Robert Kuttner

Robert Kuttner is co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect, and professor at Brandeis University's Heller School. His latest book is Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism? In addition to writing for the Prospect, he writes for The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, and the New York Review of Books. 

Follow Bob at his site, robertkuttner.com, and on Twitter. 

Recent Articles

Remembering Proxmire

Former Senator William Proxmire of Wisconsin, who died at 90 on Thursday, was a personal hero to me. I worked for him as a Senate investigator in the mid-1970s, when Proxmire was the new chairman of the powerful Senate Banking Committee. The banking lobbies had tried hard to block his appointment, since chairmen of that committee were typically in their pockets. Proxmire was not in anyone's pocket. As chairman of a subcommittee, he had already pioneered laws requiring interest rates to be stated accurately with no hidden charges; giving consumers access to their credit reports; and simplifying real-estate closings. If you get an accurate interest charge or closing statement, or correct an error in your credit report, you can thank Proxmire. As chairman of the full committee, he went on to take the lead on successful bills to ban bribery of foreign officials by U.S. corporations, and create an obligation for banks to extend credit to less affluent communities rather than just siphoning...

Agreeing to Disagree

RK: You have obviously had the enormous satisfaction of seeing your ideas influence a revolution, both in the thinking of economists and in the premises of politics and the role of government. Does this make you any more optimistic about the ability of the political process to work, and of government to learn over time? MF: I've always been realistic about this. I do not think you can change [government]. RK: Well at least it seems to prove that ideas have influence. MF: There is no question that they have influence. You know, I agree very much with the famous quotation from Keynes. Sooner or later, ideas matter. RK: Right. Let me get down to some specifics. You were the progenitor of the notion that we ought to move to floating exchange rates. MF: I was a promoter of that idea. I was in favor of it, but I was by no means the inventor it. That was an old idea. RK: Well, I guess I meant in the context of the Bretton-Woods system breaking down. MF: Well, sure I wrote and spoke about the...

Cant and Recant

Milton Friedman's latest research on the Federal Reserve challenges key assumptions of a very prominent economist: Milton Friedman.

More than any other individual, Milton Friedman was the intellectual inspiration of the conservative counterrevolution against activist government as an engine of economic efficiency and social justice. In his scholarly work contending that government intervention invariably makes things worse, and in his popular polemics equating capitalism with human freedom, Friedman inspired conservative academic economists and movement activists alike. He is the high priest of the ideology that can be reduced to a bumper sticker: Markets work; government doesn't. More narrowly, Friedman is famous for the economic theory known as monetarism and the corollary view that the Federal Reserve System works best when it is essentially passive, contenting itself with maintaining stable prices. Now in his 94th year, Friedman has just published new research with implications that are curiously double-edged. On one level, his study, in the latest issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives , confirms his...

Interview with Milton Friedman

RK: You have obviously had the enormous satisfaction of seeing your ideas influence a revolution, both in the thinking of economists and in the premises of politics and the role of government. Does this make you any more optimistic about the ability of the political process to work, and of government to learn over time? MF: I've always been realistic about this. I do not think you can change that. RK: Well at least it seems to prove that ideas have influence. MF: There is no question that they have influence. You know I agree very much with the famous quotation from Keynes. Sooner or later, ideas matter. RK: Right. Let me get down to some specifics. You were the progenitor of the notion that we ought to move to floating exchange rates. MF: I was a promoter of that idea. I was in favor of it, but I was by no means the inventor it. That was an old idea. RK: Well, I guess I meant in the context of Bretton-Woods breaking down. MF: Well, sure I wrote and spoke about the desirability of...

Farewell, Filene's

Should we mourn the fact that this will be the last Christmas season with Filene's as a Boston landmark? I think so, and I was surprised at the lack of outcry when the giant retailing conglomerate, Federated Department Stores, announced last summer that it would close the flagship store and retire the Filene's name as part of an $11 billion deal to acquire Filene's owner, the May Company. Federated is not just ending the proud legacy of Filene's but also Chicago's equally storied Marshall Field, and Pittsburgh's Kaufmann's. All of these, as we have been told, will become (ho-hum) more Macy's. In one sense, this is no big thing. Retailers come and retailers pass away. When family businesses lack a suitable heir, or cease to be competitive, or just want to cash in, they typically sell out to a big chain. The chain, in turn, is free to do as it wishes. This has been going on for centuries. A famous New Yorker cover depicted a ghostly Manhattan scene with all the great retailers who have...

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