Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

How to deal with the growing incentives competition

This article was originally published in the Columbia FDI Perspectives series of the Columbia Center for Sustainable Investment, #131, September 29. I have left it largely unchanged, except for adding a link and a comment, and correcting a grammatical error.   As I discussed in an earlier Perspective,[1] the use of investment incentives is pervasive […]

U.S. median wealth up from 27th to 25th

Yesterday Credit Suisse released its Global Wealth Databook 2014 to go along with the Global Wealth Report issued Monday. Global wealth hit another new record of $263 trillion as of mid-2014, up 8.3% from mid-2013 (Report, p. 3). Rich people are doing well, but how about the middle class? One measure of this is median […]

Is Piketty wrong about British and Swedish wealth?

Embarrassingly, I missed this reply by Tim Worstsall to my post “Understanding Piketty, part 1.” My apologies to Mr. Worstall and my readers; despite his writing it August 14, I just discovered it the other day when I was mindlessly looking at site traffic data from Alexa. In his post Worstall takes issue with Piketty’s […]

New government accounting standards to require subsidy disclosure

In a move with potentially enormous implications, Good Jobs First reports that the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) will soon issue new draft rules for Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) for governments. Don’t fall asleep; this could be awesome! As regular readers know, one of the things bedeviling subsidy debates is the lack of transparency […]

Boeing moving 2000 jobs from Washington state

Via @BlogWood, I learned that Boeing is going to move 2000 skilled jobs away from Washington state, despite just receiving $8.7 billion (with a B) in subsidies for the years 2025-2040. Really, I’m speechless. “Chutzpah” is one of the more printable words I can think of to describe this. You will recall that the state’s […]

Apple set to lose billions in EU state aid case

The Financial Times reported on September 30th that the European Commission has decided to open a formal investigation into whether Apple received illegal subsidies (“state aid,” in EU-speak) from Ireland going as far back as 1991. The FT quotes “people involved in the case” as saying that this can cost Apple billions of euros. What […]

Iceland: Bankers convicted, unemployment down

Remember Iceland? During the high-flying early 2000s, its three main banks went berserk, paying high interest rates to international investors that accumulated deposits equal to more than 100% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and making loans equal to 980% of GDP. When the collapse came, Iceland took a route not taken by Ireland, […]

Irish austerity exodus lingers on

August brings us the annual Irish immigration data, so it’s time to look at what has happened in their statistical reporting “year” that ended in April 2014. While better than last year, it’s still not pretty. According to the Central Statistics Office, net emigration continued in 2013-14, with net emigration of 21,400. a decline of […]

Tesla deal even worse than first thought

Via an email from Greg LeRoy of Good Jobs First, we learn that the Tesla deal, as enacted by the Nevada Legislature, is even worse than announced. Aside from the widely touted 6500 jobs only being 6000 jobs for which the state is paying for, it turns out that Tesla doesn’t even have to create […]

Understanding Piketty, part 5 (conclusion)

Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century┬áis the first book to make a data-driven examination of economic inequality. Based on hundreds of years worth of data, it attempts to determine the long-term trends in inequality and the social and political consequences that follow from them. In this final post, I want to highlight the most […]