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Category Archives: Public Policy
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
Elizabeth Warren’s Trade Deal Fears Confirmed: Canada Uses NAFTA to Challenge Volcker Rule | naked capitalism
Elizabeth Warren’s concerns about trade deals undermining financial regulations get an unexpected confirmation from Canada.
Source: Elizabeth Warren’s Trade Deal Fears Confirmed: Canada Uses NAFTA to Challenge Volcker Rule | naked capitalism
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
In Democrats’ Eyes, Republicans Are Helping Foster Chinese Power – Real Time Economics – WSJ
Are Republicans aiding Chinese efforts to undercut America’s global economic sway?
That’s the case some Democrats are making, complaining that GOP lawmakers are eroding U.S. soft-power overseas by refusing to back the key international institutions where the U.S. has long exercised intellectual, political and economic leverage.
via In Democrats’ Eyes, Republicans Are Helping Foster Chinese Power – Real Time Economics – WSJ.
Coastal property values could erode if nourishment subsidies end — ScienceDaily
The value of many oceanfront properties on the East Coast could drop dramatically if Congress were to suddenly end federal beach nourishment subsidies. Values could fall by as much as 17 percent in towns with high property values and almost 34 percent in towns with low property values. A gradual reduction of the subsidies, in contrast, is more likely to smooth the transition to more climate-resilient coastal communities.
via Coastal property values could erode if nourishment subsidies end — ScienceDaily.
The Five Worst Supreme Court Justices In American History, Ranked | ThinkProgress
“the justices of the Supreme Court have shaped a nation where children toiled in coal mines, where Americans could be forced into camps because of their race, and where a woman could be sterilized against her will by state law. The Court was the midwife of Jim Crow, the right hand of union busters, and the dead hand of the Confederacy. Nor is the modern Court a vast improvement, with its incursions on voting rights and its willingness to place elections for sale.”
Even amidst this dark history, certain justices stand out as particularly mean-spirited, ideological or unconcerned about their duty to follow the text of the Constitution. Based on my review of over 150 years of Supreme Court history in Injustices, here are the five jurists who stand out as the worst justices in American history:
The Five Worst Supreme Court Justices In American History, Ranked | ThinkProgress.
Sprawl costs US more than a trillion dollars a year | Better! Cities & Towns Online
Sprawl costs the American economy more than $1 trillion annually, according to a new study by the New Climate Economy. That’s more than $3,000 for every man, woman, and child.
These costs include greater spending on infrastructure, public service delivery and transportation. The study finds that Americans living in sprawled communities directly bear $625 billion in extra costs. In addition, all residents and businesses, regardless of where they are located, bear an extra $400 billion in external costs.
via Sprawl costs US more than a trillion dollars a year | Better! Cities & Towns Online.
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em?
While Obama is at least attempting to deal with the end of U.S. hegemony, Republicans will promote rhetoric over reality and further weaken the U.S.’s global influence.
Now that Australia, New Zealand, India, and Indonesia are also considering joining the bank, the United States is clearly tempering its opposition. In fact, Washington ultimately may be left out since the Republican-dominated Congress is unlikely to allow the United States to join the new bank.
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
NYC: Real Estate Tax Breaks for Oligarchs
How nauseating: NYC provides tax support to billionaires:
New York City’s method of assessing property values is so out of whack that the buyer of the most expensive apartment ever sold — a $100 million duplex overlooking Central Park — pays taxes as if the place were worth just $6.5 million.
With controversial tax breaks granted to the One57 condo tower, the total property tax bill for the spectacular penthouse is just $17,268, an effective rate of 0.017 percent of its sale price.
By contrast, the owner of a nearby condo at 224 E. 52nd St. that recently sold for $1.02 million is paying an effective rate of 2.38 percent, or $24,279, according to data compiled for The Post by the Revaluate.com real-estate information website.
Tax Breaks for Oligarchs: The $100 Million NY Apartment With A Property Tax Rate of o.017%
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.
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.
Urban Life and a Microscopic Attention | Sustainable Cities Collective
Small-scale urban spaces can be rich in biodiversity, contribute important ecological benefits for human mental and physical health (McPhearson et al., 2013), and overall help to create more livable cities. Micro_urban spaces are the sandwich spaces between buildings, rooftops, walls, curbs, sidewalk cracks, and other small-scale urban spaces that exist in the fissures between linear infrastructure (e.g. roads, bridges, tunnels, rail lines) and our three dimensional gridded cities.
via Urban Life and a Microscopic Attention | Sustainable Cities Collective.
Maps and Measurments of the Expansion of Cities | Sustainable Cities Collective
We are living in the midst of the urban century. Though it is common knowledge that the world is urbanizing, it can be striking to visualize this growth on a map. This animation from Unicef maps countries’ urban populations from 1950 to 2050, and shows that urbanization is a global phenomenon set to continue for decades:
Maps and Measurements of the Expansion of Cities | Sustainable Cities Collective.
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…
Anne Stevenson-Yang: Why Xi Jinping’s Troubles, and China’s, Could Get Worse – Barron’s.
Great FDR Quote: Jesse’s Café Américain: Why The D…
Great FDR Quote: Jesse’s Café Américain: Why The Democrats Got Their Clocks Cleaned jessescrossroadscafe.blogspot.com/2014/11/why-de…
Don’t call it Gentrification
Herbert Marcuse: “The housing crisis doesn’t exist because the system isn’t working. It exists because that’s the way the system works.”