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

Contra Jared Bernstein: Stagnation, Spending, and The Velocity of Wealth — Five Graphs

I’ve said many times: every economic assertion should be preceded by the words “by this measure.” For big economic questions, you need to look at lots of different measures, lots of different way, to get a feel for what’s going on. This has come home to me as I’ve considered Jared Bernstein’s ongoing takedown of […]

Think Debt-Funded Stock-Buybacks are Pernicious? Here’s Why You’re Right

I’ve ranted about this phenomenon for a long time:  Do Businesses Borrow to Invest in Productive Assets? Quoting JW Mason: “the marginal dollar borrowed by a nonfinancial business in this period was simply handed on to shareholders, without funding any productive expenditure at all.” We Need to Spur Business Investment. Yeah, Right. Quoting Floyd Norris: […]

Sense on Stilts: Eight Graphs Showing a Quarter-Century of Wealth Inequality and Age Inequality

Scott Sumner made a very important point a while back (and repeatedly since) in a post wherein he makes a bunch of other (IMO) not very good points: Income and wealth inequality data: Nonsense on stilts His crucial (and I think true) point, in my words: you can’t think coherently about inequality — especially wealth inequality — if […]

Why the Rich Hate Inflation: Because They’re Creditors?

Paul Krugman and assorted others have been puzzling at this question recently, one that I’ve been grinding an axe about for some years. For the first time, I think, Krugman’s highlighted the explanation that I keep going on about: Inflation helps debtors and hurts creditors, deflation does the reverse. And the wealthy are much more likely than […]

A Definition of Money Is Not Sufficient, But it Is Necessary to Understand Economies

Paul Krugman takes aim today at me (though he doesn’t know me from shinola), and others of my ilk who are at least somewhat obsessed with coming to a coherent definition of “money.” …people who spend too much time thinking about money in general — specifically, on trying to decode money’s true meaning and find the […]

How We Reduce Poverty, and How “The Market” Doesn’t

Matt Bruenig gives us a great breakdown of what poverty would look like if we relied on the market to solve it (as we did almost exclusively for thousands of years before the emergence of enlightened modern welfare states over the last two centuries). The poverty rate among the elderly would be > 45%. (Old […]

Policy Prefs: I’m Right at the Peak of the Common Man’s Bell Curve. Where Are You?

The idea of democracy is to give the people what they want, right? Ezra Klein points us to a great study by Ray LaRaja and Brian Schnaffer examining policy preferences by political donors (5% of the population) vs. non-donors (95%). Here’s my rendition of the results: Whose preferences would you say are embodied in our current government? […]