Politics, Moderate



The Next Financial Crisis?

WASHINGTON -- A central economic question of our time is whether the policies undertaken to recover from the last financial crisis are laying the groundwork for the next. We now have two reports from reputable groups suggesting just that.

The first comes from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), which was created in 1930 to handle ...Read more

Government -- Back to the 1930s?

WASHINGTON -- A recent Congressional Budget Office report -- "The 2015 Long-Term Budget Outlook" -- reminds us that the federal government is slowly becoming an agency for taking care of the elderly. Almost everything else is being crowded out. We ignored that during the Obama presidency, and now it seems that the fledgling presidential campaign...Read more

The CEO Backlash

"Prosperity can't be just for CEOs and hedge fund managers."

--Hillary Clinton

WASHINGTON -- It seems inevitable that the unfolding presidential campaign will also become a referendum on American capitalism and, in turn, that capitalism will be defined in part by lofty executive pay. This makes CEOs among capitalism's worst advocates. ...Read more

The Retreat of 'Peak Oil'

WASHINGTON -- The recent meeting of OPEC provides an opportunity to understand the mysteries of the global oil market. As expected, OPEC decided not to cut its oil production. Barring unanticipated developments, prices will drop, says oil analyst Larry Goldstein. Potential oil supply, including drawdowns from bloated inventories, exceeds demand....Read more

Is China's Hacking a Blessing in Disguise?

WASHINGTON -- The latest hacking of U.S. government data files, capturing personal information on about 4 million past and present government workers, has predictably stirred outrage. The allegation that the hacking came from China (no published evidence either confirms or refutes this widespread belief) has compounded the anger. We are incensed...Read more

The Plight of the NEETs

WASHINGTON -- Among the economic and social trends worth worrying about is the fate of the NEETs. Never heard of the NEETs? I hadn't either. It's one of those clumsy terms concocted by government bureaucrats and social scientists to designate a group, social condition or political problem -- and then to make it obscure by wrapping it in jargon. ...Read more

The Fed: Welfare for the Wealthy?

WASHINGTON -- Was the Federal Reserve's massive bond-buying program an engine of economic inequality? It's easy to think so. The Fed bought more than $3 trillion of U.S. Treasury securities and mortgage bonds to prop up financial markets. The idea was that investors who sold to the Fed would reinvest their cash, raising stock and bond prices. ...Read more

The Tentative Economy

WASHINGTON -- The American economy continues to stumble. It's creating jobs at a goodly clip, but other aspects of growth are less impressive. Business investment has been lackluster. The housing recovery is improving but remains short of where many economists thought it would be. Consumer spending, representing slightly more than two-thirds of ...Read more

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

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