Wolf Richter

The Shriveling Middle Class In California

An ominous trend picks up speed: the middle class is shriveling. In 1980, 60% of Californians lived in middle-income families. By 2010, only 47.9% did, according to a study by the Public Policy Institute of California. Main culprits: declining incomes and disappearing jobs. And where the heck is the recovery?

Sarkozy: “The Risk That Europe Will Explode”

The Swiss government is preparing for a collapse of the euro while 27 heads of state convene for another EU summit in Brussels to find that elusive solution to the debt crisis. Goal: treaty changes that would impose Germany’s new religion of budgetary discipline on all 27 member states. But opposition has cropped up, and timing turns out to be impossible.

The Strenuously Hushed-Up Basic Flaw In The Tax Code

“Corporate Tax Dodging In The Fifty States” found that the largest corporations paid little or no state income taxes in any state. A prior report found that some of the most profitable corporations paid no federal income taxes. Both reports point at a major problem dogging the US economy: the tax code—and its basic flaw that not even tax reformers dare to mention.

The Endgame: Japan Inc. Plays By Its Own Rules

Plunging approval ratings of Prime Minister Noda follow tradition. Public approval is high at the start when voters still have hope. As reality sets in, approval skitters down a steep slope for 8 to 15 months. Then a new guy is installed. But bureaucrats and corporate interests stay in place, public debt turns into a mushroom cloud, and the endgame continues.

Tokyo Tidbit: Superlative Supercar Pileup

A convoy of 20 supercars was speeding down the Chūgoku Expressway, trying to get to a supercar gathering in Hiroshima. The mere sight of such an apparition can turn heads and cause accidents. The convoy entered a left-hand bend at 90–100 mph, though the posted speed limit was 50 mph. The highway was wet. And the rest was very expensive.

Afghanistan: “There Will Be Civil War”

Delegations from 100 countries and organizations will meet on Monday in Bonn for a conference on Afghanistan—1,000 participants in all, including Hilary Clinton, Hamid Karzai, Angela Merkel, and 60 foreign ministers. Goal: “Laying the foundation for a better future of Afghanistan.” But just when official optimism gets frothy, classified documents surface that predict a dire future.

French Presidential Election: Coup De Grâce For The Euro?

Amidst a flood of proposals, plans, and rumors to save the euro and the Eurozone, much has been made of the Merkozy couple, the uneasy partnership between Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel. Alas, he may be out of a job by May 2012—and his potential successors to the left and to the right have different ideas.

Indefinite Detentions of Americans Without Trial

A Cheneyesque banana-republic law passed another hurdle in the Senate on Tuesday. It would mandate that the US military detain terrorism suspects, including US citizens, even on US soil, and hold them without trial, possibly for life, in military facilities. It sounds like a dark part of a futuristic novel. But it’s actually part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

Japanese Micro-Steps Toward The End Of An Era

“Japan’s economy is likely to continue to face a severe situation for the time being, especially with respect to exports,” said the Governor of the Bank of Japan. He blamed the European debt crisis and the strong yen. But his bland central-banker language marked the end of an era.