Dean Baker

Recent Articles

And, I Am Out of Here! -- Thanks TAP -- See You at CEPR

Today is the last day that Beat the Press will be appearing on The American Prospect's website. You'll have to go to Beat the Press' new home page (or new RSS feed ) from now on to read it. Thanks again to TAP for hosting BTP and exposing it to its well-informed and thoughtful readership over the past four years, as well as for graciously redirecting readers to BTP's new page . I hope you will continue to check in at TAP for the important perspective that it provides. --Dean Baker

Which Country Got All the Royalties in February?

That might have been a good question for reporters to address when they reported on the February trade data released yesterday. The data showed that royalties and licensing fees had increased by $883 million from January, a rise of more than 40 percent. This has occasionally happened in prior months and presumably reflects one-time payments to a producer or set of producers. However, this was a big part of the $2.8 billion rise in the overall trade deficit from January and it deserved some mention in the coverage of the February data. --Dean Baker

People Are Losing Their Homes and Their Jobs, But They Are Really Mad About the Deficit

That's effectively what the Washington Post told readers in another front page editorial highlighting the need for deficit reduction. The article said: "But by suggesting the deficit may have peaked, administration officials are taking a political gamble. If the favorable number does not hold up in coming months and the budget shortfall surpasses the $1.4 trillion recorded last year, voters in the November midterm elections could punish the Democrats for offering false hope." That's a great story. Is it plausible that even 1 percent of voters are going to have any clue as to whether this year's deficit is marginally higher or marginally lower than last year's deficit? Is there any reason that anyone should care? Is there any evidence that this will influence their vote in an environment where they are concerned about their jobs and their homes? In the Post's dreams maybe, but not on this planet. --Dean Baker

Pew Shows the Lack of Creativity Among Creative Workers

A new Pew poll of reporters and editors found a great deal of pessimism about the prospects for the newspaper industry. At one point, the article reports the poll's finding that: "about three-quarters of the editors who took part said they would have serious objections to accepting direct support from either the government or interest groups, and a similar number said their organizations had not seriously thought about taking donations from nonprofit groups." Of course there are other ways in which new media can be supported. Currently the government supports newspapers by granting them copyright monopolies. Without this special protection anyone would be able to use content without paying for it, including for commercial purposes. So these editors are already taking government support, even if they don't realize it. In the Internet era this mechanism of financing newspapers is obviously no longer adequate. It is striking that Pew failed to consider any of the obvious alternative...

Ben Bernanke, Who Missed an $8 Trillion Housing Bubble, Warned About the Deficit

In an article reporting on the debate over extending unemployment insurance benefits the Washington Post told readers: "on Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke warned that growing budget deficits imperiled the economy's long-term stability." It is worth noting that in his capacity as a Federal Reserve Board governor from 2002 to 2005, chief economic adviser President Bush, and then Fed Chair since January of 2006, Bernanke never raised any concerns about the housing bubble and the threat it posed to the economy. Based on this history, readers may question Mr. Bernanke's ability to assess threats to economic stability. The Post should have informed readers of Bernanke's record on this issue. --Dean Baker

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