Workers & Economic Inequality

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What’s so bad about monopoly power?

September 18, 2014 BY: Mark Thoma TOPICS: Workers & Economic Inequality, Economic Policy

TCF fellow, Mark Thoma has written a piece for CBS News about the problems with monopoly power.

Google (GOOG) has been negotiating with European regulatory authorities since 2010 in an attempt to settle an antitrust case concerning its search engine, and its third attempt to settle the case has been rejected.

Google may also face new antitrust problems over its Android mobile operating system, and it's not alone in facing tough antitrust scrutiny in Europe. Microsoft (MSFT) has also been the subject of a long-running battle in Europe over market dominance issues.

But what's motivating this scrutiny from European regulators? What's so bad about a company amassing monopoly power?

Read the full article.

Tags: monopolies, google

Holder calls for bigger rewards for whistleblowers

TCF fellow, Robert C. Hockett has been quoted in a CBS News article about rewarding whistleblowers.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder today called on Congress to provide bigger financial rewards to Wall Street whistleblowers, arguing that the current payoffs are too small to entice executives to provide evidence against their employers who have committed wrongdoing. He is hopeful that such cooperation would lead to criminal cases connected to the financial crisis.

Under The Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act (FIRREA), which deals with fraud committed against investors, whistleblower awards are capped at $1.6 million. Holder argues that is a "paltry sum" for a highly paid financial services executive who is aware of illegal activities to report them to the government. He wants FIRREA's awards to be more in line with the False Claims Act under which whistleblowers are entitled to up to one-third the settlement amount.

Read the full article.

Tags: whistleblowers, whistleblower, attorney general eric holder

Mark Thoma’s Piece Featured on Wonkblog

September 18, 2014 BY: Mark Thoma TOPICS: Workers & Economic Inequality, Economic Policy

TCF fellow Mark Thoma's article on new economic thinking has been featured on the Wonkblog.

See the full article here.

Tags: wonkblog, monetary policy, fiscal policy, economists, economic policy

Can New Economic Thinking Solve the Next Crisis?

September 18, 2014 BY: Mark Thoma TOPICS: Workers & Economic Inequality, Economic Policy

TCF fellow, Mark Thoma has written an article for The Fiscal Times about new economic thinking.

Efforts such as Rethinking Economics and The Institute for New Economic Thinking are noteworthy attempts to, as INET says, “broaden and accelerate the development of new economic thinking that can lead to solutions for the great challenges of the 21st century. The havoc wrought by our recent global financial crisis has vividly demonstrated the deficiencies in our outdated current economic theories, and shown the need for new economic thinking – right now.

It is certainly true that mainstream, modern macroeconomic models failed us prior to and during the Great Recession. The models failed to give any warning at all about the crisis that was about to hit – if anything those using modern macro models resisted the idea that a bubble was inflating in housing markets – and the models failed to give us the guidance we needed to implement effective monetary and fiscal policy responses to our economic problems.

Read the full article.

Tags: monetary policy, housing bubble, fiscal policy, financial crisis, economists, economics

What do economists mean by “slack”?

September 18, 2014 BY: Mark Thoma TOPICS: Workers & Economic Inequality, Economic Policy

TCF fellow, Mark Thoma has written an article for CBS News about the quantity of labor and capital that isn't employed productively.

With Federal Reserve officials scheduled today to issue its latest readout on the U.S. economy, a key theme at the central bank's two-day policy meeting is almost certainly how much economic "slack" remains. But what, exactly, is slack, and how is it measured? How much uncertainty is there about this measurement? And what does the current degree of slack in the economy tell us about how the Fed is thinking about monetary policy?

The amount of slack in the economy is essentially a measure of the quantity of unemployed resources. It represents the quantity of labor and capital that could be employed productively, but isn't; instead, it is idle. More formally, it is defined as the difference between the economy's productive capacity -- the amount of goods and services that could be produced if all labor and capital were fully and efficiently employed -- and the actual level of economic output.

Read the full article.

Tags: unemployment rate, unemployment, monetary policy, inflation, federal reserve board, federal reserve, economy policy, economy, economic policy

Stuck on Inflation

TCF fellow, Jeff Madrick has written an article about the pressure on the Federal Reserve to deal with supposed inflationary pressures, for the New York Review of Books.

In recent weeks, The Federal Reserve has faced a growing dilemma. Janet Yellen, who became Fed chairwoman early this year, has appeared to support the expansive monetary policies that for the last five years have gradually helped the economy regain its footing. But she is under a lot of pressure from inflation hawks on the Fed’s Open Market Committee to raise interest rates. This would be a huge mistake.

Among the most prominent of the inflation hawks are Richard Fisher, President of the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank; Jeffrey Lacker, President of the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank; and James Bullard, President of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank. They consistently warn about inflationary pressures and the need for tighter monetary policies, regardless of the state of the economy. They have been wrong for years and they are wrong now.

Read the full article.

Tags: unemployment rate, unemployment, interest rates, inflation, federal reserve board, federal reserve, economy, economists, economic policy


Workers & Economic Inequality

Workers & Economic Inequality

In recent decades, and especially since 2000, the richest Americans have enjoyed soaring income and wealth while the rest of the population's living standards have stagnated. The Century Foundation was one of the first institutions to raise serious concerns about these trends and propose ideas for improving economic conditions for all Americans- not just the fortunate few.

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