Links to what I’ve been reading.
One crucial thing you need to understand about political journalists is that with some honorable exceptions, they don’t know or care about actual policy.
THE gap between rich and poor has grown ever wider in wealthy countries over the past three decades. A new report by the OECD has reams of data on this phenomenon and is well worth looking at. The Gini coefficient, a measure of inequality in which zero corresponds to everyone having the same income and one means the richest person has all the income, increased by almost 10% from 0.29 in 1985 to 0.32 in 2008, for working-age people in OECD countries.
I doubt any post-crisis policy has gotten as much favorable press as Germany’s work-sharing program. I’m a fan, too. The basic idea is that unemployment is bad, and so the government pays employers not to fire workers. It worked well in Germany. But would it work well in the United States?
How much economic power have consumers managed to recover since the worst of the recession? John Hussman, a mutual fund manager, looks at one aggregate measure: the total number of hours worked per week, multiplied by the average hourly earnings. He concludes that there’s “modest improvement” but isn’t convinced that the upward trend will necessarily continue.
I’m not suggesting this is the only way to look at things, or even necessarily the best way, but I do think it’s an instructive way. So here it is in seven easy steps.