Jeff Mason is a White House Correspondent for Reuters and the 2016-2017 president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. He was the lead Reuters correspondent for President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign and interviewed the president at the White House in 2015. Jeff has been based in Washington since 2008, when he covered the historic race between Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Jeff started his career in Frankfurt, Germany, where he covered the airline industry before moving to Brussels, Belgium, where he covered the European Union. He is a Colorado native, proud graduate of Northwestern University and former Fulbright scholar.
Twitter handle: @jeffmason1
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - From Brexit to Donald Trump to Saudi Arabia, the world is full of surprises. But those cheering wrenching change may face further upsets. The UK rejoins the EU, the U.S. president discredits small government, and Saudis become poorer. The next shock may be the rise of dullness.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - When Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation, just about the last thing on his mind was the promotion of commerce and manufacturing. The German monk’s 95 theses, posted on the door of Wittenberg's All Saints' Church on Oct. 31, 1517, were directly aimed at the unsavoury Roman Catholic business of selling indulgences which promised to smooth the entry into heaven. Luther detested these cash-for-grace deals, much as he despised Jewish usurers. He thought that both were motivated by a greed which was antithetical to true religion.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Free markets sound like such a good idea. They offer choice and opportunities, which are good things. And who does not want freedom? Besides, if the alternative to these markets is the impassive, incompetent bureaucratic state, then the policy path is obvious. Let markets go free and peg back governments, so their only role in the productive economy is to deal with the occasional failure of markets to work as they should.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - What do you get when you merge psychology with economics? Richard Thaler, who just won the Nobel Memorial Prize in the latter field, has an answer, which he calls behavioural economics. The University of Chicago professor’s approach to the study of the mind is more dismal than cheerful. He made his reputation pointing out some of the ways that people do not think straight.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - They don’t understand how the economy really works. That’s a legitimate criticism of many of the protesters who tried to disrupt last week’s G20 meeting of world leaders in Hamburg, Germany. It is also a reasonable comment about the explanations which professional economists would typically offer the malcontents. That similarity was noted at a much smaller, if less raucous, meeting last week of a group of rebellious economic thinkers who gathered for a two-day seminar at Oxford University's Blackfriars Hall.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - “I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of twenty pounds”. Curious British children sometimes ask their parents the meaning of this statement, printed on every 20 pound note. Befuddled elders can find the answer in the excellent “Making Money: Coin, Currency and the Coming of Capitalism” by Christine Desan.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Central banks are gradually waking up to what should be their most important challenge. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the best way they have to address this challenge may not help much, and is economically dangerous and politically unpopular. Doing nothing, though, is even more hazardous.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Why did the Grenfell Tower high-rise apartment block in West London burn up, killing at least 79 people? Investigations into the calamitous fire are just beginning and will probably take years to complete. But it has already exposed one persistent problem: Britain’s disastrous approach to housing.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - Even global-warming sceptics can be alarmed by Donald Trump’s pledge to pull the United States out of the Paris climate accord. In fact, thoughtful sceptics might be best placed to worry. Since they do not see any increased environmental threat, they are able to focus on where Trump is doing the most damage: to the still fragile system of global governance.
LONDON (Reuters Breakingviews) - The World Economic Forum should know better. In its recent white paper on pensions, “We’ll live to 100 – how can we afford it?” the group behind the Davos uber-conference repeats the conventional wisdom on the topic: that everyone should save more. While that might be helpful advice for many reasons, no amount of current savings can reduce the burden of future pensions.