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The Incidental Economist. The Fiscal Times - Business, Economics, Politics and Finance. Introducing New Video Series, The Bottom Line. Number of the Week. 48,000: The difference between the three-month average jobs added now and July.

Number of the Week

Nothing puts the joy in holidays like a burst of job growth. Friday’s employment report showed the U.S. economy generated 203,000 new jobs in November on top of 200,000 added in October. The Other School of Economics. Why Inequality Doesn't Matter. From the corridors of power in Washington to protest encampments on Wall Street, economic inequality is once again at the forefront of American public debate.

Why Inequality Doesn't Matter

The combination of rising fortunes at the upper end of the income distribution and stagnation lower down has led to calls from the left for actions to redress the imbalance and punish what Theodore Roosevelt called "malefactors of great wealth. " If the immediate circumstances are new, however, battles over the significance and implications of inequality are not, and in this context we feel it useful to resurrect a skeptical perspective on the subject from a previous era. Irving Kristol's 1980 essay "Some Personal Reflections on Economic Well-Being and Income Distribution," originally prepared for the National Bureau of Economic Research and published in Reflections of a Neoconservative, is thus reprinted below.

The capitalist network that runs the world - physics-math - 19 October 2011. AS PROTESTS against financial power sweep the world this week, science may have confirmed the protesters' worst fears.

the capitalist network that runs the world - physics-math - 19 October 2011

An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, with disproportionate power over the global economy. The study's assumptions have attracted some criticism, but complex systems analysts contacted by New Scientist say it is a unique effort to untangle control in the global economy. Pushing the analysis further, they say, could help to identify ways of making global capitalism more stable. The idea that a few bankers control a large chunk of the global economy might not seem like news to New York's Occupy Wall Street movement and protesters elsewhere (see photo).

Rational Irrationality: Charting the Great Inequality Debate. On this week’s Political Scene podcast, Dorothy Wickenden asked me why inequality has suddenly emerged as a live political issue.

Rational Irrationality: Charting the Great Inequality Debate

After ignoring the subject for years, even Republicans are being forced to address it. Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, is set to deliver a speech today about income disparity and ideas for promoting social mobility. The Shadow Superpower - By Robert Neuwirth. With only a mobile phone and a promise of money from his uncle, David Obi did something the Nigerian government has been trying to do for decades: He figured out how to bring electricity to the masses in Africa's most populous country.

The Shadow Superpower - By Robert Neuwirth

It wasn't a matter of technology. David is not an inventor or an engineer, and his insights into his country's electrical problems had nothing to do with fancy photovoltaics or turbines to harness the harmattan or any other alternative sources of energy. Instead, 7,000 miles from home, using a language he could hardly speak, he did what traders have always done: made a deal. He contracted with a Chinese firm near Guangzhou to produce small diesel-powered generators under his uncle's brand name, Aakoo, and shipped them home to Nigeria, where power is often scarce.

David's deal, struck four years ago, was not massive -- but it made a solid profit and put him on a strong footing for success as a transnational merchant. The True Costs of Humanitarian Intervention. As forces fighting Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi consolidated control of Tripoli in the last days of August 2011, many pundits began speaking of a victory not just for the rebels but also for the idea of humanitarian intervention.

The True Costs of Humanitarian Intervention

In Libya, advocates of intervention argued, U.S. David Rosenberg: "It's Time To Start Calling This For What It Is: A Modern Day Depression" By now only the cream of the naive, Kool-Aid intoxicated crop believes that the US is not in either a deep recession, or, realistically, depression.

David Rosenberg: "It's Time To Start Calling This For What It Is: A Modern Day Depression"

For anyone who may still be on the fence, here is David Rosenberg's latest letter which will seal any doubts for good. It will also make it clear what the fair value of the stock market is assuming QE3 fails, which it will, and the market reverts to trading to fair value as predicated by bond spreads. To wit: "If the Treasury market is correct in its implicit assumption of a renewed contraction in the economy, then we could well be talking about corporate earnings being closer to $75 in 2011 as opposed to the current consensus view of over $110. The Ticking Euro Bomb: What Options Are Left for the Common Currency? - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International. This is the final installment, comprising Parts 3 and 4 of SPIEGEL's recent cover story on the history of the common currency.

The Ticking Euro Bomb: What Options Are Left for the Common Currency? - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

Be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2 as well. Act III: The Euro Crisis (2010/11) How Greece becomes a pawn in the hands of investors. How the European Central Bank goes astray. Why the world no longer makes sense to the Greeks. In October 2009, Marko Mršnik's analysts at rating agency Standard & Poor's computed that Greece's debt would increase to 125 percent of economic output in 2010. The God Clause and the Reinsurance Industry. At 9:03 a.m. on September 11, 2001, Britt Newhouse stood in the lobby on the 52nd floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center.

The God Clause and the Reinsurance Industry

After United Airlines Flight 175 banked above the harbor behind him, it was pointed at the 50th floor. If not trimmed correctly, an airplane will rise as it accelerates, and the man who had killed and replaced the airplane’s pilot added power until he hit the south tower 24 floors above Newhouse. He doesn’t remember the sound of the impact. At the time, Newhouse ran Guy Carpenter’s Americas operation. Guy Carpenter brokers reinsurance treaties, which protect insurers when a catastrophe—a hurricane or an earthquake—causes losses on a large number of policies.

Consumers don’t tend to know what reinsurance is because it never touches them directly. Buying Tomorrow. Essays When the rest of the world are mad, we must imitate them in some measure.

Buying Tomorrow

—John Martin, Martin's Bank, 1720 As long as the music is playing, you've got to get up and dance. —Charles Prince, Citigroup, 2007 It would be fair to guess that Charles Prince’s echo of John Martin, a banker who was nearly ruined by the South Sea Bubble, reflects a sincerity that was blissfully ignorant rather than an irony that wasn’t. To cast lots for Christ’s robe, as Pontius Pilate’s soldiers did, was to play a game of chance. As much as the old saw about money and happiness gets deployed by the usual suspects—grandmothers, clergymen, credit-card commercials—there seems to be some confusion in this country over which one is the legitimate object for pursuit. But the future was not always so amenable to our business plans. Is It Time to Downgrade the Rating Agencies? Share For many Washington policymakers, the official denouement of the debt ceiling debate came not only when President Obama signed an increase into law yesterday, but when two credit rating agencies, Moody’s and Fitch, affirmed the country’s triple-A rating.

Throughout the rancorous debate, just about every player managed to agree that the United States’ AAA rating should not be threatened, even if they disagreed about how to save it. In his weekly radio address last Saturday, Obama warned that “if we don’t [reach a deal], for the first time ever, we could lose our country’s Triple A credit rating.” House Speaker John Boehner called in to Rush Limbaugh’s radio program during the negotiations last month and said, “I believe that we've got to act to prevent a default and to prevent a downgrade of our nation's credit rating.” The art of business and the science of economics. Business and economics are tied up together in lots of people's minds.

After all, they're both about money, aren't they? An awful lot of people seem to believe that economics is Big Business and business is small economics. (Even the generally reliable Economist magazine seems to use this definition in deciding what should go in its business or economics sections.) The failure to keep the two apart leads to some bizarre misconceptions in the popular understanding. For example the idea that countries are businesses in competition with each other, or that business is about self-serving greed and economics is the soulless science of large scale greed. What is Debt? – An Interview with Economic Anthropologist David Graeber. David Graeber currently holds the position of Reader in Social Anthropology at Goldsmiths University London.

Prior to this he was an associate professor of anthropology at Yale University. He is the author of ‘Debt: The First 5,000 Years’ which is available from Amazon. Interview conducted by Philip Pilkington, a journalist and writer based in Dublin, Ireland. Philip Pilkington: Let’s begin. Most economists claim that money was invented to replace the barter system. David Graeber: Yes there’s a standard story we’re all taught, a ‘once upon a time’ — it’s a fairy tale.

It really deserves no other introduction: according to this theory all transactions were by barter. John Lanchester · The Non-Scenic Route to the Place We’re Going Anyway: The Belgian Solution · LRB 8 September 2011. Quarterly GDP data don’t, on the whole, tend to make the person studying them laugh out loud. The most recent set, however, are an exception, despite the fact that the general picture is of unrelieved and spreading economic gloom. Instead of the surge of rebounding growth which historically accompanies successful exit from a recession, we have the UK’s disappointing 0.2 per cent growth, the US’s anaemic 0.3 per cent and the glum eurozone average figure of 0.2 per cent. That number includes the surprising and alarming German 0.1 per cent, the desperately poor French 0 per cent and then, wait for it, the agreeably frisky Belgian 0.7 per cent. Out of Control: The Destructive Power of the Financial Markets - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International.

The enemy looks friendly and unpretentious. With his scuffed shoes and thinning gray hair, John Taylor resembles an elderly sociology professor. Books line the dark, floor-to-ceiling wooden shelves in his office in Manhattan, alongside a bust of Theodore Roosevelt and an antique telescope. Taylor is the chairman and CEO of FX Concepts, a hedge fund that specializes in currency speculation. The world economy: Be afraid. Economy on the Edge of a Nervous Breakdown. I just returned from a trip to New York, where earlier last week I gave a talk at the Council on Foreign Relations.