Donald Trump is right—the United States is not in a trade war with China.At least, not yet. As the rhetoric has flown back and forth between Washington and Beijing, breathless news coverage has made it seem as though the war of tariffs has already begun. It has not—hardly any new duties have been levied.
So it happened. After months of speculation about whether and when Gary Cohn might resign, he finally did. The former prince of Goldman Sachs—and the unofficial leader of the free-traders, internationalists and Wall Streeters at the White House
Judging from their flurry of op-eds and tweets denouncing, dismissing or analyzing President Trump’s new National Security Strategy, America’s foreign policy mandarins would have you believe that the document is either dangerous, irrelevant or both. It is neither.
It’s fashionable these days to compare our present to the Gilded Age: rising inequality, labor struggling while capital thrives, an astonishingly wealthy and concentrated elite appearing to amass an inordinate amount of power. But a stark difference between our era and the last decades of the 19th century is the nature of the American presidency.
In 1973, the late, great historian Arthur Schlesinger published The Imperial Presidency, charting the post-World War II expansion of presidential power and warning that the office had dangerously diverged from the parameters established by the Constitution and subsequent precedent.
Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accords is widely attributed to the now-waxing influence of the America First nationalists in the White House, but several days before that announcement, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn
Every few years, Washington rouses itself from its partisan noise and rounds its attention on the Congressional Budget Office, a sleepy, nonpartisan place that quietly wields immense influence over most legislation of any consequence.
Just weeks into Donald Trump’s presidency, you would think that everything had changed. The uproar over the president’s tweets grows louder by the day, as does concern over the erratic, haphazard and aggressive stance of the White House toward critics and those with different policy views. It is the illusion of a presidency, not the real thing.
Of the many polarizations of the United States today, the battle over regulation is particularly fierce and many years in the making. Over the past decades, since at least the presidency of Ronald Reagan, the right and the Republican Party have come to view regulation as the premier sign of government overreach, stifling freedoms and hobbling economic growth. The left and the Democrats for the most part see regulation as the vital bulwark protecting the mass of Americans from corporate and government abuse.
Donald Trump ran his company and campaign, as many have observed, like an episode of “Game of Thrones”: Pit various factions against one another and see who comes out on top. It may be an inelegant and crude way to manage, but it has a certain logic if you are interested in power and who can wield it effectively.
He sees it as zero-sum. She believes all boats rise together. Hillary is right, but a lot of people are buying into Trump’s vision.
It is a relief that Donald Trump has finally turned to policy. Because now we can see, finally, that his policy ideas are as frothy, bombastic and detached from the world as the rest of his rhetoric. What the GOP candidate outlined in his big economic speech in Detroit on Monday relies entirely on an outdated theory (trickle-down economics)
“Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?” Those cutting words, delivered on national television, effectively ended the career of Senator Joe McCarthy. For four years, McCarthy had enjoyed a kind of immunity as he smeared anyone he pleased while on a national witch hunt for Communist sympathizers.
Not only hasn’t he retracted his pledge to ban Muslims from America’s shores, Donald Trump has doubled down on it over the past week. In the wake of the Orlando shootings, Trump announced that as president he would “suspend immigration from areas of the world where there is a proven history of terrorism against the U.S.”
Republicans have come to view Barack Obama not just as an ideological enemy but as a “dictator” — a president who has unconstitutionally abused his executive power with an array of unilateral actions.
This is not the 1960s. There is no war to fight; Sanders is not George McGovern. Hippies have become aging boomers, the parents and grandparents of today’s youth. The question is why an aging, rumpled socialist from earthy-crunchy Vermont is so popular right now.
The “nattering nabobs of negativism” (a phrase we have to thank Spiro Agnew for, via William Safire) are out in full force again in the financial and pundit world. While there was only occasional mention of the economy during the Republican debate last week, both the GOP contenders and market mavens seem to agree that the world is going to hell. They have different reasons: The Republicans think the world has become dangerously unstable and that Obama is a cause. Investors, who have pushed global financial markets sharply lower (the S&P 500 is now down almost 10 percent since January 1) to the worst start to a year ever, see the root cause as heedless central banks, a U.S. economy grinding to a halt, and a collapsing debt-laden China.
The view of Washington as a dysfunctional system is deeply entrenched—and of course it’s the most popular meme on the GOP campaign trail. “Nothing works in our country,” Donald Trump said again at Tuesday night’s debate, repeating his favorite (and seemingly most effective) appeal to a base that’s disgusted with politics as usual. Yet the past week has been a blow to cynics everywhere, because lo and behold, Congress, the White House, and the Federal Reserve all acted on vital economic policy and did so with minimal drama.
The American economy suffers from a split personality, and Donald Trump appears to be the chief beneficiary of this illness. A study just released by Pew shows that for the first time in decades, the middle class is no longer in the majority in the United States. Instead, the upper and lower classes are. Now the middle class—defined as people earning between two-thirds and twice the median income (from $42,000 to $126,000 a year)—constitute just under 50 percent of the earning populace. Twenty-nine percent are in the lower brackets, and 21 percent in the upper.
Donald Trump turned his rhetorical bazooka on Janet Yellen this week, accusing the Fed chair of being “highly political” and merely doing President Barack Obama’s bidding by declining to raise interest rates. In this as in so many things he says, Trump was issuing wisdom from his rear end, but the GOP candidate from clowntown did serve one useful purpose. He prompted us to ask yet again: What is Janet Yellen’s game?
Ben Bernanke’s new memoir, The Courage to Act, is neither easy nor scintillating reading. But clunky and dry as it is, the 600-page tome serves as a provocative reminder that not all high officials in our largely dysfunctional government are motivated by partisanship or the desire to protect bureaucratic turf. It offers proof that Bernanke and the Fed were the grown-ups in the room during a period of crises unprecedented since the Great Depression, regardless of whether you believe they have conducted themselves brilliantly or poorly.
There is only one question to ask on this manic Monday: Is the global market turmoil that has now spread to Wall Street a summer squall—a painful but ultimately transitory surge in volatility—or is it the first crack in a shaky global edifice that is about to crumble?
Hillary Clinton doesn’t want to win over just the middle class. She wants to win over business elites as well. And in this tightening labor market, with business worried about losing workers to the growing demand for higher wages, there’s ample evidence that what she has started to advocate is increasingly aligned with what many businesses are beginning to do.
Over the past month, as Greece has occupied headlines, China has been rocked by a crashing stock market. The oscillations appear far from over, with the Shanghai exchange up 6 percent on Wednesday, having plummeted more than 30 percent in the weeks before, which still leaves the index up about 80 percent over the past 52 weeks. That amounts to trillions of dollars gained and then lost in a very short time.
The Greek vote is important for the economic future of Greece. And it may damage the economies of Greece’s European neighbors. But Greece is an economic minnow that becomes larger only due to symbolism and collective bad decisions in the Eurozone.
It was a grim weekend in Greece, and it’s likely to be an even grimmer week ahead, both for the Greeks and the European (and possibly world) economy. What wouldnormally be the beginning of the profitable tourist season—a summer idyll in the lovely Greek islands and crowds piling into the Parthenon—has turned into the next chapter of the slow-motion economic train wreck that the world has been witnessing queasily since 2011. Now the wreck is finally here, and the only real question—the one none of us can really answer—is whether it will be modest or huge.
It’s our national mantra: GDP. Gross Domestic Product. No other figure rules our world more completely. We saw it again this week when the government released its latest revision of the first-quarter GDP numbers that showed the U.S. economy is contracting slightly. The only thing that’s now growing, it seems, is the fretting of pundits and economists over the new numbers. Their common cry: How do we get things moving again?
I hate to say it, but Vladimir Putin might be right. America says it no longer wants to be the world’s policeman. So why, as Putin complained, is the U.S. now acting like the world’s prosecutor?
When is everyone going to realize this train left the station a long time ago?
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