A Rerun From the 1970s? This Economic Episode Has Different Risks

History doesn’t repeat, they say, but it often rhymes. And the latest economic headlines feature an uncanny tonal resemblance to those of the early 1970s. General Motors workers are on strike, seeking more of the spoils of their employer’s successes. The president of the United States is pressuring the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates, hoping for a booming economy as he seeks re-election. And now, violence in the Middle East is pushing up global oil prices. At first glance, at least, it seems similar to an era of gas…

Here’s an Early Glimpse of the Economic Backdrop for the 2020 Election

In a vacuum, the latest numbers on the job market are pretty solid, even good. Most important, while the overall unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7 percent for August, there was real improvement in the details underneath that number: A whopping 571,000 more Americans were part of the labor force, and the share of adults who were working rose 0.2 percent. The Labor Department’s report on Friday showed there was an even stronger rise in the share of prime working-age adults who were working, to 80 percent — up from…

A Recession Isn’t Inevitable: The Case for Economic Optimism

There is at least one bull market underway: in recession fears. It’s apparent in how ordinary Americans are thinking about the economy. In August, consumer sentiment suffered its biggest drop since 2012, and Google searches for the term “recession” surged to their highest levels in more than a decade. There are also signs that business activity is slackening. The factory sector is slowing worldwide, and according to a closely watched survey released Tuesday, American manufacturing began contracting in August for the first time since 2016. So how worried should Americans…

Trump’s Economic Message: Everything Is Great, but We Need Huge Stimulus Now!

Every time the economy trembles, the president and White House staff face a quandary. On one hand, they wish to instill confidence and project optimism. No president wants to talk down the economy, and a pessimistic tone from the highest office of the land could be self-fulfilling. On the other hand, they need to be ready with the right policy plans in case things do start to sour, to help prevent a mild downturn from becoming a severe recession. The problem is that publicly talking about those contingency plans tends…

One Crazy Day Showed How Political Chaos Threatens the World Economy

The series of economic and financial developments on Friday was a strange, bewildering, exhausting microcosm of why the global economy is at risk of a meltdown. It showed the odd interplay at work between the Chinese government’s actions in the escalating trade war with the United States, the sober-minded global central bankers who have limited power to deploy and an American president whose public pronouncements often appear driven by grievance more than strategy. President Trump arrives in France on Saturday for a meeting of the Group of 7 industrialized nations,…