Econ4′s James Boyce on how to translate good principles into good practice:
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich writes:
The means of most Americans haven’t kept up with what the economy could and should provide. The economy is twice as large as it was three decades ago, and yet the typical American is earning about the same, adjusted for inflation.
Read more here.
Econ4′s Gerald Friedman writes:
Even while scholarship has exposed the fallacy of austerity economics and this news has reached wide audiences through Twitter and the Colbert Report, the United States government is embracing austerity’s policy prescriptions… The ghost of bad austerity economics continues to haunt, and even to drive, the living.
Read his piece here.
Stephen Colbert skewers the Harvard economists whose flawed research underpins austerity politics:
Check out Colbert’s interview with UMass-Amherst economics graduate student Thomas Herndon, who showed that austerity’s emperors have no clothes:
The revelation by UMass-Amherst researchers that a key Harvard study used to support austerity economics was based on sloppy (mis)use of data has created a sensation in the media and the economics profession. Paul Krugman explains the selling power of junk economics:
The intellectual edifice of austerity economics rests largely on two academic papers that were seized on by policy makers, without ever having been properly vetted, because they said what the Very Serious People wanted to hear.
Read Krugman’s piece here.
Read a brief summary by UMass economists here.
See links to media coverage here.
Advance praise for What Then Must We Do? Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution (Chelsea Green, April 2013), by Econ4′s Gar Alperovitz:
“Gar Alperovitz’s new book is so plain-spoken and accessible that it takes a moment to appreciate the magnitude of his accomplishment. After examining new patterns of positive change emerging in America today—including many undernoticed changes that involve democratizing the ownership of wealth—he develops a brilliant strategy for the type of transformative change that can lead America from decline to rebirth. In giving a sense of strategic direction and honest possibility to the call for a new economy, Alperovitz has made an enormous contribution exactly where it is most needed.”
—James Gustave Speth, author of America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy
“In this important new book, Gar Alperovitz is telling us there’s something happening here in corporate-driven America, be it social enterprise, community land trusts, worker-owned businesses, or employee stock ownership plans. We all know that the free-market economic system no longer works for the vast majority of citizens and Alperovitz is showing us that there is a better, equally American way, to spread the wealth and put more people to work, while making the nation a safer and healthier place to live. This is not an utopian fantasy or a call for social engineering, but a plain-spoken and easy-to-absorb analysis by one of our leading economists of what’s gone wrong and how to make it better.”
—Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker
Austerity policies are founded on a fallacy of composition: the mistaken notion that if something is true of the part (in this case, households), it must be true of the whole (in this case, the nation’s economy). Paul Krugman, writing in the Times, explains the difference:
An economy is not like a household. A family can decide to spend less and try to earn more. But in the economy as a whole, spending and earning go together: my spending is your income; your spending is my income. If everyone tries to slash spending at the same time, incomes will fall — and unemployment will soar….
The crisis in Greece [from 2010] was taken, wrongly, as a sign that all governments had better slash spending and deficits right away. Austerity became the order of the day, and supposed experts who should have known better cheered the process on, while the warnings of some (but not enough) economists that austerity would derail recovery were ignored. For example, the president of the European Central Bank confidently asserted that “the idea that austerity measures could trigger stagnation is incorrect.”
Well, someone was incorrect, all right.
Read his piece here.
Advancing democratic alternatives to oligarchy:
Extreme inequality undermines democracy, the economy, public health and culture. Concentrated wealth translates into political power to further shape elections, legislative priorities and rules in favor of global corporations and the already wealthy. This in turn leads to the kind of economic distortions that caused the 2008 financial collapse. In the lead up to the collapse, the bottom 70 percent of the U.S. population responded to stagnant wages by borrowing beyond their means, while the top 1 percent engaged in reckless speculation on highly rated but essentially worthless securities in financial markets freed from essential regulation and public oversight.
In “Capitalism Unmasked,” Econ4′s joint project with AlterNet, Paul Davidson tours a fairytale world:
Conservative economists and their friends like to trot out a mythical being whenever they want to make arguments that favor an economy built for the wealthy at the expense of ordinary people. This imaginary being, known as the Confidence Fairy, is only happy when capitalists are given free rein to do whatever they want even if it brings us to the brink of a global economic meltdown.
Read his essay here.