Money

My Eureka Moment

So there I was in early 2015, six months after my heart attack and open heart surgery, taking 12 meds and being urged to add another two to the regime. Instead of rebelling, I was Mr. Goodpatient, passively doing whatever I was told, however insane it seemed. When you’ve had a heart attack, one of …

My Eureka Moment Read More »

Why We Don’t Take Our Meds (Again)

Recently, two journalists (Tim Harford and Simon Kuper) working for the Financial Times of London attended the FT Weekend Festival. The topic of their onstage conversation was “the nightmare of writing a weekly column.” Tell me about it. I don’t know about Harford and Kuper, but when I’m stumped for a subject to write about …

Why We Don’t Take Our Meds (Again) Read More »

Fed Folly and its Practical Effects

“The… task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” –Friedrich von Hayek Adam Smith was the first to name the “the invisible hand” so felicitously, but he was hardly the first to notice the existence of such a phenomenon. The idea of an …

Fed Folly and its Practical Effects Read More »

The Red-Tape Fed

The long and deep recession of 1930–33 finally ended in March of 1933. Once it ended, the Fed, believing that the economy could now—and should now—fend for itself, backed off. The result was one of the most powerful economic expansions in U.S. history, an expansion that lasted three decades. The short and shallow recession of …

The Red-Tape Fed Read More »

The Working Life

Work is a fact of life for nearly 1.2 million southwestern Pennsylvanians. Some love what they do; others, not so much. Either way, work consumes a healthy share of their time and energy. Their weeks are structured around it. It’s what puts money in their pockets. What do Pittsburghers think about their jobs? Pittsburgh Quarterly’s …

The Working Life Read More »

The Fed’s Act of Cowardice

We are talking about America’s Monetary Keystone Kops, who have, since 1987 (when Greenspan became chair of the Federal Reserve), been masquerading as central bankers. (Or maybe it’s the other way ‘round, it’s hard to tell.) The Fed’s finest hour was saving Bear Stearns while wiping out its equity holders and senior management—that is, the …

The Fed’s Act of Cowardice Read More »

Bernanke’s Blunders

We’ve assessed the successes and failures of central bankers in the 1930s. Now let’s turn our attention to their modern counterparts. I will argue that, unlike the earlier central bankers, whose record was mixed but a net positive, our modern central bankers have done almost everything wrong—and for 30 years running. To wit: Like the …

Bernanke’s Blunders Read More »

Work Disrupted

The past and future of work collide on a 178-acre graded-flat stretch of brownfield in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Hazelwood. There, on what is known as Hazelwood Green, the skeletal remains of Mill 19 stand as one of the last reminders of the Jones and Laughlin steel works that spanned the Monongahela River to the …

Work Disrupted Read More »

Why Gold Had to Go

The “gold standard,” which prevailed in the developed world for many decades, simply means that some fraction of a country’s paper currency has to be backed by—that is, convertible into—gold. In the U.S. that fraction was 40 percent. Since a government on the gold standard can’t print money without increasing its gold reserves, society-destroying events …

Why Gold Had to Go Read More »

Central Bankers Then and Now, Part III

Scholars of the Great Depression typically blame policymakers of the 1930s for failing to do four things: They failed to rein in the 1920s economic boom, allowing its collapse to lead to the worst depression in US history. Following the Crash of ’29, they failed to inject sufficient liquidity into the economy, causing it to …

Central Bankers Then and Now, Part III Read More »

The Great Depression vs. the Great Recession

Subsequent to the Global Financial Crisis, U.S. GDP has grown, in the aggregate, 37%. During the period of the Great Depression, U.S. GDP grew, in the aggregate, 40%. In the 1930s, the U.S. economy declined 26% between 1930 and 1933 and unemployment rose to 25%. During the Great Recession the U.S. economy declined 3% and …

The Great Depression vs. the Great Recession Read More »

Central Bankers Then and Now

Not that anyone cares, but in these pages I’ve been highly critical of the “unconventional” policies pursued by every central banker on the planet since the Financial Crisis. My arguments have been many and simple: The policies not only didn’t work, they actually stunted economic growth. The policies were “immoral” in the sense that they …

Central Bankers Then and Now Read More »

Shined Shoes Can Save Your Life: The Conclusion

It was now late winter of 1971 and I was running the traffic division at the 226th MP Company at Fort Benjamin Harrison, outside Indianapolis. In those days Fort Ben was the headquarters of the Army Finance School and the location of the Army Finance Center. The building that housed the Center was the second largest …

Shined Shoes Can Save Your Life: The Conclusion Read More »

The Legend of Duke Hock

Sergeant Duke Hock was a legend in the Army while I was still in grade school. He was Jack Reacher before Lee Child was born. There are so many stories about Duke that, even though I’ve forgotten 90% of them, I can remember dozens. The two I’m about to relate happened to involve me. To …

The Legend of Duke Hock Read More »

Shined Shoes Can Save Your Life, Part II

So there we were, in late 1970, having graduated from the U.S. Army Military Police Correctional Specialist Academy, the best-trained prison guards in the world. We had been assigned to one of the worst prisons in the world, the stockade at Long Bình, Vietnam, better known as the Long Bình Jail, or LBJ. Our job …

Shined Shoes Can Save Your Life, Part II Read More »

A Look Inside Google’s Unconventional Bakery Square Offices

What is really behind the brick walls of that redeveloped Nabisco cookie factory building in Bakery Square, labelled with Google’s colorful logo? Think: hammocks, coffee shops, dining rooms, gaming rooms and pool tables. Created in collaboration with local architecture firm Strada, Google’s office space in Pittsburgh’s East End is playful, unconventional and inspiring with many …

A Look Inside Google’s Unconventional Bakery Square Offices Read More »

Shined Shoes Can Save Your Life

A few weeks ago, in a post about J. D. Vance’s book, “Hillbilly Elegy,” I mentioned in passing that I was convinced that having spit-shined my Army combat boots may have saved my life. I didn’t elaborate, and since then several dozen people have inquired about that brief aside. So here’s the story. To understand what …

Shined Shoes Can Save Your Life Read More »

Why Democracy Matters

Just to make it simple, let’s define Europe’s “illiberal democracies” as those countries where elected leaders profoundly disagree with the liberal, inclusive, affluent worldview of the EU’s political classes. The British disagreed with this worldview so violently that they left the Union altogether. Most of the other “illiberal” democracies aren’t in strong enough positions to …

Why Democracy Matters Read More »

Three Questions on the Markets, Part IV

Each year in our Summer issue, we ask a group of the region’s leading financial experts to help our readers by responding to a series of questions. The final question is, “What effect will higher inflation have on stock prices?” What effect will higher inflation have on stock prices? Thomas L. Wentling Jr., Wentling Tarquinio …

Three Questions on the Markets, Part IV Read More »

The Media Has It All Wrong

I mentioned last week that I recently visited Switzerland, Austria and Hungary, and that if we think things have gone nuts in the U.S., we have no idea. The gentle Swiss, as I pointed out last week, have become enamored of right-wing, populist parties and are about to vote on a flat-out silly leftwing ballot …

The Media Has It All Wrong Read More »

Three Questions on the Markets, Part III

Each year in our Summer issue, we ask a group of the region’s leading financial experts to help our readers by responding to a series of questions. Below is part three of this four-part series with their answers to this question: Do you think the Trump Administration’s stimulus efforts—especially the tax cuts and regulatory reform—will …

Three Questions on the Markets, Part III Read More »

Inside a Swiss Bank

I just returned from one of those whirlwind speaking tours in Europe – three speeches in four days in Zurich, Budapest and Vienna. It was an eye-opener. Back here in the U.S. we are so focused on the shenanigans going on in Washington, D.C. that we forget that very similar turmoil is convulsing the body …

Inside a Swiss Bank Read More »

Top