Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich, a co-founder of The American Prospect, is Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. His website can be found here.

Recent Articles

There's No Big Binge in Half a Point

LA Times Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan on Wednesday did exactly what he needed to do by dropping short-term interest rates another half-point, but it's not enough. The Great Economic Slowdown of 2001 (let's not call it a recession quite yet) came on partly because Greenspan raised short-term interest rates too high, starting in June 1999 and continuing through five more rate increases. Now he's backtracking, and interest rates are going back below where they were when he started. That should give the economy a needed boost. Not surprisingly, on word of the rate cut, the stock market reversed direction and scored one of its largest one-day rallies ever. But can the rally be sustained? And what's the outlook beyond the immediate euphoria? Notably, two-thirds of the recent economic slowdown has been because of a dramatic drop in capital spending. At the start of last year, American businesses were buying new equipment (much of it high-tech) at an annual rate 20% above the year...

Your Job is Change

Fast Company The Web changes everything -- including change. And it's not just the Web. Digital technologies, wireless technologies, the Human Genome Project, complexity theory, and the emergence of new science have all changed how we think about change: why change has to happen in companies, how change happens, and, most important, who makes change happen. Power has shifted from inside to outside, from corporate planners to aggressive buyers. Now all customers, all clients, all investors, have a huge array of choices -- and can switch to something better instantly. Change today happens suddenly, unexpectedly, unpredictably. It occurs in companies the way that we see it occur in biological systems or in technological breakthroughs: Change is sudden, nonlinear, and constant. Its amplitude and direction can't be forecast. Killer apps can come from anywhere; new competitors are lurking everywhere. Markets emerge, flourish, inspire imitators, breed competitors, and disappear seemingly...

The Butcher Is Back

Broadcast August 24, 2001 The butcher metaphors of modern management are back: cutting out the fat, slicing to the bone, getting leaner and meaner. Well, all this butchering may slow the slide of stock prices, but it's not a way to build long-term competitive strengths. The fact is, the key competitive assets of most companies these days is their people, not their machines or plants or even their patents, but their employees. Their employees' intellectual capital, knowledge about the companies' products, services and technologies. Their employees social capital, relations they built up over the years with clients and customers. And inside the company, relationships among employees who've become a team. And beyond the intellectual and social capital is what might be called trust capital, the sense among employees that the company will be there for them when times are tough, so that employees are willing to go the extra mile, make that extra commitment because they feel loyal to the...

The Coming Bush Recession

P resident of the United States Economy Alan Greenspan is frustrated. George W., the mere president-elect, won't deal. Worse, Greenspan can't punish W. for not dealing. He can't even credibly threaten punishment, because punishment is just what W. wants. Don't throw me into that briar patch, Br'er Greenspan! The last two presidents have been willing to strike a deal. Bush the Elder struck it too late, of course. Greenspan began raising short-term interest rates in 1988, at the start of the Elder's presidency, and squeezed and squeezed until Elder cried uncle. Elder finally agreed to raise taxes, despite what the public had read on his lips. But by then, growth had stalled and unemployment had shot upward. Elder was kicked out of office by an electorate worried about the economy, stupid. When Bill Clinton was elected, Greenspan made the deal explicit at their first meeting: You saw what I did to Elder Bush, he said. I could do the same to you, and you'll be another one-term president...

Gen. Greenspan's Timid March

We're not in a war economy yet. We're in an economy that's just plain sinking. What to do? Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has told Congress to "wait and see" what happens before enacting a stimulus package lest it create inflationary fantasies among traders of long-term bonds. In an extraordinary show of newly bipartisan gutlessness, our representatives in Washington are heeding his advice. Congress shouldn't listen to Greenspan. A stimulus is needed right now. Even before the September 11 terrorist attacks, American consumers were in a deep funk. Personal-savings rates were nearing a 70-year low and credit-card and mortgage debt were at record heights. Millions of Americans were already stepping back from the brink. In June they paid down $1.8 billion of debt and in July they took on no additional debt--the biggest two-month retreat from borrowing in nine years. Meanwhile, their jobs were disappearing. Last year the U.S. economy gained 1.76 million jobs. But since last March...

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