Robert J. Samuelson

The Phantom Superpower?

The United States thinks of itself as the world's "sole remaining superpower," but the war in Kosovo reminds us that this flattering rhetoric deludes as much as it describes.

Dollarizing--A Black Hole

Down with "dollarization." By all rights, Americans should feel flattered by the latest scheme to save the world economy. It advises many poorer countries to adopt the dollar as their official national money.

A Great Leap Backward

I used to write passionately about tax reform-- arguing for a simpler system, with lower rates and fewer tax preferences--but I have given up. It is a lost cause.

Why I Am Not A Manager

In 1997, reports the Labor Department, there were 18 million executives, managers and administrators in the United States. I am not one of them. I have never "managed" anyone or anything.

The Specter Of Deflation

In the history of the past 30 years, the rise and fall of inflation plays a huge and unheralded role in shaping politics and social change. The advent of double-digit inflation in the United States and Britain propelled Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan to power, transforming politics in these countries and the world.

'Hell No, We Won't Save!'

THE AMERICAN ECONOMY CONTINUES TO ZIP ALONG, defying--so far--predictions that it would slow down or crash. In the last quarter of 1998, output (gross domestic product) raced ahead at a blistering annual rate of 5.6 percent, much faster than most economists had predicted.

The Message From Brazil

IF NOTHING ELSE, BRAZIL HAS SHATTERED THE SOOTHING notion that the world economy is slowly but surely on the mend. What happened last week (the surprise devaluation of Brazil's currency) suggests that the recent months of economic calm--when the U.S. stock market raced to new highs--may resemble the ""phony war'' of 1940: a period when people falsely reassured themselves that calamity would, somehow, be avoided.

Washington Disconnected

THIRTY YEARS AGO, I CAME TO WASHINGTON AS A reporter of 23. Since then, I have never witnessed such a huge disconnect as now between the nation's capital and the rest of the country.

The Great Reversal

IN 1991 TWO AMERICAN ACADEMICS PUBLISHED A BOOK entitled ""The Coming War With Japan.'' Even then, the theme--that the United States and Japan would ultimately start shooting at each other--seemed farfetched.

The Asian Connection

I have spent a career disputing economic doomsayers. In the 1980s, the United States was ""deindustrializing"; no, it wasn't (since 1980, industrial production has risen 54 percent).

The Assembly Line

NO BUSINESS FIGURE casts as long a shadow over the 20th century as Henry Ford. Ford was the godfather of mass production, which, as the century unfolded, became the central organizing principle of America's industry and a defining characteristic of its popular culture.

Secrets Of Success

WHAT MAKES SOCIETIES INNOVATE? Genius and talent seem to know few national borders, and yet some countries clearly do better at invention and innovation than others.

The Endless Paper Chase

OUR OFFICE--NEWSWEEK'S WASHINGTON BUREAU--is approaching a milestone of sorts. The office copier is nearing its millionth copy. As I start this column, it has spit out 975,312 copies in three years.

Global Boom And Bust?

IT'S EASY TO BE A GLOBAL CAPITALIST THESE DAYS. YOU JUST put some savings into one of the 766 mutual funds that invest everywhere from Bangkok to Buenos Aires.

The Parable Of Amtrak

AS WE TALKED, I TRIED TO IMAGINE JOE VRANICH AS A young man. We knew each other in the 1970s, when I was a newspaper reporter and he was executive director of the National Association of Railroad Passengers--an advocacy group--and later a spokesman for Amtrak.

There Is No Trade Debate

THE PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS ARE HAVING ANOTHER trade debate, but there is less to it than meets the eye. The issue is no longer ""free trade'' versus ""protectionism,'' because history and technology have settled that question.

Abolish The Irs? Dream On.

WE AMERICANS ARE SUCKERS FOR QUICK FIXES. IF the dog barks, kick it; if the team loses, fire the coach. Small wonder, then, that the latest horror stories about the Internal Revenue Service have revived talk of radical tax reform.

Making Pols Into Crooks

THE PROSPECT THAT AN INDEPENDENT COUNSEL WILL be named to investigate the alleged campaign-law violations of President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore exposes a central contradiction of ""campaign-finance reform.'' The ""reformers'' claim they're trying to lower public cynicism by cleansing politics of the evils of money.

Economic Mythmaking

THE STORIES WE TELL OURSELVES ABOUT ECONOMIC and social change are often simplistic caricatures of what actually happened or what we genuinely know. We spin these fables to make some political point or buttress some seductive intellectual theory.

A New Start For Europe?

WE AMERICANS ARE SO CONVINCED THAT EUROPE has become an economic basket case that it's worth wondering whether we're wrong. In the American view, Europe suffers from an over- generous welfare state and an obsession with job security.

Balancing Act

IN HIS NOVEL ""1984,'' GEORGE ORWELL DEFINES ""doublethink'' as the ""power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one's mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.'' There was, in this sense, something deeply Orwellian about last week's orgy of self-congratulation over the balanced-budget agreement.

Poisonous Symbolism

OUR POLITICS INCREASINGLY SUBSIST ON SYMBOLISM. We argue furiously over policies that purport to advance ""family values'' or to suppress obscenity or to honor some group, when these policies - whether adopted or not - wouldn't affect most intended beneficiaries.

The Limits Of The Law

ONE OF OUR ENDURING NATIONAL ILLUSIONS IS THAT we can correct every injustice or social imperfection by passing a law. What we don't like we'll just make illegal.

Please Do Not Disturb

WE ARE NOW WITNESSING-- MOST RECENTLY France but also in the United States and elsewhere--the triumph of conservatism. This is or, of course, what you're hearing. "Europe has turned left,' says The Wall Street Journal, noting that 18 of 15 countries in the European Union now have leftish governments.