The latest epside of Conversations With Bill Kristol, featuring Larry Summers:
"In this conversation, Summers describes key moments from his time in government, including responses to the Mexican Peso Crisis of 1994 and the financial crisis of 2008. He also explains how he got involved in public policy and government, and offers some thoughts on tensions between the world of theoretical policy-making and the practice of politics. Finally, Summers discusses the differences between the two presidents he has served, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama," writes the Foundation for Constitutional Government, the sponsor of the series.
It is not for an economist to adjudicate between the president of the United States, who feels he is appealing to our better angels by asking our blessing for his plan to grant 10,000 refugees from the Syrian wars entry into our country, and his critics who fear that the wave might include immigrants coming not for refuge but to do us harm, not here to assimilate but to retain the customs and laws that have brought their homelands chaos and penury. The dispute, in short, is between Barack Obama who contends he is following a long-standing, humane American tradition of accepting the world’s tired, poor, huddled masses, and equally well-intentioned congressmen and governors who respond that he is ignoring his first obligation – to keep America and its citizens safe from harm. They add that it is inappropriate to argue that America must not repeat the moral error of turning away Jews who sought to escape Hitler’s death camps by turning away Syrians, among them some pledged to destroy the values fleeing Jews were attempting to come here to enjoy.
Under three different CEOs, Walmart has done all kinds of somersaults to appease left-wing critics. In 2005, Lee Scott set goals of “zero waste” and “100 percent” conversion to renewable energy. In 2009, Mike Duke, the next CEO, took on Obamacare—as an outspoken supporter of the unpopular health care bill. This was “a stunning metamorphosis,” the Wall Street Journal declared in a company profile.
Lift-off. That’s the conclusion to which observers jumped when the government announced on Friday that the economy added 271,000 jobs in October. And that the August and September figures have been revised upward by 12,000. And that the unemployment rate fell to 5 percent. And that discouraged workers and those looking for fuller-time jobs fell to 9.8 percent of the work force, the lowest level since May 2008. And that average hourly earnings in the private sector were up by 2.5 percent from October of last year, the strongest reading since July 2009.
Interesting political debates typically have what could be called primary effects. In Wednesday night's case, those would include the Bush-Rubio exchange, which did a lot of good for Rubio and a lot of damage to Bush, and the Cruz assault on the moderators, which was dazzling.
After the Great Depression, Democrats ran against Herbert Hoover for 30 years—and with great success. Even though Hoover’s policies were anything but market-oriented—he greatly raised spending, taxes, and tariffs in response to the 1929 Wall Street crash—Republicans took the fall for Hooverism. It wasn’t until Ronald Reagan that free markets were fully politically rehabilitated.
Strange as it may seem, Barack Obama has much in common with the storied matchmaker of Jewish legend. This Polish entrepreneur announced to the poverty-stricken rabbi of a poverty-stricken Polish town that she had found a match for his even more poverty stricken, unattractive son – no less than the queen of England. The Rabbi refused to consent to the match on the grounds that the queen was not Jewish.
REO Speedwagon’s legendary guitarist Gary Richrath, a native of my hometown of Peoria, passed away on September 13 at age 65, which is a ripe old age for a rock star. His death marks an end to a musical era—I encourage you to skip the schlocky ballads of the band’s latter years and listen to the high-intensity, guitar-jamming madness of “157 Riverside Avenue” to get a true measure of his prodigious talent.
Last week, the Census Bureau released its annual report on income, poverty, and health insurance in the United States. Don’t worry if you missed it. So did the Wall Street Journal, which noted several days later that the White House had failed to comment on the rather grim numbers. On Friday, the Journal’s editorial page dryly remarked, “it seems we’re on the wrong White House email lists.”
President Obama believes the Republicans are hijacking the economy. He made this latest statement in an email sent out to supporters of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
"Tonight, Republicans will hold their second presidential primary debate. And just like last time, we can expect each candidate to go heavy on extreme rhetoric and light on real solutions," the president of the United States writes. "Unfortunately, the situation on Capitol Hill isn't any better."
Of course Obama is asking for money for the Democratic organization.
Deep in the transcript of the interview ABC’s David Muir conducted with Hillary Clinton yesterday comes an indirect but very tough shot at the man she worked for and hopes to replace. In the course of answering a question about her mother, Clinton described her mother’s difficult upbringing and praised her for her hard work. Her mother’s experience, she said, and those struggling to get ahead today, inspire her presidential run.
Two weekends ago, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City held its annual monetary conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The left flew in hundreds of protesters donning green T-shirts that demanded “Higher Wages for America” and chanting, “We’re Fed Up.” The crowd was an assortment of college kids on their summer break, disgruntled middle-aged teachers, senior citizens, and blue-collar union members. Think Occupy Wall Street.
Warren Buffett had it right, “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.” Peer through the fog of commentary on recent share price gyrations and you can see the unclothed figures of Chinese president Xi Jinping and his fellow managers of the Chinese economy, the very one that in recent years has been providing about half of global economic growth even though it accounts for only about 15% of world output.
Whatever the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, the summer of 2015 will be remembered as the summer of Trump and Sanders. The other candidates, especially the Republicans, could learn a lesson from the two renegades, who have figured out how to capitalize on the fact that America is in a funk even as its economy improves.