If you’ve been mostly ignoring the news this summer because you’ve been chilling on a boat or relaxing in a treehouse or just decided that you know what life is too short do anything but just take one day at a time and try to get up at a reasonable hour and eat some fruit everyday and drink a glass of water and say hi to your neighbors and maybe smile at a baby every now and then and who has time to really worry about the Larger Problems of the Country and World at Large Anyway, well: Heidi N. Moore has a good little synopsis of Where We’re At and also how ridiculous it is that all anyone can talk about is Syria when there is Domestic Chaos Afoot. (“It would be a treat to see White House aides lobbying as aggressively – and on as many talk shows – for a better food stamp bill, an end to the debt-ceiling drama, or a solution to the senseless sequestration cuts, as it is on what is clearly a useless boondoggle in Syria.”)
Marcela Valdes examines “financial terror” in young adult lit, citing examples like the Hunger Games and Divergent as examples of books that depict financial insecurity as true horror. (“In recent years, realistic YA depictions of poverty and economic disparity have also turned much darker. The kinds of truly desperate characters that Little Women kept on the margins now often take center stage.”)
The Atlantic asked 41 reporters and economists from across the U.S. what the most important economic story of 2013 was according to data and graphs. Here’s Heidi Moore:
Here’s why I love this chart: it nails the issue with the inequality at the center of our economy right now. Corporate profits are our only consistently rising metric of economic success. Everything else that matters is bumping along the bottom. Job openings have only modest gains, and nowhere near what we had before the crash. Personal income is stagnant. Unemployment is still absurdly high. That leads to the policy question: is it our goal as a country to fuel only corporate profits? Or do we have some other responsibility to the citizenry?
And here’s Eddy Elfenbein from Crossing Wall Street:
Here’s the Medicals Costs portion of the CPI divided by the Core CPI. This trend has been rising for decades, but it’s slowed down recently. It’s still too early to call is a trend. But obviously, if healthcare inflation soon becomes like regular inflation, then it’s a game changer.
There’s a lot more and a lot of interesting data to think about here, but basically, the labor market has not been great, but the stock market and corporate profits did well in 2013.
jelvision: “Do you see a closing of the gap or will it only get wider?”
robert reich: We’re coming close to a tipping point where, if income and wealth become any more concentrated at the top, the economy can’t function (the middle class and poor don’t have enough purchasing power) and our democracy can’t function (so much money corrupts it from the top that the majority of Americans give up on it). So we have no choice, realistically, but to reform the system — unless we want revolution.