Weekend reading

This is a weekly post we publish on Fridays with links to articles that touch on economic inequality and growth. The first section is a round-up of what Equitable Growth has published this week and the second is work we’re highlighting from elsewhere. We won’t be the first to share these articles, but we hope by taking a look back at the whole week, we can put them in context.

Equitable Growth round-up

The presidential campaign will be full of policy proposals, particularly those about reforming the tax system. The focus will almost certainly be on the individual side, but keep an eye out for changes to the corporate tax system.

The U.S. Department of Labor is currently contemplating a new rule that would change the regulations surrounding overtime protections. Ben Zipperer comments on the proposed rule.

The U.S. government has a habit of using the tax code extensively as an instrument of social policy. That approach has had some successes, but that’s not the case when it comes to higher education.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Census Bureau released new data on income and poverty during 2014. The Census data are an important resource, but they aren’t a perfect data set. Elisabeth Jacobs puts the new data in context.

The Federal Reserve’s policy-setting committee voted yesterday to keep interest rates near zero. This is a smart move, as a rate hike would have taken away some of the Fed’s credibility.

New research on student debt and data from the U.S. Department of Education turned attention to the troubles facing borrowers who attended for-profit or community colleges. But everything isn’t peachy for graduates of traditional colleges and universities, as Kavya Vaghul shows.

Links from around the web

The labor market recovery has been steady for a while now. 2014 saw many workers return to work and some big drops in the unemployment rate. But as Ben Casselman shows, more jobs hasn’t meant more income for many Americans. [fivethirtyeight]

While economists and analysts try to understand how a tax change will affect the economy and the income distribution, they often model changes without considering the growth effects of the tax changes. Why not? As Josh Barro points out, economists really don’t know how much tax cuts affect economic growth. [the upshot]

The Federal Reserve didn’t raise interest rates yesterday, but it will eventually. And after years of extraordinary monetary policy, the tools by which the Fed will raise rates has changed. Binyamin Appelbaum details the new instruments it will use when higher rates arrive. [ny times]

If a publicly traded company wants to pay out profits to its shareholders, it can pay out dividends or buy back stocks. But while dividends to shareholders are taxed, buybacks are not. Wanling Su, a Visiting Fellow at Yale Law School, argues the IRS made a mistake in making this distinction. [blue sky blog]

The debate about the relationship between productivity and compensation in the U.S. economy continues. Larry Mishel and Josh Bivens show that trends in industry-level productivity and compensation can’t be used to talk about individuals’ productivity. [epi]

Friday figure


Figure from “The pernicious effects of growing student debt on the economic security of young workers” by Kavya Vaghul.

September 18, 2015


Nick Bunker
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