The stock market’s roaring, and applications for unemployment are down, but there was disappointing news in Thursday’s economic data. In January manufacturing growth slowed, construction spending dipped, and Americans’ after-tax income fell, leading to a fourth straight month of weak consumer spending. Guest host Terrence McNally explores the continued gap between Wall Street and Main Street, and what we can do about it.
Although it’s down a bit today, the Dow hit 13,000 this week for the first time since May, 2008. NASDAQ flirted with 3000. One US company, Apple, is now valued at over $500 billion, higher than the gross domestic product of Poland, Belgium, Sweden, Saudi Arabia or Taiwan. Yet manufacturing growth has slowed, construction spending has slipped, and consumer spending remains weak. Both housing construction and Americans’ after-tax income actually fell in January. What accounts for the disparity? How important is it? What can be done about it? And how will all this play out in this year’s elections?
* Daniel Gross: Yahoo! Finance, @grossdm
* Robert H. Frank: Cornell University
* Tom Donlan: Barron’s National Business and Financial Weekly
* Dean Baker: Center for Economic and Policy Research, @DeanBaker13
* Gross’ ‘Better, Stronger, Faster: The Myth of American Economic Decline’
* Frank’s ‘The Darwin Economy: Liberty Competition and the Common Good’
* Baker’s ‘The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive’
Today one of our two major political parties - nationally and in state capitols -- is unwilling to consider raising taxes no matter what the circumstances. Though most of Washington's officials and media are hysterical about the deficit, and willing to hurt anyone in an effort to reduce it, both parties voted in December to extend tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans for two more years.
I last interviewed today's guest, Pulitzer Prize winning tax writer, DAVID CAY JOHNSTON in January 2009 on the day of Barack Obama's inauguration, We talked then about how we could make the most of the opportunity presented by the financial catastrophe. Did the bailouts make sense? and What could we do that would be smarter, more efficient, more effective - that might work?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON worked as an investigative reporter for several newspapers. He was with the Los Angeles Times from 1976 to 1988, and at the New York Times from 1995-2008 where he won a Pulitzer Prize for his innovative coverage of our tax system He now teaches the tax, property and regulatory law of the ancient world at Syracuse University College of Law and Whitman School of Management and writes a column at tax.com. He is the author of two bestsellers, Perfectly Legal and Free Lunch. His next book, The Fine Print, will be published in 2011.