Jeffrey Madrick

Jeff Madrick is the author of The End Of Affluence and the editor of Challenge magazine.

Recent Articles

The Unraveler

The Great Unraveling: Losing Our Way in the New Century By Paul Krugman, W.W. Norton & Company, 462 pages, $25.95 Paul Krugman, The New York Times columnist and Princeton University economist, is not quite the liberal most of his enemies and many of his admirers believe he is. Some might prefer him, for example, to allow a bit more room for developing nations to protect infant industries. They might like to see him challenge the conventional wisdom that "old Europe" needs to roll back its labor and social-welfare laws in order to revitalize itself. They might want him to show more enthusiasm for public investment at home and to be more critical of the Washington Consensus that led to the deregulation of capital markets around the world. But what Krugman does do more than compensates for what he does not do. He is quite simply the journalistic phenomenon of the last few years. I should qualify this statement: He is the positive journalistic phenomenon. There is a negative one of...

Behind the Numbers: Spin Cycle

Supply-siders point to economic growth during the 1980s as a vindication of Reaganomics. But adjusting for the business cycle shows that the real rate of productivity growth has been the same over the past three decades.

T he many economists who criticized Bob Dole's campaign pledge to cut taxes by 15 percent this fall cited the record of the 1980s as a convincing example that such a deep tax cut would not generate enough economic growth to pay for itself. As federal deficits grew through the 1980s, what we got instead, of course, was a quintupling of the national debt, high real interest rates, an overvalued dollar, and, to the ongoing consternation of Reagan revolution boosters, a low rate of savings. What's more, when measured over the business cycle, gross domestic product (GDP) continued to grow as slowly as it had in the 1970s, and there was no improvement in labor productivity growth. Defenders of President Reagan's record would have none of this. They mounted a predictably swift response. But, as hard as they tried, they could come up with no new weapons to fight the battle. Rather, they fell back on what has become an old standby, which is to ignore distortions in the record caused by the ups...

Behind the Numbers: The Treadmill Economy

Even before the swooning of the Dow, the current economic expansion was less robust than it appeared. Is this a new economy? Or just people working harder to stay in place?

There is no denying that the United States economy has been growing at an impressive rate over the past two years. Since the end of 1995, gross domestic product (discounted for inflation) has risen at an annual rate of more than 4 percent. Meanwhile, inflation has fallen to an annual rate below 2 percent, and interest rates are down to levels unseen in 25 years. Productivity, we are told, is at last rising above its languishing trend since 1973. The unemployment rate has fallen to a quarter-century low of 4.5 percent—without generating any increase in inflation. What enthusiasts are most heartened about is that this resurgence of growth began late in the economic expansion (now in its eighth year) and without the help of fiscal stimulus. While the economy was growing before the resurgence, the rate of expansion was unusually tepid. Even an imminent economic slowdown may not dampen the claims that Am erica has now entered a "New Economy" driven by the computer revolution and the...