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Politics

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

Is Job Insecurity Overstated?

WASHINGTON -- If economic commentators (including me) seem to agree on one thing, it is this: Jobs in America have become less secure. If you've got an OK job, don't let go, because you may not be able to find another. The conventional wisdom is widely shared -- but it may be wrong.

We now have an intriguing report from a small Washington think...Read more

The Trump Treatment

WASHINGTON -- The Republican National Convention in Cleveland this week ought to be interesting, but whether it will be informative is another question. Barring a last-minute surprise, the delegates will nominate real estate magnate Donald Trump to be the GOP presidential candidate, and he will pledge -- probably repeatedly -- to "make America ...Read more

Imperfect Progress on Race

"When we start suggesting that somehow there's this enormous polarization [on race] and we're back to the situation in the '60s -- that's just not true."

-- President Obama, July 9, 2016

WASHINGTON -- Whatever happens -- and urban riots cannot be excluded -- President Obama is correct on one thing: This is not the 1960s. Since then, we ...Read more

Is the Car Culture Crashing?

WASHINGTON -- Few technological breakthroughs have had the social and economic impact of the automobile. It changed America's geography, spawning suburbs, shopping malls and sprawl as far as the eye could see. It redefined how we work and play, from the daily commute to the weekend trek to the beach. It expanded the heavy industry -- steel-...Read more

Getting Globalization Right

WASHINGTON -- Can we get globalization right? It has emerged as an all-purpose scapegoat for our economic woes -- lost jobs, depressed wages, large trade deficits, greater income inequality, anxieties about the future. The reality is otherwise: Although globalization is genuine, it's been distorted and its ills exaggerated. I have written about ...Read more

The Center Sags, America Groans

WASHINGTON -- On this July Fourth, Americans are deeply disillusioned with politics and government. A Pew poll in late 2015 found that only 19 percent of people trust the government all or most of the time. It was not always so. In 1964, fully 77 percent of Americans answered the question positively. Disenchantment extends to Hillary Clinton and...Read more

Is the Middle Class Moving Up?

WASHINGTON -- It turns out that the middle class isn't stagnant after all.

You know the conventional wisdom. The richest 1 percent of Americans have siphoned off all the income gains of recent decades. Everyone else is treading water. The claim has been repeated so often that it's taken on the aura of truth. The reality is different: Living ...Read more

Some Brexit Consequences

WASHINGTON -- On June 1, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development issued its latest economic forecasts. In 2016, it predicted that the world economy would grow 3 percent, the United Kingdom 1.7 percent and the euro area (the 19 countries using the euro) 1.6 percent. We don't know how these figures will now be revised, but we do ...Read more

How Health Care Creates Wage Inequality

WASHINGTON -- You can add health care to the causes of growing wage inequality in America. There's a largely unknown paradox at work. Companies that try to provide roughly equal health insurance plans for their workers -- as many do -- end up making wage and salary inequality worse. A new economic study shows how this perverse bargain works.

It...Read more

Are You a "Work Martyr"?

WASHINGTON -- We Americans have a confused and contradictory relationship with vacation. In theory; we love it; in practice, we often dread it. So much expectation is heaped on a few weeks of free time that disappointment, if not inevitable, is common. Worse, our escape from the job and daily routine fills us with anxiety that, somehow, this ...Read more

Brexit Triumphant?

WASHINGTON -- Brexit is winning -- that is, Britain's exit from the European Union. As the June 23 referendum approaches, public opinion has swung toward "Leave" the EU as opposed to "Remain" in the EU. This has fueled anxieties about the global economy and the fate of Europe.

Brexit could compound economic pessimism, leading to a selloff in ...Read more

 
 

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