Low productivity puts Western economies at a crossroads
Productivity is the key to economic success and the main determinant of future growth. In Europe and North America, however, this economic driver has been weakening for decades, despite scientific and technological progress. Unless Western countries want to take a back seat to rising Asian economies, they must look hard at their educational, social welfare and regulatory systems.
Opinion: Ready for the next recession?
Economists enjoy delivering bad news. The current favorite being shared by academics and financial experts is that the world is headed for a recession, in 2020 or 2021 at the latest. But we regard this as unlikely, unless there is a major political accident – such as a trade war or turmoil in China. While a slowdown is always possible, especially in Western Europe, that does not make a recession.
Egypt: Proud and jittery as El-Sisi begins second term
With the Middle East in turmoil, the Arab world’s most populous nation and its biggest army are nowhere to be found. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi believes the path to national greatness begins at home, with economic development – not foreign entanglements. But as trouble builds up in Egypt’s immediate neighborhood, Mr. El-Sisi may not be able to stay out.
Where the United States and global trade are heading
The U.S. is the world’s largest open economy and pillar of the global trading system. Yet its economic challenges today – government debt, wealth inequality, and labor force participation – cannot be reliably addressed through more open trade. One should therefore expect more U.S. steps to change the terms of trade and pressure leading exporters over the next two years.
Can India bank on its banks?
As the ratio of nonperforming assets in India’s banking sector rises, there have been loud calls for reform. The condition of loan portfolios at state-controlled banks is now so parlous that it is choking off the availability of new credit and forcing the government into ever more ambitious recapitalization schemes. But for all the smoke and noise, substantive change has been elusive.
The consequences of prolonged low interest rates in Europe
Monetary policymakers are becoming preoccupied with the risks of persistently low interest rates to Europe’s still fragile economic recovery. Ultra-easy credit is creating growing economic distortions and asset bubbles, while reviving volatility and risk in financial markets. The European Central Bank realizes it must “normalize” rates, but it worries that sudden tightening could precipitate a financial crisis that could be as bad or worse than 2008-2009.
Is economic inequality a bad thing?
As an inevitable consequence of free enterprise, inequality is a phenomenon that naturally fluctuates over time and poses no real threat to society. It is the governments’ attempts to bring equality through dense regulation and wealth transfers that put at risk the West’s development and democracy.
A differentiated view of the new U.S. tax bill
The Trump administration's long-overdue effort at tax reform – the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act – has gotten a bad rap from its critics. While they focus on its alleged favors toward the super-rich, the media have overlooked its benefits to small and medium-sized companies – the family firms that form the backbone of the American economy. Europe could learn a thing or two about this approach to boosting growth.