Is Living on the Dole Bad for You?: Thursday Focus for July 31, 2014

At one point my grandfather was the richest man between Orlando and Tampa, and I figure that about $15K/year (in 2014-value dollars) of his money has been spent on me, one way or another, since my birth. That's a substantial dole to live on, and--needless to say--I am extremely grateful to my late grandfather and grandmother for giving it to me. But has this harmed me? Brink Lindsey would presumably say that yes, it has: Brink Lindsey:* Why Living on the Dole is Bad for... More >

Lunchtime Must-Read: Jason Furman and John Podesta: We Can’t Wait: The Cost of Delaying Action to Stem Climate Change

Jason Furman and John Podesta: We Can't Wait: The Cost of Delaying Action to Stem Climate Change: "Some are still claiming uncertainty... ...about the underlying science of climate change, saying it would be better to wait for more data, analysis and time to act.... We do face significant uncertainty.... That uncertainty, however, is an argument for doing more and doing it sooner.... Acting now to put in place policies that reduce carbon emissions is like taking out an insurance policy.... The costs of achieving a... More >

A Note on the Shape of Yesterday’s GDP Growth Number

I want to highlight the post by Nick Bunker yesterday over at Equitable Growth Value Added on the shape of the GDP growth number. Our 4%/year first-quarter real GDP growth rate was only a 2.3%/year growth rate for demand--the rest was inventories. And our (still anemic) growth in consumption continues to be largely growth in durables consumption. Well worth your reading, if you haven't already: Nick Bunker: The durability of consumption and economic growth: "The Bureau of Economic Analysis... estimates [real] GDP grew by 4... More >

Morning Must-Read: Ari Phillips: Paul Ryan Says Climate Change Is An Excuse To Illegally Grow Government And Raise Taxes

Ari Phillips: Paul Ryan Says Climate Change Is An Excuse To Illegally Grow Government And Raise Taxes: "Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) said Wednesday that... ...'climate change occurs no matter what', but that the EPA’s recent efforts to reduce emissions from existing power plants are 'outside of the confines of the law', and 'an excuse to grow government, raise taxes and slow down economic growth'. Speaking at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor in Washington, Rep. Ryan said that he would argue that the... More >

Over at Grasping Reality: Neel Kashkari Finds Out Our Big Macroeconomic Problem Is Lack of Demand

A 41-year-old with a long record of extremely conscientious and highly-productive work experience that has left his employers extremely satisfied [cannot find work in Fresno.](http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2014/07/neel-kashkari-says-low-employment-not-due-to-skill-mismatch-or-structural-factors-live-from-the-roasterie-ccxxx-july-31.html) Thus Neel Kashkari finds out that the really big problem is not a lack of productive and marketable skills or of work ethic on the labor side, but rather a shortfall of demand...

Things to Read on the Morning of July 31, 2014

Must- and Should-Reads: Paul Krugman: Circles of Influence: "Thomas Palley is upset.... I was reacting to... his claim that mainstreamers like me were looking in all the wrong places.... This wasn’t about intellectual priority--it was about refuting a claim of ideological blindness.... I’m willing to accept that Palley was somewhat ahead of the curve. And it’s... true that... those like me... think of it as an arc from Tobin to Akerlof-Dickens-Perry to Daly and Hobijn.... There’s so much stuff out there, and you have to... More >

Was NAFTA a Disasta?: Wednesday Focus for July 30, 2014

I have been meaning to pick on the very sharp and public-spirited Jeff Faux since he wrote this seven months ago: Jeff Faux: NAFTA, Twenty Years After: A Disaster: New Year’s Day, 2014, marks the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The Agreement created a common market for goods, services and investment capital with Canada and Mexico. And it opened the door through which American workers were shoved, unprepared, into a brutal global competition for jobs that has cut their living... More >

Afternoon Must-Read: Gary Burtless: Unemployment and the “Skills Mismatch” Story: Overblown and Unpersuasive

Gary Burtless: Unemployment and the “Skills Mismatch” Story: Overblown and Unpersuasive: "We shouldn’t be surprised when shrinking unemployment... ...makes it harder for employers to fill job vacancies.... Economists have examined the skill mix of workers laid off from shrinking industries and compared it with the mix of occupational skills needed in industries that are growing.... To an economist, the most accessible and persuasive evidence demonstrating a skills shortage should be found in wage data. If employers urgently need workers with skills in short supply, we... More >

Afternoon Must-Read: Rick Perlstein: Ronald Reagan’s Brand of Leadership

Rick Perlstein: "To me, Reagan’s brand of leadership was what I call 'a liturgy of absolution'.... ...Who wouldn’t want that? But the consequences of that absolution are all around us today. The inability to contend with climate change. The inability to call elites to account who wrecked the economy in 2008. The inability to reckon with the times when we fall short.... When Samantha Power is chosen to be ambassador to the U.N.; she’d written a magazine article in 2003 in which she wrote American... More >