Politics, Moderate



Patriotism on Steroids: Trump’s Isolationism

WASHINGTON -- The question that swirls around Donald Trump’s inaugural address is whether his aggressively pronounced policy of America First will actually result in America Last -- not literally last, but declining in power and prestige because the United States no longer views its role in the world as promoting economic and geopolitical ...Read more

Why Tax Reform Will Be a Slog

WASHINGTON -- Tax “reform,” starting with taxes on business, seems to be on everyone’s agenda, and it may be a place where the incoming Trump administration and its Democratic critics find common ground. But it’s still going to be a slog, and one reason is so-called “pass-through” businesses whose taxes are levied at personal income ...Read more

What’s Up with Macy’s and Sears?

WASHINGTON -- We are in the throes of another round of what the economist Joseph Schumpeter memorably called “creative destruction.” Two icons of American business -- Macy’s and Sears -- are struggling. Macy’s plans to close 100 stores to improve profitability, and Sears has sold its Craftsman tools line for roughly $900 million to raise...Read more

Trump’s Great Guessing Game

WASHINGTON -- We’re all playing a guessing game. During the campaign, Donald Trump made many promises. But whether friend or foe, we don’t know what he will actually do. The result is a deluge of predictions from politicians, pundits, think tanks, lobbyists, economists and others. Here, for example, is the outlook of economists at Nomura ...Read more

The New World Order, 2017

WASHINGTON -- One insistent question that will shape 2017 is whether we’re witnessing the gradual decay of the post-World War II international order, dominated by the economic and military power of the United States.

After the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, it became fashionable to talk of the United States as the only true superpower. ...Read more

Putin’s Gift to America

WASHINGTON -- It may be wishful thinking, but it’s just possible that Vladimir Putin has done us a great favor. He has alerted us to the true threat of cyberwarfare in a way that -- again, just possibly -- might prompt us to view it as a serious national danger and begin to take effective countermeasures.

Of course, Americans are aware of the...Read more

The Great Depression That Didn’t Happen

WASHINGTON -- There is no mystery about Barack Obama’s greatest presidential achievement: He stopped the Great Recession from becoming the second Great Depression. True, he had plenty of help, including from his predecessor, George W. Bush, and from the top officials at the Treasury and Federal Reserve. But if Obama had made one wrong step, ...Read more

Best Economics Books of 2016

WASHINGTON -- OK, I should have headlined it, “My favorite economics books of 2016.” There surely are many good books that I missed. Still, the four below share certain appealing characteristics. They tell us stuff we don’t know, which alters our view of the world. They are all deeply researched and reported. They’re clearly written. For...Read more

The Pentagon vs. The Welfare State

WASHINGTON -- Any reporter who’s written about the federal budget knows that there’s a surefire solution to every problem. It’s called “fraud, waste and abuse.” You want to end budget deficits? Just eliminate all the “fraud, waste and abuse” in the $4 trillion budget. The same is true for cutting taxes or raising spending. ...Read more

The Real Productivity Problem

WASHINGTON -- Our thinking about productivity is cockeyed, according to a new economic report. We’re ignoring the real productivity problem: surging costs for health care, housing and education. We need to understand this argument, because it just might be correct.

Unless you’ve been vacationing on Mars, you know that productivity is ...Read more

Trump’s Risky Nationalism

“For the first time since the end of the Second World War, the future relationship of America to the world is not fully settled.”

-- Henry Kissinger, in an interview with The Atlantic in its December issue.

WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump is an avowed economic nationalist. He promises to put American interests “first” in ...Read more

Why Italy Matters

WASHINGTON -- Italy may be the next stop on the world’s journey to more economic nationalism. First we had Brexit -- Britain’s decision to leave the European Union. Then we had the election of Donald Trump as the next U.S. president, pledging to put “America first” in his policies. Now Italy may be treading down the same path.

...Read more

Jobless by Choice -- or Pain?

WASHINGTON -- The work ethic is such a central part of the American character that it’s hard to imagine it fading. But that’s what seems to be happening in one important part of the labor force. Among men 25-to-54 -- so-called prime-age male workers -- about one in eight are dropouts. They don’t have a job and, unlike the officially ...Read more

Greenspan: Why Productivity Lags

WASHINGTON -- Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, weighed in last week on one of the pressing issues facing the Trump administration and the country -- slow economic growth. Greenspan's explanation is novel and is bound to be controversial. To preview: He blames the welfare state and overall uncertainty for ...Read more

Trump's mission impossible?

WASHINGTON -- Donald Trump, it seems, embraces the old dictum: Make no small plans. Already, he's published an agenda for his first 100 days in office, recalling Franklin's Roosevelt's launching of the New Deal. Not surprisingly, near the top of Trump's to-do list is a pledge to double economic growth from its recent desultory rate of 2 ...Read more

The dysfunction goes deeper than the candidates

WASHINGTON -- Regardless of who wins this bitterly contested election, the victor will face the same basic, daunting, task: reconciling the vast promises that have been made, both in this campaign and earlier, with the government's limited ability to meet those promises.

It won't be easy.

You can blame Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or ...Read more

The Real National Embarrassment

WASHINGTON -- However this election turns out, the 2016 campaign for the White House will undoubtedly be remembered for its vulgarity, mean-spiritedness and mendacity. It has been a national embarrassment. But a parallel failing is less noticed: the unwillingness of both candidates -- Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump -- to come to grips with ...Read more

Why We Should Worry About Deutsche Bank

WASHINGTON -- Deutsche Bank is in trouble -- and that's bad news for all of us.

Deutsche Bank is Germany's biggest bank with 100,000 employees around the world and operations in more than 70 countries. Its assets total about $1.7 trillion. One worrying sign of the bank's distress is its stock price, which is trading now at about $14 a share, ...Read more

Why This Campaign Was So Nasty

WASHINGTON -- To understand this nasty and nutty campaign, you have to go back to 1973, which is before roughly 60 percent of today's Americans were alive. The backward trip in time illuminates how the United States and, indeed, most advanced nations, became addicted to rapid economic growth and how this, in turn, polluted our politics. It bred ...Read more

Measuring Economic Progress

WASHINGTON -- Where are living standards the highest? You might think that's an easy question to answer. Just take a country's total income (in the United States, that's now about $18 trillion) and divide by the nation's population (U.S.: now about 320 million). The result is per capita income (now about $56,000 for every man, woman and child in...Read more

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