28 February 2018

Fiscal Policy and the Price-Level

This post is me thinking out loud about how fiscal considerations may influence the price-level.

David Andolfatto

The Party of Carter Page

How Devin Nunes and the GOP ended up defending a Putin apologist.

William Saletan

27 February 2018

Here’s what war with North Korea would look like

Yochi Dreazen

Mattis Goes Nuclear

As someone who has studied the nuclear world for 40 years and has interviewed hundreds of its denizens for a book and many articles, I have learned this: When it comes to nuclear strategy, there is no reality. The weapons are real, and their destructive power is cataclysmic. But the countless attempts to harness this destruction into an elaborate war-fighting strategy are excursions into metaphysics, not the hard-boiled realism that its purveyors like to believe.

26 February 2018

The robots v. robots trading that has hijacked the stock market

Why is it that when the market is climbing by improbable leaps and bounds month after month, that we are supposed to take that as a genuine reflection of the fundamentals, but when the market is in a free fall, we are supposed to write that off as momentary fits of irrationality?

The truth is that the market is just as irrational and divorced from fundamentals on the way up as it is on the way down. It is in the nature of markets more so today than ever, thanks to the computerized high-frequency trading strategies of the Wall Street wise guys. What we've watched this week is herd behavior on steroids.

In truth, there is no reason that a financial system has to be this complex and so volatile. There is no reason that it has to divert so much of the country's talent and capital, and to siphon off so much for traders and bankers and hedge fund managers. With a bit of intelligent regulation, we could have a financial system that is simpler, less risky, less expensive and less susceptible to manipulation.

There is a cost to the kind of financial "innovation" that produces instruments like the Velocity Shares Daily Inverse VIX Short-Term Exchange-Traded Note. And my guess is that those costs now greatly exceed the benefits.

Steven Pearlstein

What is the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX)?

Zachary Basu

23 February 2018

In defense of Social Security Disability Insurance

Dylan Matthews

Don’t kid yourself. The future is bleak.

Democracy is really a prisoner's dilemma, and we're losing at ours.

The only way democracies stop being so polarized is after some kind of catastrophe — a catastrophe that more often than not is brought on by, yes, polarization. Indeed, the two most optimistic examples that Levitsky and Ziblatt can come up with are the way Chile's parties from across the ideological spectrum were eventually able to set aside their rather substantial differences to support democracy in the years after Augusto Pinochet's coup and how German conservatives managed to overcome their traditional Catholic-Protestant divide to do the same in the wake of World War II. Remember, the fact that democracy can come back after a dictatorship is supposed to be the good news here.

Matt O'Brien

22 February 2018

The Smearing of Christopher Steele

A former British intelligence officer provided information to the FBI because it alarmed him. Given the way he’s been treating, future tipsters will be less likely to come forward.

John Sipher

What David Brooks Misunderstands About Abortion

“Late term” abortion is a wastebasket term used by the anti-choice zealots to describe a spectrum of procedures and needs. It is nonspecific and conjures up the worst images, likely on purpose. Most procedures beyond 20 weeks do occur before 24 weeks, the long-standing threshold for viability, but most of these babies would not be viable if they reached term anyway. The reason there is no comfortable upper threshold for ending a pregnancy is that lethal anomalies can be discovered late in a pregnancy. Should a mother be condemned to carry her anencephalic fetus (which would be born without any brain tissue but a brainstem) to term because she received late prenatal care? What is the argument for that?

Cheryl Axelrod

20 February 2018

Why Rising Wages Scare the Heck Out of Investors

The answer is a useful illustration of why the stock market is often a poor guide to the overall health of the economy.

Jordan Weissmann

It's Time for Wall Street to Give Up Its Love Affair With the Dow Jones Industrial Average

Let's face the facts: The Dow is a historic novelty, and the S&P 500 is a much better stock market barometer.

Sean Williams 

19 February 2018

Survival at All Costs

By releasing the Nunes memo, Trump betrayed the intelligence community to save his own skin.

Phillip Carter

The Backward Logic of the Nunes Memo

Amid all the lies Donald Trump has told about the Russia scandal, there is one underlying truth: The intelligence community truly fears him and considers him unfit for the presidency. This is not because the intelligence community is traitorous, or left wing, or (as Donald Trump Jr. sneeringly put it) wine-spritzer-drinking elites. It is because the IC had early access to a wide array of terrifying intelligence linking Trump and his orbit to Russia. People who spend their lives protecting their country from foreign threats saw in Trump a candidate who had at some level been compromised by one of them.

Carter Page is the kind of person who would be brought on as a foreign policy adviser only if (a) the campaign was actively seeking out Russian assets, or (b) it was so slipshod it could easily be penetrated by Russian intelligence.

Jonathan Chait

16 February 2018

A close reading of the Nunes memo shows how sketchy it is

The memo is conspicuously vague in key places and tends to downplay or omit information that doesn’t fit its narrative.

Andrew Prokop

15 February 2018

How the GOP Went Crazy

The conspiracy-nut wing has long been at the fringes of Republican politics. Here’s how it took over.

Kurt Andersen

14 February 2018

Forged Under Fire—Bob Mueller and Jim Comey’s Unusual Friendship

The inside story of how the most surreal night of the War on Terror united the retiring FBI director and his evident successor.

13 February 2018

12 February 2018

Donald Trump Just Asked Congress to End the Rule of Law

Trump is calling for an end to any semblance of independence for the IRS, the FBI, the Department of Justice, or any other federal agency.

Yascha Mounk

06 February 2018

Defending the Indefensible

Republican excuses for firing Mueller show how dangerous the party has become.

William Saletan

02 February 2018

01 February 2018