The year 2018 will be deplored by pundits as a bad year of more unpredictable Donald Trump, headlined by wild stock market gyrations, the melodramas of the Robert Mueller investigation, and the musical-chair tenures of officials in the Trump Administration. The government is still shut down. Talk of impeachment by the newly Democrat-controlled House of Representatives is in the air.
As you may have noticed, I try very hard not to get in to the business of rebutting Paul Krugman's various outrages. The article "The economics of soaking the rich" merits an exception. I will ignore the snark, the... distoritions, the ... untruths, the attack by inventing evil motive, the demonization of anything starting with the letter R, and focus on the central economic points.
In a recent article in Scientific American, “The American Economy is Rigged,” Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz paints a gloomy picture of the U.S. economy and the American Dream over the last 40 years and then some: "Whereas the income share of the top 0.1 percent has more than quadrupled and that of the top 1 percent has almost doubled, that of the bottom 90 percent has declined. Wages at the bottom, adjusted for inflation, are about the same as they were some 60 years ago!"
Our documentary film, Women of the Gulag, made the Academy’s short-list of ten documentary films contending for a place in the final five. That Russian-American director, Marianna Yarovskaya, is the first Russian documentary film maker in the history of the Russian Federation to make it so far in Oscar competition has attracted considerable attention in Russian media, especially its liberal sites. It did not take long however before it caught the attention of Russian Gulag deniers.
Many of us free-market types bemoan how poorly designed regulation hurts economic growth. But unlike "stimulus," regulation is a death by a thousand knives. Each one seems innocuous, but they add up. It's hard to tell the story without details. There is no handy government statistic on "impact of regulations." We tend to talk about what we can easily measure. Likewise, there is a general sense that the current deregulation effort may be helping, but again without details it's hard to know if this is truth or spin.
Imagine the following: The IRS sends you, John Q. Citizen, a letter alleging you have not complied with U.S. tax law. In the next paragraph, the tax agency then informs you that it needs a series of personal and business documents. Indeed, it will be sending agents out to discuss your dilemma and collect the necessary records.
During the news lull between Christmas and New Years, the Wall Street Journal published an alarmist piece about the high rate of teachers and other public educators quitting their jobs. Reporters Michelle Hackman and Erick Morath examined Labor Department data on employee turnover during the first ten months of 2018 and found that educators were exiting at the rate of 83 per 10,000 per month, which would work out to almost one in ten over the course of a full year.
Many parents choose to wait an extra year before enrolling a child in elementary school, a practice known as redshirting. Does this practice benefit the children who are held back? This week, Paul E. Peterson talks with Phillip Cook of Duke University, the co-author of a new study on the impact of delayed entry on student achievement.
2019 should be a year of celebration; it marks 40 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and China. Bilateral trade and investment between the two countries has grown exponentially from $5 billion in 1980 to $710 billion in 2017; student exchange and tourism numbers have soared; and peace has been maintained in the Asia-Pacific.
George Selgin has a nice piece on TNB and IOER, which I missed when it came out in September, but it's still relevant. (HT a correspondent. TNB is "The Narrow Bank" which I wrote about here; IOER is interest on excess reserves. The Fed pays banks interest on reserves, which are accounts that banks hold at the Fed.)
This week, economist Ed Dolan of the Niskanen Center talks about employer-based health insurance with EconTalk host Russ Roberts. Dolan discusses how unusual it is relative to other countries that so many Americans get their health insurance through their employer and the implications of that phenomenon for the structure of the health insurance market.
Democrats are frustrated that they have lost the presidency in the Electoral College twice in the 21st century. But instead of amending the Constitution, they are going to courts and state legislatures. Four lawsuits claim that votes for the losing candidate in a winner-take-all electoral vote are not counted equally as required by the 14th Amendment. Of course all the votes are counted at the state level, as the Constitution provides, so this should be a losing argument, but these days who knows?
Donald Trump’s decision to pull ground troops out of Syria, followed hard by Defense Secretary Mattis’ resignation effective January 1, has sparked the usual complaints about the unpredictable, shoot-from-the-hip president. And as usual, the most important issue underlying the debate over his decision is ignored––our failure to settle on a coherent, long-term foreign policy strategy.
Daniel Hemel and Eric Posner have harshly criticized William Barr’s memo on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s obstruction of justice theory. They say (in the New York Times) that the memo “seriously damages [Barr’s] credibility and raises questions about his fitness for the Justice Department’s top position” and (later, on Lawfare) that the memo is “poorly reasoned.”
At half-time, Donald Trump has demolished a lot and rebuilt nothing. Even his short-term foreign policy successes have proven brittle. And in the longer term, his not-so-grand strategy—aka “America First”—may well prove costly, as it always has for America.
For the new year to bring a new politics to America—one marked by a pragmatic search for solutions, with good ideas from left, right, and center—it’s going to have to come from the bottom up, far away from the Washington outrage machine. A good place to start would be the contentious challenge of school discipline.
For the new year to bring a new politics to America — one marked by a pragmatic search for solutions, with good ideas from left, right, and center — it’s going to have to come from the bottom up, far away from the Washington outrage machine. A good place to start would be the contentious challenge of school discipline.
Security threats do not always come from a determined adversary or sworn enemy. What if, like in the age of dinosaurs, we faced an external threat? A huge, hurtling meteor, for example, that could destroy most life on Earth as it did 66 million years ago?
The opening shot of “Mother India,” the most iconic film made in India in the decade after its independence, is of an old peasant woman struggling to grow crops on parched land. Behind her are rumbling tractors and earth movers, unsubtle symbols of progress. Then the camera pans past electric cables and newly metaled roads to a magnificent dam, which will bring water to the arid earth.
The average professional in this country wakes up in the morning, goes to work, comes home, eats dinner, and then goes to sleep, unaware that he or she has likely committed several federal crimes that day. Why? The answer lies in the very nature of modern federal criminal laws, which have exploded in number but also become impossibly broad and vague.
The Hoover Institution at Stanford University, which has never been known for opposing American military intervention, is the last place to expect an exhibition of stark photographs from the lost war in Vietnam.
The National Security Affairs Fellows Mentorship Program pairs Stanford undergraduates with high-ranking members from the U.S. armed forces to give students a personal perspective into military life and issues.
For the first time in modern memory, during the 2016 election, one candidate hired a law firm and opposition research team to employ a foreign-national operative, who in turn bought foreign [i.e., if the foreign national’s dossier is taken at face value, Russian] sources to discredit his employer’s opponent and with others also enlisted the existing hierarchies of the DOJ, CIA, FBI, NSC, and FISA courts to break past protocol, and often the law, in order to obstruct the candidacy, transition, and presidency of Donald Trump.
During Christmas week, Fox News invited me to discuss how President Donald Trump's achievements for black Americans are registering in awareness in these communities. Unfortunately, we didn't succeed in scheduling the interview. It's a subject of enormous importance not just because of what the president is doing to the benefit of low-income Americans, but also because of how he is doing it — his approach to lifting up those not participating as they should in our prosperity.
Nothing imperils our nation’s future more than our education system. A reasonably educated populace would have little use for orchestrated polarization, gutter-mouth politics, the cultural sewage that passes for popular entertainment, and the complete abandonment of decency, decorum, and common sense that is now the norm. Nothing reinforces that norm more effectively than raising a nation of American students who cannot read.
A loud bang startled Anna P. Timofeyeva awake. She reached for the light, but the electricity had gone out. In the dark, she and her husband quickly dressed their 2-year-old son and prepared to flee. “We understood something was wrong,” she said. But when they opened the front door of their apartment they stopped short. From the doorstep of the family’s seventh-floor apartment, she said, they could look directly down on a heap of rubble far below, all that was left of 25 neighboring apartments.
While the Syria intervention lacked proper congressional authorization, constitutional considerations had nothing to do with Trump's withdrawal decision. Indeed, his administration has doubled down on Obama-era arguments asserting broad presidential authority to initiate military interventions.
Green means up and red means down in the stock market. Lately there have been many red days. But the true color of today’s market is golden orange—the hue of the pompadour atop the head of President Donald Trump. Because for better and for worse, this has become Trump’s stock market. Until October, the extended bull market was reasonably called the Trump Bump. The decline over the past few months, particularly since the start of December, is the Trump Slump.
Oh, great. Mitt Romney is lecturing us about character and decency now. The new year is already shaping up to be a hectoring and annoying one. Romney, the new U.S. Senator from Utah (by way of Michigan, Massachusetts and California), took to the opinion pages of the Washington Post on Wednesday to chide Donald Trump, whose character the failed 2012 Republican presidential candidate finds wanting.
Quotation of the Day I, from Thomas Sowell: If you want to see the poor remain poor, generation after generation, just keep the standards low in their schools and make excuses for their academic shortcomings and personal misbehavior. But please don’t congratulate yourself on your compassion.
The parties will work together to fix the ACA. "The zeroing out of the individual mandate penalty in 2019 will precipitate further instability in markets, with more insurers exiting and existing plans getting more expensive. It will be politically untenable for Republicans to simply blame Democrats, and for their part Democrats will not be able to sit idly by while President Obama's legacy law crumbles before them."
President Donald Trump acknowledged Friday that the partial government shutdown could last for months, even a year or longer, but he said he believes many furloughed workers will support him even if the shutdown is prolonged.
One of the keys to becoming a successful investor is to realize that the strongest long-term trends will always transcend the ebb and flow of daily market gyrations and scary headlines. The media will forever focus on the worst-case scenario, but the one thing I would counsel investors to remember is that seven billion people are working every day to make their life better and that will always be a bullish force.