Wednesday , December 11 2019
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Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman

Paul Robin Krugman (born February 28, 1953) is an American economist, Distinguished Professor of Economics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and an op-ed columnist for The New York Times. In 2008, Krugman won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his contributions to New Trade Theory and New Economic Geography.

Articles by Paul Krugman

Is It Possible Trump Is on the Right Track With China?

4 days ago

“Trump’s trade war is losing, not gaining, support,” Paul Krugman wrote this week in his column “Why Is Trump a Tariff Man?” So why does the president avoid making the deals that might end this perpetual state of economic uncertainty? In a word, freedom. “Tariffs let him exercise unconstrained power, rewarding his friends and punishing his enemies,” Krugman continued.Readers had questions: Other than tariffs, how could the United States encourage other countries to adopt better trade practices? What’s the effect on foreign policy relations? Could electing a new administration reverse damage?Any silver lining is a long way off, according to Krugman. “To really get back on track, we’d need a defeat — not just of Trump but also of Trumpism, which would take multiple elections,” he wrote in

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Why Is Trump a Tariff Man?

6 days ago

Almost exactly one year has passed since Donald Trump declared, “I am a Tariff Man.” Uncharacteristically, he was telling the truth.At this point I’ve lost count of how many times markets have rallied in the belief that Trump was winding down his trade war, only to face announcements that a much-anticipated deal wasn’t happening or that tariffs were being slapped on a new set of products or countries. Over the past week it happened again: Markets bet on an outbreak of trade peace between the U.S. and China, only to get body slammed by Trump’s declaration that there might be no deal before the election and by his new tariffs on Brazil and Argentina.So Trump really is a Tariff Man. But why? After all, the results of his trade war have been consistently bad, both economically and

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America’s Red State Death Trip

9 days ago

“E pluribus unum” — out of many, one — is one of America’s traditional mottos. And you might think it would be reflected in reality. We aren’t, after all, just united politically. We share a common language; the unrestricted movement of goods, services and people is guaranteed by the Constitution. Shouldn’t this lead to convergence in the way we live and think?In fact, however, the past few decades have been marked by growing divergence among regions along several dimensions, all closely correlated. In particular, the political divide is also, increasingly, an economic divide. As The Times’s Tom Edsall put it in a recent article, “red and blue voters live in different economies.”What Edsall didn’t point out is that red and blue voters don’t just live differently, they also die

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Why Trump Should Hate Thanksgiving

13 days ago

So the imaginary “war on Christmas” wasn’t enough. Donald Trump and Fox News are now accusing progressives of waging a war on Thanksgiving, too, based on, well, nothing. But do Trump and his band of bigots even understand what Thanksgiving is about? If they did, they would hate this most American of holidays.After all, the Pilgrims were refugees fleeing persecution by the English monarchy, which at the time was still an autocratic regime. They were, in other words, exactly the kind of people Trump and company want to keep out.Furthermore, the traditional portrait of the first Thanksgiving is as a moment of racial tolerance and multiculturalism: European immigrants sharing a feast with Native Americans. That moment didn’t last: Much of New England’s native population was wiped out over the

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Trump Gives U.S. Business the Ukraine Treatment

16 days ago

The story that has emerged in the impeachment hearings is one of extortion and bribery. Donald Trump withheld crucial aid — aid Ukraine needed to defend itself against Russian aggression — and refused to release it unless Ukraine publicly said it was investigating one of his political rivals. Even Republicans understand this; they just think it’s O.K.And remember, the Ukraine scandal made it into the public eye only because a single whistle-blower set an investigation in motion. I know I’m not alone in wondering how many other comparable scandals haven’t come to light.Nor need these scandals involve foreign governments. What I haven’t seen pointed out is that Trump is quietly applying a Ukraine-type extortion-and-bribery strategy to U.S. corporations. Many businesses are being threatened

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Trump and His Corrupt Old Party

20 days ago

Formally, the House of Representatives is holding an inquiry into the question of whether Donald J. Trump should be impeached. In reality, we’ve known the answer to that question for a long time. In a different era, when both parties believed in the Constitution, Trump’s abuse of his position for personal gain would have led to his removal from office long ago.No, what we’re actually witnessing is a test of the depths to which the Republican Party will sink. How much corruption, how much collusion with foreign powers and betrayal of the national interest will that party’s elected representatives stand for?And the result of that test seems increasingly clear: There is no bottom. The inquiry hasn’t found a smoking gun; it has found what amounts to a smoking battery of artillery. Yet almost

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Doing the Health Care Two-Step

23 days ago

Recent state elections — the Democratic landslide in Virginia, followed by Democratic gubernatorial victories in Kentucky and Louisiana — have been bad news for Donald Trump.Among other things, the election results vindicate polls indicating that Trump is historically unpopular. All of these races were in part referendums on Trump, who put a lot of effort into backing his preferred candidates. And in each case voters gave him a clear thumbs down.Beyond offering a verdict on Trump, however, I’d argue that the state elections offered some guidance on an issue that has divided Democrats, namely health care. What the results suggested to me was the virtue of medium-size reform: incremental enough to have a good chance of being enacted, big enough to provide tangible benefits that voters don’t

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Trump and His Party of Pollution

27 days ago

Given what we’ve seen in the impeachment hearings so far, there is literally no crime, no abuse of power, that would induce Republicans to turn on President Trump. So if you’re waiting for some dramatic political turn, don’t hold your breath.On second thought, however, maybe you should hold your breath. For air quality has deteriorated significantly over the past few years — a deterioration that has already cost thousands of American lives. And if Trump remains in power, the air will get much worse, and the death toll rise dramatically, in the years ahead.The story so far: When I talk about air pollution, I don’t mean the greenhouse gases that are driving climate change, which pose a long-term existential threat. I’m talking instead about pollutants that have a much more immediate effect,

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Bursting the Billionaire Bubble

November 11, 2019

Immense wealth isn’t good for your reality sense.Billionaires aren’t necessarily bad people, and most of them probably aren’t. However, some are, and my unscientific sense is that billionaires are more likely than the rest of us to exhibit bad judgment warped by runaway egos, especially in the political sphere.It’s not hard to see why: Great wealth attracts people eager to tell an extremely rich man (or woman, but political egotism is mainly a male thing) what he wants to hear. In the political arena this means telling billionaires both that their lavish financial rewards are a mere fraction of the vast contribution they have made to society, and that the public is clamoring for them to take their rightful role as leaders.Put it this way: These days, many political factions are accused,

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Centrists, Progressives and Europhobia

November 7, 2019

Will the Democratic presidential nomination go to a centrist or a progressive? Which choice would give the party the best chance in next year’s election? Honestly, I have no idea.One thing I can say, however, is that neither centrism nor progressivism is what it used to be.There was a time when arguments between centrists and progressives were framed as debates between realism and idealism. These days, however, it often seems as if the centrists, not the progressives, are out of touch with reality. Indeed, sometimes it feels as if centrists are Rip Van Winkles who spent the last 20 years in a cave and missed everything that has happened to America and the world since the 1990s.You can see this in politics, where Joe Biden has repeatedly declared that Republicans will have an “epiphany”

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Attack of the Wall Street Snowflakes

November 4, 2019

Given all the recent focus on health policy, you might think that the medical-industrial complex would be heavily involved in the Democratic primary race, going all-out to block Elizabeth Warren. And a coalition of drug companies, insurers and hospitals is indeed running ads attacking “Medicare for all.”But the health industry’s political role has been relatively muted so far. Partly this may reflect realism: Even if Warren becomes president, the chances of getting Medicare for all through Congress are small. It may also reflect the surprising openness of doctors to reform. While the American Medical Association still officially opposes single-payer, at a recent meeting, 47 percent of the delegates voted to drop that opposition.No, the really intense backlash against Warren and progressive

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Did Warren Pass the Medicare Test? I Think So

November 1, 2019

Last week I worried that Elizabeth Warren had painted herself into a corner by endorsing the Sanders Medicare-for-all plan. It was becoming obvious that she couldn’t stay vague about the details, especially how to pay for it; and some studies, even by center-left think tanks, suggested that any plan along these lines would require large tax hikes on the middle class. So what would she come up with?Well, the Warren plan is now out. And I’d say that she passed the test. Experts will argue for months whether she’s being too optimistic — whether her cost estimates are too low and her revenue estimates too high, whether we can really do this without middle-class tax hikes. You might say that time will tell, but it probably won’t: Even if Warren becomes president, and Dems take the Senate too,

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Manufacturing Ain’t Great Again. Why?

October 31, 2019

When Donald Trump promised to Make America Great Again, his slogan meant different things to different people. For many supporters it meant restoring the political and social dominance of white people, white men in particular.For others, however, it meant restoring the kind of economy we had a generation or two ago, which offered lots of manly jobs for manly men: farmers, coal miners, manufacturing workers. So it may matter a lot, politically, that Trump has utterly failed to deliver on that front — and that workers are noticing.Now, many of Trump’s economic promises were obvious nonsense. The hollowing out of coal country reflected new technologies, like mountaintop removal, which require few workers, plus competition from other energy sources, especially natural gas but increasingly wind

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Debt, Doomsayers and Double Standards

October 28, 2019

So the federal budget deficit just hit $1 trillion (actually $984 billion, but close enough). That’s about $300 billion more than the Congressional Budget Office was projecting in the summer of 2017, before the Trump tax cut was enacted. And basically everybody yawned.Were there fiery speeches in Congress, denouncing fiscal irresponsibility? No. Was there intense media coverage? No — the story was tucked deep inside major newspapers. Was there severe market reaction? No — interest rates are substantially lower than they were before the deficit surge.This lack of reaction to a deficit that would have been considered shocking only a few years ago is sort of the fiscal policy equivalent of Sherlock Holmes’s dog that didn’t bark in the night. It tells us a lot about economics, politics —

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The Day the Trump Boom Died

October 24, 2019

Last spring Donald Trump and the people around him probably thought they had a relatively clear path to re-election.On one side, it looked as if Trump had weathered the threat of politically fatal scandal. The much-awaited Mueller report on Russian election intervention had landed with a dull thud; the details were damning, but it had basically no political impact.At the same time, Trump was convinced that he could run on the basis of a booming economy. Never mind that his claims to have run up the best economic record in human history were easily refuted; the reality seemed good enough to sell as a big success story.What a difference a few months make.Everyone is following the impeachment story, and I don’t have much to add, except a warning: At every stage of this process, Republicans

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Can Warren Escape the Medicare Trap?

October 21, 2019

On Sunday, Elizabeth Warren said that she would soon release a plan explaining how she intends to pay for “Medicare for all.” Like many policy wonks, I’ll be waiting with bated breath; this could be a make or break moment for her campaign, and possibly for the 2020 election.There are three things you need to know about Medicare for all, which in the current debate has come to mean a pure single-payer health insurance system, in which the government provides all coverage, with no role for private insurers.First, single-payer has a lot to recommend it as a way to achieve universal health care. It’s not the only route — every major advanced country besides the United States achieves universal coverage, but many of them get there via regulations and subsidies rather than by relying solely on

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Democrats, Avoid the Robot Rabbit Hole

October 17, 2019

One of the less discussed parts of Tuesday’s Democratic debate was the exchange that took place over automation and how to deal with it. But it’s worth focusing on that exchange, because it was interesting — by which I mean depressing. CNN’s Erin Burnett, one of the moderators, asked a bad question, and the debaters by and large — with the perhaps surprising exception of Bernie Sanders — gave pretty bad answers.So let me make a plea to the Democrats: Please don’t go down the robot rabbit hole.Burnett declared that a recent study shows that “about a quarter of U.S. jobs could be lost to automation in just the next 10 years.” What the study actually says is less alarming: It finds that a quarter of U.S. jobs will face “high exposure to automation over the next several decades.”But if you

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God Is Now Trump’s Co-Conspirator

October 14, 2019

Listening to the speech William Barr, the attorney general, gave last week at the University of Notre Dame Law School, I found myself thinking of the title of an old movie: “God Is My Co-Pilot.” What I realized is that Donald Trump’s minions have now gone that title one better: If Barr’s speech is any indication, their strategy is to make God their boss’s co-conspirator.Given where we are right now, you might have expected Barr to respond in some way to the events of the past few weeks — the revelation that the president has been calling on foreign regimes to produce dirt on his domestic opponents, the airport arrest of associates of the president’s lawyer as they tried to leave the country on one-way tickets, credible reports that Rudy Giuliani himself is under criminal

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Luckily, Trump Is an Unstable Non-Genius

October 10, 2019

The surprising thing about the constitutional crisis we’re now facing is that it took so long to happen. It was obvious from early on that the president of the United States is a would-be autocrat who accepts no limits on his power and considers criticism a form of treason, and he is backed by a party that has denied the legitimacy of its opposition for many years. Something like this moment was inevitable.What still hangs in the balance is the outcome. And if democracy survives — which is by no means certain — it will largely be thanks to one unpredictable piece of good luck: Donald Trump’s mental deficiency.I don’t mean that Trump is stupid; a stupid man couldn’t have managed to defraud so many people over so many years. Nor do I mean that he’s crazy, although his speeches and tweets

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The Education of Fanatical Centrists

October 7, 2019

It’s hard to believe that barely three weeks have passed since Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, issued a mysterious subpoena to the acting director of national intelligence, demanding that he produce a whistle-blower complaint filed by someone in the intelligence community.Since that subpoena was issued, the impeachment of Donald Trump has gone from implausibility to near certainty; I at least find it hard to see how the House can fail to impeach given what we already know about Trump’s actions. Conviction in the Senate remains a long shot, but not as long as it once seemed.And the whole tenor of our national conversation has changed. It looks to me as if we’re witnessing the rapid collapse of a powerful faction in U.S. public life, one whose refusal to accept

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Here Comes the Trump Slump

October 3, 2019

When he isn’t raving about how the deep state is conspiring against him, Donald Trump loves to boast about the economy, claiming to have achieved unprecedented things. As it happens, none of his claims are true. While both G.D.P. and employment have registered solid growth, the Trump economy simply seems to have continued a long expansion that began under Barack Obama. In fact, someone who looked only at the past 10 years of data would never guess that an election had taken place.But now it’s starting to look as if Trump really will achieve something unique: He may well be the first president of modern times to preside over a slump that can be directly attributed to his own policies, rather than bad luck.There has always been a deep unfairness about the relationship between economics and

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Warren Versus the Petty Plutocrats

September 30, 2019

Remember when pundits used to argue that Elizabeth Warren wasn’t likable enough to be president? It was always a lazy take, with a strong element of sexism. And it looks ridiculous now, watching Warren on the campaign trail. Never mind whether she’s someone you’d like to have a beer with, she’s definitely someone thousands of people want to take selfies with.But there are some people who really, really dislike Warren: the ultrawealthy, especially on Wall Street. They dislike her so much that some longtime Democratic donors are reportedly considering throwing their backing behind Donald Trump, corruption, collusion and all, if Warren is the Democratic presidential nominee.And Warren’s success is a serious possibility, because Warren’s steady rise has made her a real contender, maybe even

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Impeaching Trump Is Good for the Economy

September 26, 2019

If there’s one thing the tweeter in chief believes, it is that what’s good for Donald Trump is good for America. A little over a month ago (although it seems like much longer) he told a rally that “you have no choice but to vote for me,” because his electoral defeat would lead to a market crash.But a funny thing has happened over the course of Trump’s latest terrible, horrible, very bad, no good two weeks. Suddenly, impeachment (though not removal from office) has gone from highly unlikely to highly likely. In fact, given the explosive nature of the now-revealed whistle-blower complaint, I don’t really understand how he can not be impeached.And the financial markets have basically shrugged.On the surface, this may seem strange. After all, whatever the eventual outcome of the surging

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The Winners and Losers of the Latest Trump Scandal

September 24, 2019

This article is part of Paul Krugman’s newsletter. You can sign up here to receive it each weekday.Only 11 days have passed since Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, revealed that the Trump administration was illegally withholding a whistle-blower complaint from Congress. When the news came out, I — probably like most observers — expected it to be another fizzle, yet another clear example of Trump malfeasance that would just fail to catch fire with Congress or the public.And that may yet happen. I presume and hope that pollsters are at work as we speak, trying to gauge public opinion on the scandal. But this time feels different, maybe because it’s so simple and clear cut. The president of the United States and his personal lawyer both admit that they called on a

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Republicans Only Pretend to Be Patriots

September 23, 2019

Republicans have spent the past half-century portraying themselves as more patriotic, more committed to national security than Democrats. Richard Nixon’s victory in 1972, Ronald Reagan’s victory in 1980 and George W. Bush’s victory in 2004 (the only presidential election out of the past seven in which the Republican won the popular vote) all depended in part on posing as the candidate more prepared to confront menacing foreigners.And Barack Obama faced constant, scurrilous accusations of being too deferential to foreign rulers. Remember the “apology tour,” or the assertions that he had bowed to overseas leaders?But now we have a president who really is unpatriotic to the point of betraying American values and interests. We don’t know the full extent of Donald Trump’s malfeasance — we don’t

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Trump Declares War on California

September 19, 2019

I’m on a number of right-wing mailing lists, and I try to at least skim what they’re going on about in any given week; this often gives me advance warning about the next wave of manufactured outrage. Lately I’ve been seeing dire warnings that if Democrats win next year they’ll try to turn America into (cue scary background music) California, which the writers portray as a socialist hellhole.Sure enough, this week Donald Trump effectively declared war on California on two fronts. He’s trying to take away the Golden State’s ability to regulate pollution generated by its 15 million cars, and, more bizarrely, he’s seeking to have the Environmental Protection Agency declare that California’s homeless population constitutes an environmental threat.More about these policy moves in a moment.

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The Roots of Regulation Rage

September 18, 2019

Modern conservatives hate regulation, and the Trump administration has channeled that hatred into policy. It has scrapped or emasculated rules designed to limit everything from predatory lending to exploitative for-profit education, and has moved on multiple fronts to undo environmental protection. Yesterday it took perhaps its most dramatic anti-regulation step so far, announcing that it would try to prevent California from setting strict rules on auto emissions.But what’s behind this hatred of regulation? You might think that it’s all about profits, that corporations want to be free to pollute and rip off their customers because it’s good for the bottom line. In fact, however, the striking thing about many of Donald Trump’s deregulatory moves is that major corporations actually oppose

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Republicans Don’t Believe in Democracy

September 16, 2019

Item: Last week Republicans in the North Carolina House used the occasion of 9/11 to call a surprise vote, passing a budget bill with a supermajority to override the Democratic governor’s veto. They were able to do this only because most Democrats were absent, some of them attending commemorative events; the Democratic leader had advised members that they didn’t need to be present because, he says, he was assured there would be no votes that morning.Item: Also last week, Representative Adam Schiff, the Democratic chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, issued a subpoena to the acting director of national intelligence, who has refused to turn over a whistle-blower complaint that the intelligence community’s inspector general found credible and of “urgent concern.” We don’t know what

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Trump Hits the Panic Button

September 12, 2019

Donald Trump marked the anniversary of 9/11 by repeating several lies about his own actions on that day. But that wasn’t his only concern. He also spent part of the day writing a series of tweets excoriating Federal Reserve officials as “Boneheads” and demanding that they immediately put into effect emergency measures to stimulate the economy — emergency measures that are normally only implemented in the face of a severe crisis.Trump’s diatribe was revealing in two ways. First, it’s now clear that he’s in full-blown panic over the failure of his economic policies to deliver the promised results. Second, he’s clueless about why his policies aren’t working, or about anything else involving economic policy.Before I get to the economics, let’s talk about one indicator of Trump’s cluelessness:

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La muerte acelerada de la democracia estadounidense

September 12, 2019

Las democracias solían colapsar de manera repentina, con tanques que avanzaban ruidosamente hacia el palacio presidencial. En el siglo XXI, empero, el proceso por lo general es más sutil.El autoritarismo está avanzando por todo el mundo, pero su marcha tiende a ser relativamente lenta y gradual, de tal modo que es difícil señalar un solo momento y decir: “Este es el día en el que murió la democracia”. Solo nos levantamos un día y nos damos cuenta de que se ha ido.En el libro de 2018 Cómo mueren las democracias, los politólogos Steven Levitsky y Daniel Ziblatt documentaron cómo se ha desarrollado este proceso en varios países, desde la Rusia de Vladimir Putin hasta la Turquía de Recep Tayyip Erdogan y la Hungría de Viktor Orbán. Poco a poco, se fueron derribando las vallas de contención que

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