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This year’s Economic Report of the President has an interesting analysis of the sources of the slowdown in income gains among the middle class. Given all the attention given to the issue of growing inequality, especially between those at the top and the other 90 percent you might think that was the major economic problem facing the nation,. But no, it turns out that the biggest source of the slowdown is the poor performance of productivity since 1995 compared to the earlier postwar period. The question the President’s Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) asks is what if productivity growth…

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The Fourth of July holiday brings Americans together to celebrate their liberation from Great Britain over hot dogs, hamburgers, and fireworks, but it also serves to remind us about freedom; thus, it would only be fitting to take a look at how free the nation’s largest state is. Unfortunately, for Californians, the answer isn’t as celebratory as the picnics many will be having on Friday and Saturday.
Using the Freedom in the 50 States index compiled by George Mason University’s Mercatus Center, it easily becomes apparent that across the three categories of freedom - fiscal, regulatory, and…

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In his 1996 State of the Union address, President Bill Clinton proclaimed, “The era of big government is over.” That prediction turned out to provide more of a short-term rhetorical evasion than signal a lasting change in the direction of national policy. But after last week’s Supreme Court decision in King v. Burwell, it would be more accurate to say: “The era of big lawsuits against Obamacare is over” Nevertheless, several other types of challenges to the future path and pace of implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) remain ahead. As one door closes, others open.No Remaining…

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Individuals have the inalienable right to make any kind of living arrangements and personal commitments they choose.
Individuals have the inalienable right to use whatever word they wish in describing it, including “marriage,” whether or not that term is epistemologically correct or “offensive.” By the same token, third parties have the inalienable right to use whatever word they wish to in describing it, including “non-marriage,” whether or not that term is epistemologically correct or “offensive.” This is a direct application of the right to free speech.
Individuals and voluntary…

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The S&P 500 stock market index reached an all-time high in May, at more than three times its post-crisis trough of six years ago.
Many credit the Fed’s quantitative easing and swapping of short- for long-term Treasuries for fostering these bumper investment returns. Yet the market volatility surrounding recent Fed pronouncements ought to give investors pause. When so much rides on a single word like “patient,” something must be amiss. Has the Fed really restored the economy’s health, or are we living in a fool’s paradise? For me, an investment professional with a fiduciary duty, this is more…

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It’s not easy for foreigners to meet migrant workers in China. Visitors are typically steered to giant shopping malls, ancient temples and tea ceremonies highlighting China’s history. But there is also the unseen: we hear tales in the West about miserable living conditions for migrant workers, earning subsistence wages that allow billionaire Chinese investors to drive their Porsches and live in $5 million condos.
These oft-cited stories made me all the more intrigued to see their living conditions for myself during a visit to Shanghai last month. The trip was part of my MBA class on Global…

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With Greece once again set to default on its government debt, markets are to varying degrees convulsing. The obvious question is whether or not the panic is rooted in something real to worry about. Not really. As is always the case, market fears are a creation of government error, not worries about a very minor economic entity.
To see why, it needs to first be remembered that a Greek default would be nothing new. As Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff noted in their much talked about 2009 book This Time Is Different, Greece has been in default mode roughly half of its modern existence. …

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WASHINGTON - A central economic question of our time is whether the policies undertaken to recover from the last financial crisis are laying the groundwork for the next. We now have two reports from reputable groups suggesting just that.
The first comes from the Bank for International Settlements, which was created in 1930 to handle reparations payments from World War I - reparations that were soon canceled. The BIS is now a major source of economic research and statistics. Recently, it has acted as the loyal opposition to the easy-money policies adopted in the United States, Europe, Japan…

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Last year, 95 American hospitals merged or were acquired — a 40 percent increase from 2010. Over roughly the same period, the percentage of physician practices owned by hospitals doubled — from about 30 percent to nearly 60 percent.
This rapid consolidation among U.S. healthcare providers is dizzying to behold, even for those who have spent careers in healthcare. Its effects are only starting to be felt, but could be profound.
A main reason for the trend is basic economics. Annual spending on healthcare has outpaced general inflation for many years now, but physician reimbursement has not…

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The judicial decision to uphold all of the president’s health-care subsidies may be very disappointing, but the economics of Obamacare are far worse than whatever constitutional mistakes have been committed by the Supreme Court.
The economics of Obamacare are very bad. The law is inflicting broad damage on job creation and new-business formation. It ruins job incentives by making it pay more not to work, thereby intensifying a labor shortage that is holding back growth and in turn lowering incomes and spending.
And across-the-board Obamacare tax increases are inflicting heavy punishment on…

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Unlike so many other disciplines that arrived slowly over decades if not centuries, if you were to date the absolute start of modern finance it would be March 29, 1900. That was the day Louis Bachelier successfully defended his doctoral thesis at the University of Paris. His topic and the breadth of his work was so uniquely unusual that while considered successfully established it wasn’t well-received nor did it offer a particularly lucrative future course; by the start of World War I nearly a decade and a half later, Bachelier was drafted as a private in the infantry (essentially cannon…

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Less-educated men in the United States have had some tough years. Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics show that median wages and employment rates for less-educated men have dropped quite dramatically over the past several years. The causes are widely debated and lawmakers from both political parties are taking notice. In contrast to the 1990s when social policies for women (mostly unmarried) and children dominated the political sphere, efforts to help poor men are finally getting some attention.
One proposal that has gained some bipartisan support is an expansion of the earned income…

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A recent Congressional Budget Office report - “The 2015 Long-Term Budget Outlook” - reminds us that the federal government is slowly becoming an agency for taking care of the elderly. Almost everything else is being crowded out.
We ignored that during the Obama presidency, and now it seems that the fledgling presidential campaign may do likewise.
Hillary Clinton and other Democrats plug fairer economic growth. Jeb Bush and other Republicans are more forthcoming (they talk about raising Social Security’s eligibility age) but concentrate their rhetoric on creating faster economic…

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There is bad news to come regarding Social Security - not merely for the “1 percenters” but for ordinary Americans, who must either pay more to Social Security or receive less from it. Expanding Social Security, as some of members of Congress have proposed, isn’t rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. It is like adding more passengers.The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently released its latest financing projections for the Social Security program, showing a long-term funding shortfall that has more than quadrupled since 2008. The program’s trust fund, which in 2008 the CBO…

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The US congressional debate over granting Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to the executive branch has been raging over the past few months. The TPA is a prelude to a vote on the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, which would bring together 11 Asia-Pacific economic partners with the United States in the world’s biggest free-trade agreement and would open the door to additional global economic initiatives. While anti-trade groups consider the TPP to be a dangerous “corporate grab,” others see it as much ado about nothing because the agreement is expected to have small effects in the…

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