Jul 182012
 
How low can rates go?

Interest rates on U.S. Treasury notes with a maturity of 10 years fell last month to nearly the lowest since World War II. They may go lower still. Today’s low rates reflect both the weak outlook for most advanced economies and a desperate scramble globally for safe places to park [continue reading . . . ]






Jul 062012
 

Don’t miss today’s Heard on the Street item in the Wall Street Journal headlined “Central Banks Tilt at Global Windmills.” The item, by Richard Barley, notes that “the People’s Bank of China, the European Central Bank and the National Bank of Denmark all cut rates Thursday, and the Bank of [continue reading . . . ]






Jun 182012
 

The economic headlines are grim almost everywhere you look. An item on Page 1 of today’s Financial Times sums things up succinctly: Growth in the US is slowing, much of Europe is in recession, China’s growth outlook has weakened, the reform processes in India have stalled and other large emerging [continue reading . . . ]






Jun 052012
 

Martin Wolf, much-honored chief economics commentator of the Financial Times, has been my beacon during the financial crisis. So it is especially discouraging to read his June 6, 2012, column, headlined “Panic has become all too rational”. Wolf argues that the advanced economies are caught in a “contained depression,” that [continue reading . . . ]






May 302012
 

Uh, oh. That’s what I find myself muttering these days when I fire up the news browser or open my morning papers. The economic news leaves me with a sense of dread. I find three developments especially worrisome: 1. Europe’s slow-motion economic crisis, now more than three years old, rumbles [continue reading . . . ]






May 162012
 

Are America’s best days in the rear-view mirror? The Economist‘s Lexington columnist reminds us (May 12, 2012, print edition) that bouts of what it labels “declinism” are, well, almost as American as apple pie. It wasn’t so long ago that Japan was buying up iconic U.S. real estate (New York [continue reading . . . ]






Apr 112012
 

“For Big Companies, Life is Good.” That was the headline on the Marketplace Section front page of the Wall Street Journal April 9. The item reported that sales, profits and employment of the largest American companies, the Standard and Poor’s 500, last year exceeded the highs reached before the Great [continue reading . . . ]






Mar 222012
 

With 30 years of service, most employees of Washington state can retire with full defined-benefit pension benefits at age 62. Given today’s life expectancies and low investment returns, this places an enormous burden on taxpayers, most of whom don’t have the luxury of defined-benefit plans. Republicans in the Washington State [continue reading . . . ]






Sep 112011
 
Ponzi scheme?

Is Social Security a Ponzi scheme, as Texas Gov. and GOP presidential candidate Rick Perry labeled it during the GOP candidates’ debate Sept. 7? The answer is “No.” Charles Ponzi gave money collected from early suckers attracted by phony promises of high returns to new suckers after taking a cut. [continue reading . . . ]