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The American Way of Innovation and Its Deficiencies

Apple, Alphabet (the parent company of Google), Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook are the world’s largest companies by market capitalization. The United States is also, by many measures, the leader in university research in basic science. From this perspective, American innovation seems alive and well. But it’s a different story when it comes to actually making things.…

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Cryptocurrencies: Commodity Dynamics and Cartelization

Bitcoin and the other altcoins now have more “experts” than perhaps any other market. I am no such “expert”: I am neither a cryptographer nor a computer programmer. I am a currency and commodity trader of thirty-plus years, and I approach the cryptocurrency market from that perspective. The cryptocurrency market cannot easily be dismissed, despite…

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Old Populism and the New Ideas of Michał Kalecki

Populism in the United States has its roots in the mass protests of the 1880s and 1890s, sparked by the economic depression that gripped the country following Reconstruction. American populists rallied to the banner of William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic candidate for the presidency in 1896, who expressed the populists’ distrust of cosmopolitan elites and…

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The Future of Fannie and Freddie

In one of the fateful moments in the financial crisis, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were placed in conservatorship on September 6, 2008, one week before the earth-shattering collapse of Lehman. The panic that followed the Lehman bankruptcy overshadowed the crisis facing the two mortgage giants, but the idea that these two companies could both…

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A Proper Accounting of Glass-Steagall

Over the past two decades in the United States and Europe, elite decision-making has hit an extended rough patch. Fairly or not, a lot of important public policy decisions have turned out horribly for the best and brightest. Whether that involved running a stratospherically levered financial institution hurtling into the financial crisis; or the government…

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Private Equity: Overvalued and Overrated?

America is in the grips of a speculative frenzy. Investment bankers, private investment firms, and even a few dozen recently graduated MBAs labelling themselves “searchers” are calling, emailing, wining, and dining small business owners. Their goal is to translate prosaic small businesses into the poetry of private equity. The great postcrisis private equity gold rush…

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The Western Elite from a Chinese Perspective

The Evangelical Christians I have met in the United States often talk about how reading the Bible changed their lives. They talk about being born again. I am not an Evangelical Christian. I am a Chinese atheist who came to the West to study at the world’s best universities and, later, to work at one…

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Two Cheers for Tax Reform

The recently announced tax reform package is one of the few serious and intelligent proposals offered by House Republicans in years. Not surprisingly, however, everyone seems to hate it. Defenders no less than critics of the plan seem incapable of thinking about tax policy outside of the simplistic framework of Reaganomics. As a result, most…

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Capitalism without Capitalists

Western capitalism is in bad shape. A decade has passed since banks and financial houses began to crumble and took Western economies to the brink of collapse, but economic growth on both sides of the Atlantic remains weak. It is still determined more by governments and central banks than the animal spirits of entrepreneurial capitalism.…

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