Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich, a co-founder of The American Prospect, is a Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. His website can be found here and his blog can be found here.

Recent Articles

It's a Hot Economy, but Not for Janitors, Others

The L.A. Times The American economy is so hot that Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, is worried it's overheating. Dot-com billionaires are blooming like spring crocuses. The average pay of chief executives of major companies rose 18% in 1999 to $12 million. Across the managerial, professional and executive ranks of the United States, pay (including bonuses, stock options and perks) is skyrocketing. Afraid of losing their talent to the dot-coms, big law firms just hiked the pay for first-year associates to $120,000. Greenspan worries that all this prosperity is causing consumers to buy too much--more than the economy can produce--which means inflation is just around the corner. That's why he and his pals at the Fed have hiked interest rates five times since last June in an attempt to cool things down and head off inflation. But wait. What about Los Angeles' striking janitors...

Underlying Strengths

Broadcast October 19, 2001 The American economy is almost certainly in recession right now, and a lot of people are scared not only about terrorism, but also about their economic futures. The good news is that the economic fundamentals--that is, the underlying structures of the American economy--are very strong. Consider employment. Well, undoubtedly, a lot of people are losing jobs, and it's likely that October's unemployment rate will move up a notch from the 4.9 percent it registered in September to about 5 1/2 percent, or possibly even 6 percent. That sounds bad, and it is bad news for the people who can't find a job. But a 6-percent rate of unemployment is still among the lowest we've had over the past 30 years. When I became secretary of Labor in 1993, national unemployment was hovering between 7 percent and 8 percent. Most economists assumed that 6 percent was the so-called natural rate of unemployment; that is, we couldn't get below 6 percent without igniting accelerating...

Take a Guess:

The Los Angeles Times Not since World War II have Americans felt so unified. We're fighting a war against terrorism and we're fighting to get the economy moving again. And we're all in this together. Except when it comes to paying the bill. The cost of the war on terrorism since Sept. 11 is estimated to be $40 billion, just for this year. That includes at least $20 billion for the military; $7 billion for recovery and relief in New York and at the Pentagon; $3 billion to fight bioterrorism; $2 billion for more security at dams, power plants and federal buildings; and $600 million to secure our airports and aircraft. That's a lot but still less than 1% of our annual national product. To get the economy moving again, the federal government will have to part with a lot more. Ideally, the government would put that added money into the hands of middle-and lower-income people. Not only are they the most at risk of losing their jobs but they're also much more likely to spend additional cash...

Mobilizing American Industry for War

The Wall Street Journal As America mobilizes for war, Washington must think more clearly about what it wants from American industry. K Street is ablaze with proposed subsidies, loan guarantees, tax breaks, and regulatory relief for industries termed "vital" to the anti-terrorist effort. In war-fevered Washington, politicians of all stripes may be too eager to accommodate. The airline bailout was notable not only for its size (its price tag exceeding the combined market value of United, American, Delta, Northwest, US Airways, America West, and Continental), but also the speed and near-unanimity with which it was granted. Senator John McCain warned his colleagues that "[i]f we don t act soon, I m afraid that it will be even more difficult to resuscitate this key industry in the future." The attack has also fueled efforts to protect the American steel industry from lower-cost imports. Noting the renewed importance of steel to national security, Commerce Secretary Don Evans pledged last...

The House Stimulus Package Is An Outrage

Broadcast Oct 25, 2001 It's one thing for the government to give the airline industry $5 billion without strings. More than the market value of the five major airlines put together, and $10 billion in guaranteed loans. The bailout makes almost no economic sense. I mean, even if an airline went bankrupt, the planes and crews wouldn't disappear. They'd just be bought up by another airline. But at least the public understands that airlines have taken a real beating since September 11th, so it's not completely absurd to give them some financial support. The same thing for the insurance industry. Congress is now readying legislation to protect insurers against the financial risk of future attacks. It's not clear why an industry that's in the business of assessing and covering risks should get this kind of handout, but let's give them the benefit of the doubt too. The insurance industry already absorbed $40 billion in losses from September 11th, and who knows how large losses from a future...

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