Holiday binge-buying has deep roots in American culture: department stores have been associating turkey gluttony with its spending equivalent since they began sponsoring Thanksgiving Day parades in the early 20th century.
Hating Wall Street is an American tradition that dates back even to the days when Thomas Jefferson cursed that money lover Alexander Hamilton. And for centuries, the complaints about it have largely stayed the same: 'It does nothing! It creates chaos! It's a parasite that sucks hardworking Americans dry!'
Economics is all about consumption. People either spend money now or they use financial instruments - like bonds, stocks and savings accounts - so they can spend more later.
When you see a merger between two giants in a declining industry, it can look like the financial version of a couple having a baby to save a marriage.
Happiness statistics may be most valuable in smaller, local discussions. Understanding how different sorts of programs affect the well-being of citizens would be enormously helpful to a mayor choosing between building a new bridge or offering a tax cut.
We tend in this country to talk about Democrats and Republicans, and think there's little group over there called Independents that's maybe 2%. That is not the case, and it has not been the case for most of modern American history.
Poverty is not the simple result of bad geography, bad culture, bad history. It's the result of us: of the ways that people choose to organize their societies.
If the American government can't stand behind the dollar, the world's benchmark currency, then the global financial system will very likely enter a new era in which there is much less trade and much less economic growth. It would be, by most accounts, the largest self-imposed financial disaster in history.
The American dream always meant that anybody willing to put in a hard day's work could make a decent living. That's just not true anymore for people without at least some post-high school education.
Lots of countries have great constitutions, but their leaders have a practice of ignoring the rules whenever they feel like it.
If an alien with an accounting degree touched down in America, it might conclude that we're a weird cult that spends 11 months living frugally and four crazy weeks buying tons of stuff we don't need. It wouldn't be entirely wrong, either.
'Reinventing the Bazaar,' by John McMillan, is a great and fun introduction to the wild variety and importance of markets throughout history and around the world. I finally understood how a Middle Eastern souk actually works economically and how to compare that to modern-day telecom-spectrum auctions. I love that book.
The America that I think most Americans would want, most economists on the right or left would want, is one in which a smart, ambitious, hardworking person without a huge amount of resources has a pretty good shot, in the end, of beating out a less smart, less ambitious, less hardworking rich person.