RealClearMarkets Articles

Biden Takes Ownership of Trump Tariffs He Used to Criticise

Andrew Wilford - October 11, 2021

President Biden and former President Trump did not agree on much during the campaign. Unfortunately, one of the few areas where Biden has chosen to continue Trump administration policies largely unchanged has been in trade. Most recently, Biden has chosen to allow tariffs on China to remain in place, making tariffs and trade barriers as much a Biden administration policy as a Trump administration one. That’s disappointing given the public statements Biden and Vice PresidentKamala Harris made during the campaign, which rightly criticized those same tariffs for harming...

No More Debt Ceiling Increases: Let the Federal Government Default

Drew Allen - October 11, 2021

Since 1960, the federal government has increased its tax revenue over the previous fiscal year 54 times. Only 7 times has the federal government’s tax revenue decreased over the previous fiscal year. In other words, nine times out of ten, the government gets a raise. But since 1960, the federal government has spent more than it takes in ten times out of ten. For 61 consecutive years, the national debt has increased over the previous year. Nine times out of ten, the federal government confiscates more of our money each year through taxation, but ten times out of ten,...

Why Government Handouts Don't Measure Up to Pastor Dennis

Rob Smith - October 11, 2021

Dennis came to work for one of my companies in 1994. I owned a chain of fried chicken and biscuit restaurants and needed someone to run them. I sure as hell didn’t know how to. Dennis had worked for Chick-Fil-A. He moved from Atlanta to Richmond. We became fast friends and I handed him the keys and trusted his judgment. Dennis was a regular guy, interested in guy things, like college football and the Braves. Real men like to dis each other and play stupid childish tricks on one another. Dennis had these skills in spades. One day I was back in my office and one of my secretaries knocked...

Why the Unemployment Rate Does Not Offer Guidance Now

Reuven Brenner - October 8, 2021

The Labor Department’s official unemployment rate—the most well-known gauge of the labor market’s health—counts as unemployed only those who aren’t working but are actively seeking a job. Yet there is very little that we can infer from the jobless rate about the health of the economy.  The unavoidable conclusion is that the only reason investors follow the calculation is because both Washington’s politicians and the Federal Reserve are expected to react to it. This is the arithmetic: Say the population is 200; Number of Employed, 92; Unemployed...


The U.S. Economy Remains As Frozen As Ever

Jeffrey Snider - October 8, 2021

It would be remembered as Snowmageddon. On February 5 and 6, 2010, the DC beltway area was blanketed with almost 18 inches of the freezing white stuff, the fourth-worst blizzard to strike the area since anyone had been keeping track. At Dulles, it would end up being the snowiest, that airport recording an impressive 32.4 inches. Needless to say, much of the federal government came to a screeching halt. The government, at least, would quickly recover. This was a metaphor, of sorts, not one lost on millions upon millions of the nation’s working peoples; or, formerly working. They had just...

Liberty Will Win If Dierdre McCloskey Wins the Nobel Prize

Brad Lips - October 8, 2021

On Monday, October 11, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences will name the recipient of the 2021 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. My fingers will be crossed for professor of economics, history, English, and communications Dierdre McCloskey. No living economic historian has done as much to solve humanity’s most important riddle: What caused the Great Enrichment that took hold in Holland and England at the end of the 18th century and now has spread to most of humanity? McCloskey looks beyond mechanical explanations based on an “industrial revolution,” as though the steam...

Book Review: Eswar Prasad's 'The Future of Money'

John Tamny - October 7, 2021

A 2018 Frontline episode titled Our Man in Tehran followed Thomas Erdbrink, who was at the time Tehran bureau chief for the New York Times. One of Erdbrink’s stops in this most fascinating of documentaries was an outdoor currency exchange. Paraphrasing the trader whom Erdbrink interviewed, “They hate the Americans, but we don’t.” “They” was the Iranian leadership. They’re not fond of the U.S., but it seems the Iranian people view the U.S. differently. Notable about this currency trader was that he was trading dollars. Yes, the dollar is the currency...

It's Time to Mothball the Monopolistic FDA

Walter Block - October 6, 2021

Competition tends to bring about a better product or service, at a lower price, than does monopoly. This is a basic premise of virtually all economists, disputed by pretty much no one in the profession. Our entire anti-trust edifice is built upon this foundational aspect of the dismal science. And yet when push comes to shove, our society jettisons this insight, at least when it comes to assuring the quality of our food and drugs. The Food and Drug Administration is a monopoly agency entrusted with this task.  Its word is final concerning such matters. No competition is allowed. If a...


Facebook Should Stage Regular Outages to Awaken Its Clueless Critics

John Tamny - October 6, 2021

In his excellent new memoir, An Especially Good View, Peter Osnos writes of how he was viewed as the “Best Dressed” reporter at the Washington Post. This designation proved challenging once he was posted to the newspaper’s Moscow bureau. Suits taken to the cleaners came back without buttons. Shoes taken to the cobbler had nails coming up through the insoles. And getting a haircut was a non-starter. The famously well-put-together Osnos was reduced to having his wife cut his hair, along with her own. Such is life in countries where the profit motive doesn’t inform...

Contra President Biden, Government Spending Is Never 'Paid For'

John Tamny - October 5, 2021

There are surely more ridiculous policy notions (about money in particular), but the one from President Biden about his $3.5 trillion economic plan being “paid for” is right up there. Nothing is “paid for” when it comes to government spending. It’s all cost. To see why, please ask yourself why Congress can spend trillions every year, but the political class in Honduras consumes $5 billion or so. The answer to this riddle isn’t challenging, but economists and politicians are plainly in the dark. Honduras’s spending is a microscopic fraction of...

How to Tax the Rich: The Footnote On AOC's Ball Gown

Aaron Brown - October 5, 2021

“To tax the rich, you don't need guns, or money, or even numbers. You just need the will to do what the other guy wouldn't.” Keyser Soze, The Usual Suspects (paraphrased) I’d like to supply a tax commentary striking a happy medium between ten letters written in red on a dress and thick tombs of wonk analysis. It is possible to tax the rich, at least according to some definitions, but it requires policies that no mainstream politicians are willing to consider; and that wouldn’t satisfy the emotional underpinnings of the slogan. The discussion can also make...

The Freedom Phone Indicates There's a Market for Privacy

Mark Anthony - October 5, 2021

It’s not often that a newcomer to the smartphone industry hits a homerun on their first at-bat, but the Freedom Phone has done just that. The brainchild of Erik Finman, most commonly known as the world’s youngest Bitcoin millionaire, the Freedom Phone is a new take on privacy, free speech, and decentralization. Built like they had a bone to pick with Silicon Valley from the start, the Freedom Phone has leveraged an antagonistic attitude that was echoed by thousands of Americans. As of the time of this writing, the Freedom Phone has racked up 6 million dollars in...


Even So-Called 'Paid For' Spending Has a Cost

Andrew Wilford - October 4, 2021

As Democrats seek to downplay the impact of legislation that will likely end up adding as much as $5-6 trillion in new spending, they have resorted to a new rhetorical tactic: claiming the Biden agenda will cost nothing at all. President Biden and Speaker Pelosi each said over the past week that Democrats’ agenda will “cost zero dollars.” Press Secretary Jen Psaki even doubled down on the claim afterwards. But while the idea that the reconciliation bill will have no cost is transparently false, Democrats’ underlying argument is untrue as...

Americans Are the Witless Seals, Fauci and Biden Have the Clubs

Rob Smith - October 4, 2021

If I was a seal and some British officer was trying to club me to death, I’d bite the Limey son of a bitch. I’d go straight for his gonads, and I’d get my seal buddies to do the same. If you’ve heard the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton as told in Alfred Lansing’s book Endurance, you may know something about clubbing seals. Shackleton, the famous British explorer, got trapped in the South Atlantic ice pack in 1914.  His ship, the Endurance got crushed, and the crew was afloat on the moving ice for 20 months. What saved his 27 man crew from starvation...

Why Halloween Is Much Scarier Than GMOs

Gus Van Horn - October 4, 2021

I know many people avoid genetically modified organisms (GMOs), but I'd never heard of this. Although I am a bioscientist, I was unaware I had to avoid GMOs in the name of health, food security, and proper agriculture. According to its sponsor, the Non-GMO Project, all of October is a chance to "raise awareness about ... choosing non-genetically modified foods."Genetically-modified food has been around for decades, and has been served trillions of times. Ninety percent of our corn was GMO in 2014. Am I missing something?It wasn't just my scientific curiosity that had been piqued:...

What You Need to Know About the Landmark Opioid Trial Set to Open

O.H. Skinner - October 1, 2021

A landmark opioid trial is getting underway in Cleveland.  For the first time, pharmacies better known for selling everyday items like toothpaste and diapers will be on trial, and there will be far-reaching implications for big-ticket policy questions far afield of the opioid crisis.   On one side will be Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart.  On the other, two Ohio counties; whereas the 1990s tobacco litigation was handled at the state level, trial lawyers fanned out to sign up thousands of local governments on lucrative opioid litigation contracts, seemingly deciding...


Global Warming Alarmism Threatens Era of Energy Poverty

Vijay Jayaraj - October 1, 2021

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call for aggressive action against a so-called climate crisis at the United Nations presages similar statements that surely will be made by the dangerously misinformed in the coming months and augurs disastrous energy policy. Humanity has to “grow up” and tackle climate change, the prime minister told world leaders assembled in New York, predicting catastrophe if warnings are ignored. “We will see desertification, drought, crop failure, and mass movements of humanity on a scale not seen before,” said Johnson, whose...

'Easing' Monetary Policy Is Missing a Key Component

Jeffrey Snider - October 1, 2021

Financial repression, he admitted, yes, this was neither a mistake nor an unlucky coincidence. It had always been an intentional provocation, the occurrence of ridiculously low interest rates and the negative effects these have on savers. The difference was that Mr. Kocherlakota would never speak so explicitly in public. Like corruption, cowardice comes in many forms. The President of the Fed’s Minneapolis branch, Narayana Kocherlakota’s tenure at the FOMC was as the typical Economist. In times of trouble, the master neo-Keynesian playbook tells policymakers they had better...

Only In Washington: Historically Slow Mail Delivery Rates Huge Grant

Paul Steidler - September 30, 2021

Effective Friday, October 1, mail service will be slower in the United States than it was in the 1970's as slower delivery standards officially go into effect. Mail service is getting worse despite the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) receiving $10 billion as part of the December COVID relief package and potentially up to $9 billion from the $3.5 trillion spending package to purchase electric vehicles and install related infrastructure. The saga of USPS offers a classic lesson about why just throwing taxpayer money at a problem won’t always work and could make things...

President Biden Is the Latest to Promote the Fib That Corporations Pay No Taxes

John Tamny - September 29, 2021

“Not a penny. That’s not right. And my economic plan will change that.” So said President Biden on September 16th in typically mawkish fashion. Biden was referencing a list produced by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy that revealed – gasp – 55 corporations that didn’t pay taxes in 2020.    Naturally the list has given the 46th president a fit of the vapors, and by extension, some political talking points. Did anyone expect someone unoriginal as Biden is to not jump all over this misleading news? Those reporting on the President went...

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