John Irons's Blog


Economic News, Data and Analysis

GDP Revised Down 2001-2004

The BEA released revisions to the last few years of GDP data… the results are not good. Looks like we lost about 0.3 percentage points compared to where we thought we were.

News Release: Gross Domestic Product
For 2001-2004, real GDP grew at an average annual rate of 2.8 percent, 0.3 percentage point less than in the previously published estimates. The average annual rate of growth of real GDP from 2001:IV to 2005:I is 3.3 percent, 0.2 percentage point less than in the previously published estimates. Revisions to year-to-year growth rates were small.
Revisions to 2002-2004 estimates
The percent change from the preceding year in real GDP was revised down for all 3 years: From 1.9 percent to 1.6 percent for 2002, from 3.0 percent to 2.7 percent for 2003, and from 4.4 percent to 4.2 percent for 2004.

Here are the revisions…

Click for large image…

Filed under: Economics, Economy

Argmax Named Best of the Web

Looks like Forbes has named ArgMax a “Best of the Web” top-5 pick in the economics blogs category… Best of the Web
Economics Blogs
It may not be as prestigious as getting published, but blogging has become a popular way for economists to share their insight and opinions with readers from all over the world. The trend, known as econoblogging, has created a community of online opinions that economists, both casual and professional, can read and respond to. The blogosphere creates an environment where economists, Ph.D. candidates and armchair commentators can share the most soporific statistics and the most pragmatic ideas while naturally finding time to disagree and argue with one another. Whether an issue is macroeconomic or microeconomic, domestic or international, it’s sure to be discussed in the blogs below. Will a policy change in China affect how much you pay for gasoline? Do economic indicators indicate that the housing bubble is about to burst in the United States? By reading econoblogs you may not get one answer, but you’ll certainly get your fill of perspectives from a good many not so dismal scientists. — Adam Freedman
Forbes Favorite – Forbes Favorite Forbes Best of The Web pick – Forbes Best of The Web pick
Forbes Favorite
Forbes Best of The Web pick
Can computers tell us what we want to know about economics? John Irons, the associate director for tax and budget policy at the Center for American Progress, uses Argmax to answer that question with a firm “yes.” Irons created “bots,” which scour the Internet searching for the latest economic news and post it on the site. Irons compliments the bots with his own commentary, much of which deals with connections between politics and economics, including a spate of recent posts about American tax policy. Irons also attempts to make Argmax more than simply a blog by having features such as a search engine of economists, polls like one asking who should win the Nobel Prize, and an extensive list of links, though some (like his What I’m Reading feature) have little or no relevance to economics.
BEST: The Web site’s clean uncluttered design.
WORST: The Glossary link, which doesn’t work.

Also, the glossary link is now fixed…

Filed under: Website

Roubini on the Supply Side

Good summary of supply-side failures. Worth a read…

RGE – Deja Vu Voodoo Economics…or Supply Side Voodoo Black Magic…
So, while this voodoo magic religion seems to have also infested the halls of the the U.S. Congress, the next time you hear Mr. Laffer and his voodoo magicians tell you that their strange religion and odd beliefs have been vindicated, remember that this black magic has been tried twice before and has miserably failed. It is time for the U.S. to get rid of such barbarian delusional beliefs and get back to a reality-based mainstream economics of budget constraints. Otherwise, as predicted in a recent S&P study, the U.S. would be on its way to experience over the next decades an unsustainable death path would eventually lead to a junk bond credit rating status. That would be the ultimate verdict on supply side Voodoo Economics!

Filed under: Economics

Tax dodging

Tax Dodging – Center for American Progress
Tax Dodging
by John S. Irons
July 15, 2005
Americans want a fair tax system. This means a system that is both progressive—where we require greater responsibility from those with higher incomes—as well as one in which people in the same general situation are treated equally. Our current tax system, however, allows thousands of high-income tax filers to avoid paying any tax at all.
The IRS recently released data on high-income tax returns which show an estimated 5,650 tax filers with incomes over $200,000 paid no U.S. federal taxes in 2002.[1] This was a substantial 15 percent increase over the previous year. In 1977, there were just 85 of these high-income tax filers with no income tax liability (see figure 1).
While on average high-income tax filers had higher effective tax rates than the overall population, a total of 88,586 of these high-income filers paid less than 10 percent of their income in taxes, and 618,203 paid less than 20 percent—which is less than the average for all filers.[2]

Filed under: Economics

CRS online

This seems like a very good idea to me…

Open CRS Network – CRS Reports for the People
About Open CRS
American taxpayers spend nearly $100 million a year to fund the Congressional Research Service, a “think tank” that provides reports to members of Congress on a variety of topics relevant to current political events. Yet, these reports are not made available to the public in a way that they can be easily obtained. A project of the Center for Democracy & Technology, Open CRS provides citizens access to CRS Reports that are already in the public domain and encourages Congress to provide public access to all CRS Reports.
CRS Reports do not become public until a member of Congress releases the report. A number of libraries and non-profit organizations have sought to collect as many of the released reports as possible. Open CRS is a centralized utility that brings together these collections to search.
Unfortunately, there is no systematic way to obtain all CRS reports. Because of this, not all reports appear on the Open CRS web site. CDT believes that it would be far preferable for Congress to make available to the public all CRS Reports.
For more information, please see our Frequently Asked Questions

Filed under: Economics

Slow growth

Looks like job growth is still weak… just 146,000 job increase… just about equal to population growth.

June job growth increases but falls short of forecasts – Jul. 8, 2005
The Labor Department’s monthly employment report showed 146,000 jobs added to payrolls in June, up from the revised 104,000 jobs added in May. But economists surveyed by had forecast a net gain of 195,000 jobs last month.
Still the unemployment rate, which is based on a different survey, fell to 5 percent from 5.1 percent in May. Economists had forecast the rate would remain unchanged at 5.1 percent.
The unemployment rate is the lowest it has been since September 2001, the month of the 9/11 terrorist attack.
The average hourly wage edged up 3 cents to $16.06. That was in line with the forecasts of economists and lifted the hourly wages 2.7 percent over the last 12 months. Consumer prices are up about 2.8 percent in the 12 months ending in May, according to an earlier Labor Department report, meaning that the average hourly worker is narrowly losing ground in his or her paycheck.

Filed under: Economy

CBO on farms / estate tax

According to the CBO, if the estate tax exemption level were $3.5 million (in 2000) only 65 farmers would own any tax…

Filed under: Economics

Tax dodge

The IRS has released data on high income taxpayers (and non-taxpayers…) that shows more people than ever are avoiding paying their share. According to the data, the number of high-income filers that paid no federal income taxes in 2002 increased by 15 percent over the previous year. Overall, 5,650 tax returns with incomes over $200,000 paid ZERO taxes. A total of 83,000 of these high income filers paid less than 10 percent in taxes–less than the averge for all filers.
An interesting side note to the data. The number of tax returns reporting incomes greater than $200,000 peaked in 2000 with 2.8 million tax filers. In 2002, there were 340,000 fewer of these high-income returns.

See also…

The Nontaxpaying Affluent Grew by 15% in One Year – New York Times
The number of affluent individuals and married couples who paid no federal income taxes jumped more than 15 percent in 2002, to 5,650, new government data showed yesterday.
The chances of having a large income but not paying taxes on any of it are growing, according to the data, issued in the Internal Revenue Service’s annual report to Congress on well-to-do Americans who live tax free. About one in every 436 high-income Americans paid no taxes in 2002, up from one in 531 in 2001 and one in 1,010 in 2000.
Over all, the top 2 percent of earners, the 2.5 million filers with income of $200,000 or more, paid almost 27 cents in taxes for each dollar of income they reported in 2002, other I.R.S. data showed. This group accounted for 53.5 percent of the income tax paid by all Americans.
Among that high-income group, however, almost 83,000, or one in 33, paid less than a dime in taxes for every dollar of income. An additional 79,000 paid less than 15 cents. The average for all Americans was 13 cents.

Filed under: Economics