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Japan shows the future - and the picture isn't pretty

IF you want a peek at the future, try looking at Japan. It's a sobering exercise. Here's how economist Timothy Taylor, managing editor of the Journal of Economic Perspectives, describes the country's outlook:

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US is prima facie losing the trade war

THE Trump administration is going about its trade war with China all wrong. Its strategy and tactics are muddled. If Donald Trump were a general watching the battle unfold, what he'd see is his troops getting slaughtered, while the enemy, though suffering casualties, was holding most of its...

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Mind economists' ignorance gap

THE most intriguing and indisputable thing we have learned about economists in recent decades is that they don't know nearly as much as they think they do.

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Latest worry: Inflation not rising fast enough

THERE are times when it seems we're worrying about things that aren't worth worrying about. A good example these days is inflation. Amazingly, the complaint is that it's not rising fast enough. In March, the consumer price index, or CPI, had increased 1.9 per cent over the past year. The gain of...

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Who's afraid of robots - and why

AN unsettling spectre haunts the world economy: a future of ubiquitous robots that destroy millions of jobs. Sometimes this is called "artificial intelligence"; sometimes it is not. Either way, it threatens the social stability of the United States and other advanced countries, which depend on...

COMMENTARY

How long until we're all happy? let's keep perspective

WE have met a few times over the years while covering the same events. I'm a big fan.

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What really caused the financial crisis?

IT is astonishing that, even though the global financial crisis occurred a decade ago, we do not yet have a clear and convincing explanation of its basic cause. To be sure, theories abound.

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Is trade deficit good news for America?

IF nothing else, the latest US trade deficit - US$621 billion in 2018 for goods and services - should give President Donald Trump a lesson in the economics of trade. Mr Trump has insisted that a successful policy requires a trade surplus (good) and the absence of a deficit (bad). That's...

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Corporate America, critics spar over share buybacks

THE latest pitched battle between Corporate America and its critics involves stock buybacks - large companies' purchases of their own shares on the stock market. The aim is to raise share prices and satisfy investors. But the practice has triggered outrage from critics, who argue that the...

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Will a big bust follow the current US big boom?

WRITING in The Wall Street Journal, Princeton economist Alan Blinder calls it "The Obama-Trump Economic Boom". This may be the best bad label for what may soon become the longest economic expansion in American history as Mr Blinder's turn of phrase has the virtue of spreading the...

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The Affluent Society revisited

I AM re-reading The Affluent Society with pleasure and profit.

COMMENTARY

Is the worldwide credit boom in danger of going bust?

WE are in the midst of a worldwide credit boom that may be without precedent. The debt explosion suggests that the global economy - all the national economies combined - is being driven heavily by massive government and private borrowing.

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What Sears' and GE's decline teaches us about capitalism

GENERAL Electric and Sears have fallen on hard times, and that tells us a lot about US capitalism. Both were once great enterprises, symbols of American ingenuity and imagination. The temptation will be to blame their troubles on mismanagement. The real lesson is starker. It is that no business...

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The euro - still vulnerable after all these years

ON its 20th birthday, the best that can be said of the euro - the European currency used by 19 countries - is that it has survived. Two decades after being introduced in 1999, it has not achieved its central goals: increasing economic growth and strengthening public support for European...

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Trump versus the Fed: a very public feud

PRESIDENT Trump, do yourself a favour. Stop attacking the Federal Reserve and its chairman, Jerome Powell (yes, the same Mr Powell you nominated). The result would be better for you, better for Mr Powell and - most important - better for the country.

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Are China and the US locked in a permanent trade war?

THE United States-China trade war goes on ... and on and on.

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Has America lost its entrepreneurial edge?

GLOBALISATION strikes again. The latest target is entrepreneurship.

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Is it time to strengthen antitrust laws?

COMPETITION is dying. That's the latest complaint against American business. We have too many super-sized firms, excessively large and unnaturally profitable. Dubious mergers - permitted by toothless antitrust laws - boost companies' market power and squash rivals. The lifeblood of a...

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Spiralling Italian debt - a political and economic 'monster'

JUST when it seemed safe not to worry about the next financial crisis, up pops Italy. In Italy, lavish plans may propel next crisis, warned The New York Times. Or, Italy's budget rattles financial markets on debt crisis fears, said Sky News....

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Political systems of advanced countries have broken down

The Economist magazine is marking its 175th birthday with a special issue that looks back on its history and speculates about the future. It is a sobering exercise, highlighting the present breakdown in the world's political order, a collapse made worse by US President Donald Trump but not...

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Warning from the almost-depression

ALL during the 2008-09 financial crisis, Americans were told that the government was saving Wall Street not to protect overpaid bankers but to help Main Street avoid a second Great Depression. It was a hard case to make. However valid the logic, it was overwhelmed by infuriating realities - the...

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Why we don't prepare for the future

DOES America adapt by crisis or consensus? Do we spontaneously change because we see we must, or must we be coerced by events that leave us no choice?

Nafta is dead - long live Nafta

WHEN the North American Free Trade Agreement took effect in 1994, it was widely regarded - by friend and foe alike - as an ambitious experiment in economic engineering. To advocates, it promised the benefits of stronger economic growth for its three member countries: Canada, Mexico and the...

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Will inflation kill the economy?

INFLATION is back. What do we do about it? For starters: Don't ignore it....

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The Age of Malware

WELCOME to the Age of Malware. It promises to be a huge downer and, possibly, a great tragedy.