Tag: Economy

Facts Are Stubborn Things . . . As Thomas Piketty Is Beginning to Find Out

 

I have bought Thomas Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, and while I have posted many an item that takes issue with the books claims and conclusions concerning wealth inequality, I do plan on reading Piketty; his book has made quite the intellectual and cultural impact, and although I know what his basic arguments are, I want to be sure that I read the whole of the book to be fully aware of his claims.

But even before reading the book, one can conclude certain things about Piketty, as my previous blog posts indicate. And today, we learn that we may well be able to conclude one more thing still about Piketty, his research, and his arguments: They may be completely wrong. And yes, those words were worth emphasizing.

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Was Not Helping Underwater Homeowners a Massive Mistake?

 

091813housing-600x353In their much-praised new book, House of Debt, economists Atif Mian and Amir Sufi argue the 2000s housing crash caused a much worse recession than the tech-stock crash because asset losses were more heavily concentrated among the 99% — who then stopped spending. The burst Internet stock bubble, on the other hand, “concentrated losses on the rich, but the rich had almost no debt and didn’t need to cut back their spending.”

Which raises the following counterfactual: what if Washington had pushed massive relief for underwater homeowners?

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Member Post

 

This story popped up on Facebook this morning and it features jaw dropping images of allegedly millions of unsold brand new cars parked all over the planet by their manufacturers to rust and remain unsold. If this is true, why don’t manufacturers push the big red “STOP” button on the assembly line until they can […]

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Don’t Be a Nudge

 

Minnesota’s state executive and legislative branches are currently under Democratic (or as we say up here, DFL — Democratic, Farmer and Labor) Party control. They recently passed a Women’s Economic Security Act here, a passel of 1970s-era measures on comparable worth, more generous parental leave, a better place to pump breast milk for your child at work, etc. The cost to the state is a few million dollars; the costs to businesses will be substantial. We could go on about those, but the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota has found a little nugget in the middle of this bit of warmed-up Carterism.

The bill states: “the commissioner of management and budget must report to the legislature…on the potential for a state-administered retirement savings plan”, by January 2015. The legislation includes $400,000 to study the issue. While a legislative report may seem innocuous (albeit expensive), it is anything but. This is the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent.

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Best and Worst States for Business

 

Chief Executive magazine has released their 10th annual survey of CEOs concerning their views of the best states and the worst states for business. More than 500 CEOs graded states on their tax and regulatory regimes, quality of the workforce, and quality of life.

I created a graphic of the 10 best and the 10 worst. The results may surprise you: BestWorstStates (Just kidding — the results aren’t surprising at all.)

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Member Post

 

No, I’m not writing about his book and whether or not a Presidential advisor asked him to lie about the role of Social Security in our nation’s debt (which, to his credit, he declined to do). This post is about his op-ed in The Wall Street Journal concerning the onset of the Panic of 2008. […]

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Recovery Summer VI

 

shutterstock_52707991A few weeks back, the press heralded improvements in the unemployment rate and the whopping 0.1 percent growth rate for 2014’s first quarter. A barely perceptible growth of one-tenth of one percent is bad enough, but it might be getting worse.

Employing newly released data from the Commerce Department, forecasters are now expecting to find that the gross domestic product actually contracted in the first quarter. Don’t be surprised when the government quietly lowers that Q1 estimate.

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Who Doesn’t Want a Drawbridge Sometimes?—Aaron Miller

 

In Ed Driscoll’s latest podcast, James briefly describes what he calls “the drawbridge effect”: successful business owners using their acquired power and resources to prevent others from following their success. Is this scenario truly common? If it is common, is it as selfish as it first appears?

Imagine that you could afford to build a house on a beautiful secluded beach. Soon others discover that shore and more houses are built. Then the condos and hotels come, along with little tourist shops and restaurants. Eventually, home owners are driven out by rising property taxes. Those that remain are faced with a very different beach experience than the one they bought into.

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Member Post

 

How has the ubiquity of credit cards changed the consumer markets? Once upon a time, consumers spent only as much money as they possessed. Today, even teenagers are mailed credit card offers and nearly all businesses accept credit as payment. More

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The Wisdom of Crowds (Intelligence Analysis Division)

 

This should impress everyone, and surprise no one:

The morning I met Elaine Rich, she was sitting at the kitchen table of her small town home in suburban Maryland trying to estimate refugee flows in Syria.

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Is the US Counting Too Much on the Shale Boom to Fix the Economy? — James Pethokoukis

 

Calling the shale gas and oil boom an “energy revolution” is no overstatement. Between 2005 and 2013, US production of natural gas increased by 33% and liquid fuel 52% thanks to advanced drilling technology. But I get the impression that some people — particularly on the right — see fracking as a sort of magic bullet for America’s economic stagnation. Well, that and the repeal of Obamacare.

But I urge caution in equating an America energy revolution with an American economic revolution. It’s a big economy, after all. And it’s tough for any one thing to make a dramatic, overwhelming impact. For instance: the McKinsey Global Institute has projected that so-called unconventional energy production could support 1.7 million jobs by 2020. IHS Global Insight takes its forecast out to 2035 and sees a gain of 2.4 million jobs. Those are big numbers, of course, but they seem less impressive when you consider that total US employment by then might be 160-170 million jobs.

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Employment Paralysis in the Obama Economy — Doug Kimball

 

As many of you know, I’m in the midst of a job search. It became clear early on that I needed to temper my expectations; which is to say consider taking a few giant steps backwards in order to get a paycheck.

The first headhunter I met with tried to sell me on a “retained search.” That’s a euphemism for paying them a fee up front to represent me. I politely told them, no, but I wanted to ask them if they saw “SUCKER” tattooed on my forehead. This is where the job market is. Poor unemployed dinosaurs like me are rubes to be deprived of their IRA savings.

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