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‘We have fallen upon evil times, politics is corrupt and the social fabric is fraying.’ Who said that? Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders? Nigel Farage or Marine Le Pen? It’s difficult to keep track. They sound so alike, the populists of the left and the right. Everything is awful, so bring on the scapegoats and the knights on white horses.
Pessimism resonates. A YouGov poll found that just 5 per cent of Britons think that the world, all things considered, is getting better. You would think that the chronically cheerful Americans might be more optimistic - well, yes, 6 per cent of them think that…

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This month, Wal-Mart announced plans to acquire e-commerce start-up Jet.com for .3 billion in the largest ever buyout of a U.S. e-commerce business. Wal-Mart should give itself a Smiley-the retailer’s iconic happy face indicating a cost savings - and slash its budget for lobbying Congress to expand online sales taxes.The deal undercuts Wal-Mart’s argument that the lack of online sales taxes allows competitors an “unfair” advantage in the marketplace. In fact, it illustrates that large retailers believe bigger distribution networks for faster delivery to customers and a strong online…

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The US dollar has fallen against all the major currencies this month. Even the pound has gained about 0.3% against the heavy greenback.
What is most striking about the dollar’s decline is that is has taken place despite a modest upgrade of the odds of a Fed hike. Consider on the broadest level, the Dow Jones polls that found 71% expect a rate hike before the end of the year compared with about 50% in the July survey.
The odds implied by the pricing of the Fed funds futures have also increased. They increased after the stronger than expected employment report early in the month but fell back…

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America is applauded around the world for the strength of our nonprofit sector, and in particular for our vibrant community organizations - from churches and boys’ clubs to arts centers and social welfare organizations. And Americans are the world’s most generous benefactors of such organizations.It turns out, however, that capital markets do not work all that well for up-and-coming social welfare groups. But with some timely financing reforms, the sector could be an even more potent solution to many social problems facing the country.Innovative for-profit startups have a well-developed…

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An aging United States reduces the economy’s growth - big time. That’s the startling conclusion of a new academic study, and if it withstands scholarly scrutiny, it could transform our national political and economic debate.
We’ve known for decades, of course, that the retirement of the huge baby-boom generation - coupled with low birthrates - would make the United States an older society. Similarly, we’ve known that this would squeeze the federal budget. Social Security and Medicare spending would grow rapidly, intensifying pressures to cut other programs, raise taxes or accept large budget…

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Alabama’s budget has been a mess for years, and an increasing burden for the state’s downtrodden taxpayers. But if some local politicians have their way it could get even worse.
The case in question this time involves a desired new bridge meant to alleviate traffic congestion over the Intracoastal Waterway, and into the Gulf Coast and the its booming cities of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores. The question isn’t so much whether there is a need for a new bridge that would boost capacity over the Intracoastal, but how. No one doubts that a new bridge is desirable to reduce congestion.
The major…

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You would think that after the experience of 2007 Bill Dudley would give it up, or at least become savvy enough to stop being so declarative. At the end of July, a few days after the last FOMC meeting had concluded, Mr. Dudley admonished markets once again for being, in his words, too complacent. The futures markets, federal funds futures specifically, are not giving him and his colleagues enough respect. “Market expectations, to my eye, derived from federal funds futures prices, which price in no more than one 25 basis-point rate hike through the end of 2017, … appear to be too…

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We are such an anxiety-ridden society that we worry about problems that haven’t happened, and, almost certainly, won’t. Robots are an apt example. Even McKinsey and Co., the high-powered management consulting firm, professes to be concerned. We imagine hordes of robots destroying jobs, leaving millions of middle-class families without work and income. Relax. Unless we adopt self-destructive policies, this is one doomsday we’ll avoid.
One thing that the U.S. economy excels at is creating jobs. You might doubt this listening to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who promise personally to create…

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Listening to presidential nominees discuss their economic proposals is like watching children list what they want from Santa Claus. What children and politicians want, and what they’ll actually get, is not the same.
Voters should be relieved. They should be simply because what Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump desire for the economy would generally be inimical to a prosperous economic outcome. The good news is that they won’t get what they want judging by stock-market indices that discount the future, and that seem to be saying the next president won’t be able to do much at all. Gridlock…

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“And if you go chasing rabbitsAnd you know you’re going to fall,Tell ‘em a hookah-smoking caterpillarHas given you the call.Call AliceWhen she was just small. …
When logic and proportionHave fallen sloppy dead,And the White Knight is talking backwardsAnd the Red Queen’s off with her head,Remember what the dormouse said:’Feed your head,Feed your head.’”
– Grace Slick and The Jefferson Airplane, White Rabbit
It was breakfast time at roughly this hour 47 years ago today when I was at Woodstock, although there was no food available at Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, N.Y.
After The Who had…

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This spring, Oklahoma became the latest state to require DNA samples from at least some arrestees. All states require DNA profiling of convicted offenders, and over 30 states now have arrestee DNA laws on the books. The DNA profiles are added to computer databases, where they are compared with DNA evidence from crime scenes. One of the main arguments in favor of adding more individuals to DNA databases is deterrence: DNA profiling increases the probability that you will get caught if you commit a new crime. But there are many reasons that someone might break the law - is this one change…

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Purple haze, all in my brain.Lately things they don’t seem the same.Actin’ funny, but I don’t know why.’Scuse me while I kiss the sky.
Purple haze, all around.Don’t know if I’m comin’ up or down.Am I happy or in misery?Whatever it is, that girl put a spell on me.
– Jimi Hendrix, Purple Haze (live at Woodstock)
It’s all a purple haze now, but 47 years ago today, I and some 400,000 other kids sat at Max Yasgur’s farm in Bethel, N.Y., as Richie Havens opened Woodstock at about 5:07 p.m. with Minstrel of Gault. Jimi Hendrix would end the festival three days with a performance that included…

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Today is anniversary of the final blow to the dollar-gold standard. By August 15, 1971, the exchange of dollars for gold was limited to central banks, and US President Nixon unilaterally ended it. There was a brief attempt to resurrect it with new parities which failed, thus beginning the current era of floating exchange rates.
There still are romanticists who argue for another Bretton Woods. Some advocate anchoring the fiat currency system with a re-introduction of gold. Others favor a new international agreement to remove the volatility in the currency market, which may be a factor…

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A great mystery of our time - one that should frame the campaign debate - is why the economic recovery has been so sluggish. Consider this comparison. After the brutal recession of the early 1980s (peak unemployment: 10.8 percent), it took only 11 months for employment to regain its pre-recession level. By contrast, it required 51 months after the Great Recession for employment to reach its pre-recession numbers. Either economic policy let us down or the economy has become less robust. Maybe both.
We expected better. Sure, economic policy probably prevented a second Great Depression, and this…

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Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, when in fact the results never change, is one definition of insanity. That definition works for economic insanity, too. Over the past seven-and-a-half years, President Obama has maintained a steady course of burdensome new regulations, significant tax increases, and massive federal spending on so-called infrastructure. He has unconstitutionally ordered executive actions, favored labor over business, attacked banks, insulted successful corporate leaders, and backed federal-government mandates on business. And with all…

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