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Banking & Finance

The latest coverage of the banking and financial sectors.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his speech at the Grand Kremlin Palace marking the Defender of the Fatherland Day in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. (Yuri Kadobnov/Pool Photo via AP)

While U.S. piles up debt, Russians are hoarding gold

By L. Todd Wood

If you ignore the corruption and misallocation of capital in the Russian economy, you could make the case that Moscow has been more financially responsible than Washington over the last several decades. Published February 22, 2018

Recent Stories

Illustration on Trump's Goldilocks economy by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Trump's Goldilocks economy

President Trump may have a bear market, but he has a Goldilocks economy. While it is too early to definitively know about the former, each passing day shows the latter growing more certain. His critics who are seizing on recent stock market volatility are missing the bigger picture of the economy underlying it.

In this Dec. 4, 2017 photo, Southwest Minnesota hog producer Randy Spronk poses at his farm near Edgerton, Minn. Minnesota farmers like Spronk fear they could lose millions of dollars if the United States leaves the North American Free Trade Agreement.  (Mark Steil/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)

The trouble with tariffs

The stronger economy we're enjoying now is no accident. Lower taxes, more jobs and fewer regulations are creating a much-needed boost. So why do we still have one foot on the brake?

Patent Law Working Properly Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Patent reform and innovation

On February 5, the Senate confirmed Andre Iancu as director of the Patent and Trademark Office.

Illustration on the national debt by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Don't worry about the national debt

"If something cannot go on forever, it will stop," said Herbert Stein, President Nixon's chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors. America's national debt has grown from 32 percent of GDP in 1981 to 68 percent in 2008 and 108 percent in 2017. The national debt is high, and some components are growing on autopilot. Still, Washington keeps adding to it.

Faucet Money Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

A million dollars a minute

Imagine you open the faucet of your kitchen sink expecting water and instead out comes cash. Now imagine that it comes out at the rate of $1 million a minute. You call your plumber, who thinks you're crazy. To get you off the phone, he opines that it is your sink and therefore must be your money. So you spend it wildly. Then you realize that the money wasn't yours and you owe it back.

Illustration on "America First" trade policy by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Trade that must be 'fair and reciprocal'

As President Trump remarked in his recent State of the Union speech, the United States will no longer surrender to its trading partners, "[we] expect our trading relationships to be fair and reciprocal." In his speech, Mr. Trump highlighted the administration's spectacular achievements in its first year. From tax reform to judicial nominations, a strong economy to a stock market at record highs, no president has completed more in their first year in office than President Donald Trump.

Bipartisan Act Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Drowning in debt

In "Hamlet," Shakespeare pens one of the most familiar lines — and best advice — ever written. Before Laertes leaves for Paris, his father, Polonius, tells him: "Neither a borrower nor a lender be "

Illustration on infrastructure spending by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Funding infrastructure with 'MAGA Bonds'

President Trump in the campaign of 2016 and now as president has set forth the priority to build, repair and maintain America's crumbling infrastructure to the tune of $1 trillion.

Stockton California in a Glass Box Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Free money and pigeons

According to The Washington Post, which should know, Democrats are moving even farther left in an effort to appeal to more Americans.

Illustration on the danger of trade retaliation by China by Linas Garsys/the Washington Times

How Trump's trade policy courts disaster

Of all the economic policies President Trump has marked for attention this year — merit-based immigration, infrastructure and vocational training — fixing the trade deficit offers the biggest bang for the buck.

Due Credit for the Economy Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

The 2017-2018 economic recovery

Whatever happened to the New Normal? First, Obama Democrats told us that what looked like long-term stagnation under President Obama's economic policies, with growth stuck at 2 percent on average for his whole eight years in office, was the New Normal that the American people were going to have to get used to, the best we could do now.

In this Nov. 13, 2015, file photo, the American flag flies above the Wall Street entrance to the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

U.S. stocks snap higher a day after entering a 'correction'

- Associated Press

U.S. stocks moved sharply higher in early trading Friday, recouping some of the ground lost a day earlier when indexes plummeted, deepening a weeklong sell-off that knocked the market into a "correction" for the first time in two years.

Adding to the Red Ink Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

A big-spending budget deal

Seeking to avoid another unpopular government shutdown, Senate leaders have hammered out a long-term, big spending budget deal that will give President Trump the defense spending hikes he wants, along with much higher domestic spending sought by Democrats.

Trader Michael Milano, right, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. U.S. stocks are lower Thursday morning as losses from the previous day continue. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Dow industrials drop 600 points as market losses deepen

- Associated Press

Stocks are sinking again Thursday, extending a streak of losses that has yanked the market away from record highs. The Dow Jones industrial average slumped 600 points. The tumult started last Friday as investors worried about signs of rising inflation.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, left, and Deputy Attorney General James Cole, right, watch as Attorney General Eric Holder speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department, on Monday, May 19, 2014, in Washington. The Justice Department on Monday charged Credit Suisse AG with helping wealthy Americans avoid paying taxes through offshore accounts, and a person familiar with the matter said the European bank has agreed to pay about $2.6 billion in penalties. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Eric Holder: DOJ wrong to apologize to tea party groups for IRS scandal

- The Washington Times

Former Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said the Trump administration was wrong to have apologized to tea party groups snared in the IRS's targeting scandal, saying it was another example of the new team undercutting career people at the Justice Department who'd initially cleared the IRS of wrongdoing.

Dawn breaks over the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018, as House GOP leaders are proposing to keep the government open for another six weeks by adding a year's worth of Pentagon funding to a stopgap spending bill. But Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer says that approach, fully funding the Defense Department but only providing temporary money for the rest of the government, won't go anywhere. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The sins of a bloated, unaccountable government

A new audit about a Pentagon agency losing hundreds of millions of dollars is reported by Politico as an "exclusive." While that's technically correct, a government agency losing or wasting or misplacing millions, billions and even trillions of dollars (this is not hyperbole, folks) is nothing new.

Trader Frederick Reimer works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018. The Dow Jones industrial average fell as much as 500 points in early trading, bringing the index down 10 percent from the record high it reached on Jan. 26. The DJIA quickly recovered much of that loss. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Terror on Wall Street

What triggered the 2,000-point Dow Jones Industrials index sell-off on Friday and Monday was the positive jobs report. That's correct. Positive. Not only did employers hire 200,000 more workers during January, but the pay of the average worker rose by 3 percent after inflation. This was the biggest gain in wages in a decade. The labor market tightens.

Illustration on the growing national debt by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Why government must be tamed

Well, it's not breaking news, but it's worth noting as President Trump and Congress spar over spending that the national federal debt exceeds $20,000,000,000,000 — and is rising by the minute.

FILE - In this June 12, 2014, file photo, oil pumps and natural gas burn off in Watford City, N.D. The Interior Department is delaying an Obama-era regulation aimed at restricting harmful methane emissions from oil and gas production on federal lands. A rule being published Dec. 8, delays the methane regulation until January 2019, calling the previous rule overly burdensome to industry.  (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)

If only to harness hot air

The civic shakedown of the oil and gas producers continues, and the frenzy has spread to California. Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York started it in January when he said he would seek billions of dollars in reparations from five major companies, including Exxon, BP and Chevron.

Federal Trade Commission Building

Trump's opportunity to revamp the Federal Trade Commission

President Trump's announcement last Thursday of a new slate of nominees to the Federal Trade Commission signifies much more than a simple overhaul of the commission itself. In a much broader sense, he is signaling how serious he is about reversing the regulatory overreach that accelerated during the Obama administration.

The International Energy Agency forecast that the U.S. would become the world's largest energy producer this year and that U.S. production could increase 25 percent by 2025, reaching 30 million barrels of oil and gas a day. (Associated Press/File)

Energy-dominant U.S. will transform global landscape

I had an argument recently with a woman in Moscow over American energy production. She simply did not believe that the United States has become the largest energy producer in the world -- which marks a real shock to the ordinary Russian's self-image.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said there are aspects of a national online sales tax that the president "likes a lot." (Associated Press)

Mnuchin: Trump open to national internet sales tax

- The Washington Times

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin signaled Tuesday that President Trump is open to an across-the-board internet sales tax -- an issue that has bedeviled lawmakers for years and one that's tied to a key case to be heard soon by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Illustration on Kentucky's Medicaid work requirements by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Kentucky's new Medicaid waiver

Recently, two major things happened that will alter the direction of the country and one of its largest welfare programs, while cementing a signature achievement of President Trump's first term.

FILE - In this Feb. 28, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump addresses a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington. No natural orator, Trump has nonetheless shown at times that he can deliver a powerful speech that effectively outlines his vision, strikes an emotional chord and moves commentators to declare that he, at last, looks presidential. And then the teleprompter gets turned off. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

An encouraging State of the Union

Anyone, even a Democrat reluctant to say so, can see that the economic state of the Union is pretty good. Unemployment is down in key sectors, including among blacks, where the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says the number is as low as it has been since the racial number was broken out in 1972. Businesses have committed to expansion, paying bonuses and raising wages because of — and they are specific about this — the Trump tax cuts.

Illustration on Trump's challenge to status quo diplomacy by Alexander hunter/The Washington Times

Trump confronts elites with realism

President Trump is delivering a powerful message to global elites like the World Economic Forum. America First is about unmasking the cynical con the most privileged have played on ordinary working folk.

President Donald Trump listens during a dinner with European business leaders at the World Economic Forum on Thursday in Davos, Switzerland. He was joined by SAP CEO Bill McDermott (from left), Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser, and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. (Associated PRess)

Trump touts strong U.S. economy at Davos forum

- The Washington Times

President Trump took a major European economic conference by storm Thursday, wooing corporate titans to invest more in the new American prosperity and smoothing over tensions with Great Britain as global elites gave him a celebrity welcome.

Illustration on the need to reform Federal welfare programs by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

Why welfare needs reform

With Congress back in session, what's one of the more controversial items potentially on 2018's legislative docket? Speaker of the House Paul Ryan says welfare reform is in the cards.

Carl Icahn (Associated Press) **FILE**

Carl Icahn makes push to remove Xerox CEO

Associated Press

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is calling for the removal of Xerox CEO Jeffrey Jacobson as the copier company reportedly seeks a deal with camera company Fujifilm.

Tax Cut Balloons Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

Lasting and transformative tax relief

A staggering 13 billion dollars. More than the value of the entire "Star Wars" franchise. That's the minimum amount taxpayers will save under the recently-passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act now that lawmakers have made compliance with the U.S. tax code less of a chore. Taxpayers will now also save an estimated 210 million hours of time they used to squander on the clumsy 1040 "long form." Lighter paperwork burdens like these will begin showing up in other portions of the tax code for businesses and individuals as the new law is implemented.

Illustration on GOP political dangers by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times

When politicians exploit inequality

For Republicans, it's dangerous to focus on the moment — accusations that President Trump is a racist, DACA and avoiding government shutdowns — but the more enduring threat to the GOP's grip on power are charges of insensitivity about inequality.

Rep. John Culberson, Texas Republican, said, "The time is right" to consider a return to earmarks. He is pushing for a test run so Congress can prove it can be responsible. (Associated Press/File)

The trouble with earmarks

Nearly a year after President Trump was sworn into office on a campaign pledge to "drain the swamp," he now wants Congress to reopen the spending spigots again.

Recent Opinion Columns

Illustration on the wonders of incentivization by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

In praise of the price system

Kinder and gentler governments use market-based price incentives and less coercion. But all too many government officials forget about the superiority of the price system, and resort to the threat of or actual violence to get the people to do what they want. Business people use the price system to attract customers with lower prices and good employees by offering higher wages (the price of work) rather than coercion.

From The Vault

FILE - In this Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, file photo, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, before the Joint Economic Committee. A full year after the Federal Reserve raised a key interest rate for the first time in nearly a decade, it is widely expected that they are finally ready to raise rates again at their final meeting of 2016. But the real anticipation revolves around how the central bank plans to respond to the political tsunami that voters have delivered with the election of Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Fed raises key interest rate for first time in year

- Associated Press

The Federal Reserve is raising a key interest rate for the first time in a year, reflecting a resilient U.S. economy and expectations of higher inflation. The move will mean modestly higher rates on some loans.