Economy

California Keeps Digging

Featured image The “First Law of Holes” (“If you’re in one—stop digging”) is usually attributed to the late British politician Denis Healey, but whatever. One thing is certain: California never heard of the First Law of Holes. • Item, from the Washington Post a while back: The One Issue Every Economist Can Agree Is Bad: Rent Control By Megan McArdle There aren’t that many things you can get economists to agree on. »

Why Democrats Don’t Talk About the Economy

Featured image As I and many others have noted, the Democrats barely mentioned the economy during last week’s presidential debate. Why not? Because they look silly if they try to deny that the Trump administration, with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and deregulation on a massive scale, has given the economy a major boost. Trump’s boom is a particular problem for the Democrats because it is being felt where it counts, »

It’s the Economy, Stupid

Featured image I did better than most viewers last night; I stuck out the Democratic debate for an hour or an hour and a half. I was struck by the fact that in all that time, the economy was never mentioned. It turns out I didn’t miss a thing: the economy was barely mentioned during the entire marathon evening. This is understandable, perhaps, to the extent that the Democrats have no answers »

The Fed, Trump’s other “fall guy”

Featured image At the micro level, President Trump blames “bad management” for the downward turn of certain companies. At the macro level, he blames the Federal Reserve Board for a weakening of the American economy. Of the two, the Fed is a more plausible “fall guy.” Like trade policy, but unlike “bad management,” interest rate levels are not an economic constant. They are subject to change by the Fed and such changes, »

Are American companies suffering from an outbreak of “bad management”?

Featured image Here’s President Trump arguing that bad management, not tariffs, is what’s hurting American companies: A lot of badly run companies are trying to blame tariffs. In other words, if they’re running badly and they’re having a bad quarter, or if they’re just unlucky in some way, they’re likely to blame the tariffs. It’s not the tariffs. It’s called “bad management.” If you think about it for half a second, this »

Loose Ends (94)

Featured image •  The New York Times had a whimsical story over the weekend about vegetarians and vegans who gave it up to be come butchers.  The best parts of the story: Before she was a butcher, Ms. Kavanaugh was a strict vegetarian. She stopped eating meat for more than a decade, she said, out of a deep love for animal life and respect for the environment. . .  She returned to »

U.S. designates China a currency manipulator

Featured image The U.S. government has determined that China is manipulating its currency. It will engage with the International Monetary Fund to try to eliminate this unfair form of competition. If there is no progress within a year, China could face sanctions including its firms being prohibited from competition for U.S. government contracts. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made the announcement today. Stock prices fell dramatically, with the Dow Jones average shedding more »

Should the U.S. adopt an “industrial policy”?

Featured image At the recent National Conservatism Conference in Washington, the crowd voted overwhelmingly in favor of a resolution calling for the United States to adopt an “industrial policy.” In so doing, the conservative crowd agreed with Sen. Elizabeth Warren who, as John has noted, also wants the U.S. to adopt such a policy. The idea is for the government, through a set of policies — taxes, spending subsidies, regulation, and tariffs »

Annals of Liberal Hypocrisy

Featured image You know the old saying, “If liberals didn’t have double-standards. . .” Two items out the last few days deserve a bigger horselaugh than usual. First, Bernie Sanders has agreed to pay his campaign staff a $15 minimum wage, but will do so by reducing the hours of many campaign workers—which is what has happened in several cities, such as Seattle, that have raised their minimum wage. Fox News reports: »

Kamala Harris’s fake news about “putting food on the table”

Featured image We have noted how Democratic presidential candidates, nearly all of them, are trying to convince Americans that our economy is in woeful condition. Absent an economic downturn, the effort seems destined to fail. As debate moderator Savannah Guthrie informed the field during the first night of debating, most Americans, and even most Democrats, believe the economy is doing well. The numbers support this belief. To take one example, the unemployment »

Setting the tone

Featured image The first question posed at last night’s Democratic debate came from Savannah Guthrie. It was about the economy. Guthrie prefaced the question by noting that the vast majority of Americans think the economy is strong, and even a majority of Democrats hold that view. In light of this fact, Guthrie wanted to know whether it made sense to disrupt things with big spending programs like free college for all. Guthrie »

Why Decent People Hate the Mainstream Media, Chapter 11,786

Featured image Sad news yesterday of the passing, at age 79, of the distinguished economist Martin Feldstein. Feldstein, a long-time fixture at Harvard, served as chair of President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers in the 1980s, and headed the prestigious National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). Feldstein was a winner of the prestigious John Bates Clark medal, and the adviser/mentor to one of the hottest young (liberal) economists on the scene today, »

Donald Trump and Elizabeth Warren: Soul Siblings?

Featured image Elizabeth Warren has her faults, but she isn’t stupid. In her campaign for the presidency, she has adopted President Trump’s economic nationalism, and gone him one better with a leftist twist. The New York Times headlines: “Elizabeth Warren Proposes ‘Aggressive Intervention’ to Create Jobs.” Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on Tuesday proposed an economic program of “aggressive intervention on behalf of American workers,” suggesting that as president she would invest »

A Laffer Curve the Media Can’t Hit

Featured image The White House has announced that President Trump will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Arthur Laffer, one of the principal pioneers of supply-side economics. Naturally the usual suspects are upset, like the Washington Post and Slate, both of whom offer up some of their best ventriloquist journalism: The so-called “mainstream” of the economics profession will never forgive Laffer (and his precursors and collaborators such as Robert Mundell and Jude »

The Boom Continues

Featured image They said it couldn’t be done. Well, Barack Obama did, anyway: “What magic wand do you have?” And of course we remember Paul Krugman’s infamous prediction that the stock market would never recover from Donald Trump’s election. But Trump’s formula of lower taxes, less regulation and–a key element, I think–sensible repatriation policy continue to drive our economy to unprecedented heights. The latest: the economy added 263,000 new jobs in April, »

Weekly jobless claims are lowest since 1969

Featured image To me, the most important question pertaining to the 2020 presidential race is not which hard-leftist the Democrats will nominate or whether, instead, they will nominate a 77 year-old who wasn’t bright even in his prime. Nor, we now know, is it anything to do with Robert Mueller. Rather, the most important question is what the economy will look like in the months before the election. I don’t know the »

The Standard Oil Case, 100 Years On [With Comment by John]

Featured image Ronald Reagan liked to joke that the closest thing you’ll ever find to eternal life on earth is a federal program. He underestimated the possibilities of a Justice Department antitrust suit. I was stunned earlier this week to read in the Wall Street Journal that the famous antitrust lawsuit against Standard Oil that broke up John D. Rockefeller’s massive creation and decided at the Supreme Court in 1911 was still »