Politics, Moderate



Sanders is a refugee from the 1930s

WASHINGTON -- Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination for president, is a man from the 1930s. If you didn't believe that before, you certainly should believe it now. Sanders last week gave a powerful speech at George Washington University defending his identity as a "democratic socialist" and endorsing ...Read more

The fate of Japan -- and everyone else

WASHINGTON -- If you want a peek at the future, try looking at Japan. It's a sobering exercise. Here's how economist Timothy Taylor, managing editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, describes the country's outlook:

"[Japan] is facing a situation of a declining population and workforce, and the share of the population that is elderly is ...Read more

The Democrats are running a fairy-tale campaign

"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country." John F. Kennedy's inaugural speech, Jan. 20, 1961

WASHINGTON -- Watching the Democrats' presidential campaigns, it's hard not to be struck by the huge gap that has opened up between Kennedy's goal and what ordinary Americans ...Read more

Trump's Mexico tariffs are nasty, restless

WASHINGTON -- President Trump's latest foray into trade policy is notable for its economic recklessness (it could tip Mexico into a recession, followed perhaps by the United States), its gratuitous insults of a close ally (Mexico) and its rank opportunism (it would shift power to the White House from Congress).

For anyone who missed Trump's ...Read more

The brave new world of trading blocs

WASHINGTON -- We may be on the cusp of an upheaval in global trade. Since World War II, the international trading system has operated on the premise of "most favored nation (MFN)," meaning that concessions granted to one country must be extended to all countries in the system. The trade standoff between the United States and China suggests that ...Read more

Will China dump dollars?

WASHINGTON -- At last count, China held slightly more than $1 trillion in U.S. Treasury securities. One fear has been that, should China and the United States engage in an economic war -- as they clearly are now -- those dollars could become a weapon against us. The Chinese would sell dollars in foreign exchange markets, raising U.S. interest ...Read more

Why are wage gains so weak?

WASHINGTON -- After correcting for inflation, wage gains remain sluggish. In April, average weekly earnings for nonsupervisory workers were up 3% from a year earlier, to $785.55. Meanwhile, prices as measured by the consumer price index were up 2%. Considering that the economy has been expanding for nearly a full decade -- a record if it ...Read more

We're in the twilight years of the boomers

WASHINGTON -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just released its latest statistics on U.S. births. Boring, you say. Not so. Historic birth patterns tell us a lot about where the country has been -- and where it might be going.

We are now experiencing some of the lowest birth figures ever. In 2018, U.S. births totaled 3....Read more

Are we losing the trade war?

WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration is going about its trade war with China all wrong. Its strategy and tactics are muddled. If Trump were a general watching the battle unfold, what he'd see is his troops getting slaughtered, while the enemy, though suffering casualties, was holding most of its positions.

Trump has two goals, says Bill ...Read more

Economists' suffering with an ignorance gap

WASHINGTON -- The most intriguing and indisputable thing we have learned about economists in recent decades is that they don't know nearly as much as they thought they knew. We see evidence of this all the time. Just recently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the economy had created 263,000 payroll jobs in April. This was almost 40% ...Read more

Single-payer is no panacea

EDITORS: Please insert the attached table after the 9th graf.

WASHINGTON -- The popular appeal of a single-payer system to solve the nation's health care problems is no secret. Everyone would have insurance, recognizing -- as Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., continually tells us -- that health care is "a right, not a privilege." Our medical expenses...Read more

The $100 trillion question

WASHINGTON -- We live in an age obsessed with economic inequality. There is too much of it, most people seem to agree. After Donald Trump -- his personality, behavior and policies -- inequality may well become the dominant issue in the 2020 election. This poses dangers, the most obvious being the tendency to blame the rich and the super-rich for...Read more

Do we have a deflation problem?

WASHINGTON -- There are times when it seems we're worrying about things that aren't worth worrying about. A good example these days is inflation. Amazingly, the complaint is that it's not rising fast enough. In March, the consumer price index, or CPI, had increased 1.9% over the past year. The gain of another inflation indicator, the "deflator" ...Read more

Who's afraid of robots -- and why

WASHINGTON -- An unsettling specter haunts the world economy: a future of ubiquitous robots that destroy millions of jobs. Sometimes this is called "artificial intelligence"; sometimes it isn't. Either way, it threatens the social stability of the United States and other advanced countries, which depend on most people working most of the time. ...Read more

Not a vote-getter!

WASHINGTON -- Just for the record, we ought to note that trustees for Social Security and Medicare recently released their annual reports. The two programs alone constituted 45 percent of the non-interest federal budget in 2018, a share that the trustees say is being driven up by the continuing retirement of baby boomers and the high cost of ...Read more

Can the Fed stay independent?

WASHINGTON -- It's unclear whether one or both, or neither, of President Trump's selections for the Federal Reserve Board -- Stephen Moore and Herman Cain -- will win Senate confirmation. What is clear is that this is a teachable moment concerning the Fed's vaunted "independence."

If you think it means that the Fed can do whatever it wants and ...Read more

How long until we're all happy?

To: David Brooks

Columnist, The New York Times

Dear David,

We have met a few times over the years while covering the same events. I'm a big fan. You write beautifully and, more often than not, have insights about our politics, lifestyles and beliefs that others have missed. But as time passes, you have grown increasingly somber about our ...Read more

What really caused the financial crisis?

WASHINGTON -- It is astonishing that, even though the global financial crisis occurred a decade ago, we do not yet have a clear and convincing explanation of its basic cause. To be sure, theories abound. Liberals blame Wall Street greed and lax government oversight. The conservatives' villain is the government's aggressive promotion of ...Read more

What killed inflation?

WASHINGTON -- The Phillips Curve is dead; long live the Phillips Curve.

One of today's economic mysteries is: Why is inflation so low? The unemployment rate is a puny 3.8%. The recovery from the 2007-09 Great Recession is nearly a decade old, just when tight labor markets and strong demand usually push up wages and prices. Yet inflation (...Read more

Can we fix the schools? (Maybe not.)

WASHINGTON -- You can count on one familiar refrain in the 2020 presidential campaign: Fix the schools. Faith in education is one of the nation's bedrock values. Better schools would (we think) narrow economic inequalities and help people reach their personal potential. Promises to revitalize schools are inevitable.

There's a magical quality to...Read more


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