Politics, Moderate



The Age of Disbelief

WASHINGTON -- We live in an age of disbelief. Many of the ideas and institutions that have underpinned Americans’ thinking since the early years after World War II are besieged. There is an intellectual and political vacuum into which rush new figures (Donald Trump) and different ideas (America First). These new ideas and leaders may be no ...Read more

Why Trump Loves to Hate the Media

WASHINGTON -- There was a brief moment after Donald Trump’s election when it was conceivable to ask whether he would strive to be a “uniter” or a “divider.” The moment passed quickly as Trump made it clear that he does not intend to abandon the style of politics -- insulting and divisive -- that got him elected. His declaration last ...Read more

Two Cheers for a Carbon Tax

WASHINGTON -- By all means, let’s have a carbon tax. It’s the best way to deal with global climate change. It would require Republicans and Democrats to compromise -- a good thing -- and would provide revenues for a government that desperately needs more revenue. Fine. But let’s not pretend that a carbon tax is a panacea for either climate...Read more

The TPP Lives -- Maybe!

WASHINGTON -- The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is dead, but could it have an afterlife?


Among President Donald Trump’s first acts was an order withdrawing from the TPP. This fulfilled Trump’s campaign promise to torpedo the high-profile agreement between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries, led by Japan and ...Read more

Is Corporate ‘Short-Termism’ a Myth?

WASHINGTON -- You’ve heard the criticism. Too many American corporate managers are addicted to “short-termism.” They postpone investments and other costs, sacrificing future performance for present profitability. Either they’re pressured by “activist investors” or want to inflate the value of their stock options. If true, it could ...Read more

Trump vs. The Regulatory State

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump pledges to dismantle much of the regulatory state -- the amalgam of federal rules, directives and warnings that, aside from advancing many well-known policy goals, are also alleged to have reduced the competitiveness of the U.S. economy. His objective is to cut government regulation by about 70 percent. It ...Read more

Trump’s Senseless War on Mexico

”Mexico braces for a trade war with Washington,” headline in the Financial Times, Jan. 31, 2017.

Let’s hope not, because a trade war triggered by President Trump would be an act of pure economic aggression, unjustified either by the United States’ economic and political interests or by Mexico’s behavior. It would be the ...Read more

The Real Truth about Washington

“For too long, a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished, but the people did not share in its wealth.” -- President Donald Trump, Jan. 20.

Washington is not a swamp.

Since at least the days of Jimmy Carter, presidential politicians have run...Read more

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


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Gary Markstein Steve Benson Signe Wilkinson Ken Catalino Gary Varvel Marshall Ramsey