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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2003

The anemic US economy.

Economist Paul Krugman lays out the bad economic news in his current column in the NY Times:

So if jobs are scarce and wages are flat, who's benefiting from the economy's expansion? The direct gains are going largely to corporate profits, which rose at an annual rate of more than 40 percent in the third quarter. Indirectly, that means that gains are going to stockholders, who are the ultimate owners of corporate profits. (That is, if the gains don't go to self-dealing executives, but let's save that topic for another day.) [...]

A good indicator of the share of increased profits that goes to different income groups is the Congressional Budget Office's estimate of the share of the corporate profits tax that falls, indirectly, on those groups. According to the most recent estimate, only 8 percent of corporate taxes were paid by the poorest 60 percent of families, while 67 percent were paid by the richest 5 percent, and 49 percent by the richest 1 percent. ("Class warfare!" the right shouts.) So a recovery that boosts profits but not wages delivers the bulk of its benefits to a small, affluent minority.

The bottom line, then, is that for most Americans, current economic growth is a form of reality TV, something interesting that is, however, happening to other people. This may change if serious job creation ever kicks in, but it hasn't so far.


If Krugman doesn't depress you enough, you can also take a look at the 50-year budget outlook just issued by the US Congressional Budget Office.

Unless taxation reaches levels that are unprecedented in the United States, current spending policies will probably be financially unsustainable over the next 50 years. An ever-growing burden of federal debt held by the public would have a corrosive and potentially contractionary effect on the economy. [...]

If taxation is restricted to the levels that prevailed in the past, the growth of entitlement spending will have to be substantially reduced. Restricting the growth of outlays for defense, education, transportation, and other discretionary programs would not be enough to ensure fiscal sustainability.

Likewise, economic growth alone is unlikely to bring the nation’s long-term fiscal position into balance. Moreover, issuing ever-larger amounts of debt or dramatically raising tax rates could significantly reduce growth.


You can download the CBO report in PDF format if you go here.

| | Posted by Magpie at 12:01 AM | Get permalink




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