Daily Digest - February 19: America Immobilized

Feb 19, 2013Tim Price

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Equal Opportunity, Our National Myth (NYT)

Roosevelt Institute Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz writes that the poor-but-economically-mobile girl described in President Obama's State of the Union address is as much an American icon as Uncle Sam, but they're both from the fictional side of the family.

Raise That Wage (NYT)

With a nudge from analysts like Roosevelt Institute Fellow Mike Konczal, Paul Krugman concludes that raising the minimum wage is good economics, good politics, and a good thing for workers -- also known as the top three reasons the GOP will oppose it.

Pretty Words, Dismal Economics (Prospect)

Robert Kuttner argues that while the State of the Union laid out a strong progressive agenda, the Budget Control Act and the president's fretting about how much his plans will cost could undermine him. He's the guy who slows down the whole check-out line.

Scarborough and Friends Trying to Make 'Debt Deniers' Happen (NY Mag)

Jonathan Chait updates us on Joe Scarborough's ongoing crusade to prove he understands the economy better than Nobel-winning economists because he has strong morals and also a talk show and all his friends agree with him on his show so shut up.

Why aren't more countries run by economists? (WaPo)

Brad Plumer highlights a new paper that finds most countries don't put trained economists in charge unless they're in the middle of a crisis, though anyone familiar with economists probably understands why it's best not to leave them unsupervised for too long.

The Myth of the Rich Who Flee From Taxes (NYT)

James B. Stewart notes that the idea that raising taxes will cause a mass exodus of millionaires to more friendly climes just isn't supported by the evidence, much as we might be tempted to set fiscal policy according to how it makes random pro golfers feel.

Wall Street wins again? Not so fast. (WaPo)

The Residential Mortgage Backed Securities working group just celebrated one full year of accomplishing nothing. But Katrina vanden Heuvel argues that instead of congratulating ourselves for calling it, we should figure out how to make year two less of a farce.

The Second-Mortgage Shell Game (NYT)

Elizabeth M. Lynch notes that the terms of settlements with banks have allowed them to write off second mortgages while keeping troubled primary mortgages intact, which is about as helpful as pouring someone a glass of water while their house is burning down.

A Valuable U.S. Export: Banking Regulations (Bloomberg)

Simon Johnson writes that while Europe has begun to back down from promised reforms in the hope that happier banks will lend more, American policymakers are warming to the idea of tougher regulations, even if some just like to look at France and do the opposite.

Signed, Sealed, Deposited (Pacific Standard)

David Dayen argues that allowing the Postal Service to offer simple banking services again would help put it back in the black and give the unbanked access to the financial system. Probably still not a good idea to send around envelopes full of cash, though.

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