Economy

Deep secrets of the banana

Featured image Rumpole of the Bailey had “She Who Must Be Obeyed” (his wife). Now Dems have the Word Which Must Not Be Spoken. At National Journal Charlie Cooke directs attention to the advice disseminated to Democrats by James Carville et al. in a memo summarizing poll results for Democracy Corps, the survey research and message development arm of the House Democratic leaders. Cooke explains that “[f]or tax reasons, all results have »

Reviving the Misery Index

Featured image Graybeards will remember Jimmy Carter’s embrace of the “Misery Index”—the combination of the inflation rate and the unemployment rate—that Peanut Brain used against Gerald Ford in 1976, but which he then doubled during his forlorn presidency as Ronald Reagan skillfully reminded everyone in 1980.  Well, it’s baaaack. Only this time in a much more refined and useable way, as economist Steve Hanke of Johns Hopkins University explains in a terrific »

Don’t Look Now But . . .

Featured image I follow the stock market fairly closely, always have Barron’s on the top of my weekend reading pile, and, as a conservative, incline toward Benjamin Graham-style value investing.  But I never give stock market advice, even when friends ask.  That’s a good way to risk a friendship if they followed your advice and things went sideways.  If I wanted to “invest other people’s money until there’s nothing left” (as Woody »

How Bad Is the Economy? This Bad

Featured image I have often said that in order to understand how bad our economy truly is, you have to have children at an age where they and their friends are getting out of school and looking for jobs. After five years of ostensible recovery, the job situation is brutal for young people. This was confirmed once again by a study of recent Minnesota graduates that was covered in yesterday’s Minneapolis Star »

The lies of Obamacare — bending the cost curve

Featured image One of the supposed benefits of Obamacare was that, somehow, it would “bend the cost curve” for health care cost — in other words, slow the rate of growth of these costs. Just how providing subsidized health care to millions would accomplish this feat was never clear. But the claim, nonetheless, was part of the sales pitch. The claim has persisted since Obamacare was enacted. Supporters note that lately health »

Marxist blues again

Featured image The visit of French economist Thomas Piketty to the United States has not quite induced Beatlemania, Scott Winship writes at Forbes, but rather the Washington analogue of teenage frenzy. In the New York Times, Jennifer Schuessler might lend credence to the Beatlemania that Winship disclaims. “Economist receives rock star treatment,” Schuessler reports. Indeed, you can see the frenzy through the New York Times alone. Yesterday’s Times brought us Ross Douthat’s »

Dems’ Wage-Gap Hypocrisy

Featured image No matter how many times the “77-cents-on-the-dollar” canard is refuted by the economically literate—most recently by my pals Mark Perry and Andrew Biggs yesterday in the Wall Street Journal—it refuses to die.  But in addition to lying, it is now apparent the Democrats pushing this line have no shame either.  Jennifer Rubin, using figures unearthed by the NRSC, points out: Mark Udall pays women 85 cents for every dollar that »

The staggering costs of Obamacare

Featured image Now that President Obama has completed his end-zone dance for perhaps signing up more people for health insurance than have been dropped from coverage due to Obamacare, it’s time for a sober look at the costs of his signature program. Our friend Tevi Troy, head of the American Health Policy Institute (AHPI), provides that look in a study called “The Cost of the Affordable Care Act to Large Employers.” The »

The Missing Ingredient: Economic Growth

Featured image Unemployment, low wages and lack of opportunity for income advancement dominate discussion of our economy these days. But an obvious ingredient is too often missing from the conversation: economic growth. Growth, the rising tide that lifts all boats, creates more jobs, more wealth, and more opportunities for advancement. The various ills that voters and politicians complain about are all largely the consequence of slow or non-existent growth. This is the »

On the Minimum Wage, Let’s Listen to the New York Times

Featured image As Scott noted earlier today, the New York Times and its administration-lapdog columnists, like Paul Krugman, are promoting the Democrats’ proposal to raise the federal minimum wage. No surprise there. But at one time, the Times–even its editorial board!–knew better. On January 14, 1987, the Times editorialized: The Right Minimum Wage: $0.00. Then, someone at the paper understood the laws of economics: [T]here’s a virtual consensus among economists that the »

Give Krugman a raise!

Featured image I love the stupidity of President Obama’s “Give America a raise” demand. He makes it on behalf of the little people, or the low-information voter, or the union funders of the Democratic Party. It’s almost enough to make you laugh. And of course Obama is supported in his plea by the New York Times and by man of the people op-ed columnist Paul Krugman. Krugman judiciously holds that the time »

The unsettled science of the minimum wage

Featured image The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. In search of a talking point for Democrats to rally around in lieu of Obamacare, President Obama seeks to raise the minimum wage precisely to $10.10. He and his spokesmen say it will do no harm. They cite studies. RCP’s Alexis Simendinger even appears to take the spokesmen and the studies at face value. It used to be one of the few »

The CBO’s New Report on the Minimum Wage

Featured image The Congressional Budget Office released a report today on the impacts of increasing the federal minimum wage, as Democrats are agitating to do. A technical analysis of the report’s conclusions is far beyond my competence, but no doubt economists will be weighing in over the days to come. I will simply take the report’s conclusions at face value. CBO analyzes two different increases in the federal minimum wage, to $10.10 »

Maduro madness

Featured image Henry Hazlitt wrote the classic economics primer Economics in One Lesson, originally published in 1946. The short February 9 news story “Toyota to leave Venezuela” could form the basis of a chapter applying “the lesson” (as Hazlitt does in Part Two of the book): Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro says he wants to speak to Toyota’s top official for Latin America after the carmaker said it would stop production in the »

More of the same in the latest jobs report

Featured image In January, the U.S. economy added only 113,000 jobs. Most forecasts were for job growth of closer to 200,000, which still would not have been all that impressive. On the other hand, the unemployment rate dropped slightly, from 6.7 to 6.6 percent. This has become the familiar pattern — anemic job growth coupled with very small decreases in the unemployment rate. Indeed, the theme of BLS’s “Employment Situation Summary” is »

Theory of the new leisure class

Featured image Thorstein Veblen made a name for himself with the publication of Theory of the Leisure Class in 1899. In a democracy, how can the rich distinguish themselves? Veblen came up with the notion of “conspicuous consumption” geared to the display of social status. The notion has long survived Veblen and the evidence for it seems to be all around us. (Digression: Charlotte Hays works the other side of the street, »

On Inequality, Voters Aren’t Buying the Democrats’ Solution

Featured image Word is that President Obama’s State of the Union speech will focus on inequality. This is no surprise, as the Democrats have concluded that inequality is the issue that gives them the best chance to distract from Obamacare’s failures and fire up their base. It also offers an implicit rejoinder to the fact that Obama has presided over a lousy economy for the last five years: sure the economy is »