Politics, Moderate



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

Obama's Social Security Failure

WASHINGTON -- President Obama unintentionally damaged his legacy the other day by urging an expansion of Social Security benefits and, thereby, reminding everyone (and particularly future historians) that he failed to deal with one of the largest issues facing the country: an aging society.

"It's time we finally made Social Security more ...Read more

The Specter Hanging Over Clinton -- a Recession

WASHINGTON -- Suppose you are advising Hillary Clinton, now the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. What worries you? Well, probably the stubbornness of Bernie Sanders, who won't admit he's lost. And, of course, the unpredictability of Donald Trump, whose outlandish pronouncements defy conventional political wisdom.

But what really ...Read more

Globalization in Retreat

WASHINGTON -- Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric (2015 revenues: $117 billion), gave an interesting speech the other day that illuminates some pressing questions about the future of globalization. This involves politics as much as economics. It should be no surprise that the three remaining major presidential candidates (Hillary Clinton...Read more

The (False) Robot Invasion

WASHINGTON -- The robots are coming -- but not in numbers that would imperil most Americans' jobs.

Few subjects have inspired as much hype as robots. Consider some sample headlines: "Robots and Computers Could Take Half Our Jobs within the Next 20 years," "Robots Could Put Humans Out of Work by 2045," "Why the Highest-Paid Doctors Are the Most ...Read more

Good News for the Middle Class!

WASHINGTON -- Maybe the middle class isn't quite so stressed any more.

We in the media are rightly criticized for a pessimistic bias. We cover the unfortunate, the grim and the tragic. News is what people don't know and, as often as not, is sad or shocking. Our prism on the world distorts reality, because reality is often predictable and ...Read more

Have U.S. Wages Stagnated? Probably Not

WASHINGTON -- How many times have you heard that Americans' wages have stagnated? Countless commentators (including me) have repeated this complaint. Naturally, politicians of both parties -- Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump -- deplore it. It's conventional wisdom that wage stagnation has contributed to the sluggish recovery and the downcast ...Read more

The Online Lending Scare

WASHINGTON -- Could online lending cause the next financial crisis? While the odds seem overwhelmingly against it, the recent turmoil at LendingClub -- a leading online lender -- makes it hard not to ask the question. There are some disquieting parallels with subprime mortgages, which seemed beneficial until sloppy and fraudulent lending ...Read more

The Olympic Sinkhole

WASHINGTON -- Brazil can't seem to catch a break. It's suffering the worst economic slump in decades; its president may be thrown out of office; it's contending with the zika virus. Now, to add to these indignities, come the huge subsidies to pay for this summer's Olympics. The costs exceed $10 billion, with only a fraction to be covered by ...Read more

Let Us Praise GDP

WASHINGTON -- It's time to cut the GDP some slack. Overhauling the GDP -- as some critics would -- threatens to politicize one of our most useful economic indicators. It could be twisted to advance or retard political agendas. This is a bad idea.

First, some background.

GDP stands for "gross domestic product," and it's our standard measure of ...Read more


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