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.
Just-released transcripts of 2008 Federal Reserve policy meetings provide a needed reminder of how Washington dithered as the nation’s financial system nearly collapsed. Has anything happened in the subsequent five years to make a repeat less likely?
Forget about the 1 percent versus the 99 percent. It’s really more like the 0.000001 percent versus everybody else. A tiny group — mostly comprising the Obama White House, a bunch of Washington Democrats, progressive economists, and the media elite — continues to fixate on income inequality as America’s greatest challenge.
Attention conservative Hollywood screenwriters, both of you: If you’ve cooked up a story about a dystopian future where, say, the rich are hunted for sport, or maybe an update of Soylent Green where the wealthy become foodstuff, I think I know where you might find financing.
Recall Barack Obama’s casus belli: Rising income inequality has left the American dream of upward mobility in tatters. It’s impossible to climb the opportunity ladder when the 1 percent have pulled it up. So time to redistribute those ill-gotten gains to the needy 99 percent.
Down, down, down she goes. For the first time in the 20-year history of the annual Heritage Foundation–Wall Street Journal ranking of economic freedom, America hasn’t a place among the top ten nations. A continuous, nearly decade-long slide leaves the U.S. economy at number twelve, just ahead of Bahrain and right behind Estonia.
Democrats are obsessed with income inequality. They are determined to exploit the issue in this midterm-election year. It is a strategy that will no doubt be aided and abetted by the media. Pope Francis was named Time magazine’s “Person for the Year” for his critique of what he called “trickle down” capitalism.
No, the worst economic idea of the year wasn’t Obamacare. First of all, that was the worst idea of 2010. Second, the Affordable Care Act is just one policy manifestation of what really is the worst economic idea of the year: that America’s “defining challenge” — both morally and economically — is income inequality.
Three years ago a debt-hawk U.S. senator, a Republican, offered me this can’t-miss prediction: The American economy was only a year or two away from a second major financial crisis. But unlike the one in 2008 caused by a burst housing bubble, the one in 2011 or 2012 — at the latest — would be caused by a collapsed bubble in U.S. federal debt.
Republicans generally don’t like the now-adopted Volcker rule, which prevents banks with federally insured deposits from trading for their own profit — or much else about the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law, for that matter.
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.