Economics

Can Human Beings Understand the Economy?

Pascal Boyer— It is in the nature of human beings that they create societies. Philosophers have known and said that much for millennia. These days, scientists can paint a detailed picture of how evolution by natural selection made us social animals, providing us with those capacities and preferences that makes

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She Didn’t Start It: Jane Ellen Panton, a Victorian Marie Kondo

Sarah Bilston— Marie Kondo seems to be everywhere these days. Home-dwellers across the planet debate whether the objects in their home “spark joy” and throw out those that don’t — after thanking them for their service first, as per a key KonMari™ precept. Kondo’s website proudly asserts “She started it,”

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Troubling Signs of a New Financial Crisis

Kathleen Day— No one can predict what or when the next financial crisis will be, but one can spot troubling trends. Policies and practices that contributed to the last crisis—dubbed the Great Recession it was so severe—have started to reappear. Too much debt fuels every financial crisis. So where can

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Choosing the Leader

Matthew N. Green and Douglas B. Harris— Party leaders in Congress matter. They shape the agenda and the rules of their chamber, control lawmakers’ access to internal information, and assemble and enforce collective agreements within the legislature. They negotiate on behalf of their colleagues with interest groups and elected officials

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Reconstructing Seapower

Andrew Lambert— In the late 1880s, American strategist and historian Alfred Thayer Mahan coined the term “sea power” by purposefully splitting the word “seapower,” a direct translation of the Greek thalassokratia, to sustain his agenda. The Greek word had been used by Herodotus and Thucydides to describe states which were

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Message to Democrats: Please Focus on Jobs and Wages

Isabel Sawhill— The midterm elections are over, and the Democrats have taken back the House. They now need an agenda that signals to the electorate what they are for, not just what they are against. It’s unlikely that much will get done between now and 2020, but if the next

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Why Is Climate Change An Economic Problem?

William D. Nordhaus— Begin by stepping back and asking a basic question. Why is global warming such a special problem? Why is it a global problem and not a national problem or a household problem? Why is it such a persistent problem? The economics of climate change is straightforward. Virtually

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Running on Fumes

Dieter Helm— Fast-forward to 2050—almost thirty-five years from now. What will the world look like? How will technology have transformed our daily lives? Will it be a world of robots and artificial intelligence (AI)? Of graphene, fusion, and electric transport? Now rewind—back to 1980. This was still a world of

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Global Power and US Sanctions

Victor Bulmer-Thomas— Sanctions have always played a part in conflicts among states and between states and non-state actors. However, their use by the United States government has accelerated in recent years. There are now nearly twenty countries subject to US sanctions and roughly ten sets of sanctions that are not

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A Frog Slowly Boiled

Joseph Turow— It’s said that a frog placed in a boiling pot of water will escape, but if the water is slowly heated the frog will habituate and eventually die. Although scientists dispute the accuracy of this statement, no one in the audience of marketers objected—or even said it was

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