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 »

He’s talking as fast as he can

Featured image Senior presidential advisor Dan Pfeiffer turned up on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace this morning in advance of Obama’s state of the union address this week. I give Pfeiffer credit for showing up. Wallace quizzed Pfeiffer on the weakness of the economy as measured by factors with which we have all become too familiar. In the video clip below, Pfeiffer claims some victories that he attributes to Obama and »

Spindle Time, Mostly on Economics

Featured image The stock market sold off hard today, supposedly because of economic turmoil and devaluations in developing countries.  Perhaps this is so, though I usually discount the snap analysis in the media about what drives the daily moves of the overall market, as opposed to individual sectors where industry slumps or disruptions (housing and banking anyone?) are more comprehensible.  I wonder whether the market may be sliding because of the downgrades »

U.S. No Longer In Top Ten For Economic Freedom

Featured image The world is a freer place than it has even been before, but unfortunately the United States is bucking the trend. While other countries and governments recognize that economic freedom is the path to prosperity, our own government saddles business with ever more onerous, expensive and unproductive regulations. Today the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal released their annual ranking of the nations of the world, on the scale »

Minimum Wage: Might As Well Check in With Milton

Featured image John took notice here last week of how once upon a time even the New York Times understood that mandating a minimum wage that was above what the bottom end of the labor market would bear was economically unsound and hurt the very people it was designed most to help–though that seems to be a defining feature of a lot of government policy these days.  But then the Times caught »

More On Today’s Awful Jobs Numbers

Featured image Paul has already noted how weak the December jobs report was. This paper, released yesterday by the liberal Economic Policy Institute, includes several charts that provide a valuable overview on the Obama jobs disaster. This chart shows that if the workers who have dropped out of the labor force were still looking for work, the unemployment rate would be virtually unchanged since 2009: As of November, it would have required »

The latest weak jobs report

Featured image I admit it — I expected the jobs report for December to be in line with the mildly encouraging recent reports. I was wrong. John Steele Gordon has the story: Job creation slowed markedly in December, with only a dismal 74,000 jobs created last month, the worst monthly report in three years. Economists, notorious for their clouded crystal balls, had been predicting 200,000 new jobs, above the 2013 average of »

The NY Times: Against the Minimum Wage Before It Was For It

Featured image I had lunch with a couple of Republican Congressmen a week or so ago. They said the Democrats are desperate to talk about anything other than Obamacare, and have decided that their best distraction is the minimum wage. So we can expect to hear a lot about raising the minimum wage over the next ten months. The New York Times editorial board, a reliable mouthpiece for the left wing of »

The New York Times Misleads On Economics, Too [Updated]

Featured image Paul and others have devastated David Kirkpatrick’s dishonest reporting on Benghazi in the New York Times. Kirkpatrick is obviously trying to minimize the Benghazi scandal in order to lend a hand to the Democratic Party in general, and Hillary Clinton in particular. Simultaneously, another controversy has been brewing over dishonest reporting by the Times, this time in the field of economics. I wrote about it here: Times reporter David Kocieniewski »

Get Your Hayek On

Featured image It’s been a while since we checked in on Friedrich Hayek (though I did write about him in connection with Obamacare in one of my first columns), but it is worth drawing your attention to a short series of video lectures about Hayek from Tyler Cowen of George Mason University. In addition to writing an occasional column for the business pages of the New York Times, Cowen and his »

The Obama economic boomlet — is it finally here?

Featured image While most of us have fixated, quite justifiably, on various Obamacare fiascos, the U.S. economy has been taking off. James Pethokoukis has the details. He notes that the economy grew by a revised 4.1 percent annual pace in the third quarter. Economists expect growth during 2014 at a rate of 3.0 to 3.5 percent. Pethokoukis thinks there’s a good chance that 2014 will be the best for the American economy »

The pivot that isn’t

Featured image Charles Lane writes about President Obama’s “pivot” to economic inequality. Like other commentators, Lane misses the fact that there is no pivot. Addressing inequality has been the organizing theme of the Obama administration — from the stimulus to Obamacare to “regionalism.” Until now, Obama has tried to conceal his redistributionist agenda. Indeed, when a congressman told Michelle Obama that the stimulus plan was the best anti-poverty program in a generation, »