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Commentary

  • America Can Avoid “Japanese-Style” Deflation

    Persistently low inflation has led some to suggest that the United States may have entered a period of long-run economic stagnation. Support for the most pessimistic forecasts along these lines often is based on the case of Japan, where the economy’s deflationary slump is about to enter its third decade. Japanese data illustrate an important lesson for how the United States can avoid a similar deflationary outcome.

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  • New Purple Line Study Fails Economics 101

    The new Purple Line study has no economically reliable content. It uses the wrong economic concepts of measuring the value of a public project.  It uses survey rather than actual data.  Its survey technique is not representative of Maryland’s population.  The conclusions it reaches defy economic logic.  The state of Maryland and the federal government cannot reasonable rely on this study for any purpose.

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  • Costs of Merging Social Security Retirement and Disability Funds

    Merging the OASI and DI trust funds would be a significant departure from lawmakers’ previous promises that the establishment of disability benefits within Social Security would not reduce the funds available for paying retirement benefits. It could also have the adverse effects of further delaying necessary financial repairs, worsening operational opacity and weakening commitment to the self-financing principle. 

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  • Time to Lift the Ban on Crude Oil Exports

    This week Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said she would push this year for legislation to end the United States’ export ban on crude oil. “We shouldn’t lift sanctions on Iranian oil while keeping sanctions on American oil,” she said. “It makes no sense.” Murkowski is correct—repealing the ban is long overdue.

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  • Does the U.S. Have Less Economic Mobility? Part 2

    Nothing in the Corak, Linduist, and Mazumder paper suggests that U.S. and Swedish levels of mobility differ meaningfully from each other. That still leaves the 2006 paper by Jantti and his coauthors, which found that the U.S. had lower relative mobility—at least for sons starting out at the bottom—than Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the U.K. I’ll explain why this paper’s conclusion is also incorrect and explore some additional research comparing the U.S. to other countries in my final installment.

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  • Does the U.S. Have Less Economic Mobility?

    The new evidence does not suggest that the U.S. has especially high economic mobility, but it does indicate that America is not the international laggard that has been portrayed by earlier studies. In this multi-part series, I will lay out the case for this surprising conclusion. In this installment, I review how the old consensus developed and discuss the methodological details necessary for understanding why the early mobility research gave the wrong impression. 

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  • New Congress Breaks into Action With Smart Bills

    In describing the 114th Congress’ first 100 days, MarketWatch columnist Rex Nutting uses a four-letter word, dumb, no less than nine times. But maybe Congress’ “five dumbest things” make sense after all. Passing a budget, rolling back taxes, approving Keystone XL and reining in an overreaching agency might increase Congress’ popularity with voters back home.

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  • Working for the Tax Man

    Though April 15 has passed, Americans are still a week away from the finish line when it comes to paying their taxes. This year, it will take the average American until April 24 to work enough to pay off their share of federal, state, and local taxes. We spend 30 percent of the year working to pay the government before we can start to keep the money that we earn.

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  • Mention the word "taxes," and most people immediately think of how much money, or what percentage of their income, they pay to the government. If you mention the word on April 15, they are apt to offer many unprintable thoughts as well. But in general, people view the cost of taxes in terms of what they are required to fork over to the Internal Revenue Service every year at this time in addition to any quarterly estimated payments and payroll deductions.

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  • On April 15, the Service Employees International Union is organizing nationwide fast food worker strikes to draw attention to its push for a $15 hourly wage. While such protests may seem to be grassroots efforts led by struggling workers, major unions fund and promote them. Unions desperately need to extend their reach to the high-turnover fast food industry if they are to stem sharply declining membership rolls.

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