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 Debtors' Prison: The Politics of Austerity Versus Possibility. He writes columns for The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe and the New York Times international edition. 

Recent Articles

Of Our Time: Wayne's World

O ur text, fittingly enough, is the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal . At the top of the page for June 3 is an essay by Wayne Angell, the former governor of the Federal Reserve. "Over the past 15 years stock prices in the U.S. have risen at a 15 percent annual rate," he begins. "This long bull market didn't just happen. There is a rational explanation. Economic policy has brought the U.S. to a new economic era—an era of stable money and lower income tax rates." Inflation is at a reassuring 2.5 percent, Angell continues. "The market may have already risen on expectations of a reduction in the nominal capital gains rate." But "if the Federal Reserve allowed inflation rates to escalate, it would be a disaster for the equity market. By my estimate, if inflation rose to 4 percent, the Dow could be expected to fall to 6500. . . . If inflation were 5 percent, the Dow could plummet to 4500." There we have it. The economy is, and should be, run in the interest of the stock market...

Market, State, and Dystopia

A dystopia is a utopia in reverse. The post-1980 era is likely to be remembered as a free market dystopia--a headlong compulsion to throw away the mixed economy that was built on the ruins of depression and world war in favor of a marketized society. This compulsion has been ground into the lenses of the press, the economics profession, and the political class generally. It is presumed that greater marketization is desirable and in any case inevitable, despite accumulating evidence to the contrary. And though we now have a Democratic president of liberal spirit, who is well placed to reverse the conservative assumptions of the 1980s, the White House is providing scant intellectual revision. Much of the New Democrat creed accepts the premise that more of society should be marketized; it just wants to do the job more humanely. To look at today's economic conundrums, against the turbulent economic history of the twentieth century, is to appreciate the continuities of a recurring malady:...

Ironically, Gore's Biggest Worry May be About Oil

The record economic boom is near a tipping point. Although no serious inflation is being generated by the sizzling economy, increases in oil prices show up in the general price index. They also worsen America's balance of trade. Meanwhile, the weakness of the euro is depressing profits that American companies earn abroad. On all these counts, the stock market is getting very nervous. A big stock market correction would cool off both consumer and business spending. It might scare off the foreign investors who keep buying our bonds. In this context, a misstep by the inflation-phobic Federal Reserve could help send the economy into deep recession. Al Gore must be praying that the economy holds up until Nov. 7. His friend and mentor Bill Clinton must be using every diplomatic lever to pressure OPEC to open the spigots. Our European allies, faced with consumer revolts over the price of gasoline, are doing likewise. The weakness of...

How to Rescue the Economy

The economy now seems headed for serious recession. How to fight a shadowy enemy is necessarily Topic A, but rescuing the economy is not far behind. The economy is plummeting for several interrelated reasons. The stock market was already falling sharply before Sept. 11. The speculative excess of the late 1990s financed trillions of dollars of investments that will never return profits. Once investors grasped that, the market headed south. So this is not just a blow to investor psychology; the economic blow is real. A second source of weakness is consumer spending. Even before Sept. 11, there had been tens of thousands of layoffs and the unemployment rate had risen sharply, to 4.9 percent. Now, several key industries such as insurance, airlines, hotels, and financial services have felt the effects of the attack directly, and consumers are spending less money generally. This intensifies the squeeze on corporate profits and investments. Earlier this year, continued consumer spending,...

Let's Have Real Shared Sacrifice

Retailers are not expecting a great Christmas season this year. Shoppers have less money in their pockets and more worries about their economic future. The very act of shop-til-you-drop, always a little bizarre as a form of Yuletide expression, feels especially unseemly in wartime, even when rationalized as a patriotic act of economic stimulus. It is also an odd time for the theme of national unity and shared sacrifice. In the September 11 attacks, several thousand Americans, mostly accidental heroes, made the ultimate sacrifice. Thousands more are fighting in Afghanistan. Sacrifice is also widely unequal on the home front. Those making the biggest sacrifice, like the unsuspecting victims of Sept. 11, are innocent bystanders losing their jobs, or needy people (mostly children) losing vital services to recession budget cuts. Corporations, meanwhile, are lined up for tax cuts. We are all feeling as if we are sacrificing, because we have indeed all given something up: each of us feels...

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