Posted: November 28, 2016 Filed under: Economics, History, Politics, Think Tank | Tags: A Patriot's History of the United States, China, China Investment Promotion Agency, Donald Trump, Economy of the United States, Hillary Clinton, Law of the United States, United States, United States Congress, United States presidential election
Even socialists who traveled to the Soviet Union and saw its immense poverty with their own eyes could not be shaken from their faith.
To explain our insane fascination with socialism, I have pointed to a growing body of academic research, which suggests that we are, by nature, envious of and resentful toward people who amass “disproportionate” wealth and power.
Moreover, research suggests that we find it difficult to comprehend, let alone appreciate, what Friedrich Hayek called extended order — or the use of specialization and trade to create “an information gathering process, able to call up, and put to use, widely dispersed information that no central planning agency, let alone any individual, could know as a whole, possess or control.”
Our minds have evolved to deal with issues faced by our hunting and gathering ancestors (e.g., an exchange of meat for favors), not to deal with issues facing us today (e.g., outsourcing the assembly of the iPhone to China to make it more affordable in America). The extended order, in other words, has evolved in spite of, not because of, our best efforts.
Today, I want to address another reason behind the persistent appeal of socialism: the power of self-delusion, or our ability and willingness to go on believing in things that are patently not true.
Soviet Five-Year Plan propaganda poster.
Consider the following two examples. In 1985, my Czechoslovak aunt Kate visited the USSR. She was a committed Communist Party member all of her adult life, and, as a reward, she was given a chance to spend a couple of weeks in the workers’ paradise. When she returned, I impetuously asked her if she had brought me anything. “Nothing,” she replied much to my disappointment, “the USSR is a very poor country.” Yet Kate never wavered in her commitment to the principles of communism and remained a party member until 1989, when her entire value system came crumbling down along with the Berlin Wall.
[Read the full story here, at Foundation for Economic Education]
Some ten years later, an American college professor of mine recalled his own visit to the USSR. In 1970, he and his wife spent two weeks in Leningrad, Moscow, and Kiev. During their stay in the communist country, he was shocked by the poverty and inefficiency he saw. (From Kiev, he wrote a letter to his parents in New York, which I have transcribed, with his permission, below.) All the other tourists that he met expressed similar sentiments.
When he returned to the United States, however, he kept on reading reports in mainstream publications, including Time magazine and The New York Times, which maintained that the Soviet economy was working. These reports were written by people who lived in the USSR, spoke Russian and had Soviet friends. As such, he concluded that the impressions he had made during his stay in the USSR were not valid.
If the above two examples failed to convince you of the power of self-delusion, consider our Nobel Prize-winning physicist from Ulm.
Einstein was a self-declared socialist. In 1949, he even published an essay titled “Why Socialism?” In it, Einstein wrote, “The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil [of human suffering]… I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate… [this evil], namely through the establishment of a socialist economy.”
It is striking that the most brilliant scientist of the 20th century, who escaped from national socialist Germany (Hitler called his party “socialist” for a reason) and moved to the capitalist United States, published an essay castigating capitalism and calling for socialism — while Stalin was still alive and busy butchering millions of Soviet citizens. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: August 2, 2016 Filed under: History, Politics, Religion, Think Tank | Tags: Bernie Sanders, Democratic Party (United States), Dennis Prager, Donald Trump, Economy of the United States, European Union, Hillary Clinton, National Review, Republican Party (United States), United States
Dennis Prager writes:
…Thanks to the universities’ leftist indoctrination of two generations of Americans, and thanks to Bernie Sanders, the Democratic party is now in all but name a socialist party. In fact, it is actually to the left of many European socialist parties.
“This generation is not only not ‘the most tolerant and generous we’ve ever had,’ it is, in in many ways, the least tolerant and quite possibly the least generous ‘we’ve ever had.’”
For example, if Clinton wins, the government will now tell companies how much they must pay employees: “If you believe that companies should share profits with their workers, not paid executive bonuses, join us,” she brazenly announced.
[Read the full story here, at National Review]
And if you think that this is unconstitutional, remember that it won’t matter, because she will appoint left-wing Supreme Court justices and left-wing federal judges who do not view their roles as protectors of the Constitution. They view their roles as promoting “social justice,” which has as much to do with justice as “people’s democracy” has to do with democracy.
Which is better: socialism or capitalism? Does one make people kinder and more caring, while the other makes people greedy and more selfish? In this video, Dennis Prager explains the moral differences between socialism and capitalism, and why anyone who wants a kind and generous society must support one and oppose the other.
There will still be a country called the United States, a geographic entity situated between Canada and Mexico, but it will not be the America envisioned by the Founders, or by most Americans until the middle of the 20th century. She spelled this out very clearly in her acceptance speech.
Among its other highlights:
“We’ll build a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants.”
This means that our borders will mean nothing, that in order to guarantee Democratic-party victories for the foreseeable future, as president she will transform 10 or more million people who are here illegally into citizens.
Still waiting for Hope and Change… and waiting…and waiting….
“We have the most tolerant and generous young people we’ve ever had.”
She said this in order to pander to young Americans. But, thanks to the Left, it isn’t true. This generation is not only not “the most tolerant and generous we’ve ever had,” it is, in in many ways, the least tolerant and quite possibly the least generous “we’ve ever had.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 28, 2015 Filed under: Economics, Politics, White House | Tags: Dow Jones Industrial Average, Economy of the United States, Federal Reserve System, Janet Yellen, Motion of no confidence, Nasdaq, Nasdaq Composite, Percentage, Standard & Poor's, Wells Fargo
The number of companies with the lowest credit ratings and negative outlooks jumped to 195 in December, the highest level since March 2010, says Standard & Poor’s.
Matt Krantz reports: Nomura Head of U.S. Rates Strategy George Gonclaves discusses Fed policy and the U.S. economy. He speaks on “Bloomberg Surveillance.” Bloomberg
Higher interest rates are about to hit companies – just when many are ill prepared to handle them.
The Federal Reserve this month took interest rates up for the first time in nearly a decade – ending the days of free money. It might take a few years for higher rates to hit companies – as they look to refinance debt. But the troubling part is many companies aren’t in great shape to eat the higher costs.
The number of companies with the lowest credit ratings and negative outlooks jumped to 195 in December, the highest level since March 2010, says Standard & Poor’s. The biggest culprit for the jump in these so-called “weakest links” is the oil and gas sector, which accounts for 34 of them. But financial companies are close behind, representing 33 of the weakest links, says S&P….(read more)
Posted: December 24, 2015 Filed under: Economics, Global, U.S. News | Tags: Associated Press, CNBC, Connecticut, Dan Malloy, Economy of the United States, Federal Open Market Committee, Federal Reserve System, Great Recession, Greenspan put, Interest rate
HOUSTON – Collin Eaton writes: For American drillers, the New Year will likely bring more of the same – financial pressure and mass layoffs.
The U.S. petroleum industry hasn’t seen this many bankruptcies in one quarter since the Great Recession, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas says, counting nine Chapter 11 court filings in the year’s final three-month period. And that’s just a third of the year’s domestic casualty count.
The Dallas Fed also estimates in a new report on Thursday the nation has lost about 70,000 oil and gas jobs since October 2014, a 14.5 percent drop in the 14 months after the domestic shale drilling boom that drew thousands to Houston’s oil hub began a steep decline.
But the sacrifice of dozens of U.S. oil producers, thousands of oil field workers and more than 1,200 drilling rigs still hasn’t stalled U.S. crude production enough to shrink the global oil glut that has sent oil prices below $40 a barrel.
Global crude supplies, the Fed said, could outpace demand by 600,000 barrels a day, and the world’s crude storage tanks may not start to decline until 2017.
That’s in part because increased production from Iran has come on earlier than anticipated and the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries is expected to continue pumping crude at current levels. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: August 1, 2015 Filed under: Economics | Tags: Consumer spending, Economic expansion, Economic growth, Economy of the United States, Federal Reserve System, Great Recession, Gross domestic product, International trade, United States Department of Commerce, World War II
Since the recession ended in June 2009, the economy has advanced at a 2.2% annual pace through the end of last year. That’s more than a half-percentage point worse than the next-weakest expansion of the past 70 years, the one from 2001 through 2007.
Eric Morath reports: The economic expansion—already the worst on record since World War II—is weaker than previously thought, according to newly revised data.
From 2012 through 2014, the economy grew at an all-too-familiar rate of 2% annually, according to three years of revised figures the Commerce Department released Thursday. That’s a 0.3 percentage point downgrade from prior estimates.
The revisions were released concurrently with the government’s first estimate of second-quarter output.
“While there have been highs and lows in individual quarters, overall the economy has failed to break out of its roughly 2% pattern for six years.”
Since the recession ended in June 2009, the economy has advanced at a 2.2% annual pace through the end of last year. That’s more than a half-percentage point worse than the next-weakest expansion of the past 70 years, the one from 2001 through 2007. While there have been highs and lows in individual quarters, overall the economy has failed to break out of its roughly 2% pattern for six years.
The latest revision, however, did significantly upgrade what was seen as a historically wretched winter of 2014.
The output reading for the first quarter of last year was recast to a 0.9% contraction instead of a 2.1% annualized drop. The prior figure represented the worst contraction on record outside of a recession. The new number isn’t even the worst quarterly contraction of the expansion. GDP declined at a 1.5% annual pace in the first quarter of 2011. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 8, 2015 Filed under: Economics, Global, Think Tank | Tags: Austrian School, Barack Obama, Budget, Central bank, Economic growth, Economy of the United States, Great Depression, Great Recession, Joseph Schumpeter, Nevada, Paul Krugman, United States
James Pethokoukis writes: US productivity growth, at least as measured, has been in low gear for a decade. And especially so since the Great Recession, averaging just 0.6% annually from 2010 through 2014. We’re aren’t going to consistently hit 3% GDP growth, much less 4%, like that.
Then again, productivity growth has slowed in most OECD countries over the past decade. A new OECD research note doesn’t think the problem is a lack of innovation, so much as an inability to spread innovation broadly throughout advanced economies. “A breakdown of the diffusion machine” is what the OECD calls it.
[Read the full text here, at AEIdeas]
The gap between high productivity firms and low productivity firms is increasing. (Maybe also helping to explain rising inequality.) So why aren’t innovations spreading as fast as they used to? The WSJ’s analysis of the paper sums it up nicely:
One key reason appears to be that the process of “creative destruction” identified by Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter as essential to capitalism’s dynamism appears to have lost some of its ferocity. In the OECD’s words, “market selection is weak.” One reason for that is government policy, which the OECD said favors incumbents across a whole range of areas, from regulations designed to protect the environment, to taxation. As a result, older firms that suffer from low productivity growth endure, often “trapping” workers in jobs for which they are over qualified. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 9, 2015 Filed under: Economics, Humor, Mediasphere | Tags: 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup, Act of Congress, Afghanistan, African American, Airstrike, Articles of Confederation, Demographics of the United States, Economy of the United States, The Onion, United States, United States Navy
WASHINGTON—Saying there were no other options remaining and that continued intervention would only prolong the nation’s suffering, experts concluded Tuesday that the best course of action is to keep the United States as comfortable as possible until the end.
“We need to accept the fact that the U.S. doesn’t have long—simply helping it pass that time in comfort is the humane thing to do.”
According to those familiar with its condition, the country’s long, painful decline over the past several decades has made it clear that the most compassionate choice at this juncture is to do whatever is possible to ensure America is at ease during its last moments.
“Attempting to stabilize the country in its current enfeebled state would not only be extremely expensive, but it would also cause unnecessary agony as it enters this final stage.”
— Economist Danielle Martin
“We need to accept the fact that the U.S. doesn’t have long—simply helping it pass that time in comfort is the humane thing to do,” said economist Danielle Martin, speaking on behalf of a large group of experts ranging from sociologists and historians to lawmakers and environmentalists, all of whom confirmed they had “done everything [they] could.” “Attempting to stabilize the country in its current enfeebled state would not only be extremely expensive, but it would also cause unnecessary agony as it enters this final stage. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: March 22, 2015 Filed under: Economics, Think Tank | Tags: Barbara Lee, California, Economy of the United States, Employment Development Department, Great Recession, Hispanic, Minimum wage, Unemployment Rate, United States
During the last part of the previous decade, the average effective minimum wage rose by nearly 30 percent across the United States.
New research from Jeffrey Clemens and Michael Wither analyzes the effects on the employment and income trajectories of low-skilled workers during the Great Recession and subsequent recovery. The authors estimate that the minimum wage increases reduced the employment-to-population ratio of working age adults by 0.7 percentage points, accounting for 14 percent of the total decline. Low-skilled workers in particular were hurt by minimum wage policies, despite being the purported beneficiaries.
Posted: February 21, 2015 Filed under: History, Politics, Think Tank, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, Council of Economic Advisers, Economy of the United States, George J. Borjas, Illegal immigration, Niccolò Machiavelli, The Audacity of Hope, U.S. state, United States, White House
The Chosen One
This article appeared in: Vol. XI, Number 3 – Summer 2011
Books discussed in this essay:
The Obamas: The Untold Story of an African Family, by Peter Firstbrook
A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother, by Janny Scott
Dreams from my Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, by Barack Obama
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream, by Barack Obama
Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition, by James T. Kloppenberg
Radical-In-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American To the Manner BornSocialism, by Stanley Kurtz
“Only [the popes] have states, and they do not defend them; subjects, and they do not govern them; and the states are not taken from them though undefended, and the subjects though not governed, do not concern themselves about it…. But since they are upheld by superior cause, to which the human mind does not reach, I will leave off speaking of them; since because they are exalted and maintained by God, discussing them would be the doing of a presumptuous and daring man. Nonetheless, if someone were to inquire of me….”
—Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince
Angelo M. Codevilla writes: Presumptuous and daring, flouting politically correct prohibitions against looking too closely at his time’s Establishment, Niccolò Machiavelli went on to detail who did what to whom to establish the papacy’s temporal power. Cesare Borgia’s cruel triangulation between Rome’s Orsini and Colonnesi factions, not miracles, had made the papal states into a major power.
[Read the full text here: CRB – The Chosen One, by Angelo M. Codevilla]
In our time, asking how a young man of scarce achievement got into position to win the Democratic Party’s nomination for president courts the contemporary synonyms for “impious”: “birther,” “conspiracy theorist,” and, of course, “racist.” Granted, to inquire into what formed a president is not as important as to understand what he does. Nevertheless, because fully to know where anyone is going requires grasping whence he comes, let us open ourselves to wonder how, minus miracles, a 10-year-old boy without obvious talent who had lived in Indonesia since age six ends up with an eight-year scholarship to Hawaii’s most exclusive school; a scholarship to Occidental College; a transfer into Columbia University; acceptance into Harvard Law School, and editorship of its law review; and how he goes from job to prestigious job without apparently mastering any of the previous ones. No wonder some of Barack Obama’s supporters treat him as if he were anointed by an extraterrestrial power.
No less an object of awe and curiosity is the seamlessness of Obama’s mentality. Without marbling or inconsistency, it is serviceable as a definition of contemporary American leftism, and leads one to wonder what earthly environment could have produced such a pure specimen.
[Also see – Obama Loves America. His America – by David Harsanyi]
Intellectually, Obama has always been a consumer, having left no record of formulating new ideas or of penetrating old ones. Politically, he is a follower and figurehead: having grown up in the ever branching stream of socialist voluntary organizations, he surfed its leftward eddies, never forming or leading a faction. He was handed a safe seat in the Illinois state senate, a nearly safe one in the U.S. Senate, and was surprised when Harry Reid informed him that influential Democrats wanted to run him for president. The Democratic campaign of 2008 pushed against an open door. As president, he rides his party’s center of gravity.
In short, Barack Obama himself is not that remarkable. He can give a rousing political speech, of course, but that is usually not sufficient to get oneself elected president. So, since he seems to have been reading from a teleprompter all his life, and since words certifiably his own are both few and opaque, it is most fruitful as well as relevant for us to focus on whom and what he has been following.
What accounts for his smooth, unlikely ascent? Both his advancement and his character seem most likely attributable to the network into which he was born, and out of which he never stepped for an instant. That network’s privileges, wealth, and intellectual-social proclivities always depended to some extent—and nowadays depend more than ever—on its connection with the U.S. government. Its intellectual and moral character, like that of modern government itself, has always been on the left side of American life and, as such, has undergone splits and transmogrifications surely the most important of which in our time combines upscale social norms with radical disdain for the rest of America. Barack Obama came of age through these.
Unfortunately, that liberal Establishment has placed key facts about itself beyond public scrutiny—more in the fashion of Chicago Sicilians than of Roman pontiffs. Here we examine some of the books and otherresearch that shed light on Obama’s origins, note at least as many questions as answers, and try to distinguish between facts and spin. The results are necessarily conjectural, because of the nature of the available evidence.
At the White House, on April 27, 2011, Barack Obama announced the release of a “long form” birth certificate showing that he was born in Hawaii’s Kapiolani hospital. There seems to be no reason to question its validity any more than that of any dollar bill—except that Obama has played an as yet unexplained shell game with this bill since 2008. Obama had refused to release not only the birth certificate but his academic and medical records. He indirectly, and his partisans most directly, vilified as “birthers” those who asked for this personal information (a term made-to-order, implying racism, stupidity, and lower-class odors).
Nonetheless, by the spring of 2011, several state legislatures, including Indiana’s and Louisiana’s, had passed or were about to pass bills requiring any candidate for federal office to show the original or original copy of his birth certificate, and providing for forensic analyses of the documents. Obama’s April 27 release amounts to what John Ehrlichman called a “modified limited hang out”—some information let out to relieve pressure for the release of more. Had Obama done nothing he might have been banned from the ballot in any number of states; had he delayed too long, any certificate he produced would have been subject to close scrutiny. After the disclosure, however, Democrats argued that any and all requests for Obama’s personal information had now been shown to be, in the president’s words, “a silly distraction.”
But there was never anything silly, nor light-hearted, nor casual, about Barack Obama’s efforts to keep the public’s eyes from the basic facts of his life, from birth to his candidacy for president. On the contrary, this opacity is a deliberate policy. Why? The presumptive answer, absent testimony from those involved, is to ensure that real facts interfere as little as possible with the image and narrative that he and his associates have carefully crafted for him. Distinguishing between reality and that narrative would require above all a skeptical attitude, sure to be characterized by Democrats and the media in the most derogatory terms.
According to hagiography, Barack Obama was born to a hippy girl from an insignificant family and raised in poor circumstances, out of which he rose through brilliance. Yet his haughty demeanor, his stilted language when off the teleprompter, his cultural likes and dislikes, bespeak an upbringing in an environment at once so upscale and so leftist that it makes him almost a foreigner to ordinary Americans. No one raised in ordinary American circumstances, much less straitened ones, would cite with a straight face, as Obama did, the price of arugula at Whole Foods, the yuppie boutique, as an example of the cost of living. No one at home in American culture could refer to a U.S. Marine medical corpsman as a “corpse-man.” Nor do ordinary folk talk about (or even understand) the need to “change the rules of power” in America. “Rules of power” belongs to the argot of doctrinaire nouveau socialists. How many American college kids would describe, as did Obama, his studying with Marxist professors as an attempt not to look like a “sell out”? No. Obama’s official story is counterintuitive.
Consistent with the Barack Obama we know, however, are his real family, his real upbringing, and his real choices of profession and associates. His mother’s parents, who raised him, seem to have been cogs in the U.S. government’s well-heeled, well-connected machine for influencing the world, whether openly (“gray influence”) or covertly (“black operations”). His mother spent her life and marriages, and birthed her children, working in that machine. For paradigms of young Barack’s demeanor, proclivities, opinions, language, and attitudes one need look no further than the persons who ran the institutions that his mother and grandparents served—e.g., the Ford Foundation, the United States Information Agency, and the Central Intelligence Agency—as well as his chosen mentors and colleagues. It is here, with these people and institutions, that one should begin to unravel the unknowns surrounding him.
Two new books deal with Barack Obama’s paternal and maternal families. British journalist Peter Firstbrook’s The Obamas takes us all the way from the origins of East Africa’s Luo tribe to Barack’s father’s relationship with Barack’s mother. Generally fact-filled, it gives vivid portraits especially of Barack, Sr.’s, father, Onyango, who tried to raise a son as upright as he and was deadly disappointed when that son turned out to be a wastrel in the train of Tom Mboya, political leader of Kenya’s Luo. The closer the book gets to the present, however, the less trustworthy it becomes. For example, it tells us that Mboya organized the 1959 airlift of 280 Africans to study in America, bypassing the U.S. State Department. Nonsense. This was high U.S. policy and touted as such at the time. The CIA considered Mboya one of its most important covert action agents. The people chosen by him and the CIA to go to America were his flunkies. But the book is irrelevant to understanding the current president of the United States because his African family had only a biological influence on him. Indeed, Barack Obama’s African-ness is, as we shall see, strictly the product of his imagination.
The maternal family that raised Barack Obama, which is highly relevant to our understanding, is the subject of New York Times reporter Janny Scott’s . But though this book tells us that grandmother Madelyn Dunham’s favorite color was beige, that Stanley Dunham and daughter Ann (Barack, Jr.’s, mother) shared a certain impulsiveness, and contains interviews with and personal information on countless of Ann’s high school friends, it sheds no light on what the Dunhams were doing with their lives that led their daughter to take a practical interest in international affairs. Magically, Ann Dunham goes from peeking her shy 17-year-old head out of Mercer Island, Washington (“a young virgin,” writes Janny Scott), to intimacy with a very foreign person, and a few years later with another, and then to work in one of the Cold War’s key battlegrounds. Meanwhile her mother, about whose professional activities the book says nothing, becomes a bank executive. Did Ann speak any foreign language? Had the Dunhams ever taken any trips abroad? The book does not say. A Singular Woman gives the impression that Ann’s Indonesian husband, Lolo Soetoro, was just a geographer drafted into the army, a minor, unwitting part of the bloody campaign that wrested Indonesia from the Communists; and that Ann’s work in that country was anthropological-humanitarian, as if for her U.S. policy were irrelevant. It certainly was not for her employers—the U.S. government and contractors thereof.
Self-styled investigative journalist Wayne Madsen reports that Madelyn Dunham, the mother of Barack’s mother, Ann Dunham, who became vice president of the Bank of Hawaii soon after her arrival there, was in charge of escrow accounts. Madsen’s credibility is certainly checkered. But if he is correct about which department she headed, Madelyn Dunham must have supervised the accounts that the U.S. government used to funnel money to its “gray” and “black” activities throughout Asia. Among the conduits of the CIA money through these accounts to secret CIA proprietaries was a company—Bishop, Baldwin, Rewald, Dillingham & Wong—some of whose officers were serving CIA officers. This is a company whose 1983 IRS audit the CIA stopped. Vice President Madelyn Dunham, in charge of these very matters and hence necessarily “witting” (as they say at Langley), would have had to be more than a small cog in the machine. People do not rise to such stations from one day to the next. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: December 4, 2014 Filed under: China, Economics, Global | Tags: China, CNN, Economy of the United States, G-20 major economies, Gross domestic product, International Monetary Fund, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, United States, World economy
Brett Arends reports:
…There’s no easy way to say this, so I’ll just say it: We’re no longer No. 1. Today, we’re No. 2. Yes, it’s official. The Chinese economy just overtook the United States economy to become the largest in the world. For the first time since Ulysses S. Grant was president, America is not the leading economic power on the planet.
It just happened — and almost nobody noticed.
The International Monetary Fund recently released the latest numbers for the world economy. And when you measure national economic output in “real” terms of goods and services, China will this year produce $17.6 trillion — compared with $17.4 trillion for the U.S.A.
“Make no mistake. This is a geopolitical earthquake with a high reading on the Richter scale.”
As recently as 2000, we produced nearly three times as much as the Chinese.
To put the numbers slightly differently, China now accounts for 16.5% of the global economy when measured in real purchasing-power terms, compared with 16.3% for the U.S.
[Also see: For the first time since Ulysses S. Grant was president, USA not leading economic power on planet… AMERCA’S BIRTH RATE AT ALL-TIME LOW…]
This latest economic earthquake follows the development last year when China surpassed the U.S. for the first time in terms of global trade. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: June 25, 2014 Filed under: Economics, U.S. News | Tags: Consumer spending, Economy of the United States, Goods and services, Gross domestic product, Recession, United States Department of Commerce, Wall Street Journal, World War II
For WSJ, Jonathon House reports: Weather disruptions at home and weak demand abroad caused a contraction of rare severity in the U.S. economy in the first quarter, renewing doubts about the strength of the nation’s five-year-old recovery.
Gross domestic product, the broadest measure of goods and services produced across the economy, fell at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.9% in the first quarter, the Commerce Department said in its third reading of the data Wednesday.
That was a sharp downward revision from the previous estimate that output fell at an annual rate of 1%. It also represented the fastest rate of decline since the recession, and was the largest drop recorded since the end of World War II that wasn’t part of a recession. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: May 15, 2014 Filed under: Economics, Think Tank, U.S. News | Tags: Brookings Institution, Business, Census Bureau, Economy of the United States, FiveThirtyEight, Mark Zuckerberg, Startup company, United States Census Bureau
For FiveThirtyEight, Ben Casselman writes: Mark Zuckerberg was a billionaire before age 30 and investors are fretting over the prospect of an another tech bubble, but according to the data, U.S. entrepreneurship is on the decline.
“Business dynamism is inherently disruptive, but it is also critical to long-run economic growth.”
Americans started 27 percent fewer businesses in 2011 than they did five years earlier, according to data from the Census Bureau. As a share of all companies, startups have been declining for more than 30 years.
It isn’t clear what’s causing that decline, which accelerated during the recession but long predates it. The aging of the baby boom generation may be part of the explanation, since people are more likely to start businesses when they are younger. The U.S. economy is also increasingly dominated by large corporations, suggesting deeper structural changes working against small companies. People have pointed to other explanations, from increasing licensure requirements in many industries to high corporate tax rates to a broader decline in innovation and productivity growth.
Whatever the reason, the decline has economists worried. New businesses are akey driver of job growth, responsible for more than 15 percent of new job creation despite accounting for just 2 percent of total employment. And they play a vital role in promoting innovation and productivity gains across the economy. In a recent report from the Brookings Institution, Ian Hathaway and Robert Litan wrote that the decline in entrepreneurship “points to a U.S. economy that has steadily become less dynamic over time.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 30, 2014 Filed under: Economics, U.S. News | Tags: Business, Economic growth, Economy of the United States, Great Recession, Gross domestic product, Job Growth, United States Department of Commerce
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy slowed drastically in the first three months of the year as a harsh winter exacted a toll on business activity. The sharp slowdown, while worse than expected, is likely to be temporary as growth rebounds with warmer weather.
The economy’s growth slowed to a barely discernible 0.1 percent annual rate in the January-March quarter, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That was the weakest pace since the end of 2012 and was down from a 2.6 percent growth rate in the October-December quarter.
Consumer spending grew at a 3 percent rate. But that gain was dominated by a 4.4 percent rise in spending on services, reflecting higher utility bills. Spending on goods barely rose. Also dampening growth were a drop in business investment, a rise in the trade deficit and a fall in housing construction.
The scant 0.1 percent increase in the gross domestic product, the country’s total output of goods and services, was well below the 1.1 percent rise economists had been predicting. The last time the quarterly growth rate was so slow was in the final three months of 2012, when it was also 0.1 percent. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: October 8, 2013 Filed under: Asia, China, Economics | Tags: Beijing, China, China Investment Promotion Agency, Economy of the United States, John Boehner, Standard & Poor, United States, United States federal government
China understandably concerned about their $1.3tn of investments
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhu Guangyao watches in helpless horror as U.S. budget talks burst into flames
China, the biggest foreign creditor of the United States, has waded into the American budget crisis, warning Congress that it must resolve the political impasse over the debt ceiling without further delay.
The Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, Zhu Guangyao, told America’s deadlocked politicians on Monday that “the clock is ticking” and called on them to approve an extension of the national borrowing limit before the federal government is projected to run out of cash on 17 October.
“We ask that the United States earnestly takes steps to resolve in a timely way the political issues around the debt ceiling and prevent a US debt default to ensure the safety of Chinese investments in the United States,” Mr Zhu told reporters in Beijing. “This is the United States’ responsibility,” he added. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: October 1, 2013 Filed under: Mediasphere, Politics, U.S. News, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, Bob Woodward, Economy of the United States, Great Depression, Henry Thomas Rainey, John Boehner, Morning Joe, Obama, Washington Free Beacon, Washington Post
Bob Woodward of The Washington Post said if there is a “downturn or a collapse” resulting from the failure of CR or debt ceiling negotiations it will be on President Obama’s “head” Monday on Morning Joe.
Woodward noted he respected President Obama’s objection to negotiating on the debt ceiling, but criticized the administration for failing to initiate any dialogue that could result in a deal on funding the government.
“It’s on the president’s head, he’s got to lead, he’s got to talk” Woodward said: Read the rest of this entry »