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

AOL-Time Warner's Kingly Prerogative

Any time now, government economists will decide whether America Online's (AOL's) $165-billion proposed take-over of Time Warner is likely to be good or bad for consumers. If good, the government will sign off. If bad, there'll be negotiations with AOL and Time Warner until an agreement can be reached on what the new company would have to do to answer economic objections. The inquiry will be quiet and businesslike, occurring in colorless offices and occasionally in meeting rooms filled not only with economists but also with government lawyers and the counsel and investment bankers representing AOL and Time Warner. I'll save all those economists and lawyers and bankers a lot of time and trouble, and answer their questions right here: Is the combination efficient? Yes. AOL serves about 20 million Internet subscribers. Time Warner serves 13 million cable subscribers and also has a lot of content--magazines, movie and music studios, and...

The Great Divide

D ot-com billionaires are sprouting like spring crocuses, and their money is trickling down through the rich topsoil of America. The average pay of chief executives of major companies rose 18 percent in 1999, to $12 million. (Back in 1990, it was a modest $1.8 million.) Fearful of the dot-com brain drain, big law firms just hiked the pay of first-year associates to $120,000, not including signing bonuses. Wall Street investment banks, facing the same threat, are even raising the pay of analysts just out of college, to more than $75,000. The frenzy knows no bounds. Setting a new moral example for college students across America, the president of Brown University, not content with a meager $300,000 salary, just jumped ship after only a year and a half for another university that offered three times as much. Fed chief Alan Greenspan fears that all this prosperity is causing consumers to buy more than the economy can produce, which means that inflation is just around the corner. So...

Why Business Should Love Gore

I f they were true profit-maximizers--textbook illustrations of rational self-interest--American corporations and their top executives would be flooding Al Gore's campaign with money, and not George W.'s. Rather than gamble on an unknown W., they'd bet on a proven Al Gore. No administration in modern history has been as good for American business as has the Clinton-Gore team; none has been as solicitous of the concerns of business leaders, generated as much profit for business, presided over as buoyant a stock market or as huge a run-up in executive pay. And no vice president in modern history has had as much influence in setting an administration's agenda as has Al Gore. Consider fiscal policy. You'll recall that by 1992, after 12 years of Republicans in the White House, the nation's debt had almost quadrupled, from $914 billion to $4 trillion, and yearly deficits had quintupled from $59 billion to more than $300...

Europe's Great Leap of Faith

The New York Times The euro, the most audacious gamble in the history of currency, has become a reality. What will this crucial step toward unity mean for Europe, the United States and the world? The New York Times Op-Ed page asked several experts in economics and observers of European culture to offer their insights. Robert B. Reich: Left-of-center politicians now lead every major Western nation, including most of Europe. So what? Real power is shifting to global businesses, which are merging at a record pace, and to central banks, rapidly consolidating their authority. The euro accelerates both trends. Jürgen Stark, vice president of the Bundesbank, says the euro presents a "great opportunity for Europe to combine sound monetary and fiscal policy with more flexibility." These are code words. "Sound monetary policy" means that the new European Central Bank (freed from democratic...

There's No Big Binge in Half a Point

LA Times Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan on Wednesday did exactly what he needed to do by dropping short-term interest rates another half-point, but it's not enough. The Great Economic Slowdown of 2001 (let's not call it a recession quite yet) came on partly because Greenspan raised short-term interest rates too high, starting in June 1999 and continuing through five more rate increases. Now he's backtracking, and interest rates are going back below where they were when he started. That should give the economy a needed boost. Not surprisingly, on word of the rate cut, the stock market reversed direction and scored one of its largest one-day rallies ever. But can the rally be sustained? And what's the outlook beyond the immediate euphoria? Notably, two-thirds of the recent economic slowdown has been because of a dramatic drop in capital spending. At the start of last year, American businesses were buying new equipment (much of it high-tech) at an annual rate 20% above the year...

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