On the front of Saturday's Business section, New York Times economics reporter Annie Lowrey flatteringly quoted unlabeled left-wing French economist Emmanuel Saez, who may be the Times' favorite economist, in yet another hang-wringer on the evils of income inequality and the dreaded 1%: "Incomes Flat In Recovery, But Not For the 1%."
In an October 2012 article Lowrey termed Saez, who favors huge tax hikes on the rich in the name of fighting inequality, a "respected economist." On Saturday she further beefed up Saez's resume to assuage any doubt among her readers, calling him "a winner of the John Bates Clark Medal, an economic laurel considered second only to the Nobel."
Incomes rose more than 11 percent for the top 1 percent of earners during the economic recovery, but not at all for everybody else, according to new data.
The numbers, produced by Emmanuel Saez, an economist at the University of California, Berkeley, show overall income growing by just 1.7 percent over the period. But there was a wide gap between the top 1 percent, whose earnings rose by 11.2 percent, and the other 99 percent, whose earnings declined by 0.4 percent.
Mr. Saez, a winner of the John Bates Clark Medal, an economic laurel considered second only to the Nobel, concluded that “the Great Recession has only depressed top income shares temporarily and will not undo any of the dramatic increase in top income shares that has taken place since the 1970s.”
Mr. Obama’s economic advisers say that he has been animated by the country’s yawning levels of inequality, and the administration has put forward several proposals to address the gap. Those include higher taxes on a small group of the wealthiest families and an expansion of aid to lower- and middle-income families through programs like the Affordable Care Act.
Lowrey neglected to ponder a point raised by Tom Maguire, working slightly tongue in cheek:
But is it really the same group taking more money year after year, or are new faces arriving to exploit the rest of us? Ms. Lowrey and her editors maintain the pretense that the same evil-doers are continually oppressing the rest of us....A retiring CEO who made it into the one-percent in 2007 by cashing in his stock options, or a homeowner who made it into the one-percent in 2007 by selling her home, have not seen their earnings snap back. This transience of onepercenterdom has been documented, but not in the Times.
In her story, Lowrey brought up a mild rebuttal to Saez's bleak picture from an economist (apparently not "respected") in such mild fashion one might not even recognize at first that an economist is taking a different view from Saez.
Measures of inequality differ depending on whether they are measured after or before taxes, and whether or not they include government transfers like Social Security payments, food stamps and other credits.
Research led by the Cornell economist Richard V. Burkhauser, for instance, sought to measure the economic health of middle-class households including income, taxes, transfer programs and benefits like health insurance. It found that from 1979 to 2007, median income grew by about 18.2 percent over all rather than by 3.2 percent counting income alone.
In an interview, Mr. Burkhauser said his numbers measured “how are the resources that person has to live on changing over time,” whereas Mr. Piketty and Mr. Saez’s numbers measure “how are different people being rewarded in the marketplace.”
Lowrey, who is married to left-wing Washington Post blogger Ezra Klein, appeared on C-SPAN's Washington Journal Tuesday morning to talk about Obama's push to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $9. Lowery portrayed it as an almost uniformly positive that would perhaps "help ameliorate some of the issues that low-income families are facing."