The Stimulus: How to Create Jobs Without Them All Going to Skilled Professionals and White Male Construction Workers

construction_workers

The stimulus plan will create jobs repairing and upgrading the nation’s roads, bridges, ports, levees, water and sewage system, public-transit systems, electricity grid, and schools. And it will kick-start alternative, non-fossil based sources of energy (wind, solar, geothermal, and so on); new health-care information systems; and universal broadband Internet access. It’s a two-fer: lots of […]

Stimulus Plan: The Need and the Size

sinkingeconomy

The core problem we face is not access to capital. The Treasury has already flooded Wall Street and the banking system with money, committing nearly $350 billion; the Federal Reserve Board has exchanged Treasury bills for some $2.2 trillion of troubled assets; other agencies, such as the FDIC, have guaranteed trillions more. But there has […]

Stimulate the Economy by Mending Our Safety Nets

piggybank

Lots of talk this week about the proposed stimulus. One high priority ought to be the most vulnerable members of our society. The safety net created in the 1930s to protect Americans from extreme poverty is in tatters. Now that we’re in the worst downturn since the Depression, that safety net needs mending. This should […]

Thoughts on the End of a Hell of a Year

2009

The biggest thing to happen to me this year was the birth of my first grandchild, a little girl named Ella. I know this kind of thing happens all the time and frankly I get bored with people who go all gushy about the birth of kids or grandkids.

The Debate to Come over Wall Street, Autos, and Everything Else: Cyclical or Structural?

problem

by Robert Reich – First prediction for 2009: A widening gap between the public’s view of the bailouts of Wall Street and Detroit, and the views of the direct beneficiaries. The public believes the bailouts will permanently change these industries, but industry insiders don’t really want to change.

The Housing Bubble Continues to Burst

waiting_for_santa

by Robert Reich – The National Association of Realtors said today that home prices have now dropped to the point where they’ve wiped out all the gains in housing prices since 2004. 2004, not incidentally, was when interest rates last hit bottom, and the Feds looked the other way while mortgage bankers began shoving money […]

The Logic of Keynes in Today’s World

jobs

by Robert Reich – Not long ago I was talking to someone who once had been a deficit hawk but the current recession had turned into a full-blooded Keynesian. He wanted a stimulus package in the range of $500 to $700 billion. “Consumers are dead in the water,” he said, fervently, “so government has to […]

White House and TARP to the Rescue — of Automakers, but not of States and Locales

detroit-flying

by Robert Reich – What now for the automakers? The Troubled Assets Relief Program — TARP — was enacted to save Wall Street but it’s already been so twisted out of its original shape by Hank Paulson that a bit more twisting to save the Big Three from bankruptcy over the next few weeks won’t […]

Are We Courting a Populist Backlash?

auto-wave

by Robert Reich – The government is doing a lousy job helping distressed homeowners. And according to John Dugan, the Comptroller of the Currency, the little that’s been done has had surprisingly little effect. Nearly 36 percent of homeowners holding mortgages whose terms were adjusted to give them more leeway defaulted on payments within three […]

Shall We Call It a Depression Now?

economy

by Robert Reich – Friday’s employment report, showing that employers cut 533,000 jobs in November, 320,000 in October, and 403,000 in September — for a total of over 1.2 million over the last three months — begs the question of whether the meltdown we’re experiencing should be called a Depression.

Of Financial Capital and Human Capital: Why We’re Bailing Out Wall Street While Allowing Our Schools to Get Clobbered

liberty

by Robert Reich – Our preoccupation with the immediate crisis of financial capital is causing us to overlook the bigger crisis in America’s human capital. While we commit hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to Wall Street, we’re slashing our outlays for public education.

Why the Automakers Won’t Make Fuel-Efficient Cars, Even as the Price of Being Bailed Out

detroit

by Robert Reich – Telling automakers to make more fuel-efficient cars as a condition of being bailed out is like telling Citigroup or any other big bank to issue more affordable loans to Main Street as a condition of being bailed out. It won’t happen.

The Rebirth of Keynes, and the Debate to Come

John Maynard Keynes

by Robert Reich – The economy has just about come to a standstill – not so much because credit markets are clogged as because there’s not enough demand in the economy to keep it going. Consumer spending has fallen off a cliff. Investment is drying up. And exports are dropping because the recession has now […]

How Obama Is Already Taking Charge

by Robert Reich – Obama’s immediate challenge is to fill the leadership vacuum created by a lame-duck president with historically-low approval ratings who seems to have lost interest in his job (at this writing, he’s out of the country) and who’s disappeared from the media, and a Treasury chief who has all but punted on […]

A Bottom-Up Bailout Rather Than Trickle-Down

Hank Paulson has just about burned through $300 billion, and it’s not clear what the public has got out of it. Perhaps things would be worse without the bailout but they’re certainly no better. Wall Street banks have not significantly stepped up their loans to small businesses, college students, car buyers, or distressed homeowners. Much […]

The Mini Depression and the Maximum-Strength Remedy

by Robert Reich – This is not the Great Depression of the 1930s, but nor is it turning out to be merely a bad recession of the kind we’ve experienced periodically over the last half century. Call it a Mini Depression.

If They’re Too Big To Fail, They’re Too Big Period

by Robert Reich – According to Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, the biggest Wall Street banks now getting money from the government are just “too big to fail.” Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke uses a different euphemism – he calls them “systemically critical.” The point is that if any of them goes down, it could take the […]

Deficit Shackles: Will January, 2009 Repeat January 1993?

Both presidential candidates have been criticized for failing to name any promises or plans they’re going to have to scrap because of the bailout and the failing economy. That criticism is unwarranted. The assumption that we are about to have a rerun of 1993 — when Bill Clinton, newly installed as president, was forced to […]

The New Deal, and the Era of Angry Populism

The Senate voted Wednesday night; the House is scheduled to vote today. Will the deal fly? Probably. Wall Street’s gyrations since Monday have scared the hell out of a number of holdouts, notwithstanding all the negative emails and phone calls they continue to receive from constituents.

McCain, Palin, and the Important Difference Between Boldness and Riskiness

At this perilous juncture, America needs boldness. But it does not need to take unnecessary risks. The distinction between boldness and riskiness is critical, as evidenced by the events of the last two days.

McCain, Obama, and the Inherent Advantage of Caring More About Ends Than Means

We’ve been here before: The Republican attack machine at full throttle, spewing lies in best-selling books, on Fox News, on talk radio. The mainstream media reporting on the controversy, thereby giving it more air time and squeezing out the Democrats’ affirmative message. Followed by accusations by Democrats that Republicans are playing unfairly. Responded to by […]

The Fed and Authoritarian Capitalism

greenspan

Chinese authoritarian capitalism, on display this week in Beijing, has me thinking about America’s democratic capitalism and how we practice it. Start with the U.S. economy’s most powerful government agency: The Fed, of course. Its decision this week to hold short-term interest rates steady was wrong, in my view; it should have lowered them because […]

The Heart of the Economic Mess

Poverty

The Federal Reserve Board’s “beige book” for June and July offers a clear explanation for why the economy has slowed to a crawl. It shows American consumers cutting way back on their purchases of everything from food to cars to appliances to name-brand products. As they do so, employers inevitably are cutting back on the […]

A Short Primer on McCainomics Versus Obamanomics: Top-Down or Bottom-Up

Fannie Mae Mortgage Crisis

by Robert Reich — McCain and Obama represent two fundamentally different economic philosophies. McCain’s is top-down economics; Obama’s is bottom-up.

The End of the Great Moderation, the Bailouts of Freddie & Fannie and Wall Street, and the Tattered Safety Net for Everyone Else

Robert Reich

by Robert Reich — As we bail out Wall Street along with Freddie and Fannie and all the top financial executives who have been pocketing tens of millions a year, yet allow millions of homeowners and jobless Americans to sink, it’s worth contemplating what’s happening to the American economy and to our social safety nets.