What’s Crippling the Recovery: Lack of Investment Demand or Too-Big-to-Lend Banks?

Quantitative Easing (QE) was supposed to stimulate the economy by encouraging investment with low interest money. That hasn’t happened, but why? Does no one want to borrow, or do banks not want to lend? My favorite financial columnist, Yves Smith, has laid out both theories. . . . → Read More: What’s Crippling the Recovery: Lack of Investment Demand or Too-Big-to-Lend Banks?

Taxing Carbon is Like Taxing Diamonds

A carbon tax would operate much like a diamond tax, for reasons both of demand and supply. . . . → Read More: Taxing Carbon is Like Taxing Diamonds

How a Progressive Tax System Made Detroit a Powerhouse (and Could Again)

In 1995, we encountered a group of economic advisors to Governor John Engler of Michigan, intent on cutting property taxes. We reminded them of California’s 1979 Proposition 13. After Prop. 13 rolled back and froze property taxes, sales taxes reached crushing levels, budget crises became routine, local services collapsed, and public schools fell from the best in the nation to among the worst. But Engler was determined. . . . → Read More: How a Progressive Tax System Made Detroit a Powerhouse (and Could Again)

Grover Norquist is Right to Oppose Internet Sales Taxes

As most of us know, sales taxes are “regressive.” That is, when sales taxes are “passed on,” they fall harder on poorer customers than on richer ones. That’s why many states exempt food and medicine, as does New York, (except for restaurant food). But sales taxes are also “passed back” onto retailers and service providers. It’s the “passed back” portion of sales taxes that do the most damage, because—unlike profit taxes—they take a bite from gross revenues before expenses. Sales taxes fall hardest on small, labor-intensive retailers, with high volume and low profit margins. . . . → Read More: Grover Norquist is Right to Oppose Internet Sales Taxes

Is New Technology Destroying Jobs?

On the NewsHour Friday night, in response to the dismal new jobs numbers, Andrew McAfee of the MIT Center for Digital Business blames the loss on “powerful” new labor-saving technology. But if he’s right, is it the technology itself, or the large corporations that install it? . . . → Read More: Is New Technology Destroying Jobs?

Joseph Stiglitz Is Right About Inequality, but for the Wrong Reason

Joseph Stiglitz says that “Inequality is Holding Back the Recovery”. He’s right, but he gives the wrong reason, that “our middle class is too weak to support the consumer spending that has historically driven our economic growth.” This “Keynesian” spending model does not effectively address inequality and thus can lead to poor policy prescriptions. The real reason inequality stalls the economy is that natural resources and capital are monopolized at the top, kept away from the middle class that could invest them far more productively. . . . → Read More: Joseph Stiglitz Is Right About Inequality, but for the Wrong Reason

The Prophetic Work of Barry Lynn

What’s the connection between the battery fires that grounded Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and the massive failure and recall of Johnson & Johnson’s metal hip implants? Both are consequences of the recent transformation of multinational corporations from manufacturers to monopolistic distributors who contract out production–a transformation first documented by journalist Barry C. Lynn . . . → Read More: The Prophetic Work of Barry Lynn

Is Paul Krugman’s Liquidity Trap Really an Inequality Trap?

Paul Krugman says the economy suffers from a “liquidity trap” due to insufficient demand. In my view, we’re in an “inequality trap” as the One Percent, big corporations and banks hoard cash, starving small businesses for capital. . . . → Read More: Is Paul Krugman’s Liquidity Trap Really an Inequality Trap?

The Keynesian Stimulus Spending Fallacy

It’s a truism of pop Keynesian economics that consumer spending drives the economy; if spending slows in a recession; government must make up the difference. In reality, consumer spending merely signals what consumers want; producers may be unable or unwilling to deliver. Government spending may compensate—or make matters worse—depending on the type of spending and whether it’s financed by progressive taxes or by borrowing. . . . → Read More: The Keynesian Stimulus Spending Fallacy

Capturing the Multinational Dragons’ Gold

As medieval dragons do, the dragon in the Beowulf epic sleeps on a pile of gold. With magic sword and shield, Beowulf kills the dragon and, mortally wounded, distributes the gold to his grateful people. Today’s multinational dragons sleep not on gold, but on hoards of cash. Meanwhile little firms—the true “job creators”—perish for want of cash. We don’t need to assault the dragons; we do need to tear away the tax privileges on which they depend. . . . → Read More: Capturing the Multinational Dragons’ Gold