February 17, 2014 |
In a show of misdirection worthy of a conjurer, though not a very good conjurer, Harvard economics professor N. Gregory Mankiw has again tried to depict the 1% as exceptional individuals making unique contributions to the economy or culture, rather than as mediocre CEOs and derivatives traders contributing precious little to society. His message is: Who could begrudge such people their just deserts?* But he's stacking the deck. An earlier attempt by Mankiw to prettify income inequality came under attack, as we reported here , but he has only redoubled his campaign.
February 10, 2014 |
Last October, in between arguments over the debt ceiling, the federal government somehow found time to send me an email. My student loan payment was 70 days past due, the message read, so the government had negatively reported me to each major credit bureau and would continue to report me until my account was brought current. I'm betting the government sent out a lot of those letters to people like me: college graduates from middle-class families who didn't qualify for much in the way of scholarship aid and had parents who couldn't afford to pay for their schooling.
February 4, 2014 |
There's a new element in the debate over U.S. income inequality, and it's one that may actually get our political leadership talking about ways to address the issue: businesses are beginning to notice that their middle-class customers have disappeared. The consumer market is beginning to look like a sandwich without meat in the middle--there are enough wealthy customers to keep the luxury market humming along, and a growing demand for cheap no-name and other bargain products. The phenomenon has been reported by Matthew Yglesias of Slate.com and more recently by Nelson Schwartz of the New York Times.
February 2, 2014 |
SOCHI, Russia - Tired of hearing reports about alleged corruption and budget overruns, some Russian citizens have given the 2014 Sochi Olympics a nickname. Kickbacktiada. The Games, which begin Friday, rank as the most expensive in Olympic history with an estimated cost of more than $50 billion and counting. A recent study by a Russian watchdog group alleges that organizers paid far more than the going rate for numerous venues built in and around the Black Sea resort.
January 31, 2014 |
WASHINGTON -- Consumers opened their wallets more than expected last month even though their incomes failed to grow, another indication the economy picked up steam heading into the new year, the Commerce Department said Friday. Spending rose 0.4% in December after an upwardly revised 0.6% increase the previous month. Economists had projected so-called personal-consumption expenditures increased only 0.2% last month. "The consumer has a lot of spending momentum and is off to a good start for 2014," said Chris Rupkey, chief economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi in New York.
January 29, 2014 |
WASHINGTON - President Obama's sixth speech on the state of the union spotlighted many issues, but more than anything it illuminated the vast gap between his policy ambitions and the tools he has to achieve them. The president made the ambition clear last month, when he referred to a "dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility" in the U.S. as the "the defining challenge of our time," a theme he repeated Tuesday night. "After four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better," he said, "but average wages have barely budged.
January 28, 2014 |
WASHINGTON - Saying it's the "defining project of our generation," President Obama will call on Americans on Tuesday night to try to bridge the gap between rich and poor in a State of the Union speech that will focus on restoring the promise of upward mobility and economic opportunity. "Today, after four years of economic growth, corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average...
January 28, 2014 |
WASHINGTON -- Nearly four in 10 Americans want the government to do more to reduce the widening gap between rich and poor, according to poll results released Tuesday. However, there was no clear consensus among respondents in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal survey for addressing income inequality, a topic that is expected to be a major focus of President Obama's State of the Union address Tuesday night. The poll found that 37% of respondents said they want the government to be more involved in reducing income inequality, which has widened since the end of the Great Recession.
January 27, 2014 |
In his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama will try to recharge his presidency by discussing the expansive divide between rich and poor in America. It's a crucial issue, and one with no easy solutions. Obama is expected to focus on the twin themes of income inequality and social mobility, which is the ability to move up the economic ladder. Wealth disparity has drawn enormous attention with the U.S. income gap at its highest level since the Great Depression.
January 27, 2014 |
Judging from the trends in political rhetoric, "income inequality" has become the new "poverty. " The latest example comes from a piece by my colleague Michael Finnegan in Monday's edition of The Times, in which Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti throws his support behind a proposal to raise the minimum wage at large hotels to a little more than $15 an hour. In the old days, such a proposal would be heralded as a way to lift working people out of poverty. (OK, not just the old days -- that appears to be the stance taken by Councilmen Curren Price and Mike Bonin.)