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

Eighty percent of current jobs may be replaced by automation in the next several decades.

That’s the conclusion of Stuart W. Elliott in his recent paper, “Anticipating a Luddite Revival.” (Hat tip: RobotEconomics.) We’ve seen that scale of transformation before. But this one promises to be roughly four times as fast, dwarfing Luddite-era concerns: …the portion of the workforce employed in agriculture shifted from roughly 80% to just a few […]

The Lump-of-Capital Fallacy

Dean Baker gives me the courage, in his recent post on Pikkety, to reiterate a statement I’ve made some few times in the past: Economists have no coherent or consistent idea of what they’re talking about when they use the word “capital.” They lump together real capital — fixed, human, organizational, whatever — with “financial capital,” […]

Lane Kenworthy, Prosperity, and the Infinite Forms of “Redistribution”

I haven’t beaten the drum lately for Lane Kenworthy — perhaps the best researcher out there on the economic effects of income and wealth distribution. His years of careful, diligent (and voluminous) statistical and analytic work, tapping the best data sets available, and his cogent, coherent explanations of his findings, should get a lot more attention […]

Repeat After Me: The American Tax System is Hardly Progressive at All

The latest numbers on 2014 taxes as share of income are out, and they’re saying pretty the same thing as last year: Above about $80K a year in income, the American tax system is not really progressive. Like, at all: The people making $100K a year pay about the same share of income at people making $10 […]

The Global “Capital” Glut

No, I’m not talking about Piketty hitting the Times bestseller list. And it’s not just wild-eyed lefty Frenchman who are expressing concern about the state of world capital these days. Mitt Romney’s shop was beating this drum loudly more than a year ago. One of the central takeaways from Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century is […]

ALEC: Destroying the American Economy, One State at a Time

The American Legislative Exchange Council — which authors ultra-conservative legislation and promulgates it to state legislatures nationwide — has a little index measure of states’ “competitiveness,” which supposedly results in greater prosperity for those states that rank highly. Does it? Let’s let the numbers speak for themselves: Source (PDF). Cross-posted at Asymptosis.

Thinking About Piketty’s “Capital”

The quotes in this post’s subject line are very much intended as a double entendre. I’m of course referring to the title of Piketty’s book (which I’ve read about 80% of, jumping around). But even more, I’m talking about his definition of “capital.” I’ve ranted frequently about economists’ failure to define this term or agree on […]

The Incredible Vanishing Takeaway from the CBO Report on Minimum Wage

I’m surprised that nobody highlights what for me is the key takeaway from that report. They predict, with a $10.10/indexed increase: Low-end incomes increase $19 billion. High-end incomes decline $17 billion. For a net GDI increase of $2 billion. Table 1, page 2: Pie gets bigger, all that rot. The increase is presumably explained by […]

Why the Fed Hates Inflation: 1.2 Trillion Dollars of Why

A simple rule of economic arithmetic that economists seem to studiously ignore: Inflation transfers real buying power from creditors to debtors, with nary an account transfer visible anywhere on anyone’s account books. Inflation means that debtors pay off their loans over time with less-valuable dollars — dollars that can’t buy as much bread, butter, and […]

Dean Baker on Piketty’s Capital: Or, How FDR Proved Marx Wrong

Thomas Piketty’s important new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, predicts a bleak future of increasing concentrations of financial assets in few hands, stagnant wages and labor share of income, and declining returns to capital — secular stagnation. He enunciates and demonstrates the part of Marx that Marx got exactly right. But Dean Baker points out where […]