While many policies will be needed to improve the situation of the poor and middle class, there are three simple ones that could make a big difference: a more competitive dollar, a Federal Reserve Board committed to full employment and a financial transactions tax to rein in Wall Street.
When it comes to what goes on in the marble corridors of the Federal Reserve, Americans tend to be suspicious. For different reasons, both the right and the left have challenged Fed policies aimed at bolstering the economy in the wake of the Great Recession.
The incessant parsing and analysis of each and every Fed utterance is becoming quite comical. God love Steve Liesman and Mark Zandi, but are they really adding much value by trying to read between the lines of each statement from each Fed member?
Low interest rates were supposed to be a short-term crutch, but have instead become the staple of a years-long feast for the 1 percent. It's time for the Fed to end the festivities, remove the crutch and let the partiers take their losses so we can move forward as a nation, all 100 percent of us.
The March job numbers came in somewhat worse than most analysts had expected. The slower job growth was largely attributable to unusually bad weather in late February and early March, but most of the commentators seem to be missing this fact. Many are warning that the economy might be weaker than they thought. These warnings from commentators are in fact good news. They are good news first because it is almost certainly true that the economy is weaker than these analysts thought. Many had been making silly pronouncements about a new American boom that was not based in any real understanding of the economy. It's always best when the people who are determining economic policy have some idea of the actual state of the economy. The other reason the warnings are good news is that they may slow down the Federal Reserve Board's rush to raise interest rates.
The Fed has intimated that it will raise interest rates at some point later this year after more than a half-decade of easy money. But the March jobs report suggests that the swift appreciation of the U.S. dollar is starting to cut into job growth.
Next time you hear someone blabbing about how robots are going to take away our jobs, tell them to can the science fiction and get back to the real world. The immediate threat to jobs is the folks on the Federal Reserve Board who want to raise interest rates.
The market's response to Wednesday's economic data was somewhat perplexing at first blush.
U.S. financial markets have been highly volatile but with little to show for investors, as opposed to traders, who make their best livings from pointless volatility, for all the swaying back and forth since the start of 2015.
We can argue whether it's a good thing or a bad thing that a small, unelected group of bankers is in complete control of all meaningful economic outcomes. But let's at least face the reality that they are. That said, can't we at least get a full audit of what they're doing?
If America is to shed the title of "Land of Inequality," this is how it is going to happen: by more people becoming aware of how the Fed's monetary policy affects them and demanding that it change.
A market in transition can mean only one thing in our current environment. A potential top and the beginning of a bear market or longer-term correction.
We should have until September before the Debt Ceiling debate starts making headlines again. If there is a backdoor deal, there will be an uneasy calm, and relief, on Wall Street. If the debate heats up, then volatility is likely to roil the markets.
Surging liquidity, more risk on the balance sheets of banks and insurers, sky-high valuations in individual asset classes -- these are some of the already visible consequences of the ECB's policy, and the trend is set to continue.
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For most of its history, the Federal Reserve has been dominated by bankers and orthodox economists, who kill the recovery at the first sign of inflationary risks. Happily, the Fed today is led by Janet Yellen, a very uncharacteristic Fed chair who spent most of her career as a labor economist, of all things. Yellen is aware of the changes in the structure of labor markets and is unlikely to jump the gun on raising rates, though it's always possible that she could be outvoted. The risk today is not that an improving jobs picture will set off inflation. It's that even tight labor markets, by themselves, will not generate enough pressure for wage increases, because workers have lost so much bargaining power.