The only people hurt by health reform are Americans with very high incomes, who have seen their taxes go up, and a  small number of people who have seen their premiums rise because they’re young, healthy and affluent

Whatever your view of Obamacare, one indisputable fact is that it is costing taxpayers much less than expected

British prime minister David Cameron’s government put plans for further austerity on hold.  Photograph: Chris Ison/PA

Media organisations routinely present as fact propositions that are contentious if not just plain wrong

Over the past year the dollar has risen 20 per cent on average against other major currencies; it’s up 27 per cent against the euro

The US isn’t exactly booming but it looks great compared with Europe

The United States is now adding jobs at a rate not seen since the Clinton years. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Interest rate increase could cost economy millions of jobs and trigger deflationary trap

Wal-Mart is so big that its action will probably lead to raises for millions of workers employed by other companies. Photograph: Patrick T Fallon/Bloomberg

Low wages are a political choice and we can and should choose differently

JPMorgan Chase chief executive Jamie Dimon is one of the powerful business leaders who has lectured about the so-called ‘skills gap’. Photoraph: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

The argument that an ‘education gap’ is at the root of inequality is at odds with the evidence

Real Greek gross domestic product per capita fell 26 per cent from 2007 to 2013, compared with a German decline of 29 per cent from 1913 to 1919

Greece cannot pay its debts in full and austerity has devastated its economy as thoroughly as military defeat devastated Germany (...)

German chancellor Angela Merkel: the way forward, she insisted,  was a return to frugality. Photograph: Fritz Reiss/AP

If everyone slashes spending at the same time, incomes go down around the world

 Barack Obama: it goes without saying the president’s fiscal proposals will be attacked by Republicans. Photograph: John Gress/Reuters

Washington needs to take on the hard issue of short-run gratification

Incoming Greek prime minister  Alexis Tsipras is being far more realistic about austerity and growth than European officials who want the beatings to continue until morale improves. Photograph: Michael Kappeler/EPA

The troika was peddling an economic fantasy: Greeks have paid the price

Kansas governor Sam Brownback:  in 2012,  he drastically cut taxes, assuring everyone that the resulting boom would make up for the initial loss in revenues. Unfortunately for his constituents, his experiment has been a resounding failure. Photograph: Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times

From climate change to Omabacare, actual evidence is irrelevant to an angry cohort

No surprise: the first move of the new Republican Senate is an attempt to push Barack Obama into approving pipeline. Photograph: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

Debts must be paid and the oil and gas industry expects to be rewarded for its support

President Barack Obama. ‘Now that he’s presiding over unexpected economic strength [his critics] can’t just turn around and assert his irrelevance.’ Photograph: J Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

Stimulus programme and protection of Fed independence key presidential achievements

Pussian president Vladimir Putin: he’s an ex-KGB man – which is to say, he spent his formative years as a professional thug. Photograph: EPA/Sergei Chirikov

Putin may be starting to see that war makes you poorer, even if you win

Wall Street overwhelmingly backed Mitt Romney in 2012, and invested heavily in Republicans once again this year. Photograph: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

A key provision of Dodd-Frank has been reversed thanks to Wall Street’s Congress

“We can now say with confidence the recovery’s weakness had nothing to do with Obama’s alleged anti-business slant”

Things finally looking better for American workers but this improvement comes after years of suffering

German chancellor Angela Merkel and German minister of finance Wolfgang Schaeuble. EPA/RAINER JENSEN

Euro zone’s largest economy is effectively exporting deflation to its neighbours

The US Federal Reserve in Washington, DC. ‘We were also told repeatedly that printing money would lead to ‘currency debasement and inflation’. The Fed, to its credit, stood up to this pressure, but other central banks didn’t.’ Photograph: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Opinion: those whose doctrines failed reality test refuse to admit error, let alone learn

Surely the exploding costs of Obamacare would lead to vast amounts of red ink, right? Well, no. Photograph:  Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

When the Ebola freak-out was at its peak, it wasn’t just a disease but a political metaphor

The Affordable Care Act tries to establish more-or-less universal coverage through a “three-legged stool” of policies, all of which are needed to make the system work

Consequences if Supreme Court suit were to prevail would be grotesque

 Ben Bernanke had the courage to defy all those tycoons demanding that they stop printing money. Photograph: Reuters/Jim Young

Success in business does not seem to convey any special insight into economic policy

You can get a sense of the ideology at work in some of the documents produced by House Republicans under the leadership of Paul Ryan. Photograph: Aaron Bernstein/Reuters

Nowadays we simply won’t invest even when the need is obvious

Amazon overwhelmingly dominates online book sales, with a market share comparable to Standard Oil’s share of the refined oil market  in 1911. Photograph:  Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Book sales depend on word of mouth and online retailer has power to kill buzz

German chancellor  Angela Merkel. “In Europe austerity policies have been driven less by economic analysis than by Germany’s moral indignation over the notion that irresponsible borrowers might not face the full consequences of their actions.” Photograph: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

Opinion: history shows us mass deleveraging does not work

Sen Rand Paul: “When is the last time in our country we created millions of jobs? It was under Ronald Reagan.” Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Opinion: Republican diktat to budget office would mean end to policy referee

According to Forbes, best-paid actor Robert Downey jnr earned $75 million last year while the top 25 hedge fund managers took home, on average, almost $1 billion each. Photograph: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

The truly rich are so removed from ordinary people’s lives that we never see what they have

What’s holding back employment in the US, asks speaker of the house John Boehner. Photograph: Joshua Roberts/Reuters

What the Republican Party really believes is, it’s your own fault

The fomer Lehman Brothers headquarters in New York. “It’s true that while the most shocking intellectual malfeasance has come from conservative economists, some economists on the left have also seemed more interested in defending their turf and sniping at professional rivals than in getting it right.” Photograph: Nicholas Roberts/AFP/Getty Images

Opinion: too many influential economists performed poorly after financial crisis

Cakes at Browning Bakers in Kilmarnock in Scotland. EPA/Robert Perry

Opinion: it’s likely Scotland would become Spain without the sunshine

“When it comes to ensuring that Americans have access to healthcare, the message of the data is simple: yes, we can.”

Health spending has slowed sharply - it’s already well below projections

Texas governor Rick Perry will likely run for the US presidency on the basis that he knows how to create prosperity. Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times

Despite what Rick Perry might argue, it’s housing policy that explains growth in southern states

Vladimir Putin: No doubt it’s an oversimplification to say that the confrontation in Ukraine is all about shoring up an authoritarian regime that is stumbling on other fronts. But there’s surely some truth to that story.

Ukraine confrontation raises some scary prospects

Libertarian author and philosopher Ayn Rand in Manhattan in 1957. Photograph: New York Times/Getty Images

Is libertarian economics at all realistic?The answer is no

Republican leaders such as Mitch McConnell tried to help their friends with the Orwellian claim that resolution authority was actually a gift to Wall Street. But Wall Street knew better. Photograph: Getty Images

Creation of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau should not have been controversial

Does this mean President Barack Obama is wrong to describe companies engaging in inversion as “corporate deserters”?  Photograph: Reuters

The US federal government still gets one-tenth of its revenue from corporate profits taxation

US President Barack Obama appointed a special, bipartisan commission to propose solutions to the alleged crisis, and spent much of his first term trying to negotiate a Grand Bargain on the budget with Republicans. Photograph: Bloomberg

It’s hard to escape the feeling that debt panic served a political purpose

“The Affordable Care Act has faced nonstop attacks from partisans and right-wing media, with mainstream news also tending to harp on the act’s troubles.” Photograph: EPA/Jim Lo Scalzo

Opinion: predictions continue to be doom-laden despite the evidence

On the eve of the Great Recession, many conservative pundits and commentators had a world view that combined faith in free markets with disdain for government. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Conservative delusions about inflation hint at a much larger rejection of fact-based thinking

Ronald Reagan was told by a group of economic advisers that a cut in income tax rates would raise tax revenue

The experience of Kansas is just the latest evidence that Reagan’s trickle-down economics is a fantasy

Former US treasury secretary Henry Paulson called for a national tax on carbon emissions to encourage conservation. Photograph: Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo

In policy terms, climate action would probably look like health reform

US president Barack Obama. “In terms of policy substance Obama is having a seriously good year. In fact, there’s a very good chance that 2014 will go down in the record books as one of those years when America took a major turn in the right direction.” Photograph: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

Opinion: the US president should be judged by his achievements, not his press

The real war on coal, or at least on coal workers, took place a generation ago, waged not by liberal environmentalists but by the coal industry itself. And coal workers lost. Photograph: Michaela Rehle/Reuters

Toxic mix of ideology and anti-intellectualism makes rational action on climate so hard

French economist and academic Thomas Piketty’s best-selling Capital in the Twenty-First Century has attracted praise and invective alike. Photograph: Reuters

Critics of consensus need to ask whether they’re seeking intellectual honesty, or are acting as concern trolls

Paul Ryan likes to warn that Europe’s social safety net became  a “hammock” that undermined initiative and encouraged dependency. Photograph: Rick Wilking/Reuters

US conservatives don’t like to admit that European-style welfare states have proven more successful at job creation

US President Barack Obama with then treasury secretary Tim Geithner in the East Room of the White House in January 2013 . Photograph: AFP

How can people feel good about track records that are objectively so bad?

Karl Marx: Obamacare and climate change policy are among the initiatives branded ‘Marxist’ by US conservatives. Photograph: Henry Guttmann/Getty Images

Justice Scalia’s criticism of an attempt to curb pollution gives a taste of what’s to come

“Nobody can make Obamacare work,” declared Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, a couple of weeks ago (when it was already obvious that it was working pretty well). Photograph: Amos Ben Gershom GPO via Getty Images

The constant harping on alleged failure of Obamacare works as innuendo

Rancher Cliven Bundy, who became a right-wing hero after refusing to pay fees for grazing his animals on federal land. Photograph: David Becker/Getty Images

Opinion: rancher Cliven Bundy’s racist ranting has given American conservatives an easy out

Stockholm, Sweden. Swedish unemployment stopped falling soon after the rate hikes began. Deflation took a little longer, but it eventually arrived. The rock star of the recovery has turned itself into Japan.

Country went from being a role model for recovery to the Nordic Japan

 Society is devoting an ever-growing share of its resources to financial wheeling and dealing, while getting little or nothing in return.

There is a clear correlation between the rise of modern finance and the US’s return to Gilded Age levels of inequality

Some employers complain that they’re finding it hard to find workers with the skills they need. But show us the money: if employers are really crying out for certain skills, they should be willing to offer higher wages to attract workers with those skills.

Skills myth shifts attention away from soaring profits and bonuses

  Republican congressman Eric Cantor  with Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In 2012, Mr Cantor famously commemorated Labor Day with a Twitter post honouring business owners. Photograph: Amos Ben Gershom GPO via Getty Images)

Today’s GOP values the interests of the rich over those of ordinary families

Paul Ryan, chairman of the House budget committee and the GOP’s de facto intellectual leader, is an expert at sounding like he knows what he’s talking about. Photograph: Reuters

Paul Ryan wasn’t being inarticulate - he was making the only argument that he’s got

People line up for a food giveaway programme at MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, California, recently. Disposable income in the US and Britain is much more unequally distributed than in France, Germany or Scandinavia. Photograph: Reuters

Recent studies on redistribution can change the debate

Inflation obsessives  failed to understand that printing money in a depressed economy isn’t inflationary. Photograph: PA

Opinion: ‘Sado-monetarism,’ is very much alive today

Rep Cathy McMorris Rodgers, in the official GOP response to the State of the Union address, alluded to the case of “Bette in Spokane”, who supposedly lost her good health insurance coverage. Photograph: Doug Mills/The New York Times

Do conservatives realise their Plan A on health reform isn’t working?

Last week’s big business news was the announcement that Comcast, a gigantic provider of cable TV and high-speed internet service, has reached a deal to acquire Time Warner, which is merely huge.

There’s good reason to believe monopoly is itself a barrier to innovation

Junior United States Senator for Kentucky Rand Paul:  Peddling a fantasy at odds with the evidence. Photograph: Doug Mills/New York Times

Notions of typical long-term jobless in US fails to match facts

Pedestrians walk along the bank of the Bosphorus strait as the minarets of mosques stand beyond in the Eminonu district of Istanbul, Turkey.   There are fears Turkey’s troubles will  spread across the world’s emerging markets. Photograph: Kerem Uzel/Bloomberg

Intervals between crises seem to be getting shorter, and the fallout from each one seems to be worse than the last

In a letter to the editor of the ‘Wall Street Journal’ Tom Perkins lamented public criticism of the “1 per cent” – and compared such criticism to Nazi attacks on the Jews. Photograph: Getty

Extreme inequality, it turns out, creates a class of people who are alarmingly detached from reality

Margot Robbie and Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’: The film is wildly popular with finance types, who cheer on the title character

Economic inequality is the US is stark, and no amount of muddying the facts or wishful thinking can disguise it

Republican senator Marco Rubio: “Republicans are in a deep sense enemies of America’s poor. And that will remain true no matter how hard the likes of Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio try to convince us otherwise.” Photograph: Reuters

The reason that reputation is so hard to shake is that it’s justified

We have yet to see whether US president Barack Obama’s declaration that inequality is “the defining challenge of our age” will translate into policy changes. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Inequality probably played an important role in creating our economic mess, and has played a crucial role in our failure to clean (...)

Republican Senator Rand Paul  cited research suggesting that the long-term unemployed have a hard time re-entering the workforce as a reason to cut off long-term  benefits. Photograph: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

The odds are the long-term jobless will be cut off thanks to a perfect marriage of callousness and bad economics

The inflation-adjusted wages of non-supervisory workers in retail – who weren’t particularly well paid to begin with – have fallen almost 30 per cent since 1973.

The Economic Policy Institute estimates an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 would benefit 30 million workers

Barack Obama’s administration is telling the public that everything will eventually be fixed, and urging congressional Democrats to keep their nerve. Reuters/Larry Downing

The Affordable Care Act is working well in a number of states running their own online health exchanges instead of HealthCare.go(...)

A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange yesterday. “The case for ‘secular stagnation’ – a persistent state in which a depressed economy is the norm, with episodes of full employment few and far between – was made forcefully recently at the most ultra-respectable of venues, the IMF’s big annual research conference.” Photograph: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

What if depression-like conditions are on track to persist, not for another year or two, but for decades?

Olli Rehn: Two months ago, Europe’s commissioner for economic and monetary affairs  dismissed France’s seemingly exemplary fiscal policy. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times

Punishment of France reflects ideological agenda, writes Paul Krugman

 The US embassy  next to the Brandenburg Gate  in Berlin. Germans are enraged by a US treasury report which says    Germany’s huge trading surplus  is harmful, creating “a deflationary bias for the euro area, as well as for the world economy”. Photograph:   Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Exporters capitalising on weak euro instead of soaring deutschmark

The Healthcare.gov website’s early days have been plagued with problems. Photograph: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Healthcare reform is being stymied because of an ideology that is hostile to any kind of state support

An undated handout photograph of the health insurance marketplace website, the web portal through which Americans are supposed to buy insurance on the new healthcare exchanges. For now, at least, HealthCare.gov isn’t working for many users.

Conservative groups sabotage reform by blocking Medicaid expansion

A biker rides past the US Capitol  in Washington DC, yesterday. With the government shutdown going into the 14th day and the deadline for raising the debt ceiling fast approaching, Democrats and Republicans are still in a stalemate. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The question is whether plunging markets and urgent appeals from big business will stiffen spines

A fence surrounds the US Department of Commerce in Washington  as the government shutdown continued at the weekend. Photograoh: Reuters/Mike Theiler

The GOP is only just beginning to realise that Barack Obama will stand firm over the shutdown

“... We don’t have a sane political system; we have a system in which a substantial number of Republicans believe they can force president Barack Obama to cancel health reform by threatening a government shutdown, a debt default, or both...” Photograph: Getty Images

A US government default could cause financial catastrophe

Republican Paul Ryan said the food-stamp scheme was turning a safety net into a ‘hammock’.

The GOP’s war on food stamps shows how mean-spirited they are

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke – the  Federal Open Market Committee’s talk of slowing long-term bond purchases has effectively  tightened monetary policy

Talk of slowing the purchase of long-term bonds might risk the economic recovery

Last weekend Republican senator John Barrasso (right) claimed the  Affordable Care Act  had “proven to be unpopular, unworkable and unaffordable”. But he was wrong about everything, even the “unpopular” bit. Photograph: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Republicans show a near-complete lack of expertise on anything substantive, thanks to conservative ‘experts’ who offer them a stea(...)

  Former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who  once said of  workers: “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”   Photograph: Stephen Crowley/New York Times)

It wasn’t always about the hot dogs. Originally, believe it or not, Labor Day actually had something to do with showing respect f(...)

Steve Ballmer: The odd thing was that nobody seemed to like Microsoft’s products.  Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Creative destruction means monopolies do not last forever

Barack Obama greeting lawmakers during  a bipartisan meeting to discuss health reform legislation in Washington in 2010.  Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

Republicans who deluded their supporters into believing that Obamacare won’t work will probably pay a large personal price

Milton Friedman, “who used to be the ultimate avatar of conservative economics, has essentially disappeared from right-wing discourse”. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The free-market apostle’s economics are too nuanced and realistic for the modern right

Republican Paul Ryan, chairman of the House budget committee,  makes claims about having a plan to slash deficits but doesn’t spell  out the  details. Photograph:John Adkisson/Getty Images

The modern Grand Old Party is lost in fantasy

Downtown Atlanta: the booming city “looks just like Detroit gone bust: both are places where the American dream seems to be dying, where the children of the poor have great difficulty climbing the economic ladder”. Photograph: Chris Aluka Berry/Reuters

A study shows that in many major US cities disadvantaged workers are stranded far from the dream of being upwardly mobile

General Motors Corp headquarters  in the background of a  Detroit street. Photograph: Paul Sancya/AP

The city does seem to have had bad governance, but for the most part it was an innocent victim of market forces

House Speaker John Boehner was among  House leaders who worked late last week to help pass the monstrous farm bill. Photograph: Christopher Gregory/The New York Times

The monstrous farm Bill the House of Representatives passed last week shows its mean-spiritedness

Hundreds of people line up to attend a job fair in New York City. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images

Cutting of benefits a case of mean-spiritedness converging with bad economic analysis

International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde called on the United States to “hurry up with putting in place a medium-term road map to restore long-run fiscal sustainability”. Photograph:  Reuters/Jose Luis Magana

Long-term fiscal projections should be seen mainly as especially boring science fiction

Job applicants wait in line under rainfall in New York.

Message to policymakers: do your jobs and stop shrugging

President Barack Obama – there are indications some of the cost-reducing measures contained in the affordable care Act, aka Obamacare, are starting to “bend the curve”, just as they were supposed to. Photograph: Christopher Gregory/The New York Times

It’s time to stop obsessing about paying benefits to retirees in 2035 and focussing on providing jobs for unemployed Americans (...)

US President Barack Obama: New evidence – especially from California, the law’s most important test case – suggests  that  Obamacare  will be an unexpected success. Photograph: Getty

Many Republican governors and legislators doing all they can to sabotage reform

Do we have a major bond and/or stock bubble? On bonds, I’d say definitely not. On stocks, probably not, although I’m not as certain

What is a bubble, anyway? I’d define it as a situation in which asset prices appear to be based on implausible or inconsistent vi(...)

 Job-seekers wait in line to meet  employers at a recent job and internship fair in New York City. Obama’s  Recovery Act had its peak effect in 2010, and has since faded away, a fade that has been a major reason for  slow recovery and unemployment. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The notion that stimulus spending is difficult to stop is a fantasy

“Right now we’re still dealing with the aftermath of a once-in-three-generations financial crisis. This is no time for austerity.” Photograph: Alan Betson

Now remains a very bad time for spending cuts

Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff “quickly achieved almost sacred status among self-proclaimed guardians of fiscal responsibility” as a result of their 2010 paper Growth in a Time of Debt. Photograph: Mary F. Calvert/The New York Times

The Reinhart-Rogoff fiasco needs to be seen in the broader context of austerity mania

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who have amassed a large bitcoin portfolio, in their office in New York last week. The twin brothers’ decision to go public with their position on the digital currency signals a new stage for what has been an experimental alternative to national currencies. Photograph: Agaton Strom/The New York Times

The fact that proponents of the ‘digital currency’ – the Winklevosses among them – use language similar to goldbug rhetoric is no(...)

Copies of US president Barack Obama's budget proposal for FY 2014 at a printing press at the Government Printing Office yesterday in Washington DC. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

When it comes to the main obstacle remaining to more or less universal health coverage, rhetoric is all the right has

The state’s problems bear no resemblance to the death-by-liberalism storyline the California-bashers keep peddling

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