miércoles, 18 de julio de 2012

Writing Well Is the Best Revenge

by David R. Henderson

by David R. Henderson
For the first years of its existence, radio seemed like an economic loser without government subsidy. No one could figure out how to make listeners pay, and, consequently, radio hosts and entertainers usually worked for free. In 1922, Herbert Hoover, then Secretary of Commerce, asserted, "Nor do I believe there is any practical method of payment from the listeners." But that same year, AT&T discovered that it could make money by selling ad time on radio. It sounds obvious now, but it wasn't then. After that, radio thrived and is still thriving.
John Lott tells that story and many others — and tells them well — in his latest book, Freedomnomics. Although the title is clunky — it's obviously a version of the more famous title Freakonomics — that's all that's clunky. Lott's book is an analytic tour de force as he walks the reader through the economics of issues as varied as the origin and development of American public schools, why government grows, crime, gun control, political influence, gasoline prices, the price of wine at restaurants, and voting machines. In each case, he explains concepts that most people don't understand but want to understand — concepts that help us figure out our world. And, in the process, he makes the case — summed up by the book's subtitle — for "Why the Free Market Works and Other Half-Baked Theories Don't."

The Invisible Heart. by David R. Henderson

Are you ready for a novel that appeals to your intellect and your heart at the same time? Have I got a book for you. It's The Invisible Heart (MIT Press, 271 pages, $22.95) by economist Russell Roberts. Yes, it's an economics novel. In other words, when you read this novel, you will learn a lot of economics, in a very pleasant, philosophical way. On top of all that, the one romantic scene, even though it reveals no skin, is a real turn on.
Until recently, the main economics novels in existence were written by economists William Breit and Kenneth Elzinga under the pseudonym Marshall Jevons. The Marshall was for Alfred Marshall and the Jevons was for William Stanley Jevons, both prominent British economists in the late 19th century. The Marshall Jevons novels are mysteries that the reader can solve if he pays attention to detail, the typical requirement for solving a mystery, and, furthermore, understands a key principle or two of economics. In one of their novels, for example, you can spot a lie by knowing the answer to the joint supply problem in economics, which says that when the demand for, say, beef goes up, the price of leather falls. But no one has attempted to write an economics novel about a love story.

Who Wants the U.S. To Make War in Syria? by Michael S. Rozeff

There are people vigorously promoting America’s entry into new wars in Syria and Iran. Many of them eagerly advocated the U.S. aggressions against Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite the failures of these wars to achieve the projected goals, they are urging new U.S. wars. They are the neoconservatives. They applaud U.S. military action in places like Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. The neoconservative paradigm also looks favorably upon a U.S. military presence in countries like Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and the Central African Republic.
Neoconservatives seek democracy almost everywhere, with the choice and emphasis depending on their interpretation of American interests and with lip service to costs. Zachary Selden writes

Outsourcing for Dummies (Including the Willfully Ignorant)

In an era of misinformation overload, it is disheartening to see the Washington Post perpetuating the ignorance surrounding the issue of outsourcing. To be sure, in addressing the topic in Tuesday’s paper, writers Tom Hamburger, Carol D. Leonnig, and Zachary A. Goldfarb were merely presenting the case of Obama’s critics “primarily on the political left,” who claim the president has failed to make good on his promises to curtail the “shipping of jobs overseas.” That conclusion may be accurate. But the article’s regurgitation of myths about outsourcing and trade, peddled by those who benefit from restricting it, gives readers a parochial perspective that leaves them confused and uninformed about the manifestations, causes, consequences, benefits, and costs of outsourcing.

Why NOT Make Olympic Uniforms in China?

by Daniel J. Ikenson

  Sans Serif
Patriotism, it has been said, is the last refuge of scoundrels. Indeed, with 86% of the American public disapproving of Congress' performance, refuge-seeking politicians have wrapped themselves in the flag to denounce the fact that the U.S. Olympic team's uniforms were manufactured in China.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said he was "so upset... they should take all the uniforms, put them in a big pile and burn them and start all over again." House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, clucked of the Olympic committee at a news conference that "You'd think they'd know better."

Let Them Eat Hope by Gene Healy

After much soul searching, Barack Obama has figured out where his presidency has gone wrong — and he shared it with CBS's Charlie Rose and viewers across the fruited plain Sunday morning.
"The mistake of my first term — couple of years," the president allowed, "was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right." At times, Obama confessed, he'd forgotten that "the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times." He needed to do "more explaining, but also inspiring."
"Because hope is still there," the first lady added.

Obama and TV News


The Obama White House is both very aware and very thin-skinned about what reporters, and particularly TV reporters, say about it.
President Obama’s recent announcement of his policy change on gay marriage made news, and not just because of the policy, but for the way in which he announced it: In an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts. As the Washington Post’s Paul Farhi wrote, Obama’s release was “controversial” in that he did not do it in the traditional ways of a press conference or an Oval Office address, but in a daytime television interview on the second-ranking network, and with a reporter who does not typically focus on politics. Politico’s Dylan Byers also noted the oddity of the choice, speculating that the White House may have selected Roberts, who is an African-American and a Christian, to soften the blow of his policy shift in those particular communities.
Regardless of the reason, it seems clear that the Obama administration put some serious thought into how to manage their policy shift. This fits into a pattern of Obama and his team aggressively micro-managing their relationship with TV news. As CNN’s Jonathan Wald told Byers, “The White House is very careful who it picks for which message.” As this story shows, for all the talk about Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook, television remains the key medium by which Americans get not only their news, but also their impressions of our political leaders.

Paul Krugman’s Intellectual Great-Grandfather


You’ve probably never heard of Walter Weyl, but he invented the role of liberal economics popularizer. His literary descendants include Stuart Chase, John Kenneth Galbraith, Paul Samuelson, and Paul Krugman.
Consider these arguments: The richest 1 percent of Americans are getting richer and more powerful every year. The 1 percent dominates the economy in an unhealthy way. The only way to solve this problem of increasing income inequality is to tax and redistribute the incomes of the rich in ways that benefit the national interest and not just the privileged few.
Is this a summary of a recent column by Paul Krugman? No. Substitute “the plutocracy” for “the 1 percent,” and you’ll accurately describe the ideas of Walter Weyl, the most important Progressive thinker you’ve never heard of.

Are Americans Too Dumb for Democracy?


The best hope for democracy still lies in the unregulated marketplace of ideas, in which the maxim ‘Let the buyer beware’ remains the surest safeguard against cheats and charlatans, including those waving their PhDs in your face.
Are Americans too dumb for democracy?
Of late, there has been a spate of articles and op-ed pieces that suggest the answer to this question is an emphatic yes: The majority of Americans are simply too hopelessly ignorant to make the kind of intelligent decisions that are necessary to preserve a healthy democratic system.
Judging from the tone of these articles, America is currently suffering not only from an epidemic of obesity, but an epidemic of stupidity.

It’s Not a Welfare State, It’s a Special Interest State


The concept of ‘welfare’ has become an open, bottomless vessel into which every desire can be poured.
One of the most successful linguistic hijackings ever is the Left’s appropriation of the term “welfare state.”
No one opposes the most basic version of a welfare state, one that provides essential public facilities, cares for the destitute and unfortunate, educates children, and protects public health and safety. Indeed, as the Supreme Court said in 1881, during an era regarded by the Left as a dark-age trough, “It will not be denied by any one that these are public purposes in which the whole community have an interest.”

Checks, Balances, and Audits


Here’s an approach that accepts the reality of the Administrative State while restoring the principle of checks and balances.
Our Constitution was designed to disperse power. The theory was that each branch of government would have its potential for abuses curbed by the other branches. This is the theory of checks and balances.
Our modern government has left the original model behind. We have what is sometimes called the Administrative State, in which power is exercised by independent agencies that are largely beyond the reach of the political process. Examples would include the Federal Reserve Board, the Internal Revenue Service, the Transportation Security Administration, and the Congressional Budget Office.

The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation: Who Will Guarantee This Guarantor?


The law requires that the PBGC ‘be self-financing.’ So far, the PBGC has ‘self-financed’ itself into a $26 billion hole.
Defined-benefit pension plans are very difficult to finance successfully: That is why so many of them, both private and public, are deeply underfunded. It is also why they are a disappearing financial species. General Motors, though it went through a government-directed bankruptcy, still had unfunded pension liabilities of $25 billion at the end of 2011, and has announced that it hopes to eliminate defined-benefit plans for all current salaried employees this year.

Who Knew When about the LIBOR Problems?


‘The New York Fed continued to monitor for problems related to LIBOR.’ And then?
The inaccurate reporting of LIBOR interest rates—certainly among the most important interest rates in the world—by Barclays and other banks is a scandal of the present day. But did central banks and the U.S. government know about the problem four years ago? Yes, they did. This is made clear by the July 13 report just issued by the New York Federal Reserve Bank. It includes these statements:

The Essential Lesson of the Auto Bailout


What do companies get when they act responsibly? Government-subsidized competition.
On July 5 in the swing state of Ohio, President Obama treated voters to his campaign-2012 synopsis of the 2009 auto industry bailout: "When the American auto industry was on the brink of collapse and more than one million jobs were on the line, Governor Romney said we should just let Detroit go bankrupt."
His message was clear: The Obama administration’s 2009 decision to bail out the auto industry allegedly saved it from the fate it would have suffered had Romney’s approach—bankruptcy—won the day.
The map below, adapted from the Ohio affiliate of the U.S. Census Bureau, shows automobile assembly plants in the Midwest and South, and helps to illustrate the “industry” in question. Red indicates companies rescued by the bailout; green indicates companies that didn’t participate in the bailout.

If You Don’t Buy Insurance, Will You Really Pay the Tax?


Generally speaking, if you owe the IRS, it will get the money from you—with the possible exception of the ObamaCare tax.
Now that the Supreme Court has decided that ObamaCare’s mandate to buy health insurance is a tax, will the IRS be able to collect it?
Generally speaking, if you owe the IRS, it will get the money from you—with the possible exception of the ObamaCare tax. Though ObamaCare’s individual mandate imposes a tax on people who do not purchase government-approved health insurance, the law explicitly neuters the IRS’s ability to collect the tax.
Bizarre? Yes. And it matters. If policymakers expect uninsured young people to buy health insurance when it is even more expensive than it is today, the threat of serious consequences for not doing so must be real. Yes, the threat that the IRS might come after you if you do not do what you are told looks real at first glance. But Democratic politicians, fearing public backlash for making the mandate too intrusive, pulled its teeth.

America Heading Towards a Collapse Worse Than 2008 AND Europe! Says Peter Schiff

America Heading Towards a Collapse Worse Than 2008 AND Europe! Says Peter Schiff

Schiff, who famously warned investors about the housing and financial crisis in his 2007 book Crash Proof, says the Fed's palliative efforts during the housing meltdown have made the next crisis inevitable.
"We've got a much bigger collapse coming, and not just of the markets but of the economy," Schiff says in the attached clip. "It's like what you're seeing in Europe right now, only worse."

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Fallacy of the 'Public Sector' by Murray N. Rothbard

We have heard a great deal in recent years of the "public sector," and solemn discussions abound through the land on whether or not the public sector should be increased vis-à-vis the "private sector." The very terminology is redolent of pure science, and indeed it emerges from the supposedly scientific, if rather grubby, world of "national-income statistics." But the concept is hardly wertfrei; in fact, it is fraught with grave, and questionable, implications.
In the first place, we may ask, "public sector" of what? Of something called the "national product." But note the hidden assumptions: that the national product is something like a pie, consisting of several "sectors," and that these sectors, public and private alike, are added to make the product of the economy as a whole. 

The Fed: Mend It or End It? by Ron Paul

Last week I held a hearing to examine the various proposals that have been put forth both to mend and to end the Fed. The purpose was to spur a vigorous and long-lasting discussion about the Fed's problems, hopefully leading to concrete actions to rein in the Fed.
First, it is important to understand the Federal Reserve System. Some people claim it is a secret cabal of elite bankers, while others claim it is part of the federal government. In reality it is a bit of both. The Federal Reserve System is the collusion of big government and big business to profit at the expense of taxpayers. The Fed's bailout of large banks during the financial crisis propped up poorly-run corporations that should have gone under, giving them a market-distorting advantage that no business in the United States should receive. The recent news about JP Morgan is a case in point. JP Morgan, a recipient of $25 billion in bailout money, recently announced it lost another $2 billion. If a corporation shows itself to be a bottomless money pit of "errors, sloppiness and bad judgment," the Fed shouldn't have expected $25 billion in free money to change that or teach anyone a lesson in fiscal discipline. But it determined that this form of deliberate capital destruction was preferable to one business suffering bankruptcy. Clearly, some changes need to be made.

Capital Controls Have No Place in a Free Society by Ron Paul

The characteristic mark of a tyrannical regime is that it eventually finds it necessary to erect walls to keep people from leaving. This is why we should be troubled by the “Ex-PATRIOT Act,” an egregiously offensive bill recently introduced in the Senate. Following a long line of recent legislation and regulations attempting to expropriate more and more wealth from hard-working Americans, this new bill spits in the face of overburdened taxpayers and tramples on the Constitution.

War Drums for Syria? by Ron Paul

War drums are beating again in Washington. This time Syria is in the crosshairs after a massacre there last week left more than 100 dead. As might be expected from an administration with an announced policy of "regime change" in Syria, the reaction was to blame only the Syrian government for the tragedy, expel Syrian diplomats from Washington, and announce that the US may attack Syria even without UN approval. Of course, the idea that the administration should follow the Constitution and seek a Declaration of War from Congress is considered even more anachronistic now than under the previous administration.
It may be the case that the Syrian military was responsible for the events last week, but recent bombings and attacks have been carried out by armed rebels with reported al-Qaeda ties. With the stakes so high, it would make sense to wait for a full investigation – unless the truth is less important than stirring up emotions in favor of a US attack.

The CBO Sees the Economic Cliff Ahead by Ron Paul

Last week the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued its annual long-term budget outlook report, and the 2012 numbers are not promising. In fact, the CBO estimates that federal debt will rise to 70% of GDP by the end of the year – the highest percentage since World War II. The report also paints a stark picture of entitlement spending, as retiring Baby Boomers will cause government spending on health care, Social Security, and Medicare to explode as a percentage of GDP in coming years.
While the mainstream media correctly characterized the CBO report as highly pessimistic, they also ignored longstanding errors of methodology in CBO estimates. And those errors tend to support arguments for higher taxes and government spending, when in fact America needs exactly the opposite.

Stepping out of the system

Stepping out of the system

Anti-capitalism protestors (Copyright: Getty Images)
(Copyright: Getty Images)
In lean economic times, alternative financial systems are sprouting up around the world. And now they come with a digital twist.
"The Greek state is completely absent," says Katarina with a deep chuckle. We are standing across from each other inside a sweltering building on the outskirts of the Greek city of Volos, about 200 miles north of Athens on the Mediterranean. Both Katarina and her daughter, who stands beside her, have been unemployed for months. They are at this makeshift market to sell their array of homemade jams, pickled vegetables and liqueurs, which are spread out on the table between us.

The Texan gambler who bet his life on JFK's death - and won

The Texan gambler who bet his life on JFK's death - and won


By Peter Lewis

Enlarge   Rivals: Lyndon B Johnson, left, with Bobby and John Kennedy, right, in 1960
Rivals: Lyndon B Johnson, left, with Bobby and John Kennedy, right, in 1960
An alternative title to this tome might have been: ‘Succeeding Kennedy’. It’s difficult to imagine a harder act to follow given the national trauma of JFK’s televised assassination before the eyes of his whole devastated country.
Fateful day: President Kennedy driving through Dallas moments before his assassination
Fateful day: President Kennedy driving through Dallas moments before his assassination
Remember the Kennedy charisma, his good looks, his debonair glamour. Then look at the cover photograph of Lyndon Johnson. In any competition for grim, unmerciful mouths, he would take some beating. Also for uncomfortable eyes - black, shrewd, crafty.

Libertarianism and Abortion by Laurence M. Vance

My recent article "Should Libertarians Be Conservatives" elicited a huge response – most of it positive. Some libertarians, however, were quite annoyed because I expressed my opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage.
I promised my critics that I responded to (I didn’t respond to profanity-laden missives or to statements like: "A libertarian is really a fascist SOB if he is pro-life.") that I would write about these two subjects individually, and sooner rather than later. I addressed the subject of same-sex marriage in an article published on June 8. There I argued that there is no libertarian position on same-sex marriage. I address here the subject of libertarianism and abortion.

Who Wants the U.S. To Make War in Syria? by Michael S. Rozeff

There are people vigorously promoting America’s entry into new wars in Syria and Iran. Many of them eagerly advocated the U.S. aggressions against Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite the failures of these wars to achieve the projected goals, they are urging new U.S. wars. They are the neoconservatives. They applaud U.S. military action in places like Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. The neoconservative paradigm also looks favorably upon a U.S. military presence in countries like Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan, and the Central African Republic.
Neoconservatives seek democracy almost everywhere, with the choice and emphasis depending on their interpretation of American interests and with lip service to costs. Zachary Selden writes

The Last Thing This Economy Needs Is Tax Hikes

The Last Thing This Economy Needs Is Tax Hikes

Is there a "fairness" factory somewhere out in Middle America producing self-sustaining jobs? If not, President Barack Obama's obsession with ending Bush-era tax cuts makes no sense as either policy or politics.
To begin with, Obama -- and nearly all media coverage of the decade-old tax cuts -- continues to discuss the "cost" of tax cuts as if Washington had first dibs on your money. Is the president arguing that the base line of spending includes all wealth and that anything the Internal Revenue Service doesn't take is something we have to "pay" for? If not, then government spending is the only thing that really costs us. Sometimes the cost is worthwhile; mostly it isn't.

Niall Ferguson: The Cure for Our Economy’s Stationary State

Niall Ferguson: The Cure for Our Economy’s Stationary State

Adam Smith knew what ails us—and he prescribed the cure.

Jesse L. Jackson Jr. has been suffering from “a mood disorder.”
He is not alone. The world economy may not be in a depression as bad as that of the early 1930s. But it’s certainly got emotional problems.
A year ago, according to Gallup, economic confidence in the United States plunged, touching bottom in late August. It then rallied, only to start sliding again with the arrival of summer. Sunshine doesn’t seem to work like it used to.
What is going on?

Obama: If You've Got a Business, You Didn't Build That ...

Does the President Think The Government Got Him Where He Is Today?

Does the President Think The Government Got Him Where He Is Today?

It is a lie premised on Marxism. It really is. It is not hyperbole to say it. Prior to Marx, people did not clearly think of economics as class divided and did not think of the collective overriding the individual. Certainly the thinking was there sociologically, but not crystalized in economics.
As Daniel Henninger noted in the Wall Street Journal recently, “There is no theory anywhere in non-Marxist economics that says growth’s primary engine is a social class. A middle class is the result of growth, not its cause. Barack Obama not only believes in class-based growth but has built his whole growth strategy around it.”
Thus we arrive at President Obama’s very troubling statement in Roanoke on Friday. He told the crowd

Ending Welfare As We Know It

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Last Thursday, in another assault on the democratic process that has become standard operating procedure for the Obama administration, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a policy directive that purports to grant states more “flexibility” in implementing the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. In reality, the policy change eviscerates the federal works requirements that were the essential ingredient of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act signed into law by president Bill Clinton in 1996 after painstaking, bipartisan efforts achieved through the democratic process.

What is Sharia?

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Reprinted from libertiesalliance.org.
The Islamic Sharia is a system of law. It is a collection of prohibitions, admonitions and commands about human behavior. The Sharia is not an internal matter that only concerns Islam and Muslims. The Sharia includes a large number of provisions about people who are not Muslims. These rules are usually prohibitions that carry severe penalties if violated. These provisions of the Sharia make life unsafe and uncertain for someone who lives under Sharia law and who is not a Muslim.

Hillary Clinton Blesses the Brotherhood

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As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Egypt’s new Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, demonstrators gathered outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to protest the United States’ uncritical support for the new regime, which has promised to impose Sharia upon Egypt. In the days when the U.S. was the world’s foremost defender of freedom, such a demonstration would have been unthinkable: protestors held signs reading “Message to Hillary: Egypt will never be Pakistan”; “To Hillary: Hamas will never rule Egypt” and “If you like the Ikhwan [Brotherhood], take them with you!”

Muslim Congressman: Islam in America Must Not Retreat

In a May 26 address before the Islamic Circle of North America/Muslim American Society (ICNA/MSA), both Muslim Brotherhood front groups, André Carson commiserated with his audience over how difficult things have been for them since the World Trade Center attacks at the hands of al Qaeda jihadists: “9/11 was tough on Muslims.”

Who Owns Water?


[Day 21 of Robert Wenzel's 30-day reading list that will lead you to become a knowledgeable libertarian, this article originally appeared in the letters section of the Freeman, March 1956.]
Dear Mr. Read:
Congratulations on publishing the stimulating and challenging article on "Ownership and Control of Water" in the November issue of Ideas On Liberty.
It is highly important that we think more about such fine points of complexity in our societal system. I offer these further thoughts on water rights, not as the final solution, but in an effort to help find answers to some of the questions raised in the article by the anonymous professor.
For some time, I have believed that a crucial point in our societal system has to do with land ownership, land meaning original nature-given resources of whatever physical type. This problem of ownership is at the crux of our dispute with the socialists.

The Crippling Nature of Minimum-Wage Laws


[Day 20 of Robert Wenzel's 30-day reading list that will lead you to become a knowledgeable libertarian, this article is excerpted from Making Economic Sense, chapter 36, "Outlawing Jobs: The Minimum Wage, Once More."]
There is no clearer demonstration of the essential identity of the two political parties than their position on the minimum wage. The Democrats proposed to raise the legal minimum wage from $3.35 an hour, to which it had been raised by the Reagan administration during its allegedly free-market salad days in 1981. The Republican counter was to allow a "subminimum" wage for teenagers, who, as marginal workers, are the ones who are indeed hardest hit by any legal minimum.

Tax-Loving Conservatives


Hamilton's Curse: How Jefferson's Arch Enemy Betrayed the American Revolution--and What It Means for Americans Today
[LewRockwell.com, June 9, 2012]
This may sound odd. Conservatives don't love taxes. They want lower taxes. Right? They want lower taxes and smaller government.
I wish that were true. It isn't.
Alexander Hamilton was a crusader for higher taxes and a larger national government in the 1790s. He wanted higher taxes in order to raise money for a higher federal debt. He wanted higher federal debt because he wanted investors in government IOUs to commit to the survival of the United States. Free-market economist Thomas DiLorenzo has summarized Hamilton's position, which he accurately identifies as crony capitalism:

The China-bashing syndrome


The China-bashing syndrome

Both parties are cranking up their rhetoric against the world’s second-largest economy

IT IS a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a major American political party’s presidential nomination must be in want of a more assertive policy on China. Bill Clinton upbraided George Bush senior for “coddling dictators”; Mr Bush’s son went on to accuse Mr Clinton, when president, of much the same thing. Barack Obama, during his first presidential campaign, called the younger Mr Bush “a patsy” in his dealings with China. Now it is Mitt Romney’s turn: in February he described Mr Obama as a “near supplicant to Beijing”.

Hong Kong and China

Hong Kong and China

A city apart

A huge protest in Hong Kong challenges new leaders in the city, as well as those preparing to take power in Beijing

CHINA’S president, Hu Jintao, is a rare visitor to Hong Kong, and for all the pomp and ceremony surrounding his latest trip there on July 1st, he is doubtless relieved that he is not expected to return before he leaves office in a few months’ time. Tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of people took to the streets in Hong Kong’s, and China’s, biggest protest in years. They vented grievances not only against Hong Kong’s new leadership, which Mr Hu had just sworn in, but also against Beijing’s. Mr Hu’s successors will find Hong Kong’s disgruntled public an increasing challenge to the Communist Party’s troubled politics.

The American economy

The American economy

Comeback kid

America’s economy is once again reinventing itself

ALMOST the only thing on which Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, his Republican challenger, agree is that the economy is in a bad way. Unemployment is stuck above 8% and growth probably slipped below an annualised 2% in the first half of this year. Ahead lie the threats of a euro break-up, a slowdown in China and the “fiscal cliff”, a withering year-end combination of tax increases and spending cuts. Mr Obama and Mr Romney disagree only on what would make things worse: re-electing a left-wing president who has regulated to death a private sector he neither likes nor understands; or swapping him for a rapacious private-equity man bent on enriching the very people who caused the mess.

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