How Three Day Weekends Could Save the Environment

The Independent: “A reduction in working hours generally correlates with marked reductions in energy consumption, as economists David Rosnick and Mark Weisbrot have argued. In fact, if Americans simply followed European levels of working hours, for example, they would see an estimated 20% reduction in energy use – and hence in carbon emissions.”

“With a four-day week, huge amounts of commuting to and from work could be avoided, as well as the energy outputs from running workplaces. At a point when we need to massively cut back our carbon outputs, instituting a three-day weekend could be the simplest and most elegant way to make our economy more environmentally friendly.”

“It’s happened before. For example, in 2007 the US state of Utah redefined the working week for state employees, with extended hours on Monday to Thursday meaning it could eliminate Fridays entirely. In its first ten months, the move saved the state at least US$1.8m (£1.36m) in energy costs. Fewer working days meant less office lighting, less air conditioning and less time spent running computers and other equipment – all without even reducing the total number of hours worked.”

Cracking Down on Undocumented Immigrants Can Hurt the Economy

The Economist: “The flipside of low wages for illegal immigrants, though, is greater economic benefits for those who are not competing with them for work. A rare study of the effect of illegal immigrants specifically found that in Georgia, a one-percentage-point increase in undocumented workers in firms boosted wages by about 0.1%. One explanation is that such firms benefit from a richer mix of skills within their workforce. Another explanation is that they are sharing the spoils of the savings that stem from hiring workers on the black market.”

“Were a President Trump to deport all illegal immigrants, the economy would suffer greatly. Just ask Arizona, where a crackdown on illegal immigrants in 2007 shrank the economy by 2%, according to a private analysis by Moody’s, a ratings agency, for the Wall Street Journal. The incomes of most workers would fall. Yet strangely enough, those best placed to benefit from a mass deportation would be those who had crossed the border legally.”

What If Brexit Was Only the Beginning?

A must-read piece from the Boston Consulting Group:

“In polls, sizable majorities in the United States and key European countries now demand a reorientation around narrow national interests, proclaiming, ‘Let other countries deal with their own problems.’ As more people feel left behind by economic progress, this sentiment could grow and percolate into politics and then policy. And such policies could prove to be contagious across nations.”

“Firms could soon find themselves in an environment of escalating political risk in terms of trade, access to talent, regulatory rules and constraints, and restrictions on new technologies. Political uncertainty could become the major business risk, compromising firms’ ability to innovate, to access markets and talent, and to invest and create wealth.”

“In short, it appears that many are so dissatisfied with the current game that they are threatening to end it, even at significant cost to themselves, thereby jeopardizing two major drivers of global economic prosperity: globalization and technological progress.”

Trump Says Wind Turbines Are Killing Eagles

In a rare prepared speech, Donald Trump outlined his energy policy in Bismarck, North Dakota, MSNBC reports.

“Trump is known for bucking conservative orthodoxy but, on Thursday, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee largely hewed to the typical Republican line. Reading from a teleprompter, Trump called for reducing restrictions on energy exploration, opening up more federal lands to drilling, and reducing dependence on foreign oil. He said he would try to reopen negotiations to build the Keystone XL pipeline, which President Obama rejected.”

“Trump’s contempt for regulations did not seem to extend to renewable energy, though, where he complained that wind turbines were ‘killing all of the eagles’ and predicted the industry would fail without subsidies.”

What If No One Sells In an Obamacare Marketplace?

Sarah Kliff: “There are at least three states that currently have just one health insurer planning to sell on their Obamacare marketplace in 2017: Alaska, Alabama, and Wyoming.”

“The health care law doesn’t have a backup plan if any of those states have their sole carriers drop out… A federal official told the Wall Street Journal he was “pretty confident” there would be no areas with zero carriers — but he also couldn’t rule out the possibility.”

“An Obamacare market with no sellers would leave thousands of enrollees unable to use tax subsidies to buy insurance coverage. And the government doesn’t have any particular legal power to cajole carriers into setting up shop in the markets they find undesirable. The most they can do, it turns out, is ask really nicely.”

Germans Were Actually Paid to Consume Electricity

Quartz: “On Sunday, May 8, Germany hit a new high in renewable energy generation. Thanks to a sunny and windy day, at one point around 1pm the country’s solar, wind, hydro and biomass plants were supplying about 55 GW of the 63 GW being consumed, or 87%. Power prices actually went negative for several hours, meaning commercial customers were being paid to consume electricity.”

https://www.agora-energiewende.de/en/topics/-agothem-/Produkt/produkt/76/Agorameter/

Trump Asks Conservatives to Revamp Tax Plan

“Donald Trump’s campaign has enlisted influential conservative economists to revise his tax package and make it more politically palatable by slashing the $10 trillion sticker price. Their main targets: Lifting the top tax rate from Trump’s original plan and expanding the number of people who would have to pay taxes under it,” Politico reports.

“Trump’s initial proposal, rolled out with fanfare at Trump Tower in Manhattan last September, has been in the spotlight since he became the presumptive Republican nominee last week and promptly declared that it was only a starting point for any negotiations with congressional Democrats, should he become president.”

“But it turns out Trump’s team is open to revamping it far sooner than that; the campaign last month contacted at least two prominent conservative economists — Larry Kudlow, the CNBC television host, and Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation and a longtime Wall Street Journal writer — to spearhead an effort to update the package.”

Economic Myths from the Presidential Campaign

New York Times: “If you want to learn about the economy, there are good and bad places to go. Probably the worst source of reliable information is the current crop of presidential candidates. Dissembling and exaggeration are no strangers to politics, but this year’s campaigns have been particularly egregious.”

“Here are six economic myths that underlie much of the recent rhetoric.”

Who Benefited Most from Obamacare?

New York Times: “The health care law was one of the most bitterly contested pieces of legislation in the country’s history. It remains controversial because of its costs to both taxpayers and insurance customers. The high premiums and high deductibles of many plans still make coverage a crushing financial burden for some families.”

“And the law is not close to achieving the goal of universal coverage, in part because 19 states have declined to expand their Medicaid programs for the poor, an option the Supreme Court granted them in a landmark 2012 case. Nevertheless, the Times’s analysis shows that by the end of that first full year, 2014, so many low-income people gained coverage that it halted the decades-long expansion of the gap between the haves and the have-nots in the American health insurance system, a striking change at a time when disparities between rich and poor are growing in many areas.”

How the Wealthy Hide Their Money from the Government

Washington Post: “The documents known as the ‘Panama Papers’ have created a global scandal around the ways the world’s rich conceal their wealth from the authorities. The prime minister of Iceland offered his resignation after the papers reportedly revealed that he and his wife had a fortune on paper hidden away in the British Virgin Islands. British Prime Minister David Cameron is taking criticism as well, and he acknowledged that he profited from a secret family trust.”

“In the United States, the Treasury would collect about $124 billion a year in additional taxes — $36 billion from individual taxpayers and $88 billion from multinational corporations — if it weren’t for such schemes, according to estimates by Gabriel Zucman, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley.”