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Dr. Dean Baker is a macroeconomist and Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He previously worked as a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute and an assistant professor at Bucknell University. He received his Ph.D in economics from the University of Michigan.
Tuesday, April 28, 2015(6 comments)
The Battle Over the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Fast-Track Gets Hot
Not all economists agree that all reductions in trade barriers are good. But more importantly, the TPP is not primarily about reducing trade barriers. The TPP is essentially a pact in which the Obama administration invited industry representatives to get together a wish list and see what they could impose on the other parties to the deal.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015(1 comments)
The Simple Progressive Economic Agenda for Hillary Clinton (or Anyone Else)
A progressive presidential candidate should commit to appointing people to the Federal Reserve Board who place a top priority on its legal mandate to promote high employment. If the Fed is not prepared to allow the labor market to tighten, any employment gains from reducing the trade deficit could be reversed by higher interest rates choking off growth.
Monday, April 13, 2015(7 comments)
The End of the U.S. Boom
It would be difficult to identify anyone at the Federal Reserve Board, International Monetary Fund, or any other major economic policy or regulatory agency who lost their job because they failed to recognize the housing bubble and the risks it posed to the economy. It is unlikely anyone even missed a scheduled promotion.
Tuesday, April 7, 2015 The Terrible Twos: Central Bank Inflation Targets
The reason the Fed would want to keep people from having jobs is that it is worried that a strong labor market would lead to more rapid wage growth, which in turn would be passed on in higher prices. In other words, keeping people unemployed is a way to keep inflation under control.
Monday, March 23, 2015(2 comments)
Big stakes on drug patents
Last fall, India's new Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, met with President Obama in Washington. According to the public accounts, the meeting was friendly with both sides hoping for stronger diplomatic and economic ties. The Obama administration was eager to report that India had agreed to set up a working group to re-examine its patent laws, with the implicit goal of making them stronger.
Monday, March 16, 2015(1 comments)
Scott Walker Ends Freedom of Contract in Wisconsin
Proponents of "right to work" are fine with almost any demand that an employer wants to make on workers, including pay cuts. Their answer is if you don't like it, work somewhere else. The idea of a union contract is that workers collectively are reaching an agreement with their employer that imposes a set of rules for the workplace.
Monday, March 2, 2015(1 comments)
The Federal Reserve Board's Plan to Kill Jobs
It is important that the public be paying attention to the Fed's interest rate policies and let them know how they feel about raising interest rates to kill jobs. The Center for Popular Democracy has organized an impressive grassroots campaign around the Fed's interest rate policies. Those who don't want to see the government deliberately trying to kill jobs might want to join in.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015 Trade Crazy: The Push for Fast-Track Trade Authority
President Obama's trade agenda is dominated by a list of measures that are likely to increase inequality. And if his trade deals are defeated because they refuse to take any steps to redress the trade deficit and the loss of well-paying manufacturing jobs to trade, it will not be bad news for the country.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015(3 comments)
"Obamacare" is transforming the job market
the increase in voluntary part-time employment was almost entirely among young parents. Thanks to the ACA, it appears that more than 1 million parents of young children are now able to spend more time with their kids. Evidence also suggests an increase in self-employment, although the impact is not as large.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015(1 comments)
Will We End Up Like Greece? The Risks of the Trans-Pacific Partnership
The result of TPP could be the persistence long into the future of large U.S. trade deficits, with the resulting loss of demand and millions of jobs. This drag on growth may not give us the same sort of cataclysmic downturn that Greece has seen, but it is a much more real concern than the possibility that no one will buy U.S. government debt.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015(1 comments)
Is Hillary Clinton in the Bottom 3 Percent?
Clinton, Bush, and Bowles are among the thousands of prominent and successful individuals who have sat on the boards of major corporations. It's good work if you can get it. The pay is typically several hundred thousand dollars a year in exchange for showing up at six to 10 board meetings.
Tuesday, January 27, 2015 Reducing Disability Rolls: The Rand Paul Way and the Federal Reserve Board Way
Republican leaders like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) justified cutting Social Security benefits by insisting that half the people getting disability had the sort of back aches and occasional anxieties that we all face. The difference is that they get checks from the government rather than working. For this reason, Rand argued the program is in serious need of reform.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015(1 comments)
Democrats Take on Wall Street With Financial Transactions Tax
The Van Hollen proposal would raise the cost of trading stock and other financial instruments back to where to where it was 15-20 years ago. The United States had a large and dynamic capital market in 1995; it would have a large and dynamic capital market in 2015 if trading costs returned to their levels of 20 years ago.
Thursday, January 15, 2015(3 comments)
What Congress isn't seeing when the government spends
The House of Representative's move to change the way lawmakers consider tax and spending bills wrongly assumes that the economy will continue growing when citizens pay fewer taxes, says Dean Baker, co-director of the central for Economic and Policy Research.
Thursday, January 8, 2015(2 comments)
Congress Starts the New Year Off By Kicking the Disabled
Tens of millions of people made New Year's resolutions last week, but few were as creative as the one pushed through Congress yesterday. Apparently, the new Congress decided that its first order of business should be to go after workers who are no longer able to hold jobs due to injury or illness.
Monday, January 5, 2015 The profit on the TARP and Bernie Madoff
For folks like Timothy Geithner it is a big thing to boast about the profit the government made on the TARP. We got more of this children's story in the NYT yesterday in an article reporting on the end of the TARP. It is worth understanding the meaning of profit in this context.
Monday, December 22, 2014 What's Behind Those New Budget Office Numbers On Family Incomes?
As we watch the Fed fiddle with interest rate trigger, deciding when to start slowing the economy, it is important to keep this lesson in mind. When the Fed starts raising rates and keeping people from getting jobs, it will be acting to prevent the middle class from getting its share of growth.
Tuesday, December 16, 2014(3 comments)
The Biggest Economic Myths, Debunked
We know how to get out of a depression. It's called spending money. Even if the dominoes had been allowed to fall and all the Wall Street banks had collapsed, we still could have picked up the pieces and avoided a depression. And we would be freed of the albatross of a bloated financial sector.
Tuesday, December 9, 2014(1 comments)
Benefits of Obamacare: More People Are Able to Work Less
Obamacare was a huge step forward not only because it insured millions of previously uninsured people but, even more importantly, because it freed tens of millions of workers from dependence on their employers for insurance. This is especially important for workers who have serious health conditions or have family members with serious health conditions.
Wednesday, December 3, 2014(2 comments)
How Can We Solve Our Unemployment Crisis? Taking More Vacation
The best aspect of the sharing the work route is that state and local governments can take the initiative to improve both the work environment and employment prospects for their workers. They don't have to wait for action from Washington. That's a good thing, since those waiting for Washington to take steps to bring the economy back to full employment are likely to be waiting a long time.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014(1 comments)
The Problem of "Stupid" in Economics
There is some truth to Gruber's comment in that most people are ill-informed about major public policy issues, including health insurance. But when people do take the time to get informed, the media let them down badly. Stories even in the best of outlets, like the New York Times and National Public Radio, often present information in ways that are misleading and often meaningless to nearly all readers.
Saturday, November 1, 2014(4 comments)
Democrats Run Away from Success of "Obamacare"
The Democrats have mostly hidden from the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In fact, they have done their best to convince voters that they have nothing to do with this program; interestingly, so have many Republicans. The Republicans are fully aware of the danger they can face because of their opposition to extending health care insurance. Unfortunately, the Democrats have yet to catch on.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014(1 comments)
The Ebola Vaccine, Traffic Congestion, and Global Warming
There is a real cost of having determined selfishness as a fundamental political principle. Maybe it's too complicated for a typical politician to understand how supporting mass transit can help even people who don't take mass transit. It may require too much concentration for them to realize that paying to get India or China to reduce greenhouse gas emissions helps people in the United States.
Friday, October 17, 2014(10 comments)
World's richest man tries to defend wealth inequality
While Gates wants us to believe that his software innovations were a great service to the world, most users of his software would probably not agree. His efforts to corner the market may have made him rich, but they slowed down the process of software development.
Tuesday, October 14, 2014(4 comments)
The Deficit Is Down and the Deficit Hawks Are Furious
Last week the Congressional Budget Office reported that the deficit for the 2014 fiscal year that just ended was $460 billion, considerably lower than they had previously projected. This puts the deficit at 2.7 percent of GDP. At that level, the size of the debt relative to the economy is actually falling. If anyone thought this would make the deficit hawks happy, they are badly mistaken. They are furious.
Sunday, October 5, 2014 Why a Tiny Decrease in Unemployment Means a Big Pay Raise for the Poor
We can decrease the unemployment rate through policies that reduce average work hours. One obvious policy is work sharing. This program, which 26 states already have in place as part of their state unemployment insurance (UI) systems, allows employers to cut back hours instead of laying off workers.
Monday, September 22, 2014(8 comments)
Democrats Run Away from Success of Obamacare
The ACA appears to be an enormous success. It has extended coverage, it has helped to hold down costs, and given workers the freedom to leave jobs they don't like. Ordinarily, this would be the sort of policy that politicians would fight over to get credit. But the Democrats apparently still have not recovered from their defeat in 2014. As a result they are running from Obamacare, instead of bragging about it.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014 The Inflation Fighters Want to Increase the Debt Burden on Our Children
people should know that if they want to see lower deficits they should be trying to keep the Fed from raising interest rates. The prospect of higher unemployment and lower wages are the real reasons for opposing Fed rate hikes. But hey, if people really care about budget deficits, then they should join the anti-rate hike coalition.
Monday, August 25, 2014 Truth Has No Place in the Attack of Inflation Hawks
If the Fed raises interest rates to prevent inflation, it would be slowing the economy and keeping people from getting jobs. Furthermore, slower job growth will weaken the labor market by raising the unemployment rate.
Thursday, August 21, 2014(2 comments)
Public Pressure Can Influence The Federal Reserve
In assessing the potential impact of public protests on Fed policy it is perhaps worth going back to the 1990s when there were also some public efforts, sponsored by unions and community groups, to influence Fed policy. Public pressure on the Fed can have an impact on its decisions, which otherwise are likely to be far too responsive to bankers' concerns about inflation.
Tuesday, August 19, 2014(5 comments)
How Should Social Security Benefits Respond to an Economic Collapse?
Workers care about their after-tax wages which are primarily determined by what they earn before taxes. Due to economic mismanagement and trade and regulatory policies that were designed to redistribute income upward, most workers have seen very little growth in before-tax wages over the last three decades.
Monday, August 4, 2014(2 comments)
Finance in America: Promoting inequality and waste
In the crazy years of the housing boom the financial sector was a gigantic cesspool of excess and corruption. There was big money in pushing and packaging fraudulent mortgages. The country paid a huge price for the financial sector's sleaze. Unfortunately, because of the Obama administration's soft on crime approach to the bottom, the same things are restarting.
Thursday, July 31, 2014(1 comments)
Did Yellen slay the "tech bubble" dragon?
The financial crisis and Great Recession have convinced most economists, including those in top positions at the Fed, that asset bubbles must be taken seriously. This still leaves the question of how best to rein in bubbles. Providing information to financial markets is the lowest cost path imaginable to bubble containment. We should all hope that it works.
Thursday, July 10, 2014 Three paths to full employment
The disaster that hit our economy when the housing bubble collapsed in 2007 and 2008 was entirely predictable and preventable. Tens of millions of people have seen their lives uprooted by this preventable tragedy. There is no excuse not to do everything we can to bring this needless suffering to an end.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014 Doing for the Poor and Doing to the Poor
The government is actively working to deny low- and moderate-income families jobs and opportunities in a really big way. The people in Washington involved in the decision-making process that leads to this outcome may not think about the impact of these policies in this way, but who cares?
Tuesday, June 3, 2014 The Veterans Affairs Scandal and Plans for Downsizing the Social Security Administration
It's great to look for savings that still preserve the quality of the service provided by SSA. But a route that will make it difficult for beneficiaries to talk to a human being doesn't fit the bill. That path virtually ensures some future scandal with large number of seniors losing their housing and being unable to pay for food.
Tuesday, May 27, 2014 Don't buy the "sharing economy" hype: Airbnb and Uber are facilitating rip-offs
We need to ensure that the regulatory structure allows for real innovation, but doesn't make scam-facilitators into billionaires. For example, rooms rented under Airbnb should be subject to the same taxes as hotels and motels pay. Uber drivers and cars should have to meet the same standards and carry the same level of insurance as commercial taxi fleets.
Sunday, May 25, 2014(4 comments)
Stress Test: The Indictment of Timothy Geithner
It is striking that Geithner and his friends could be very creative in finding ways to rescue failed banks and financial institutions, but they were largely at a loss when it came to helping underwater homeowners. He tells us that allowing for cram down of mortgage debt in bankruptcy was a political non-starter that couldn't pass Congress. Clearly it did not pass, but we can only wonder how hard the Obama administration tried.
Tuesday, May 6, 2014(2 comments)
New York Times Turns Paul Krugman Into His Opposite
It was striking to see the NYT opinion page's description of Krugman's column last week that has Krugman referring to a "fiscal crisis." Krugman absolutely does not believe there was a fiscal crisis. Krugman's column discussed the financial crisis and the economic downturn that followed the collapse of the housing bubble. The NYT description was surely a mistake.
Thursday, April 24, 2014 Economic Policy in a Post-Piketty World
Thomas Piketty's new book has done a remarkable job of focusing public attention on the growth of inequality in the last three decades and the risk that it will grow further in the decades ahead.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 Time To Rein In Grossly Overpaid CEOs
In order for CEO pay to be brought down to earth, it will be necessary to change the behavior of the directors who decide their pay. In most cases, sitting on a corporate board means attending four to eight meetings a year and walking away with an annual paycheck of several hundred thousand dollars.
Wednesday, April 2, 2014(2 comments)
Obamacare secret: if you quit your job, you have a plan -- and keep wages up
It's too early to say much from the data we have, but the early impacts of Obamacare are getting clearer as it passes the signup milestone: not just more people with insurance than had it before -- more people looking for better work, more people able to spend time with family, more people retiring when they want and, yes, maybe even some job creation.
Tuesday, March 25, 2014(1 comments)
The Texas-California Job Growth Derby
The most obvious difference that would hit anyone comparing California and Texas is the enormous difference in housing costs. The fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Santa Clara County, which includes San Jose, is $1,649 a month. It was just $894 in Dallas County in 2010, the most recent year available.
Wednesday, March 19, 2014 Money in Hyping the Generational War Story
As long as the wealthy can focus public debate on retirement benefits for ordinary workers, they can keep the focus away from the policies that allow them to get rich at everyone else's expense. And the rich are prepared to spend lots of money to keep the public distracted. We can expect to see many more pieces about Social Security bankrupting our children.
Tuesday, February 25, 2014(2 comments)
Taxing the Money Shufflers -- Wall Street Boys Gone Wild
While Dodd-Frank reforms will curb some of the worst abuses, the Wall Streeters are still making huge fortunes shuffling money rather than doing anything productive. A modest tax can raise a huge amount of money for productive ends, such as infrastructure and education, while making shuffling money a bit less profitable.
Sunday, February 23, 2014(1 comments)
Release of Fed Transcripts Shows Fed Scary Ignorant in 2008, WaPo Scary Ignorant in 2014
It's great to be an economist in a top policymaking position in the United States. Unlike dishwashers, cab drivers, and most other workers, you are not held accountable for the quality of your work. We already knew that, since almost none of the people responsible for allowing the housing bubble to grow large enough to collapse the economy have paid any career price.
Tuesday, February 11, 2014(6 comments)
The Good Jobs News on the Affordable Care Act
The CBO assessment was that because people could now get access to health insurance through the exchanges rather than having to get insurance through their jobs, many people might decide not to work or to work fewer hours. This voluntary reduction in work hours is one of the goals of Obamacare, it is not an unforeseen consequence. The takeaway from the CBO report is overwhelmingly positive.
Tuesday, January 28, 2014(1 comments)
Time to retire fears over aging populations
If the pattern of income growth we have seen over the last three decades continues, with most of the gains going to the richest 1 percent, then most of our children will not fare well. Global warming also poses enormous threats to living standards, as a changing climate will make many areas uninhabitable and possibly lead to severe shortages of food and water in many parts of the world.
Tuesday, January 21, 2014(2 comments)
The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Warnings From NAFTA
As has frequently been noted, the TPP is not really about trade. The tariff barriers and quotas between the TPP countries are already low in most cases. Rather the point of the deal is to put in place a structure of regulations that will be more friendly to the large corporations who are in many cases directly part of the negotiating process.
Monday, January 20, 2014(3 comments)
"Freedom" Industries? Property Rights, Regulation, and Brain Dead Environmentalists
Property rights mean not having someone else throw their waste on your property. If this is a difficult concept to understand, try erecting a slaughterhouse where the waste gets dumped on Bill Gates' front lawn. It's a safe bet that you will quickly be given a court order to stop immediately. If you ignore it, you will quickly find yourself in jail.
Wednesday, January 15, 2014(5 comments)
Larry Summers joins the reality-based economics community
In embracing the secular-stagnation view, Summers is rejecting the religious faith in a self-correcting market that still dominates the mainstream of the profession. While we all should welcome this important convert, he might try a more ecumenical approach to policy from within his new framework. The main goal must be to get people back to work. It is less crucial that it be done through any important person's chosen route.
Friday, January 10, 2014(2 comments)
Unemployment Falls to 6.7 Percent Due to Workers Leaving the Labor Force
The drop in hours is ominous, although one month's data should also be considered with caution. With an upward revision to last month's data, job growth for the last three months has averaged a respectable 172,000.
Wage growth continues to be weak. The average hourly wage increased at a 1.68 percent annual rate over the last quarter, down very slightly from a 1.77 percent rate over the last year.
Wednesday, January 8, 2014(3 comments)
All eyes on New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, America's leading progressive
There are many areas where de Blasio could be an innovator. He could try experiments with free transit on the buses and the subway to see how much ridership would increase and greenhouse gas emissions would be reduced. He could also look to have modest subsidies for retrofitting homes and businesses to make them more energy efficient. This would also be a great way to help generate employment.
Tuesday, January 7, 2014(7 comments)
Obamacare and Those Invincible Youngsters
There is an ongoing media obsession with the number of young people who sign up for health care insurance through Obamacare. We have been repeatedly told that the success of the program depends on large numbers of healthy young people -- the "young invincibles" -- signing up for the program.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013(10 comments)
Bill Keller's Center-Left Is the Reason We Are Growing Less Rapidly
It is actually fairly easy to summarize the distinction between Keller's center-left and his left-left. His center-left wants to continue the policies that have led to a massive upward redistribution of income over the last three decades. The left-left wants to reverse these policies and replace them with policies that will lead to more equitable and more rapid growth.
Monday, December 23, 2013(6 comments)
Ben Bernanke's tenure at the Fed wasn't net positive
Bernanke deserves credit for sticking to his guns through this ordeal and taking the limited steps available to the Fed for boosting demand. Given that the economy is still far below full employment, and that we are likely to be haunted by the bigger than ever Wall Street behemoths long into the future, it is hard see Bernanke's tenure as net positive.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013(3 comments)
The End of the Assault on Social Security and Medicare
At a time when we are seeing the largest upward redistribution in the history of the world these organizations have attempted to divert attention from the class war on the nation's middle class and poor. Instead they are trying to convince young people that their financial difficulties stem from the size of their parents' Social Security checks.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013(1 comments)
Let's get this straight: AIG execs got bailout bonuses, but pensioners get cuts
Chicago has been in the news recently because its mayor, Rahm Emanuel, seems intent on cutting the pensions that its current and retired employees have earned. Emanuel insists that the city can't afford these pensions and therefore workers and retirees will simply have to accept reduced benefits.
Friday, December 6, 2013 November Job Growth Pushes Unemployment Rate Down to 7.0 Percent
In addition to the growth in jobs, there was an also an uptick of 0.1 hours in the length of the average workweek. This could suggest more employment growth in future months. The index of total hours worked increased by 0.5 points, tying the previous record for the upturn. There is zero evidence of accelerating wage growth in this report.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013(2 comments)
Everyday Low Wages at Walmart: Brought to You by Government Policy
The folks pushing for the higher pay at Walmart and other chains of low-paying stores and fast food operations are not just asking for a helping hand. They are demanding that we end a government policy that has the effect of redistributing income to the large shareholders at Walmart and other members of the one percent.