When Will the Candidates Start Talking About the Economy? – Mohamed A. El-Erian, The New York Times

“Assuming that the presidential season clarifies these choices, the campaign’s winner will face another challenge next year: how to deal with a Congress that has failed to handle even its most basic economic functions. Given the outlook for both a shaky global economy and higher financial volatility, the new administration will need to find a way to get Congress to implement measures in four specific areas, some of which already command bipartisan support.

The first covers long-overdue structural reforms. Guided by the administration, Congress needs to overhaul a tax system littered with anti-growth provisions, invest more in infrastructure, expand labor-market retraining and modernize our education system. The lack of such reforms, and the insecurity generated, is one main reason the private sector has held back from spending the enormous cash reserves on its balance sheets; encouraging that money to flow into productive activities, rather than share buybacks, would boost the economy.

America also needs a more responsive fiscal policy. This means, above all, redirecting resources that essentially subsidize the better-off segments of society, including the excessively low taxation of carried interest and other budgetary measures to help reduce the economic drag that inequality creates through reduced consumer demand.”  …………………..

“While I.M.F. reform might seem arcane, it could be vital to averting another global crisis — without changes, the fund’s credibility will continue to be questioned, especially in the eyes of emerging economies, undermining global policy cooperation and increasing the risk of currency wars and other damaging coordination failures.”

Source: When Will the Candidates Start Talking About the Economy? – The New York Times

The Junk Politics of 2015 The candidates are offering us nothing but empty calories. nytimes.com|By Timothy Egan

Timothy Egan: “At least one Republican wants to sic the Internal Revenue Service on his political enemies. So promised Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, in a remarkable statement overlooked at the kids’ table debate last week. “I guarantee you under President Jindal, January 2017, the Department of Justice and the I.R.S. and everybody else we can send from the federal government will be going into Planned Parenthood.”

Other Republicans think we should be living in a theocracy. “It’s time we recognize the Supreme Court is not the Supreme Being,” said Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas, testing the latest version of his church-lady demagogy. He wants to ignore the high court on both gay marriage and abortion — breaking the law while waving his Bible.”

The candidates are offering us nothing but empty calories.
nytimes.com|By Timothy Egan

Tom Friedman: My Choice for President? None of the Above, raises questions about Friedman.

Tom Friedman: “How is it that we are not deploying a carbon tax and using that to reduce payroll taxes that discourage hiring and shrink corporate taxes that reduce investment? Many economists — left, right and center — agree that a carbon tax, with adjustments for low-income earners, makes a world of sense. How is it that our two parties cannot agree on imaginative solutions to ease the burden of $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loans — by, say, enabling graduates to pay off student loans with pretax income, the same way we allow workers to save in 401(k)s? The Highway Trust Fund, the primary source of financing for roads and mass transit is going broke primarily because House Republicans won’t agree to an increase in the federal gasoline tax, which has not been raised since 1993!”
Is Friedman right that the Barack and Hillary are useless chickens on the carbon tax issue, or did the Obama team fly a carbon tax once or twice, only to have it shot down in the Congress? I guess that he hates Hillary, because she was tough on Israel, and supported the treaty with Iran.
  Coral Davenport wrote in the NYT on 9/27/14 that Obama sent a carbon pricing cap and trade system to Congress, which was roundly defeated. Since a cap and trade system, according to Pope Francis’s encyclical, and environmentalists such as Dean Cycon, is a very weak and manipulable non tax pricing system, its failure suggests a real carbon tax had zero chance. My criticism of Obama, is that he doesn’t fight for it repeatedly. I think Hillary should call for it, so she has a mandate if elected to enact it.
So many presidential candidates. So few daring ideas or trade-offs.
nytimes.com|By Thomas L. Friedman

Paul Krugman slams Republicans for Voodoo economics and science

Paul Krugman slams Republicans for Voodoo economics and science: “Then there’s climate change. It appears that 2014 was the hottest year yet, which should close the door on silly claims that global warming has stopped. But it won’t matter to Senator James Inhofe, who now leads a crucial environmental committee and has long insisted that all the science in this field is a liberal hoax.

………..You sometimes hear claims that the old-fashioned Republican establishment is making a comeback, that Tea Party extremists are on the run and we can get back to bipartisan cooperation. But that is a fantasy. We can’t have meaningful cooperation when we can’t agree on reality, when even establishment figures in the Republican Party essentially believe that facts have a liberal bias.”

Leaders in the Republican Party seem to be wrong on everything that counts, but no amount of contrary evidence will get them to change their minds.
nytimes.com|By Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman explains why Putin’s bubble has burst.

Paul Krugman, the Oracle from Oh-ma-god— he’s from Princeton:
“The kind of crisis Russia now faces is what you get when bad things happen to an economy made vulnerable by large-scale borrowing from abroad — specifically, large-scale borrowing by the private sector, with the debts denominated in foreign currency, not the currency of the debtor country.

In that situation, an adverse shock like a fall in exports can start a vicious downward spiral. When the nation’s currency falls, the balance sheets of local businesses — which have assets in rubles (or pesos or rupiah) but debts in dollars or euros — implode. This, in turn, inflicts severe damage on the domestic economy, undermining confidence and depressing the currency even more. And Russia fits the standard playbook.”

The global plunge in oil prices and the falling ruble have wreaked havoc on the Russian economy. It’s been quite a comedown for the strongman.
nytimes.com|By Paul Krugman

NYT: Iraq Veteran, Now a West Point Professor, Seeks to Rein In Disability Pay

The next time you get a telemarketer asking for money for the forgotten vet, remember this article by Dave Philipps. “Much like debate over Social Security, discussion of disability compensation is the third rail of veterans politics. It is a program with broad public support that has defied efforts at change even as it has consumed a growing portion of the $151 billion Veterans Affairs budget.

Since 2001, the number of veterans getting monthly checks for service-related disabilities, ranging from bad knees to catastrophic injuries, increased by 55 percent, and the overall cost of compensation nearly tripled, to $59 billion.”

A West Point professor travels the country to urge a shift toward work incentives for disabled veterans, but some find his message misguided.
nytimes.com|By Dave Philipps

Modern micro-economics and behavioral economics are the new power tools of conservative progressives.

David Brooks writes: “The World Bank has just issued an amazingly good report called “Mind, Society and Behavior” on how the insights of behavioral economics can be applied to global development and global health.”

Only vaguely related, yesterday, in the New Haven Register, Martin Peretz, former owner of The New Republic wrote:”Liberal hopes need to be matched by conservative caution.”

Modern micro-economics, behavioral economics and microfinance are the new power tools of conservative progressives. I recommend the work of Innovations For Poverty Action in New Haven, and the Abdul Lateef Jameel Poverty Action Lab, or J-PAL, at MIT.

Behavioral economics has given us amazing new policy options to solve local and international problems.
nytimes.com|By David Brooks



Mining for Influence in Montana, by Brian Schweitzer, NYT

“All this is in jeopardy, though, thanks to the Supreme Court and its infamous Citizens United ruling. In February the court notified the office of Montana’s commissioner of political practices, which oversees state campaigns, that until further notice, we may no longer enforce our anti-corruption statute, specifically our restriction on corporate money.

The court, which will make a formal ruling on the law soon, cited in the 2010 Citizens United case that corporations are people, too, and told us that our 110-year effort to prevent corruption in Montana had likely been unconstitutional. Who knew?”