Why Indie Bookstores Are on the Rise Again

The recent news of the opening of an independent bookstore on Manhattan’s Upper West Side was greeted with surprise and delight, since a neighborhood once flush with such stores had become a retail book desert. The opening coincides with the relocation of the Bank Street Bookstore near Columbia University, leading the New York Times to declare, “Print is not dead yet — at least not on the Upper West Side.”

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The Fed Is Not As Powerful As We Think

This past week marked the annual gathering of bankers, financial officials, and other economic experts hosted by the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. On Friday, Fed Chair Janet Yellen and European Central Bank head Mario Draghi both spoke; in a slow week for the markets, these speeches received the bulk of the econ media’s attention, and Yellen’s remarks were heralded for days as the week’s major financial event.

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Punitive Damages

ast week Citigroup finally reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over shoddy mortgage securities transactions in the years immediately before the 2008–2009 financial crisis. The bank agreed to pay $7 billion. That follows a $13 billion settlement paid last year by JPMorgan Chase & Co., and comes just as Bank of America is negotiating a settlement with the Justice Department sure to top $12 billion.

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Don’t Kill the Export-Import Bank

ashington politics may be considerably calmer than in recent summers (remember the crisis and credit downgrade of 2011?). But there remain simmering tensions looking only for an appropriate outlet. Over the past few weeks, the normally quiet Export-Import Bank, whose existence is likely a mystery to the vast majority of citizens, has become that outlet.

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In the Context of No Context

Twenty-five years ago, China made a choice. Rather than embrace the demands for greater political openness emanating from the students and protesters camped in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, the leadership of the Communist Party decided to crush the protests with lethal force on June 4, 1989, leading to hundreds and perhaps thousands of deaths.

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Junk Bonds Are Back!

Interest rates have been falling once again. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury, which acts as a global benchmark of sorts, dipped as low as 2.44 percent last week, which is well below where rates began the year—and lower than at most points throughout the 20th century and into the first decade of the 21st.* At no point between 1961 and 2011 were rates as low as they are now, and for most of that time, the yield on the 10-year was above 6 percent.

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Deflating Expectations

n a Reuters poll out this week, most economists say they are expecting more robust inflation this year, to the tune of 2 percent. The poll accurately reflects the plethora of emails from research firms in my inbox—a slowly building chorus predicting rising prices along with an uptick in overall economic activity.

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Airbnb Will Hand Over “Anonymized” Records to New York Attorney General

Airbnb and the New York Attorney General's Office announced Wednesday that they had reached an agreement on a months-long conflict over Airbnb hosts in the state. Under the terms of the agreement, Airbnb will hand over "anonymized" data stripped of names, email addresses, apartment numbers, and other personally identifiable information. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will have a year to weed out hosts in violation of local laws and can require Airbnb to disclose the identities of those with suspicious activity.

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