The Bear’s Lair

The Bear’s Lair: Is there a win-win with Rocket Man?

The announcement of a possible meeting between “Little Rocket Man” North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and President Trump has startled observers, with much of the American right, especially the neocon variety, worrying that Trump will prove incapable of outmaneuvering Kim. Yet an examination of the economic and political possibilities for North Korea and for Kim himself […]

The Bear’s Lair: De-globalization gathering momentum

President Trump’s sudden announcement of tariffs on steel and aluminum is by no means unprecedented – Presidents Reagan and George W. Bush took similar actions. Yet it emphasizes a reality first pointed out in these columns in 2010 and in a presentation later that year: the globalization project, beloved of Whig economists and big-government types […]

The Bear’s Lair: The 1820s are more relevant than the 1950s

Many supporters of Donald Trump have expressed nostalgia for the 1950s, when large companies, strong unions and international competition that had been bombed flat guaranteed well-paid blue-collar jobs. Yet the current situation looks nothing like the 1950s. With robots, genetic engineering, self-driving vehicles, serious emerging market competition and debt defaults on the horizon, we are […]

The Bear’s Lair: Ferment brings us the future

Large organizations are almost never innovators. You can quote the occasional exception, such as the Manhattan Project, but even in space exploration the ability of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, on a tiny budget, to outdistance NASA in rocket design, shows that big is generally intellectually barren. Throughout history, the periods of greatest innovation have coincided with […]

The Bear’s Lair: Debt and Taxes become more inevitable

The White House’s 2019 Budget is pure fantasy, but it assumes a deficit in the year to October 2019 of $984 billion. However, Congress’s 2-year Budget deal has added at least $80 billion more spending, pushing the deficit well over $1 trillion. Since we are at the top of a business cycle, with unemployment around […]

The Bear’s Lair: An Anglo-Saxon Chronicle of Failure

Theresa May’s negotiations for Britain’s exit from the European Union are not going well. Time and again, she has been forced to back down, notably over an outrageous EU demand for 40 billion pounds of exit money. Since that demand, negotiations have grown no easier, as the EU has attempted to impose further outrageous conditions, […]

The Bear’s Lair: Go Far East, young man

The announcement last week that Chinese researchers had cloned monkeys represents slow progress – it is now nearly 22 years since British researchers produced Dolly the cloned sheep. However, that delay is largely due to obstructive Western regulation, and the time taken for emerging market China to catch up to the intellectual frontier of a […]

The Bear’s Lair: Cooperatives are a useful capitalist tool

Britain’s Labour Party has now committed to re-nationalizing many of the utilities that were privatized to such fanfare under Lady Thatcher in the 1980s. Reluctantly, we should admit that in certain respects, the Labour Party has a point; monopolies owned by private equity groups, as have appeared in the water industry, offer no accountability to […]

The Bear’s Lair: The secular stagnation that wasn’t

Rarely can two economists of such eminence have been made to look foolish so quickly. In 2015, Robert J. Gordon wrote a book proclaiming that the lousy productivity growth that we had seen in recent years was the best we could expect, and in January 2016 Paul Krugman reviewed it enthusiastically in the New York […]

The Bear’s Lair: Neither a borrower nor a lender be

According to a Fed report this week, U.S. consumer credit increased $28 billion in November, the largest rise in 16 years, with credit card debt rising at annual rate of 13.3%. This is of course a sign of consumer confidence, another sign that President Trump’s administration has revolutionized the U.S. economic outlook. However, it is […]