WASHINGTON -- Ben Bernanke is worried -- and perhaps we should be, too.
As chairman of the Federal Reserve from 2006 to 2014, it was Bernanke who, along with others, prevented the worst recession since World War II from becoming the Great Depression 2.0. Now he fears that, should another sharp recession occur, the Fed won't be able to contain ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- It's time to build the wall -- and, in doing so, prevent an estimated 690,000 DACA "dreamers" from being deported from the United States. It's a fair deal that could be scuttled only by intense and self-serving partisanship from the White House and the Republican and Democratic congressional leadership.
As almost everyone knows by...Read more
WASHINGTON -- The spoils society advances.
The "spoils society" is a phrase I coined some years ago to illustrate a basic problem of wealthy societies, including, of course, the United States. After all, our annual GDP (gross domestic product) is approaching $20 trillion. The problem is that, as societies become richer, so does the temptation ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- The American consumer is the great engine of growth for the $19 trillion U.S. economy, representing nearly 70 percent of spending. If the consumer is confident and happy, chances are that the economy is satisfactory or robust. On the other hand, if the consumer is confused and worried, the economy may be weak and vulnerable to ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump isn't draining the swamp. The president unveiled his long-awaited "tax reform" package last week, and although many crucial details were missing (for example, the income brackets), he was full of accolades. "This is a revolutionary change," he said.
Well, not yet.
The federal income tax system -- almost everyone ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Maybe we're not "'Shark Tank' nation" after all. The incredibly popular cable business program, which features budding entrepreneurs pleading for backing from wealthy investors (the "sharks"), seems to define us. We're a nation of hungry go-getters, eager to start our own business on the way to becoming multimillionaires. Everyone ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Driverless vehicles may not be all that they're cracked up to be. Indeed, they may be harmful to our collective security and well-being.
Unless you've been vacationing on Saturn, you know that driverless vehicles are the next Big Thing. Almost every major car company (General Motors, Ford, Toyota, Mercedes) has a program, often in...Read more
WASHINGTON -- There are few economic problems more frustrating than the stubborn gaps in wages and unemployment rates between blacks and whites. Despite decades of trying to reduce or eliminate these gaps, black workers continue to experience higher unemployment rates and lower wages than whites. That's true even after correcting for age, ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- What has been missing in Washington for the past two or three decades is a serious debate about the role of the federal government. What programs are effective and justified? Who deserves government benefits and how much? The issue is not whether we'll have big government or small government. To paraphrase President Clinton: The ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- How do they come up with this stuff?
According to press reports, the Trump administration is considering withdrawing from the U.S.-South Korea Free Trade Agreement, which was implemented in 2012 and lowered most tariffs between the two countries. Now South Korea and the United States are caught up in the most serious military ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- On this Labor Day, the American middle class survives. Indeed, it's expanding. That's not the conclusion of some arcane scholarly study. It's the judgment of Americans themselves, though it hasn't received much attention from politicians or the media. Most Americans have moved beyond the fears bred by the Great Recession. The ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- China may be an even bigger economic deal than we thought. Almost everyone knows that, in the past three decades, China has gone from a huge and poor nation to the world's biggest exporter and second-largest economy. Now, in a new report, two economists claim that China's emergence explains a lot more. Specifically, they say it ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Can we get real about "tax reform," the Republican promise to enact deep tax cuts that will spur economic growth? Probably not, but let's give it a try.
For starters, we can stop calling it "reform." That's a charged word, implying that the new tax system will be superior to the old. We don't know that for a fact; the new tax ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- William Cline is going against the grain. Cline, a well-known economist, isn't convinced that the stock market is wildly overvalued. That's an increasingly lonely view.
"Warning Signs Mount as Stocks Stumble," The Wall Street Journal headlined earlier this week. "Investors are running out of reasons to keep buying U.S. stocks, ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- There is much to dislike in President Trump's trade agenda, but he is correct on one subject: China's relentless quest to extort American "intellectual property" -- technologies, business methods, patents. Trump took a swipe last week at China's policies by ordering his top trade officials to investigate. Whether he can alter China...Read more
WASHINGTON -- A persisting puzzle about the U.S. economy is how it can seem both strong and weak. On the one hand, it remains a citadel of innovation, producing new companies like Uber. On the other, the economy is expanding at a snail's pace of 2 percent annually since 2010. How could both be true? Why isn't innovation translating into faster ...Read more
WASHINGTON -- The crucial question about raising the federal debt ceiling is: What happens if Congress doesn't? That is, what happens if Congress defaults? When President Trump returns from his "working vacation" later this month, this promises to be one of the major issues he'll face, because the Treasury is expected to run out of cash in early...Read more
WASHINGTON -- The argument between the Trump administration and its critics over a sustainable rate of economic growth raises profound questions about America's future. Have we entered a prolonged period of slow growth? If so, how does that alter society and politics? Or will the "right" policies raise growth to past levels?
If you haven't paid...Read more
WASHINGTON -- No one is working harder for the impeachment of Donald Trump than Donald Trump. If we have learned anything about this president, it is that he has a compulsion to be the center of attention. He can't bear being out of the limelight and will say almost anything -- no matter how offensive, outrageous or dishonest it strikes millions...Read more
WASHINGTON -- Janet Yellen, the chair of the Federal Reserve, is caught between Donald Trump and a hard place. By most accounts, Trump is an "easy money" guy who would prefer to keep today's low interest rates to boost job creation. For her part, Yellen has committed the Fed to a gradual rise in rates and a tightening of credit. The idea is to ...Read more