Mike Konczal

Mike Konczal is a fellow with the Roosevelt Institute, where he works on financial reform, unemployment, inequality, and a progressive vision of the economy. His blog, Rortybomb, was named one of the 25 Best Financial Blogs by Time magazine. His writing has appeared in the Boston Review, the Washington Monthly, The Nation, Slate, and Dissent. He's appeared on PBS NewsHour, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show, CNN, Marketplace, and more.

Recent Articles

Value Beyond Price

It isn't only the marketplace that determines worth. 

The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy By Mariana Mazzucato Public Affairs This article appears in the Winter 2019 issue of The American Prospect magazine. Subscribe here . Whether it is the financial sector, health care, trade, or the nature of work, the question of what is valuable in our economy has become more and more prevalent in our politics. Economists have not been particularly useful guides in this debate. This shouldn’t surprise us, argues economist Mariana Mazzucato in her new book, The Value of Everything: Making and Taking in the Global Economy. Economists largely abandoned that question a century ago, assuming that anything and everything that trades for money counts as valuable, and little else. The title is based on Oscar Wilde’s comment that a cynic is someone who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing. It’s easy to extend this one-liner to ridicule economists. But Mazzucato wants instead to reconnect the...

The Bankers' Bank

Does the Federal Reserve govern the banking system—or vice versa? 

Library of Congress
This article appears in the Spring 2016 issue. Subscribe here . America's Bank: The Epic Struggle to Create the Federal Reserve By Roger Lowenstein Penguin The Money Makers: How Roosevelt and Keynes Ended the Depression, Defeated Fascism, and Secured a Prosperous Peace By Eric Rauchway Basic Books Fed Power: How Finance Wins By Lawrence R. Jacobs and Desmond King Oxford University Press The periods after the destructive financial crises of the past century have traditionally been periods of reform; as a response, more democratic control was brought over money. Yet no such fundamental change has occurred in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008. This lack of movement has led to confusion and reaction, and academics are now trying to tease out the history and politics of how change happened before, and how it might happen again. There were cries for changes in the aftermath of the devastating 1907 financial crisis. However, the path from an idea of reform to the Federal Reserve Act...

Automatic Stabilizers: There When Congress Isn't

Flickr/JMazzolaa
As we approach sequestration today the dominant narrative continues to be that the huge run-up in the deficit since the Great Recession has been our greatest political—perhaps even a moral—failure. But it isn’t a failure. This is exactly how the system was designed to work if the economy ever saw a downturn on the scale of the 2008 financial crisis. The deficit is collapsing through the same planned process. As the economy recovers, it is falling quickly, down to 7 percent in 2012, and an estimated 5.3 percent in 2013. These are our "automatic stabilizers" at play. Though it sounds vaguely hydrologic or like a bad steampunk creation, it’s straightforward: The economy will naturally suffer from periods of slack demand in which there isn't enough purchasing power in the economy to produce goods and employ all of our resources, including people. Automatic stabilizers then kick into motion in to counteract this. One important automatic stabilizer is the tax code,...

Minimum Wage 101

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In his 2013 State of the Union, President Obama proposed a $9 federal minimum wage, indexed to inflation. Here to discuss the minimum wage as a policy is Arindrajit Dube. Dube is a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a widely respected scholar of labor markets and the minimum wage. Along with T. William Lester and Michael Reich, he is the author of Minimum Wage Effects Across State Borders: Estimates Using Contiguous Counties (2010), a major study that found no adverse employment effects of minimum wages increases by studying counties that cross state lines. Dube has written a summary back in 2011 on the state of this research here. Narrow, technical issues have dominated so much of the debate on the minimum wage, so I wanted to step back and get a better understanding of the minimum wage as a policy mechanism. These remarks are lightly edited. What does an introductory-level Economics 101 textbook tell us about the minimum wage, and how does that...

What Would Jack Lew Do?

AP Photo/Win McNamee
AP Photo/Win McNamee Current White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, whom President Barack Obama has nominated to be the new Treasury secretary, at the president's swearing-in ceremony during the 57th Presidential Inauguration. Sometime this month, the Senate is expected to grill President Obama’s pick for Treasury secretary, Jack Lew, who if confirmed will replace outgoing secretary Timothy Geithner. As the president’s chief of staff, Lew has been influential in the budget battles President Obama fought with House Republicans in the past year and has a deep knowledge of how government spending works. Conventional wisdom is that the president chose Lew to have a strong ally as the White House battles with congressional Republicans over spending and taxes. But with only a short stint at Citigroup amid a life of public service, there isn’t a deep record on what he thinks about financial reform. Nevertheless, the Treasury secretary will be responsible for the overhaul of...

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