Inequality and the Crash: A Bleg

Hello world. Has anyone run across sources of data on the effects of the recession/financial crash on income, wealth, and/or consumption inequality? Or is it just too soon to know?

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9 thoughts on “Inequality and the Crash: A Bleg

  1. Pingback: The Ambrosini Critique » Blog Archive » Have poorer States faired worse in the recession?

  2. Pingback: Inequality and the Recession Bleg « Rortybomb

  3. Will, it may be difficult to give you a satisfactory answer. While seemingly simple economic concepts, in fact income, wealth, and consumption are all sometimes problematic. And if you think economists have no special competence on more fundamental concepts like costs and benefits, I'm not sure where you will turn for information on income, wealth and consumption.(Yes, this is a somewhat snarky response not at all helpful to you on your present task, by someone still looking for your explanation of why economists aren't experts on costs and benefits.)

  4. Measuring how much money people get, save, and spend is the one thing economists do well! Kidding. But seriously, the closer you stick to money, the better economists do. A lot of (but certainly not all!) economists get sort of confused when you start to push past nominal consumption to real consumption and then want to talk about the value of consumption to consumers. A bunch will tell you that you can't measure inequalities in the value or benefit of consumption because you can't compare one person's utility to another. (That's silly!) Others will jump straight to life-satisfaction surveys. (Also silly!) Why so much silliness? Because economists are trained to think about proxies for value, not value.

  5. > A bunch will tell you that you can't measure inequalities in the value or benefit of consumption because you can't compare one person's utility to another.I think the standard economist's reply is more fairly stated this way: You can't compare one person's utility to another without a metric. Unlike the case of individual agents in which we can construct a metric (utility) based only on the assumption of rational self-interest, there is no objective way to compare the utility between people. Instead, it basically boils down to choosing a moral philosophy, which good modest economists (they exist, I swear) are hesitant to do. Different moral philosophies lead to dramatically different results. As far as I know, the only real solution is to pick a metric–hopefully in line with some reasonable philosophy–and put large disclaimers on all your results. But I imagine economists would much prefer to make objective findings.

  6. FYI. (Sorry to put this here, but I'm not sure if you read comments on old posts). Relating to the discussion on whether or not the public option is just single payer embedded in a matrix of acrylic, a slow-release version intended to let it all.. go…down …easyyyyyNYT Magazine Deborah Solomon:By “public option,” you refer to a plan that would give most Americans a choice between their current health insurance and a new Medicare-style public plan. Which is very different from the sort of comprehensive single-payer plan the Canadians have. Howard Dean: You’ve got to start from where you are, not from where you wish you were.

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