Economy

Why Is Haiti Poor? [With comment by Paul]

Featured image I recently discovered, via a reader, an excellent web site called Manhattan Contrarian. There is lots of good stuff there, but consider this article: Why Is Haiti So Poor? The wealth of nations, or lack thereof, is a topic of longstanding interest. Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which share the island of Hispaniola, are something of a laboratory experiment, a bit like East and West Berlin. Manhattan Contrarian notes that »

Charles Koch: How to Get Our Economy Moving Again

Featured image If there is anyone in the world who knows how to create wealth and generate good, high-paying jobs, it is Charles Koch. In USA Today, Koch sets out a basic prescription for how to improve our economy, accompanied by some eye-popping statistics: Like most Americans, I am deeply concerned about our weak economic recovery and its effects on millions of families. Opportunity, especially for the young and disadvantaged, is declining. »

The Awful Jobs Picture: 6.2% Unemployment Is Only the Beginning

Featured image The Labor Department reported today that the economy added 209,000 jobs in July as the official unemployment rate rose to 6.2%. But, as Peter Morici explains, that dismal unemployment number only begins to tell the story: Adding in discouraged adults who say they would begin looking for work if conditions were better, those working part-time but say they want full time work, and the effects of immigration, the unemployment rate »

Mid-Week in Pictures: Milton Friedman’s Birthday

Featured image It’s Milton Friedman’s 102nd birthday today, and as such a good excuse for some reminders of his greatness, and a few pics that illustrate the economic divide of our time.  This is perhaps my favorite Milton Friedman quote, just as true now as when he first wrote it: “The society that puts [economic] equality before freedom will end up with neither. The society that puts freedom before equality will end »

Remy Rings a Bell

Featured image The New York Times Magazine today carries a cover story about why math is hard, and perhaps that helps explain widespread economic illiteracy. Maybe the Times should do a sequel on this very topic, except that it might expose too many of its premier columnists (not mentioning any names of course). Anyway, most economists will tell you that your attitude about the minimum wage is a test as to whether you »

The scandal of part-time America

Featured image Mort Zuckerman, writing in the Wall Street Journal, notes the deceptive nature of the hype surrounding the June jobs report showing the addition of 288,000 jobs. In reality, full time jobs decreased by 523,000 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics — a shocking number that is obscured, but hardly offset, by the addition of 800,000 part time jobs. Following the release of the June report, President Obama proclaimed, “Make »

Today’s Jobs Report: A Note of Caution

Featured image Today’s jobs report was the best in a long time, thank goodness. But a friend on the Hill points out some facts that shed light on the broader issues that are still very much with us: Today’s report shows increasing strength in the jobs market. June employment (according to the survey of businesses) rose by 288,000 jobs. The BLS revised their April jobs estimate from 282,000 to 304,000 and their »

The Fed Bubble?

Featured image Further to yesterday’s note on “Behind the Levitation” about the Federal Reserve’s easy money policy, Ron Greiss of The Chart Store kindly sent along these four graphs that display the astronomical expansion of the Fed’s balance sheet in the aftermath of the crash of 2008.  These make for sober viewing indeed.  Hard to see how this ends well (click to enlarge any of these): Ron Greiss notes that correlation does not equal »

Behind the Levitation

Featured image Last week when I commented on the downward revision of the already weak First Quarter GDP numbers, several commenters wrote in to ask: what is keeping the stock market so high?  Great question, with the best answer being ZIRP, the Federal Reserve’s “zero interest rate policy,” now matched by many other central banks (with some actually now employing negative interest rates).  I’ll leave for another time whether the risk of »

Welcome to Japan: More on The Q1 GDP Report

Featured image John and I both took note of the disastrous first quarter GDP report yesterday.  Today it is worth bringing to your attention the observations of economist John Makin of the American Enterprise Institute, who is an unassuming and soft-spoken fellow (we were billeted in the same office suite) who has a very impressive track record of calling the shifts and directions in the economy.  His bottom line: forget about 3 »

The 1st Quarter Decline in GDP: Cold Weather, Or Bad Policy?

Featured image This morning, as Steve noted, the Commerce Department revised its estimate of 1st quarter GDP to show a shocking 2.9% annualized decline. The White House tried to spin the awful numbers, arguing that the drop was largely accounted for by cold weather. (Does this mean that we should look forward to global warming as an economic boon?) But Senator Jeff Sessions got much closer to the heart of the matter »

One Shovel-Ready Job: The Grave of the Dems Senate Majority?

Featured image As we noted here on May 29, the Department of Commerce reported that the nation’s economy contracted at an annual rate of about 1 percent during the first quarter of this year.  This morning the DoC is out with revised numbers, showing the economy shrank much more than previously thought: 2.9 percent.  Last year the White House had predicted 2.6 percent growth for the first quarter.  Oops. The suitably grumpy »

Social Science Abstract of the Week

Featured image Everyone who is awake knows that the labor force participation rate is at a 35-year low, making the real unemployment rate much higher than the “official” number of 6.3 percent reported this morning.  Now see this from Science magazine‘s roundup of notable journal articles this week, posted without comment, as none is necessary: Public health insurance costs jobs? Gilbert Chin What is the relationship between employment rates and access to public health »

The Disaster of Obamanomics, In Two Charts [Updated with more charts from Joe]

Featured image Apologists for the Obama administration sometimes argue that the nation’s declining rate of labor force participation is largely a function of baby boomers retiring from the labor force. Unfortunately, this is not the case. This chart, prepared by the Senate Budget Committee, pretty much says it all. An unprecedented number of men–one in six–between the ages of 25 and 54, what should be their prime earning years, are either unemployed »

The Economy: Don’t Look Now, But . . .

Featured image News has just crossed the wire this morning that the economy contracted at an annual rate of 1 percent during the first quarter of this year.  Many people will probably point to the brutal winter weather as a factor, though the Dept. of Commerce fingers “negative contributions from private inventory investment, exports, nonresidential fixed investment, state and local government spending, and residential fixed investment,” and notes that consumer spending was »

Is Thomas Piketty a Fraud?

Featured image French economist Thomas Piketty is the darling of the international Left. His book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, argues that in a free economy, wealth is inexorably concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. He credits (!) the two world wars and the Great Depression with temporarily interrupting this process and giving rise to more equality, but now, he says, concentration of wealth has resumed in both Europe and America. Piketty »

Why not the highest?

Featured image Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (here behind the Journal’s dreaded subscription paywall) and today’s New York Times (here) bring glad tidings from the left’s war on income inequality. The Journal gets right to the nub of the story: ZURICH–On May 18, the Alpine nation will vote on an initiative to introduce a minimum wage of 22 Swiss francs ($25) an hour, a level that would be the highest in the world. »