Baum's View on Money: The X Files and Apple
Good morning, and welcome to the Wednesday edition of What I'm Reading.
Gentlemen, mark your calendars
The Bipartisan Policy Center is back with its analysis and slide show on the "X Date." That's the date when the Treasury has exhausted its borrowing authority and run out of accounting gimmicks to pay its bills. The BPC estimates the X Date will arrive between Oct. 18 and Nov. 5, during which time Treasury has to roll over $370 billion in debt. The federal government must be wondering why it didn't lock in those sub-2 percent 10-year rates.
Minimum wage gets maximum attention
Economist Jonathan Meer and graduate student Jeremy West of Texas A&M University provide a summary, for a general audience, of their recent paper on the minimum wage. An increase in the minimum wage slows hiring, "but more importantly, the long-run prospects for individuals are damaged, as they are delayed in the opportunity to develop skills and work experience –- to grasp that crucial first rung on the career ladder," they write. Neither evidence nor the law of supply and demand will convince the skeptics.
It cost how much?
The Great Recession and its aftermath cost the U.S. anywhere from $6 trillion to $14 trillion, or $50,000 to $120,000 for every household, according to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. And that's a conservative estimate. By way comparison, U.S. annual output is $16.7 trillion. "Given this range of estimates, the tepid economic recovery and the collateral damage sustained, it is crucial to implement effective policies that avoid future episodes whose magnitude could exceed even the staggering costs and consequences of the most recent financial crisis," the Dallas Fed economists write. It's good to know that cleaning up after a bubble bursts is no longer considered a viable option.
Five years later and still writing rules
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Princeton University economist Alan Blinder bemoans the weak response to the Great Recession compared with that to the Great Depression, which tamed the "financial beast" for 75 years. This time around, Dodd-Frank has enough exemptions to drive a truck through, the Volcker rule banning banks from prop trading is still being written, and rating agencies are still being paid by issuers. He's correct, but he's wrong if he thinks new rules and regulations alone will ever tame the financial beast.
When Steve Jobs was alive, the introduction of a new Apple product was a magical, mystical event. Yesterday's unveiling of the Apple iPhone 5C and 5S prompted this spoof promo, courtesy of the U.K.'s Guardian.
(Caroline Baum is a Bloomberg View columnist. Follow her on Twitter.)