August 3, 2011 |
WASHINGTON - The last-minute deal on the debt ceiling prevented a government default, but it does little to avert a perfect storm of economic problems that are pushing the nation toward a new downturn and more financial pain for millions of Americans. Instead of increasing confidence in the future, the agreement, signed Tuesday afternoon by President Obama, seems to have underscored the near paralysis in Washington - and the fact that no substantial new efforts are likely for dealing with unemployment, lagging consumer spending, or a host of other problems dragging the economy down.
August 1, 2011 |
Searching for signs of economic recovery isn't easy, especially after Friday's report on gross domestic product revealed anemic growth so far in 2011. That was especially jarring because several recent analyses showed that the nation's job market did pretty well last year. And even Friday's bleak GDP report showed overall economic growth for 2010 remained stronger than the two previous years, led by a healthy manufacturing sector. Recovery in the job market typically lags growth in the economy.
July 15, 2011 |
WASHINGTON - A mixed slate of reports Thursday showed the economy is still restrained by high gas prices and sluggish hiring. Economists are forecasting a pickup in growth in the second half of the year, but the latest data revealed only faint signs of a turnaround. In one report Thursday, the Commerce Department said retail sales had ticked up only 0.1 percent in June after declining the previous month. Consumers spent more on cars and in big chain stores in June but less on furniture and appliances.
July 10, 2011
Anas Alhajji is chief economist at NGP Energy Capital Management When OPEC members met in Vienna, Austria, recently, the Saudis failed to control the meeting, OPEC's production ceiling remained unchanged, and member countries have since been setting their own output levels. But talk of an OPEC breakup is premature. After all, it has survived major wars, numerous diplomatic disputes, and two major market collapses. In fact, the secret to OPEC's survival is its weakness, not its strength.
July 6, 2011
By Steven Conn It's been 10 years since George W. Bush began cutting taxes, especially for wealthy individuals and large corporations. The bills he signed to do so had names like the "Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act," the "Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act," and the "American Jobs Creation Act. " As the names suggest, these huge tax cuts were supposed to stimulate the economy and create jobs. The theory was that shifting vast sums of money to big corporations and the wealthiest Americans would enable them to invest in new businesses, expand existing ones, and bring greater prosperity to the rest of us. So, 10 years later, it's worth asking: Did it work?
May 27, 2011 |
WASHINGTON - From the United States to Europe and even to booming China, the global economy is showing signs of strain. Most major economies are expected to keep growing, but evidence that many are struggling to expand as fast as they did last year is piling up. In China, interest-rate increases designed to reduce inflation are slowing growth. European governments are struggling with debts and squeezing budgets. Britain's economy scarcely grew at the start of the year. High unemployment, depressed real estate, and still-high oil prices are slowing the U.S. economy, which grew at a scant 1.8 percent annual rate from January through March.
April 29, 2011 |
BEIJING - China's population is aging rapidly, the government said Thursday, though its leaders are refusing to relax strict family planning controls that are part of the cause. The results of a national census conducted late last year show that the proportion of elderly people in the country of 1.34 billion jumped, while that of young people plunged. The census results, announced Thursday, also show that half the population now lives in cities. The census gives a by-the-numbers snapshot of the huge demographic shifts China has undergone in the last decade, as economic reforms raised living standards and pulled more people off farms but also shrank family sizes.
March 20, 2011
"The worst-case scenario of a 2 percent dip in growth hardly qualifies as a 'what-if' stress situation. " - Sony Kapoor, of think tank Re-Define, on "stress tests" by the European Banking Authority (in 2009, the eurozone economy contracted 4.1 percent) "The availability of menthol cigarettes has an adverse impact on public health by increasing the number of smokers with resulting premature death and avoidable mortalities. " - Mark Clanton, chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society, on a Food and Drug Administration advisory report on minty flavoring in cigarettes "The report does not set FDA policy, does not set FDA actions.
August 24, 2010
When Congress returns to work after Labor Day, one priority must be to extend tax cuts for middle-class families earning less than $250,000 per year. The tax cuts approved under President George W. Bush in 2001 are set to expire at the end of this year. Without action by Congress, marginal rates for all taxpayers would increase to the levels prior to 2001. Democrats in Congress and President Obama want to allow the tax cuts to expire only for families with incomes exceeding $250,000 or single filers earning more than $200,000.
August 12, 2010 |
Dramatic changes in the worldwide economic structure raise serious concerns, and much of the public debate and many decision-makers, as the old saying goes, can't seem to see the forest for the trees. The debate is too tightly focused on partisan rhetoric and how current global competition pits nations with differing cost structures, regulatory systems, and financing schemes against each other. We need hard work focused on achievable strategies if we are to thrive under the new realities.