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Uber/Lyft ballot initiative guarantees drivers only $5.64/hour

Ken Jacobs, chair, UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education | October 31, 2019

Co-authored with Michael Reich, UC Berkeley economics professor Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash have unveiled their ballot initiative to undo historic worker protections enshrined in AB5, California’s new law that tightens the criteria for worker classification. The initiative claims drivers will receive a guaranteed pay equal to 120% of the minimum wage (that would be $15.60 … Continue reading »

Will Facebook’s ill-conceived Libra cryptocurrency fail to launch?

Barry Eichengreen, professor of economics and political science | October 14, 2019

Plans for Facebook’s proposed “stablecoin,” Libra, appear to be unraveling with the withdrawal of PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, Stripe, eBay, and Mercado Pago as potential sponsors. This is hardly surprising, given growing awareness of Libra’s potential adverse consequences. If it offers anonymity to its users, Libra will become a platform for tax evasion, money laundering, and terrorist finance. … Continue reading »

How to make billionaires pay their fair share of taxes

Gabriel Zucman, Assistant professor of economics | October 11, 2019

Co-authored with UC Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez. Their new book is The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay. America’s soaring inequality has a new engine: Its regressive tax system. Over the past half century, even as their wealth rose to previously unseen heights, the richest Americans watched … Continue reading »

Poverty rates improve—but, really, is this the best we can do?

Sylvia Allegretto, Economist, Co-Chair of the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics | September 10, 2019

Today the U.S. Census Bureau released its annual report on poverty rates through 2018. The overall rate of 11.8% for 2018 was a mark of continued improvement from the 15% recorded from 2010-12 due to the Great Recession (blue line in the chart). There was also continued improvement to the rate of children in poverty … Continue reading »

Lessons from the Laureates for Economics, Agriculture, and the Environment

David Zilberman, professor, agriculture and resource economics | September 6, 2019

One immediate benefit of winning the Wolf Prize was receiving an invitation to the World Laureates Sanya Forum in China. This meeting hosted 21 Nobel Prize, Fields Medal, Turing Award, and/or Wolf Prize laureates, as well as leading Chinese scientists. Sanya is China’s Hawaii, with tropical weather, beautiful beaches and splendid resorts, where we enjoyed … Continue reading »

Presidential hopefuls should campaign for a more caring capitalist economy

Clair Brown, Professor emerita of economics | July 16, 2019

Co-authored with Simon Sallstrom, research coordinator for UC Berkeley’s Sustainable Shared-Prosperity Policy Index The candidates in the 2020 U.S. presidential race are proposing an array of economic policies frequently described as either free-market or socialist. These labels often confuse the American public. In particular, capitalism is widely — and wrongly — understood to be synonymous … Continue reading »

Lessons from Behavioral Economics

David Zilberman, professor, agriculture and resource economics | March 26, 2019

I returned from Morocco, where I was asked at a conference, “Does behavioral economics make optimization models obsolete?” The message of some publications may be that behavioral economics is a substitute for ‘traditional’ economics and that it more accurately resembles humans rather than ‘econs’ that are the subject of traditional theory. Some may infer that … Continue reading »

Amazon’s retreat may be New York’s loss

Enrico Moretti, professor of economics | February 26, 2019

Amazon’s decision to cancel its plans in New York City was actually the second time that New York missed its chance to host Amazon headquarters. The first time was in 1994, and what happened then informs what might happen next. It was the beginning of the internet era, and a 30-year-old Jeff Bezos was living in … Continue reading »

Teachers on the march

Sylvia Allegretto, Economist, Co-Chair of the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics | February 11, 2019

This CWED VIDEO SHORT puts trends in teacher pay into perspective. Teacher strikes have brought much-needed attention to public education. Chronic under-funding has resulted in constant teacher shortages, outdated books, a lack of nurses and other staff, and lagging teacher pay in many school districts across the country. In this post I focus on trends … Continue reading »

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s tax hike idea is not about soaking the rich

Gabriel Zucman, Assistant professor of economics | January 22, 2019

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has kick-started a much-needed debate about taxes. But the debate, so far, has been misplaced. It’s obvious that the affluent — who’ve seen their earnings boom since 1980 while their taxes fell — can contribute more to the public coffers. And given the revenue needs of the country, it is necessary.

But that’s not the fundamental reason higher top marginal income tax rates are desirable. Their root justification is not about collecting revenue. It is about regulating inequality and the market economy. It is also about safeguarding democracy against oligarchy.

Enhancing financial inclusion among bottom-of-the-pyramid entrepreneurs in Mexico

Laura Tyson, Interim Dean, Haas School of Business | November 9, 2018

  Co-authored by Byron Villacis On the corner of a bustling, working-class neighborhood in Mexico City, Maria González* has run a small photography business for years. Recently, she took out a bank loan to purchase a new digital camera and printer that enabled her to produce high-quality images and deliver them at a rapid speed. … Continue reading »

A North American road to the middle class

Harley Shaiken, director, Center for Latin American Studies, professor in education and in geography | October 22, 2018

Co-authored by Representative Sander Levin (D-Michigan)  Now that Canada has joined a revised North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), renamed the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), we must not lose sight of the central problem that any new accord must address: the outsourcing of U.S. industrial jobs to Mexico’s system of suppressed wages. There have been efforts by … Continue reading »

A post-Great Recession overview of labor market trends in the United States and California

Sylvia Allegretto, Economist, Co-Chair of the Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics | July 23, 2018

Full-brief here It has been well over a decade since the economy tumbled into what is now dubbed the Great Recession — reflecting the historical severity and swiftness of the downturn. The recession officially lasted from December 2007 through June 2009. However, the economy under-performed for nearly a decade as the output gap — GDP … Continue reading »

What does Daylight Saving Time really save?

Severin Borenstein, professor of business | July 2, 2018

DST can coordinate societal shifts to better use of daylight…but at a cost. You would think most states have more pressing issues to confront these days, but legislation on the measurement of time is one of the perennial favorites in our nation’s legislatures. There is always someone passionate about the horrible costs or enormous benefits … Continue reading »

Rapid innovations in agrifood supply chains

David Zilberman, professor, agriculture and resource economics | June 19, 2018

We hosted our third Agrifood Supply Chain Conference on April 18 and 19 together with Solidaridad and other wonderful sponsors. The conference was hosted at the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) building in Berkeley, which houses cutting-edge institutions – the EBI and Innovative Genomics Initiative – that create new technologies affecting supply chains around the globe. … Continue reading »

CEOs take to the pulpit on gun control

Kellie McElhaney, founder, Center for Responsible Business | March 28, 2018

You know their names: Emma Gonzalez (age 18); David Hogg (age 18); Naomi Wadler (age 11); Yolanda Renee King (age 9). These young people, and many more, stand at podiums to eloquently, outspokenly and loudly demand tighter gun control legislation from our political leaders following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting that left 17 … Continue reading »

Focus on the source of most satisfaction, not consumption

Clair Brown, Professor emerita of economics | March 27, 2018

Buying stuff can make you happy for a short time. But you will revert to needing another happiness boost by buying even more stuff. We can, however, replace the boom and bust of a consumption-driven search for satisfaction with lives that are more fulfilling and economically sustainable.