As the world takes stock of why Shinzo Abe's drive to revitalize Japan is flailing one year on, companies are an easy culprit. Japan Inc. just isn't raising wages or spending the way Abenomics envisioned.
But in other ways some corporate executives are proving to be gutsier than a prime minister who talks much of change but has delivered little thus far. Softbank's Masayoshi Son is expanding abroad with a bold acquisition of U.S. wireless provider Sprint. Rakuten's Hiroshi Mikitani has taken on the fossilized ideas of Japan's biggest business lobby and the nuclear industry. Fast Retailing's Tadashi Yanai is plotting world domination for Uniqlo clothing brand. Honda's Takanobu Ito has made English the company's official language.Read more »
A likely congressional budget deal will be small-bore fiscally, but will have important political implications and benefits for both parties.
Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat, returned to the capital yesterday and plans to meet today with her House counterpart, Representative Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican. By the end of this week, there could be an agreement that replaces part of the automatic across-the-board spending reductions under the so-called sequestration with a combination of less unpopular spending reductions and increased revenue.Read more »
In foreign policy as in life, budgets generally say more than speeches. You wouldn't know that from the recent 14-page special report on U.S. foreign policy in the Economist, which doesn't even mention the State Department's budget.
Yes, we get the obligatory chart showing the U.S.'s military spending outstripping that of its rivals and partners. But that's only a small part of the U.S. foreign-policy story. On most days, and in most places, the U.S. is not launching drone strikes or streaming B-52s through the skies. Instead, at more than 300 U.S. diplomatic facilities in more than 190 countries, 11,000-plus U.S. foreign-service employees (not including local hires) are issuing visas, hosting delegations, delivering diplomatic bouquets or brickbats, arranging cultural exchanges, or reporting on everything from business conditions to religious freedom. You'd think that where and how the U.S. spends its diplomatic dollars would be of interest to readers interested in this general topic.Read more »
Harvard’s most popular course is Ec 10, the introductory class in economics. This fall, 760 undergraduates were enrolled -- almost half the school’s freshmen. Economics is the most popular major at Harvard, Yale and Princeton. Rightly or wrongly, these students and others will have an outsized impact on policy making, so it matters how the subject is taught. Yet many, especially those who only take first-year classes, get a misleading impression of how the economy works. We can do better.
Mike Konczal, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, cleverly suggested changing the order in which various topics are introduced. Instead of starting with two people in isolation on an island trading coconuts and bananas, students would learn about the business cycle. Only after those macro concepts have been introduced should college freshmen be asked to think about the legal and cultural institutions that make markets possible. At the end they could worry about how individual firms compete. Princeton economist Paul Krugman likes this proposal but is skeptical that it could ever be introduced. (Harvard’s intensive summer course in first-year economics seems to offer a hybrid approach.)Read more »
U.S. prosecutors are showing new resolve in pursuing cases against the financial institutions that sold the shoddy mortgages that led to the global financial crisis of 2007-08.
As part of this new drive, Justice Department lawyers are studying whether they can use section 1079A(b) of the Dodd-Frank Act. The obscure provision extends to six years from five the statute of limitations for criminal prosecutions under certain sections of federal securities laws.Read more »
Magistrates in Paris have accepted a case of inciting racial hatred against Bob Dylan, writer of some of the most moving anti-racist songs in music history, such as "Hurricane" and "The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll."
You have to ask what's up with a legal system that would want to put a man like Dylan on trial for bigotry, punishable with a maximum fine of 45,000 euros ($61,000) or a year in prison. There is, however, an answer of sorts to that question.Read more »