Daniel Altman

Can China's Central Bank Ever Be Independent?

Why Beijing's interest rate cut is a red flag for economists.

Eventually, it seems, the pressure was just too much. The governor of the People's Bank of China (PBOC), Zhou Xiaochuan, and his colleagues didn't want to cut interest rates, but the risk that China's economy might continue to cool was too great for their bosses in Beijing. After holding firm for two years, the PBOC lowered the one-year lending rate by 0.4 percentage points to 5.6 percent and the one-year deposit rate by 0.25 percentage points to 2.75 percent, giving banks more latitude to extend credit. In economic terms, it's short-run stimulus with a potential long-run cost. But there's a cost for the PBOC as well.

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Apply the Rigor of Investing to Foreign Aid

There's a reason Americans are confused about the value of overseas development assistance. And there's also a fix -- if the State Department gets serious about the next QDDR.

With the midterm elections barely over in the United States, attention has inevitably shifted to the 2016 presidential contest. Hillary Clinton, the bookies' favorite, is already taking shots from competing candidates in both major parties. As a former secretary of state, she will undoubtedly face questions on foreign aid, which continues to be a punching bag for Republicans. The answers she provided in her old job could use some improvement.

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This Is Not Your Father's Stock Market

6 ways that global investing is breaking the rules.

Do you know who Haruhiko Kuroda is? He's the man who's been selling happy pills to Wall Street for the past couple of weeks, causing the stock market to rally beyond its already precarious peaks. The influence of Japan's central bank governor on trading in New York is just one of the reasons the market hasn't been behaving in ways that conventional assumptions would predict. In fact, the boilerplate investing caveat that "past performance is no guarantee of future results" has never been truer. Here's a rundown of what looks different now.

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Divided, We Stand

If Republicans win, does the global economy, too?

Today's midterm election in the United States holds forth the very real prospect that both houses of Congress will fall into Republican hands for the first time since 2005. With an unpopular Democrat still in the White House, governmental gridlock seems assured. But the rest of the global economy will be watching to see if the two parties can finally work together -- and perhaps, in some ways, they can.

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The Dark Side of Dilma

Why Brazil's election result is nothing but trouble.

Close elections in corrupt countries stink. Sure, it's great to see a peaceful transfer of power, especially when the numbers are on a knife-edge. But the result that Brazil has just produced in its presidential election -- 51.4 percent for Dilma Rousseff to 48.5 percent for Aécio Neves -- is about as destructive as can be.

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