Source: Wall Street Journal
News
Aug. 4, 2017

Double-digit inflation in the late 1970s pushed American families into ever-higher tax brackets (there were 15 at the time). This process, called “bracket creep,” drove up taxes almost 50% faster than inflation, enriching the government while impoverishing workers. Thus even though the 1970s were the postwar era’s weakest decade of economic growth up to that point, federal revenue doubled between 1976 and 1981. Inflation averaged 9.7% during the economic malaise of 1977-80, while government revenue grew by an astonishing 14.8% a year, even as economic growth rates fell steadily and turned negative in 1980. . . . The Reagan tax cuts laid the foundation for a quarter-century of strong, noninflationary growth, which, despite three subsequent recessions, averaged 3.4% until the beginning of the Obama administration. And tax revenue was generated by an expanding economy rather than pilfered through bracket creep.

News
Aug. 1, 2017

Major health insurers in some states are seeking increases as high as 30% or more for premiums on 2018 Affordable Care Act plans, according to new federal data that provide the broadest view so far of the turmoil across exchanges as companies try to anticipate Trump administration policies. Big insurers in Idaho, West Virginia, South Carolina, Iowa and Wyoming are seeking to raise premiums by averages close to 30% or more, according to preliminary rate requests published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Insurers face a mid-August deadline for completing their rates. The companies have until late September to sign federal agreements to offer plans in 2018.

News
July 31, 2017

Climate change is often misunderstood as a package deal: If global warming is “real,” both sides of the debate seem to assume, the climate lobby’s policy agenda follows inexorably.

Global warming is not even the obvious top environmental threat. Dirty water, dirty air and insect-borne diseases are a far greater problem today for most people world-wide. Habitat loss and human predation are a far greater problem for most animals. Elephants won’t make it to see a warmer climate. Ask them how they would prefer to spend $1 trillion—subsidizing high-speed trains or a human-free park the size of Montana. 


Climate policy advocates’ apocalyptic vision demands serious analysis, and mushy thinking undermines their case. If carbon emissions pose the greatest threat to humanity, it follows that the costs of nuclear power—waste disposal and the occasional meltdown—might be bearable. It follows that the costs of genetically modified foods and modern pesticides, which can feed us with less land and lower carbon emissions, might be bearable. It follows that if the future of civilization is really at stake, adaptation or geo-engineering should not be unmentionable. And it follows that symbolic, ineffective, political grab-bag policies should be intolerable.

News
July 29, 2017

The U.S. entered the ninth year of economic expansion in steady but unspectacular fashion that shows little sign of abating.

Gross domestic product, a broad measure of goods and services produced in the U.S., expanded at a 2.6% annual rate in the second quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday, a rebound after a tepid start to the year.

The figures repeated a familiar pattern of weak winters followed by a stronger spring and summer, leaving overall growth subdued. “The economy is on cruise control. Unfortunately cruise control is about 2%,” said Diane Swonk, founder of DS Economics.

The U.S. emerged from recession in mid-2009. Since then, GDP growth has averaged 2.1%. In contrast, growth averaged 3.6% during a 10-year span in the 1990s and 4.9% during a nearly nine-year stretch in the 1960s, the only two expansions with longer durations.

News
July 28, 2017

The U.S. entered the ninth year of economic expansion on a familiar path of steady but unspectacular growth, with few obvious indications it is near exhausting itself. Gross domestic product, a broad measure of goods and services produced in the U.S., rose at a 2.6% annual rate in the April to June period, the Commerce Department said Friday. Figures are adjusted for inflation and seasonality.

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