R.W. Hafer

Rik Hafer is a distinguished research professor in the Department of Economics and Finance at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and a scholar at the Show-Me Institute.

Marinela

Income inequality in the United States is a hot-button political issue in this mid-term election year. Advocates for substantial increases in the minimum wage, for instance, believe that imposing higher wages on employers will reduce poverty and lessen income inequality. The evidence just does not justify this claim. Workers who remain employed after the increase are made better off on the backs of those workers who face reduced hours or unemployment following government-mandated wage hikes.

linder6580 | sxc.hu

“Capitalism is the crisis.” So read a banner hung off of an overpass on eastbound Interstate 44 heading toward downtown St. Louis. But what did it mean?

Capitalism is characterized by private as opposed to government ownership of the capital used in the production and distribution of goods. This is done in the pursuit of profit.

a rolling dollar bill
dleafy | sxc.hu

The end of the year is always a time to take stock of what has transpired during the past year and what is likely to happen in the one about to begin.  Let’s do so by considering several key economic measures.

Economic expansion limped along for another year.  Gross Domestic Product (GDP), adjusted for inflation, is the best measure of the economy’s total output. It increased this year, but not nearly as fast as many would hope, especially three years out form the end of the Great Recession.

On Labor Day, President Barack Obama unveiled a $50 billion plan that he said would create more jobs and energize a lackluster economy. It will do neither.

Expectations play a significant role in explaining human behavior. Expect a slight chance of rain and you may not take an umbrella. Expect that the hurricane gaining strength off the coast is going to hit your town and you are likely to take precautions. Expectations also are important in explaining the current economic situation.

The news that China has surpassed Japan as the world's second largest economy sent a shiver through the collective soul of economic pundits. It needn't have.

During the late 1980s, we were warned of Japan's expanding economic machine. The Japanese economy was then expanding at a rate that made ours look puny. Everyone looked to Japan as the source for economic inspiration and guidance: Recall the movement to adopt their management techniques or face economic defeat?

Executive compensation is a hot-button topic. Numerous reports document that chief executives of major corporations earn salaries that far exceed those of their workers. And, amid the financial crisis and recession, we have seen that compensation and performance are not always linked.

The possible takeover of Anheuser Busch by the Belgian brewer InBev has sparked the predictable political outcry.

Claire McCaskill, the junior yet up-and-coming Democratic senator from Missouri, announced that she would block the takeover. Supporting the deal wouldn’t be “patriotic.” 

The senior senator from Missouri, Kit Bond, also is flat out against the deal. From our nation’s capital to Jefferson City to city hall, politicians are lining up to keep the Belgians from the brewery gates on Pestalozzi.