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Spring 2019 / Volume III, Number 1
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Economies out of Balance

Does America Need Global Savings to Finance Its Fiscal and Trade Deficits?

It is frequently argued that America’s twin deficits—the government budget deficit and the trade deficit—result from profligate spending by the government and private sectors. This excess domestic spending, moreover, must be financed by global savings, putting America on an unsustainable debt path. Problems are compounded as the U.S. demand for savings can push up interest rates, crowding out investment and causing the dollar to appreciate. American investment and exports are thereby depressed, slowing the growth of productive capacity. At some point, global savers will cut the flow of dollars to America’s borrowers, making it difficult to continue to finance spending. As spending falls and the economy struggles, there could be…

How the Financial Crisis Did Not Change the World

The tenth anniversary of the 2008 financial crisis came and went with surprisingly little reflection. Adam Tooze’s Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World was perhaps the most celebrated attempt to analyze the crisis with the benefit of hindsight. Unfortunately, much of the book offers little more than a chronology of newspaper headlines, displaying superficial…

Managed Obsolescence: Homelessness in America’s Gilded Cities

It was last July, somewhere around Malibu on the Pacific Coast Highway, when I first noticed the RVs. Miles and miles of vintage cream-colored RVs parked bumper to bumper along the inland shoulder of the PCH. My first thought was that they must have belonged to tourists spending a day at the beach. But they…

China and Russia

The New Silk Road and the Return of Geopolitics

The grand design came in 2013 from President Xi Jinping himself. The goal was to launch the project “One Belt One Road,” or OBOR, across and around Eurasia, and to ensure mutually beneficial cooperation among all participating countries. At the time, the announcement of OBOR received little if any attention from European observers, distracted as they were by the difficulties of emerging from the euro crisis and the foreign policy challenges of Iran and Russia…

Solidarity under a Song: What Strikes in China Tell Us

Early one Monday morning in 2010, Tan Guocheng came to his shift at Honda’s Nanhai factory in Guangdong Province. Tan was a twenty-four-year-old migrant worker from Hunan, a neighboring province, and the factory manufactured automobile parts. But…

Reflections in the Russian Mirror

Driving through Kaliningrad Oblast last summer, I came across a shining new piece of Russian deviousness: the government of Vladimir Putin has rebuilt Immanuel Kant’s old house, or at least a small red-brick building that Kant rented for a few years in the 1740s…

America's Science and Engineering Crisis

The Decline of American Science and Engineering

Imagine sitting in front of your television in 1969, watching the Apollo lunar landing, and noting the marvels of modern engineering. The person sitting next to you responds, “Oh yes, but this is a passing fad; soon we will return to premodern engineering. Groping in the dark requires so much less intellect…

America’s STEM Crisis Threatens Our National Security

On October 4, 1957, a steel sphere the size of a beach ball and bristling with four radio antennae circled the Earth in eight minutes. Dubbed “Satellite-1,” or “PS-1” (Prosteyshiy Sputnik-1) by its Soviet fabricators, it was the first artificial Earth satellite. The Soviets had launched it into an elliptical low Earth orbit, where it…

Liberalism's Limitations

Toward a Party of the State

As critiques of liberalism have become more pronounced, alarm bells about possible alternatives to liberalism have grown louder. These alarms, ironically enough, have often been sounded most emphatically by American writers who otherwise describe themselves as conservatives. In response to the recent challenges to liberalism, conservatives have generally dropped the pretense that they are anything other than liberals, or “classical liberals,” as they prefer to say. But what has enabled the conservative recolonization of liberalism is precisely the fact that no one else—that is, no “liberals” or progressives—any longer bothers to occupy the territory, or live up to the standards, of “liberalism.” The Left forfeited the contest over liberalism years…

Losing Momentum: A Warning from the Fracturing British Left

In mid-November 2018, Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez issued a rallying cry that was not given sufficient attention. She called on left-wing activists to take over the Democratic Party. Her chief of staff Saikat Chakrabarti went one step further, openly calling on left-wingers to primary sitting Democrats. Together with YouTube personalities Cenk Uyger and Kyle Kulinski, Chakrabarti is…

Liberalism and the Invisible Hand

Liberalism as a concrete sociopolitical order rests upon a series of invisible hand systems: free competition in explicit economic markets, free competition in the marketplace of ideas, institutional competition among branches of government, and so on. Yet liberal faith in these systems far outruns any of the social-scientific mechanisms or evidence adduced to support…

The Illusion of a “Marketplace of Ideas” and the Right to Truth

The traditional model of a “marketplace of ideas” was intended to justify freedom of speech in terms of its optimal outcome in the production of truth. But today our behavior on the internet, the main locus of the “marketplace of ideas,” is continuously monitored and processed through the analysis of big data. Complex algorithms categorize…

The Return of the Hidden Persuaders

Critiques of advertising are back. Ten years ago, casual talk about how advertising influences behavior would have come across as weird and paranoid—the preserve of the online conspiracy fringe. Today it is everywhere. Leading journalistic outlets fret over something resembling mind control. Politicos talk in ominous tones of stolen elections and Manchurian candidates. And government…

Online Exclusives

  • Marvel’s War on Terror

    When the Norse god Loki threatens earth in the 2012 film The Avengers, the “playboy billionaire genius” Tony Stark confronts him in a Manhattan penthouse. Overlooking the cityscape, Stark warns Loki that if earth’s most powerful superheroes “can’t protect the earth, you can be damned…

  • The Liberal International Disorder

    Foreign policy as practiced by the United States, especially in recent decades, enjoys a special distinction. The chaos engendered by its voluntarist will to power is painfully obvious…

  • The Illiberal Arts

    For thousands of years, the liberal arts were not liberal, and that is why they are increasingly unwelcome in our time. An honest study of the past is unsettling in a liberal age, because a person who learns to venerate earlier cultural traditions, from Homer…

  • Right-Wing Marxists and Left-Wing Nationalists

    On the shelf of academics’ memoir-manifestos, there will never be more than one Allan Bloom. Someone forgot to tell F. H. Buckley. Which is a shame because Buckley (unrelated to that Buckley) can be interesting. But the contours of his navel are not. The Republican…

  • What Another Irish Housing Bubble Says about the EU Technocracy

    On January 20, the Financial Times reported that the European Central Bank (ECB) would start the process of hiring its new chief economist. At the top of the list, the article said, was Irish central bank governor Philip Lane. The article noted that Lane is…

  • Peter Thiel, Rachel Carson, and Regulatory Double Standards

    Buried in the middle of a two-hour debate in 2014 on religion and modernity is a thought-provoking observation by Peter Thiel regarding technology and the modern economy. Instead of praising Silicon Valley for its tremendous digital inventiveness, Thiel criticized the technological advances of the last…

  • Share Buybacks and the Contradictions of “Shareholder Capitalism”

    In the jargon of finance, America is suffering from a capital allocation problem. The country seems incapable of making the necessary investments to fuel future productivity and growth, or to ensure widespread prosperity. At the government level, public spending on basic research and development as…

  • Utopia’s Borders

    The political future of the European bloc looks distressingly rough. Already in a December 2016 essay published in the Financial Times, Wolfgang Münchau warned that the “liberal capitalist order” was in peril of capsizing under what he called “uncontrolled flows of people and capital.” The…

  • Sweden’s Ambivalence on Immigration

    In 2015, immigration to Sweden reached an all-time high. At its peak, more than 10,000 people arrived in a single week. The total for the entire year was 162,877 people—1.6 percent of the Swedish population. In September, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven welcomed the immigrants, saying…

  • Kanye West’s Radical Black Liberation Theology

    Kanye West has always had a streak of what one might call conservatism. He defiantly included “Jesus Walks” on his 2004 debut album, despite repeated urging from record execs to drop it, and predictions that it would never get play. Instead, the single helped make…

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