Let’s all hope this, at least, does not repeat. It’s a miracle the American Dream has survived this long.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking – far too much, actually – about this election. I am not going to blog here about the relative merits of each candidate – anyone undecided between these two extremely different candidates at this point hasn’t been paying attention. In fact, this will probably be my last election-related blog prior to the first results coming in. There are a few things bothering me, however, that I have to get off my chest:
1. Smoke and mirrors
2. Media spin
3. One party rule by super-majority: threat to checks and balances, or just another day in D.C.?
4. Who really pays
Greg Mankiw’s new post on his personal work incentives is required reading for anyone who wants to discuss taxes in this election cycle.
The idea is simple: our tax system uses marginal rates, meaning one rate applies to the first dollar earned and different rates kick in at different thresholds. (That is, unless you’re so economically productive or generous as to get stuck in the Alternative Minimum Tax system and get taxed at high flat rates.) The higher rate is called a marginal rate. This is the rate which applies to the last dollar a worker earns in a year. This rate is the rate which determines how much it’s worth to you to make the effort to earn that last dollar. If you’re acting rationally, it’s the rate which determines whether you take a second job, have a one- or two-income family, or start that business on the side you’ve been talking about.
Mankiw takes it one step further and asks how much he could leave for his kids out of that last dollar under each presidential candidate’s plan. You could do the same thing for any long period of time, of course, like saving for retirement or for your kid’s college education.
Do yourself a favor and read the post.
Not Everyone Should Own a Home. Amen. What the Australians, the Europeans, and those who actually have to make their living in banking all get is that many, many people lack the means and others the responsibility to own their own homes. What was lacking in the run-up to the current bubble was not regulation. On the contrary, what was lacking was a free market – lenders were pressured more and more forcefully into suicidal maneuvers; most of them, facing oppressive government in the short term, opted for the long-term risk, held their noses, and took the plunge. And here we are, having inflated credit and the nominal money supply beyond all reasonable bounds, watching institutions which weathered two world wars and the Great Depression fold on a weekly basis. Methinks the problem was not leaving them alone too much of the time…
From the New York Times: Dr. Doom – Profile – Nouriel Roubini – Predicting Crisis in the United States Economy.
Hat tip: Greg Mankiw.