In 1992, James Carville, then employed as the campaign manager during Bill Clinton's presidential run, offered to his colleagues a three-word maxim that instantly entered the realm of political lore: "The economy, stupid!" In its original incantation, the phrase acted as a reminder that the United States economy was, at that point, deep in a recession; Clinton and his ilk would be wise, Carville was saying, to remind voters of that fact.
Flash forward to the 2018 mid-terms and Carville's words proved, once again, to point to an underlying principal of politics: National poll after national poll still shows Americans are worried about the economy. Little surprise, then, that so many electoral battles focused in large part on the economy.
Of course, there are many variables that go into judging an economy, and developing a more nuanced understanding requires a comprehension of a wide swath of issues, from health-care exchanges to tax incentives to automation. Rather than parsing all that information yourself, read our best economics coverage of 2018, a list that includes stories on the benefits oil and gas interests reap from President Donald Trump's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the decline of the songwriters' union in the U.S., and the tax-exempt status of the real-world Jedi religion (seriously).
- "'We're on Life Support': Is Streaming Music the Final Note for Professional Songwriters?" by Jack Denton
Operating without a union, songwriters are still paid through royalty structures created in the days of player pianos and Tin Pan Alley. And in the streaming era, that's a losing formula.
- "What Caused the Decline of Unions in America?" by Dwyer Gunn
Globalization, politics, and the American psyche are all to blame.
- "Why Employers Should Stop Giving Away Snacks," by Greg Rosalsky
All that free junk food expands employees' waistlines—and creates ethical quandaries in the workplace.
- "How to Give American Workers Fair Wages," by Dwyer Gunn
The labor market has changed over the last 40 years. It's time for labor laws and institutions to follow suit.
- "Is There Any Real Economic Benefit to Hosting a World Cup?" by Ian Hurley
We spoke with four economists about Russia's claims of a World Cup-related financial windfall. They were all skeptical.
- "Inside the Tax Bill's $25 Billion Oil Company Bonanza," by Antonia Juhasz
A Pacific Standard analysis shows the oil and gas industry is among the tax bill's greatest financial beneficiaries.
- "The Jedi Faithful," by Ben Rowen
The Jedi religion—inspired by the Star Wars franchise—has already earned tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service. But can it prove its spiritual legitimacy to a skeptical public?
- "Searching for the True Price of Public Paintings in Oakland," by Alissa Greenberg
Sorell Raino-Tsui helps connect Oakland's muralists with customers who can pay them fairly for their work. But what if he's helping hasten gentrification?
- "How to Rewrite a Region's Story," by Dwyer Gunn
In one of the poorest areas of the country, public schools are driving economic transformation.
- "Are the Teamsters Trying to Kill Driverless Tech, or Save the Truck Drivers?" by Jack Denton