Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Newest Fox News piece: Powerball odds

My newest Fox News piece starts this way:
The $550 million Powerball jackpot sure sounds tempting. And you may be even more tempted to participate in Powerball madness when I tell you that inspired to learn that there is a 63 percent chance at 10:59 ET on Wednesday night that one or more people will be screaming with delight or fainting. 
It seems like such a great deal, too. For a very small investment, with a $550 million jackpot, and odds of 1 in 175 million, it looks like a $2 ticket will on average pay $2.84. Even if you don't win the Powerball jackpot, you might win a consolation prize. That adds another 35 cents to the value of each ticket, for a total of $3.19.  Not a bad return for a $2 investment.  How can you go wrong? 
You might be wondering how state governments can afford to pay out so much money even when they keep 50 percent off the top of the prize. That's because the unclaimed winnings from 15 previous Powerball drawings are kept in the pot. . . .
I definitely wouldn't have picked the title for this piece. 


Monday, November 5, 2012

New Op-ed piece: The financial crisis can't explain the current slow recovery

My newest piece is with Jerry Dwyer and James Lothian and starts this way:
Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff’s book, “This Time is Different,” has become the bible of the Obama administration. Their claim that recoveries after financial crises are naturally much slower than other recoveries has given President Obama a lot of cover. Their argument may be widely accepted by the media but has not been so readily accepted by economists. 
Reinhart and Rogoff lashed out at academic critics a couple of weeksago with an opinion piece in Bloomberg and again recently on CNN, attacking economists who disagree with them as blinded by support for Mitt Romney. 
Our current recovery has been the weakest since at least World War II. Thirty-nine months since the recovery started in June 2009, job growth has been only 2 percent. During the average recovery since 1970, job growth over the first 39 months has averaged over 8 percent. The current recovery has failed to keep up with the growth in the working age population. Unlike past recoveries, much of the drop in the unemployment rate simply reflects people giving up looking for work. And there is no doubt there was a financial crisis. 
But the financial crisis is not the explanation for the slow recovery. . . . .


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Newest Fox News piece: "Four years later, Obama's 'recovery' is still around the corner"

My newest piece starts this way:
More bad news for the president, as yet another lackluster jobs report was announced this morning. 
After a severe recession, job growth is normally quite strong. We are now 40 months into a recovery, but job growth is only about a quarter what it has been during the average recovery since 1970. 
Unemployment rose up to 7.9 percent. Jobs are being created, 171,000 of them, but the pace is still just keeping up with the growing working age population. With 209,000 working-age people added to the labor force last month, 133,000 jobs were needed just to tread water and keep the same percentage of the population working. 38,000 net new jobs is good, but it is trivial in a country where the civilian work force amounts to 156 million. 
The unemployment rate is back up to what it was when Barack Obama became president. To put it differently, while 194,000 more people are at work now than in January 2009, our population has grown and there are now 8,822,000 more working-age people. Unfortunately, most of that difference represents people who have simply given up looking for work and now classified as: “not in the labor force.” 
No wonder real median family income keeps falling each year during the “recovery.” . . .