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Krugman: We can get money for free, we should put it to work

There is no reason to lay off teachers and to cancel infrastructure spending when the rest of the world is willing to pay us to take their money. Money for Nothing - NYTimes.com
So investors are, in a sense, offering governments free money for the next 10 years; in fact, they’re willing to pay governments a modest fee for keeping their wealth safe. Now, those with a vested interest in the fiscal crisis story have made various attempts to explain away the failure of that crisis to materialize. One favorite is the claim that the Federal Reserve is keeping interest rates artificially low by buying government bonds. But that theory was put to the test last summer when the Fed temporarily suspended bond purchases. Many people — including Bill Gross of the giant bond fund Pimco — predicted a rate spike. Nothing happened. Oh, and pay no attention to the warnings that any day now we’ll turn into Greece, Greece I tell you. Countries like Greece, and for that matter Spain, are suffering from their ill-advised decision to give up their own currencies for the euro, which has left them vulnerable in a way that America just isn’t. So what is going on? The main answer is that this is what happens when you have a “deleveraging shock,” in which everyone is trying to pay down debt at the same time. Household borrowing has plunged; businesses are sitting on cash because there’s no reason to expand capacity when the sales aren’t there; and the result is that investors are all dressed up with nowhere to go, or rather no place to put their money. So they’re buying government debt, even at very low returns, for lack of alternatives. Moreover, by making money available so cheaply, they are in effect begging governments to issue more debt. And governments should be granting their wish, not obsessing over short-term deficits. Obligatory caveat: yes, we have a long-run budget problem, and we should be taking steps to address that problem, mainly by reining in health care costs. But it’s simply crazy to be laying off schoolteachers and canceling infrastructure projects at a time when investors are offering zero- or negative-interest financing. You don’t even have to make a Keynesian argument about jobs to see that. All you have to do is note that when money is cheap, that’s a good time to invest. And both education and infrastructure are investments in America’s future; we’ll eventually pay a large and completely gratuitous price for the way they’re being savaged.

July 24, 2012

The super rich are hiding at least $21 trillion in quasi-legal tax havens

Likely more. If this money were taxed at the proper rate it could dramatically improve the lives of Americans and Europeans. Tax evasion and avoidance is destroying our schools, forcing the government to sell off parks, and making us broke. And by "us" I mean everyone who is not in the 1% of the 1%. BBC News - Tax havens: Super-rich 'hiding' at least $21tn
A global super-rich elite had at least $21 trillion hidden in secret tax havens by the end of 2010, according to a major study. The figure is equivalent to the size of the US and Japanese economies combined. The Price of Offshore Revisited was written by James Henry, a former chief economist at the consultancy McKinsey, for the Tax Justice Network. Tax expert and UK government adviser John Whiting said he was sceptical that the amount hidden was so large. Mr Whiting, tax policy director at the Chartered Institute of Taxation, said: "There clearly are some significant amounts hidden away, but if it really is that size what is being done with it all?" Mr Henry said his $21tn is actually a conservative figure and the true scale could be $32tn. A trillion is 1,000 billion. Mr Henry used data from the Bank of International Settlements, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and national governments.

July 23, 2012

Chart: Let's compare the Democratic and Republican tax cut plans

Dem, GOP Tax Plans Differ On Tax Cuts For Middle Class, Wealthy | TPMDC