Deficit Man and the 2020 Election

I’ve seen a number of people suggest that the 2020 election will be a sort of test: Can a sufficiently terrible president lose an election despite a good economy? And that is, in fact, the test we’d be running if the election were tomorrow. On one side, Donald Trump wastes no opportunity to remind us […]

Racism Comes Out of the Closet

In 1981 Lee Atwater, the famed Republican political operative, explained to an interviewer how his party had learned to exploit racial antagonism using dog whistles. “You start out in 1954 by saying ‘Nigger, nigger, nigger.’” But by the late 1960s, “that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, ‘forced busing,’ ‘states’ rights,’ and […]

Goldbugs for Trump

Before going to the White House, Donald Trump demanded that the Fed raise interest rates despite high unemployment and low inflation. Now he’s demanding rate cuts, even though the unemployment rate is much lower and inflation at least a bit higher. To be fair, there is a real economic argument for rate cuts as insurance […]

The New Plot Against Obamacare

The Affordable Care Act was an imperfect and incomplete reform. The political compromises needed to get it through Congress created a complex system in which too many people fall through the holes. It was also underfunded, which is why deductibles are often uncomfortably high. And the law has faced sabotage both from G.O.P.-controlled state governments […]

Trump and the Merchants of Detention

Is it cruelty, or is it corruption? That’s a question that comes up whenever we learn about some new, extraordinary abuse by the Trump administration — something that seems to happen just about every week. And the answer, usually, is “both.” For example, why is the administration providing cover for Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, who […]

Trump Is Losing His Trade Wars

Donald Trump’s declaration that “trade wars are good, and easy to win” will surely go down in the history books as a classic utterance — but not in a good way. Instead it will go alongside Dick Cheney’s prediction, on the eve of the Iraq war, that “we will, in fact, be welcomed as liberators.” […]

The Moochers of Middle America

Last week’s debates clearly weakened Joe Biden and increased the odds that a more definitively progressive candidate — probably Kamala Harris or Elizabeth Warren — will win the nomination. And you can hear the wailing from much of the Beltway, the claims that Democrats are moving too far left. So it’s worth parsing those claims. […]

The S Word, the F Word and the Election

What did you think of the bunch of socialists you just saw debating on stage? Wait, you may protest, you didn’t see any socialists up there. And you’d be right. The Democratic Party has clearly moved left in recent years, but none of the presidential candidates are anything close to being actual socialists — no, […]

Self-Inflicted Medical Misery

Over the weekend The Washington Post published a heart-rending description of a pop-up medical clinic in Cleveland, Tenn. — a temporary installation providing free care for two days on a first-come-first-served basis. Hundreds of people showed up many hours before the clinic opened, because rural America is suffering from a severe crisis of health care […]

Notes on Excessive Wealth Disorder

In a couple of days I’m going to be participating in an Economic Policy Institute conference on “excessive wealth disorder” — the problems and dangers created by extreme concentration of income and wealth at the top. I’ve been asked to give a short talk at the beginning of the conference, focusing on the political and […]

The Trumpification of the Federal Reserve

In late 2015 then-candidate Donald Trump accused Janet Yellen, chair of the Federal Reserve, of being part of a political conspiracy. Yellen, he insisted, was keeping interest rates unjustifiably low in an attempt to help Hillary Clinton win the presidency. As it happens, there were very good reasons for the Fed to keep rates low […]

Why Isn’t Trump a Real Populist?

“I love the poorly educated.” So declared Donald Trump back in February 2016, after a decisive win in the Nevada primary. And the poorly educated love him back: Whites without a college degree are pretty much the only group among whom Trump has more than 50 percent approval. But in that case, why has Trump […]

Liberal Wonks, or at Least Elizabeth Warren, Have a Plan for That

Not long ago, political pundits were writing off Elizabeth Warren’s political chances, but recent polling makes her an increasingly plausible contender, and her comeback has been getting her a sudden wave of favorable media coverage. Will she actually be the Democratic nominee? If so, will she win? I have absolutely no idea. Nor does anyone […]

Donald and the Delusion Discount

The events of the past few weeks destroyed whatever credibility Donald Trump may still have had on economic policy. And investors are celebrating. At this point, evidence that Trump tweets are sound and fury signifying nothing is, in effect, good news. Let’s review what happened. First, having gone to great lengths to get a new […]

Heroes of the Great Patriotic Trade War

I’d like to make an important announcement to New York retailers: NEW JERSEY HAS AGREED TO IMMEDIATELY BEGIN BUYING LARGE QUANTITIES OF WHITEFISH SALAD FROM OUR GREAT PATRIOT GOURMET MARKETS. What’s that you say? There was no such agreement? New Jersey doesn’t even have any kind of centralized purchasing mechanism for food products? I say […]

Mar-a-Lago Comes for British Health

Probably everyone who followed Donald Trump’s visit to Britain has a favorite scene of diplomatic debacle. But the moment that probably did the most to poison relations with our oldest ally — and undermine whatever chance there was for the “phenomenal” trade deal Trump claimed to be offering — was Trump’s apparent suggestion that such […]

Trump Makes America Irresponsible Again

Donald Trump’s plan to impose tariffs on Mexican exports unless our neighbor does something — he hasn’t specified what — to stop the flow of asylum-seekers is almost surely illegal: U.S. trade law gives presidents discretion to impose tariffs for a number of reasons, but curbing immigration isn’t one of them. It’s also a clear […]

After Draghi (Wonkish)

Mario Draghi’s term as president of the European Central Bank ends in October. It has been a tumultuous tenure; among other things, he very clearly saved the euro from collapse in 2012-13, which arguably makes him the greatest central banker of modern times. But I come not to celebrate Draghi but to ask about the […]

Trump Tantrums the Dems Out of a Trap

I gotta say, it was very clever of Nancy Pelosi to steal Donald Trump’s strawberries, pushing him over the edge into self-evident lunacy. As everyone knows, Trump stormed out of a meeting on infrastructure, apparently out of uncontrollable rage over Pelosi’s remarks pointing out that the administration’s stonewalling on all fronts, including raw defiance of […]

Killing the Pax Americana

O.K., they weren’t supposed to start the trade war until I got back from vacation. And I really have too many kilometers to cover and hills to climb to weigh in on a regular basis or at great length. But since I’m currently sitting in an outdoor cafe with my coffee and croissant, I thought […]

Trump Is Terrible for Rural America

Economists, reports Politico, are fleeing the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service. Six of them resigned on a single day last month. The reason? They are feeling persecuted for publishing reports that shed an unflattering light on Trump policies. But these reports are just reflecting reality (which has a well-known anti-Trump bias). Rural America is a […]

The Economics of Donald J. Keynes

I made a bad economic call on election night 2016, predicting a Trump recession. But I quickly realized that political dismay had clouded my judgment, and retracted the call three days later. “It’s at least possible,” I wrote on Nov. 11, 2016, “that bigger budget deficits will, if anything, strengthen the economy briefly.” What I […]

The Sabotage Years

Do you remember the great inflation scare of 2010-2011? The U.S. economy remained deeply depressed from the aftereffects of the burst housing bubble and the 2008 financial crisis. Unemployment was still above 9 percent; wage growth had slowed to a crawl, and measures of underlying inflation were well below the Federal Reserve’s targets. So the […]

The Trouble With Joe and Bernie

It’s still very early, but Joe Biden has emerged as the clear front-runner for the Democratic nomination. Bernie Sanders is in second place, although he appears to be fairly far behind, and one poll shows him in a statistical tie with Elizabeth Warren. So what should we think about the men currently leading the field? […]

The Zombie Style in American Politics

Russia didn’t help Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. O.K., it did help him, but the campaign itself wasn’t involved. O.K., the campaign had a lot of Russian contacts and knowingly received information from the Russians, but that was perfectly fine. If you’ve been trying to follow the Republican response to revelations about what happened in 2016, […]

Armpits, White Ghettos and Contempt

“If you live in the Midwest, where else do you want to live besides Chicago? You don’t want to live in Cincinnati or Cleveland or, you know, these armpits of America.” So declared Stephen Moore, the man Donald Trump wants to install on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, during a 2014 event held at […]

Survival of the Wrongest

Evidence has a well-known liberal bias. And that, presumably, is why conservatives prefer “experts” who not only consistently get things wrong, but refuse to admit or learn from their mistakes. There has been a lot of commentary about Stephen Moore, the man Donald Trump wants to put on the Fed’s Board of Governors. It turns […]

The Great Republican Abdication

So all the “fake news” was true. A hostile foreign power intervened in the presidential election, hoping to install Donald Trump in the White House. The Trump campaign was aware of this intervention and welcomed it. And once in power, Trump tried to block any inquiry into what happened. Never mind attempts to spin this […]