News / Economy

Nobel Economist: Washington Dysfunction Carries Heavy Price Tag

Nobel Economist Says Washington Dysfunction Carries Heavy Price Tagi
X
October 17, 2013 11:34 PM
Many people are breathing a sigh of relief after the U.S. Congress reached a last minute agreement to end the fiscal stalemate. But relief carries a large price tag. The credit ratings agency Standard and Poor’s estimates that the 16-day shutdown took $24 billion out of the economy and shaved more than half a percent from fourth quarter GDP growth. But Yale University professor and Nobel Laureate Robert Shiller tells VOA the damage goes beyond dollars and cents. Mil Arcega has more.
Many people are breathing a sigh of relief after the U.S. Congress reached a last minute agreement to end the fiscal stalemate.  But relief carries a large price tag.  The credit ratings agency Standard and Poor’s estimates that the 16-day shutdown took $24 billion out of the economy and shaved more than half a percent from fourth quarter GDP growth.  But Yale University professor and Nobel Laureate Robert Shiller says the damage goes beyond dollars and cents.  

Thousands of federal employees are back to work. Investors who bet Congress would not allow the U.S. to default - took their profits.  And businesses hurt by the shutdown welcomed back their customers.   

But Nobel Laureate Robert Shiller says harder to quantify is how much the Washington-manufactured crisis has damaged international trust.

“Our reputation is obviously a very important thing," he said. "It’s a little bit upsetting to see it threatened as it is now.”

More worrisome, says Shiller, is the impact of Washington's dysfunction on the middle class. For example its failure to pass a jobs program.

He's proposing steps to narrow the rapidly increasing gap between rich and poor.  Recent studies by the University of California show income for the richest one percent has risen more than 31 percent since 2009 -- while incomes for the other 99 percent grew less than one percent.

"We ought to be able to reach an agreement, let’s define an inequality level that’s much worse than today and let’s say - we’re going to draw the line there, we’re not going to let it get any worse and how do we stop that?  Well it has to be some form of taxation of the rich," Shiller said.

It's a controversial proposal that would likely face strong oppostion from conservatives in Congress.

Shiller says the same ideological divide that caused the shutdown will further erode trust in the U.S. economy -- and potentially hasten the end of the dollar as the world's reserve currency.

That status means the dollar is held in large quantities by foreign governments to facilitate trade and currency exchange.  It makes the dollar more desirable to foreign investors and allows the U.S. to borrow at lower costs.  

“Well, we're in danger of losing the status even if it doesn’t continue," said Shiller. "The euro is becoming a more important currency.  The nations of the world don’t view it as their ultimate objective to be holding dollars.”

Russia and China have proposed replacing the dollar with a so-called "super-sovereign reserve” of various currencies. Experts say those proposals could gain traction if U.S. lawmakers drag the country back into another fiscal crisis -- three months from now.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Role in Fighting IS Carries Domestic Risks

There are Western concerns Islamic State militants soon may unleash offensive in kingdom that could create upheaval - though nation has solid intel, grip on banking system More

Asian-Americans Enter Public Office in Record Numbers

A steady deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7893
JPY
USD
107.68
GBP
USD
0.6238
CAD
USD
1.1214
INR
USD
61.185

Rates may not be current.