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[OP-ED]: The curse of middle-aged capitalism -- for Trump and all of us

 08/21/2017 - 13:57
In 1995, the largest five firms by market “capitalization” (the value of a company’s shares) were old-line businesses: Exxon, AT&T, Coca Cola, General Electric and Merck. By 2015, only Exxon (now Exxon Mobil) remained.

 A persisting puzzle about the U.S. economy is how it can seem both strong and weak. On the one hand, it remains a citadel of innovation, producing new companies like Uber. On the other, the economy is expanding at a snail’s pace of 2 percent annually since 2010. How could both be true? Why isn’t innovation translating into faster growth? The answer -- or part of the answer -- is that American businesses are running on two separate tracks. Call them the “youthful” and “middle-aged” tracks.

[OP-ED]: El gran debate de Trump sobre el crecimiento económico

 08/15/2017 - 10:01
No hay suficiente dinero para satisfacer todas nuestras demandas, incluso a tasas más altas de crecimiento económico. Habrá conflictos entre gastos privados y gubernamentales; entre gastos nacionales y locales; entre gastos de salud y gastos de no-salud; y entre gastos dedicados a los ancianos versus los jóvenes. El presente es polémico; el futuro quizás sea peor.

La discusión entre el gobierno de Trump y sus críticos sobre una tasa de crecimiento económico sostenible suscita profundas preguntas sobre el futuro de Estados Unidos. ¿Ingresamos en un período prolongado de crecimiento económico lento? Si es así, ¿cómo altera eso la sociedad y la política? ¿O acaso las medidas “correctas” elevarán el crecimiento económico a niveles del pasado?

[OP-ED]: Trump’s great growth debate

 08/09/2017 - 08:58
There isn’t enough money to satisfy all our demands, even at higher rates of economic growth. There will be conflicts between private and governmental spending; between national and local spending; between health spending and non-health spending; and between spending on the old versus the young. The present is contentious; the future may be worse.

The argument between the Trump administration and its critics over a sustainable rate of economic growth raises profound questions about America’s future. Have we entered a prolonged period of slow growth? If so, how does that alter society and politics? Or will the “right” policies raise growth to past levels? 

If you haven’t paid attention, here’s a brief overview of the debate.

[OP-ED]: Trump isn’t destiny

 06/13/2017 - 15:17
To some extent, the future of America depends on Donald Trump. But it depends even more on how these social and economic trends evolve -- how we cope with them and whether we become a more cohesive society or a more contentious one. EFE

 It’s time to take a brief break from Donald Trump. Whatever you think of him, there’s no denying that he dominates the news cycle. We seem to assume that the nation’s future depends on Trump’s fate, for better or worse. The reality is otherwise: The nation’s future also hangs on larger economic and social trends that no president can shape.

[OP-ED]: The bumpy road to adulthood

 04/27/2017 - 14:43
The Great Recession’s high unemployment surely drove many young people back to their parents. The actual number of 18- to 34-year-olds living at home totaled 24 million in 2015. Two-thirds say they’re happy with their home life. The fact that more Americans go to college and graduate school than in the past has also delayed marriage, living independently and having children.

Growing up isn’t what it used to be. There’s a yawning gap between the end of adolescence and the beginning of adulthood: a period when millions of 20-somethings and 30-somethings have many adult freedoms without all the responsibilities. Social scientists have tried -- so far in vain -- to name this new life-stage, but no one should question its significance.

Plain Text Author: 
Robert J. Samuelson

[OP-ED]: Is the American Dream killing us?

 04/04/2017 - 10:31
One theory attributes the spike in “deaths of despair” to growing income inequality. There would be fewer suicides, drug overdoses and alcohol-related deaths if incomes were distributed more equally, the argument goes. People take out their frustrations and anger by resorting to self-destructive behavior.

It isn’t often that economics raises the most profound questions of human existence, but recent work of economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton (husband and wife, both of Princeton University) comes close. You may recall that a few years ago, Case and Deaton reported the startling finding that the death rates of non-Hispanic middle-aged whites had gotten worse — they were dying younger.

Plain Text Author: 
Robert J. Samuelson

[OP-ED]: Has America gone complacent?

 03/03/2017 - 10:10
Photograph provided by the New York Stock Exchange that shows the president of Santander Consumer Finance, the Group's consumer finance unit, Jason Kulas (C) along with other colleagues after opening the session of the New York park in the United States. EFE

”We have met the enemy and he is us.”

- the comic-strip character Pogo by Walt Kelly, 1970

The same may be true of the economy. So says Tyler Cowen, author of the new book “The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream.”

Although we’ve recovered from the Great Recession, there are widespread fears that the economy will stagnate or grow only slowly. Government won’t be able to handle the next crisis, whether a war, financial meltdown or pandemic.

Plain Text Author: 
Robert J. Samuelson

[OP-ED]: Who’s hoarding the American Dream?

 07/18/2017 - 15:54
“Upper-middle-class parents have the means to spend two to three times more time with their preschool children than less affluent parents,” he wrote. He also excoriated “the structural ways the well-educated rig the system” -- mainly restrictive zoning and easier college admissions, including legacy preferences. impakter.com

To hear Richard Reeves tell it, the upper middle class is fast becoming the bane of American society. Its members have entrenched themselves just below the top 1 percent and protect their privileged position through public policy and private behavior. Americans cherish the belief that they live in a mobile society, where hard work and imagination are rewarded. The upper middle class is destroying this faith, because it’s impeding poorer Americans from getting ahead.