A Financial Transaction Tax to Meet Human Needs

A financial transaction tax (FTT), also called a “Robin Hood Tax” (RHT), is a very small tax on the trading (buying/selling) of financial assets such as stocks, bonds, currencies and derivatives (futures and options) based on these assets. Essentially a sales tax, such as when we buy/sell shoes or computers.

At a time of unparalleled economic inequality, there has been a renewed interest in such a tax, particularly on large exchanges such as the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME). CPEG’s Bill Barclay, who previously appeared on Fox Business News to argue for the proposal, recently authored a helpful question and answer piece about what a “Robin Hood Tax” would look like for Illinois. Download the Financial Transaction Tax Q&A.

Commentary on the March 2014 BLS Jobs Report

A limping economy reflected in feeble jobs numbers and inadequate policy prescriptions. Those are the conclusions to be drawn from the Department of Labor’s March Jobs report and Fed Chair Janet Yellen’s March 31 speech in Chicago.

The March jobs situation illustrates the problems of a static economy which added 192,000 jobs, down from February’s 197,000 jobs. Unemployment was unchanged at 6.7 percent. Unemployment among African Americans rose over the previous month, from 12 to 12.4 percent, while Latino unemployment decreased slightly from 8.1 to 7.9 percent.

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Guest Post: The Economics Of Social Democracy

This guest post is authored by noted US/UK political economist and friend of CPEG John Weeks. Weeks is an economist and Professor Emeritus at SOAS, University of London. This article is a cross-post from the European Social Journal website.

In a recent article in the Social Europe Journal, Shayn McCallum develops in some detail his interpretation of the “political economy” of social democracy. Central to his approach is the work of Karl Polanyi, and specially the famous Chapter 6 of The Great Transformation, “The Self-regulating Market and the Fictitious Commodities: Labor, Land, and Money”. This chapter, obviously influenced by Karl Marx who is not cited, provides the basis for developing the “economics” of social democracy.

I specifically seek to distinguish the economic policy framework of social democracy from that of “liberalism” as that term is used in the United States (for a longer discussion see Chapter 10 of my new book, The Economics of the 1%). US-style Liberalism under different names has characterized the policies of the left of center parties in most of Western Europe.

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Commentary on the January 2014 BLS Jobs Report

The anemic recovery of the labor market proceeded apace in January, with unemployment ticking down by only a tenth of a point, from 6.7 to 6.6% (10.2 million people.) Job creation sputtered along at little more than half the rate that prevailed in the autumn, with only 113,000 jobs added. That is only just enough to keep up with population-driven growth in the labor force. Taken together with the even weaker job-creation performance in December (a mere 75,000 jobs added) it once again raises doubts about the depth and durability of the recovery that started in June 2009. It is no small irony that the January report, which documents the persistence of historically high (35.8%) levels of unemployment lasting over half a year, was released only a day after a Senate filibuster blocked the approval of extended unemployment insurance payments to the long-term unemployed.

It is well known that that the standard unemployment rate tells only about half the story of the shortage of jobs. Ignored by the official statistics are those who have had to settle for only part time work, and those whose efforts to find work over the previous 12 months have not included explicitly “looking” for work in the past week. Counting these officially uncounted job-seekers would give us an overall unemployment rate of 12.7% (20 million people).

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Illinois’ New Class-Based Pension Math

This article, authored by CPEG’s Ron Baiman, originally appeared on the Dollars and Sense; Real World Economics blog in December 2013.

Having boxed themselves into a political dead-end by adopting the austerity agenda of the business community as represented by the Illinois “Civic Federation,” Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan and Illinois and Democratic Governor Pat Quinn on Tuesday, Dec. 3, rammed through a state Pension cutting bill that would reportedly reduce the state’s $ 100 B unfunded pension liability by $160 B. The Democratic President of the Senate, John Cullerton (a supporter of a Senate bill negotiated with the unions that would have cut less and given workers a choice of options), voted for the House bill, but warned it had “serious constitutional problems” and was reportedly silent during the debate, not present when the final deal was announced and a no-show at an earlier meeting attended by the three other legislative leaders. As is documented below, Cullerton’s concerns are well-founded as this bill presumes that $160 B of pension liability reductions are somehow equivalent to a roughly $26 B cut in the value of pension contributions from state workers.

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