Mike Konczal

Mike Konczal is a fellow with the Roosevelt Institute, where he works on financial reform, unemployment, inequality, and a progressive vision of the economy. His blog, Rortybomb, was named one of the 25 Best Financial Blogs by Time magazine. His writing has appeared in the Boston Review, the Washington Monthly, The Nation, Slate, and Dissent. He's appeared on PBS NewsHour, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show, CNN, Marketplace, and more.

Recent Articles

What the Heck Is Quantitative Easing?

A look at the history behind the Fed's latest move

(Flickr/Talk Radio News Service)
Last week, the Federal Reserve announced a third round of quantitative easing, or what is referred to as QE3. This is an open-ended purchase of $40 billion a month, along with a commitment to keep rates low until “a considerable time after the economic recovery strengthens.” Many economic commentators are saying that this is a serious change in economic policy. In order to understand why this is so important to our economy now, it might be helpful to go back to an academic debate about Japan in the 1990s. The era from the early 1980s through the financial crisis was referred to as the “Great Moderation.” It was common for economists to assume that the Federal Reserve and other central bankers could control the economy effortlessly, basically picking the unemployment rate they wanted. Prominent economists who studied macroeconomics, the field created during the Great Depression to study economic crashes, thought everyone in the discipline should pack up and go home. Robert Lucas, a...

Cleaning Up the Subprime Aftermath

Welcome to the Kafkaesque world of mortgage loan servicing.

JPMorgan Chase trumpeted some impressive news on Jan. 14, 2011. It had earned a record $17.4 billion in quarterly profits in fiscal year 2010, a 47 percent jump from the previous quarter. Three days later, the bank quietly released a less flattering statement. Its mortgage-servicing division, the third largest in the country, had overcharged some 4,000 active-duty troops on their mortgages and improperly foreclosed on 14 of them, violating a law called the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This story broke because of embarrassing litigation. A Marine F-18 fighter pilot, Capt. Jonathan Rowles, who had been faithfully paying his mortgage, was marked delinquent. He and his wife hired a lawyer and spent two years fighting to get JPMorgan Chase to relent. The foreclosure mess is the sequel to the subprime calamity. During the housing bubble, investment bankers sought to move as many mortgages as they could, sound or otherwise. No-documentation loans packaged by Wall Street were blessed by...

Bernanke Gives a Press Conference

The big takeaway from Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's historic press conference was that the focus, both of questions asked and Bernanke's own remarks, addressed a situation that would be the exact opposite of the one we're in now. What is our current situation? We have seven million people out of work since the crisis (on top of the number of those who would have been out of work without the crisis). The employment numbers have plummeted for all groups, regardless of education or age. Current estimates say it will take years, 2014 or beyond, before the country approaches a normal unemployment rate. The Federal Reserve has two jobs, which is often referred to as a dual mandate. One is to maximize employment. Bernanke has testified that there are things the Federal Reserve can do, like buying assets through quantitative easing, that will result in job creation. However, the Federal Reserve's other job is to maintain price stability and not let inflation spin out of control. The...

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