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Analysis and Comment (35)

This train will not be stopping at jail. This train will not be stopping at jail. Ed Schipul

The 1% game the system and the rest no longer want to play

Every year I ask my class on “Wealth and Poverty” to play a simple game. I have them split up into pairs, and imagine I’m giving one of them $1,000. They can keep some of the money only on condition they…
While the US government remains shut down, the long game for Republicans like Speaker John Boehner remains the debt ceiling crisis. While the US government remains shut down, the long game for Republicans like Speaker John Boehner remains the debt ceiling crisis. EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo

Raise the roof: the politics of the US debt ceiling crisis

The US government shutdown is in its second week, but attention in the country has shifted elsewhere: to the looming debt ceiling crisis. On October 17, the US runs out of money to pay its bills. Both…
Odds are Republicans will decide to, once again, raise the debt ceiling rather than face sovereign default. But what lies beyond the vote for Obama? Odds are Republicans will decide to, once again, raise the debt ceiling rather than face sovereign default. But what lies beyond the vote for Obama? AAP

From government shutdown to stalled Asia pivot, signals of Obama’s Requiem

Most commentary on the US government shutdown concerns the apparent disregard some pigheaded Republicans have for the harm it could do to the American and global economies. While the shutdown will likely…
Yolo. Yolo. EPA/Michael Reynolds

Boehner risks his reputation in Obamacare shutdown

Republican Speaker John Boehner faced a choice between two unappetising gambles on Monday night. One option was to cut a deal with Democrats to continue federal government spending at present levels, and…
Big car firms now make huge sums from financial subsidiaries. Big car firms now make huge sums from financial subsidiaries. Martin Rickett/PA

Short-term profit seeking risks the future of manufacturing

In both the US and UK, policymakers have been excited to see a small but significant increase in manufacturing activity and exports. While growth in manufacturing jobs has been sporadic, the creation of…
Nice eagle, shame about the growth. Nice eagle, shame about the growth. Tim Evanson

Quantitative easing has undermined US growth

With the US economy experiencing an extremely slow recovery from the recession of 2007-09, debates over the role of monetary policy have come to the forefront, especially given the variety of new powers…
In aiming for a deficit in 2013-14, Treasurer Wayne Swan has made a future surplus more likely. In aiming for a deficit in 2013-14, Treasurer Wayne Swan has made a future surplus more likely. AAP

Deficit hysteria debunked: in the long run, Keynes was right

Recent years have demonstrated the enduring strength of a core Keynesian insight: deficit spending may result in higher growth and enable states to move more quickly into surplus. In this light, Australian…
Barack Obama’s recent budget pursues the goals of full employment and fiscal balance, objectives that were heavily emphasised under Bill Clinton’s leadership. Barack Obama’s recent budget pursues the goals of full employment and fiscal balance, objectives that were heavily emphasised under Bill Clinton’s leadership. AAP

Party like it’s 1999: Obama’s budget borrows from Clinton’s playbook

Is it 2013 or 1999? Barack Obama’s evolution into a more successful Bill Clinton may be complete with the issuance of his recent budget. On the one hand, Obama’s budget cuts entitlement spending by adopting…
The US remains the most militarily powerful nation on Earth - but will budget cuts bring it back to the fold? The US remains the most militarily powerful nation on Earth - but will budget cuts bring it back to the fold? EPA/Zurab Kurtsikidze

Budget cuts: will American military power suffer?

The maelstrom surrounding budget cuts that has engulfed the United States over the last twelve months seems no nearer to reaching a satisfactory conclusion. The U.S. Congressional House and Senate currently…
The deadline for the US budget sequester —which will see across-the-board spending cuts of $US 85 billion implemented over the fiscal year — is rapidly approaching. The deadline for the US budget sequester —which will see across-the-board spending cuts of $US 85 billion implemented over the fiscal year — is rapidly approaching. AAP

No silver lining to US budget sequester

The first thing you should know about the sequester is that nearly everyone agrees that it’s a bad idea. In fact, that was the point. In the summer of 2011, with congressional Republicans refusing to raise…
President Obama has proposed raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9, reigniting the debate about the effect of a wage hike on unemployment. President Obama has proposed raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9, reigniting the debate about the effect of a wage hike on unemployment. flickr\brianwallace

Obama’s pledge to raise the minimum wage is good policy

In his State of the Union address, US President Barack Obama reignited a perennial debate in his proposal to increase the minimum wage from its current level of $7.25 an hour to $9.00 an hour. Advocating…
By opting for restraint in his state of the union speech, Obama presented his ideas not as bold initiatives to revive the liberal tradition, but as pragmatic proposals with widespread bipartisan support. By opting for restraint in his state of the union speech, Obama presented his ideas not as bold initiatives to revive the liberal tradition, but as pragmatic proposals with widespread bipartisan support. EPA

Obama extends a light hand of liberalism to Americans

Barack Obama opened his fourth state of the union address to Congress with words from another Democratic president, John Kennedy: “The Constitution makes us not rivals for power but partners for progress…
Obama outlined an ambitious economic agenda to foster growth and rebuild America’s middle class. Obama outlined an ambitious economic agenda to foster growth and rebuild America’s middle class. AAP

State of the Union: Obama lays out his economic agenda

President Obama left little doubt during his State of the Union address as to what his top priority will be in the years ahead. “A growing economy that creates good, middle-class jobs”, the President declared…
It may seem like an idea with currency, but miinting a trillion dollar coin to sidestep the debt ceiling is a fabricated solution to a fabricated crisis. It may seem like an idea with currency, but miinting a trillion dollar coin to sidestep the debt ceiling is a fabricated solution to a fabricated crisis. Wikimedia Commons

The trillion-dollar coin: change Americans can believe in

In the midst of genuine economic and political challenges, Tea Party Republicans have been hard at work generating additional problems. From the debt-ceiling showdown that cost the US its AAA credit rating…
President Obama’s deficit reduction plan is likely to take a razor to the US social safety net. President Obama’s deficit reduction plan is likely to take a razor to the US social safety net. AAP

Obama’s fiscal ‘grand bargain’ is a great betrayal of America’s most vulnerable

Fiscal cliff. Grand bargain. Shared sacrifice. The buzzwords on Capitol Hill this December tell a dramatic story. The United States, hurtling toward an unavoidable economic disaster, can be saved only…
Resolving the US' fiscal cliff through taxation reform will prove challenging for the President. Resolving the US' fiscal cliff through taxation reform will prove challenging for the President. AAP

No clear resolution for the US fiscal cliff

When President Obama took office in 2008, there was little time for rest or reflection. The economy was in freefall and immediate action was required. This time around, the situation is not so dire. But…
Without serious, structural fiscal reforms — which require bipartisanship and compromise — the US economy could go into free fall. Without serious, structural fiscal reforms — which require bipartisanship and compromise — the US economy could go into free fall. Bungee jump image from www.shutterstock.com

Is the US set to jump off a fiscal cliff?

As we check our political calendars, many look to November 6 as the crucial date that will determine the future direction for US politics and the nation’s ailing economy. But in policy terms, it is January…
Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, is hoping that a third round of quantitative easing can bolster confidence in the US economy. Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, is hoping that a third round of quantitative easing can bolster confidence in the US economy. AAP

Bringing out the big guns: Bernanke unleashes QE3

Finding bright spots in the US economy is a seemingly thankless task. The unemployment rate, despite dipping slightly in previous months, remains above 8%; last month, employers could only add 96,000 jobs…
Barack Obama’s life may be fascinating, but he isn’t as powerful as we think. Barack Obama’s life may be fascinating, but he isn’t as powerful as we think. AFP/Saul Loeb

The power of personality - why we all follow the soap opera of American politics

Sarah Palin’s voice, both in sound and content, still has the power to stop me dead in my tracks with fear and bewilderment. Her game of will she/won’t she run for the US Presidency has ended, but not…
Barack Obama’s handling of the economy will be closely scrutinised in the US presidential election campaign next year. Barack Obama’s handling of the economy will be closely scrutinised in the US presidential election campaign next year. AFP/Mandel Ngan

It’s the economy, stupid: The US Presidential elections in 2012

President Barack Obama’s handling of the US economy has come under close scrutiny following the publication of Confidence Men by Ron Suskind - which charts his struggle to contain the Wall Street crash…
World Bank chief Robert Zoellick and IMF head Christine Lagarde have doubts about global growth. World Bank chief Robert Zoellick and IMF head Christine Lagarde have doubts about global growth. AAP

Spooking the markets: should financial leaders keep quiet during crises?

Global markets have tumbled again this week, following the downgrading of Italy’s debt rating and a series of negative comments from leaders of the world’s financial institutions. International Monetary…
President Obama has proposed $US1.5 trillion worth of tax increases for the rich. President Obama has proposed $US1.5 trillion worth of tax increases for the rich. AAP

Evoking Keynes and Truman, Obama’s plan is good policy and smart politics

Sometimes good policy and good politics are the same thing. By tying together lessons learned from economist John Maynard Keynes and former president Harry Truman, Barack Obama is taking steps that may…
Obama’s mishandling of the politics of stimulus and deficit may be costing him voter support. Obama’s mishandling of the politics of stimulus and deficit may be costing him voter support.

As Obama’s jobs plan fails to find support, are voters losing the faith?

President Barack Obama’s $US447 billion jobs plan appears to be struggling. Republican resistance to some aspects of the rescue deal announced last week - particularly around government spending - was…
In announcing his $US447 billion stimulus, Obama has his eyes firmly on the US election in 2012. In announcing his $US447 billion stimulus, Obama has his eyes firmly on the US election in 2012.

Obama throws down electoral gauntlet with economic plan

Barack Obama has laid out a US$447 billion (A$421 billion) plan to cut payroll taxes and boost government spending to create jobs, in a bid to “jolt” the stalled US economy back to life. Obama told a joint…
Decades of US wage stagnation lies behind why repeated fiscal stimulus and monetary easing has failed. Decades of US wage stagnation lies behind why repeated fiscal stimulus and monetary easing has failed. AAP

Panic is easing - but this global economic instability isn’t going away soon

The past several weeks on global financial markets has been quite some roller coaster ride. As the US flirted with the prospect of default and Standard & Poor’s downgraded the country’s credit rating…
Stock markets around the world plummeted after news of the US credit rating downgrade (EPA/FRANK RUMPENHORST) Stock markets around the world plummeted after news of the US credit rating downgrade (EPA/FRANK RUMPENHORST)

Debt dive: why is the US at the mercy of anonymous credit agencies?

Without the firing of a single shot in anger, a country has been, at least in a sense, brought to its economic knees. The capitalist system, with variations and aberrations, is now reacting. Shares are…
Barack Obama led a cheery cabinet after avoiding a US default - but was the deal too late? Barack Obama led a cheery cabinet after avoiding a US default - but was the deal too late?

Hold on: we’re in a for a hell of a ride

“Most importantly it will allow us to avoid default and end the crisis that Washington imposed on the rest of America. And it will allow us to lift the cloud of doubt and uncertainty.” President Barack…
The US debt deal: hold onto your hats, it’s going to be a hell of a ride. The US debt deal: hold onto your hats, it’s going to be a hell of a ride. AAP

Of debt and US dollars: when bad money chases out good

“A catastrophe on multiple levels.” That’s how New York Times columnist Paul Krugman characterised the US debt deal brokered this week between Democrats and Republicans. President Obama on Tuesday signed…
Barack Obama announces an agreement has been reached to resolve the US debt crisis. Barack Obama announces an agreement has been reached to resolve the US debt crisis. AAP

US debt deal: experts respond

US President Barack Obama says Democrat and Republican leaders have reached an agreement on reducing US debt, before the August 2 debt ceiling deadline. Failure to reach a deal may have led to a historic…
Minnesota’s three-week shutdown saw basic government services stripped back. Minnesota’s three-week shutdown saw basic government services stripped back. Flickr/mngop

Minnesota shutdown broadens the blue-red chasm in US politics

Minnesotans have breathed a sigh of relief after the state’s Republican-led legislature signed off on a budget deal negotiated with Democratic Governor Mark Dayton, ending a three-week state government…
Intense US debt ceiling negotiations in a political war of nerve; but no resolution yet. Intense US debt ceiling negotiations in a political war of nerve; but no resolution yet. AAP

No hard ceilings? The dance around US debt intensifies

International ratings agencies Moody’s and Standard & Poors have both indicated they would consider downgrading the US’s debt rating as negotiations aimed at raising the country’s statutory US$12.3…
US House Speaker John Boehner wants government programs cut: but is austerity politics the answer? US House Speaker John Boehner wants government programs cut: but is austerity politics the answer? AAP

US austerity politics playing on default fears mask a looming problem

For some time, it appeared that the severity of the global financial crisis had created a compelling “learning moment” that promised to return the world to a more civilised form of capitalism. Insufficient…
Weak labour data sent a signal to investors that US share markets might be overvalued. Weak labour data sent a signal to investors that US share markets might be overvalued. AAP

Accounting for Wall Street’s week of carnage

Share markets in the US and around the world are expected to fall again this week following sharp declines on Wall Street last week. The Dow Jones industrial average closed on Friday down 2.3% for the…

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