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Tag Archives: United States Economy

Wonking Out: What Inflation Risks and My Intermittent Fasting Have in Common

Like many people, I put on some pounds during the pandemic. Not catastrophic — I kept working out, and I think my cardio fitness has held up. But I was doing a lot less walking than normal, and also, in retrospect, engaged in too much comfort eating. So now I’m doing what has worked for me in the past: going hungry, with restricted calories, two or three days a week. This is not proselytizing — the best diet is the one you can actually keep to, and I just happen to have a personality more...

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How Big Spending Got Its Groove Back

The way it was: Some years ago I attended a meeting in which President Barack Obama asked a group of economists for unconventional policy ideas. I distinctly remember him saying: “Don’t tell me that I should spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure. I know that, but I can’t do it.”The way it is: Top Democrats have agreed on a proposal to spend $3.5 trillion on public investment of various kinds, to be passed via reconciliation on top of a $600 billion bipartisan plan for physical...

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The Trumpian Roots of the Chip Crisis

What’s the current state of the U.S. economy? A quick summary might be “booming with bottlenecks.”And some of those bottlenecks reflect the mess created by Donald Trump’s trade policy.Where we are now: Employment is growing at a rate we haven’t seen since 1984. So, probably, is gross domestic product, although we don’t yet have an official estimate for the second quarter. We are, however, suffering from shortages of many items, which are crimping production in some areas and leading to sharp...

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It’s Morning in Joe Biden’s America

Last Tuesday President Biden’s Council of Economic Advisers published a blog post warning everyone not to make too much of any one month’s employment report. It presumably released this in advance of Friday’s report to fend off possible accusations that it was just trying to make excuses for a weak number. As it happened, however, the report came in strong: The economy added an impressive 850,000 jobs. The job gain was especially impressive given widespread claims that businesses couldn’t...

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Wonking Out: Alexander Hamilton and Post-Covid America

In the spring of 2020, the U.S. economy went into what I described at the time as a “medically induced coma”: We shut down much of the economy in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus. This was, in retrospect, a wise policy that should have been followed much more thoroughly. After all, by slowing the spread of the virus, we didn’t just avoid overwhelming the health care system; we also bought time for the development and dissemination of vaccines, so that tens of millions of...

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What Utica Could Teach New York City

Last week I took advantage of the fading pandemic to take a bike tour in the Finger Lakes region, making a detour on the way to visit the old industrial city of Utica, N.Y. — which is where I lived until I was 8 years old. I found the street we used to live on, although to be honest I couldn’t remember which house was ours. But perhaps that’s not all that surprising: The neighborhood has changed since 1961, having become home to many Bosnian refugees in the 1990s. And whereas my mother used...

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Economics in a Post-Truth Nation

If a tree falls in a forest but nobody is there to hear it, did it make a sound? If we have a rapidly expanding economy but much of the electorate refuses to acknowledge it, is the country experiencing a boom? Despite some growing pains, the U.S. economy is clearly on a vaccine-and-stimulus-fueled tear, with just about every measure indicating rapid recovery from the pandemic slump.Yes, supply bottlenecks have caused some inflation, although recent data seems to validate the view that this...

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The Week Inflation Panic Died

Remember when everyone was panicking about inflation, warning ominously about 1970s-type stagflation? OK, many people are still saying such things, some because that’s what they always say, some because that’s what they say when there’s a Democratic president, some because they’re extrapolating from the big price increases that took place in the first five months of this year. But for those paying closer attention to the flow of new information, inflation panic is, you know, so last...

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Wonking Out: Economic Nationalism, Biden-Style

If you’re under 50, you probably don’t remember when Japan was going to take over the world. But in the late 1980s and early 1990s, many people were obsessed with Japan’s economic success and feared American decline. The supposedly nonfiction sections of airport bookstores were filled with volumes featuring samurai warriors on their covers, promising to teach you the secrets of Japanese management. Michael Crichton had a best-selling novel, “Rising Sun,” about the looming threat of Japanese...

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Krugman Wonks Out: Do Hiring Headaches Imply a Labor Shortage?

This article is a wonky edition of Paul Krugman’s free newsletter. You can sign up here to receive it. Don’t pay too much attention to today’s jobs report; it came in slightly below expectations, but given the noisiness of the data (and the extent to which the numbers are often revised), it told us very little that we didn’t already know.The truth is that two things are clear about the U.S. economy right now. It’s growing very fast, and adding jobs at a rapid clip; but the pace of job...

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