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.
The Washington Post
At first glance, the Microsoft breakup order last week looks like a
throwback to an earlier era. At a time when big telecommunications,
finance, entertainment and other new-economy industries are
consolidating into a handful of post-industrial global giants--and when
government is deregulating and privatizing almost everything in
sight--here's Washington imposing the heaviest of heavy hands, slicing up
the very icon of American technological prowess. Or maybe it's just another
example of what I've been calling a new era of regulation by litigation;
Microsoft joins cigarettes and guns as subject to court-imposed sanctions
when the normal paths of legislation and regulatory-agency rule making
are politically blocked.
But I think the Microsoft case can be better understood as a harbinger of a
new kind of role for government in the emerging "new economy"--even if
the company wins on...
The New York Times CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- With last week's reversal of his campaign pledge to limit power plants' emissions of carbon dioxide, a key contributor to global warming, President Bush surrendered to coal companies and utilities dependent on coal. He had little choice. It's payback time, and every industry and trade association is busily cashing in. There's no longer any countervailing power in Washington. Business is in complete control of the machinery of government. The House, the Senate and the White House are all run by business-friendly Republicans who are deeply indebted to American business for their electoral victories. If corporate America understood its long-term interest, it would use this unique moment to establish in the public's mind the principle that business can be trusted. But it's doing the opposite, and the danger for American business as a whole is profound. Credit-card companies are getting a bankruptcy bill that will make it harder for overstretched...
Broadcast October 11, 2001 Typically in times of war, the public is asked to hold back and forebear from purchasing so there's enough productive capacity left to meet the military's needs. If they don't do it voluntarily, government imposes rationing. Not this time. Even as we wage war on terrorism, our political and business leaders are asking Americans to go out to the malls and buy more. It's our patriot duty, they say. `We mustn't let the terrorists intimidate us from continuing our spending binge.' The fact is we're almost certainly in a recession, which means there's plenty of spare productive capacity, enough both to wage a war and also produce all sorts of consumer goods. Indeed, the recession is likely to worsen unless we utilize more of that capacity. There's no way projected outlays for fighting the war on terrorism will come close. That's why consumers are hearing patriotic calls to spend more. What has economists worried is that, particularly since September 11th,...
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
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...