And Now, For the Good News...

As we've written, the current recession is, at its core, about imbalances in the global economy -- namely Americans spending too much and the Chinese saving too much.

The Return of Political Risk

That may now be changing, according to the folks at Eurasia Group. I recently had lunch with Eurasia's head, Ian Bremmer, who pointed out how irrelevant the old "BRICs" term to describe high growth emerging economies is, when at least one of the three letters (R for Russia) is endanger of falling out of out of the acronym altogether thanks to recession related economic and political turmoil.

Let's Not Give Up What Made Us Great...

Two things are different this time round. First, thanks to the housing bubble, a lot more people own homes. Home-owners, as the Times article pointed out, are much less willing to move than renters.

Banks' Balance Sheets: Curiouser and Curiouser

I was reading "Alice In Wonderland" to my daughter last night and came across these lines. The White Queen: Can you do addition? What's one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one and one?

The End of Mutual Funds?

Stewart isn't the only one bashing Cramer. In the March/April 09 Yale Alumni magazine, Yale's brilliant chief investment officer David Swensen blasts not only Cramer but most of the fund industry too: "Look at Fidelity and Schwab with their full-page advertisements.

The Financial Crisis Hits Education

I wonder what effect this will have on student diversity in coming years. It's certainly going to put pressure on those much lauded Ivy league programs to offer free tuition to lower and even middle income students -- Harvard had announced a free ride to students who come from families earning $60,000 or less annually a few years back.

Can A Bangladeshi Bank Help Fix America's Financial System?

The idea of a Bangladeshi bank finding a market in America while Wall Street implodes is fascinating for all sorts of reasons. Aside from the fact that Grameen consistently pulls millions of people out of poverty each year, there are two particularly interesting things about the bank that are worth noting amidst the global financial crisis.

Why Pay Is Rising, Even As Jobs Disappear

As anyone who works in media or finance can tell you, mandatory pay cuts are becoming as common as layoffs. Yet, these industries are actually exceptional—one mystery of this recession is that overall average hourly earnings in the U.S. have continued to grow, even as jobs disappear.

Why Lower Prices Are Scary

American consumers got a little economic present this week in the form of falling prices -- the CPI, or consumer price index, which is the measure of price inflation, finally dipped into negative territory for the first time since 1955.

The Future of New York City

I went to see the new production of West Side Story at the Palace Theatre this weekend. The singing (much of it in Spanish this time round) and the dancing were amazing (female viewers will immediately want to buy flouncy skirts and take mambo lessons).

Freer Trade + Freer Migration = Faster Growth

Migrant workers are among the most vulnerable in any nation. There's been a lot of worry during this financial crisis that growing unemployment in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere would result in a wave of migrant job losses, forcing immigrants to return to their home countries (and back to even more precarious situations).

Wages: The Big Squeeze

  Thanks for all the comments about my recent post, "If Jobs Are Being Cut, Why Aren't Paychecks, Too?," including this one, from Mac101: "The average American worker has been losing money in their paychecks for quite a while.

If Jobs Are Being Cut, Why Aren't Paychecks, Too?

What's going on? Nothing very good, according to economists Julian Jessop and Paul Ashworth at Capital Economics in London. In a research note out this week, Capital pointed out that while rising inflation prior to the onset of the crisis has kept American wages from collapsing, that same inflation has also cut the value of the dollar, and so decreased workers' spending power.

Is The U.S. Turning Japanese?

That's been the big question ever since the financial crisis started – is the U.S. going into a period of long term stagnation, like the Japanese did after their banking crisis in the 1990s?

Barton Biggs: Spring Has Come

Many Newsweek readers already know that our columnist Barton Biggs, the legendary Wall Street strategist and hedge funder, believes markets are set for a new bull run.

Democracy = Shopping

Very interesting op-ed piece in the Financial Times today which questions the conventional wisdom that countries can spend their way to economic growth.

Cheap Oil Forever, Redux

Thanks much for all the great comments on my Cheap Oil Forever post, including this one from "Vigilance": "Oil prices' recent highs were fueled in large part by the fact that speculators comprised a massive share of those "investing" in oil.

Cheap Oil Forever

As playwright Arthur Miller once observed, "an era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted." That's exactly what Newsweek columnist Ruchir Sharma (who happens to have the rather impressive day job of running emerging markets for Morgan Stanley Investment Management when he's not cranking out copy for us) recently observed to me.

Why World Leaders Have Missed the Boat

Despite all the promises today at the G20 to ban tax havens, stop protectionism, and hold those greedy bankers accountable, the truth is that world leaders missed the boat.

Downsized? Consider Lagos...

It's official – unemployment in the rich world is growing at the fastest rate since the post-war period, according to the Paris based OECD, which represents the world's advanced economies.

How To Save The World

Give the Chinese free health care. Goldman Sachs' chief economist Jim O'Neill told me that he thinks the Chinese government's recent announcement that it plans to offer basic state health care to 90 percent of its population by 2011 is the "most important policy decision in the world at the moment." That's saying something given the slew of executive decisions being taken every other day in the U.S, Europe and elsewhere to avert recession.

Cheap Is Cool

As we all know by now, the only companies making serious money these days are those that sell stuff that is cheap – Wal-Mart and McDonald's were the lone stocks in the Dow Jones Industrial Average that ended 2008 with a gain.   What's not as well known is how fast a group of new emerging market giants is coming on thanks to the recession.

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