Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Sustainability of US External Imbalances

If you want to see a bleakly pessimistic picture painted of the sustainability of the US’s current account deficit, take a look at this paper by Nouriel Roubini and Brad Setser. They argue that, within a very few years, the US’s net international debt will be too large for the deficits to continue, and that […]

Not All News is Bad News

A number of people I’ve talked to lately are fairly pessimistic about Kerry’s chances, which is probably due to the recent swath of polls showing Bush with either an implausibly large lead (12+ points) or a modest but consistent lead (3-5 points). So I thought I’d share some of the good news that’s out there. […]

Bush’s Agenda for America: Chapter One

Each Tuesday until the election, I will try to review one of the five chapters in the Bush-Cheney Agenda for America. Today’s review is directed at Chapter 1’s Creating Opportunity for America’s Workers, which has as its highlights: • Reforming America’s High Schools: President Bush will provide $250 million annually to extend state assessment of […]

Oil Prices

The price of oil is hovering around $50/barrel today, a new record in nominal terms. The chart below shows the spot price of oil over the past few years. Source: EIA. Yes, it’s true that oil prices were higher in the early 1980s in real terms. Yes, the oil shocks of the 1970s were about […]

Don’t Worry About Consequences!

I just received my absentee ballot. It contains a couple of state-wide referendum questions. Here is the entire text of one of them: “Do you want to limit property taxes to 1% of the assessed value of property?” YES or NO Q: What’s wrong with the way this referendum question is posed? A: See AB’s […]

"Tax Relief"

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that “tax relief” is now NPR’s — at least, Morning Edition’s — official phrase? I’ve heard them use “tax relief” many times over the last week, but I can’t recall any instances of “tax cuts” or “tax reductions,” much less “tax shifts.” AB

Middle Class Income: Pandagon v. Bartlett

Pandagon’s Don’t Pay Attention To Your Wallet…It’s Being Silly takes on this Bruce Bartlett oped by noting: The gist of it is that the middle class is only shrinking because it’s getting richer. Bartlett presents a variety of statistics, which might be persuasive but for one niggling problem. Real income is going down. Everything Bartlett […]

More Tolls, Less Gridlock

I spent about 8 hours in the airport today, reading the Sunday NY Times from cover to cover, and I can report that the best article in it is John Tierney’s “The Autonomist Manifesto.” It’s a wide-ranging article making the case for sprawl and cars. Particularly interesting was his description of “HOT lanes,” high-occupancy toll […]

Ragout on Softwood Lumber Tariffs

My welcome to Chef Ragout extends on his excellent post One Reason Why Houses are So Expensive, which notes: The U.S. imports about a third of its lumber from Canada and imposes a 27% tariff, arguing that Canada subsidizes its lumber industry by selling trees from government owned land too cheaply. The tariffs were imposed […]

Good News!

As you may recall, the Chef from Ragout did a great job filling in here a while back. So I invited him to be a regular contributor here, and he agreed. He’ll be posting regularly on Sunday night/Monday morning, and perhaps other times as the mood strikes him. For those keeping track, that’s me, Kash, […]