Economy

Over the course of a decade spent reporting on the ground in China as a financial journalist, Dinny McMahon gradually came to the conclusion that the widely held belief in China’s inevitable economic ascent is dangerously wrong.
 
In this unprecedented deep dive, McMahon shows how, lurking behind the illusion of prosperity, China’s economic growth has been built on a staggering mountain of debt. While stories of newly built but empty cities, white elephant state projects, and a byzantine shadow banking system, have all become a regular fixture in the press in recent years, McMahon goes beyond the headlines to explain how such waste has been allowed to flourish, and why one of the most powerful governments in the world has been at a loss to stop it.

Dinny McMahon's spent more than a decade in China as a journalist covering the Chinese economy and financial systems for the Wall Street Journal and for the Dow Jones News Service. A native Australian, he is fluent in Mandarin. McMahon wrote China’s Great Wall of Debt while a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington DC. His new book is "China's Great Wall of Debt: Shadow Banks, Ghost Cities, Massive Loans, and the End of the Chinese Miracle."

Miriam Pemberton is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. She directs its Peace Economy Transitions Project which focuses on helping to build the foundations of a postwar economy at the federal, state and local levels. She co-chairs the Budget Priorities Working Group, the principal information-sharing collaboration of U.S. NGOs working on reducing Pentagon spending.

With William Hartung of the New America Foundation, she is co-editor of the book Lessons from Iraq: Avoiding the Next War (Paradigm Publishers, 2008). Formerly she was editor, researcher and finally director of the National Commission for Economic Conversion and Disarmament. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

Women Against War has brought Dr. Miriam Pemberton to the region to talk about transitioning to a peace economy at three college campuses. She will be at UAlbany today speaking in the Humanities Building in Room 354. 

Bill Owens: A Weakening U.S. Dollar

Feb 15, 2018

President Trump and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin both recently indicated that they believe the US dollar should weaken against other currencies.  It is important to note that the US Government like all western countries does not control the currency exchange rate as opposed to countries in southeast Asia where the government dictates/manipulates its currency exchange rates.  China is famous for this, and President Trump rightfully has attacked them for this manipulation. 

Thomas A. Kochan, is the George M. Bunker Professor of Work and Employment Relations at MIT's Sloan School of Management and Co-Director of the MIT Institute for Work and Employment Research.

"Shaping the Future of Work" lays out a comprehensive strategy for changing the course the American economy and employment system have been on for the past 30 years. The goal is to create more productive businesses that also provide good jobs and careers and by doing so build a more inclusive economy and broadly shared prosperity. This will require workers to acquire new sources of bargaining power and for business, labor, government, and educators to work together to meet the challenges and opportunities facing the next generation workforce.

Richard McGregor, a former Financial Times Beijing bureau chief, has just written a behind-the-headlines guide to the history and current state of our country’s relations with the two most powerful nations in East Asia, Japan and China.

In Asia’s Reckoning: China, Japan, and the Fate of U.S. Power in the Pacific Century, McGregor unpacks the old, toxic rivalries between U.S., Japan, and China, and looks to the future as it changes and redefines the world order in the 21stcentury.

Richard McGregor is a journalist and an author with extensive experience in reporting from East Asia and Washington. 

Joan C. Williams is Distinguished Professor of Law and Hastings Foundation Chair at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. Williams’s work includes What Works for Women at Work, coauthored with Rachel Dempsey; Unbending Gender: Why Family and Work Conflict and What To Do About It. Williams is frequently featured as an expert on social class.

Around the world, populist movements are gaining traction among the white working class. Meanwhile, members of the professional elite - journalists, managers, and establishment politicians - are on the outside looking in, left to argue over the reasons. In White Working Class, Joan C. Williams, described as having “something approaching rock star status” by the New York Times, explains why so much of the elite’s analysis of the white working class is misguided, rooted in class cluelessness.

Nancy MacLean is the award-winning author of Behind the Mask of Chivalry and Freedom is Not Enough She is the William Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University. Behind today’s headlines of billionaires taking over our government is a secretive political establishment with long, deep, and troubling roots. The capitalist radical right has been working not simply to change who rules, but to fundamentally alter the rules of democratic governance. But billionaires did not launch this movement; a white intellectual in the embattled Jim Crow South did.

Nancy MacLean's Democracy in Chains names its true architect: Nobel Prize-winning political economist James McGill Buchanan — and dissects the operation he and his colleagues designed over six decades to alter every branch of government to disempower the majority.

Rick Wartzman is director of the KH Moon Center for a Functioning Society at the Drucker Institute, a part of Claremont Graduate University. He also writes about the world of work for Fortune magazine online. Before joining the Drucker Institute in 2007 as its founding executive director, Rick worked for two decades as a reporter, editor and columnist at The Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times.

In his new book, The End of Loyalty: The Rise and Fall of Good Jobs in America, Wartzman chronicles the erosion of the relationship between American companies and their workers. Through the stories of four major employers--General Motors, General Electric, Kodak, and Coca-Cola--he shows how big businesses once took responsibility for providing their workers and retirees with an array of social benefits.

Federal Reserve Bank of NY President William Dudley
Pat Bradley/WAMC

Since 2010, representatives of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York have been making field trips to different regions across the state.  On Monday its president, William Dudley, met with Plattsburgh business leaders to discuss North Country economic issues.

Richard Rothstein, a leading authority on housing policy, is here to tell us about his new book: The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America which explores how the laws and policy decisions passed by local, state, and federal governments actually promoted the discriminatory patterns that continue to this day.

Richard Rothstein is a research associate of the Economic Policy Institute and a Fellow at the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. He is a Fellow of the Haas Institute at the University of California Berkeley. 

Fred R. Conrad

Paul Krugman is the Distinguished Professor of Economics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and an op-ed columnist for The New York Times. He was the recipient of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Economics.

This past Sunday, after a screening of the Academy Award winning 1976 film, All The President’s Men, Krugman joined Alan Chartock at The Mahaiwe in Great Barrington, MA as part of the Berkshire International Film Festival for a conversation about current events and The Trump Administration. 

Keith Payne is a professor of psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an international leader in the psychology of inequality and discrimination. His research has been featured in The Atlantic and The New York Times, and on NPR, and he has written for Scientific American and Psychology Today.

Today’s inequality is on a scale that none of us has seen in our lifetimes, yet this disparity between rich and poor has ramifications that extend far beyond mere financial means. In The Broken Ladder, Payne examines how inequality divides us not just economically, but also has profound consequences for how we think, how our cardiovascular systems respond to stress, how our immune systems function, and how we view moral ideas such as justice and fairness.

  In the aftermath of the 2010 Citizens United decision, it's become commonplace to note the growing political dominance of a small segment of the economic elite. But what exactly are those members of the elite doing with their newfound influence?

Gordon Lafer's The One Percent Solution: How Corporations Are Remaking America One State at a Time provides a comprehensive account of legislation promoted by the nation's biggest corporate lobbies across all fifty state legislatures and encompassing a wide range of labor and economic policies.

Gordon Lafer is Associate Professor at the Labor Education and Research Center at the University of Oregon. He has served as Senior Policy Advisor for the U.S. Congress and has been called to testify as an expert witness before multiple state legislatures.

Nancy Isenberg’s bestselling book: White Trash: The 400 Year Untold History of Class in America is now in paperback with a new preface covering the 2016 election.

Nancy Isenberg said the following about the political climate years ago surrounding Sarah Palin, “When you turn an election into a three-ring circus, there’s always a chance that the dancing bear will win.” And we recognize how right she is today. Yet the voters that put Trump in the White House have always been a permanent part of our American fabric, argues Isenberg.

In White Trash, Isenberg looks to obliterate the myth of America as a land of unbounded opportunity and social mobility and makes the case that while both class and identity politics matter, neither are sufficient alone to define categories of voting behavior. Again the name of the book is: White Trash: The 400 Year Untold History of Class in America. 

  Traditional economics measures the ways in which we spend our income, but doesn't attribute worth to the crucial human interactions that give our lives meaning.

Clair Brown, an economics professor at U.C. Berkeley and a practicing Buddhist, has developed a holistic model, one based on the notion that quality of life should be measured by more than national income. 

Her book is Buddhist Economics: An Enlightened Approach to the Dismal Science.

William D. Cohan is no knee-jerk advocate for Wall Street and the big banks. He’s one of America’s most respected financial journalists and the progressive bestselling author of House of Cards. 

He has long been critical of the bad behavior that plagued much of Wall Street in the years leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, and because he spent seventeen years as an investment banker on Wall Street, he is an expert on its inner workings as well.

Today nearly half of all Americans live from paycheck to paycheck, and income volatility has doubled over the past thirty years. Banks, with their high monthly fees and overdraft charges, are gouging their low- and middle-income customers, while serving only the wealthiest Americans.

Lisa Servon's The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives is an indictment of America’s banks, together with eye-opening dispatches from inside a range of banking alternatives that have sprung up to fill the void. 

In Strangers in Their Own Land, sociologist Arlie Hochschild embarks on a thought-provoking journey from her liberal hometown of Berkeley, California, deep into Louisiana bayou country—a stronghold of the conservative right. As she gets to know people who strongly oppose many of the ideas she famously champions, Hochschild nevertheless finds common ground and quickly warms to the people she meets people whose concerns are actually ones that all Americans share: the desire for community, the embrace of family, and hopes for their children.

Strangers in Their Own Land goes beyond the commonplace liberal idea that these are people who have been duped into voting against their own interests. Instead, Hochschild finds lives ripped apart by stagnant wages, a loss of home, an elusive American dream—and political choices and views that make sense in the context of their lives. Hochschild draws on her expert knowledge of the sociology of emotion to help us understand what it feels like to live in “red” America.

William W. Goldsmith is Professor Emeritus of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University. He is coauthor of Separate Societies: Poverty and Inequality in U.S. Cities.

In his new book, Saving Our Cities, William W. Goldsmith shows how cities can be places of opportunity rather than places with problems. With strongly revived cities and suburbs, working as places that serve all their residents, metropolitan areas will thrive, thus making the national economy more productive, the environment better protected, the citizenry better educated, and the society more reflective, sensitive, and humane.

Imbolo Mbue’s debut novel is Behold the Dreamers. It chronicles a young Cameroonian couple making a new live in New York just as the great recession of the 2000s upends the economy. The novel explores marriage, immigration, class, race, and the trap-doors in the American Dream. 

Government aid doesn’t always go where it’s supposed to. Foster care agencies team up with companies to take disability and survivor benefits from abused and neglected children. States and their revenue consultants use illusory schemes to siphon Medicaid funds intended for children and the poor into general state coffers. Child support payments for foster children and families on public assistance are converted into government revenue. And the poverty industry keeps expanding, leaving us with nursing homes and juvenile detention centers that sedate residents to reduce costs and maximize profit, local governments buying nursing homes to take the facilities’ federal aid while the elderly languish with poor care, and counties hiring companies to mine the poor for additional funds in modern day debtor’s prisons.

In The Poverty Industry, Daniel L. Hatcher shows us how state governments and their private industry partners are profiting from the social safety net, turning America’s most vulnerable populations into sources of revenue.

  Charles Wheelan is the author of the best-selling Naked Statistics and Naked Economics and is a former correspondent for The Economist. He teaches public policy and economics at Dartmouth College.

Consider the $20 bill.

It has no more value, as a simple slip of paper, than Monopoly money. Yet even children recognize that tearing one into small pieces is an act of inconceivable stupidity. What makes a $20 bill actually worth twenty dollars? In Naked Money, Charles Wheelan uses this seemingly simple question to open the door to the surprisingly colorful world of money and banking.

  For decades, conversations about poverty have focused on jobs, public assistance, parenting, and mass incarceration. After years of intense fieldwork and study, Harvard sociologist and 2015 MacArthur “Genius” grant winner Matthew Desmond has come to believe that something fundamental is missing from that picture: how deeply housing is implicated in the creation of poverty.

Desmond says, “Not everyone living in a distressed neighborhood is associated with gang members, parole officers, employers, social workers, or pastors, but nearly all of them have a landlord.” The result of his research is the new book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City.

  What will Great Britain do next?

In today’s Congressional Corner, Massachusetts Congressman Jim McGovern — a Democrat from the 2nd district — discusses the Brexit vote with WAMC’s Alan Chartock. 

Brexit - Hugh Johnson

Jun 24, 2016
Hugh Johnson
Hugh Johnson

  Nearly every market move over the last two weeks has been attributed to the British referendum on whether the United Kingdom should remain with or leave the European Union.

When a poll showed the British might want to leave? Stocks would go down. Then it looked like the U.K. would stay in the political and economic bloc and stocks would bounce up. Now that the U.K. has officially voted in favor of leaving, markets are going wild.

Investors around the world went into crisis mode as British voters chose to leave the European Union in a stunning decision with far-reaching implications. Hugh Johnson of Hugh Johnson Advisors in Albany, New York joins us live in Studio A to discuss the impact of the vote on the world and US economies.

  Runaway inequality is now America’s most critical economic fact of life. In 1970, the ratio of pay between the top 100 CEOs and the average worker was 45 to 1. Today it is a shocking 829 to one! During that time a new economic philosophy set in that cut taxes, deregulated finance, and trimmed social spending. Those policies set in motion a process that greatly expanded the power of financial interests to accelerate inequality. But how exactly does that happen?

In Runaway Inequality, Les Leopold explains the process by which corporation after corporation falls victim to systematic wealth extraction by banks, private equity firms, and hedge funds. It reveals how financial strip-mining puts enormous downward pressure on jobs, wages, benefits, and working conditions, while boosting the incomes of financial elites.

  In Winner-Take-All Politics, Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson explained how political elites have enabled and propelled plutocracy.

Now in American Amnesia, they trace the economic and political history of the United States over the last century and show how a viable mixed economy has long been the dominant engine of America’s prosperity.

  Why is America living in an age of profound economic inequality? Why, despite the desperate need to address climate change, have even modest environmental efforts been defeated again and again? Why have protections for employees been decimated? Why do hedge-fund billionaires pay a far lower tax rate than middle-class workers?

The conventional answer is that a popular uprising against “big government” led to the ascendancy of a broad-based conservative movement. But Jane Mayer shows in her book, Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, a network of exceedingly wealthy people with extreme libertarian views bankrolled a systematic, step-by-step plan to fundamentally alter the American political system.

Bill Owens: Flat Wages?

Sep 8, 2015

Recent jobs data demonstrates that while employment continues to grow, wages have remained flat. There is speculation about the reasons with many economists offering different, but inconclusive analysis.

Stephen Gottlieb: Regression To The Mean

Aug 18, 2015

Social scientists have a phrase, “regression to the mean.” What they mean is that the law of averages eventually fells families, companies or countries that are doing better than average, and eventually lift those doing much worse than the average. Now for all of us who like to say the United States is the best in the world, there is a prospect to consider.

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