James Pethokoukis is a columnist and blogger at the American Enterprise Institute. Previously, he was the Washington columnist for Reuters Breakingviews, the opinion and commentary wing of Thomson Reuters.
Pethokoukis was the business editor and economics columnist for U.S. News & World Report from 1997 to 2008. He has written for many publications, including The New York Times, The Weekly Standard, Commentary, National Review, The Washington Examiner, USA Today and Investor's Business Daily.
Pethokoukis is an official CNBC contributor. In addition, he has appeared numerous times on MSNBC, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, The McLaughlin Group, CNN and Nightly Business Report on PBS. A graduate of Northwestern University and the Medill School of Journalism, Pethokoukis is a 2002 Jeopardy! Champion.
To consider only the seen while neglecting the unseen, as 19th-century political economist Frederic Bastiat warned, risks cognitive errors. Policymakers must try to imagine the counterfactual when making a decision, taking an action, or analyzing history.
If you are a free marketeer offended by Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium (“The Joy of the Gospel”) — in which he critiqued “deified” market capitalism and attacked income inequality — ask yourself: What should the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church say about economics in 2013? Should he take a victory lap over free enterprise’s defeat of Communism as if it were 1993?
Even as the American economy continues to struggle in the Great Recession’s aftermath, Americans continue to blame President George W. Bush and the Republicans for causing the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression. It’s an understandable conclusion.
Someday the U.S. government’s currency monopoly might end. But probably not in my lifetime. I am willing to concede, though, that before our yellow sun goes red giant — the Republic will endure, my friends! — America might find itself awash in a competitive, Hayekian market of private currencies, perhaps the digital descendants of Bitcoin. It could happen.
If the government shutdown really did slow the U.S. economy, it was an encumbrance on an already lethargic growth rate. New data suggest real GDP grew just 1.8 percent or so the past three months. For the year, says Goldman Sachs, it’s shaping up to be an anemic 1.6 percent.