Author Archives: Editor

Saving Horatio Alger: The Data Behind the Words (and the Lego Bricks)

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Hopefully you’ve had a chance to read our new Brookings Essay, Saving Horatio Alger . If not, we bet you’ve found three minutes to check out our new video, using Lego bricks to illustrate America’s mobility challenge: But readers of Social Mobility Memos want something more: you want to know about the data. Where is it from? How do we slice it? Making the Matrices

In both the video and the essay, we’ve created a series of ‘mobility matrices’ showing how income status in one generation influences income status in the next. We used a dataset constructed from the […]

Support for College Falls Among Republicans


“A majority of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (58%) now say that colleges and universities have a negative effect on the country, up from 45% last year. By contrast, most Democrats and Democratic leaners (72%) say colleges and universities have a positive effect, which is little changed from recent years.”
— Pew Research Center This find from a new Pew study should be a cause for alarm no matter which side of the political divide you live on. Set aside the obvious value of colleges and universities as economic engines that advance research and train workers to apply it […]

Triumph Chairman: BP Settlement Money ‘Game Changer’ for Florida Panhandle


A former BP rig supervisor goes on trial Tuesday on a misdemeanor charge connected to pollution from the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) – As devastating as the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill was to the local economy seven years ago, the settlement money now available could be a game-changer.

Many leaders believe the $1.5 billion from the Triumph Gulf Coast legislation could transform the Panhandle for generations to come.

“We have $300 million in our checking account, which is neat,” said Allan Bense, Triumph Gulf Coast Chairman.In the two years Bense has […]

Escaping Poverty

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A core American ideal is that all children should have a clear pathway to thrive and prosper as adults. Yet, children in poverty—particularly children who are persistently poor—face steep obstacles on their path to economic success.

Today, nearly 9 million children in the United States (11.8 percent) will grow up in persistently poor families, meaning that they will spend at least half their lives from birth through age 17 living in poverty. The majority of persistently poor children (56 percent) are black, while 36 percent are white and 8 percent are another race or ethnicity. Rates of poverty and mobility […]

Thomas Piketty on Inequality and Capital

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Thomas Piketty’s Sensational New Book

Thomas Piketty, a 42-year-old economist from French academe has written a hot new book : Capital in the Twenty-First Century . The U.S. edition has been published by Harvard University Press and, remarkably, is leading the best seller list; the first time that a Harvard book has done so. A recent review describes Piketty as the man “who exposed capitalism’s fatal flaw.”

So what is this flaw? Supposedly under capitalism the rich get steadily richer in relation to everyone else; inequality gets worse and worse. It is all baked into the cake, unavoidable.To support this, […]

The BP Oil Spill Settlement and the Paradox of Public Litigation

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Downloads:0 xThe streamlined administrative program that BP set up to pay claims arising out of the Deepwater Horizon Oil spill—the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF)—promised a significant transaction-cost savings over litigation in the public court system. At least in theory, that savings should have worked to the benefit of BP and claimants alike, freeing up money that would otherwise have gone to lawyers and other litigation costs to fund claimants’ recoveries. But a comparison of the GCCF to the class action settlement that replaced it reveals that the class settlement will result in greater payments to claimants. […]

Why a Major Revolution Is Brewing


I have written many articles on how extremely polarized our politics has become in the last decade. I’ve dedicated several Leading Edge newsletters to the topic. I talked about it at our 2016 Irrational Economic Summit. I even discuss it briefly in my new book, Trump, Brexit, and the Next Civil War , which will be available around mid-August.

I talk about it so much because it’s related to the mega 250-Year Revolution Cycle sweeping over us right now. We’ll feel the effects of this cycle for decades to come… which I detail in my new book.

But today I want […]

Retirement Dread Is Replacing the American Dream

Retirement Dread Is Replacing the American Dream

Folded stack of hundred dollar bills with bites taken out of corners With informed discussion, creative thinking, and timely legislative action, Social Security can continue to protect future generations.

That boilerplate language has been featured more or less verbatim in the yearly status report from the trustees of the Social Security and Medicare funds since 2001, through Presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump.

It’s the numbers that have changed dramatically, as the U.S. population ages. The 2003 report noted that “Social Security plays a critical role in the lives of over 46 million beneficiaries, and over […]

American dream sinking into abyss of uncertainty


With informed discussion, creative thinking, and timely legislative action, Social Security can continue to protect future generations .

That boilerplate language has been featured more or less verbatim in the yearly status report from the trustees of the Social Security and Medicare funds since 2001, through presidents George W. Bush, Barack Obama and now, Donald Trump.

It’s the numbers that have changed dramatically, as the U.S. population ages. The 2003 report noted that "Social Security plays a critical role in the lives of over 46 million beneficiaries, and over 150 million covered workers and their families." The report released late last […]

The price of wider gaps and weaker links


As Central Texas’ economy booms, its racial divides have only become more acute and costly

As Austin grows, the African-American share of the city’s population is declining, and minorities face poverty and isolation more than their white counterparts. Unchecked, it could cost billions to the area’s economy and allow poverty to continue its generational spread.

Natalie Madeira Cofield spent 12 years working in Los Angeles, New York and Washington. She knows what it’s like to live in a city with a large and vibrant African-American community.When Cofield moved to Austin in August 2011 — just 29 years old at the […]