economy

Politics vs. Economics

They say "all politics is local." But economic decisions impact the whole economy and reverberate internationally. That is why politicians' meddling with the economy creates so many disasters. The time horizon of politics seldom reaches beyond the next election. But, in economics, when an oil company invests in oil explorations today, the oil they eventually [...]

The Wrong Way to Help the Unemployed

In his dogged quest to boost employment, President Barack Obama has searched far and wide for new solutions. One provision in his American Jobs Act may very well have a positive impact on hiring. Just not in America. The section consists of a ban on discrimination against the unemployed. Some companies have posted ads that [...]

Deal or No Deal?

  The debate over an extension of the debt ceiling remains the central focus of financial news and has generated an increasing level of heated comments and extreme predictions as the self-imposed August 2nd deadline by the Treasury comes clearly into view. It is the prime cause of the increased volatility of the financial markets. [...]

Making Things Worse by Trying to Do Better

The Department of Labor is about to release figures on long-term unemployment that suggest a major shift in employment patterns in the U.S. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, about 26 percent of the unemployed have not held a job in more than a year. Liberals point to these figures as proof [...]

Could You Survive Another Great Depression?

I just read two very interesting articles on the U.S. economy, written from historical perspectives. They compelled me to share my own historical perspective. And what I want to say is more about our changing culture than our economy. One of the articles, by Julie Crawshaw of MoneyNews.com, notes that the “Misery Index”—the combined unemployment [...]

A History of Short-Term Solutions

  History proves that fiscal policies can be effective in stimulating private demand in a downturn. To be meaningful, however, the actions must be large enough to restart influential economic sectors and sufficiently broad-based to incentivize consumption. History also shows that temporary measures or narrowly targeted programs simply do not work. The Obama Administration came [...]

The Limits to Bernanke’s Power

As chairman of our country’s central bank, the Federal Reserve Board, Ben Bernanke is expected to put the economy on a sound footing and foster strong economic growth. Unfortunately, Bernanke faces “mission impossible”—partly because the policies implemented by Congress, the president, and bureaucrats account for much of what happens to the economy, and partly because [...]

Unknown Unknowns

When Donald Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense, he coined some phrases about knowledge that apply far beyond military matters. Secretary Rumsfeld pointed out that there are some things that we know that we know. He called those "known knowns." We may, for example, know how many aircraft carriers some other country has. We may also [...]

Good Night, Good Prince

July Fourth's fireworks flashed for me beneath a long, sad shadow. On the birthday of my motherland died my fatherland's father: Otto von Habsburg, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne and son of Blessed Karl I (the last man to serve that Catholic empire as its steward). It was Karl who reigned when my grandfather left [...]

Lessons in Statism from the European Crisis

Europe is a mess. The ongoing economic crisis has sparked violent riots and growing turmoil, particularly in harder-hit nations like Greece, where demonstrators have taken to throwing home-made bombs at police. And the worst may be yet to come. Analysts now say there is a real chance that the Greek government will default on its [...]

The Enduring Importance of Centesimus Annus

Amidst the excitement of John Paul II’s beatification on May 1, the 20th anniversary of the late pope’s most important social encyclical, Centesimus Annus, got a bit lost. Blessed John Paul II was not a man given to rubbing it in. Still, it is worth noting that the encyclical, which celebrated the collapse of European [...]

Free Enterprise Looks to the Future

Two years ago, in June 2009, the American economy emerged from recession, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. But as this week's Economist noted, with typical British understatement, "The recovery has been a disappointment." And maybe not a recovery for long. Robert Shiller, the economist who first identified the housing bubble, said last [...]

The Price Is Right

Last week I outlined just how complicated the economy really is. Society is confronted with the almost incalculable problem of how to meet the indefinite needs of a massive and diverse population. Anyone who has raised a decent-sized family knows just how hard it is to satisfy even a small group of people whom you [...]

Our Economic Future Doesn’t Have to Be Bleak

  One of the common misconceptions about our country’s economic condition today is the assertion that we will have to accept a lower standard of living in the future than we have had in the past. It is often phrased in different ways, such as we will have to work harder to get less, or [...]

Economics and Human Action

When it comes to economics, there is a serious comprehension deficit among Catholics. In order to understand this subject, we must first distinguish between the actions of human beings and the way those actions are perceived by those who study them. The value of any economic theory lies in how well it captures actual human [...]

Modern Insights and Ancient Virtues

Most of the arguments that occur over Catholic social teaching, made by people ranging from well-intentioned laity to very well-placed clergy, take place in an ignorance of economics so profound that I'm tempted to call it Edenic. I say this for many reasons. The first is sarcastic: Too many Christians look at the complex mechanisms [...]

As the Family Goes, So Goes the Economy

  According to a New York Times editorial this week, “As Housing Goes, So Goes the Economy”. It is a call to the United States government to intervene in the housing market which, nearly two years after the housing bubble burst, is still in trouble and will not, says the Times, fix itself. That may be [...]

The Late Great American Dollar

The economic crisis that hit the developed world a few years ago was devastating. Millions lost their jobs, their homes, and their retirements. But the next catastrophe -- which could be coming soon -- will make the recent recession feel like a boom time. Imagine gasoline prices really skyrocketing and the cost of food and [...]

Returning to the Field

It was not so easy for a Catholic in the early 1980s to advocate for a free society. While much of the nation welcomed the conservative shift President Reagan brought to U.S. policy, the American Catholic bishops were not among them. Those Catholics whose common-sense politics leaned right found themselves isolated in their larger faith [...]

On Earthquakes and Upheavals

The tragic 6.3 magnitude earthquake which hit New Zealand’s largest city on February 25th added an eerie element to the series of man made upheavals in north Africa. In short order, the governments of Tunisia, Egypt, and imminently Libya, fell as a spontaneous and explosive wave of street protests forced out their long time rulers. [...]

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