When it comes to drugs, it's all about prices.
The ability to raise prices is-- at least is perceived to be--a critical function of drug control policy. Higher prices discourage young people from using. Higher prices encourage adult users to consume less, to quit sooner, or to seek treatment. (Though higher prices can bring short-term problems, too, as drug users turn to crime to finance their increasingly unaffordable habit.)
Happy Memorial Day! If your employer is giving you the day off, with pay, pat yourself on the back. You're one of the lucky ones! As this graph from the Center for Economic and Policy Research shows, the United States is the only developed country that doesn't guarantee its workers either paid vacation or holidays:
The Congressional Budget Office released their analysis of President Obama's 2014 budget proposal today. The bottom line? It more than solves our deficit problem for the next decade, and for some time beyond that. And unlike the status quo — which also reduces the deficit, though not by as much — it brings the deficit down gradually over 10 years, rather than reducing it sharply over the next two years and then watching it rise slowly over the next decade.
To a large extent, the things that Millennials value in life mirror the things older generations value. Family matters most, and fame and fortune are much less important. When asked to rate how important a series of life goals are to them personally, being a good parent ranked at the top for all four generations. Overall, 50% of the public says this is one of the most important things in their lives. An additional 44% say this is very important but not the most important thing for them personally. Only 5% say this is only somewhat important or not important at all. Although only about a third of Millennials (34%) have children, they are just as likely as their older counterparts to place high value on good parenting. About half (52%) say being a good parent is one of the most important things to them. This compares with 50% of those ages 30 and older.
It won't be news to anyone that the United States spends more on defense than any other country, or even than any other five countries combined. But this is a terrific visualization of an extraordinary reality:
This graph, which comes from the Economist's Daily Chart blog, includes our war spending in our overall defense budget. Defense wonks can argue whether that's proper. I think it is. But let's rip out some of that spending. Even if we cut current defense expenditures by 30 percent, all at once, we'd still be spending more than the next five biggest spenders combined.
It's tax day!
Okay, that exclamation point is probably a bit unwelcome. If it was grammatically correct to end a sentence with a sad face, that would probable better reflect your feelings. But Post style rules don't let me substitute emoji for punctuation.
But even if they did, that sentence shouldn't end with a sad face. Your 2012 tax return has a lot to recommend it. Here's why, in charts.
Have you spent any time playing with the Post's awesome interactive comparison of the various budget plans? Go ahead. I'll wait.
A few takeaways:
Everyone wants to cut defense. During the election, Mitt Romney wanted to boost the defense budget by trillions of dollars. In fact, he wanted to go even further than that, endorsing the Heritage Foundation's recommendation to put a "floor" on defense spending of four percent of GDP. Today, Republican, Democrat, liberals and conservatives are budgeting for far, far less than that. And note that the House Republican Study Committee -- which is, in essence, the conservative wing of the House Republicans -- wants more defense cuts than the Republican Party as a whole.
Every year, the International Federation of Health Plans — a global insurance trade association that includes more than 100 insurers in 25 countries — releases survey data showing the prices that insurers are actually paying for different drugs, devices, and medical services in different countries. And every year, the data is shocking.
Some fascinating facts, graphs and insights from Knot Yet: The Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America , a new report from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, and the RELATE Institute.
1) The average age for childbearing is now younger than the average age for marriage
As part of the grand compromise that created the United States of America, the Senate overrepresents small states and underrepresents big states. That's common knowledge. What's less well-known is that the malapportionment of the Senate is much worse today than it was at the time of the nation's founding.
This is the chart that should begin all discussions of the minimum wage, and whether we need to increase it:
That red line is corporate profits since 1970. The blue line is labor's share of income. As you can see, corporate profits are skyrocketing while labor's share of those profits is falling. This is a big part of the reason that median wages are stagnating even as the economy grows and the wealthy become ever more fabulously rich.
Economist Justin Wolfers used international polling data to graph the percentage of people who say they experienced love yesterday against per capita GDP. The result is a (statistically meaningless) heart:
More from Justin Wolfers (and his wife, the economist Betsey Stevenson) on the economics of Valentine's Day here.
The state of the union was not always "strong." As Binyamin Appelbaum writes, it's only in the modern era that presidents have felt a need to be relentlessly upbeat. But President Gerald Ford told Americans that "the state of the union is not good," and President John F. Kennedy admitted that "The present state of our economy is disturbing." And then there's Andrew Johnson's dour assessment: "Candor compels me to declare that at this time there is no union as our fathers understood the term, and as they meant it to be understood by us."
Jed Graham calls this "the deficit chart that should embarrass deficit hawks":
"Here's a pretty important fact that virtually everyone in Washington seems oblivious to: The federal deficit has never fallen as fast as it's falling now without a coincident recession," he writes for Investor's Business Daily.
"On Friday," writes Alec Phillips, an economist at Goldman Sachs, "we lowered our outlook for federal spending, to take into account the increased likelihood that cuts under sequestration take effect."
With that built into their baseline, the cuts to federal consumption and investment look deep in the coming years. Here's their graph, which adds a bit of historical perspective:
You've heard this before: The government is holding the economy back. And it's true. The newly released numbers for economic growth in the fourth quarter, which show the economy shrinking at an 0.1 percent annual rate, prove that. But exactly what the government is doing to hold the economy back might surprise you.
As 2012 draws to a close, Wonkblog asked our favorite professional wonks — economists, political scientist, politicians and more — to see what graphs and charts they felt did the best job explaining the past year. Here are their nominees.
Sheila Bair — former chairperson, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC)
This isn't the merriest graphic we've ever posted, but it's important. The Washington Post's Todd Lindeman picked through the data on the cause of violent deaths by age and illustrated the results. He included a separate category for suicides, which is important because those are more common than homicides. The results are sobering:
You know that line, "guns don't kill people, people kill people?" It's true, so far as it goes. But in the United States, when people decide to kill people, or kill themselves, they typically reach for a gun.
When we first collected much of this data, it was after the Aurora, Colo. shootings, and the air was thick with calls to avoid "politicizing" the tragedy. That is code, essentially, for "don't talk about reforming our gun control laws."
Let's be clear: That is a form of politicization. When political actors construct a political argument that threatens political consequences if other political actors pursue a certain political outcome, that is, almost by definition, a politicization of the issue. It's just a form of politicization favoring those who prefer the status quo to stricter gun control laws.
Yes, Dylan already posted a graph of the day. But are you really going to object to another? Particularly when it's this important?
"The U.S. birth rate dipped in 2011 to the lowest ever recorded," 63.2 per 1,000 women of childbearing age, reports the Pew Research Center for Social and Demographic Trends, citing preliminary data from the National Center for Health Statistics:
The defense cuts contained in the sequester would be a "disaster," says Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Implementing them would "would risk hollowing out our force," says Army Gen. Martin Dempsey. It would be a "crippling blow to our military," says Sen. John McCain.
But not as bad a blow as the military has faced in the past. This graph comes from the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and it shows real military spending since the Korean War ("real" in that the graph adjusts for inflation):
From the Congressional Budget Office's hot new white paper, "Options for Deficit Reduction":
That's all of the federal government's spending in three graphs. The top graph is health care, including Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. The middle graph is Social Security. And then there's literally everything else: Defense, education, infrastructure, food safety, R&D, farm subsidies, the FBI, etc.
The hardest question in assessing the U.S. economy over the past few years — and thus in judging President Obama’s performance — is: “compared to what?”
The mark of a lazy pundit or a political hack is their dodging of this question. They’ll say something like “unemployment is still above 8 percent” or “we’ve had 30 months of straight private-sector job growth” and then sit back as if they’ve closed the case. They haven’t. They’ve said what is. They haven’t said what would’ve been had we chosen another path. They haven’t said what could’ve been if we’d chosen the best possible path.
At the heart of the debate over “the 47 percent” is an awful abuse of tax data.
This entire conversation is the result of a (largely successful) effort to redefine the debate over taxes from “how much in taxes do you pay” to “how much in federal income taxes do you pay?” This is good framing if you want to cut taxes on the rich. It’s bad framing if you want to have even a basic understanding of who pays how much in taxes.
You’ve probably heard of “the Laffer curve,” the tax chart that Arthur Laffer sketched on the back of a napkin for Ronald Reagan, and that supposedly heavily influenced Reagan’s thinking on tax cuts. Well, here’s the Tabarrok curve:
I agree with Alex Tabarrok’s napkin curve, by the way. So who will be the first president to take it up as a cause?
Call it the Tabarrok Curve
The White House is out with its report detailing how it plans to implement the sequester cuts. You can read all 394-pages here.
The big ticket takeaway, however, is that there is huge variation in how the sequester effects different parts of government. Some programs will see their budgets cut by 10 percent, others by just 2 percent. All of these cuts, by the way, do not apply to any program that was specifically exempted from the sequester. Here’s the breakdown.
There’s a reason Bill Clinton is on the stage tonight. When he was president, America enjoyed a booming economy and surpluses (here are some charts). Since he left the White House, things haven’t been quite as good.
But the story of why they haven’t been quite as good is more complicated than “Clinton isn’t around now.” Here are three of the best analyses of what’s happened to the federal budget since 2001. I’ve included the key paragraph and chart from each of them.
On the Republican convention stage tonight, youre going to see a really large clock. But the clock isnt for keeping time. The idea isnt to stop speakers from going over their allotted time, or the convention from running late. Its a debt clock. And the idea is to blame President Obama and the Democrats for the national debt.
I pine for Ross Perots campaign. Not the candidate himself, though he had his charms. But the charts and graphs.
He was, to my knowledge, the only serious (though the word can be debated) candidate to use charts and graphs in a U.S. presidential campaign. His success might have seeded the use of bar graphs and Y axes in subsequent races. Yet again and again, Ive been disappointed.
The Bipartisan Policy Center has an excellent summary of Paul Ryan’s budget. But I’m having trouble with this graph:
It’s not that the graph is wrong, though the fact that the “Y” axis begins at 15 percent of GDP makes the differences between the plans look more dramatic than they really are. It’s that the graph works off the numbers that Ryan provides. But they’re not numbers that I’m comfortable using.
The American Action Forum Tuesday morning released a report that looks at how states opting out of the Medicaid expansion could impact the federal budget. It predicts, if states decline to participate, the federal government would be on the hook for higher spending — even as the health-care law extended coverage to fewer people.
The aftermath of the Aurora, Colorado shootings has been thick with calls to avoid “politicizing” the tragedy. That is code, essentially, for “don’t talk about reforming our gun control laws.”
Let’s be clear: This is a form of politicization. When political actors construct a political argument that threatens political consequences if other political actors pursue a certain political outcome, that is, almost by definition, a politicization of the issue. It’s just a form of politicization favoring those who prefer the status quo to stricter gun control laws.
This week’s International AIDS Conference in Washington – expected to draw upwards of 25,000 attendees – is the annual meeting’s first American appearance in over two decades. And as our David Brown writes, almost “everything” is different this year from where things stood in 1990.
Back then, when the International AIDS Conference came to San Francisco, “AIDS was an almost uniformly fatal disease [and] the one AIDS drug worked poorly.” Flash forward to 2012:
Back in March, Brad and I wrote a post entitled “Romney’s and Obama’s tax plans, in one chart.” Here’s the chart:
Naomi Robbins, who specializes in good graphs, says there’s a problem with that chart. “What bothers me is that over half (5 of 9 data points) of the horizontal axis provides data on twenty percent of the population. This gives the visual impression that Obama is raising taxes on people other than the top few percent and that Romney’s tax cuts also affect more people than is the case.”
This week marks Dodd-Frank’s second birthday, and my how the legislation has grown. This infographic from the law firm David Polk shows how big Dodd-Frank is getting — and how much bigger it’s likely to get:
Here are two more data points on Dodd-Frank’s second birthday:
On Wednesday, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein was asked whether he would, if given the power, repeal the legislation. “Would I push a button and eliminate Dodd-Frank?” he replied. “No, I would not be happy about letting the field lie unregulated.” Blankfein went on to say that there were parts of the law, like the Volcker rule, that he doesn’t much care for, but he was clear that Dodd-Frank is better than nothing. Whether that qualified endorsement from a key bank would increase or decrease most Americans’ trust in the law is, I think, an interesting question.
There’s lots of upside to being a political pundit: The work is mostly indoors. You get to sit down. There’s almost always air conditioning. And, sometimes, green rooms have free food.
The downside is that you’re often asked for an opinion on issues that, let’s face it, you know nothing about. But fear not! Reader AC sent this handy cheat sheet over. Keep it in your pocket, refer to it as necessary, and you, too, can enter the exciting world of punditry!
I hosted the Rachel Maddow show on Monday, and one of the segments focused on how the Mitt Romney campaign is not so good at charts. In particular, the Venn diagram is giving them some trouble. It’s as Wonkbloggy a topic as I can imagine, so here’s the clip:
If governors opt their states out of the health law’s Medicaid expansion — as many are now threatening to do — it’s the poorest Americans who would find themselves getting the rawest deal.
This set of charts from our graphics department helps explain why: People who earn less than 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Line (about $11,170 for an individual) are ineligible for tax credits to purchase health insurance. In a state like Arkansas, for example, that could be a big deal:
Update: Aaron Carroll points out that this chart represents how states cover parents. It does not represent state coverage of childless adults. There, benefits tend to be much less widespread: According to Kaiser Family Foundation, only eight states provide Medicaid coverage to adults that do not have children.
If one industry can claim to have the most riding on states participating in the health law’s Medicaid expansion, it’s near-certainly hospitals. They have nearly $40 billion riding on whether states sign up or not.
Hospitals regularly get stuck with bills that the uninsured cannot afford to pay. Every year, the American Hospital Association adds all those bills up to calculate the total amount of uncompensated care that its members provide. Every year, the number gets bigger and bigger, hitting $39.3 billion in 2010. Here’s a chart I put together with the AHA data:
The Supreme Court ruling on health care did not win the law new supporters – but, in a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll, it does look like Americans want to see the national debate move past the law.
Fifty-six percent of all those surveyed want to see the law’s opponents “move on to other national issues” rather than “continue to block the law from being implemented:”
Since the Supreme Court decision, Republicans have been calling the Affordable Care Act “the largest tax increase in the history of the world.” Politifact rates this false. Kevin Drum’s got a table of the 15 significant tax increases since 1950, and the Affordable Care Act, which amounts to a tax increase of 0.49 percent of GDP, comes in 10th. Austin Frakt took Drum’s table and made a chart:
The housing market was the first domino to fall in the financial crisis, and it’s been one of the last to recover. But there are a few signs that things may finally be starting to look up, as home sales and housing prices have been creeping upward.
First, there’s been a consistent rise in the price of distressed homes since the end of 2011. “That’s something we haven’t seen before,” economist Jared Bernstein points out. “If it sticks, it obviously provides support to overall home prices.”
Prior to any decision on the fate of the mandate, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the Affordable Care Act would cover more than 30 million Americans by 2022:
Health care economists roundly agree that number would decrease without a requirement to purchase health insurance. They disagree, however, about how much:
How fast will the U.S. economy grow in 2012? The Federal Reserve has been trying to predict this question for two years, and as this graph from Jared Bernstein shows, they’ve been getting steadily more pessimistic over time:
If you’d asked the Fed’s crystal ball gazers back in 2010, they would have predicted 4 percent growth for 2012. A solid recovery! If you had asked them in 2011, they would have said, eh, would you settle for 3.5 percent? Good, but not quite as good. And if you had asked them this year? The Fed’s forecasters keep revising their predictions down. We’re now at 2.15 percent. As Bernstein notes, economic forecasters are only slowly coming around to the idea that the U.S. economy will take a long time to recover from the collapse in housing wealth.
The Romney campaign just sent out this statement from Jerry Hruby, mayor of Brecksville, Ohio:
President Obama never fails to disappoint. He’s come to Ohio many times and, each time he visits, he promises that things will get better. Unfortunately, all we can count on is that he will soon return, making the same promises and delivering the same lack of results. President Obama’s policies have not worked.
What’s odd about this pitch is that if we’re attributing all movement in the American economy to “Obama’s policies,” then Obama’s policies are working relatively well for Ohio.
When Obama took office, unemployment in Ohio was 9.1 percent. Within six months, it was 10.6 percent — higher than the national average. But since then, unemployment in Ohio has dropped faster and further than it has elsewhere in the country. Today it’s 7.4 percent. If “Obama’s policies” were working as well nationally as they are in Ohio, he’d be cruising to reelection.
An article in this month’s Political Science and Politics aims to address a “woefuldeficiency” in the academic literature. That, of course, would be the lack of rigorous study of presidential pets.
Presidents have, for ages, kept pets at the White House. Back in 1881, President James Garfield had a large, black Newfoundland named Veto (yes, really). This article, titled “Unleashing Presidential Power: The Politics of Pets in the White House,” looked through major newspapers’ articles about presidential pets dating back to the 1960s. You can see that here:
On Friday, I ran some numbers on public-sector employment:
Since Obama was elected, the public sector has lost about 600,000 jobs. If you put those jobs back, the unemployment rate would be 7.8 percent.
But what if we did more than that? At this point in George W. Bush’s administration, public-sector employment had grown by 3.7 percent. That would be equal to a bit over 800,000 jobs today. If you add those hypothetical jobs, the unemployment rate falls to 7.3 percent.
Today, Ben Polak, chairman of the economics department at Yale University, and Peter K. Schott, professor of economics at the Yale School of Management, widen the lens, with similar results:
Planet Money charts how spending habits on groceries have changed over the past three decades:
Part of this has to do with changes in consumption: Americans eat more processed foods and sweets than they did in the early 1980s, which likely accounts for why we’re spending more on those groceries. It is also tied up in pricing. The cost of meat has dropped significantly; adjusted for inflation, pork chops cost 37 percent less than they did 30 years ago. That probably has a lot to do with why we’re spending less on meat: We can get a lot more of it for each of our grocery dollars.
The most recent jobs numbers were abysmal, prompting everyone from InTrade to the New Yorker to downgrade President Obama’s reelection prospects. But the public hasn’t noticed much of a difference. Gallup’s latest poll shows that less than half (42 percent) saw the last month’s unemployment and jobs numbers as negative, with almost as many describing the report as “mixed”:
What’s more, there’s been little change in public opinion on the economy overall since the jobs numbers came out. More Americans still believe that the economy is getting worse than getting better, but that sentiment doesn’t seem to be sharply increasing — at least just yet. As you can see from Wonkbook’s dashboard, Obama’s lead in the RealClearPolitics average has actually increased.
The study authors sampled body odors from three age groups: young (20-30), middle-aged (45-55) and elderly (75-95). They found that study participants could distinguish between odors emitted by individuals of a different age more so than would be predicted by chance. “The results of this study support the cross-culturally popular concept of an ‘old person odor,’” the paper, published in the online journal PLoSOne, concluded.
But different, as we all learned in elementary school, doesn’t necessarily mean bad. Old people actually smell really good, it turns out, especially when you compare them to younger counterparts. Here’s how three age groups - young (20-30), middle-aged (45-50) and old (75-95) - stacked up when rated on “pleasantness” of smell:
The average American adult, meanwhile, is now 26 pounds heavier than they were during the days of Frank Sinatra.
Planet Money’s Lam Thuy Vo charts how our government’s spending habits have changed in the past five decades:
The clearest development has been the growth of health-care costs — 50 years ago, Medicare and Medicaid didn’t even exist. Today, the two programs account for about a quarter of all federal spending. Defense spending, meanwhile, has gone from half of the federal budget to a quarter.
It’s also worth noting that federal spending has, over the past 50 years, grown at a pretty similar rate to the rest of the economy. In 1962, the federal government spent $707 billion, accounting for 18 percent of GDP. By 2011, federal spending had inched up to account for 24 percent of the economy or, in dollar figures, $3.1 trillion.
I want to spend another moment on this great graph Todd Lindeman worked up for my column on the constitutionality of the filibuster.
What you’re seeing here are the number of “cloture” motions in every congressional session since 1919. Cloture is the procedure used to break a filibuster. Between 1919 and 1975, a successful cloture motion required two-thirds of the Senate. Today, it requires three-fifths, or, in cases where all 100 senators are present and voting, 60 votes. As you can see, the majority is having to try and break many, many, many more filibusters than ever before.
That’s from Josh Bivens at the Economic Policy Institute. Note that during this same time period, the very richest Americans saw their income rise by far more than those in the 20th-99th percentiles, as you can see in this graph from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
So even as the rich were making more and more money, they were paying lower and lower effective tax rates. Sweet deal.
This is what austerity looks like:
What you’re seeing there is the unemployment rate and the structural budget deficit across all of Europe. “Structural budget deficit” is a technical term: It means the deficit that’s been created by what the government is doing rather than what the economy is doing. If policy were “expansionary” —which is the opposite of austere — the structural deficit would rise when unemployment rises, because the government would be spending more to support the economy. Instead, it’s falling even as unemployment rises.
Zoom into the country level and you can see this even more clearly. Here is unemployment in Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Portugal, and Ireland. As you can see, it’s skyrocketing:
“Check out the UK line,” writes Joe Weisenthal. “The UK was recovering on a fine trajectory right up until early 2010, at which point UK growth hit a brick wall. What happened in 2010? That’s when conservative David Cameron came to power with an agenda of reigning in the debt.”
Meanwhile, the United States is doing better than either the United Kingdom or the Eurozone. That doesn’t necessarily prove anything: We have different economies that have faced somewhat different crises. But imagine, for a moment, how often you would see this chart if austerity had coincided with the UK or the Eurozone recovering more quickly than us.
Economists David Henderson and Zachary Gochehour find a “troubling” predictor of what increases public perception of “presidential greatness”: a high level of American lives lost in combat during that president’s tenure.
Here’s how that looks in graph form, when the two researchers mapped a president’s C-Span score (which measures a 65 historians’ rankings of a president) and their level of deaths per capita:
Gallup finds that a slight plurality of Americans think their taxes are “about right.” Almost everyone else thinks their taxes are too high. In particular, “low-income adults appear to be the least satisfied with what they pay in taxes.”
This presents a bit of a puzzle. You’ve surely heard that 60 percent of Americans pay no federal income tax at all (see this post for more on that). Many low-income Americans, in fact, get money back on their federal income taxes, as they qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. It seems a bit churlish to complain about your tax burden when you’re either paying nothing or coming out ahead.
With 400,000 health reform-related tweets over the course 24 hours, last Tuesday —the second day of Supreme Court oral arguments — was the highest-volume day for the health care conversation on Twitter since the law passed. Via Twitter’s government and politics team.
Planet Money has teamed up with the Sunlight Foundation for an interesting look at how, exactly, money transfers hands in politics. They analyzed more than 13,000 fundraiser invitations and found that 24 percent were for breakfast events. Dinners, perhaps surprisingly, comprised just 10 percent of such soirees.
As for what goes into the “other” category? It’s pretty much birthday parties and golf, alongside a healthy number of St. Patrick’s Day events:
The tax side:
Note that Ryan has said he supports closing various tax breaks and loopholes in order to offset some of the costs of his tax cuts. Those changes aren’t included here because, as of yet, he hasn’t said what they will be. But it’s at least possible that they could change the distribution of his cuts. That said, the spending side of his proposal is quite detailed. Here’s where his cuts fall:
This is actually somewhat less regressive than Ryan’s previous budget, which the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated found 65 percent of its spending cuts in programs for low-income Americans.
There are, sadly, no graphs for the budget released by congressional Democrats, as they haven’t actually released a budget.
I call it the “dual-trigger nightmare.” Hill staff call it “taxmageddon.” Ben Bernanke calls it “the fiscal cliff.” Whatever you call it, at the end of 2012, we’re scheduled to see $7.5 trillion worth of tax hikes and spending cuts happen automatically. That would, on the one hand, solve our deficit problem. It would also trash our recovery. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has a nice paper previewing the choices Congress is about to face, and it includes this table, which breaks “taxmageddon” — or whatever you want to call it -- into its component parts.
For a larger version of the table, click here. Note that we’re also scheduled to hit the debt ceiling at about the same time all these provisions expire.
The Etch a Sketch gaffe actually did matter — for Ohio Art, maker of the popular toy. Its stock was up more than 200 percent on Thursday:
In recent months, some commentators wondered whether the national conversation over inequality was coming too late. Early data suggested that the top 1 percent’s share of national income had dropped from 23.5 percent to 18.1 percent in the early years of the recession. “We don’t want to spend years focused on income inequality, only to learn that the financial crisis fixed it for us,” wrote the Atlantic’s Megan McArdle.
In the first year of the recovery, 93 percent of all income gains went to the top 1 percent.
To be more serious, Denmark’s prime minister had a good explanation for why Europeans are always talking about “labor reforms” in the first place:
Labor-market reforms are critical in the European economic discussion but almost unknown in America’s economic discussion. So can you explain to an American audience the role labor-market reforms are playing in Europe?
I think the European countries are different when you compare [them] to the United States. The demographic challenges will be felt very hard in Europe, because we don’t have access to immigration, politically and for other reasons. That’s not the same in the U.S. You have access to almost unlimited labor. We need to find other ways to expand our labor force, and we can only do that by raising the pension age, as we have done, asking people to work longer hours and making other reforms in the labor market.
Via The Next Web, here’s a telling chart from mobile analytics company Flurry comparing where advertisers spend their dollars to where consumers spend their time.
The red boxes are mine. Think about this in terms of the ratio of ad dollars to time spent. Print is 1:6. The web is 16:22. Mobile is 1:23. That’s not sustainable.
I take this graph as fundamentally optimistic. There’s a lot of money to be made in advertising online and on mobile platforms. And since the future of advertising is also the future of how we’ll fund mass information, that’s likely to mean that there’s a lot of information that we’ll be able to fund online and on mobile platforms. The business model behind printed news might be dying. But the business model behind information is just transitioning. At least, I sure hope so.
Mitt Romney is in a tough political spot: He can’t seem unhappy about a falling unemployment rate. But he can’t be too laudatory about an economic recovery that appears to be strengthening on President Obama’s watch. And so he’s embraced a third option: arguing that “if you take into account all the people who are struggling for work or who have just stopped looking, the real unemployment rate is over 15 percent.”
Romney is referring here to the so-called “U6” measure. It is not, strictly speaking, a measure of unemployment. It’s a measure that groups the unemployed, the involuntarily part-time and the no-longer-looking together into one index. It’s the broadest measure of labor-market misery we have. And it also means that, technically, Romney is wrong: You have to take into account part-time workers who would like to be full-time before you get above 15 percent. But he’s right to say that there’s more economic pain than the basic unemployment rate shows.
The striking takeaway from this graphic is that Facebook has approximately one-tenth the employees of Google. Compare that with their valuation, which is more than half as large, and their monthly user base, which is also more than half as large. And Google, of course, only has one-fiftieth the employees of McDonald’s.
Which raises a question I’d love to know the answer to: Has any major company — let’s say with a valuation of $50 billion or higher in today’s dollars — ever had a lower ratio of employees to customers than Facebook does?
Back in December, the Financial Times’s Ed Luce estimated that “if the same number of people were seeking work today as in 2007, the jobless rate would be 11 percent.” Perhaps, many of us wrote at the time, that should be considered the “real” unemployment rate.
Today, Cardiff Garcia notes an unsettling chart from Nomura that compares the unemployment rate we have, where people can drop out of the labor force and thus out of the numbers, to this “real” unemployment rate, where discouraged workers aren’t dropped from the rolls. Worryingly, it’s barely moved:
“What is striking about the broken line above isn’t where it now ends — at 10.3 per cent — but rather the lack of any meaningful, sustained improvement for more than two years,” comments Garcia. “This alternative measure has remained above 10 percent since September 2009, and aside from a bit of skittishness (some of which is down to uncaptured seasonality) has mostly just moved sideways.”
Our design staff built a pretty cool interactive graphic that breaks down each of President Obama’s State of the Union addresses by issue area. You can see a preview above, and play around with the full graphic here, which lets you parse each speech by issues, time allocated and even number of standing ovations.
This year, Obama hit a new record for time spent talking about the economy: At 30 minutes, that subject clocked in at about half the speech. He also hit a record low on discussion of the deficit, with 5 minutes allocated to the issue. Perhaps surprisingly, he managed to get three standing ovations, from both parties, in the 5 1/2 minutes he spent on partisanship.
Any interesting observations you find, leave them in comments.
In 2006, political scientists Matthew Baum and Samuel Kernell crunched the numbers on American viewership of presidential addresses. They found a steep decline since the 1980s, with cable television largely to blame:
Even President Ford’s notably uncharismatic appearances did not prompt viewers to turn off their televisions (or tune over to public or local independent programming) offers compelling evidence that during the pre-cable era, watching the president imposed minimal opportunity costs ... Cable gives viewers choices, and for this reason, it makes watching the president costly.
President Obama’s speeches fall in line with this trend. His State of the Union addresses average a 0.30 Nielsen rating, which measures the percent of households tuned in to an average minute of a program. Even Obama’s most-watched speech, on the death of Osama Bin Laden, only hit a 0.34 Nielsen rating, far below averages for Nixon and Ford.
“Romney’s current 37% support is tied for the highest enjoyed by any Republican candidate in Gallup Daily tracking of Republican preferences so far this election cycle, and marks a 13-percentage-point increase in support from his five-day average that ended Jan. 2, just before the Iowa caucuses.” More here from Gallup.
This morning, Alan Krueger, the chairman of the President’s Conuncil of Economic Advisers, gave a speech on inequality at the Center for American Progress. Prepared remarks here. Charts here. These are the parts that caught my eye:
- “I used to have an aversion to using the term inequality. The Wall Street Journal ran an article in the mid-1990s that noted that I prefer to use the term ‘dispersion’. But the rise in income dispersion – along so many dimensions – has gotten to be so high, that I now think that inequality is a more appropriate term.”
- “As the Congressional Budget Office noted in a recent report, the top 1 percent of families saw a 278 percent increase in their real after-tax income from 1979 to 2007, while the middle 60 percent had an increase of less than 40 percent.”
Over the weekend, I wrote about Canadian policy experiments that could reduce alcohol consumption by setting a minimum price for beer, wine and liquor. Wonkblog reader and Cornell University economist Brad Rickard passed along new research he’s done on the economics of alcohol consumption, which suggests another, albeit counter-intuitive, approach that may curb negative impacts of excessive alcohol consumption: make wine cheaper and more available.
In a working paper for the American Association of Wine Economists, Rickard and his team start off by looking at the states that allow grocery stores to sell wine, versus those that limit such sales to liquor stores. The increased competition of grocery stores selling wine, unsurprisingly, correlates with both lower wine prices and higher rates of wine consumption.
On Friday, we got the December jobs number: +200,000. That’s good, but not good enough. I posted a graph from the Hamilton Project showing that, at that rate, the labor market wouldn’t recover till 2024.
But perhaps that’s too pessimistic. The Economic Policy Institute took a look at the same numbers and concluded that a growth rate of 200,000 jobs per month would lead to a full recovery in seven years or so. That’s nothing to celebrate, but it’s better than the Hamilton Project’s estimate of 12 years. It’s also a bit odd: Isn’t this a simple matter of taking job losses and dividing by monthly job gains? Well, no. The date of our eventual recovery depends on some crucial unknowables about the future of the American labor force.
A group of studious convention wonks are keeping an eye on the endorsements made by superdelegates to the 2012 Republican convention. This group is a pretty good proxy for Republican Party elites -- or, at the least, for the elected wing of the Republican Party’s elites. Seth Masket graphed the commitments so far, and as you can see, Romney is running away with them.
That said, there are about 117 superdelegates who haven’t committed to a candidate, so if Romney falters and another candidate picks up steam— unlikely as that looks now — there’s plenty of room for the superdelegates to back him up. This is a good time to read “The Party Decides,” if you haven’t done so already.
In inflation-adjusted terms, Medicare spending per beneficiary increased more than 400 percent between 1969 and 2009 while private insurance premiums increased by more than 700 percent.
As Tyson goes on to say, she’s hopeful that competition could someday be part of the solution to rising health-care costs. But so far, it hasn’t worked. I make much the same point — with even more graphs — in this post.
The Daily crunches the numbers on rising university tuition costs and finds that, if they keep growing at the same rate they have for the past three decades, a four-year degree at a private institution will cost $274,684 by the time a baby born this year is ready to enroll, in 2031. At the top 10 most expensive, private universities, one year of tuition would come with a $110,432 price tag.
That would, incidentally be nearly double the projected annual income of a family with a child under 18, of about $58,000 if income continues rising at the same rate it has since 1987.
Wired flags a new study that proves many mothers across the country right: For your own sake, you should call home more often. The research comes from Evolution and Human Behavior. It finds that a phone call to mom provides significant stress relief while instant message conversations won’t quell the nerves.
The conversations happened after research subjects took a stressful test. As subjects spoke (or typed) with their mothers, the researchers measured changes in levels of cortisol (generally linked to stress) and oxytocin (a hormone linked to pleasure). When subjects talked on the phone, cortisol levels dropped and oxytocin went up. But IMing with Mom looked the same as having no contact at all:
The study author tells Wired, “the results suggest that mom’s voice — its tones and intonations and rhythms, known formally as prosodics — trigger soothing effects, rather than what she specifically says.”
To summarize in non-chart form: Call your mother!
The December jobs report is good news. Very good news. Payrolls increased by 200,000 -- and the growth was spread relatively evenly across the economy. Retail added 28,000 jobs. Manufacturing added 23,000 jobs. Transportation and warehousing added 50,000 jobs -- 43,000 of them in the “couriers and messenging” subcategory, which suggests some of those gains are temporary holiday hires. Health care added 23,000 jobs. Food services added 24,000. Mining added 7,000 jobs. The only payrolls that shrunk in December were government payrolls: we lost another 12,000 public-sector jobs.
The December numbers also give us an opportunity to step back and look at 2011 as a whole. The economy gained 1.9 million private-sector jobs and lost 280,000 public-sector jobs. The unemployment rate dropped from 9 percent to 8.5 percent. U6 -- the economic pain measure that combines formal unemployment, marginally attached workers, and workers who are part-time but wish to be full-time -- dropped from 16.1 percent to 15.2 percent.
And, in many ways, 2011 was a better year for the economy than it seemed at the time. As more accurate data has streamed in, the Bureau of Labor Statistics have revised its estimates upwards for many months. For instance: The December jobs report is the best jobs report since September, when the economy added 210,000 jobs. But we only know that now. When the September jobs report came out, the initial data showed that we added 103,000 jobs. What seemed like a disappointment was actually a very strong month for the economy. (By the same token, the December numbers could be revised up or down in the coming mopnths.)
The candidate preferences of likely Iowa caucusgoers have gotten plenty of press in recent days. But how are they developing those preferences? For instance: Are they most worried about finding the candidate able to beat President Obama or finding the candidate who best reflects their ideology?
The CNN-Time-ORC poll (pdf) conducted Dec. 21-27 helps shed some light on this question. The survey asked likely GOP caucusgoers which candidates voters agree with most on the issues, which candidate they think is likeliest to beat President Obama, and which candidate they support. I’ve combined the three questions on this graph:
As you can see, the candidate preferences of likely GOP caucusgoers are much closer to their issue preferences than their estimation of who can beat Obama. Issue agreement, in other words, seems to be driving the caucuses. So then the question becomes: which issues?
This next graph uses the same poll to look at the issues that likely GOP caucusgoers say are “extremely important” to their vote:
Last week, we asked an assortment of economists, economic policymakers, and investors to name the most important chart of the year. This week, we turned the question back on ourselves, and chose the 11 charts that do the best job of explaining the political and economic scene in 2011. Here they are:
The Atlantic’s Philip Bump takes a long, hard look at what exactly Santa is up against in delivering presents to all Christian children this weekend:
There are just over 526,000,000 Christian kids under the age of 14 in the world who celebrate Christmas on December 25th. In other words, Santa has to deliver presents to almost 22 million kids an hour, every hour, on the night before Christmas. That’s about 365,000 kids a minute; about 6,100 a second. Totally doable.
Especially when you consider the uneven distribution of kids in the world. Santa needs to hit 22 million kids every hour. If Santa starts at the International Date Line and heads west, the first four time zones he passes barely contain that many kids waiting for presents. He’s already got three hours in the bank. Until, you know, he gets to Europe, which kind of breaks his schedule.
Naturally, there is also a graph:
On Dec. 13, the BBC had a great idea: They asked an array of economists to name their graph of the year. But there’s no reason the British should have all the fun. So we cracked open our Rolodex — okay, okay, our Google contact list — and asked some of our favorite economists and economic policymakers for the graph that had done the most to influence their thinking in 2011, and tell us why.
The results — including contributions from Larry Summers, Glenn Hubbard, Mark Zandi, Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, Peter Diamond, Peter Orszag, Rep. Paul Ryan, Sen. Kent Conrad, and 10 others — are below. Enjoy:
Oh, and one more: Doug Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum, pointed to this CBO infographic, which was sadly too large for the slideshow.
A team of University of Oregon economists probes one of life’s age-old questions: Is there a relationship between academic gender gaps and a university’s football team’s performance?
The answer looks to be yes. In a National Bureau of Economic Research paper this month, economists Jason Lindo, Issac Swenson and Glen Waddell tracked how much female students at the University of Oregon were outperforming male students on grade point averages. They then mapped that against the number of wins the school’s football team had that season. And they found that, when the Oregon Ducks did better, the male students did worse:
Brad’s graph showing the divergent economic fortunes of North and South Korea is a stark illustration of the damage Kim Jong Il inflicted upon his country. But Donald Rumsfeld had, if anything, a more chilling way of making the same point. “If you look at a picture from the sky of the Korean Peninsula at night,” he said in a December 2002 briefing, “South Korea is filled with lights and energy and vitality and a booming economy; North Korea is dark.”
Here, via Afrikent, is a nighttime shot of the Korean Peninsula, with North Korea outlined:
That, right there, is Kim Jong Il’s legacy. In a world that had long ago found light, he managed to keep 24 million human beings in the dark.
The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities charts it internationally:
Oh, and it gets worse. This data doesn’t include income from capital gains and dividends. “If you include these income sources, the top 1 percent of U.S. income earners received 23.5 percent of the nation’s income in 2007, up 9.2 percentage points from 1990, and the top 0.1 percent received 12.3 percent, up 6.5 percentage points from 1990,” the OECD reports.
That’s via Gallup. To some degree, it’s not clear how much these data tell us about elections. We look to be resuming a three-decade trend that was briefly interrupted by 9/11 and the financial crisis — and Democrats won plenty of elections during that period. But so far as liberalism goes, this is a pretty devastating graph.
As Business Week’s Vali Chandrasekaran writes, “Correlation may not imply causation, but it sure can help us insinuate it.” This is my favorite of his examples:
Or maybe this one is:
Four more here. And perhaps even more impressive, Google has an interactive tool that will find spurious correlations to fit any line you feel like drawing here. So remember, kids: With great charts comes great responsibility.
Wired’s Jonah Lehrer flags new research that confirms a well-known Green Day hypothesis: nice guys do, in fact, finish last. The forthcoming study from Thomas Judge, Beth Livingston and Charlice Hurst explored the relationship between agreeability and income. And what they found was that the less agreeable the guy, the more money he makes:
The European debt crisis can easily feel like an unwieldy, unmanageable mess of complex jargon and financial terms. Here’s Wonkblog’s explanation of what’s happening across the Atlantic Ocean with the help of eight key graphs:
The place to start with the European debt crisis is, well, with European debt. Put simply, the crisis in the euro zone is that the market doesn’t trust that Greece, Italy, Spain, Ireland and Portugal can pay back their debts, and so they don’t want to lend them more money except at exorbitant rates.
But to understand how Europe got into this mess, how countries like Greece managed to borrow so much money that they couldn’t pay it all back, you need to see this graph from the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation (OECD). On the right side, you’re seeing the story everyone already knows: The market is charging Southern European countries a lot to borrow. But look at the left side. As recently as 2008, the market was lending to Greece and Germany at pretty much the exact same price. The assumption was that the euro could never break up, and thus everyone in it was as safe a bet as the safest, biggest economy on the euro: Germany.
“Congressional Republicans may have become more anti-tax in the last 30 years, but the American public has made the opposite transition: in March 1982, three-quarters of Americans said spending cuts alone should be used to reduce deficits; today, about the same share say tax increases should be included in any debt-reduction package. Remember, of course, that tax rates were much higher 30 years ago than they are today.” — Catherine Rampell, Economix. Here’s more from Bruce Bartlett.
Paul Krugman has a fascinating post today considering a paper by Peter Diamond and Emmanuel Saez that tries to suss out the “optimal” marginal tax rate on the rich. In this case, the paper defines “optimal” as the tax rate that raises the most money (i.e, the rate before you hit the wrong side of the Laffer curve). According to their read of the literature, that rate is about 70 percent.
Cue the horrified cries. These are the job creators we’re talking about, after all! Well, maybe. But as this chart from the Center for American Progress shows, we’ve set the top tax rate above 70 percent before, and the economy has done pretty well:
Meanwhile, the key argument in Washington right now is whether the top tax rate will rise to 39.6 percent or remain at 35 percent.
The Black Friday shopping frenzy is rarely thought of as a pleasant experience, what with all the images of shoppers shoving, shouting and brawling over discounts. Nevertheless, we keep braving the crowds every year. The National Retail Federation regularly finds that Black Friday is the most crowded day at shopping malls across the country.
Well, there goes my afternoon. The Sunlight Foundation has a new tool that lets you compare every budget forecast since 1996 to the actual path of the federal budget. It shows, in other words, what we thought would happen against what actually happened. For my chart, I chose to include two forecasts from the Clinton-era (1996 and 2000), one from the end of the Bush presidency (2008), and every forecast from the Obama presidency (2009, 2010, and 2011). Here they are:
A few things worth noticing:
- Budget forecasts are pretty straight lines. But the budget itself does not tend to move in a straight line. So in general, when you see a budget forecast, think of it as, “this is what the budget will look like if nothing at all changes, and something, obviously, is going to change.” The trick is knowing the direction of the change.
Felix Salmon posts a chart measuring corporate income tax as a share of corporate profits. “It’s the main thing you should bear in mind when people start saying that the U.S. corporate income tax is too high,” he writes.
And just so you know there’s no funny business going on, he also posted a chart of the corporate income tax as a share of GDP:
“Once upon a time,” writes Salmon, “the corporate income tax generated a significant share of tax revenues; now, it’s bumping along in the 2%-of-GDP range. Yes, the marginal rate of corporate income tax is high, at 35%. But U.S. companies are extremely good at not paying that.” Allan Sloan has more.
In testimony before the Senate Budget Committee, Doug Elmendorf, the director of the Congressional Budget Office, presented this chart estimating the job-creating possibilities of different stimulus proposals:
Brian Beutler summarizes: “Move down the top two ladders and you’re basically moving from Democratic priorities to Republican priorities...Cutting income taxes across the board is less effective than anything that puts money in the hands of people who need it to pay for necessities (extending unemployment insurance and the payroll tax holiday are both top Obama goals). Letting corporations repatriate foreign-earned profits tax free (as Republicans want) does almost nothing, while creating incentives for firms to hire has a fairly substantial effect.”
“Whatever the objectives of protesters involved in Occupy Wall Street, they have succeeded in engaging the country in a conversation about income inequality,” writes Dylan Byers at Ben Smith’s new and expanded blog. “A quick search of the news — including print articles, web stories and broadcast transcripts — via Nexis reveals a significant rise in the use of the term ‘income inequality,’ from less than 91 instances in the week before the occupation started to almost 500 instances last week.”
The official poverty rate is 15.1 percent. That’s the highest it’s been in two decades. But perhaps the wonder is that, amidst the worst economy since the Great Depression, poverty isn’t vastly higher than it was in 1993.
According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, there’s a reason for that: The safety-net, stronger now than it was in 1993, and further strengthened by the stimulus, is working. Without it, the poverty rate would be more than 28 percent. The bulk of the protection came from the pre-stimulus safety net, but the new additions, CBPP estimates, cut the poverty rate by a further 2.3 percent.
On just about every budget issue, Democrats and Republicans are hundreds of billions of dollars apart. This is particularly true on revenue raisers, where Republicans have reportedly offered up $40 billion in new revenues, compared to over $1.3 trillion coming from the Democrats.
To say last night’s World Series game was a nail-biter would be an understatement. The St. Louis Cardinals, down to their very last strike of the inning, not once, but twice, managed to come back for a 10-9, 11th inning win over the Texas Rangers and force a game 7.
The Cardinals’ victory literally beat the odds. Take a look at
this graph to the right from sports forecasting site FanGraph, which charts each team’s odds of winning throughout the game. At at least a few points last night, the Cardinal’s statistical odds of taking Game Six hovered around 2 or 3 percent. In graph form or not, a really crazy night of baseball.
One problem with trying to graph the 9-9-9 plan is that the tax cuts for the rich are so large that it’s hard to see what the policy is doing to the poor and the middle class. That’s why I posted a table rather than a chart earlier. But the folks at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities came up with a solution: make the graph really, really, really big. Their visualization is below the fold :
The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has taken a close look at Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 plan and released what Cain hasn’t: a rigorous breakdown of who gets a tax increase and who gets a tax cut under the proposal. The short version is that about 84 percent of taxpayers, most of them low- or middle-income, would see a tax increase. About 14 percent of taxpayers, most of them high-income, would get a tax cut. The tipping point is among filers making between $200,000 and $500,000. That’s when you see more tax cuts than tax hikes. Here’s the table:
I worry that some of you missed Sunday’s mammoth exploration of whether the economy could have been in a substantially different place today. If that’s the case, read it. As an enticement, here’s the graph from the piece, which updates the chart that the administration released as part of its sales job for the stimulus:
Henry Blodget of Business Insider calls it “the chart that will get Obama fired.” For reasons I make clear in the article, I think it tells you a lot more about what the administration — and most forecasters — got wrong about the severity of the recession rather than what the stimulus did or did not do for the economy. But voters don’t want counterfactuals. They want recovery, and quick.
Do businesses that hire lobbyists actually get their money’s worth? It sure looks that way. The Economist passes along an analysis by the investment-research firm Strategas, which takes the 50 companies that spend the most on government lobbying (as a percentage of assets) in a given year and compares their performance against the S&P 500.
The results? Hiring a top-flight lobbyist looks like a spectacular investment, “comparable to the returns of the most blistering hedge fund.” As the chart on the right shows, the firms that leaned most heavily on lobbyists have outperformed the S&P 500 by a whopping 11 percent per year since 2002. And, while the financial crisis smacked even the best-connected firms, tireless lobbying still appears to have provided decent returns in the last few years, even as the rest of the economy has been sputtering.
One way to think of the term “green jobs” is that it’s just mundane shorthand for policies that will shift the U.S economy toward cleaner sources of energy and less pollution.
But what specific sorts of jobs will this effort entail? The Brookings Institution recently put out a report noting that the “clean economy” sector, defined very broadly, employs some 2.7 million people. And the Center for American Progress breaks it down with a handy chart showing the biggest job-growth areas since 2003:
Generation Y regularly takes lashings in the media for being the “self esteem generation” or “trophy kids,” raised in an era of coddling and compliments and faring poorly in the workplace without constant praise. A new study raises some new, albeit unusual, alarm bells on this: an article in the forthcoming Journal of Personality article titled “Sweets, Sex, or Self-Esteem? Comparing the Value of Self-Esteem Boosts with Other Pleasant Rewards.” The big finding: young adults like and want moments that boost self esteem more than having sex, eating a favorite food, drinking or pretty much any other pleasurable activity the paper studied.
The blog of the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis -- I love the 21st Century -- decided to update Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff’s work on financial crises given the amount of data we now have on the aftermath of our own recession. The takeaway? We’re pretty much average in terms of the recovery in the housing market, equity prices, GDP, etc. But “the U.S. labor market has performed better than 4 of the previous Big 5 crises.”
Left unanswered, the authors say, is why we’re managing the employment side of the crisis better. “Is it as simple as [the stimulus]? Is it TARP and the backstopping of the financial industry? Is it the fact that, more or less, the world had a coordinated response in late 2008/early 2009 for expansionary fiscal and monetary policies?”
The Center for American Progress made a pie chart out of the president’s deficit-reduction plan:
I’ll add one point: There’s been a lot of talk about how the proposal’s war savings are “fake.” When people say a particular source of budget savings is fake, they tend to mean that the money won’t appear. In this case, they quite confusingly mean the opposite: The money is sure to appear whether President Obama’s proposal passes into law or not. We’re pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan one way or the other, and it’s only due to a quirk of the Congressional Budget Office’s scoring process that those savings aren’t already reflected in the budget.
The International Monetary Fund is cutting their estimates for global growth in general, and the U.S.’s growth prospects in particular:
Their advice to us: “The top priorities in the United States include devising a medium-term fiscal consolidation plan to put public debt on a sustainable path and to implement policies to sustain the recovery, including by easing the adjustment in the housing and labor markets. The new American Jobs Act would provide needed short-term support to the economy, but it must be flanked with a strong medium-term fiscal plan that raises revenues and contains the growth of entitlement spending.”
The likelihood we will follow their advice and pass the AJA now and a balanced plan for deficit reduction later? Well, I wouldn’t bet on it.
“Two less obvious factors predated the recession. The first is the steepness of the rise in job scarcity during the previous recession in 2001, which rivaled that during the deep downturn of the early 1980s. The second is the failure between 2003 and 2007 of jobs per jobseeker to recover from the 2001 recession...Unemployment increased during the 2001 recession, but it subsequently fell almost to its previous low. In contrast, job openings plummeted—much more sharply than unemployment rose—and then failed to recover. In previous recoveries, openings eventually outnumbered job seekers (where a rising blue line crosses a falling green line), but during the last recovery a labor shortage never emerged.” — Brookings’ Scott Winship, in a post you should read.
These past few years, the Republican line on job creation has been simple: Cut government spending, tame the deficit, and unemployment will fall. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not the day after, but soon. “To put it simply,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R- Va.) said last spring, “less government spending means more private-sector jobs.” But that’s not exactly a rigorous study. So here’s a rigorous study.
Want to convince someone of something? Show them a graph. At least, that’s what political scientists Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler found in a series of experiments testing the best ways to correct factual misinformation. Key quote: “Graphical corrections are also found to successfully reduce incorrect beliefs among potentially resistant subjects and to perform better than an equivalent textual correction.” Full paper — with graphs — here (pdf).
A new health care poll from Deloitte Consulting this morning offers up an interesting look at what health care spending Americans find valuable. It runs through the many different places we spend money on health care: for an appointment with the doctor, for example, a hospital stay or a premium to have health insurance in the first place.
As for where Americans see getting the most bang for their buck, doctors visits top the list. Health insurance premiums, meanwhile, come in dead last:
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke isn’t terribly popular among Republican presidential candidates. Here, for instance, was Newt Gingrich last night: “I would fire him tomorrow. I think he’s been the most inflationary, dangerous and power-centered chairman of the Fed in history.” But is this true? It doesn’t appear to be. Jodi Beggs examines the inflation records of Fed chairman since the Federal Reserve was created in 1914:
It’s true Bernanke’s tenure has seen more inflation than the chairmen who presided over massive deflation at the start of the Great Depression. But other than that, what stands out is the historically low amount of inflation under Bernanke’s Fed, particularly since 1970.
Contrary to the standard line in Washington, there are some jobs out there--and the number is growing. There were more job openings in July than any time over the last two years. But employers aren’t hiring as quickly as you might expect, which may be part of the reason that job creation has lagged and unemployment rate remains stubbornly high.
Politics may get you a job in Washington, but it’s not very likely to get you a date. That’s the big takeaway from a fun paper to be published in the journal Human Behavior and Evolution. “ Do bedroom eyes wear political glasses?” probes how much political preferences matter in online dating. The short answer: not a lot.
Politics barely breaks into what most people put out there when attempting to attract a mate. It ranks 23rd among mentioned interests, sandwiched between “video games” and “business networking:”