The Great Debate

Pope-onomics: Francis’ keys to a better economy – and world

September 23, 2015
Pope Francis waves as he arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican

Pope Francis arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican, September 2, 2015. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

Why the great and good get to ride for free

September 15, 2015
People are seen at the United Airlines terminal at Newark International Airport in New Jersey

The United Airlines terminal at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, July 22, 2014. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Four reasons to raise women’s pay that should make men happy

March 5, 2015

Martha from Mexico works at a sewing machine at the American Apparel factory in downtown Los Angeles, California, October 17, 2008. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

The war between Congress and the White House

February 6, 2015
U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner watches as U.S. President Barack Obama hosts a bipartisan meeting of Congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington

House Speaker John Boehner watches as President Barack Obama hosts a bipartisan meeting of congressional leaders in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, January 13, 2015. REUTERS/Larry Downing

Fed tightening will help stem inequality

May 12, 2014

The Federal Reserve Building is reflected on a car in Washington September 16, 2008. REUTERS/Jim Young

How do we measure whether Americans are better off than in the past?

January 16, 2014

Are you better off than you were twenty years ago? Probably not relative to very rich people today, but what about relative to you, or to someone your age and position twenty years ago? Income inequality has been called the defining issue of our time. Powerful leaders, from President Obama to Pope Francis, have cited it as evidence that the unfettered capitalism that has enriched the wealthy hasn’t been shared. Of course, there’s a difference between the gains in income being shared evenly, shared a little, or making everyone else poorer. In many ways the average American is much better off than he used to be; in other ways he’s worse off.  But even if we focus on what’s gotten better, we may still need to worry about the future.

Examine inequality’s causes before prescribing solutions

December 19, 2012

Fear and loathing of income inequality is both totally understandable and ultimately misplaced.

Everything you know about inequality is wrong

October 19, 2012

This is the fourth response to an excerpt from Chrystia Freeland’s Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else, published this week by Penguin Press. The first response can be read here, the second here, and the third here

Has rising inequality actually hurt anyone?

October 18, 2012

The incomes of the top 1 percent — and especially of the top one-half of the top 1 percent — have skyrocketed over the past 30 years. The latest estimates from the Congressional Budget Office show that the inflation-adjusted average income of the top 1 percent of households was $340,000 in 1979 but $1.4 million in 2007, quadrupling over less than three decades. Popular discussion of the top 1 percent tends to highlight how different, say, Mitt Romney and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg are from typical Americans. In reality there is as great a disparity between Zuckerberg’s and Romney’s income as between Romney’s and yours. Disparities in income are so dramatic it is difficult to comprehend them.