RealClearMarkets Articles

Marco Rubio's Fear of An App Is a Much Bigger Threat Than the App

John Tamny - April 24, 2024

Decades ago national security eminence Dick Allen asked Ronald Reagan what the strategy was for the Cold War. Reagan boldly responded “We win. They lose.” Reagan’s answer was confident because he knew intuitively that freedom beats repression, and that economic freedom crushes planned economies. To him the Soviet Union’s eventual demise wasn’t if, it was when. In a majestic speech given at England’s Westminster Abbey in 1982, Reagan grandly spoke of how “the march of freedom and democracy will leave Marxism-Leninism on the ash heap of history.”...

To Focus On Interest Paid On the Federal Debt Is To Completely Miss the Point

John Tamny - April 23, 2024

The Peterson Institute for International Economics is running billboard ads in Washington, D.C. about - you guessed it - the federal debt. The ads read something like this: Each Day It Costs a Billion Dollars Just To Pay Interest On All of the Federal Debt. Without defending the horrid tax that is government spending for even a second, readers can surely imagine the intent of the ads: let’s get people worked up about not just the amount of federal debt, but the – horrors! – developing reality that interest payments alone are gradually swallowing the total federal budget. It...

Choice and Merit Are Better Than Mandatory Female Quotas

Patrice Onwuka - April 23, 2024

The U.S. Court of Appeals will soon rehear the New Civil Liberties Alliance’s National Center for Public Policy Research v. SEC lawsuit challenging SEC-issued “Board Diversity Rules” with oral argument set to begin the week of May 13th. These diversity mandates would require gender, race and sexual orientation quotas to be met on board membership by companies listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange. If the quotas are not met, the companies will be forced to explain why they failed to meet the requirements.    Gender board disclosure...

Don't Make the FTC the Digital Regulator

Joshua Levine - April 22, 2024

Does protecting consumers online and addressing potential harm associated with digital platforms require creating a new regulatory agency? Some members of Congress think so. The newly introduced American Privacy Rights Act (APRA) is a comprehensive privacy bill that elevates the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to handle a wide swath of regulatory rulemaking and enforcement related to data-driven commerce. While the bill does not go as far as proposals for a stand-alone internet agency, it accomplishes something similar: it anoints the FTC as the U.S.’s digital regulator. Expanding the...


With Neither the Facts Nor the Law On Its Side, the FTC Pounds the Table

Norm Singleton - April 22, 2024

Judging by the press release announcing the Federal Trade Commission’s lawsuit seeking to block the merger of major grocery store conglomerates Kroger and Albertsons, Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan took this old legal saying to heart: “if the law is on your side, argue the law. If the facts are on your side, argue the facts. If neither the law or the facts are on your side, pound the table.” The FTC’s press release is short on facts and the law, but long on table pounding. Economist, author, and policy expert Tim Kane ran the FTC’s...

We Lose Freedom Because Parents Won't Do Their Jobs

John Tamny - April 20, 2024

Randolph Bourne famously said that “war is the health of the state.” A corollary to Bourne long written here is that “crises” are the state’s oxygen. Which is really just a statement of the obvious. Politicians are always looking to do something, because doing something enhances their power. This hopefully explains why Washington is always in crisis mode. Whether it’s because of an allegedly warming planet, too much debt allegedly requiring more taxation, too little debt allegedly requiring more government spending, too many imports, too few exports (both...

To Appease Environmentalists, the FTC Will Cripple U.S. Energy

Justin Bis - April 20, 2024

In the movie The Perfect Storm, George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg are among the crew of a boat off the Northeast coast that is caught in the convergence of multiple powerful storms. The combination of tempests ultimately takes down the craft and its crew. We should all hope one of our nation’s most vital industries doesn’t succumb in similar fashion as it is caught in a perfect storm of ideological rigidity, bureaucratic arrogance, and regulatory overreach. From fueling cars to heating homes to providing raw materials for much of the stuff that makes modern life possible, the...

Supply Siders Close To Trump Need To Fix His Dollar Confusion

John Tamny - April 19, 2024

"The single most significant, inter-galactic, extra-celestial, interplanetary, and spiritual force behind the global stock market rally is the decline of inflation to rates not seen in over thirty years. While many industrial nations, including the U.S., have imposed anti-growth and anti-saving tax increases in recent years, fiscal drag has been offset by a steady decline of inflation. Inflation is a tax on money, wealth creation, income, and work effort. Inflation is a devastating tax on savings. But low inflation is a tax cut. By enhancing the value of financial assets, price stability...


Larry Fink's Investor Letter Ignores Elephants In BlackRock's Room

Stefan Padfield - April 19, 2024

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink published his annual letter to investors recently, but his silence on three issues may speak louder than anything he said therein. First, Fink stayed true to his promise to avoid using the term “ESG,” which stands for the use of environmental, social, and governance factors in corporate decision-making. By my count, Fink had used “ESG” four times in his 2021 letter but did not use it all in this year’s letter. Why does this matter? As I have recently written elsewhere: "People regularly use “woke...

A Look Into How Nations Escape Poverty

Grover Norquist - April 19, 2024

Throughout the world and throughout history Free markets have brought growth, prosperity and individual liberty.  Socialism of the Soviet or national variety has brought impoverishment and tyranny.  Whenever they stand side by side: East and West Germany, North and South Korea. Mao's China and Hong Kong the difference is stark. Clear. Overwhelming.  Why then does socialism get better press? Why do  self-described public intellectuals paint a different picture. The opposite picture?  Rainer Zielmann has written several books on this subject.  The most recent is...

The Credit Card Competition Act Will Encourage Fraud

Ron Bird - April 19, 2024

The supporters of the Credit Card Competition Act (S. 1838 and H. R. 3881) declare that its passage would reduce costs for merchants and prices for consumers. Its backers, however, ignore the fact that it may very well increase the cost of credit card transactions by abetting an increase in fraud, which would ultimately result in higher costs and reduced access to credit for millions of Americans.  The bill has its origins in an amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act, which requires the 134 largest banks that issue consumer debit cards to add alternative electronic network processing agents,...

The Child Tax Credit Masks Major Handouts to Big Tech

Gabriel Joseph - April 18, 2024

Congress has a lot on its plate before it takes yet another recess, with a host of spending and budget items to push through.  One proposal, the “Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024”(H.R. 7024), in title and political spin, promises financial assistance to American households in this high-inflation and uncertain economic time by expanding the popular Child Tax Credit. The bill should really be called the “Big Tech Bonanza Act.” Under the proposal, a single mother of two children would receive an additional $1575 in tax credits per year. Based...


The FTC's Unhealthy Obsession With Private Equity

David McGarry - April 18, 2024

The current Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has dedicated itself to indulging the obsessions and idiosyncrasies of a certain type of technocratic progressive instead of consumers’ interests. As detailed in a recent House Judiciary Committee report, the agency leadership’s bid to remake American antitrust law has become mired in its own administrative incompetence and ideologically blinkered aggression. One FTC staffer reported that often, FTC leadership’s “stated objectives sound more like progressive buzzwords than actual direction.” Staffers also...

Making a Case Against Pharmacy Benefit Managers

Laura Boudreau - April 18, 2024

In the article, “Attacks on Pharmacy Benefits Managers Won’t Reduce Drug Prices,” Ike Brannon pleads with the reader not to see pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) as “the bogeymen they have been made out to be,” and he attempts to recast them as champions of healthcare industry savings. Here is a quick description of who PBMs are and what they actually do to set things straight: PBMs are essentially middlemen who make obscene profits playing a sophisticated arbitrage game.  Last year, one of the “Big Three” PBMs—Express...

Yet Another Attempt To Make Sense of Fyodor Dostoevsky's 'The Brothers Karamazov'

John Tamny - April 18, 2024

In his excellent new memoir, Never Say You Had a Lucky Life (review coming soon), Joseph Epstein writes of a Harvard economics professor by the name of Alexander Gerschenkron who claimed to have read Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace at least fifteen times, and that more than once he began rereading the novel right after completing it. Talk about dedication. And understanding. As written before in attempts to make sense of or offer thoughts or insights into the Russian novels, it would likely help to have read them more than once. Hopefully this admission is recognized as I attempt to write...

FTC Algorithmic Pricing Concerns Not Based On Evidence

Trey Price - April 17, 2024

In yet another attempt to stretch antitrust law into new territory, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) released a joint statement of interest related to whether algorithmic pricing is a form of collusion by hotels. However, this joint statement relies on questionable legal arguments to sidestep the fact that the collusion requires proof of communication between the accused parties. Algorithmic pricing could benefit consumers and shouldn’t be treated as inherently suspect.   In Altman et al v. Caesars Entertainment, et al., the...


If Index Funds Were Politically Motivated, They Wouldn't Be Index Funds

John Tamny - April 17, 2024

Technology giant Nvidia opened its doors in 1993, and publicly floated its shares in 1999. Did you purchase on IPO day, or in 2020? Perhaps early 2023? Readers know the answer to these questions. That Nvidia can presently claim a market cap of nearly $2.2 trillion is all the evidence we need that most didn’t see in 1993, 1999 and realistically much of 2023 what they see now. If Nvidia’s future had been remotely obvious, competitors would have put it out of business early on, or purchased it. No one leaves trillions lying around. Surely stating the obvious, Nvidia’s...

May God Save Us From Populist Socialists of Any Party Affiliation!

Cliff Asness - April 17, 2024

This op-ed is adapted (some additions, some deletions, some edits) from my acceptance speech for the 2023 Alexander Hamilton Award from the Manhattan Institute. Sorry, the bad jokes mostly made the cut. The full speech is here starting with an introduction to my part around the 16-minute mark.  Hello from the Manhattan Institute (MI) awards dinner. I bring greetings from, as the new populist right wing would call us, the rootless cosmopolitan globalist donor class who would sell our country to China for some cheap crapola. Oh, and according to them we’re also “RINOs”...

No Elizabeth Warren, You're Surely No Ted Kennedy

Charles Sauer - April 17, 2024

Most political observers would say there is little difference between Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and her predecessor, the late Edward Kennedy. Like Senator Kennedy, Senator Warren is a leader of the progressive wing of the Democratic party, and as such plays a major role in setting the legislative agenda for progressives both in Congress and in the larger policy community. However, Senator Kennedy was willing to rethink progressive assumptions about the benefits of government regulations if the facts demonstrated that government intervention harmed workers, consumers,...

Lina Khan Isn't Qualified To Define Market Competition

Charles Sauer - April 16, 2024

Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Chair Lina Khan recently spoke at the Carnegie Endowment on “The Future of American Innovation.” Khan’s speech made the case that vigorous enforcement of antitrust policy is vital to ensure American businesses remain innovative. Chair Khan describes two types of markets. The first is the competitive market, where the market is open to new and innovative business that can compete with the established firms, thus forcing the big firms to innovate or lose customers. Then there is the consolidated market, where large firms dominate the...

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