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February 24 2014

07:10
07:10

February 21 2014

09:00

February 20 2014

07:31

February 19 2014

05:31

February 14 2014

08:11

Week In The News: Snowy South, Debt Ceiling, Michael Sam

Sochi medals. A debt-ceiling deal. Monsieur Hollande in Washington. Snowmageddon  in the South. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Cars are left abandoned along Franklin Street after a winter storm left poor conditions in Chapel Hill, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning lasting into Thursday covering 95 of the state's 100 counties. (AP)

Cars are left abandoned along Franklin Street after a winter storm left poor conditions in Chapel Hill, N.C., Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014. The National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning lasting into Thursday covering 95 of the state’s 100 counties. (AP)

Guests

Major Garrett, chief White House correspondent for CBS News. Correspondent-at-Large for National Journal. (@MajorCBS)

Laure Mandeville, U.S. bureau chief and chief White House correspondent for Le Figaro. (@lauremandeville)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post: The Four Most Notable Nuggets From ‘The Hillary Papers’ – “Republicans are seizing Monday on a report published Sunday titled “The Hillary Papers.” The lengthy piece from the Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news Web site, details personal documents from one of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s closest friends, Diane Blair, a political science professor who died in 2000.”

CNN: The Southern snow was round one; here comes ice, the heavyweight –” The snow was here, two weeks ago. With just a smattering of white, it wreaked havoc on the South. But it may have been just an opening round. Now, an ice storm is hitting. And matched with snow, it’s the heavyweight of the two. Weather mavens expect up to an inch of ice will give broad swaths of the South a good shellacking. An inch doesn’t sound impressive? A foot of snow may look big and bad, but it’s a bunch of fluff compared to a solid inch of ice.”

Politico: Obamacare finally clears the tower – ”The new report is good enough that it might reset Washington’s expectations: maybe Obamacare isn’t going to be a train wreck after all. Maybe it’ll be more like one of those Metro trains that runs kind of slowly, and sometimes stops in the middle of the tracks for no apparent reason, but eventually gets you where you need to go.”

February 11 2014

07:41

Puerto Rico Blues

Sunny Puerto Rico hits the skids. Its debt goes to junk level. Puerto Rico’s in trouble. We’ll go south to ask why.

A demonstrator wearing a Guy Fawkes mask joins a teacher's protest outside the Department of Labor in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. Striking school teachers are gathering in Puerto Rico's capital to talk with government officials about recent changes to their retirement system as part of a two-day walkout. (AP)

A demonstrator wearing a Guy Fawkes mask joins a teacher’s protest outside the Department of Labor in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014. Striking school teachers are gathering in Puerto Rico’s capital to talk with government officials about recent changes to their retirement system as part of a two-day walkout. (AP)

Guests

Dan Rosenheck, professional services correspondent and sports editor at The Economist.

Carlos Colon de Armas, professor of finance and acting dean at the University of Puerto Rico’s Graduate School of Business.

Orlando Sotomayor, professor of economics at the University of Puerto Rico.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Economy and Crime Spur New Puerto Rican Exodus — “Puerto Rico’s slow-motion economic crisis skidded to a new low last week when both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s downgraded its debt to junk status, brushing aside a series of austerity measures taken by the new governor, including increasing taxes and rebalancing pensions. But that is only the latest in a sharp decline leading to widespread fears about Puerto Rico’s future. In the past eight years, Puerto Rico’s ticker tape of woes has stretched unabated: $70 billion in debt, a 15.4 percent unemployment rate, a soaring cost of living, pervasive crime, crumbling schools and a worrisome exodus of professionals and middle-class Puerto Ricans who have moved to places like Florida and Texas.”

 The Economist: Buying on credit is so nice — “The macroeconomic situation in Puerto Rico is strikingly similar to that of Greece in 2010. It uses an expensive currency it cannot control. Its citizens eagerly dodge paying taxes to a bloated public sector. And its officials protest too much that default is unthinkable. However, there have been no riots or calls for a change of government.”

The Wall Street Journal: Puerto Rico Seeking $2 Billion Debt Offering –”Puerto Rico has said it doesn’t need to borrow before its fiscal year ends in June. But it wants to show investors it can still borrow money in the public bond market despite a sharp rise in yields on its bonds, 15% unemployment and $70 billion in outstanding debt, officials have said.”

February 07 2014

07:41

Week In The News: Obamacare, Jobs, Tobacco-Free Pharmacies, Sochi Olympics

Obamacare and jobs. CVS quits tobacco. Terror and toothpaste warnings for Sochi.  Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his speech at the IOC President's Gala Dinner on the eve of the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his speech at the IOC President’s Gala Dinner on the eve of the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP)

Guests

Heidi Moore, U.S. finance and economics editor for The Guardian. (@moorehn)

Bob Cusack, managing editor of The Hill. (@BobCusack)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

The Guardian: CVS doesn’t need tobacco for its revenues: it has Obamacare — “It turns out that the timing however, is perfect. CVS doesn’t need tobacco for its revenues because a bigger source of business is on the horizon: Obamacare. And Obamacare is invested in pressuring smokers to quit by forcing them to pay more for healthcare.”

The Wall Street Journal:On Eve of Winter Games, Worries About Sochi Mount –”Athletes and others arriving in Sochi encountered what appears to be a strong security presence. As of late Wednesday no incidents had occurred. But hanging over these Games is a threat from terrorists. On Wednesday it emerged that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has warned airlines sending flights to Russia to look out for explosives hidden inside toothpaste tubes.”

 Bloomberg: Twitter’s Loss Exceeds Estimates as User Growth Slows –”There were 241 million monthly active users in the fourth quarter, Twitter said in a statement today, up 30 percent from 185 million a year earlier and slower than 39 percent seen in the prior period. Usage also declined, with 148 billion views of Twitter timelines compared with 159 billion views in the third quarter. Net loss was $511.5 million compared with $8.7 million a year earlier, and was more than double analysts’ projections of $253.5 million.”

February 06 2014

20:47

Larry Summers Asks For Fiscal Prudence, Better Airports

Our February 6 interview with former U.S. Treasury Secretary and big all-around economic thinker of many hats Larry Summers covered a lot of ground. From his fears of a “secular stagnation” to his thoughts on New York City’s troubled J.F.K. International Airport (he finds it embarrassing).

Larry Summers in the WBUR studios. (Jesse Costa / WBUR)

Larry Summers in the WBUR studios. (Jesse Costa / WBUR)

Here are some highlights from our conversation with Summers.

 

Summers on inequality, entitlement reform, and the deficit:

Larry Summers: If we are able to increase the growth rate of this economy by two tenths of a percent, some people would say it was three tenths, but between two and three tenths of a percent for the next 75 years, that eliminates the entire deficit problem as it is now projected. And I ask you which is a better strategy, a more positive strategy, a more politically attractive strategy, a strategy that will have great other benefits? Doing all the things, tax reform, immigration reform, removal of barriers to private investment, necessary public infrastructure investment, to raise the growth rate by a quarter of a percent a year, or to launch an attack on programs that are giving people thirty thousand dollars a year, thirty five thousand dollars a year at maximum, at maximum. If you get the maximum social security benefit you possibly can get—

Tom Ashbrook: The entitlement reform question?

LS: Social security reform. The largest social security reform you can get. You pay the maximum in every year for your whole life time, it is less than 40,000 dollars a year. And so at a time of rising inequality, making the focus of our national effort to fix our economy be bearing down on social security beneficiaries, I just don’t think is the right approach.

On whether or not he takes any responsibility for the 2008 financial crisis, could the 2008 crisis happen again, did he supporting the deregulationist in Congress in the 1990s, and his thoughts on US Commodity Futures Trading Commission chair Gary Gensler:

LS: I think all of us who served in-who’s been involved one way or another in the financial sector wish that we had foreseen all the things that took place in 2008 and been able to put in place preparations and contingencies that would have dealt more satisfactorily with those problems.

TA: Were they outgrowths of mistakes made by you in the 90s?

LS: I think there is much- I think with respect it is a very complicated tale. A wide variety of regulatory proposals that would have addressed many of the serious problems: putting derivatives on exchanges, doing something about predatorily mortgages, fixing Fannie and Freddie, that I and others put forward during the 1990s were not accepted by the Congress. The Congress at that point was in the thrall of aggressive deregulationists who would only pass legislation in one direction and of one kind—

TA: Weren’t you in their corner?

LS: No I was not in their corner with respect to a variety of proposals that I put forward, particularly with regard to predatorily lending, but also with respect to other issues that were reject. Now I was not someone who was willing to oversimplify the issue into the view that all regulation is good and all reductions in regulations are bad. And so there were measure that I believe were constructive that operated to reduce regulations that weren’t functional.  And I did support those in the 1990s and I don’t believe you can make a case that the regulations whose removals or adjustments I supported were contributors to the 2008 financial crisis in any large way?

TA: The whole derivatives bubble and meltdown?

LS: There were important derivatives issues, but if you look at what was being done before the legislation and after the legislation it is not that the legislation addressed the things that were at the center of those derivatives problems. The derivatives problems, Tom, had to do with what are referred to as credit default swaps. Credit default swaps essentially were in their very infancy at the time when the Clinton Administration left office. The issues in derivivates were things that were entirely different during the time of the Clinton administration. The question is why nothing was done about credit default swamps and their various consequences over the subsequent eight years. That is an important question, but it is not one that should be addressed to those of us who served during the Clinton administration.

TA: Is that fix today? Is that risk fixed today, as we talk today are we still vulnerable to another 2008 kind of meltdown? You talk throughout here about the risk of that returning.

LS: Generals always fight the last war. And there is always a risk that while a number of those particular issues that were pointed up by the 2008 crisis have been address—are there continuing risks of financial instability? Yes. Has the last word been written, on regulation? No. Do we need to address, for example, a shadow banking system that is still very much in the shadows, as far as regulation is concern?

TA: swamps, derivatives…

LS: Absolutely. Are there continuing challenges with respect to derivatives? Yes there certainly are. But I do believe that important progress has been made and I certainly was very pleased to have, looking back, to have been very strongly supportive of the appointment of Gary Gensler at the CFCT and of the various things that he was able to accomplish that I do think make the system safer than they were before.

On the advice he would give to the new Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen:

TA: Janet Yellen stepping into the Fed, you’re not. What’s your one word of advice to her.

LS: Prudence.

TA: Prudence!

LS: Prudence! And I’m sure she’ll bring it.

07:31

Larry Summers’s Stagnation Warning

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers is warning of deep economic stagnation, or “secular stagnation.” He’ll explain, plus his thoughts on the debt and deficit, income inequality, Bill Gates and more.

Larry Summers (Courtesy Larry Summers)

Larry Summers (Courtesy Larry Summers)

Guests

Larry Summers, former U.S.  Treasury Secretary under President Bill Clinton, former director of the White House National Economic Council for President Barack Obama, professor and former President of Harvard University. (@LHSummers)

From Tom’s Reading List

New Yorker: Is Larry Summers Right About “Secular Stagnation”? — “The argument that the economy is currently being held back by inadequate demand isn’t controversial—at least, it shouldn’t be. Since the recovery began, in the summer of 2009, G.D.P. has expanded at an annual rate of just two per cent, which is pretty feeble compared to previous recoveries. This weak growth reflects the decisions, by households and firms, to economize on their expenditures in the wake of a big asset-price bust; at the same time, the government (federal, state, and municipal taken together) has also been trimming budgets and laying people off, after an initial burst of spending during the Obama stimulus. ”

Washington Post: Strategies for Sustainable Growth – “The challenge of secular stagnation, then, is not just to achieve reasonable growth but to do so in a financially sustainable way. There are, essentially, three approaches. The first would emphasize what is seen as the economy’s deep supply-side fundamentals: the skills of the workforce, companies’ capacity for innovation, structural tax reform and ensuring the sustainability of entitlement programs. ”

Wall Street Journal: The Economic Hokum of ‘Secular Stagnation’ — “There are many problems with this neo-secular stagnation hypothesis. First, it implies that there should have been slack economic conditions and high unemployment in the five years before the crisis, even with the very low interest rates—especially in 2003-05—and the lax regulatory policy.”

February 04 2014

08:41

‘Emerging Markets’ Take A Hit

“Emerging markets” around the world — Turkey, Argentina, South Africa, more – were supposed to be the next big wave of economic energy. Now, they’re in trouble. We’ll ask why.

The going rate of U.S. dollars and euros is displayed outside a foreign exchange business in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. The Argentine government announced Friday Jan. 24, it was relaxing restrictions on the purchase of U.S. dollars. The measure would start taking effect Monday, allowing Argentines to buy dollars for personal savings, reversing a 2012 restriction. (AP)

The going rate of U.S. dollars and euros is displayed outside a foreign exchange business in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Monday, Jan. 27, 2014. The Argentine government announced Friday Jan. 24, it was relaxing restrictions on the purchase of U.S. dollars. The measure would start taking effect Monday, allowing Argentines to buy dollars for personal savings, reversing a 2012 restriction. (AP)

Guests

Mike Regan, editor-at-large for Bloomberg News. (@Reganonymous)

Scheherazade Rehman, professor of international business, finance and international affairs at George Washington University. (@Prof_Rehman)

Ian Bremmer, president and founder of Eurasia Group. Author of “Every Nation for Itself: Winners and Losers In a G-Zero World.” (@ianbremmer)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Economist: China loses its allure –”For the past three decades, multinationals have poured in. After the financial crisis, many companies looked to China for salvation. Now it looks as though the gold rush may be over.”

Wall Street Journal: Gobal Companies Address Latin American Risk — “Drooping currencies in Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela have reduced the value of sales there in dollar terms, while inflation has made it hard for many consumers to afford much beyond necessities. Argentina’s heavy government spending and a loose money policy have fueled inflation estimated at more than 25% a year. In Venezuela, inflation is running at more than 50%, and price controls are creating shortages.”

Reuters: Weak U.S. data sends dollar, equities lower — “Emerging market stocks extended a two-week selloff as weak Chinese manufacturing and services data weighed, while the Turkish lira and South African rand weakened after policymakers poured cold water on expectations of higher local interest rates.”

February 03 2014

06:51

The Tense Trail Of The Keystone XL Pipeline

We’ll follow the path of the Keystone XL Pipeline from Canada’s Tar Sands country through the heart of America and hear the furious debate over its fate.

photo

View this gallery on Flickr »

Guests

Coral Davenport, energy and environment correspondent for the New York Times. (@CoralMDavenport)

Tony Horwitz,  author and journalist. Author of the new book “BOOM: Oil, Money, Cowboys, Strippers, and the Energy Rush That Could Change America Forever.” Also author of ”Confederates in the Attic,” “Blue Latitudes,” “Baghdad Without a Map,” “A Voyage Long and Strange” and “Midnight Rising.” (@tonyhorwitz)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Report May Ease Way to Approval of Keystone Pipeline — “The long-awaited environmental impact statement on the project concludes that approval or denial of the pipeline, which would carry 830,000 barrels of oil a day from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, is unlikely to prompt oil companies to change the rate of their extraction of carbon-heavy tar sands oil, a State Department official said. Either way, the tar sands oil, which produces significantly more planet-warming carbon pollution than standard methods of drilling, is coming out of the ground, the report says.”

U.S. State Department: Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement — “There is existing demand for crude oil—particularly heavy crude oil—at refiners in the Gulf Coast area, but  the ultimate disposition of crude oil that would be  transported by the proposed Project, as well as any  refined products produced from that crude oil, would also be determined by market demand and applicable law.”

The Walrus: Big Mac — “Until recently, Alberta has been slow to release Crown land to the municipality, mostly because it sits on vast reserves of bitumen. Work is finally set to begin on two new suburban developments, each on the scale of Eagle Ridge, which will provide housing for at least 50,000 people. By 2030, Fort McMurray could be a city of almost a quarter million.”

Key Facts And Figures From The Latest State Department EIS

Read An Excerpt From Tony Horwitz’s “Pipe Dreams”

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January 30 2014

21:36

A Conservative Case For A Higher Minimum Wage

Our Jan. 28 hour on economic mobility and the current state of ‘The American Dream’ featured a fascinating closing segment on an unusual campaign for a higher minimum wage in California.

Ron Unz (AP)

Ron Unz (AP)

The advocate? Conservative millionaire Ron Unz, chairman of the Higher Wages Alliance and part of a growing number of figures on the right side of the political spectrum asking for a higher minimum wage. Unz is advocating for a state wage as high as $12 an hour in the Golden State. He was joined on our air by Mercatus Center economist Tyler Cowen, who thinks a higher minimum wage is a step in the wrong direction.

TOM ASHBROOK: President Obama will announce tonight that he is ordering the minimum wage for federal contracting to be raised from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. There’s a push on in Congress to raise the minimum wage for all Americans to $10.10 an hour. A millioniare conservative in California, Ron Unz, is pushing a state ballot measure for a $12 minimum wage in California. Unz says it’s time to stop allowing big companies to pay so little that the government has to step in with services to support the working poor. What do you think? Does a conservative argument for a higher minimum wage make sense to you?

Ron Unz joins me now from Stanford, California. He’s chairman of the Higher Wages Alliance. Ron Unz, welcome to On Point. Thanks very much for being here.

RON UNZ: Great to be here.

TA: We’ve heard you make the case, but make it for us right now: why a $12 minimum wage for California?

RU: Well The situation right now is that so many tens of millions of low-wage workers in the United States can’t get by on their own paychecks. Therefore, they receive vast numbers of dollars form the taxpayers andthe government. The total around the country is $250 billion a year in social welfare spending going to the working poor. If the working poor were paid a reasonable wage by their employer, they would no longer be eligible for many of those programs, and the taxpayers would save tens of billions of dollars a year. What we have right now is a system where many of these businesses have privatized the benefits of their workers, they get the work, and socialized the cost and shifted the expense to the rest of society and to the taxpayers, and I don’t think that makes sense.

TA: How are your fellow conservatives responding to your idea of a $12 minimum wage in California?

RU: Surprisingly open to the idea. I mean the minimum wage is an issue that really dropped off the American radar screen 10, 20, 30 years ago. It hasn’t been one of these hot-button ideological issues. The main concerns conservatives have is whether a higher minimum wage would cause massive job less. The evidence is that it wouldn’t, very few workers would lose their jobs, their in the non-tradeable service sectors. All that would happen would be that the extra costs would be passed along to the consumer. And the price rises would be very small. Wal-Mart could cover a $12 minimum wage by raising their prices one percent, one time.

TA: Onepercent, one time, at Wal-Mart and just keep it there, on out, and that would cover all this? If you had a 12 minimum wage in California what would that mean if you had a two income family — where would it put their annual earnings?

RU: It would be a life changing difference. A single worker, at $12 a hour minimum wage, would make $25,000 a year. A couple would make $50,000 a year. $50,000 a year doesn’t make you affluent, it doesn’t make you rich, but you can generally get by on something like that. And the tax-payers would save tens of billions of dollars each year nationwide if something like that were generally adopted.

TA: There’s the argument from millionaire Ron Unz. He’s former publisher for the American Conservative, he’s saying higher minimum wage for California, $12 an hour.

10:42

The Next Trade Frontier

President Obama is pushing for two big new trade deals – in the Pacific, with Europe. Democrats are resisting. We’ll dig in.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, second right, speaks with his country's Trade Representative Michael Froman, as New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, second left, speaks with his Trade Minister Tim Groser, left, at the Trans-Pacific Partnership meet in Bali, Indonesia, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. Leaders of the dozen countries involved in the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership met in Bali after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit to work on plans for a free trade area they hope will eventually encompass the entire region. (AP)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, second right, speaks with his country’s Trade Representative Michael Froman, as New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, second left, speaks with his Trade Minister Tim Groser, left, at the Trans-Pacific Partnership meet in Bali, Indonesia, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013. Leaders of the dozen countries involved in the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership met in Bali after the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit to work on plans for a free trade area they hope will eventually encompass the entire region. (AP)

Guests

William Mauldin, international economics and trade correspondent for The Wall Street Journal. (@willmauldin)

Jim Kolbe, senior transatlantic fellow for the German Marshall Fund of the United States. Former 11-term Congressman (R-Arizona). Strategic consultant to the Council on Foreign Relations.

Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic Policy Research. (@markweisbrot)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Guardian: NAFTA: 20 years of regret for Mexico — “Our neglected infrastructure aside, it is easy to see that NAFTA was a bad deal for most Americans. The promised trade surpluses with Mexico turned out to be deficits, some hundreds of thousands of jobs were lost, and there was downward pressure on US wages – which was, after all, the purpose of the agreement. This was not like the European Union’s (pre-Eurozone) economic integration, which allocated hundreds of billions of dollars of development aid to the poorer countries of Europe so as to pull their living standards up toward the average. ”

Washington Post: In Davos, nations vow to extend global trade deal — “WTO Director-General Robert Azevedo said negotiating process must be transparent and inclusive, so every member can have a voice and participate, but that ‘the do-ability test is very important” in working toward an expanded free-trade deal that balances “ambition and realism.’ The Bali deal could boost global trade by $1 trillion over time, and its centerpiece was an agreement on measures to ease barriers to trade by simplifying customs procedures and making them more transparent.”

Wall Street Journal: Lawmakers Unveil ‘Fast Track’ Bill for Trade Agreements — “Under the fast-track procedure, known formally as ‘trade promotion authority,’ Congress agrees to approve trade deals with an up-or-down vote, without amending them or slowing them down with procedural tactics. But the measure is shaping up as a hard sell on Capitol Hill, and even groups that support it say they don’t expect it to advance without a fight. Labor groups and some environmental organizations oppose it, and a number of Democrats are unhappy that the currency language is nonbinding, meaning negotiators will press countries to comply but can fall short of the goal.”

January 29 2014

06:42

State Of The Union And The State Of The Obama Presidency

We’ll dive into President Obama’s State of the Union Address. Analysis — and where the President stands — with Riehan Salam, Kristen Welker and Amy Davidson.

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union Address in front of the joint session of the U.S. Congress on Jan. 28, 2014. (AP)

President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union Address in front of the joint session of the U.S. Congress on Jan. 28, 2014. (AP)

Guests

Amy Davidson, senior editor at The New Yorker. (@tnycloseread)

Reihan Salam, writer for National Review and Reuters Opinion. Co-author of “Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream.” (@reihan)

Kristen Welker, NBC News White House correspondent. (@kwelkerNBC)

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: Obama to Press for ‘Year of Action’ – “The speech repackages many of the policy proposals Mr. Obama has so far failed to achieve, including infrastructure projects, early childhood education programs and plans for making college more affordable. He’s also renewing calls on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, covering all U.S. workers, and pass an overhaul of the immigration system.”

New York Times: Obama Taking Up Economic Issues on His Authority – “Promising ‘a year of action’ as he tries to rejuvenate a presidency mired in low approval ratings and stymied by partisan stalemates, Mr. Obama used his annual State of the Union address to chart a new path forward relying on his own executive authority. But the defiant, go-it-alone approach was more assertive than any of the individual policies he advanced.”

Washington Post: Obama prepared to avoid Congress, go it alone on carrying out modest initiatives – “For the first time since taking office, Obama spoke to Congress on Tuesday evening from a clear position of confrontation. The areas he identified for possible cooperation with a divided Congress have shrunk, leaving an agenda filled out by a growing number of modest initiatives that he intends to carry out alone.”

January 28 2014

10:52

A New Report On American Economic Mobility

Inequality and mobility in America. We’ll look at the latest big report.

Maggie Barcellano helps her daughter, Zoe, 3, use a pepper grinder with dinner at Barcellano's father's house in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014. Barcellano, who lives with her father, enrolled in the food stamps program to help save up for paramedic training while she works as a home health aide and raises her daughter. Working-age people now make up the majority in U.S. households that rely on food stamps, a switch from a few years ago when children and the elderly were the main recipients. (AP)

Maggie Barcellano helps her daughter, Zoe, 3, use a pepper grinder with dinner at Barcellano’s father’s house in Austin, Texas on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014. Barcellano, who lives with her father, enrolled in the food stamps program to help save up for paramedic training while she works as a home health aide and raises her daughter. Working-age people now make up the majority in U.S. households that rely on food stamps, a switch from a few years ago when children and the elderly were the main recipients. (AP)

Guest

Nathan Hendren, professor of economics at Harvard University. Co-author of the recent studies, “Is the United States Still a Land of Opportunity? Recent Trends In Intergenerational Mobility?” and “Where is the Land of Opportunity? The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility In the United States.”

From Tom’s Reading List

Wall Street Journal: New Data Muddle Debate on Economic Mobility — “Politicians of both parties have asserted in recent months that it has become harder for a child from a low-income family to eventually be among the highest wage earners in the country. The parties also are blaming each other as they seek solutions. Democrats say Republicans are trying to dismantle safety-net programs that help the poor, and many Republicans say social-welfare programs are only making problems worse. President Barack Obama has called economic opportunity the defining challenge of our time and is expected to make it a focus of his State of the Union address this week.”

The Atlantic: Economists: Your Parents Are More Important Than Ever — “The income of your parents matters—not just as a strong predictor for your own income (given how weak social mobility is), but also as a nudge for your life path. The kids of rich parents are 80 percent more likely to attend college than those of low-income parents. Teenage daughters of the poorest parents are 37 percent more likely to have a child than girls born in the richest decile.”

New York Times: Raise the Minimum Wage to $12 an Hour – “A $12 minimum wage is hardly extreme or ridiculous. At the 1968 height of our post-war economic prosperity, the American minimum wage was over $10.50 in current dollars, and setting the rate at $12 today would represent a real rise of merely 11 percent over a 45-year period, which seems reasonable since worker productivity has grown by over 115 percent during the same period. ”

A Conservative Call For A Higher Minimum Wage

Ron Unz, chairman of The Higher Wages Alliance. Former publisher of The American Conservative. (@unzreview)

Tyler Cowen, chairman and general director of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Professor of economics and author of “Average is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of Great Stagnation” and “An Economist Gets Lunch.” (@tylercowen)

January 24 2014

07:30

Week In The News: Syrian Peace Talks, Olympic Terror Threats, Obama On Pot

Syria peace talks. The President on pot. A hunt for black widows in Sochi. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

Haitham al-Maleh, senior member of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), Syria's main political opposition group, sits alone at the opposition table during the first day of the Syrian peace talks in Montreux, Switzerland, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. The Syrian peace talks begin with a bitter clash over President Bashar Assad's future. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Assad's decision to meet peaceful dissent with brutal force had robbed him of all legitimacy, while Assad's foreign minister declared that no one outside Syria had the right to remove the government. (AP)

Haitham al-Maleh, senior member of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), Syria’s main political opposition group, sits alone at the opposition table during the first day of the Syrian peace talks in Montreux, Switzerland, Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014. The Syrian peace talks begin with a bitter clash over President Bashar Assad’s future. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says Assad’s decision to meet peaceful dissent with brutal force had robbed him of all legitimacy, while Assad’s foreign minister declared that no one outside Syria had the right to remove the government. (AP)

Guests

Stephanie Grace, columnist for The Advocate in New Orleans. (@stephgracenola)

Michael Hirsh, chief correspondent for The National Journal. (@MichaelPHirsh)

Jack Beatty, On Point news analyst.

From Tom’s Reading List

BBC News: Syria Geneva II: UN to hold talks with rival groups – “If all goes well, the hope seems to be that the big political questions which they cannot agree on will be sidestepped, our correspondent says. Instead concrete steps such as local truces and access for aid convoys in Syria will be discussed. But with the lack of trust on either side, even that may collapse into disagreements.”

The Guardian: Rouhani to take center stage at Davos economic forum — “Officials have played down the chances of a meeting between the pair but stranger things have happened in the cushy corridors of Davos, where world leaders mingle freely with celebrities, CEOs and ministers in a more relaxed atmosphere than usual summits. Rouhani announced on Twitter that he was to have bilateral meetings with officials from other countries.”

NBC News: Sochi Olympics terrorism threat: Two more ‘black widow’ suspects identified — “Russian security officials are hunting for two more young Muslim women — so-called “black widow” terror suspects — who they believe are planning to target the final stages of the Olympic torch relay with suicide bomb attacks. Wanted posters distributed by police say that the women have been dispatched by underground groups to attack between Tuesday and Thursday in Rostov-on-Don, where the torch is expected to arrive Wednesday on its way to the Olympic city of Sochi.”

January 21 2014

09:50

Who’s Afraid Of ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’

“The Wolf of Wall Street” is making waves well beyond its Academy Award nominations. We’ll catch the controversy.

Banker Jordan Belfort (Leonard DiCaprio) runs a high-profile penny stock firm that pulls in big fees on nearly worthless stocks in the Martin Scorese film,

Banker Jordan Belfort (Leonard DiCaprio) runs a high-profile penny stock firm that pulls in big fees on nearly worthless stocks in the new Martin Scorsese film, “The Wolf Of Wall Street.” (Paramount Pictures)

Guests

David Edelstein, chief film critic for New York Magazine. Film critic for NPR’s “Fresh Air” and CBS’ “This Morning.”

Issac Chotiner, senior editor at The New Republic. (@IChotiner)

Joel Cohen, prosecutor with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

Sam Polk, founder and executive director of Groceryships. Former Wall Street trader. (@SamPolk)

From Tom’s Reading List

The Wrap: War Over ‘Wolf of Wall Street’: Scorsese’s Latest Ignites Online Brouhaha — “The donnybrook that has emerged online, however, covers much broader ground: Is Scorsese, some viewers ask, satirizing the outrageous behavior he’s portraying onscreen, or is he celebrating it? Belfort, after all, gets off (spoiler alert) with a slap on the wrist for his crimes, and the film never takes a pronounced stance regarding Belfort and his colleagues bilking their clients out of millions of dollars.”

L.A. Weekly: An Open Letter to the Makers of The Wolf of Wall Street, and the Wolf Himself — “As an 18-year-old, I had no idea what was going on. But then again, did anyone? Certainly your investors didn’t – and they were left holding the bag when you cashed out your holdings and got rich off their money. So Marty and Leo, while you glide through press junkets and look forward to awards season, let me tell you the truth – what happened to my mother, my two sisters and me.”

New York Times: For the Love of Money –”I wanted a billion dollars. It’s staggering to think that in the course of five years, I’d gone from being thrilled at my first bonus — $40,000 — to being disappointed when, my second year at the hedge fund, I was paid ‘only’ $1.5 million.”

January 14 2014

08:21

The Target Security Breech And Our Vulnerable Data

Target raises the number of customers who may have had debt and credit card information stolen to maybe 110 million. We’ll look at the national implications.

A customer pushes a cart outside of a Target store, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, in Jersey City, N.J.  The company has said that personal consumer data for up to 110 million customers may have been stolen in a massive data security breech. (AP)

A customer pushes a cart outside of a Target store, Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013, in Jersey City, N.J. The company has said that personal consumer data for up to 110 million customers may have been stolen in a massive data security breech. (AP)

Guests

Brian Krebs, author of the blog KrebsOnSecurity.com. (@briankrebs)

Avivah Litan, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. (@avivahl)

David Lazarus, consumer columnist for The Los Angeles Times. (@davidlaz)

From Tom’s Reading List

Los Angeles Times: Target hack hits home: Columnist is among fraud victims – “An identity thief ran up nearly $2,000 in bogus charges at Polo Ralph Lauren, Coach, Tommy Hilfiger and Burberry’s on Saturday — just hours after I published a column decrying the weak efforts of businesses to protect customer data. I’d appreciate the irony if I wasn’t so cheesed off.”

KrebsOnSecurity.com: Hackers Steal Card Data from Neiman Marcus — “Target released additional details about the breach today, saying hackers also compromised the names, mailing addresses, phone number and email addresses for up to 70 million individuals. But Target has so far not publicly released information that would help other retailers determine whether their systems may have been hit by the same attackers. Neiman Marcus’s Reeder said the company has no indication at this time that the breach at its stores is in any way related to the Target attack.”

Gartner Blog: Target Saga continues – too much for Fraud Detection systems? — “When I first heard of this breach, I was hopeful that the banks’ and card companies fraud detection systems could handle staving off any potential fraud. But after speaking with a few issuers, I realized I was wrong. And after hearing about Chase and Citi’s moves I realized the fraudsters are finally getting the upper hand and disrupting our holiday season.”

January 10 2014

07:11

Millennial Generation Searches For Meaning

The vision of a new generation. What millennials want from work, politics, life.

In this Teach for America Delta Institute released photograph taken July 5, 2013, TFA Curriculum Specialist Miles McCauley and University of Mississippi graduate, center, discusses techniques for making key points clear and engaging with corps members, Marcae Thompson, left, and Katherine Brown, both University of Alabama graduates at Pearman Elementary School, in Cleveland, Miss. (AP)

In this Teach for America Delta Institute released photograph taken July 5, 2013, TFA Curriculum Specialist Miles McCauley and University of Mississippi graduate, center, discusses techniques for making key points clear and engaging with corps members, Marcae Thompson, left, and Katherine Brown, both University of Alabama graduates at Pearman Elementary School, in Cleveland, Miss. (AP)

Guests

Emily Esfahani Smith, managing editor of the monthly arts and criticism publication, The New Criterion. Managing editor of the Hoover Insitutions’ online journal, “Defining Ideas.” Editor-in-chief of Acculturated. (@EmEsfahaniSmith)

Nona Willis Aronowitz, education and poverty reporter for NBCNews.com. (nona">@nona)

D.S. Kinsel, artist and program coordinator at MGR Youth Empowerment in Pittsburgh, PA. (@DSKinsel)

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: Millennial Searchers — “Today’s young adults born after 1980, known as Generation Y or the millennial generation, are the most educated generation in American history and, like the baby boomers, one of the largest. Yet since the Great Recession of 2008, they have been having a hard time. They are facing one of the worst job markets in decades. They are in debt. Many of them are unemployed. The income gap between old and young Americans is widening. To give you a sense of their lot, when you search “are millennials” in Google, the search options that come up include: ‘are millennials selfish,’ ‘are millennials lazy,’ and ‘are millennials narcissistic.’”

The Atlantic Cities: Where Millennials Can Make It Now — “My generation, the Millennials, are infamously the first Americans who are not necessarily expected to do better than their parents. Having come of age during the Great Recession and now a long-lived weak job market, the assumption is not only that we’ll be less wealthy, but that the traditional markers of adulthood will be delayed. Or never achieved at all. Yet this worry also assumes today’s twentysomethings are aiming for the same things as previous generations: either to make it big in the major cities that have traditionally held the promise of success, or to settle down in the house with the white picket fence in the suburbs.”

National Journal: Millennials Abandon Obama and Obamacare — “According to the poll, 57 percent of millennials disapprove of Obamacare, with 40 percent saying it will worsen their quality of care and a majority believing it will drive up costs. Only 18 percent say Obamacare will improve their care. Among 18-to-29-year-olds currently without health insurance, less than one-third say they’re likely to enroll in the Obamacare exchanges. More than two-thirds of millennials said they heard about the ACA through the media. That’s a bad omen for Obamacare, given the intensive coverage of the law’s botched rollout. Just one of every four young Americans said they discussed the law with a friend or through social media. Harvard’s John Della Volpe, who conducted the poll, said the president has done a poor job explaining the ACA to young Americans.”

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