The poor don’t often decide elections in the advanced world, and yet they are being wooed heavily in Italy’s current electoral campaign. Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the leader of Forza Italia, has proposed a “dignity income,” while Beppe Grillo, the comedian and shadow leader of the Five Star Movement, has likewise called for a “citizenship income.”
We all know how bad tobacco is, that it kills millions of people every year, and that it harms many more. We also know that tobacco companies have consistently lied about how much damage their products cause.
In December, as the Bitcoin price neared $20,000, a friend asked me whether she should invest. I said that I hadn’t the faintest idea. Today, with the price below half that, my reply remains the same.Over the next year, the Bitcoin price could double, soar tenfold, or collapse by 95% or more, and no economic analysis can help predict where in that range it will lie. Its value is arbitrarily determined by the collective psychology of the mass of investors; it goes where, on average, they think it will. Like other cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin serves no useful economic purpose, though in macroeconomic terms, such currencies probably also do little harm.
The price at the pump for premium gasoline topped $3 per gallon in much of the United States over the past few weeks, which is surprising to consumers but not to analysts of the world’s oil markets. From its local low two years ago, the price of oil has more than doubled. As with any market, where you stand on this price increase depends on where you sit.
After months of negotiations, another grand coalition government – comprising Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and a grudging Social Democratic Party (SPD) – is taking shape in Germany. But the new government seems likely to miss the opportunity afforded by Germany’s strong economic and financial situation to pursue much-needed reforms.
LONDON – As Italy approaches what promises to be one of its most contentious general elections since 1945, banks are the elephant in the room. Too big and cumbersome to be ignored, they are a constant source of embarrassment for the parties that have been in government since the global financial crisis of 2008, especially for former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who hopes to rekindle his political career in March. They are also an inviting anti-establishment target for the populists of the Five Star Movement.
US President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans had an opportunity – and a responsibility – to reform the US tax code to address three major economic challenges: slowing growth, rising inequality, and a looming fiscal crisis. Sadly, they shirked their responsibility by passing a bill that squandered this opportunity.