Daily Digest - June 11: Selling You Cracker Jack For Peanuts

Jun 11, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Take Me Out to the Ball Game — But Pay Me a Living Wage (Bill Moyers)

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Take Me Out to the Ball Game — But Pay Me a Living Wage (Bill Moyers)

Michael Winship writes on the side of America's pastime that isn't making the big bucks: concession workers. The company contracted by the San Francisco Giants pays their staff only $11,000 per year and puts impossible limits on obtaining benefits.

Why a Romney economic adviser wants the government to just hire people (WaPo)

Dylan Matthews spoke to Kevin Hassett, economic advisor to Republican candidates in the past four presidential elections, who has come to realize that unless the government intervenes, the long term unemployed are going to stay that way.

America Just Loves Firing Government Workers (The Atlantic)

Jordan Weissman is tired of watching Washington sabotage the economy by laying off federal employees. For every ten jobs we've added in the last three months, the government has shed one.

No, Public Sector Jobs Do Not Crowd Out Private Sector Ones (On The Economy)

Jared Bernstein has run the numbers, and there's no proof that creating more government jobs would reduce growth in the private sector. That raises the question: why aren't we creating more government jobs so that more people are employed?

Unemployment Benefits and Actual Unemployment: An Analogy (NYT)

Paul Krugman makes an excellent analogy between unemployment benefits and speed limits. We would not expect less rush hour traffic if the speed limit were raised from 55 to 65, so why do people think cutting benefits will reduce unemployment?

I Would Desire That You Pay the Ladies (TAP)

E.J. Graff wonders how we are still dealing with the wage gap, fifty years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act. One option she suggests is that our real societal taboo is money, and perhaps by not discussing it women don't notice that it's missing.

The Quiet Closing of Washington (Robert Reich)

Robert Reich argues that as partisan conflict halts Congress, partisan control in the states is creating a deepening policy divide between red states and blue states. He's worried that this split will make it hard to see "one nation."

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Daily Digest - June 10: Abenomics Time

Jun 10, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Japan Is a Model, Not a Cautionary Tale (NYT)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz thinks that we should be following Shinzo Abe's lead, because even as Japan's working age population shrinks, their G.D.P. is still growing respectably.

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Japan Is a Model, Not a Cautionary Tale (NYT)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz thinks that we should be following Shinzo Abe's lead, because even as Japan's working age population shrinks, their G.D.P. is still growing respectably.

Student Advocates Back #DontDoubleMyRate Campaign, But Don't Support Obama's Proposal (HuffPo)

Tyler Kingkade writes that student groups, including the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network, may be participating in the President's Twitter campaign on student loans, but they don't think his plan goes far enough. The variable rates make them understandably concerned.

The Big Shrug (NYT)

Paul Krugman worries that after a jobs report that he finds disappointing, policy makers are just not thinking about unemployment. We haven't reached "normal" yet, but you wouldn't know it if you asked them.

U.S. Is Still 10 Million Jobs Away From Normal (Bloomberg View)

Mark Whitehouse shares two numbers explaining Friday's jobs report: first, the employment-to-population ratio, which is the proportion of working-age people who have jobs, and second, the number of jobs that would take us back to pre-recession employment numbers.

Long-Term Jobless: Still a Bleak Picture (NYT)

Annie Lowrey suggests that the job market has mostly normalized for the short-term unemployed, but the long-term unemployed are facing a market that hasn't improved much. It's not because of a skills mismatch: employers are discriminating against them.

Austerity hampered job growth (Market Watch)

Heather Boushey looks at Friday's jobs report and thinks that the sequestration has slowed down the U.S. economy in a way that we just can't afford right now.

The jobs report was pretty solid. So why aren’t wages rising? (WaPo)

Neil Irwin argues that while we're slowly adding jobs, it's no surprise that wages aren't growing with employment, because growth is mostly in low-wage sectors. He thinks that until we are closer to full employment, there isn't much to be done here.

One way to help close the gender wage gap: raise the minimum wage (Washington Monthly)

Kathleen Grier suggests that President Obama's proposal to raise the minimum wage, which is stuck in committee, would not just serve as stimulus for the economy but also as an attack on the wage gap. This is one way we could raise wages despite the unemployment rate.

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Daily Digest - June 7: Seeking Job Growth, Fair Wages and Benefits Included

Jun 7, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Why the Right is Wrong About Jobs (Market Watch)

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Why the Right is Wrong About Jobs (Market Watch)

Rex Nutting argues that the structural difficulties in hiring, like cost of labor, taxes, and (according to its detractors) Obamacare, don't explain the lack of job growth right now. The Keynesian model seems to make more sense: lack of demand, lack of new jobs.

Fix Bankrupt Student Loan Proposals (WaPo)

Katrina vanden Heuvel doesn't understand how legislators could fail to take action to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling. While the Fed gives discounted loans to the big banks, Congress can't seem to get around to helping students.

Fed Reports American Households Have Regained Ground Lost in the Recession (NYT)

Nelson Schwartz notes that things are looking up according to a new Fed report that shows the net worth of American households is higher than before the recession. But once those numbers are adjusted for inflation, the good news shrinks along with Americans' bank accounts.

When Patents Attack (NPR)

Ira Glass and the "This American Life" team look into the world of patent lawsuits, where companies use the vague language permitted by our patent system to make millions. The defendants include businesses like coffee shops, because offering wifi is patented.

New Report Shows How Walmart Forces Its Employees to Live on the Dole (MoJo)

Thomas Stackpole reports that we finally have data backing up the claim that Walmart lets taxpayers subsidize its operating costs. Walmart's 300 Wisconsin stores cost taxpayers $67.5 million per year in benefits to employees and their families.

Striking Workers Bring Bangladesh Safety Demand to Walmart Headquarters (The Nation)

Josh Eidelson continues his coverage of the OUR Walmart strikes leading up to the company's shareholder meeting today. The strikers emphasize Walmart's unwillingness to join the union-backed safety agreement in Bangladesh despite the deaths at Rana Plaza.

Costco CEO Craig Jelinek Leads the Cheapest, Happiest Company in the World (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Brad Stone says that Costco is proof that even discount retailers can be profitable while providing good jobs with fair wages and benefits. As we discuss raising the minimum wage and Walmart workers strike, Costco's model becomes even more important.

Young, Black, Gifted and Underemployed (The Root)

Edward Wyckoff Williams reminds us that some things aren't changing: unemployment and underemployment are dramatically higher for young people of color. Even highly educated African American young people find it disproportionately hard to find work.

 

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Daily Digest - June 6: Time to Stop Talking Deficit

Jun 6, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Conference Calls For Bold Approaches To The Jobs Emergency (Campaign for America's Future)

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Conference Calls For Bold Approaches To The Jobs Emergency (Campaign for America's Future)

Derek Pugh reports on the Roosevelt Institute's jobs conference on Tuesday, which pointed at unemployment rather than deficits as the real economic crisis. Panelists offered numerous possible solutions, including New Deal-style job strategies, reformed trade policies, and expansion of public transit.

U.S. Worker Productivity Increases as Hourly Compensation Drops (LA Times)

Alejandro Lazo reports that the first quarter of 2013 showed employers are getting more out of workers than last year but paying them less. Meanwhile, employers are monitoring everything from website visits to bathroom trips to figure out what else they can deduct.

Now is the Time to be an Infrastructure Hawk, not a Deficit Hawk (WaPo)

Ezra Klein thinks that we need to prioritze fixing our crumbling infrastructure and creating jobs over worrying about the deficit. Besides, the infrastructure work needs to be done eventually, so if we put it off we're just creating another deficit for future generations.

Your Student Loan isn’t Really a Loan (Salon)

David Dayen argues that student loans are less like money borrowed at interest and closer to a form of indentured servitude. You can refinance a mortgage, or discharge it in bankruptcy, but student loans are forever.

Does a State Have the Right to Self-Destruct? (The Atlantic)

Garrett Epps questions whether a state is still a state under the federal Constitution if its government can't tax. Colorado law prevents the legislature from raising taxes, and the state is struggling as a result.

Dodd-Frank Act: After 3 Years, a Long To-Do List (USA Today)

Kevin McCoy writes on the delayed process of writing the 398 rules of the Dodd-Frank Act. There have been 279 deadlines so far, and nearly 63 percent of those have been missed -- a rate that only the law’s opponents can be happy with.

Denying a Head Start in Washington State (Bill Moyers)

Greg Kaufmann examines the effects of sequestration by looking at Head Start in Washington, which reaches only 38 percent of eligible children and now has to make cuts. Programs are using shorter school days to make their budget, or ending the school year early.

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Daily Digest - June 5: Visiting the Bad Job Fair

Jun 5, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Fed’s Raskin Bemoans Quality of New Jobs (WSJ)

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Fed’s Raskin Bemoans Quality of New Jobs (WSJ)

Eric Morath and Victoria McGrane report that Federal Reserve Governor Sarah Bloom Raskin, a panelist at yesterday's Roosevelt Institute conference, said she became concerned about the kinds of jobs being created when she attended a job fair. The disconnect she's seeing is one where the jobs don't require the skills and education of the unemployed.

Rich Countries Are Creating More Jobs By Creating Worse Jobs (The Atlantic)

Tim Fernholz says that bad jobs (as measured by wages, benefits, and hours worked) make up the bulk of the jobs being created in advanced economies internationally. No surprise, the lack of good jobs is leading to a shrinking middle class.

White House Threatens to Veto Spending Plans Unless Broader Budget Deal Reached (WaPo)

Lori Montgomery writes that unless the House comes up with a budget plan that includes eliminating sequestration and sufficient stimulus to kick-start the economy, the administration is threatening to veto every single spending bill that crosses the president's desk.

AIG, Prudential Financial, and GE Capital Receive Preliminary Designation as "Systemically Important" Financial Institutions (Slate)

Matt Yglesias explains why these firms, which aren't really banks, should still be subject to higher scrutiny under Dodd-Frank. These companies hold bank risks, and are the reason regulating bank size isn't enough when we consider "Too Big To Fail."

Price-Gouging Cable Companies are our Latter-Day Robber Barons (The Guardian)

Heidi Moore accuses cable companies of creating an environment where a near-essential service is inaccessible to many households due to cost. Worse, no one in Washington is even trying to regulate this industry, allowing the oligopolies to set whatever prices they like.

From Lottery to Oligopoly in Wireless Spectrum (NYT)

Eduardo Porter suggests that as the F.C.C. auctions off the last chunk of the spectrum preferred by wireless companies, it should place limits on what companies can buy in order to encourage competition.

Detroit’s embarrassing new get-out-of-debt scheme (Salon)

Jillian Steinhauer writes that no government should have to sell off cultural artifacts to get out of debt, but the Emergency Manager of Detroit disagrees and is having the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts appraised. Would he suggest Greece slap a price tag on the Acropolis?

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Daily Digest - June 4: We Haven't Recovered Yet

Jun 4, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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We Must Not Accept This Economic 'New Normal' (The Guardian)

Senator Bernie Sanders refuses to accept this "recovery" as good enough. With so many Americans still suffering, he wants to see new jobs programs, corporate tax reform, and other steps to reduce the ever-growing wealth gap.

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We Must Not Accept This Economic 'New Normal' (The Guardian)

Senator Bernie Sanders refuses to accept this "recovery" as good enough. With so many Americans still suffering, he wants to see new jobs programs, corporate tax reform, and other steps to reduce the ever-growing wealth gap.

Four Trends in the Recovery, Two of Which You Don’t See Enough (On The Economy)

Jared Bernstein thinks the booming stock market is just one piece of the economic puzzle that only affects the wealthy. Statistics that have more bearing on middle-class households, like weekly earnings and median household income, aren't looking so good.

Student Loan Debt Is a Beast. Here Are Elizabeth Warren's, President Obama's, and the GOP's Plans to Fix It. (MoJo)

Erika Eichelberger, Maggie Severns, and Brett Brownell explain seven plans, four long-term and three short-term, to handle the question of student loan interest rates. One thing they don't mention: none of these plans have any effect on private loans.

  • Roosevelt Take: The Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network's policy report "A New Deal For Students" lays out concrete and innovative policy solutions from students to solve the student debt crisis.

How Did Work-Life Balance in the U.S. Get So Awful? (The Atlantic)

Derek Thompson examines why measures of leisure time in the U.S. are not so clear-cut: recently, educational achievement has come to determine your access to leisure. The more educated you are, the less time off you have.

E-Verify is Supposed to Stop Undocumented Employment. It Could Also Harm Legal Workers. (WaPo)

Timothy Lee is concerned for the people who get rejected by E-Verify despite authorization to work. While they have an appeals process, it is complex and time-consuming, and employers aren’t keeping them on the job, even though they are supposed to.

Surpluses Help, but Fiscal Woes for States Go On (NYT)

Michael Cooper and Mary Williams Wash write that while states are seeing budget surpluses, between pension plans, health care costs, and other recession cuts, those surpluses are practically already spent.

Frank Lautenberg, the Last of the New Deal Liberals (The Nation)

John Nichols's obituary of Senator Lautenberg emphasizes that he was the last senator to benefit from New Deal programs in his youth. The senator worked in the legacy of Roosevelt to the end, with such legislation as the "21st Century WPA Act.”

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Daily Digest - June 3: Tax Breaks for Every Percent

Jun 3, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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The tax break state (WaPo)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal breaks down how the different kinds of tax expenditures work based on income distribution, and explains how they affect current policy debates that revolve around infamous numbers like 47 percent and the 1 percent.

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The tax break state (WaPo)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal breaks down how the different kinds of tax expenditures work based on income distribution, and explains how they affect current policy debates that revolve around infamous numbers like 47 percent and the 1 percent.

Matriarchy, patriarchy and the masters of the universe (Reuters)

Chrystia Freeland reacts to Paul Tudor Jones's comment that women stop being successful investors or traders the moment they start breastfeeding. With female breadwinners in forty percent of U.S. households, she wonders if the plutocracy is not only patriarchal but oblivious to working women's achievements.

Affordable Care Act Could Be Good for Entrepreneurship (NYT)

Catherine Rampell writes that we can expect a significant jump in self-employment in 2014, thanks to the new health care exchanges. When it becomes possible to obtain affordable insurance without a traditional job, the definition of a "good job" can change.

Sorry, There's Been No Economic Recovery for Poor and Minority Households (MoJo)

Erika Eichelberger shows that wealth recovery has been heavily skewed towards the already-wealthy. As the housing market recovers, the households that haven't could be in even worse shape, as mortgage principal reductions look more and more out of reach.

Economic Storm Clouds Ahead (Robert Reich)

Robert Reich argues that we should stop listening to economic forecasters who say that everything is going just great. The current recovery is really only a recovery for corporate profits, and most of us are still facing tough times to come.

The High Cost of Unemployment (Slate)

Robert Shiller worries about the effect of unemployment on our nation's morale, because people don't respond well to sudden forced leisure instead of work. The concept of less work is nice, but not the current reality.

The Geezers Are All Right (NYT)

Paul Krugman is tired of listening to the deficit hawks claim that Social Security and Medicare are going to go bust, because it just isn't true, and worrying about funding benefits for 2035 takes the focus off today’s problems, like the jobs crisis.

Ending Corporate Tax Avoidance: Just the Debate I Asked For! (On The Economy)

Jared Bernstein looks at options to change how we tax multinationals, such as placing a minimum tax on foreign earnings or taxing based on where products are sold. Instead of endorsing one solution, he wants to keep talking so this issue can’t disappear.

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Daily Digest - May 31: Everyone Hates ISPs

May 31, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Americans are not happy with their Internet service providers (Marketplace)

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Americans are not happy with their Internet service providers (Marketplace)

Ben Johnson talks to Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford about the latest American Consumer Satisfaction Index, which shows ISPs are dead last in keeping customers happy. With little to no competition, they'd rather put profits into dividends for shareholders.

From the Mouths of Babes (NYT)

Paul Krugman feels that the Republican Party's war against SNAP is worth getting angry about, because SNAP encourages economic growth by giving families more to spend. And since the program feeds hungry people, more cuts mean more empty stomachs.

The Real Numbers: Half of America in Poverty -- and It's Creeping Upward (AlterNet)

Paul Buchheit argues that while the Census Bureau reports 15 percent of Americans are living in poverty, with alternate measures it's more like 50 percent -- a number that should raise some eyebrows, especially as Congress allows cuts to poverty programs.

Man of the (rich) people (Salon)

Joan Walsh agrees with rising Republican star Sen. Ted Cruz: Mitt Romney lost the presidency with the words "47 percent." But she sees a disconnect between Cruz's words and the pro-1 percent policies he and other Republican "reformers" are endorsing.

After Running The Numbers Carefully There's No Evidence That High Debt Levels Cause Slow Growth (Slate)

Matt Yglesias explains why it's problematic that Reinhart and Rogoff took their research straight to the op-ed pages: the data shows it’s likely they were aware that they were jumping from correlation to policy suggestions without the necessary stop at causation.

Washington 'Spends' More on Tax Breaks Than on Medicare, Defense, or Social Security (The Atlantic)

Derek Thompson shows that tax expenditures designed to promote mortgages, employer-sponsored health care, investment, and various other consumer behaviors cost American taxpayers more than many programs that are frequent targets for budget cuts.

Losing Hope in Detroit (Bill Moyers)

Greg Kaufmann examines the kinds of programs affected by sequestration, with Focus: HOPE in Detroit as his example. Their job-training program is going to lose between 250 and 350 spots this year, which will hurt 250 to 350 people still seeking good jobs.

Fast Food Workers Striking in Seattle (The Nation)

Josh Eidelson looks at the fast food strikes that shut down three fast food restaurants in Seattle yesterday. These one-day strikes are an organizing tactic for a world that is increasingly hostile to organized labor, and they're looking more and more effective.

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Daily Digest - May 30: Your Cable Package is Free Speech

May 30, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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Comcast and Verizon’s Phony Free-Speech Claim (Bloomberg)

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Comcast and Verizon’s Phony Free-Speech Claim (Bloomberg)

Roosevelt Institute Fellow Susan Crawford knows that it's the cable and internet providers who are trying to limit speech through their control of what's available over their wires. Business decisions aren't free speech- especially when they limit fair competition.

Why the Shareholder Rescue Never Comes (ProPublica)

Jesse Eisinger explains why shareholders aren't going to solve Too Big to Fail. Shareholders want to see big risks and big returns- and as long as they can count on federal bailouts, that means they don't mind seeing big banks, either.

People Over Politicians: Spending Less on Elections Could Strengthen Unions (The Century Foundation)

Douglas Williams argues that unions are wasting money when they donate to campaigns, because even politicians who claim to be pro-labor work against them. Instead, they could invest in local organizing and actually achieve some change.

No cause for relief—austerity will indeed drag hard on the economy in 2013 and 2014 (Working Economics)

Josh Bivens thinks that other writers are too quick to assume that rising stock and housing prices and falling gas prices mean that austerity hasn't slowed our economy. With the job market remaining "dismal," he thinks the recovery hasn't even arrived.

More and more Americans are feeling the effects of the sequester (WaPo)

Brad Plumer looks at the results of a May ABC News/Washington Post poll, which shows that 37 percent of Americans say they've been impacted negatively by the sequester. That number can only grow as spending on vital services continues to shrink.

Children of the Great Collapse (TAP)

Jared Bernstein lays out how the stimulus helped bring children out of poverty, and how the end of the Recovery Act along with sequestration will put them right back in it. Nothing helps the country's long-term economic growth quite like cutting 50,000 spots in Head Start.

Why Can’t America Be Sweden? (NYT)

Tom Edsall examines the claim that Sweden's "cuddly capitalism" would not work in the United States, where our role as supposed innovation entrepreneurs requires a more cutthroat system. This sounds like an awfully convenient excuse to abandon those in need.

The Very Low Threshold For What Conservatives Consider “Reform” (Washington Monthly)

Ed Kilgore doesn't think that policy priorities are enough to differentiate conservative reformers. When the plan for "reform" is to cut taxes and reduce the social safety net, it's hard to see how conservative reformers can claim to support the poor -- or new ideas.

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Daily Digest - May 29: No CFPB Director For You

May 29, 2013Rachel Goldfarb

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The GOP doesn’t oppose Richard Cordray. It opposes his whole agency. (WaPo)

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The GOP doesn’t oppose Richard Cordray. It opposes his whole agency. (WaPo)

Roosevelt Fellow Mike Konczal explains why Republican opposition to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is based on falsehoods. Unfortunately, filibusters mean that Republican temper tantrums about the power of the CFPB translate to blocking any director.

Did I get the money-and-politics debate all wrong? (WaPo)

Ezra Klein responds to critiques of his own pieces on money and politics, including Roosevelt Institute Senior Fellow Mark Schmitt's take, which he mostly agrees with. Unsurprisingly, spending lots of time fundraising doesn't make for better legislators.

Walmart Workers Launch First-Ever 'Prolonged Strikes' Today (The Nation)

Josh Eidelson reports on the strikes in Miami, Massachusetts, and the Bay Area, which are the first multi-day strikes again Walmart. Worker-activist Dominic Ware's biggest fear? That his son will have to work for Walmart too.

Beware Capitalist Tools (Robert Reich)

Robert Reich doesn't understand why Forbes writers would argue that it's a bad thing for government to condition market access on the social benefits we receive from corporations. Why wouldn't we want to tell corporations to put jobs here?

Central Banks Act With a New Boldness to Revitalize Economies (NYT)

Binyamin Appelbaum, Jack Ewing, Hiroko Tabuchi, and Landon Thomas Jr. note that once-cautious central banks have become more aggressive in recent years, taking action to get their countries' economies moving while their governments are stuck on austerity.

When Sequestration Becomes Devastation (Bloomberg)

Evan Soltas wants us to look ahead to sequestration’s effect on the 2014 budget, because if we think things are bad today then we haven't seen anything yet. Next year’s cuts aren’t automatic -- the House gets to decide where to cut deeper.

Like a Bad Cough: Why Austerity Economics Lingers (HuffPo)

Steven Conn thinks the reason we can't get past austerity economics is that we're treating a set of moral propositions about wealth, self-denial, and work as hard science. But when something doesn't work in chemistry, the chemists start a new experiment.

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