Author Archive

Follow the gun money

from David Ruccio

In the United States, there are now somewhere between 270 million and 310 million guns, according to the Pew Research Center. That’s almost one gun for every person in the nation.

While we spend a lot of time discussing Second Amendment rights and gun-control measures, the fact is guns are big business in the United States.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, U.S. gun manufacturing has more than tripled since 2001 (from 2.9 million to 10.8 million total firearms produced). Read more…

When people start to ask questions

September 29, 2015 5 comments

from David Ruccio


Marx, it seems, just won’t go away.

According to Charles Moore in the Wall Street Journal,

When things go backward in nations accustomed to middle-class stability, people start to ask questions. What is the use of capitalism if its rewards go to the few and its risks are dumped on the many? The rights of property do not seem so enticing if the value of what you own collapses or if that property is trapped by debt. What is so great about globalization if it means that the products and services you offer are undercut by foreign competition and that millions of new people can come to your country, take your jobs and enjoy your welfare benefits?

Great international banks and other corporations—and their top executives—can devise a life that escapes normal tax jurisdictions. Their successes are globalized and accrue chiefly to them; their failures crawl back home to die, at the expense of the rest of us.

So instead of feeling that it is a privilege to be an ordinary citizen of a free country, many of us start to feel a bit like suckers. Hope—the inseparable companion of progress—fades and is replaced by disappointment, even bitterness. It has always been understood that opportunity carries some price of insecurity, but what happens if insecurity rises and opportunity contracts?

Read more…

6-hour day?

September 25, 2015 Leave a comment

from David Ruccio

Back in the nineteenth century, the union movement demanded an 8-hour workday.

Here’s the question I often pose to my students: when did the United States finally pass legislation limiting the workday to 8 hours? It’s a trick question, of course. The answer is: never.


Read more…

The fundamental truth about American economic growth

September 21, 2015 5 comments

from David Ruccio

1percent grand compromise

Ray Fisman and Daniel Markovits suggest that we’re seeing right now, with the insurgent campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders and elite hopes that they will just fade away, are “early skirmishes in a coming class war.”

Why? Because their research (along with coauthors Pamela Jakiela and Shachar Kariv, just published in Science) revealed stark differences between attitudes toward economic justice between ordinary Americans and those at the top. Basically, the elites (both intermediate and extreme) are much more likely to be selfish as their compatriots in general. What’s more, elite Americans show a far greater commitment to efficiency over equality than ordinary Americans.  Read more…

What recovery?

September 19, 2015 5 comments

from David Ruccio


The United States is more than six years into the officially designated and much-vaunted economic recovery from the Great Recession. But most Americans wouldn’t know it.  Read more…

Hide the gap?

September 17, 2015 Leave a comment

from David Ruccio

chart (1)

We know that economic inequalities have been increasing in the United States for decades now. And there’s been no let-up since the economic recovery was officially declared in 2009.

And many of us believe the grotesque inequalities we’re seeing these days have a corrosive effect on U.S. society. Not only are the majority being left behind; everything from the public infrastructure to political discourse appears to be deteriorating because of the growing gap between a small group at the top and everyone else. Read more…

Share of corporate income received by US workers from 1979 to 2015.

September 14, 2015 Leave a comment

from David Ruccio


This chart illustrates the share of corporate income received by workers (in the form of wages and benefits) from January 1979 through April 2015.

As the Economic Policy Institute explains, Read more…

Anatomy of a bubble

August 30, 2015 9 comments

from David Ruccio

I’ve been listening to and reading lots of financial pundits over the course of the past week—all of whom use the same lingo (the U.S. economy as the “cleanest shirt in the hamper,” the “deterioration in risk appetite” around the globe, and so on) and try to explain the volatility of the stock markets in terms of economic “fundamentals” (like the slowing of the Chinese economy, the prospect of deflation in Europe, and so on).

Me, I’m much more inclined to think of terms of uncertainty, unknowability, and “shit happens.”

Let’s face it: stock markets are speculative markets, in the sense that individual and institutional investors are always speculating (with the aid of computer programs) about how others view the market in order to make their bets—with fundamental uncertainty, unknowability, and the idea that shit happens. That is, they have hunches, and they have no idea if their hunches are correct until others respond—with the same amount of uncertainty, unknowability, and the idea that shit happens. And then all of them make up stories (using the lingo of the day and often referring to changes in the “fundamentals”) after the fact, to justify whatever actions they took and their advice to others.  Read more…

Does capitalism cause poverty? Let me count the ways

August 29, 2015 5 comments

from David Ruccio

Clearly, Pope Francis’s criticisms of capitalism (as I have discussed here and here) have touched a nerve. They certainly have in the case of Harvard’s Ricardo Hausmann, who attempts to argue both that capitalism is not responsible for causing poverty and that more capitalism will eventually eliminate poverty.

Hausmann’s story is a very familiar one. What it comes down to is the idea that the majority of people before capitalism arrived one the scene were poor and as capitalism develops and more and more people became wage-laborers with rising real wages. But areas of the world still remain outside of capitalism and those people will remain poor unless and until capitalism is allowed to fully develop.

It’s a story that is as old as Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, and it’s been told and retold by generations of classical and neoclassical economists ever since. Read more…

Keep calm?!

August 27, 2015 1 comment

from David Ruccio

All the advice today—as the the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 1,089 points in the morning and, at this writing, remains almost 450 points below the opening—has been the same: keep calm and carry on investing.


Ron Lieber is typical: Read more…

Austerity—U.S. style

August 22, 2015 2 comments

from David Ruccio

We often associate austerity with the economic policies imposed in Europe, especially Greece, since the crash of 2007-08.

Read more…

Wealth and income redistribution by race and ethnicity in the US from 2007 to 2013

August 20, 2015 1 comment

from David Ruccio


Read more…

The eight-figure apartment

from David Ruccio


As the New York Times explains, Read more…

Mind the gap—or else (2 graphs)

August 12, 2015 2 comments

from David Ruccio


There are lots of different ways of dealing with inequality—specifically, the growing gap between productivity and wages. Read more…

Why not s/v? (2 graphs)

August 11, 2015 1 comment

from David Ruccio


I think it’s a positive move that the Securities and Exchange Commission has approved a rule that would require most public companies to regularly reveal the ratio of the chief executive’s pay to that of the average employee.

Read more…

What comes next?

July 31, 2015 6 comments

from David Ruccio

The other day, I expressed my doubts about Paul Mason’s arguments about postcapitalism. But others see his argument in a much more positive light, including some friends of mine, Jenny Cameron, Katherine Gibson, and Stephen Healy [ht: sk].

They, too, however, assert that “technology does not in and of itself guarantee a better future.” What are needed, and which they see emerging in the midst of capitalism today, are “explicit ethical commitments that are developed independent of online apps and cyber networks.”

Technology is augmenting relations of care for others. Technology does not bring these relations into being.

In our research on the diverse economic practices that exist outside the purview of mainstream economics, we find people are forging new types of economies around six ethical concerns:

  • What do we need to survive well?
  • What happens to surplus, or what is left over after our survival needs have been met?
  • How do we act responsibly to those whose inputs help us to survive well (whether other people or the environment)?
  • How much and what do we consume in order to survive well?
  • How do we care for the commons – the gifts of nature and intellect that we rely on?
  • How do we invest so that future generations can also live well?

Read more…

The guessing game

July 27, 2015 4 comments

from David Ruccio


Read more…

Children don’t count

from David Ruccio


Certainly not in the United States.

According to the most recent study by the Annie E. Casey FoundationRead more…

Devil’s dung

July 15, 2015 2 comments

from David Ruccio


Pope Francis’s recent references to money as the “dung of the devil” (or, alternatively, the “devil’s dung“) brought to mind lots of different references (from the etymology of dung in terms of different classes of workers to Freud’s tale of the devil whose gifts of money turn to excrement upon his leaving). Read more…

USA 1933 vs. Greece 2013 (3 graphs)

from David Ruccio

GDP Read more…


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