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6 days

Is the US Economy Having an Engels' Pause?

Consider a time period of several decades when there is a high level of technological progress, but typical wage levels remain stagnant while profits soar, driving a sharp rise in inequality. In broad-brush terms, this description fits the US economy for the last few decades. But it also fits the economy of the United Kingdom during the first wave of the Industrial Revolution in the first half of the 19th century.

9 days

Universal Basic Income - Combined With What Else?

The idea of a "universal basic income" has some immediate attraction along with other slogans like a guaranteed government job or single payer health insurance, the devil is in the details.

10 days

Uncertainty and the Countdown to the US Presidential Elections

·        JP Morgan analyse the impact of 14,000 presidential Tweets ·        Gold breaks out to the upside despite US$ strength ·        China backs down slightly over Hong Kong ·        Trump berates Fed Chair and China

15 days

US Multinationals Bring Foreign Earnings Back Home

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 largely eliminated taxes on US multinational corporations when they bring profits earned in other countries back to the use. As a result, there has been a dramatic rise in the dividends that U.S. parent companies received from their their foreign affiliates. Sarah A. Atkinson and Jessica McCloskey of the US Census Bureau offer some striking illustrations of this change, along with other data on international flows of investment in and out of the US economy, in "Direct Investment Positions for 2018: Country and Industry Detail," published in the August 2019 Survey of Current Business. 

17 days

Satellite Data Economics, Night Lights, and More

The dark area outlined in red is North Korea. The rest of the peninsula below, illuminated, is South Korea.

17 days

Nonrenewable Resources: The Pattern of Higher Extraction, Falling Prices

Here's an economic puzzle about non-renewable resources, including energy resources but also minerals. One might expect that the least expensive locations for these resources would be exploited first. Thus, one might expect production costs for such resources to rise over time. If demand for such resources is also rising over time, intuition suggests that this combination should tend to raise prices for non-renewable.

18 days

Marge Piercy on Why Work Matters

I sometimes struggle, when teaching about unemployment, to explain just why work matters. It's straightforward enough to note that elevated unemployment leads to loss of economic output, lower tax payments, and greater need for government welfare benefits. I can refer to evidence on how unemployment is connected to social ills like bankruptcy, divorce, depression, and even suicide. But this listing of consequences, while a necessary part of teaching the economics of unemployment, doesn't quite touch the human heart of the issue. The poet Marge Piercy, in her 1973 poem "To be of use," gives a more concise and powerful sense of why useful work matters so much.