I was out last week and I guess a lot happened? I don’t have especially well-formed opinions on a lot of it, but I feel like you might expect me to — there are those who would argue that it is even my job — and so let’s just do a quick tour of the highlights so we can all agree that I have discharged my obligations and move on to other things.
On Thursday, the House Republicans unveiled their tax plan, which would raise taxes on the middle class and potentially end graduate education in America. It is getting mixed reviews. My general rule is not to analyze legislative proposals too extensively, because they so rarely become laws in their proposed forms, so let’s follow that rule here.
Also on Thursday, Donald Trump nominated Jerome Powell to replace Janet Yellen as chair of the Federal Reserve. Back when Gary Cohn was rumored to be a front-runner for the job, I wrote that “Cohn is not a traditional candidate to be the chairman of the Fed, or even a good candidate necessarily, but he is a reasonable candidate. He’s not an economist, but he’s sort of economist-shaped.” Powell is a distinct step up: He’s currently a Fed governor, for one thing, and he gets great reviews for his “formidable work ethic” on unglamorous projects, for having “studied economics assiduously after joining the Fed,” and for his “odd ability to repeat people’s sentences backward to them.” On the other hand, like Cohn, he is not an economist, but he is sort of economist-shaped. Actually he’s more than sort of economist-shaped: “One White House official described Mr. Powell as a ‘safe’ choice as well as the candidate who most closely fit Mr. Trump’s penchant for filling top jobs with characters from ‘central casting,’” reports the New York Times. The consensus is that Powell “represents a bit of the continuation of the status quo without being named Yellen,” and I cannot quite put my finger on what it is that makes Janet Yellen not a Fed chair out of central casting. Read more