Economics

"What's happening in the oil market right now is 'unprecedented'"

But it's just "creative destruction," as usual.

In the past, large integrated oil companies — like BP and Exxon Mobil — and state-owned oil companies have owned the more efficient, low-cost production while smaller oil companies faced higher barriers to entry. In the past, drilling oil necessarily required huge investments in platforms and equipment; massive balance sheets or state backing were virtually required to get into the market.

But with lower-cost fracking technology, this has changed.


"The Insidious Political Power of Minimum-Wage Laws"

Yet another fine column by Kevin Williamson.

The worst kind of welfare state is the welfare state that is ashamed of itself and therefore feels obliged to pretend to be something it isn’t. Instead of forthrightly taxing individuals and businesses and converting that revenue to welfare benefits in an honest and transparent way, covert welfare statists usually attempt to disguise welfare payments as wages. Artificial wage increases imposed by law perform the same function as ordinary welfare benefits — transferring income from politically disfavored groups to politically favored groups — but the revenue doesn’t show up on the government ledger as taxes and the outlays don’t show up as spending. Everybody in government gets the opportunity to engage in a little delicious moral preening about how they’re doing the right thing for the hardworking people of wherever while maintaining fiscal discipline, as if the underlying facts of the policy — “Patron X shall give Client Y at least Z amount of money” — weren’t fundamentally identical to those in a transparent welfare state.


"Real Union Enemy Isn’t Boeing, It’s Competition"

Ramesh Ponnuru, exactly correct.

If we want to reverse the unions’ decline, the kind of labor-law changes that the Obama administration’s appointees to the NLRB have in mind -- such as speeding up elections -- are unlikely to do the trick. We would have to reduce competition among companies, too, domestically and internationally. The economy would have to be far more regulated than anyone in the mainstream of American politics has advocated. And we would almost certainly have to be willing to be a poorer country. We shouldn’t want any of that.


"Trust, the most valued and valuable quality"

The all-politics-all-the-time pursuit of the Left is taking a mostly unseen but significant toll on the country. But, pleasantly, it will dampen the growth of big government.

Some 2,500 years ago, the philosopher Confucius laid out three things all rulers need: weapons, food and trust. And the one no ruler could do without, he said, was trust: "Without trust we cannot stand."

And yet, trust in the public sphere is ever harder to find in an era of National Security Agency spying, stunning bureaucratic incompetence, rampant corruption and political flip-flopping. Yes, elected officials and candidates have every right to change their minds as they mature -- nowadays they say their thinking has "evolved" -- but not overnight and not only when it's finally safe.


"Under Scott Walker, Wisconsin Has Prospered--Keep That In Mind For 2016"

Noah Williams, professor of (macro)economics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison:

Before Governor Scott Walker took office in January of 2011, Wisconsin was seeing high unemployment, stagnating incomes and a high tax burden. Fast-forward four years: The state enjoys strong growth in employment and improvements in living standards through higher after-tax incomes. Thanks to a fiscal policy of reducing tax and regulatory burdens while balancing the budget, Wisconsin now outperforms many of its neighbors.


"American Capitalism Isn't Broken After All"

Surprise, surprise!

One of the best-loved stories about the squeeze on middle-class incomes in the U.S. concerns the long-term divergence between wages and productivity. This goes as follows: Wages have stagnated for decades even as output and profits kept going up. Owners of capital grabbed all the gains. . . . 

The narrative is so appealing that to remain popular it probably doesn't need to be true. That's just as well, because it turns out be wrong.

Related: Martin Feldstein, "Are US Middle-Class Incomes Really Stagnating?"


"Costs from regulations pile up, hurt small business profits"

By an AP reporter, reprinted in the Washington Post, no less.

It’s getting more expensive to be an employer and small business owners say that’s making it harder for them to make money.

The health care law, minimum wage increases and paid sick leave laws in some states and cities are increasing costs. Small companies also face the prospect of higher overtime expenses under a proposed federal regulation.