Robert B. Reich, a co-founder of The American Prospect, is a Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. His website can be found here and his blog can be found here.
Any time now, government economists will decide whether America Online's (AOL's) $165-billion proposed take-over of Time Warner is likely to be good or bad for consumers. If good, the government will sign off. If bad, there'll be negotiations with AOL and Time Warner until an agreement can be reached on what the new company would have to do to answer economic objections. The inquiry will be quiet and businesslike, occurring in colorless offices and occasionally in meeting rooms filled not only with economists but also with government lawyers and the counsel and investment bankers representing AOL and Time Warner.
If they were true profit-maximizers--textbook illustrations of rational self-interest--American corporations and their top executives would be flooding Al Gore's campaign with money, and not George W.'s. Rather than gamble on an unknown W., they'd bet on a proven Al Gore.
Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan on Wednesday did exactly what he needed to do by dropping short-term interest rates another half-point, but it's not enough.
The Great Economic Slowdown of 2001 (let's not call it a recession quite yet) came on partly because Greenspan raised short-term interest rates too high, starting in June 1999 and continuing through five more rate increases.
Now he's backtracking, and interest rates are going back below where they were when he started. That should give the economy a needed boost.
The Web changes everything -- including change. And it's not just the Web. Digital technologies, wireless technologies, the Human Genome Project, complexity theory, and the emergence of new science have all changed how we think about change: why change has to happen in companies, how change happens, and, most important, who makes change happen. Power has shifted from inside to outside, from corporate planners to aggressive buyers. Now all customers, all clients, all investors, have a huge array of choices -- and can switch to something better instantly.