Economics & Finance

Chinese AbroadShort Report

Since 1978, when China’s government introduced major economic changes and lifted a ban on emigration, about 10 million Chinese nationals have moved abroad. More than 2 million of these emigres live in the United States. The outflow has created a brain drain, and amounts to a vote of no…

Paid Leave

The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not require companies to offer paid leave to its workers to care for a baby, a sick relative or themselves. That is changing slowly, economists say, as more companies recognize that it makes business sense to provide paid leave to…

The BoycottShort Report

As consummate consumers, Americans have embraced the boycott as a distinctively American way to influence powerful people and institutions. The internet and social media act as accelerants for activists launching boycotts, and the country’s deepening political polarization in the Trump era has further encouraged people on both sides of…

The Fiduciary RuleShort Report

Should financial industry professionals be required by law to put their clients’interests ahead of the size of their fees and commissions? That’s the thrust of a U.S. Labor Department regulation, known as the fiduciary rule, that was scheduled to take effect in April. The Trump administration called…

The Federal Reserve

Federal Reserve policymakers are confronting multiple challenges as they seek to guide the economy on a path of sustainable expansion while maintaining stable prices. The U.S. central bank must strike an elusive balance on monetary policy that wards off any inflationary pressure without suppressing an economic growth rate that…

Underground EconomyShort Report

In the wake of the 2007-09 financial crisis, the underground sector has become a sizable part of the U.S. economy – perhaps as much as 10 percent. Many policymakers believe off-the-books work retards growth by denying tax revenues to governments, depressing wages, hurting competition and leaving workers vulnerable to…

Free Trade

Is the era of trade liberalization that began in 1945 over? The collapse of world trade talks in 2008, Great Britain’s shocking vote last year to leave the European Union and the election of President Trump on an anti-globalization platform suggest that it might be. The gains from trade…

Fashion Industry

The global fashion business is going through a period of intense change and competition, with disruption coming in many colors: global online marketplaces, slower growth, more startups and consumers who now seem bored by what once excited them. Many U.S. shoppers have grown tired of buying Prada and Chanel…

Shadow Banking

Regulators are watching so-called shadow banks much more closely in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, but how best to regulate money market funds, the market for repurchase agreements and other potentially risky activities remains hotly debated. The 2016 election could be a turning point for the monitoring of…

Wage Stagnation

Is wage stagnation over? Recent upticks in median household income suggest the problem might be lessening. But at a time when the U.S. labor market is healthy and adding jobs at a steady clip, wages for many workers remain flat. Some economists assert that changes in income distribution have…

China’s Slowdown

China’s headlong leap into the ranks of the world’s largest economies has slowed since the severe global recession of 2008, with real gross domestic product growth falling from 10.6 percent in 2010 to an estimated 6.6 percent this year. Chinese leaders are struggling to cope with…

Fintech

The surge of financial technology startups—or “fintechs”—is improving the speed and quality of customer service of lending, money transfers, wealth management and much more in the banking industry. As these firms become more prominent in the financial services sector, banks and regulators will have to adapt…

Shopping Malls

For one analyst, the opening of a new enclosed mall is akin to watching a dinosaur traversing the landscape: It’s something not seen anymore. Dozens of malls have closed since 2011, and one study predicts at least 15 percent of the country’s largest 1,052 malls could cease…

Brexit

The United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union is the worst setback Europe’s leaders have suffered during more than half a century of painstaking efforts to bind that continent together economically and politically. It was wholly unforeseen and ran counter to the bulk of expert advice, which…

Corporate Taxes

From burger and doughnut makers to pharmaceutical firms, companies moving their legal headquarters abroad have become avatars for a debate about the U.S. corporate tax system. On one side are business groups and their advocates who say these corporate “inversions” are symptoms of a business tax rate that…

Electric Power Industry

The U.S. electric utility industry is experiencing dramatic changes in technology, marketing and energy policy that are altering the business in ways unseen since the time of Thomas Edison. Technological advances and tax credits are spurring investment in renewable energy sources such as wind and solar. Politics and policy—…

Behavioral Economics

No longer a fledgling challenge to traditional theories, behavioral economics is a growing field of study incorporating how human psychology affects economic decisions. Economists have long held that humans are perfectly rational actors who know how to maximize their own happiness. Supporters of behavioral economics say this is simplistic, and…

Doing Business in Cuba

President Obama's historic announcement in December 2014 that he wants to normalize relations with Cuba, coupled with the easing of restrictions on travel and commerce, has unleashed a huge wave of interest by U.S. companies in the island nation. Some experts warn this enthusiasm is premature, noting that a…

Health Care Payments

Health care spending continues to rise in the United States, consuming nearly 18 percent of gross domestic product in 2014—a trajectory that many experts warn is unsustainable. Some say the traditional “fee-for-service” system of reimbursing doctors and hospitals for each service rendered wastes money and even harms patients…

Economic Indicators

Economists, business executives and investors confront a barrage of economic statistics every day—much of it conflicting. Government agencies such as the Bureau of Economic Analysis issue indicators designed to gauge the U.S. economy, the world's largest. Yet the nation's shift from a manufacturing economy to one based on…

Accounting Trends

In matters of accounting and auditing, the United States increasingly is going it alone as the rest of the world settles on a different set of standards. U.S. companies must conform to the detailed rules known as Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP). Elsewhere, companies largely follow what are known…

Mortgage Finance

Nearly a decade after housing prices peaked in 2006 and then crashed the following year, qualifying for a home mortgage has become an onerous process, with cautious banks enforcing ultra-strict underwriting standards. Mortgage lenders are struggling to find a balance where their lending criteria are strict enough to protect against…

Government and Business

Government regulations touch nearly every aspect of the American economy, from advertising to employment, privacy, safety, health and the environment. About 300,000 full-time government workers are involved in the regulatory system, and agencies issue more than 3,000 federal regulations annually. States and municipal governments, meanwhile, issue their own…

Venture Capital

Venture capital in the United States has matured as an industry, and with maturity comes fear of complacency. Many of its stars are reaching retirement age, and the sector faces questions about its inability to beat stock market returns, let alone match its storied performance of the 1990s, when the…

Ethics and Financial Services

Seven years after subprime mortgage lending and Wall Street investment maneuvering precipitated a global financial crisis, managers, lawmakers, regulators and law enforcement officials continue to debate the reasons for the 2008 debacle and the lessons still to be learned. Observers disagree about who was to blame, with bankers, regulators and…

Pensions

For much of the 20th century, pensions were as much a part of the employment landscape as the 40-hour workweek. But two stock-market crashes and record-low interest rates since the year 2000 have made the plans much more costly and volatile for even the healthiest of companies. As a result…

Global Oil and Gas Industry

The world is experiencing a new age of energy abundance, largely because the United States, the largest energy consumer, is also increasingly a producer. In addition, Brazil and Canada, among others, are emerging as oil powers. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which high-pressure streams of water and chemicals are injected…

Minimum Wage

In the United States and around the world, public concern has grown that the lowest-paid workers are falling behind as national economies recover from the global recession. Most Americans support raising the minimum wage to assist low-paid workers, and lawmakers in some U.S. states and cities have done so…

Crowdfunding

The explosive growth of social media and the Internet have paved the way for crowdfunding, a means of raising small amounts of money online from a large number of people without any financial intermediaries. Crowdfunding, say proponents, democratizes the fundraising process by helping start-ups, nonprofits, artists and others overcome barriers…