The story of the Reinhart-Rogoff error tells us a great deal about how the elites use economists and the prestige of the economics profession in order to impose their will on the public.
The attention span in Washington, D.C. these days is remarkably short, and multi-tasking is something at which Congress seems particularly inept. So right now the focus there is overwhelming on just one thing: scandals, while the real business of the American people goes largely unexamined.
We are sitting idly, watching, and suffering, as our nation disintegrates into a run-down backwater. At the same time, over 20 million people are in need of full-time work. Yet instead of grabbing this opportunity to rebuild the country, Washington is focused on cutting budgets.
Providing foreign aid means making a long-term investment in developing our aid partners, which results in both trade and security benefits for the U.S.
Unlike today's politicians, however, FDR refused to pander to the sky-is-falling rhetoric of the conservative right on the disastrous consequences that would accrue to the country by running a deficit in the midst of an economic crisis.
It is most unfortunate that it takes a severe crisis to get anything done on Capitol Hill, but we fear that a new one will be required to effect material change.
How does one conduct herself each day among such partisanship, isolation, domestic and international disasters, and what seems like the daily fracturing not only of our nation, but also of our relationship with other nations? It's been a harrowing week trying to figure all of this out -- here's what I've established.
Given that any reasonable person can plainly see that our president is in fact trying to lead us to ruin, here's the good news: he's really, really bad at it.
This week showed how celebration can often go hand-in-hand with desolation. In Bangladesh, a woman was rescued from the rubble of the collapsed garment factory, having been buried alive for 17 days -- even as the death toll passed 1,000. In Cleveland, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight were freed after years in captivity, touching off celebrations that were tempered by revelations of the horror of their prolonged abuse. With the raising of its spire, 1 World Trade Center became the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, nearly a dozen years after the devastating losses of 9/11. And though a lowered deficit is good news, any celebration should be tempered by the fact that fiscal belt-tightening has come with a high price: disastrous unemployment rates. As The New York Times put it: "Consensus about the result is clear: Immediate deficit reduction is a drag on full economic recovery." Consensus, that is, everywhere but in Washington.
Fix the Debt did a dance flash mob in Farragut Square in downtown Washington, D.C., around noon on Friday. Two participants expressed concern about the debt, but did not want to cut Social Security.
The deficit is going down. Woo-hoo! Let the celebrations begin. Oh, wait. That may not be altogether a good thing. Certainly not for Republicans. They need an out-of-control deficit to bludgeon Democrats into cutting more spending.
As more of our best and brightest are lured into the private sector, many into lucrative but socially unproductive jobs, we reduce the prestige and desirability of government service. This could have devastating effects for the future.
The debate over fiscal responsibility has been muddled by the Great Recession; inevitably, perhaps, arguments over long-term fiscal problems have been conflated with debates over short-term recovery programs. Both debates have suffered terribly as a consequence.
Why does one governmental agency have 13 different cell phone plans for which it pays varied prices that are higher than commercially available rates? The one take away is that the government clearly is not leveraging its buying power and, as a result, is wasting taxpayer dollars.
The bond-rating agency Moody's made itself famous for giving subprime mortgage backed securities triple-A ratings at the peak of the housing bubble. Well, Moody's is back. They announced plans to change the way they treat pension obligations in assessing state and local government debt.
Tax reform has evolved into one of the emptier platitudes of U.S. politics. Politicians support "tax reform" in the same way that they support "a strong national defense," "fiscal responsibility," and "pro-growth economic policies." It's a brave statement in search of a challenge. Is anyone ever against tax reform?