Tag Archives: new york times

Did Canada’s Middle Class Just Get More Affluent Than the US’s, or Did that Happen Long Ago?

The New York Times and Dave Leonhardt’s Upshot section made a big splash a few days ago by reporting on a study showing that the Canadian middle class had caught the US middle class in median income and likely surpassed it since. The study is based on an effort to measure median income per capita after taxes, and its results are presented as something truly significant.

However, I think the study is biased in that in median income per capita after taxes, it selected the wrong measure. What is needed is a measure of income or affluence that takes account of the value of cross-national variations in Government benefits delivered to the middle classes. Since the United States has lower taxes than most comparable nations, but delivers much less in safety net and entitlement benefits, it’s pretty clear that the measure used in the study reported on by The Times overestimates the real median income of the US middle class in comparison with the middle classes of other comparable nations and provides a misleading impression of the relative affluence of the American middle class.

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If New York Times Reporters Won’t Read Krugman about Austerity Will they Read Brooks?

By William K. Black
(Cross posted at Benzinga.com)

The New York Times Incompetence in Macroeconomic Reporting (IMR) Award

I have written repeatedly about the New York Times’ needs to create a prize in incompetence in macroeconomic reporting (IMR) and suggested that the paper award the IMR prize to its reporters.  I suggested that the prize consist of a two hour lunch with Paul Krugman in which he will provide them with a remedial lecture on why austerity is an economically illiterate response to a recession.

NYT columns discussing austerity, particularly in the eurozone, demonstrate that its reporters religiously avoid reading Krugman’s scores of columns on austerity.  As always on this subject, I want to make express that I don’t insist that the reporters agree with economics.  It is fine for reporters to state that economics has known for 75 years that austerity is a self-destructive response to a recession but that some economists disagree.   It is fine for the reporter to explain why he agrees with the austerian economists.  It is not acceptable journalism to ignore the dominant economic view, 75 years of supporting events, and the empirical studies by austerians (the IMF) finding that fiscal changes have more powerful effects on the economy consistent with the dominant theory.  It is not acceptable journalism to ignore unemployment and inequality and the role of austerity in increasing both.  I end by expanding on Krugman’s column about a tragic financial media meme by discussing three related memes that are causing great harm.

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The New York Times Authors the Most Ironic Sentence of the Crisis

By William K. Black

The author of the most brilliantly comedic statement ever written about the crisis is Landon Thomas, Jr.  He does not bury the lead.  Everything worth reading is in the first sentence, and it should trigger belly laughs nationwide.

“Bank of America, one of the nation’s largest banks, was found liable on Wednesday of having sold defective mortgages, a jury decision that will be seen as a victory for the government in its aggressive effort to hold banks accountable for their role in the housing crisis.”

“The government,” as a statement of fact so indisputable that it requires neither citation nor reasoning, has been engaged in an “aggressive effort to hold banks accountable for their role in the housing crisis.”  Yes, we have not seen such an aggressive effort since Captain Renault told Rick in the movie Casablanca that he was “shocked” to discover that there was gambling going on (just before being handed his gambling “winnings” which were really a bribe).

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House Republicans Try to Create the World’s Worst Criminogenic Environment

By William K. Black
(Cross-posted from Benzinga.com)

In criminology, we recognize that one of the leading restraints on the effectiveness of law enforcement is “systems capacity.”  Indeed, my mentor, Henry Pontell (UC Irvine), defined the concept.  In the context of crimes of the street (other than Wall Street), there is normally no lobby trying to allow the typically lower class criminals to commit their crimes with impunity.  In crimes of the business suites, however, it is the norm that there are well-funded, powerful, and seemingly legitimate lobbyists for the elite criminals who seek to allow them to commit their crimes with impunity.  Similarly, it is rare for street criminals to consult a lawyer before they commit their crimes.  Elite white-collar criminals often consult with expert legal counsel before, during, and after they commit their crimes in order to try to minimize the risk of being sanctioned. Continue reading

Will the New York Times’ Reporters ever admit that European Austerity is the Problem?

By William K. Black

The New York Times’ reporters covering Europe’s financial, social, and political crises continue to channel Berlin and demonstrate an ignorance of economics so profound that it rivals the Wall Street Journal’s editorial writers and columnists.  On May 18, 2012 the NYT published “Rising Greek Political Star, Foe of Austerity, Puts Europe on Edge.”  The problem begins with the title.  It is austerity that has put Europe over the edge.  The Greek leader the article discusses is one of the best hopes from pulling Europe back from self-inflicted disaster.  Most of the euro zone has been thrown into a gratuitous recession and the periphery has been cast into Great Depression levels of unemployment.  The title reverses the analytics and implies that if only the peoples of the periphery would silently embrace economic catastrophe all would be well with Europe.

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New York Times Reporters Embrace the Berlin Consensus and Ignore Krugman and Economics

By William K. Black

The New York Times’ coverage of the euro zone crisis continues to exhibit two related flaws.  First, it is overwhelmingly written from the German perspective – the Berlin Consensus that is driving the crisis.  Second, it continues to ignore economics.  Paul Krugman, the NYT’s Nobel Laureate in economics, has been explaining the economics of the crisis for years in his weekly NYT column.  We know that Berlin either doesn’t read or comprehend what Krugman has been trying to explain, but it is remarkable that so many of the NYT reporters covering the euro zone crisis share their failure to read or comprehend.

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New York Times Reporters need to Read Krugman’s Columns

By William K. Black

To know the Washington Consensus as a regular citizen is to hate the Consensus.  The Washington Consensus, as the name implies, was an “inside the beltway” series of neo-liberal policies embraced by the IMF, the World Bank, and the U.S. government.  It called for a minimal State and an all-powerful private sector.  The private sector and de facto private central banks would discipline the State by insisting on balanced budgets – perpetual austerity.  Democracy was unreliable, indeed dangerous, so the central banks had to be “independent” of the democratic process (and wholly dependent on the largest banks).  Only the private sector had the proper incentives that could be relied upon to create vibrant growth and a self-correcting economy.  The Consensus was developed in the context of the policies that should be imposed on Latin America and Latin Americans were the guinea pigs of Consensus.  (This metaphor was particularly troubling for Latin Americans who knew that their ancestors raised guinea pigs as a reliable source of meat.)

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