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GOP’s best bargaining tactic: raise debt ceiling

October 8, 2013

Using the imminent default deadline to force the White House to a compromise on the government shutdown isn’t working. Removing it from the table would show that Republicans can be reasonable – and allow the funding debate to rage without roiling global financial markets.

Billionaire offers YouTube clue to U.S. torpor

September 25, 2013

Ray Dalio has taken to video to argue that Uncle Sam is stuck in a deleveraging recession, occurring on a 70 to 80 year cycle. Fed policy largesse, meanwhile, keeps prices stable as debt declines. The Bridgewater founder’s hedge fund success makes it an idea worth spreading.

Fracking may change U.S. foreign policy for good

August 29, 2013

The abundant supply of hydrocarbons made accessible by hydraulic fracturing has brought America much closer to energy independence and created a buffer for the global oil price. The shift gives Uncle Sam new latitude in handling problems in Syria and throughout the Middle East.

Whatever happened to the inflation “Weimarists”?

April 12, 2013

When the U.S. Fed began its massive stimulus campaign, critics invoked Germanic history and wheelbarrows full of cash. Four years on, only the most stubborn hawks still fear hyperinflation. Consistently low price growth has made Ben Bernanke’s easing look safe, if his exit works.

U.S. auto sales put brakes on economy’s detractors

April 3, 2013

Americans are buying more cars. Cheap loans and pent-up demand are factors. But so is the housing recovery. That and other economic data suggest consumers are looking beyond slimmer paychecks. Federal spending cuts allowing, that means the U.S. engine may be about to purr.

Surprisingly weak U.S. GDP has silver linings

January 30, 2013

A 0.1 pct Q4 fall defied expectations of a rise. Even so, less government spending accounted for much of the contraction while private consumption and income improved. Shrunken inventories, probably linked to the fiscal fears, also should reverse. There’s little cause for alarm.

U.S. doesn’t need Washington for economic stimulus

December 27, 2012

President Obama’s planned one-time jolt has been stymied. But a divisive corner of the energy industry has many hallmarks of a boost to the nation’s wallets. Shale oil and gas production pumped $140 bln into 2012’s economy. It won’t cure America’s ills, but it can ease the pain.

Review: Every monetary system needs a Paul Volcker

December 14, 2012

William Silber’s biography praises the man whose determination and integrity overcame U.S. inflation with monetary policies the opposite of today’s, against opposition from politicians and economists. Yet once his work was done, policy slid back and his abilities were wasted.

Percentage-mania builds confidence in 50-50 world

September 24, 2012

Romney’s 14.1 percent tax rate is the latest headline-grabbing hard number. It follows his 47 percent of slackers, Occupy’s unequal 1 percent, and the euro 7 percent yield-cliff, to name a few. The percentage fixation can make the world look clearer, sometimes dangerously so.

Obama job adds match Bush, Clinton but not Reagan

September 7, 2012

Thirty months after the U.S. nadir, employment is a bit over 3 pct higher. That’s in line with the post-recession record of the last 2-1/2 presidents - but far short of Reagan’s 10 pct. The August picture was also mixed: both presidential hopefuls, and the Fed, get talking points.