Although the economy is rebounding, the unemployment rate remains high and private sector job gains remain weak. economists debate whether extending unemployment benefits keep unemployment artificially high by discouraging work.
The cleanup cost of the April 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is estimated at $6 billion, not including the economic damage to the fishing and tourism industries, which will likely add several billion more. Proponents of stricter environmental regulation believe such catastrophes could be prevented at a reasonable cost. Opponents argue that many preventive procedures are too costly to justify, given the rarity of such incidents. Determining the right balance between preserving the environment and controlling costs is a difficult job for government regulators. Read the October 2010 Newsletter for a look at the economics behind the regulations.
State and local government employees have long enjoyed the perk of a guaranteed pension in retirement, but that may no longer be the case â because of the recent recession, state budgets are in trouble. Many states have under-funded their pension plans to pay current expenses, and many pension plans have also incurred huge investment losses due to the financial crisis. How can states remedy this problem? The September 2010 Newsletter, "State Pension Plans in Peril: The Need for Reform," offers possible solutions.
Patent rights are becoming increasingly controversial in areas such as pharmaceuticals and genetics. Should the public good come before the private gain of new product inventors or developers? The May 2010 Newsletter tackles this issue.
The emphasis on global economics is here to stay, but how does it affect the average citizen? The April 2010 Newsletter examines the links between foreign exchange rates and global trade and explains the effect on U.S. prices and import/export trading.
For years, economists have debated the wisdom of increasing government spending during recessions. On the one hand, increased spending adds to budget deficits, but on the other, increased spending can stimulate the economy during a downturn, thus speeding recovery. Deficits topped $1.4 trillion in the latest recessionâwhich raises two questions: "How big is 'too big' in terms of spending?" and "What are the long-term consequences?" The March 2010 Newsletter offers some insights into this timely topic.
Some U.S. taxpayers were angry and felt betrayed when financial company executives received large bonuses in the midst of the 2008-09 financial crisis. These executives headed some of the same firms whose risky practices contributed to the crisisâand then later received billions of dollars in government bailouts. Who makes the changes in executive compensation policies and regulations to avoid such risks in the future? Read the February 2010 Newsletter for answers and interesting insights.
Holiday sales are expected to be weak again this year even though the economy and financial markets are improving. Shoppers are especially reluctant to use credit cards for holiday purchases. According to the National Retail Federation's 2009 Consumer Intentions and Action Survey, only 28.3 percent of holiday shoppers will use credit cards; this is 10.6 percent lower than one year ago. Why are shoppers so hesitant to use their credit cards this year? Many factors are involved. Read the January 2010 Newsletter for the answers.