How Economics and Race Drive America’s Great Divide | Institute for New Economic Thinking

In the America of haves and have-nots, fewer folks are “movin’ on up” like George Jefferson of the classic sitcom. In a new paper for the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Peter Temin, MIT economist and economic historian, breaks down how it happened and where we’re headed with a powerful model first used by West Indian economist W. Arthur Lewis, the only person of African descent to win a Nobel Prize in economics. Dual economies are common in less developed countries, but Temin argues that America has now diverged into a top thirty percent, where children receive excellent educations and grow up to work in sectors like finance, technology and electronics industries (FTE)— and then there’s the rest, the low-wage folks who live paycheck to paycheck and whose kids have little hope of joining the lucky ones at the top. Temin explains what drives the dual economy, what race has to do with it, how children are hurt, and why our political system can’t seem to fix anything.

Source: How Economics and Race Drive America’s Great Divide | Institute for New Economic Thinking

Punish the Bankers! | Foreign Policy

Timely article given recent article in NY Times (An S.E.C. Settlement With Citigroup That Fails to Name Names) wherein Citi agrees to pay a $180 million settlement plus $726 million in investor compensation and yet the SEC not only doesn’t hold any individual responsible – it doesn’t even name them. Talk about moral hazard.

The sentencing of the trader Tom Hayes for his part in the Libor scandal caused many a sharp intake of breath on London’s Canary Wharf.…

Source: Punish the Bankers! | Foreign Policy

Justin Trudeau says Liberals plan 3 years of deficits to push infrastructure – Politics – CBC News

Finally someone gets it. Borrow when rates and debt are low to invest in future growth – duh! Just ask any CEO or anyone for that matter – except politicians and knee-jerk anti-government types (unless they’re the beneficiaries of course.

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says a Liberal government won’t balance the books for another three years, but will double spending on infrastructure to jump-start economic growth.

Source: Justin Trudeau says Liberals plan 3 years of deficits to push infrastructure – Politics – CBC News

Keynes on Capitalism

Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men for the nastiest of motives will somehow work for the benefit of all.

 

John Maynard Keynes

Corporate Kleptocracy: 6,300 Examples Of America’s Malignant Malfeasance | Zero Hedge

The settlements with the banks along with the ongoing investigations have shown that virtually every market is being manipulated; the stocks, metals markets, LIBOR, FOREX, everything. The companies would only break so many laws if they felt they would have a reasonable chance of getting away with it; they would also need a reason to do it, which is provided by the infinite growth model our economy is based on.

Source: Corporate Kleptocracy: 6,300 Examples Of America’s Malignant Malfeasance | Zero Hedge

The ludicrous myth of Republican fiscal responsibility: A history lesson for the modern GOP – Salon.com

The GOP loves to insist that Democrats have caused a fiscal crisis. But the real story looks far different…

…when Republican Vice President Dick Cheney said to Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neil, “You know, Paul, Reagan proved deficits don’t matter.” Indeed, Ted Cruz’s hero Ronald Reagan was the original deficit master.

When Reagan took office, he advocated fiscal responsibility, as his disciples do today. But his presidency was anything but responsible when it came to fiscal policies. The size of America’s debt when he entered office was $1 trillion, and by the end of his two terms, it had grown by 190 percent, to $2.9 trillion, nearly tripling under his leadership. By the the end of twelve years of Reagan-Bush administration, the debt had quadrupled to $4 trillion…

…Reagan backtracked from that initial tax cut, increasing income taxes as well as gasoline and social security taxes, which he would use to fund his runaway spending.

…both Ford and Carter were better at cutting government spending — their presidential terms combined for a 1.4 percent increase of national income, while Reagan’s spending grew 3 percent.

Rather than going the responsible “tax and spend” route, Reagan decided to “borrow and spend.”…

…So, Reagan and Bush Sr. quadrupled America’s debt, following a decade of fiscal irresponsibility and regressive tax increases that ultimately defrauded America’s working class. And then, of course, Democrat Bill Clinton came into office to clean up the mess. In his first years, Clinton enacted tax increases for the wealthy, and the effective total federal tax rates rose significantly for the one percent. When Clinton signed these increases into law, Conservatives warned it would destroy jobs and stifle economic growth — but the opposite happened, the economy flourished…Clinton was fiscally responsible, and he left George W. Bush with a budged surplus of $86 billion.

And what did the Republican do with this wonderful gift? He did the usual — cut taxes for the wealthy, and rapidly increased spending by starting two extremely expensive wars. Bush’s fiscally irresponsible policies raised the debt by over $5 trillion. This, along with his administrations lack of Wall Street oversight, helped fuel the financial crisis that he would pass down to President Obama…

For the full story and more facts please go to: The ludicrous myth of Republican fiscal responsibility: A history lesson for the modern GOP – Salon.com

Congressional Budget Plans Get Two-Thirds of Cuts From Programs for People With Low or Moderate Incomes

Imagine what it would be like if these people weren’t “christian”?

Congressional Budget Plans Get Two-Thirds of Cuts From Programs for People With Low or Moderate Incomes, by Richard Kogan and Isaac Shapiro, CBPP: The budgets adopted on March 19 by the House Budget Committee and the Senate Budget Committee each cut more than $3 trillion over ten years (2016-2025) from programs that serve people of limited means. These deep reductions amount to 69 percent of the cuts to non-defense spending in both the House and Senate plans.

via Economist’s View

FDR v. Obama

“I should like to have it said of my first Administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power met their match. I should like to have it said of my second Administration that in it these forces met their master.” – FDR

“Yes we can.” – Obama – But we didn’t.

Income is How You Get Out of Poverty, Assets are How You Stay Out — Rooflines

…income is how you get out of poverty, assets are how you stay out.

While income inequality in the U.S. recently hit its highest peak in 78 years, the wealth gap is even worse. The racial wealth gap—the difference in net worth between households of color and that of their white counterparts—has more than tripled since 1984. Today, African-American and Latino households have less than $1 in assets for every $6 that white households own. This is taking place in the context of a major demographic shift that will only magnify the costs of the racial wealth gap. By the end of the decade, the majority of youth will be people of color, and by 2044, the population majority overall will be people of color.

Assets and ownership are fundamental to economic opportunity and mobility. A child with a savings account in their own name is 2.5 times more likely to complete college than a child without one. That number jumps to 4.5 times more likely if that child is from a low-income household. Homeownership is linked to inheritance and access to credit, while access to credit is based on your income…..

(via Planetizin)      Income is How You Get Out of Poverty, Assets are How You Stay Out — Rooflines.

NYC Recaptures Top Global Investment Market in Foreign Investor Survey – CoStar Group

The U.S. overwhelmingly remains the most popular place in the world among foreign commercial real estate investors to place capital, according to the 23rd annual survey among members of the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate (AFIRE).

New York City returned to its accustomed spot as the top global market for foreign investment in real estate after being briefly displaced in 2014 by London. With the exception of last year, New York has held the top rank both globally and among U.S. cities since 2010.

NYC Recaptures Top Global Investment Market in Foreign Investor Survey – CoStar Group.

The Obscure Rule Change That Would Make It Easier For Republicans To Pass Massive Tax Cuts | ThinkProgress

Republicans prepare to cook-the-books to justify tax cuts. Most likely, they will simply increase the deficit and then try (yet again) to use that as an excuse to cut social services.

Individual states repeatedly cooked-the-books on pension obligations assuming unrealistic investment returns creating huge unfunded obligations and credit downgrades (New Jersey’s pension problems contributed to that state having the second-lowest credit rating of any State, beaten only by Illinois which also has tremendous unfunded pension obligations.)

The Bush and Reagan tax cuts didn’t spur economic growth and Gov. Brownback has devastated the Kansas budget with tax cuts without growth (and surprise, surprise now proposes cuts in social services). Now the Republicans are preparing to do the same on the Federal level.

For example, last year the JCT estimated that Rep. Dave Camp’s (R-MI) tax bill could generate between $50 billion and $700 billion in additional revenue over a decade thanks to faster growth, but the bigger number included the assumption of large spending cuts that weren’t in his bill. The estimate also didn’t take into account any negative impacts that might arise from those steep cuts. As Chye-Ching Huang and Paul N. Van de Water at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities write, “If highly optimistic economic and fiscal assumptions like these are included in official cost estimates but then fail to materialize, the result will be higher deficits and debt.”

This is particularly true because there’s little evidence that steep tax cuts will lead to higher economic growth, especially if they end up increasing the deficit. A recent paper from the Brookings Institution found that while tax cuts can have the impact of encouraging people to work, save, and invest, which can generate growth, “if the tax cuts are not financed by immediate spending cuts they will likely also result in an increased federal budget deficit.” For example, it doesn’t find evidence that the Bush tax cuts in 2001 and 2003 led to economic growth. Multiple studies have come to the same conclusion of President Regan’s 1986 tax cuts.

via The Obscure Rule Change That Would Make It Easier For Republicans To Pass Massive Tax Cuts | ThinkProgress.

Anne Stevenson-Yang: Why Xi Jinping’s Troubles, and China’s, Could Get Worse – Barron’s

Prominent expert on Chinese economy warns of depression and possible crash:

China, for all its talk about economic reform, is in big trouble. The old model of relying on export growth and heavy investment to power the economy isn’t working anymore…

… starting in 2008, China sought to counter global recession with huge amounts of ill-advised investment in redundant industrial capacity and vanity infrastructure projects—you know, airports with no commercial flights, highways to nowhere, and stadiums with no teams…

People are crazy if they believe any government statistics, which, of course, are largely fabricated…actual Chinese GDP is probably a third lower than is officially reported…

Property sales are in decline, steel production is falling, commercial long-and short-haul vehicle sales are continuing to implode, and much of the growth in GDP is coming from huge rises in inventories across the economy. We track the 400 Chinese consumer companies listed on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets, and in the third quarter, their gross revenues fell 4% from a year ago. This is hardly a vibrant economy…

Rampant capital flight could turn into a rout given the ridiculous concentration of wealth in China, cutting the seemingly impregnable foreign reserves dramatically…

China is riding an involuntary credit treadmill where much new money has to be hosed into the economy just to sustain ever-mounting bad-debt totals. Capital efficiency, or the amount of capital it takes to generate a unit of GDP growth, has soared as a result…

The Chinese home real estate market, mostly units in high-rise buildings, is truly bizarre. Many Chinese regard apartments as capital-gains machines rather than sources of shelter. In fact, there are 50 million units in China that are owned but vacant. The owners won’t rent them because used apartments suffer an immediate haircut in value.

It’s as if the government created a new asset class that no one lives in. This fact gives lie to the commonly held myth that the buildout of all these empty towers and ghost cities is a Chinese urbanization play. The only city folk who don’t own housing are the millions of migrant laborers continuously flocking to Chinese cities. Yet, they can’t afford the new housing…

Families have more than half of their wealth in housing, including the less affluent in recent years who have taken to buying fractional shares in luxury apartments and town houses. Local governments, which rely on land sales to developers and real estate transfer taxes for something like 35% of their revenue, would be in a bad way in a housing-price bust…

Interestingly, liquidity seems to be a growing problem in China. Chinese corporations have taken on $1.5 trillion in foreign debt in the past year or so, where previously they had none. A lot of it is short term. If defaults start to cascade through the economy, it will be more difficult for China to hide its debt problems now that foreign investors are involved. It’s here that a credit crisis could start…

December 5, 2014

Anne Stevenson-Yang: Why Xi Jinping’s Troubles, and China’s, Could Get Worse – Barron’s.

Leaving Homeless Person On The Streets: $31,065. Giving Them Housing: $10,051. | ThinkProgress

There is a far cheaper option though: giving homeless people housing and supportive services. The study found that it would cost taxpayers just $10,051 per homeless person to give them a permanent place to live and services like job training and health care. That figure is 68 percent less than the public currently spends by allowing homeless people to remain on the streets. If central Florida took the permanent supportive housing approach, it could save $350 million over the next decade.

via Leaving Homeless Person On The Streets: $31,065. Giving Them Housing: $10,051. | ThinkProgress.

The Great Mortgaging | VoxEu.org

Interesting study that real estate debt has become the center of the financial industry, increasing fragility, and worsening recessions while diverting resources from industry.

In other words, banking today consists primarily of the intermediation of savings to the household sector for the purchase of real estate. The core business model of banks in advanced economies today resembles that of real estate funds: banks are borrowing (short) from the public and capital markets to invest (long) in assets linked to real estate.

By contrast, nonmortgage bank lending to companies for investment purposes and nonsecured lending to households have remained stable over the 20th century in relation to GDP. Nearly all of the increase in the size of the financial sectors in Western economies since 1913 stems from a boom in mortgage lending to households and has little to do with the financing of the business sector.

The great mortgaging | vox.

Abolish the Corporate Tax?

An interesting paper by Eric Toder of the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center and Alan D. Viard of the American Enterprise Institute on replacement of the corporate tax with a shareholder oriented accrual tax program. (Via Martin A. Sullivan at The Tax Analysts Blog.)

The second option, which could be adopted unilaterally by the United States, would replace the corporate income tax with increased taxation of shareholders. American shareholders of publicly traded companies would be taxed on both dividends and capital gains at ordinary income tax rates and capital gains would be taxed upon accrual. The option would ensure that American shareholders in both U.S. and foreign based   multinational corporations pay tax on their worldwide income, while improving incentives for both domestic and foreign corporations to invest in the United States and increasing the competitiveness of U.S.- resident MNCs. It would also curtail a host of closed-economy distortions, including the current system’s biases against corporate equity‐financed investment, dividend payments, the sale of appreciated assets, and specific industries and types of capital. But it would face a number of design challenges and would reduce federal revenue. It would also confront severe political obstacles because it would be perceived as a giveaway to corporations, it would tax accrued gains that many shareholders do not consider to be income, and it would require other tax increases or spending cuts.

Major Surgery Needed: A Call for Structural Reform of the U.S. Corporate Income Tax

 

Hire Robots Not People

Increasing supply while decreasing demand:

A survey by Harvard Business School reports that its alumni would rather buy robots, out-source, or use part-time workers than hire (and train) full-time, long-term employees. Part of the reason the economy will grow but with wealth concentrated among the haves, a declining middle class, and a growing class of have-nots.

Corporate boards lavish them with massive pay packages and politicians venerate them as “job creators.” But it turns out that America’s business chieftains would rather not create full-time jobs to do what needs doing if they can possibly avoid it, according to the latest annual survey from the Harvard Business School (HBS).

America’s Business Elites Admit They’d Rather Hire Robots Than People

Workers Get Lowest Share Of Corporate Income Since 1950 | ThinkProgress

Worker productivity is up but worker share of profits is at an all time low.

Workers aren’t earning less because they’re slacking off — just the opposite. Their productivity increased 8 percent between 2007 and 2012 while their wages actually fell, a trend that has been going on since at least 1979. And they’ve been speeding up since the recession, increasing their productivity last summer at the fastest pace since 2009.

The productivity has helped out corporations. They saw record high profits last year, rising to $1.68 trillion, and they have been rising steadily for some time, more than fully recovering what they lost to the financial crisis. Yet workers are getting little of that money. Profits have risen nearly 20 times faster than workers’ incomes since 2008, and on the whole workers have seen a lost decade of stagnant wage growth.

 

 

Workers Get Lowest Share Of Corporate Income Since 1950 | ThinkProgress.