Five Best Monday Columns

Paul Krugman on why inequality matters, Neera Tanden on economic populism, Greg Sargent on, Matt O'Brien says Bitcoin will never be currency, and Mark Buchanan on humanizing the study of the economy. 

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Paul Krugman at The New York Times on why inequality matters. "When you try to understand both the Great Recession and the not-so-great recovery that followed, the economic and above all political impacts of inequality loom large," Krugman writes. "It’s now widely accepted that rising household debt helped set the stage for our economic crisis; this debt surge coincided with rising inequality, and the two are probably related (although the case isn’t ironclad)." Those who say President Obama shouldn't focus on inequality represent the "interests and prejudices of an economic elite whose political influence had surged along with its wealth." MSNBC health policy reporter Geoffrey Cowley tweets, "For the past 6 years, rising inequality has cost Americans as much as the recession."

Neera Tanden at The New Republic on economic populism. Third Way, the think tank that promotes centrist ideas, has criticized Democrats' goal of reducing income inequality. But "a focus on inequality and requiring the wealthy to pay their fair share has not just been a successful political strategy for Bill de Blasio and Elizabeth Warren, but for leaders in Ohio, California, Maryland, and across the country," Tanden, the President of the Center for American Progress, argues. Moreover, it's the right thing to do. Third Way fellows argue that economic equality is a fantasy. "But what’s lofty about a proposal to enable every child the opportunity to attend preschool when the plan would dramatically expand opportunity by boosting children’s lifetime earnings, reducing teen pregnancy rates, and lowering the chances of future arrest and incarceration?" Tanden asks.

Greg Sargent at The Washington Post on The Obamacare website will now add advertisements from insurers. "All this is a reminder of just how much of a stake the industry has in the law’s success, and how much it is willing to spend to try to make that happen," Sargent argues. "Polls have shown that only Republicans believe Obamacare can already be pronounced a failure or that it can’t be made to work. Everyone else — including the insurance companies, who are putting huge money on the line — appears to believe otherwise." National Journal reporter Alex Seitz-Wald tweets, "Another way you know website is working: Insurers start releasing ad $$."

Matt O'Brien at The Atlantic says Bitcoin will never be a currency. "It doesn't make much sense, but there's actually a currency designed to create ... economic calamities. A currency designed for deflation. That's Bitcoin, the virtual currency you can theoretically use to buy things online," O'Brien argues. "Bitcoin won't work as a currency as long as it's so deflationary." The currency needs a central bank to "stabilize its value." Former Treasury official Tony Fratto recommends the piece.

Mark Buchanan at Bloomberg View on humanizing the study of the economy. "The field of economics is desperately in need of a paradigm shift if it wants to play a role in improving the lot of humanity. Instead, mainstream economists keep trying to get away with tiny tweaks in their fundamentally flawed way of looking at the world," Buchanan argues. "Given the vast heterogeneity of human psychology and behavior," economists need to consider that people make varied choices. Guardian finance and economics editor Heidi Moore tweets, "This is terrific on intrinsic flaws of economics."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.