Policy Shop

Policy as if people mattered

Jamie Dimon's Whale Fail

Flickr/ jurveston

Last night, the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations released a searing 300-page report on JP Morgan Chase’s London Whale episode. The bank lost at least $6.2 billion through trading credit derivatives in a business unit tasked with reducing firm-wide risk, the Chief Investment Office. (The trading activity is called the “Synthetic Credit Portfolio” or “SCP.”) There is much to digest in the report. Hearings are to commence today.

All Wall Street Regulators Should be Self-Funded

Systemic RIsk Council.org

When a crew that calls themselves the "Systemic Risk Council" speaks, it's a good idea to pay attention. After all, the last time people pooh-poohed deep-seated problems within the financial system, trillions of dollars vanished into thin air and millions of people were thrown out of work. 

Gone In 22 Seconds: How Frequent is High Frequency Trading?

Flickr/Ars Electronica

This is a story of journalists and economists, and the confusion that can ensue when they communicate. 

Young People and Debt: The New Normal

Flickr/401(k) 2013

With a weak job market and uncertain prospects, young people have to make careful choices about how to invest in their futures. 

They’ve put off marriage and having kids. They’re moving back home with mom and dad. But the one expense with which they are not compromising is the high and rising cost of college. 

Introducing Economic Stimulus Done Right

Flickr/Wisconsin Jobs Now

A new bill introduced today by Senator Tom Harkin and Rep. George Miller would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, and more importantly, peg it to inflation so that it would automatically adjust. The proposed wage hike is higher than the $9 per hour proposed by President Obama and is closer to what the minimum wage would be now if it had kept up with the rate of inflation. The bill also increases the tipped wage, which has not risen in twenty years.

A Budgetary Case for Same Day Registration


A new report from a Wisconsin state agency makes clear that Same Day Registration is not just a low-cost way to make voting more accessible. It can even be a budget-saver.

The report from the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board dealt a blow to advocates of repealing the state’s Same Day Registration policy. It pegged the cost of such a change as high as $14.5 million. Some of the costs are one-time expenditures, but many will be ongoing.

How a Few Wealthy Individuals Shape the Climate Agenda


We’ve highlighted how the U.S. media leads the world in the amount of time given to climate deniers, even though nearly 80 percent of Americans believe in climate change. Now The Guardian reports that conservative billionaires funneled nearly $120 million to more than 100 groups to promote climate denial.

Would Raising the Minimum Wage Kill Jobs?


President Obama's proposal last night to raise the Federal Minimum Wage to $9 (from $7.25) is sure to rekindle the perennial debate about whether such an increase will stall hiring for low-skilled workers, or whether small businesses will be able to sustain their payrolls with higher wage requirements. 

The President's Call for Election Reform


President Obama’s State of the Union address included an important call to fix the long lines and other problems that plagued voters in 2012. 

The president was near the end of his speech when he brought up the waiting times that stretched as long as six hours in some places and led an estimated 200,000 Florida voters to give up and go home. He rightly cast the issue as one of protecting Americans’ most fundamental rights:

Disaster Preparedness Is Good for Democracy

Flickr/Anthony Quintano

The blizzard that pounded the Northeast on Friday was no Hurricane Sandy, but it has left thousands of people without power throughout the region. For some households, losing power may be no big deal. But if you're old or disabled, this can be a dangerous situation.

The problem is that it's hard in most communities to know which residents may badly need help. After Sandy, hastily organized volunteers knocked on doors in buildings in Rockaway and other places to identify the old and frail.

Freedom For the Few

Flickr/Tobin B.

We should be done by now with the idea that a corporation is a single thing. Corporations contain a multitude of conflicting interests and are much more like miniature governments with their own governance structures and election systems than is commonly recognized. While these structures are far more hierarchical and undemocratic than we require of our public institutions, Americans should not be resigned that this is the best or the only way the private sector can be structured.

Biting the Hand that Feeds Them

Flickr/Fibonacci Blue

Paul Krugman noted on ABC's This Week yesterday that the GOP's problem is that its "base is old white people."

This is largely true. Exit polls show that Mitt Romney won all voters 65 and older by 12 percentage points, and white older voters by 22 points. Barack Obama won all voters under 30 by 23 points, and nonwhite young voters by 36 points. 

Such numbers are a big problem for the GOP amid fast changing demographics, as we've heard often in recent months.

Equifax Knows Quite a Lot about You


Just when we imagined that credit-reporting firms couldn’t be more invasive and profiteering, NBC News breaks this story

The Equifax credit reporting agency, with the aid of thousands of human resource departments around the country, has assembled what may be the most powerful and thorough private database of Americans’ personal information ever created, containing 190 million employment and salary records covering more than one-third of U.S. adults.

A New American "demos"?


Standing on the mall Monday among the great and diverse crowd who came to celebrate the second inauguration of the President, I reacted strongly to two aspects of the day.  The first was to the feeling produced by the crowd, to the moment itself.  The second was something else, something perfectly clear: a new American “demos” has arrived.

Is a Democracy Trust Fund a Good Idea?


Cecilia Tkaczyk’s victory is the latest sign that New Yorkers want a different campaign system and they want it now. Tkaczyk challenged a millionaire Assemblyman in a GOP-gerrymandered district and yet, despite a cash disadvantage and little name recognition, she managed to win by 19 votes. And, she managed to win based on her support for publicly financed elections. During the recount battle, she wrote, “If I do get sworn in, I’ll know my support for public financing is a central reason I won the job.”