP Rise From the dead?

WASHINGTON -- The question about the TPP -- the Trans-Pacific Partnership, President Obama's signature trade agreement -- is whether it's already gone to the political morgue or whether it's still in intensive care. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump oppose the agreement, while the president has urged ratification. With Obama's term ending ...Read more

The Wrong Immigration Debate

WASHINGTON -- The conversation -- or argument -- we've been having on immigration has been remarkably skewed. It's been all about the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, otherwise known as the "undocumented." Actually, what counts far more are the estimated 31 million immigrants who are here legally and the roughly 1 million who gain legal ...Read more

The Last Days of Free Trade?

WASHINGTON -- Guess what? A President Trump could adopt his new trade agenda without any authorization from Congress -- and this could trigger a global trade war and a deep U.S. recession. Policies that promise to make us stronger economically could do the opposite.

That's the main take-away of a study by the Peterson Institute, a Washington ...Read more

The Old Fed is Dead

WASHINGTON -- The betting is that the Federal Reserve won't raise interest rates at this week's meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee, its key policymaking body. There are already complaints that the Fed, which cut short-term rates to near zero in late 2008, is waiting too long to reverse low rates. Last December, the Fed increased rates ...Read more

Will the Real Child Poverty Rate Please Stand Up?

WASHINGTON -- America is on the mend. Witness the good news in the latest version of the nation's "economic report card": the Census Bureau's annual estimates of the median household income and the poverty rate.

Here are the crucial numbers. In 2015, median household income -- the midpoint, with half of households above and half below -- rose 5...Read more

Build the Wall

WASHINGTON -- Just because Donald Trump isn't qualified to be president -- and just because much of his agenda is hateful and undesirable -- doesn't mean that everything he says is automatically wrong. Some of his ideas deserve consideration and enactment. One of these is building a wall across our southern border with Mexico.

It has been ...Read more

Are Books (Finally) Dead?

WASHINGTON -- If you're like me, you regard the decline in book reading as another sign of the cultural rot that is eating away at the American character. Why read something as demanding as a book when you can spend all your time on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram? They're easier and provide a quicker fix of entertainment, gossip and information....Read more

A New Era of Labor Scarcity?

WASHINGTON -- Forget the "gig economy" -- at least for now.

On Labor Day 2016, we are in the midst of a historic transformation of the American job market. Popular attention focuses on Uber and similar internet-based networks that unite buyers and sellers. "TaskRabbit," for example, creates a platform for people who need something done (grocery...Read more

Ending Poverty: Mission Impossible?

WASHINGTON -- Don't expect a second War on Poverty, regardless of who wins the election.

Picking up where Lyndon Johnson left off in the 1960s would seem a logical response to the campaign's relentless criticism of economic inequality. But appearances are deceiving. Most proposals to reduce inequality -- conspicuously from Hillary Clinton -- ...Read more

The Snooze Economy

WASHINGTON -- Call it the Snooze Economy. Roughly two months before the presidential election, the economy has turned both boring and mystifying. It hardly impresses anyone, and yet this plodding performance is probably helping Hillary Clinton by minimizing bad economic news. More important: The lackluster expansion, if continued for a few more ...Read more

The Comeback of Middle-Wage Jobs

WASHINGTON -- One of the economy's bright spots is the job market -- and it may be even brighter than it seems. Not only are there more jobs (1.3 million so far in 2016), but they may be better-paying, according to a new analysis by economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The Fed economists report that middle-wage workers -- earning ...Read more

Are Aging and the Economic Slowdown Linked?

WASHINGTON -- An aging America reduces the economy's growth -- big time. That's the startling conclusion of a new academic study, and if it withstands scholarly scrutiny, it could transform our national political and economic debate.

We've known for decades, of course, that the retirement of the huge baby-boom generation -- coupled with low ...Read more

The Robot Scare

WASHINGTON -- We are such an anxiety-ridden society that we worry about problems that haven't happened, and, almost certainly, won't. Robots are an apt example. Even McKinsey and Co., the high-powered management consulting firm, professes to be concerned. We imagine hordes of robots destroying jobs, leaving millions of middle-class families ...Read more

Can the Private Sector Save Us?

WASHINGTON -- A great mystery of our time -- one that should frame the campaign debate -- is why the economic recovery has been so sluggish. Consider this comparison. After the brutal recession of the early 1980s (peak unemployment: 10.8 percent), it took only 11 months for employment to regain its pre-recession level. By contrast, it required ...Read more

Is Student Debt Ruining the Recovery?

WASHINGTON -- Maybe the college student debt burden isn't so crushing after all. That's the surprising gist of a new study by economists at the president's Council of Economic Advisers (CEA).

It's surprising because burgeoning student debt has become a new economic worry and a political "cause celebre." It adds to the hurt of millennials, who ...Read more

The (False) Globalization Narrative

WASHINGTON -- In the public imagination, no industry better symbolizes the downfall of U.S. manufacturing than steel. Shuttered plants dot the Midwest. Since 1973, steel employment has dropped 76 percent, from 610,700 to 147,300 in 2015. Moreover, the culprit seems clear -- trade -- and its influence seems pervasive: Manufacturing as a whole ...Read more

Hacking the Election!

WASHINGTON -- Someone -- the Russian military, say many cyber experts -- broke into the computers of the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, releasing emails and sensitive documents. Sounds bad, and is. But a worse danger looms: the possibility that hackers (whether Russians or others) will ...Read more

Preventing the Next Panic

WASHINGTON -- The hostility toward Wall Street remains so great that both political parties say, in their platforms, that they'd like to break up America's biggest banks. But before engaging in this drastic economic surgery, it's worth examining whether Dodd-Frank is working. Recall that the law, named after its congressional sponsors, former ...Read more

Feeling 'Voiceless and Invisible'

EDITORS: Please note there is a long italicized section in the center of this column.

WASHINGTON -- Columnists get complaints. After my last column (which argued that maybe the economy is better than we say), I got one from Alice Lang of Spartanburg, South Carolina. She accused me (politely) of ignoring the long-term unemployed, of which she is...Read more

Paradise Lost -- and Found?

WASHINGTON -- It's the revolution of rising expectations again.

Watching Donald Trump last week, I thought of Alexis de Tocqueville, the French political philosopher whose "Democracy in America," published in the 1830s, remains the most insightful study of our national character. But it was de Tocqueville's other masterpiece, "The Old Regime ...Read more

 
 

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