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Walmart avoids $1 billion a year in taxes through federal loopholes. The losers are the working-class consumers who think they’re getting a good deal by elbowing through the mob surrounding the Xbox floor display. An even more convenient source of “savings” for Walmart operates on the retail level, through the pockets of consumers and workers who rely on taxpayer-funded federal welfare programs.
Bill Clinton’s economic worldview spells trouble, both for a party that’s still reeling from defeat and for a nation where millions of people struggle just to make ends meet. Hillary Clinton, the heavily-favored contender for the Democratic nomination, has made Bill’s presidency and her role in it an essential part of her resume. But “Clintonism,” the Wall Street-friendly economic ideology of a bygone era, has passed its sell-by date. The former president’s latest remarks confirm that. If Hillary Clinton disagrees with the former president’s views, she hasn’t said so. When Bill Clinton speaks on economic issues, he reveals a deep wellspring of neoliberal belief and a profound detachment from the lived experience of most Americans. It’s true that, for the extremely wealthy, the “trend lines” are positive indeed. For the rest of the nation, not so much.
Six years after the Lehman disaster, the industrialized world is suffering from Japan Syndrome. Growth is minimal, another crash may be brewing and the gulf between rich and poor continues to widen. Can the global economy reinvent itself?
Of the 13,000-plus days since Jan. 1, 1978, both chambers of Congress have been in session at the same time for about 4,700 of them — about a third of the total time and a little fewer than half of all weekdays. The Senate has worked more than the House, having been in session about 42 percent of the time to the House’s 39 percent. A look at the the past 37 years of Congressional activity reveals that your likely stereotypes about the amount of time Congress spends doing the people’s work is probably about right.
For the past few weeks, as Scotland debated the wisdom of independence, Reuters has been asking Americans how they would feel about declaring independence today, not from the United Kingdom, but from the mother country they left England to create. Almost a quarter of those surveyed said they were strongly or provisionally inclined to leave the United States, and take their states with them. The sense of aggrievement is comprehensive, bipartisan, somewhat incoherent, but deeply felt. This should be more than disconcerting; it’s a situation that could get dangerous.
Recent advances in technology have created an increasingly unified global marketplace for labor and capital. Some have argued that the current era of rapid technological progress serves labor, and some have argued that it serves capital. The real winners of the future will not be the providers of cheap labor or the owners of ordinary capital, both of whom will be increasingly squeezed by automation. Fortune will instead favor a third group: those who can innovate and create new products, services, and business models.
The Obamians seem bewildered that the country is not more thankful to its government for having prevented another Great Depression. They saved the banks, and in doing so, they saved the economy from a once-in-a-hundred-year storm. And they proudly point out that all the money given to the financial sector has been more than repaid. But in making such claims, they ignore some critical realities.
The United States passed a major milestone last month, having now regained all 8.7 million of the jobs lost during the Great Recession. But many American families, businesses, and communities are still living with the legacy of the most severe contraction in decades. Wages have stagnated, poverty has increased, social mobility has decreased, and too much human potential is being left untapped.
Noncompete clauses are now appearing in far-ranging fields beyond the worlds of technology, sales and corporations with tightly held secrets. From event planners to chefs to investment fund managers to yoga instructors, employees are increasingly required to sign agreements that prohibit them from working for a company’s rivals.
It took little time for Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democrat who is challenging Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican minority leader, in the most high-profile Senate race this year, to distance herself from the Obama administration’s proposal for sharp cuts to emissions from power plants.
Europe’s financial and macroeconomic woes have overshadowed its remarkable, unheralded longer-term success in an area in which it used to lag: job creation. The truth is that European-style welfare states have proved more resilient, more successful at job creation, than is allowed for in America’s prevailing economic philosophy.
Four major tech companies including Apple and Google have agreed to pay a total of $324 million to settle a lawsuit accusing them of conspiring to hold down salaries in Silicon Valley. The case was based largely on emails in which Silicon Valley rivals hatched plans to avoid poaching each other’s prized engineers.
Slavery, in its various forms of physical and mental torment, has been a part of U.S. history from the beginnings of our country to the present day. There are numerous modern-day corporations who profited immensely from slave labor. The 13th Amendment bans slavery “except as punishment for crime.” The 14th Amendment bans debt servitude. But each inmate in a modern-day private prison, according to Chris Hedges, “can generate corporate revenues of $30,000 to $40,000 a year.”
U.S. manufacturing—and the jobs that go with it—have been steadily increasing since 2010. Whether the resurgence of U.S. manufacturing jobs continues depends on a range of factors—including environmental initiatives. While the future of U.S. manufacturing jobs is uncertain, energy-efficiency and clean-energy investment can help ensure that this sector continues to thrive.
If George Orwell were to return from the Spanish civil war today, he would be arrested under the Terrorism Act 2006. If convicted of fighting abroad with a “political, ideological, religious or racial motive” he would face a maximum sentence of life in prison, but not, strangely, if he possessed a financial motive. Far from it: such motives are now eminently respectable. You can even obtain a City & Guilds qualification as a naval mercenary. Sorry, “maritime security operative”. As long as you don’t care whom you kill or why, you’re exempt from the law. But what clearer case could there be of the “use or threat of action … designed to influence the government … for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, racial or ideological cause” than the war with Iraq?
The Obama Administration fought to keep the Haitian minimum wage to 31 cents an hour. Haiti passed a law in 2012 raising its minimum wage to 61 cents an hour. America corporations like Hanes and Levi Strauss vociferously objected, claiming such an increase would irreparably harm their business and profitability.
US President Barack Obama recently declared that growing income inequality and the inequality of opportunity that it creates are the defining challenges now facing America. These problems have risen to the top of the political agenda in the United States, but they are not uniquely American problems.
It might seem like a marriage made in heaven. Infrastructure projects take a long time to build but then deliver cashflows over an extended period. Pension funds have liabilities that stretch over several decades. Why not get the latter to finance the former? But the couple have barely survived the first date, let alone made it to the altar. A new report from the OECD estimates that global pension funds have just 0.9% of their portfolios in pure infrastructure plays.
Unconditional Cash Transfers work better than almost anyone would have expected. They dent the stereotype of poor people as inherently feckless and ignorant. But Conditional Cash Transfers are usually better still, especially when dealing with the root causes of poverty and, rather than just alleviating it, helping families escape it altogether.
One of the main things keeping the economy weak is the depressing effect of cutbacks in public spending justified in the name of protecting the future from the wildly exaggerated threat of excessive debt. By tolerating high unemployment we have inflicted huge damage on our long-run prospects. America will probably spend decades paying for the mistaken priorities of the past few years.
While some are congratulating themselves on avoiding another depression, no one in Europe or the United States can claim that prosperity has returned. We have done some things to improve financial markets, but other problems have gone unaddressed and some have worsened. The financial system may be more stable than it was five years ago, but that is a low bar – back then, it was teetering on the edge of a precipice.
For decades American politicians have assumed that mass incarceration works, wooing voters with ever-tougher sentencing laws. The dramatic fall in crime since the 1990s has persuaded many that they were right. Prison has diminishing returns, and America long ago passed the point where jailing more people makes sense.
A small but – anecdotally – growing group of Americans are leaving the structure and security of an office job for the gruelling, yet rewarding work of earning money from the land. Some want to be a part of improving the food supply for themselves and their community; others are excited by the prospect of becoming self-sufficient, or simply working outdoors like their ancestors did.
A new research paper shows in detail how significant the surveillance effect on behavior can be. The researchers measured the impact of software that monitors employee-level theft and sales transactions, before and after the technology was installed, at 392 restaurants in 39 states. The research suggests that the surveillance effect on employee behavior is striking.
Detroit may be an extreme case of fiscal incontinence. But its bankruptcy highlights a long-term problem faced by many American cities and states; how to fund generous pension and health-care promises that are no longer affordable. Now Detroit, like other cities, faces a choice. It has made promises to creditors and retirees that it cannot meet in full. How should it share the pain?
Jessica is a social entrepreneur focused on empowering others through entrepreneurship and access to capital. She currently serves as a Venture Partner with the Collaborative Fund, focused on investing in creative entrepreneurs who want to change the world through emerging technologies.
Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus’s vision is the total eradication of poverty from the world. This work is a fundamental rethink on the economic relationship between the rich and the poor, their rights and their obligations. Credit is the last hope left to those faced with absolute poverty. That is why Muhammad Yunus believes that the right to credit should be recognized as a fundamental human right.
The less free-market thinkers are regulated, the less they seem to care about others. They ignore the fact that America’s most productive eras were driven by progressive taxes that funded entrepreneurship in the middle class. And they fail to see the deficiencies in a system that relies solely on profit-making to the exclusion of social responsibility.
The median compensation of chief executives at 200 of the nation’s biggest public companies came in at $15.1 million last year, a 16 percent jump from 2011. Is that excessive? One way to answer that question would be to look at the pay gap, the ratio of the pay of the chief executive to that of the company’s employees. But nobody really knows what the gaps are.
CEOs are legendary for defending their tax paying records, and eager to imply that government is responsible for any of their tax delinquencies. For example, just 32 companies avoided enough in 2012 taxes to pay the entire 2013 federal education budget. Changing the tax rules is a specialty of big business, but so is flouting the tax rules.
Few fiscal problems are as grave, or as little understood, as underfunded state and municipal pensions. The funding gap for all state schemes is estimated at $4 trillion—25% of GDP. States granted these benefits on the basis of recklessly optimistic assumptions, such as that pension fund assets would continue to generate the same returns as during the 1980s and 1990s.
The fact that the economy is “steadily healing” back to the old economy is the problem, not the solution. That economy featured growing inequality and a declining middle class. It was built on debt and speculative bubbles. Trade deficits hit new records as multinational companies shipped good jobs abroad.
The United States’ gross domestic product expanded at a 2.5 percent annual rate in the first quarter; but this figure masks disturbing signs: an economy whose recovery has failed to match the pace of past expansions may now be facing a deceleration in its own modest growth rate.
Cheap shale gas is translating into cheap electricity. Economists at Citigroup and UBS predict that the shale gale will lift America’s GDP growth by half a percentage point a year for the next few years. Indeed, cheap energy is cited as one factor by those who predict a manufacturing renaissance in America.
It’s easy to understand why savers feel like collateral damage in the Fed’s fight against recession, but too much sympathy for their plight is dangerous. It may be hard for people to live off their savings these days, but the far more urgent problem is that it’s even harder for people who don’t have jobs, or whose wages are stagnant, to save anything at all.
Many analysts predict that climate change and development in high-risk zones will only increase those costs as sea levels rise and weather becomes more extreme. So there’s plenty of incentive to prevent and reduce losses, and a massive opportunity for those with ideas of how to go about doing so.
The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) Regulatory Policy Research program debunks claims that regulations impede job creation and addresses attempts to roll back laws that protect the environment and guarantee worker protections.
The Economic Policy Institute’s (EPI) research shows a need for significant public investment to reverse decades of neglect to US infrastructure and society. Investment will create jobs and modernize the US economy. Experts include Josh Bivens, Andrew Fieldhouse, Ethan Pollack, and Rebecca Thiess.
The Government Accountability Office provides public access to its wide-ranging research related to Government Operations. Covered topics include Streamlining Government, Management, Social Security, Federal Employees, US Postal Service, Lobbying, Federal Contracting, and Transportation.