The Washington Post April 21 headlines an article “Wall Street betting billions on single-family homes in distressed markets.” The article continues, “Drawn by the prospect of double-figure profit margins on rents and the resale of homes whose prices plummeted in the crash, hedge funds, Wall Street investors and other institutions are crowding out individual home buyers.” . . . → Read More: How to Fix the Great Real Estate After-Bubble
On the NewsHour Friday night, in response to the dismal new jobs numbers, Andrew McAfee of the MIT Center for Digital Business blames the loss on “powerful” new labor-saving technology. But if he’s right, is it the technology itself, or the large corporations that install it? . . . → Read More: Is New Technology Destroying Jobs?
When I read David Cay Johnston’s new book, The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use “Plain English” to Rob You Blind, realized that robbery is the least of it. Utility monopolies—a major focus of the book—increasingly cut corners on safety. ne such corner cut is coming to a neighborhood near me: it is a 30-inch high-pressure gas line passing under the Hudson into the West Village and heading north under Tenth Avenue. In December 2010, a 30-inch gas line blew up a block in the San Francisco suburb of San Bruno, excavating a 4-story-deep trench, leveling 35 houses, killing 8 people and injuring 60 more… . . . → Read More: The Monopolists in My Back Yard
Joseph Stiglitz says that “Inequality is Holding Back the Recovery”. He’s right, but he gives the wrong reason, that “our middle class is too weak to support the consumer spending that has historically driven our economic growth.” This “Keynesian” spending model does not effectively address inequality and thus can lead to poor policy prescriptions. The real reason inequality stalls the economy is that natural resources and capital are monopolized at the top, kept away from the middle class that could invest them far more productively. . . . → Read More: Joseph Stiglitz Is Right About Inequality, but for the Wrong Reason
My son is a low-wage worker, a short-order cook. President Obama just called for an increase in the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $9.00 an hour. Yet he made no effort to save the “temporary stimulus” 2% payroll tax cut, which expired at the end of 2012. That will cost workers like my son about a week’s gross pay over a year—not insignificant when you’re barely scraping by. So what’s better for low-wage workers: an increase in the minimum wage or a decrease in payroll taxes? . . . → Read More: Raise the Minimum Wage or Cut Low-Wage Taxes?
What’s the connection between the battery fires that grounded Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and the massive failure and recall of Johnson & Johnson’s metal hip implants? Both are consequences of the recent transformation of multinational corporations from manufacturers to monopolistic distributors who contract out production–a transformation first documented by journalist Barry C. Lynn . . . → Read More: The Prophetic Work of Barry Lynn
Paul Krugman says the economy suffers from a “liquidity trap” due to insufficient demand. In my view, we’re in an “inequality trap” as the One Percent, big corporations and banks hoard cash, starving small businesses for capital. . . . → Read More: Is Paul Krugman’s Liquidity Trap Really an Inequality Trap?
It’s a truism of pop Keynesian economics that consumer spending drives the economy; if spending slows in a recession; government must make up the difference. In reality, consumer spending merely signals what consumers want; producers may be unable or unwilling to deliver. Government spending may compensate—or make matters worse—depending on the type of spending and whether it’s financed by progressive taxes or by borrowing. . . . → Read More: The Keynesian Stimulus Spending Fallacy
As medieval dragons do, the dragon in the Beowulf epic sleeps on a pile of gold. With magic sword and shield, Beowulf kills the dragon and, mortally wounded, distributes the gold to his grateful people. Today’s multinational dragons sleep not on gold, but on hoards of cash. Meanwhile little firms—the true “job creators”—perish for want of cash. We don’t need to assault the dragons; we do need to tear away the tax privileges on which they depend. . . . → Read More: Capturing the Multinational Dragons’ Gold
Imagine that you woke up one day and found, not that you had turned into a giant cockroach, but that you felt unacceptable sexual urges towards little girls or boys. What might you do? . . . → Read More: Pity the Poor Child Molester