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

More Bad News for Dems: Total Total Total 2014 Spending Favored Them (Slightly)

If you’re like me, you’re often frustrated trying to find total (like, total) campaign spending by Democrats vs. Republicans. Outfits like the Sunlight Foundation do yeoman’s duty tallying spending, but you tend to get articles like this that (for fairly good reasons) don’t give you totals, rather breaking it down into campaign/party-committee spending vs SuperPAcs vs 501-whatever “social welfare organizations.” What’s […]

How Do Households Build Wealth? Probably Not the Way You Think. Three Graphs

Work hard. Save your money. Spend less than you earn. That’s how you become wealthy, right? That’s not totally wrong, but if you think that’s the whole story — or even a large part of the story — you may be surprised by this graph: (Note: these are not realized capital gains, which really only matter for tax […]

Bill Gates Agrees with Me on Piketty

He really likes the book, but expresses frustration that Piketty (emphasis mine): …doesn’t adequately differentiate among different kinds of capital… Imagine three types of wealthy people. One guy is putting his capital into building his business. Then there’s a woman who’s giving most of her wealth to charity. A third person is mostly consuming, spending a […]

Are Poor People Consuming More than They Used To? Six Graphs

“Poor people today have air conditioners and smart phones!” You hear that a lot. “You should be looking at poor people’s consumption, not their income. By that measure, they’re doing great.” The basic point is very true. If poor people today have more and better stuff, can buy more and better stuff each year, maybe we […]

Amazon and Hachette: What’s Really at Issue?

I just sent the following to David Streitfeld, the main reporter covering this dispute for the New York Times. If any of my gentle readers has an answer, I’d love to hear it: Dear Mr. Streitfeld: What I have never found in any coverage (perhaps I’ve missed it?): What is the precise dispute between Amazon and […]

Explaining “The most important chart about the American economy you’ll see this year”

See update at bottom. Pavlina Tcherneva’s chart has been getting a lot of play out there: Vox/Matthew Yglesias labeled it “The most important chart about the American economy you’ll see this year.” Scott Winship at Fortune came back at it on methodological grounds, with the headline “No, the Rich Are Not Taking All of the Economic Pie (In […]

Again: Saving Does Not Increase Savings

I’m reprising a previous (and longer) post here in hopefully simplified and clarified form, for a discussion I’m in the midst of. “Saving” and “Savings” seem like simple concepts, but they’re not. They have many different meanings, and writers’ different usages and definitions (often implicit or even unconscious) make coherent understanding and discussion impossible — even, often, […]

The Pernicious Myth of “Patient Savers and Lenders”

Banks are obviously different from households. But I think explaining two key differences goes far towards explaining why “endogenous money” theory — often pooh poohed as either confused or obvious — is important to economic thinking. The first is a dweeby accounting difference. The other, which arises from that, is very, very real. 1. When the […]

Liberal Economists: Don’t Bring a Knife to a Gunfight

Jared Bernstein has offered a muscular and cogent response to my recent take-down of his CAP paper on inequality and growth. (I called it “week-kneed.”) I’d like to respond to his many excellent points in just two ways. 1. My critique is primarily of his rhetoric, not his reasoning. Progressives, IMO, should be shouting the manifest reality […]

Lefty – Libertarian Cage Fight! Get Out the Popcorn…

Matt Bruenig and Demos have thrown down the gauntlet against libertarian ideology. Trevor Burrus at Cato has picked it up. Should be worth tuning in. Matt pulls no punches. He’s emerged in the last year as one of the mediasphere’s most convincing voices for progressive ideas and policies, based (IMO) on air-tight arguments and thinking, backed by solid, well-presented facts and […]