U.S. no longer makes the “free country” top 10 list

The United States is no longer in the top 10 of the world’s most free countries.  We are number 15.  However, despite our obesity rates and bad eating habits, we are number 1 when it comes to health.  We are #33 in safety and security.  The United States is #11 in economic strength and overall prosperity.

Scandinavian countries take most of the top spots, with Norway winning the top marks when all of the categories are considered, making it the most prosperous of nations.  All of this is according to the Legatum Prosperity Index.  See details after the jump. [Read more…]

Both parties have abandoned free trade

Whoever gets elected president will oppose free trade.  In fact, both parties are rivaling each other in condemning trade agreements such as NAFTA (which forms a common market with Canada and Mexico) and the not-yet-ratified TPP (which eases trade with Australia and Asian countries other than China).

Such a turnabout is astonishing, since Republicans have long championed free markets and Democrats have come around to agree with them.  Credit, or blame, for this new stance goes to the popularity of Donald Trump, who has roused the masses against American industries moving factories and jobs overseas and American products being driven out by cheaper imports.

I can see the appeal of a self-contained national economy, but getting there would seem to involve some dangerous tradeoffs.  If we erect trade barriers such as high tariffs and our trading partners retaliate, won’t that be economically disastrous?  American companies will suddenly lose a major part of their markets.  Prices for consumers will skyrocket.  After awhile, maybe new companies would take up the slack, but, in the short term at least, wouldn’t this cause recession and even more unemployment?

This is not my field, so I am open to instruction. [Read more…]

The empire of beer

Right at a year ago, we posted Megabrewery–no, Gigabrewery about a proposed merger between the multinational company that makes Budweiser and the multinational company that makes Miller.

There were lots of regulatory, anti-trust, and stockholder obstacles to that deal, but they have been overcome.  Anheuser-Busch InBev will take over SABMiller in a $100 billlion transaction that will create the world’s largest brewing company, accounting for one-third of the world’s beer.

But, if it’s any consolation, American anti-trust regulators required the company to spin off the operation that brews Miller products in this country.  So MillerCoors will be sold to Molson Coors, making the largest American brewery.

(This may be just of interest to Milwaukee and St. Louis Lutherans.)

[Read more…]

Religion’s economic impact

A study of the economic impact of religious institutions has found that congregations, charities, religious hospitals, and other faith-based organizations contribute some $378 billion directly to the economy.  That/s more than Apple, Google, and Facebook.  Combined.  The indirect impact, as that money works its way through the economy is over $1 trillion.

Read a report on the study and watch a video about it after the jump. [Read more…]

Slow economy due to not enough government action?

A report from the Harvard business school argues that the reason the economy is growing so slowly is because of government inaction.  The government has been in a state of gridlock, so that the government can’t do what it needs to in order to make the economy grow.

Read the reasoning, after the jump.  This would be the Democratic diagnosis, as opposed to the usual Republican diagnosis that the government is holding the economy back.  Here, “regulation” is listed as one of the good things government does for the economy.  Whereas free marketers believe government regulation prevents economic growth.

Who makes the best case? [Read more…]