Edward Hadas

More charity, less bureaucracy

By Edward Hadas
March 21, 2012

“Charity is a cold, grey, loveless thing. If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at whim.” Clement Attlee wrote that in 1920. As British prime minister after World War Two, Attlee turned thought into policy. The welfare state that he helped create has decimated private charities for the poor.

What’s really wrong with Europe?

By Edward Hadas
March 14, 2012

The euro zone debt crisis shows that something is seriously wrong with Europe. But what is it?

The lesson of Fukushima

By Edward Hadas
March 7, 2012

The first anniversary of Japan’s nuclear disaster is a good time to take stock. Opponents and proponents of nuclear power are doing so, and they have come to the same conclusion: “We were right all along.”

Finding a way to make finance less sacred

By Edward Hadas
February 29, 2012

Has finance become a “false divinity in the world”? Pope Benedict XVI thinks so. “We see that the world of finance can dominate the human being,” he has said.  “[It is] no longer an instrument to foster well-being… [it] becomes a power that oppresses, that almost demands worship.”

Don’t obsess about GDP measures

By Edward Hadas
February 22, 2012

An American, a Frenchman and a physicist were talking about some unusual weather. “It was twice as hot this afternoon as this morning”, said the American, “the temperature went up from 40 to 80 degrees.” The Frenchman interjected: “That’s in Fahrenheit. In Celsius, it was six times hotter.” The physicist was scornful. “On the only really scientific measure, the Kelvin scale, the increase was a piffling 5 percent.”

In praise of cooperative thinking

By Edward Hadas
February 15, 2012

Nothing stimulates anti-capitalist feelings like large sums of money changing hands in the hope of huge profits. A recent example: the prospect that Facebook could be worth some $100 billion to its shareholders. The website’s users might prefer less advertising and a lower valuation. But no one asked them. This inspired my Reuters colleague Paul Smalera to suggest that Facebook go co-op. Smalera won’t get his way, but he’s right to wonder whether the hunt for shareholder profits makes the world a better place.

The great race for jobs

By Edward Hadas
February 8, 2012

The financial markets rejoiced last week because the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent in January, 0.8 percentage points lower than a year earlier. Back in the real world, the gain looks less impressive. The proportion of the adult American population with a job has hardly changed since January 2011 – it is up from 58.4 to 58.5 percent. That number peaked in 2000 at 64.4 percent.

The tough road to sensible taxes

By Edward Hadas
February 1, 2012

President Barack Obama thinks taxes can help the government achieve a precise policy objective. In last week’s State of the Union address he outlined a complex set of tax adjustments  to discourage companies from moving American jobs to foreign parts.  In the same speech, Obama also suggested that taxes can be made simple and clear:  “No side issues.  No drama”, he said. He applied that description to the extension of the cut in the U.S. payroll tax rate. It was followed by pushing for “common sense” on a minimum tax rate for the rich. “Washington should stop subsidizing millionaires”, the president said.

The social market economy

By Edward Hadas
January 25, 2012

Capitalism is the name people give to the way the modern economy is arranged. Now that Communism has been discredited as an economic system, there seems to be no real alternative. But the word is misleading.

The cruise industry’s rough sail

By Edward Hadas
January 18, 2012

The cruise industry demonstrates much of what works well in the industrial economy. The debacle of the Costa Concordia – 11 people confirmed dead and at least 23 missing, and a financial loss of as much as $1 billion – shows some of the ways that the economy can malfunction.