Michael Ash, UMass Amherst economics professor, was recently interviewed by The Real News Network about his work as the co-director of the Corporate Toxics Information Project at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI). According to Ash, about 4.5 billion pounds of toxic chemicals into the environment every year from US-based corporations. Top offenders include Bayer Corporation and Exxon Mobil. The Top 100 Toxic Air Polluters list, published yearly, is a reminder of this constant amount of pollution. Additionally, this lists also assesses the substantial disparity in exposure to these toxics. For example, almost two-thirds of Exxon Mobil’s toxic burden falls on people who are nonwhite, and about a quarter of their toxic burden falls on people living below the poverty line. (Therealnews.com, 6/17/10)
UMass Amherst economics alumnus, Curtis Haynes Jr. ’81, ’93G, was appointed to the City of Buffalo’s Common Council on January 14, 2010. He represents the Ellicott District and his current term runs through the end of the year. Dr. Haynes is also an assistant professor in the Department of Economics and Finance at Buffalo State College.
Richard Wolff, UMass Amherst emeritus economics professor, was recently interviewed by Harry Konstantinidis, UMass Amherst economics doctoral candidate, for the Greek newspaper, Avgi. During the interview Wolff addresses questions about the economic recovery in the United States, noting that the U.S. should take advantage of the opportunity to form communist class-structured enterprises. He also discusses the ongoing financial crisis in Greece and points out that part of the reason Greece has had a hard time securing additional loans, and the reason they are paying such a higher interest rate for the loans they do secure, is because lenders put much of their money in the U.S.
Interview with Athens, Greece, daily newspaper, Avgi
June 6, 2010
The US government borrowed trillions of dollars to rescue US capitalism. Suddenly, private lenders around the world realized that they could put all of the money they wanted to lend to governments in the one safest country, the US. There was suddenly no need and no willingness to lend to other countries that were riskier borrowers than the mighty US. It was not that Greece or Portugal or Spain had become that much riskier than they had been last year. It was rather that the capitalist crisis in the US had changed the global credit system in ways that brought loanable funds to the US and made them much, much costlier for those other countries. Credit markets were working to shift the costs of the crisis from the US to Europe.
Nancy Folbre, economics, writes in the Economix blog in the New York Times about sagging job and income growth in the middle class in recent decades. She says this trend threatens to derail reaching the American dream for many families. (New York Times, 6/14/10)
The fact that middle-wage jobs, rather than low-wage jobs, are declining suggests it is not the overall level of skill but the specific type of skill that matters. In fact, skill itself may be less important than other characteristics of a task, such as how easily it can be automated or outsourced at some point in the future.
Alan Blinder of Princeton observesthat some jobs are simply more outsourceable than others because they don’t require physical proximity or person-specific skills. The combination of rapid technological change and increased global trade in services has effectively devalued skills that many individuals spent considerable time and effort to acquire.
Consider, for instance, the possible extinction of travel agents and the gloomy job prospects facing journalists. The expansion of online education sites replete with videotaped lectures by superstar professors will almost certainly reduce demand for a skill I labored to develop for many years — lecturing to large classes of economics majors.