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Paging Dr. Zhivago: Putin Should See You Now

April 23rd, 2015

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Dr. Zhivago just premiered on Broadway.  I didn’t see Vladimir Putin at opening night.  He could learn much about Russia and himself.   TIME magazine published my argument:

After the Soviet Union splintered in 1991, I took a few days off from my job at the White House and visited St. Petersburg, Russia.   Strolling through the flaking walls of the Hermitage, I realized that communism’s problem was not failing to keep up with the rising standards of 1980s America. … Continue Reading →



Oil Makes for a Slippery Baton

April 16th, 2015

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Why did so many economists wrongly forecast a quick boom from lower gas prices?  In today’s Investor’s Business Daily I explain why:

“Ping” is a terrible sound. In 2008 the U.S. Olympic men’s and women’s 100-meter relay teams fumbled their batons and heard pings as the dropped batons bounced around the track in Beijing. Economies have metaphorical batons, too, when certain sectors must transfer growth to others, say from trains and cement to consumer goods like socks and trousers. But … Continue Reading →



Skin in the Game and Healthcare Spending

March 23rd, 2015

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“Skin in the game.” That’s a key to human behavior. If people don’t have skin in the game, they take extra risks. If you’re gambling in a casino with “House money,” you’ll roll the dice more recklessly. If you rent a car, you might stomp on the accelerator. Have you ever driven a rental car to a car wash or stood in the sun waxing it? Of course not. You don’t care how grimy it gets!

I’m a fan of … Continue Reading →



Why Does the Abercrombie Guy Shiver?

March 16th, 2015

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The strong dollar is starting to wallop U.S. tourism. Those euro- and ruble-carrying jet-setters are stuck at home. Canadians, too, may skip Florida and fly straight to Cancun, where the loonie buys tequila at less than Miami prices. No wonder New York hotel occupancy slumped 4.7 percent in January — worse than Boston, which was buried under several feet of snow. Last week (when the dollar traded at 1.08 to the Euro) while appearing with Maria Bartiromo I warned … Continue Reading →



Don’t Drop the Baton!

February 11th, 2015

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Did you ever drop the baton in a relay race? On my high school swim team, I jumped into the pool too soon, before my teammate touched the wall. The referee poked me in the head with a gaff pole they use on crazed sharks. The Jersey Shore was a tough place to grow up. Too much spare fishing tackle.

Right now the U.S. economy is trying to pass a fragile baton. As I explained on TV with Maria BartiromoContinue Reading →



Does the January jobs report live up to the hype?

February 8th, 2015

Does the January jobs report live up to the hype?

Click on the image to see the video… Continue Reading →



Pass the baton: Consumers should take advantage of cheap gas

February 8th, 2015

Pass the baton: Consumers should take advantage of cheap gas

Click here to see the videoContinue Reading →



Mullahs without Moolah

January 14th, 2015

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Look at the bottom left corner of this photo of oil prices. Last April, when oil traded above $100 per barrel, I argued that oil would collapse to $50. Now that we’ve seen $45, it’s time to ask, “Will this ignite another Arab ‘spring?’”

What an irony! Usually riots break out when people complain that prices are too high! Rock-throwing Tunisian and Algerians protesting high sugar and flour prices incited the 2011 Arab spring. In 2007-2008 food riots burst out … Continue Reading →



Is the Dragon Back in China?

December 8th, 2014

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With China’s property glut threatening to turn into a Bruce Willis disaster movie (where’s Hans Gruber?), Chinese leaders are jittery about growth. No surprise that the central bank slashed interest rates in November. Look for more cuts in 2015. With Europe slipping into deflation and oil prices plunging, Chinese leaders are far more worried about a Great Recession than a Great Inflation.

What about the dollar/yuan exchange rate? The Shanghai equity market has soared to a 3-year high, catapulted higher … Continue Reading →



Attitude Beats Latitude

November 25th, 2014

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After I delivered a lecture, a droopy-eyed student wearing a Harvard sweatshirt staggered up to me. He asked if I could give him a memorable economics lesson in just three words. His attention span was shot and so was, apparently, his supply of Adderall. His challenge presented a tough task, since so many economics principles come accompanied by Latin phrases like ceteris paribus. I thought for a moment and then replied, “Attitude Beats Latitude.” Countries and cities that discourage … Continue Reading →