Friday, September 30, 2016

Why Is Austerity The Preferred Response To Recession?

Paul Krugman applauds an article by an economist who blames right wing ideologues for placing deficit reduction above the need to reduce unemployment.  He takes that argument to the next level. Deficit reduction is not exclusive to the right wing.  The public believes that government deficits are bad and that they should be reduced by cuts in government spending.  That view is also held by mainstream journalists who are not enamored of right wing ideology.  President Obama made a similar mistake when he compared government spending to household spending.  The implication is that sensible households avoid debt and governments should follow suit.  He probably did not realize that the cuts in government spending to reduce budget deficits wiped out the impact of his stimulus program.

If the bread winner in a household loses a source of income from unemployment spending must be cut because it is difficult to borrow.  The household also pays lower taxes which deprives the government of tax revenue.  Governments collect less tax revenue in recessions.  Consequently, budget deficits would increase and governments would have to cut spending to balance their budgets.  When governments cut spending along with cuts in household spending the economy will shrink even further.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Trump Has Ignited A Civil War In The Right Wing Media

Trump has his supporters and his enemies in the right wing media.  Some of them love him and some believe that he has betrayed conservatism.  If you want to learn more about the right wing media stars, and how they relate to Donald Trump,  this article tell you all you need to know.  There is an incestuous relationship between the media stars and conservative politicians.  The politicians depend upon their support; Donald Trump has carefully cultivated them ever since he decided that he should be our president.  Most of them have jumped on the Trump bandwagon.  They have helped to create the alternative universe in which Trump has prospered.  Its not surprising that Trump's mistakes have done little to erode his support.  They are only perceived as mistakes in the other world in which I have lived most of my life.

Globalization, Automation and The Rise of Trumpism

This article describes the impacts of trade and automation on the labor market.  The results are predictable.  Domestic labor markets have become international labor markets; it is not surprising that jobs have moved from high wage countries to low wage countries and wages have fallen as the supply of labor has risen faster than the demand for labor.  Manufacturing has been the hardest hit by globalization because manufactured products account for the largest share of global trade.  One does not need to be an economist to see the results in the rust belt states.  In theory the process of deindustrialization would lead to a services economy that replaced low skilled manufacturing jobs with higher skilled, and higher paid, service sector jobs.  That would be the best of all possible worlds but it did not happen as it was imagined in theory.  The share of wages going to labor has dropped as profits have risen for many multinational firms.  We expect firms to do what they can to reduce costs and increase profits but we also expect governments to respond to problems that have arisen from globalization and automation.  Governments, especially in the US, have been happy to let market forces do their magic while they have largely ignored the economic and social consequences of rapid change.  We should not be surprised by the rise of populism in Europe and the US.  We have seen that before when governments have been unable or unwilling to respond to life changing events experienced by large segments of their population.  Populists like Donald Trump have been provided with an opportunity to seize control of governments which are believed to have created problems for which they have no solutions.  Trump does not understand the problems and he does not have any workable solutions.  That does not matter to many of his supporters.  He only has to amplify the problems that concern them and present himself as a change agent who understands their problems. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Tom Friedman Can't Believe That We Could Choose A Clown For Our President

Tom Friedman watched the first presidential debate in horror.  Hillary Clinton got a passing grade but The Donald would have been better off if he had not shown up for the debate.  He has no idea about any of the topics under discussion, beyond the sound bites that uses on the campaign trail, and most of them are foolish lies. 

Friedman is not alone in assessment of The Donald.  The Arizona Republic has never endorsed a Democrat for president in its long history.  The Republic and major newspapers in other red states have also endorsed Clinton.  Many of their readers are not happy about this but the publishers have put the national interest ahead of their business interests.  Its a pity that the Republican Party leadership has failed to perform a similar civic duty.  They are too concerned about loosing the base that The Donald has won over to his side.  Most of the them are low information voters but there are also a large number of Republicans that should know better.  They must believe that The Donald can be controlled by a GOP Congress.  He will certainly recruit more traditional Republicans for advisers and for cabinet positions.  They will do little that will be of benefit to most of The Donald's base of supporters.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Video Of First Presidential Debate

There is a lot of interest in the US election and many do not have access to the first presidential debate.  I have been very critical of Donald Trump's candidacy.  You can view the debate by using this link.  Some of you will understand why some people like The Donald and some will understand why many believe that he is a terrible candidate.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Why The NY Times Ediitorial Board Does Not Support Donald Trump

The Editorial Board of the NY Times lists all of the reasons why Donald Trump should not become the President of the United States.  Its hard to imagine anyone less qualified to become the nation's president.  Its even harder to understand why so many citizens are going to vote for him.  Most of his supporters are sold on Trump as a celebrity personality who is different from the typical politicians who don't speak their language.  They don't get their information from the NY Times; they are informed by alternative media sources that extol Trump's virtues.  Many of them believe that the "mainstream media" have a liberal bias;  liberalism and progressivism are hateful to them.  Political polarization has never been as strong or as institutionalized as it is today in America.  Trump understands the polarization and he exploits it. The debates between Trump and Clinton won't change the outcome of the election very much.

Its one thing to be critical of the poorly informed segment of Trump's base but over 80% of registered Republicans intend to vote for Donald Trump.  Many of them are well informed but they believe that President Trump will behave like a traditional Republican after the election.  Trump's political campaign is primarily an advertising campaign designed to exploit a large market segment.  He will be totally compatible with the Republican Congress when he assumes the presidency and he will stack the Supreme Court with fellow conservatives.  Trump's improvement in the recent polls reflects the increase in his support from reluctant Republicans.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

NY Times Endorses Hillary Clinton For President

The editorial board of the NYT explains why Hillary Clinton would be an excellent president.  The editorial board did not argue that we should vote for Clinton because her opponent would be a terrible choice.  They examined her strengths and weaknesses and concluded that her strengths overwhelmed the handful of mistakes that she made over a long and successful career in government.  Ordinarily, the editorial board would have compared the policies proposed by each candidate, and it would have endorsed the candidate who advanced the best approaches to the major problems that the nation faces.  The editorial board chose not to do so for a good reason.  Donald Trump is an empty suit; he has made extravagant claims about the problems that we face and he has not offered a detailed proposal on how the government would address any of them.  He claims that he should be our next president because he is Donald Trump.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Donald Trump Has Caused The Press To Do The Unthinkable

The top newspapers in the US bend over backwards to avoid calling our politicians bad names.  Donald Trump has caused our two major newspapers to call him a liar.  They have never done that in my memory.  They were driven to that by Trump's callous indifference to the truth.  The New York times provides examples of Trump's indifference to the truth over the last few weeks that has caused the paper to call him a liar.  The paper is not happy about this but Trump has forced the NYT to report on his disregard for the truth.  His base does not seem to care about Trump's lies.  Many Trump supporters will just regard articles like this as liberal media bias.  We live in a strange world.

Why Isn't Healtcare Reform A Hot Topic On The Campaign Trail?

Spending on healthcare is around 18% of US GDP.  Moreover, healthcare spending by households, which includes increases in co-pays and deductibles along with higher premiums, has been growing faster than household income.  The US spends much more on healthcare than any other advanced economy in the world.  Access to healthcare is also more limited in the US than it is in many other advanced nations.  One would think that it would get more attention than it has been getting in the political campaigns.  This article describes Donald Trump's healthcare plan that consists primarily of replacing Obamacare with something else that he does not describe in any detail.  It also describes some the proposals by Hillary Clinton that are much more detailed but well below what is needed to contain address the affordability and access issues.  However, it does not explain why it is not a big issue in either campaign.  

There are lots of reasons why healthcare has not been a hot topic in the political campaigns.  In the first place, trying to change a healthcare system, that represents 18% of the US economy, would be a huge task, and there would be a lot of resistance to change by its benefactors and the politicians allied with them.  Hillary Clinton learned this lesson the hard way when she attempted to change the system in her husband's administration.  Donald Trump, has no real interest in policies.  He only cares about winning an election.  That is why he separates himself from most Republicans who want to cut Medicare spending.  He is supported by a large majority of Americans covered by Medicare.  He has consistently argued that Republicans have lost general elections in the past by proposing cuts in Medicare.  Another reason for the lack of attention to healthcare is rather depressing.  Most Americans have a poor understanding about how the system works, and how it compares with systems in other advanced economies.  Unfortunately, most politicians are reluctant to discuss complex problems, with complex solutions, in political campaigns.  Trump has been successful by appealing to emotional issues and Clinton, who loves policy discussions,  has been warned against presenting herself as a policy nerd.  It will be interesting to see how debates, which are supposed to be about presidential policies are dealt with in forthcoming debates between Trump and Clinton.

It's Not Easy Being Ted Cruz Or A Traditional Republican

Donald Trump defeated Ted Cruz in the Republican Primary.  He did it by capturing a large part of the Republican base that Cruz had cultivated carefully on his imagined trip to the White House.  Cruz made a bold effort to punish Trump for stealing his base by denouncing him at the Republican Convention. He told the audience that his conscience would not let him vote for Trump.  He was loudly booed by those who left him for Trump.  It looks like Trump cannot win the general election in November on the strength of the Cruz base that he captured in the primary campaign.  Cruz still imagines himself in the White House, but he will have to wait until 2020 when he will replace President Clinton.  He believes that he can do that, by reclaiming the base that Trump pilfered from him, along with the more moderate Republican base, that may not show up to vote for Trump.  He took his first step in that direction by announcing that he will vote for Trump in the November election.  He hopes that this will appease his base that booed him when he asked them not to vote for Trump at the GOP convention.  He will go after President Clinton in 2020 with his old friends and the moderate Republicans who will be more comfortable with a real Republican on the ticket.

This article describes an imaginary battle between the Cruz conscience that respected him for his bold attack on Trump at the GOP convention and the new conscience that replaced it when he announced that he would vote for Trump so that he can live in the White House in 2020.  It captures some of the conflicts that many traditional Republicans feel as they prepare to vote for a Republican in November that they do not respect.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Could President Trump Turn The US Into Poland?

Anne Applebaum describes what has happened in Poland's government to what might happen in the US if Trump becomes our president.  The president of Poland has employed a conspiracy theory, that has no basis in fact, to justify actions which concentrate power in the executive branch at the expense of Polish democracy. Applebaum did not believe that this could happen in Poland.  She argues that Donald Trump's rise to power in the Republican Party was based upon the birther conspiracy that he championed for five years.  Trump's base responds well to conspiracy theories of all kinds, and it is also insensitive to contradictory facts.  She describes how a President Trump might operate like the Polish president has done to consolidate power by employing powerful conspiracy theories. She does not believe that this could happen in the US but she worries because she did believe that this could happen in Poland.  Moreover, very few believed that Trump could win the GOP nomination.  Its hard to predict what a President Trump might do after assuming power.

Monday, September 19, 2016

A Leading Republican Journalist Has Given Up On Her Party

Jennifer Rubin has been given a platform by the Washington Post to present and defend conservative policies and ideals associated with the Republican Party.  Donald Trump's nomination, and the decision by Republican leaders to support his presidential campaign, has created an existential crisis for Rubin. She argues that a political party that places the interests of the party over the interests of our nation is no longer credible.  She is now a Republican who has lost her political home.

Donald Trump spent five years building his support among racists who could not accept Obama as their president by claiming that President Obama was not born in the US.  Trump must believe that he can improve his chances in the November election by changing his mind about Obama's birthplace.  It will increase his appeal to moderates, and his racist supporters will not vote for Hillary Clinton.  However,  it has been hard for Trump surrogates in his campaign to explain his about face on Obama's birthplace.  Trump's campaign manager was asked to explain his reasoning to CNN and other journalists.  Rubin included the interviews in her article.  Trump's campaign manager was put in tough spot by the reporters who refused to let her duck the question that they asked.  She tried her best to change the focus from Trump to Hillary Clinton by asserting that Clinton initiated the birther claim and that Trump was just following her lead.  The reporters did not let her off of the hook. They kept asking her to explain why Trump has been making the false claim about Obama's birthplace for five years.  She had no answers for the reporters. She kept shifting the focus back to the false claim that Hillary Clinton was original birther advocate.  We can expect Trump to follow the same strategy in the upcoming debates with Clinton.  He always tries to change the subject when he is asked a tough question by raising an unrelated question about his opponents.  Hopefully, the debate moderators will be as tough as the reporters that Rubin cited in this article.  Trump needs to be exposed as the liar whose rise in the Republican Party has caused her to lose her political home.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Climate Change Denier Club

The science community has little doubt about the climate change and its relationship to human activity.  We are currently experiencing some of the effects of climate change across our planet.  When I read articles in the press, about some of the climate problems that we are experiencing today, I usually scan through the comments to sample the reactions to the warnings about climate change.  It is distressing to read so many comments from individuals who believe that they are better informed on the subject than climate scientists.  Many consider it a badge of honor to show off their grasp of the subject.  They have received their education on the subject from a small group of climate change deniers and they take great pleasure in putting their superior knowledge on display.  They get most of their information from a well funded cadre of climate change deniers whose views in the subject are readily available on cable news networks and the social media.  This article provides a glimpse into the climate change denier community that has enabled so many commentators to demonstrate their knowledge on the subject which is superior to that of the scientific community.

Like most Republicans, Donald Trump is also a climate change denier.  It could not be otherwise.  It is part of a belief system that has been firmly established in his base of supporters by the climate change denial industry described in this article.  Climate change denial fits nicely into a political party devoted to shrinking government.  Its presidential candidate has the impossible dream of making America Great Again by limiting the role of government in society.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Capitalism and Marxism Fail To Deal Adequately With Ethical Considerations

This article raises a question that should be asked about an economy.  It argues that we should ask what kind of social organizations are most ethically desirable.  According to this analysis both capitalism and the Marxist critique of capitalism are derived from an extremely narrow theory of how an economy really works.  Consequently, they both suppress the discussion ethical issues in the real economy.

The basic assumption in capitalism is that the things that we desire are allocated by a market mechanism.  If we examine the real economy we find that economic practices are better described as a system of transferring things that we desire within and outside of a market system in which they are bought and sold.  Several examples of non-market transfers are provided which show how extensive they are in the real world.  For example,  families operate to provide valuable services to family members that are outside of the market mechanism.

The basic assumption in capitalism is the concept of price equilibrium.  That is, supply and demand for desirable commodities determine a market price that is efficient.  Allocation by the market mechanism is considered to be Pareto Optimal.  Nobody could be made better off without making someone else worse off.  Therefore, we should leave the allocation of things we desire to the market and we should eliminate government interventions in the market.  There are lots of issues with the ideal of Pareto Optimality.  For example, the goal of most firms is to maximize profit and to minimize price competition in its markets.  The degree of Pareto Optimality is a function of the level of price competition in markets.  Any deviation, from perfect competition in markets, which are considerable, defeats the notion of Pareto Optimality.  More importantly, if we assume that markets are inherently good, there is no need for ethical discussion in a market economy.

Marxism suffers from a different problem.  It holds that the central mechanism of capitalism is the extraction of surplus value from wage labor.  Ethics devolves into the central issue of the exploitation of labor.  Economic theory side steps this issue by assuming that wages are determined by each persons contribution to output but that is beside the point.  Ethical considerations are not central in capitalism or in Marxism according to this analysis.  If we look at the distribution of income and wealth in society it does not take a lot of sophistication to determine that the absence of ethical analysis is a real problem which has been excluded from economic theory and from the dominant critique of capitalism.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Post Truth Politics And Its Consequences

Politicians have always used lies to create a false view of the world.  False views of the world have a long half life because they are difficult to falsify.  Ronald Reagan's view of the world is still alive in the Republican Party and Lyndon Johnson's idea of the great society still finds a home in the Democratic Party.  Post Truth politics is common in authoritarian regimes and hard to dislodge because there are consequences for dissenters.  Donald Trump has brought post truth politics to the forefront in the US.  This article in The Economist describes post truth politics and some of its consequences

The critical component of post truth politics is that truth is of secondary importance.  Lies are not falsifiable or contested.  In fact, attacking lies makes the liar more credible. It validates the us versus them mentality that liars like Donald Trump rely upon.  Trump has established himself as a critic of social elites.  His supporters anticipate and relish criticism from the mainstream media which they view as a tool of the elite.  In a sense, post truth politics feeds upon a loss of trust in our leaders and in our institutions.  Democracy tends to correct some of the missteps taken by elites over time but that does not easily occur under post truth economics.  Donald Trump's lies are based around common prejudices that exist in his base of supporters.  It is difficult to falsify a common prejudice.  Moreover, the fragmentation of our media reinforces strongly held beliefs.  Fox News staked out a position in media as alternative to mainstream media which operate in the service of social elites.  The Internet has also made it easy for everyone to select the source of news and information that feeds their prejudices.  Every problem has an easy solution within each group of self reinforcing media outlets.  Complex solutions to hard problems are off limits.  Post truth politics rejects complexity and we can no longer rely upon self correction when strongly held beliefs are not falsifiable.  When politics becomes like professional wrestling the social cost is very high.  We no longer debate policies and unworkable solutions to over simplified problems have become acceptable.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Gap Between Labor Productivity And Compensation

Economic theory assumes that workers are compensated in relation to their productivity.  Therefore, compensation should be rising as labor becomes more productive.  Labor compensation following the last recession has not kept up with labor productivity and many economists blame this on the uniqueness of the last recession.  This study by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis finds that the gap between labor productivity and compensation has been widening since 1970.  It is part of a long term trend that began more than 40 years ago.  The labor productivity gap must be explained by other factors.  We can expect the gap to continue to grow as long as the real factors behind that gap are not addressed.  Executive compensation has grown much faster than labor compensation over this period.  Presumably, the increase in firm productivity is attributed to increases in executive productivity.  That is the explanation that many economists use to defend the growth in executive compensation.  They are simply being rewarded for their productivity.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Why Does Trump Praise Putin?

Donald Trump has been praised and criticized for sharing his admiration for Putin's strong leadership. Paul Krugman offers his explanation for Trump's admiration of Putin and some of the reactions to Trump's praise.  Trump defends his praise of Putin's leadership by pointing to his high approval ratings in Russia.  Putin's aggressive foreign policies have popular in Russia.  On the other hand, Krugman argues that Putin has not done much to expand Russia's economy, which is tied closely to the price of oil and other commodities that Russia exports to the rest of the world.  Krugman is also critical of the concentration of wealth and political power in Russia.  Putin is not subject to the constraints that would limit his power in most democracies.  Krugman argues that Trump, and many of his supporters, would like to have the kind of power that protects the concentration of wealth and power that is limited by democratic forces.  Some may even believe Trump could "Make America Great Again" if he were elected as our president.  They may prefer a less democratic state if power were concentrated in a leader who shared their values and made the tough changes that they desire.

Trump's admiration for Putin's leadership has been criticized by Democrats and many Republicans in the US.  Putin does not have the favorability ratings in the US that he has in Russia.  However, there is one theme that is popular among Republicans.  They have portrayed President Obama as a weak foreign policy leader while they deplore his use of presidential power to achieve domestic goals which they do not share.  Many Republicans argue that Putin has been a stronger international leader than President Obama.  In other words, Putin is either a good guy or a bad guy which is entirely dependent upon the context.  Good versus Obama.  Bad when he is connected to popular views about communist Russia which still exist in the US.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Voter Turnout May Determine Our Next President

A recent poll shows that Hillary Clinton is still favored by 4.5 % of likely voters.  This poll provides lots of details on the strengths and weaknesses of both candidates.  Trump has only one important advantage over Clinton.  His supporters feel stronger about him than Clinton's supporters feel about her.  If more Trump supporters than Clinton supporters vote in November Trump could become the President of the United States.  In particular, Trump has shored up his support among Republicans.  The percent of Republicans who will vote for Trump has jumped up to 86% from 80% in August.  It would appear that the Republican Party is solidly behind a candidate who has been rejected by many of the Party's leaders.  It is now Trump's Party.

The Near Term Effects Of Climate Change

Human beings have a tendency to ignore the long term effects of almost everything.  The most effective thing that was done to reduce cigarette smoking in the US was an increase in the tax which had an immediate effect on the market by making it more expensive to smoke.  There is a lot of resistance to measures that would reduce carbon emissions for a similar reason.  Most of the catastrophic effects are projected to occur in the long term.  The first six months of 2016 were hottest months in our recorded history.  This article describes the relationship between the rise in temperatures this year and changes in human behavior associated with heat waves.   People are less productive at work and in school and there is a dramatic increase in violence.  We are not well adapted to the temperature changes that we are observing right now.  Global warming is having an impact on human behavior and our environment today.

Friday, September 9, 2016

David Brooks Describes The Transformation Of US Political Parties

David Brooks grew up as an advocate for a Republican Party that reflected the conservatism of William F. Buckley. He argues that the Republican Party and the Democratic Party are being transformed.  He argues that at its core today the GOP is the Party of a globalizing business elite and those who have suffered from globalization.  That is no longer tenable.  It is ready to be taken over by a younger version of a Donald Trump without his racism and cultural animosities. 

The Democratic Party has become the party of well educated professionals that also represents the interests of minority groups.  That coalition has a serious weakness that was exposed in the primary campaign.  Clinton got the minority vote along with the votes of Democrats who believed that she was the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump.  Bernie Sanders attracted Democrats who felt that their interests were no longer supported by the Democratic elite represented by Hillary Clinton.  It will not be easy to hold the Democratic coalition together if the Republican Party becomes the favored Party of the disaffected.

David Brooks is an astute observer of the political scene but there does not seem to be a place in his scheme for the global business elite.  The Democratic elite consists of upscale professionals but the business elite represented by the Chamber of Commerce seems to have disappeared.  In any case, it is fairly clear that the two party system in the US in under severe stress.  Those stresses are more apparent in the parliamentary systems that are more common in Europe.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

NBC Interview Of Trump and Clinton

The interview with Donald Trump was like most interviews with The Donald.  He changed the subject in response to most of the questions that were asked.  When he did respond to a question he told a lie and the interviewer was not informed enough about the question he raised to criticize Trump's response.  The interview with Clinton was much different.  The interview focused on her use of a private email server when she was Secretary of State.  She spent one third of the interview providing answers to follow on questions from the interviewer on each response.  Apparently, the email issue, which has been covered thoroughly in Congress, and by the FBI, has not been fully vetted.  No answers on this topic will satisfy those who believe that Clinton should be sent to prison.  Besides most of the questions have already been answered by the alt-right media.  They have no interest in truth telling.  The interviewer played right into their hands by devoting so much of the interview to the email issue.  This does not auger well for the Clinton and Trump debates that will be held prior to the election.  Trump will continue to change the subject on questions that he does not like and he will use each opportunity to criticize Clinton.

Congress Is Back In Session To Demonstrate Its Ability To Lead

Congress was very pleased to see a new piece of furniture that allows its shorter members to appear taller when they stand up on the lectern.  It then resumed its efforts to obstruct the government they are supposed lead.  Instead of leading, each of the representatives gets an opportunity to show that they understand the prejudices of the constituents who elected them.  Its not surprising that our democracy has devolved to the point in which Donald Trump has a good chance to become our president.  Its failures are on vivid display in Congress.

President Obama Explains Why Climate Change Is The Worlds Most Serious Problem

President Obama was interviewed on his legacy.  In this video he discusses how his mind was changed about climate change.  He also responds to criticisms about his ability to enlist Congress in his response to the problem of climate change.  He argues that he has set things in motion that will difficult even for Congress to unwind.  After he leaves office he will continue to promote global efforts to respond to the most serious problem faced by humanity.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

The Evolving Relationship Between Corporate America And Washington

Its too easy to believe that politics in Washington is controlled by large corporations.  The relationship between big business and Washington has gone through several different eras over time.  There was a time when business leaders and political leaders could reach a common ground in which compromises could be reached that served corporations and the public interest.  That is no longer the case.  Changes in corporate governance and in politics have significantly altered the interactions between government and corporate leadership.  This article provides an interesting description of the changing landscape between business and government.  The bottom line is that politics have become so polarized that compromise is almost impossible to achieve.  Most of the polarization has been the result of changes within the Republican Party.  Compromise is regarded as selling out to an enemy which must be destroyed.  Those changes are visible today in the relationship between the Party's presidential candidate and the Party's leadership.  The strong relationship that had emerged over time between corporate leadership and the Republican Party has been broken.  Its hard to find any support for Donald Trump in corporate boardrooms.  However, they are not terribly excited about the leadership in the Democratic Party either.  There is more of a tension between corporate leaders and politicians in either Party than a sense of cooperation.  Corporate executives have been forced to focus on increasing shareholder value in order to pad their compensation and retain their jobs.  They worry more about political interference in Washington than they do about joining together with political leaders to serve the interests of the public and their shareholders.  The system is broken.

Friday, September 2, 2016

How The Conservative Media Business Put The GOP In A Bind

Michael Gerson was a speech writer for George Bush.  He is a Republican who understands how the conservative media helped to make Donald Trump, and how it has tarnished the Republican Party.  It has created a core constituency in the Republican Party that feeds on messages of outrage that cannot be packaged and sold in a general election.  The leader of the pack has been Fox News which has the largest cable news audience.  Rupert Murdoch once responded to a critic of Fox News with a simple answer.  Murdoch told him to look at Fox New's market share.  It was telling its viewers what they wanted to hear.  Fox News was just responding to market demand. 

Fox News is still the leader of the pack but it is part of a media industry that reinforces the fears and anxieties of a large number of Americans.  The major players in this industry are described in this article.  They supported Donald Trump in his primary campaign which was directed at the "Republican Establishment".  They continue to support Trump in the general election but it has placed the Republican Party in a bind.  It has become dependent on Trump's base, and the conservative media industry.  It can't survive without that base but it may alter the GOP brand beyond repair.  The Republican National Committee is supporting Trump's campaign at its own peril.  They will lose the election as well as younger and better educated Americans who have a new picture of the Republican Party.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Why Europe Needs A Fiscal Union

Europe needs its own Alexander Hamilton who was the first Treasury Secretary in the US.  It has provided the ECB with the tools to manage inflation.  The central bank has a powerful tool which it can use to fight price inflation.  Raising interest rates has been successful in moderating the forces of price inflation.  Monetary policies, however, have not been effective in fighting deflation.  Low interest rates have not been effective in reaching the ECB's 2% inflation target.  It would be politically impossible in Europe to establish a fiscal authority that is responsible for dealing with the problems of weak demand.  However, it would be possible for several existing entities to work together to design and implement an effective fiscal policy apparatus which is described in this article.

Yes, Secular Stagnation Exists, But Part Of It Is Our Fault

Michael Spence describes the forces that slowing global economic growth.  He places those forces into a category that he calls Secular Stagnation One (SS1).  They present difficulties which have been difficult to reverse.  However, he describes another form of secular stagnation (SS2) which we should be able to reverse.  SS2 is the result of poor policy choices made by governments.  These are forces which governments can address by making better choices.  He suggests several approaches to dealing with SS2.  Most of them are not new but they have been resisted by governments.

Wall Street Does Not Do God's Work

The CEO of Goldman Sachs once stated that Wall Street does God's work.  That boils down to three things that Wall Street banks provide to society.  This article examines each of the benefits that Wall Street bankers,  doing God's work, provides to society.  It argues that Wall Street banks do not do a good job of doing God's work.  It turns out that Wall Street does a very job of serving itself.  Just prior to the financial crisis, Wall Street payrolls added up to around $500,000,000,000.  They got paid very well for creating and selling financial products that defrauded home buyers and the investors who bought the derivatives.  Without government intervention the financial system would have collapsed and we would have been left with a Godless society.