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FISCAL POLICY 
Title  Brief Summary 
Fiscal Policy and the Fed
Full Summary 
In a recent statement on Social Security and Medicare, Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke warned congressmen that complacency over the federal deficit could lead to difficult economic times. His basic premise was simple, the longer we wait the more severe the efforts needed to correct the problem.
(Updated February, 2007)
When Should the Government Help?
Full Summary 
Many analysts and commentators are assuming that the private sector will automatically produce full employment in the economy. Over the last 30 years, this has happened only once, during a five-year stretch in the late 1990's. With the recent spotlight put on jobs by the topic of outsourcing, is it time for the government to step in with help in generating new jobs?
(Updated June, 2004)
The Wealth of Nations, Part II
Full Summary 
A new book co-written by an economist and a law professor takes issue with the conventional notion of cost/benefit analysis, arguing that it is rigged in favor of lower regulation.
(Updated April 7, 2004)
Extending the Bush Tax Cuts
Full Summary
One of the Bush administration's top priorities is to make the tax cuts that were adopted in 2001 and 2003 part of the permanent tax code. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office predicts that the cost of making the tax breaks permanent would be about $1.3 trillion over the next decade.
(Updated April 7, 2004
State Spending Impacts National Economy
Full Summary
State government budget cuts have severely affected the national economy. Only three years ago state spending was still a large plus for the U.S. Economy, providing jobs and income during a period of declining private spending. Now, somewhere between $20 and $40 billion in state cuts have placed additional burdens on an already sluggish economy.
(Updated August 27, 2003
How Big the Tax Cut?
Full Summary
President Bush has requested a tax cut of $$726 billion over the next ten years. In this highly partisan issue, it appears that the actual tax cut is more likely to be in the area of $350 billion. With an election year nearing, the political climate for a tax cut is favorable, but the final size of the cut and associated reduction in spending is still up for debate. The areas of reducing taxes on dividends and capital gains, a high priority for President Bush, have been highly contested.
(Updated June 2, 2003
A Taxing Debate
Full Summary
Many, especially in the Democratic Party, argue that too much of the Bush tax cuts have gone to the wealthy and prudent economic policy should focus on putting more money into lower- and middle-class families. In addition to the issue of equity, arguments over the appropriate distribution of taxes consider its impact on economic growth.
(Updated April 3, 2003
The President's Plans
Full Summary
President Bush is expected to propose lower taxes for corporate dividends, an acceleration of scheduled tax cuts, and more generous depreciation write-offs for corporations. Democrats have a different agenda, calling for greater tax relief for the poor and middle class.
(Updated February 5, 2003
That Was the Week That Was
Full Summary
There were three significant economic events during the week of November 4th that will affect the nation's economy: Republicans gained control of Congress; the Fed cut interest rates one-half percent; and new economic data showed growth accelerating to an annual rate of 4% in the third quarter.
(Updated January 2, 2003
Promises, Promises
Full Summary
Future changes in budget deficit or surplus depend on benefit levels of federal programs and on tax collections. It is estimated the current value of these commitments to be $20 trillion in excess of projected revenues.
(Updated January 2, 2003
A Deficit State
Full Summary
Unlike the federal government that can¾and sometimes should¾run budget deficits, states are by law prohibited from doing so, but the economic downturn that started in March 2000 has wreaked havoc on the finances of states that are now facing huge deficits.
(Updated December 16, 2002
Brazil Si, Argentina No
Full Summary
The Bush Administration has proposed a $30 billion relief package for Brazil, but there has been no reconsideration of our position towards Argentina.
(Updated September 1, 2002
Smaller Ups, Smaller Downs
Full Summary
The prospects for the travel industry are uncertain. However, industry gurus have made predictions for the air travel, cruising, and lodging markets.
(Updated January 15, 2002
Are More Tax Cuts Needed? - Not Exactly
Full Summary 
The weakness of the U.S. economy has prompted the President and some Republican leaders to suggest additional tax cuts to stimulate the economy, such as reducing corporate income tax rates and cutting the capital gains tax. Neither Alan Greenspan nor Robert E. Rubin is in favor of these proposals, saying they would not provide the needed stimulus in a timely manner.
(Updated November 1, 2001
A Disappearing Act
Full Summary 
Three years of a growing surplus and projections of a continuing inflow of funds could provide for tax cuts, increased spending, as well as funds for Social Security and Medicare. But then the economy slowed, the stock market fell, President Bush implemented his tax cut, and the projections of big surpluses are gone.
(Updated August 1, 2001
The Not Yet Recession
Full Summary 
Economic growth this past quarter was a modest 2 percent. The growth in GDP was twice the rate that forecasters had predicted, and was the result of continuing strength in consumer spending.
(Updated June 1, 2001
The Bush Budget
Full Summary 
President Bush unveiled a $2 trillion federal budget that offers modest changes to governmental programs, deferring potentially more dramatic shifts in public spending to next year.
(Updated May 1, 2001
A Supersized NAFTA
Full Summary 
President Bush and leaders from 33 Western Hemisphere countries gathered in Quebec to discuss a proposal for the establishment of a Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Free trade, it is argued, increases the flow of goods, people and ideas.
(Updated May 1, 2001
Recession - A Necessary Evil?
Full Summary 
There was some discussion a few months ago as to the 'new' economy being recession-proof. Those conversations have been silenced as new data provide evidence of a slowdown and perhaps recession.
(Updated May 1, 2001
To Spend or to Save? - That is the Question
Full Summary 
President Bush's proposed tax cut plan has generated considerable discussion among economists. Whether the economy would be better off spending the surplus or returning it to the taxpayers will be debated more intensely in coming months.
(Updated April 1, 2001
To Cut or Not to Cut Is Replaced by How Much
Full Summary
Many were skeptical of the need for Bush's $1.6 trillion tax cut, while others believed that a tax cut of that magnitude would stimulate an economy that the Fed is trying to dampen. The slowing economy has changed both individual and political opinion and a compromise between Democrats and Republicans regarding a tax cut seems more likely.
(Updated February 1, 2001)
Or, the Landing Ahead May be Soft
Full Summary
There is a mounting body of evidence that the economy is slowing. Will the economic descent be gradual or has the economy fallen so far so fast that a recessionary hard landing is inevitable?
(Updated January 1, 2001
It Just Keeps On Growing
Full Summary
In Fiscal 2000, which ended in September, the budget surplus soared to $237 billion, a $113 billion increase from the previous year. The increase in the surplus is the result of revenues increasing at twice the rate of expenditures.
(Updated December 1, 2000
This Soft Landing is Getting Harder
Full Summary 
There is continued reference to a "soft landing," a slowdown in economic growth sufficient to prevent inflation without causing unemployment. However, those economists who believe that recession has been banished may change their opinion in the wake of recent market turmoil.
(Updated November 1, 2000
Gas Taxes Are Highly Inflammatory 
Full Summary 
The 10-year-high level of gas prices caused angry protest in most of Western Europe. The object of the protests was the gasoline tax, which in the U.K. amounts to 76.8 percent of the retail price of gasoline, while in the U.S. represents only 24.1 percent of the pump price.
(Updated October 1, 2000
More With Less 
Full Summary 
Unemployment rates are at record low levels and there have literally been millions of new jobs created during the current economic expansion. Unfortunately, low-skilled workers have not profited to the same extent as others from the expansion.
(Updated August 1, 2000
Economy Spotting 
Full Summary 
How can you tell if the economy's slowing? One way would be to carefully examine a wide variety of data series, for example, leading indicators, lagging indicators and so on, using a multitude of quantitative tools.
(Updated August 1, 2000
Surging Surplus 
Full Summary 
The new budget forecast for the next 10 years shows an even greater surplus than the previous forecasts of February 2000- an increase of over $1 trillion.
(Updated August 1, 2000
Soft Signs 
Full Summary 
The Federal Reserve has raised interest rates a total of 6 times and 1.75 percentage points over the last year in an attempt to bring the economy to a "soft landing." A soft landing occurs when the economy cools down enough so inflation is not a problem, but doesn't slow down enough to drive the economy into a recession.
(Updated August 1, 2000
Is the Sun Rising? 
Full Summary 
Japan's economy has alternated between recession and very modest growth. A 2.4 percent increase in the total output of goods and services for the first quarter of this year follows six months of decline, including a decrease of 1.6 percent in the previous quarter. Is this an indication of sustainable recovery or just another turn in Japan's growth and contraction cycle.
(Updated July 1, 2000
Taking Taxes Personally 
Full Summary 
New studies show that the federal tax burden for all but the richest Americans has fallen. The tax bill for most Americans has declined to less than 10 percent of their income, perhaps explaining why voters place tax cut proposals near the bottom of their list of priorities.
(Updated May 1, 2000
The Reagan Cuts: Then and Now 
Full Summary 
Twenty years after former President Reagan's tax cuts, taxes as a percent of GDP will be higher than during the last five years before Reagan took office.
(Updated May 1, 2000
And the Award For Best Director Goes To . . . 
Full Summary 
The current economic expansion that started in March 1991 is the longest expansion ever. There is some argument over who is responsible for orchestrating it, and the top candidates include Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, the Federal Reserve, and even Jimmy Carter.
(Updated March 1, 2000
The Dilemmas of Surpluses 
Full Summary 
The strength of the national economy has produced large revenue gains for the states. All 50 states have budget surpluses, and 39 states have a surplus of at least 5 percent of their spending. As these surpluses accumulate, states are cutting taxes and increasing their spending on education and heath care.
(Updated February 1, 2000
Capital Gains: A Taxing Subject 
Full Summary 
Congress has just passed a tax cut bill that calls for a reduction in the capital gains tax. One of the objectives of this measure is to stimulate savings, investment and economic growth.
(Updated August 1, 1998
The Demise of the Deficit 
Full Summary 
For the first time in 30 years a President has submitted a balanced budget to Congress, with more than half of the budget earmarked for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other entitlement programs, and tax cuts are also a part of the new budget.
(Updated May 19, 1998
A Thing of the Past? 
Full Summary 
Most economists would sign up to the statement that all economic expansions must end. The question is when. The average economic expansion in the post World War II era lasts about 54 months. Our current expansion, which began in 1991, is now 78 months old. Although this expansion is still not near the record of 106 months set in 1961-69, it has caused some to argue that recessions may be a thing of the past.
(Updated January 15, 1998
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