Friday , April 28 2017
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Our economics correspondents consider the fluctuations in the world economy and the policies intended to produce more booms than busts

Free Exchange Economist

Reducing rates for “pass-through” businesses will be tough to justify

THERE are two main reasons for a country to paw around in its tax code: to create more economic growth, or to repair a structural deficit. Any politician who wishes to quietly give money to friends or kill a troublesome programme will supply one of them. He will either say “businesses need tax certainty to grow” (meaning: “certainty that they will like the tax code”), or “we don’t have the money”. So as the Trump administration releases its tax plan on April 26th, there are only two questions...

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America has a retirement problem, not a saving problem

HOUSE Resolution 67, which Donald Trump signed last week, rolls back a rule that the Labor Department finalised late last year, which would have made it easier for cities and counties to run retirement savings plans for citizens who couldn’t get them through work. It is an odd choice for Republicans to kill plans that would encourage private, voluntary, tax-deferred saving, which they tend to approve of. But a trade group for investment funds opposes the city-run retirement plans. The...

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Podcast: The robot era is dawning

As robots grow more nimble, humans look increasingly vulnerable. Are the machines poised to take over? Also: now that Article 50 has been triggered, is Ireland's economy set to be damaged by Brexit? And despite Japan's workforce growing by more than two million, wage gains aren't enough to hit an inflation target of 2%. Why is this?

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Should America break up Washington?

CONCERNS about regional inequality and frustration with elites are contributing to interest in an intriguing idea: reining in the economic and political power of Washington by dispersing government agencies more widely. Tyler Cowen muses on the subject here. Matthew Yglesias makes the case for such a policy here. Ross Douthat makes a somewhat different but related argument here. So: is this a good idea? It certainly isn't a terrible idea, but the more you dig into the matter the less it looks...

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Democrats should be more comfortable discussing economic growth

STEVE BANNON is right. This week, in a New York Times Magazine piece otherwise dedicated to the President’s dance with Congress, he offered this: I think the Democrats are fundamentally afflicted with the inability to discuss and have an adult conversation about economics and jobs, because they’re too consumed by identity politics. And then the Republicans, it’s all this theoretical Cato Institute, Austrian economics, limited government—which just doesn’t have any depth to it. They’re not...

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Podcast: Luxury for the masses?

The Chinese middle class led a boom in demand for luxury goods. But a government crackdown made consumers wary about showing off their wealth. How has China’s new modesty affected the luxury business as a whole? Also: India’s power sector has until now been dependent on using dirty coal but things are changing.

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