Posts tagged with ‘economics’

A Mysterious Buddhist Kingdom Grapples with its Journalistic Future
Bhutan is a tiny, landlocked Buddhist kingdom up in the Himalayas with a pretty mysterious reputation. Its government has practiced modernization and development through its Gross National Happiness goals: sustainable development, environmental protection, cultural preservation and good governance. Theoretically, it’s a little Utopia nestled between India and China. In reality, it’s got debt and governance problems like the rest of us.
Jon Funabiki, founder of the Bay Area’s Renaissance Journalism center, recently traveled to Bhutan to help administer a conference on the future of journalism by the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy. (Keep in mind: BCMD is one of the very first civil society organizations in Bhutan.)
The country has experienced a series of firsts in the last fifteen years. Television was introduced in 1999. 2008 saw its first democratic elections for parliament. And now the internet and social media have arrived, along with an interesting set of developments. Funabiki writes:

This past July, Bhutan held its second national elections for parliament elections. Many Bhutanese—including some of the journalists—were shocked by the levels of acrimony, rumormongering, and anonymous or veiled accusations. This, after all, is a society known for nurturing compassion and harmony, where villagers are accustomed to the intimacy of face-to-face dialogue and people speak admiringly about the nomadic yak herders who leave a pile of firewood for the next traveler.

On the one hand, journalists in Bhutan are striving and struggle to bring to light the voices of the majority of the population—who are poor, and living in extremely rural areas. They fear government coverage of Gross National Happiness has been too shallow and desire to cover it fairly, accurately and critically. 
On the other hand, the country’s economy is so small that it doesn’t have enough businesses that can purchase media advertising, so journalists are somewhat stuck, writes Funabiki:

According to the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy, the government accounts for 80 percent of all newspaper and broadcast advertising. This means that the government could close any news outlet simply by shutting off the flow of advertising. So far, the government has divided its advertising pot equally among the different news outlets in an effort to try to be fair—remember, this is Bhutan—but even this does not provide enough revenue. Journalists complain of low salaries and late paychecks. Freelance journalists run the risk of not getting paid. One outfit stopped printing its newspaper and publishes only on the Internet. Did I mention that largest newspaper, Kuensel, and the main television and radio network, Bhutan Broadcasting Service, are 51 percent owned by the government?

FJP: What to watch for? How media makers will shape their industry according to their country’s unique context. We’re fascinated.
Bonus: Columbia University’s School of Int’l & Public Affairs has also worked with journalists in Bhutan, on a trip last year headed up by Professors Anya Schiffrin and Joseph Stiglitz. Read about it here.
Image: Paro Dzhong, Bhutan (via Jean-Marie Hullot on Flickr)

A Mysterious Buddhist Kingdom Grapples with its Journalistic Future

Bhutan is a tiny, landlocked Buddhist kingdom up in the Himalayas with a pretty mysterious reputation. Its government has practiced modernization and development through its Gross National Happiness goals: sustainable development, environmental protection, cultural preservation and good governance. Theoretically, it’s a little Utopia nestled between India and China. In reality, it’s got debt and governance problems like the rest of us.

Jon Funabiki, founder of the Bay Area’s Renaissance Journalism center, recently traveled to Bhutan to help administer a conference on the future of journalism by the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy. (Keep in mind: BCMD is one of the very first civil society organizations in Bhutan.)

The country has experienced a series of firsts in the last fifteen years. Television was introduced in 1999. 2008 saw its first democratic elections for parliament. And now the internet and social media have arrived, along with an interesting set of developments. Funabiki writes:

This past July, Bhutan held its second national elections for parliament elections. Many Bhutanese—including some of the journalists—were shocked by the levels of acrimony, rumormongering, and anonymous or veiled accusations. This, after all, is a society known for nurturing compassion and harmony, where villagers are accustomed to the intimacy of face-to-face dialogue and people speak admiringly about the nomadic yak herders who leave a pile of firewood for the next traveler.

On the one hand, journalists in Bhutan are striving and struggle to bring to light the voices of the majority of the population—who are poor, and living in extremely rural areas. They fear government coverage of Gross National Happiness has been too shallow and desire to cover it fairly, accurately and critically.

On the other hand, the country’s economy is so small that it doesn’t have enough businesses that can purchase media advertising, so journalists are somewhat stuck, writes Funabiki:

According to the Bhutan Centre for Media and Democracy, the government accounts for 80 percent of all newspaper and broadcast advertising. This means that the government could close any news outlet simply by shutting off the flow of advertising. So far, the government has divided its advertising pot equally among the different news outlets in an effort to try to be fair—remember, this is Bhutan—but even this does not provide enough revenue. Journalists complain of low salaries and late paychecks. Freelance journalists run the risk of not getting paid. One outfit stopped printing its newspaper and publishes only on the Internet. Did I mention that largest newspaper, Kuensel, and the main television and radio network, Bhutan Broadcasting Service, are 51 percent owned by the government?

FJP: What to watch for? How media makers will shape their industry according to their country’s unique context. We’re fascinated.

Bonus: Columbia University’s School of Int’l & Public Affairs has also worked with journalists in Bhutan, on a trip last year headed up by Professors Anya Schiffrin and Joseph Stiglitz. Read about it here.

Image: Paro Dzhong, Bhutan (via Jean-Marie Hullot on Flickr)

The economics of a conference are astounding – create something extraordinary, and people will pay anything to be there. TED costs $7500 to attend, and they have a waiting list of thousands.

Advertising consultant Cindy Gallop, as quoted in Digiday’s Can Conferences Save The Media Industry?

“Saying the conference industry has exploded is not an exaggeration,” David Adler, founder of BizBash said. “The industry has increased tenfold in the past few years. Twenty percent of marketing budgets in general are face-to-face events.”

The most successful include the likes of the relatively new, small and blue chip events All Things D, TED and the Founders Conference. All three are held up by people involved in conference industry as the way to do a perfect event: invite only exclusive, interesting and innovative people.

But not every conference can become TED. In fact, there may even be too many conferences. Every magazine, newspaper (with a few notable exceptions) and website seems to want to throw an event. Some do it well, while others flail miserably in a sad attempt to mimic their more successful counterparts.

The Bitcoin Bubble’s Bursting
Earlier this month people began noticing that Bitcoin, the digital currency, was exploding in value. This isn’t the first time. As the Wall Street Journal explained back in 2011, Bitcoin at that time was the world’s fastest-gaining currency. They also provided a good explainer about how Bitcoin actually works:

If returns like those seem otherworldly, perhaps its because Bitcoin is a world unto itself. To recap, it’s is a purely online currency with no intrinsic value; its worth is based solely on the willingness of holders and merchants to accept it in trade. In that respect, it’s not so different from fiat currencies like the dollar or Euro, but whereas governments back such money, Bitcoins lack central control.
In another way, the appeal of the Bitcoin echoes the appeal of gold. Istead of a central bank, a computer algorithm dictates their supply. Today there are six million Bitcoins, a number that will grow at a steadily slowing rate until it approaches 21 million, but no more. As with gold, some see such limited supply as built-in protection against inflation that could result from runaway government budget deficits. Gold, of course, has been a store of value for thousands of years and has at least some industrial use, whereas Bitcoins are brand new and exist only on the Internet.

Back when the WSJ wrote this article, a bitcoin was worth $30. Yesterday, it hit $250.
Today, people are cashing in their chips and it’s tumbled (as of early this afternoon) back down to $190.
But let’s get to some good Bitcoin reading. Here are items that have crossed my radar over the last few days:
MIT Technology Review: Cryptocurrency — The bitcoin, a virtual medium of exchange, could be a real alternative to government-issued money—but only if it survives hoarding by speculators. James Surowiecki dips into the currency’s background and history. See also Joshua Davis’ New Yorker article, The Crypto-Currency, about the mystery behind Bitcoin’s creator Satoshi Nakamoto… if there really is, or was, a Satoshi Nakamoto.
Slate: Will Bitcoins Make Me Rich? — A dispatch from inside the digital currency bubble. Farhad Manjoo withdraws $1,027.51 to buy himself a couple of coins.
Felix Salmon, The Bitcoin Bubble and the Future of Currency. Written just last week, Salmon notes that although the value of all bitcoins surged past $1 billion for the first time, it is/was a classic bubble, but still had “fascinating implications for anybody who cares about payments, or currencies, or trust.”
Business Insider: There’s Someone Called ‘The Bitcoin Billionaire’ Who’s Randomly Giving Out Thousands Of Dollars On Reddit.
Quartz: Why Bitcoin “millionaires” could accidentally become tax felons. Hint: capital gains.
Image: Screenshot, Real Time Bitcoin Market Data, by Clark Moody.

The Bitcoin Bubble’s Bursting

Earlier this month people began noticing that Bitcoin, the digital currency, was exploding in value. This isn’t the first time. As the Wall Street Journal explained back in 2011, Bitcoin at that time was the world’s fastest-gaining currency. They also provided a good explainer about how Bitcoin actually works:

If returns like those seem otherworldly, perhaps its because Bitcoin is a world unto itself. To recap, it’s is a purely online currency with no intrinsic value; its worth is based solely on the willingness of holders and merchants to accept it in trade. In that respect, it’s not so different from fiat currencies like the dollar or Euro, but whereas governments back such money, Bitcoins lack central control.

In another way, the appeal of the Bitcoin echoes the appeal of gold. Istead of a central bank, a computer algorithm dictates their supply. Today there are six million Bitcoins, a number that will grow at a steadily slowing rate until it approaches 21 million, but no more. As with gold, some see such limited supply as built-in protection against inflation that could result from runaway government budget deficits. Gold, of course, has been a store of value for thousands of years and has at least some industrial use, whereas Bitcoins are brand new and exist only on the Internet.

Back when the WSJ wrote this article, a bitcoin was worth $30. Yesterday, it hit $250.

Today, people are cashing in their chips and it’s tumbled (as of early this afternoon) back down to $190.

But let’s get to some good Bitcoin reading. Here are items that have crossed my radar over the last few days:

Image: Screenshot, Real Time Bitcoin Market Data, by Clark Moody.

Income Growth, or not, 1966 to 2011
Average income growth for Americans in the bottom 90% increased just $59 in real terms from the 1960s to today. For those in the top .01%, it increased $18,362,740.
Put that in a chart, represent the 90% as an inch and the bar for the top .01% would tower 4.9 miles above it.
Read more at Tax Analysts, Income Inequality: 1 Inch to 5 Miles.
H/T: BoingBoing.

Income Growth, or not, 1966 to 2011

Average income growth for Americans in the bottom 90% increased just $59 in real terms from the 1960s to today. For those in the top .01%, it increased $18,362,740.

Put that in a chart, represent the 90% as an inch and the bar for the top .01% would tower 4.9 miles above it.

Read more at Tax Analysts, Income Inequality: 1 Inch to 5 Miles.

H/T: BoingBoing.

Why Do Americans Hate Android And Love Apple? →

ReadWrite’s Dan Lyons points to a disturbing trend in tech journalism as he tries to unwrap why iPhones have such significant US marketshare while the rest of the world runs 75% Android.

Android, goes a coverage tick, is for poor people:

But Apple and its cheerleaders in the States don’t just criticize Android phones; they also criticize Android users, depicting them as low-class people who are uneducated, poor, cheap and too lacking in “taste” (a favorite Apple fanboy word) to pay for an Apple product and instead willing to settle for a low-price knockoff.

See, for example, a recent story by Sam Biddle on Gizmodo called “Android Is Popular Because It’s Cheap, Not Because It’s Good,” illustrated with a photo of a homeless man sleeping next to a shopping cart and bags full of collected cans. Nice touch!… Apparently inspired by this article, John Biggs of TechCrunch picked up the “Android is cheap” meme and ran with it too…

…[I]n America, a noisy chorus of pro-Apple bloggers keeps repeating the mantra about Android being cheap and crappy and second-rate, and people keep believing it and insisting that they must have an iPhone. American consumers have been told that those Android smartphones are hard to use, or complicated, or geeky, or unreliable, and, worst of all, on top of all that, they’re made for poor people. 

And that’s where the rhetoric starts to border on something ugly. Look at what Apple fans were saying in April 2012 when Instagram became available on Android. Cult of Mac had a nice roundup which included sneering tweets about Walmart and “poor peasants” and “riff raff” and “poor people,” but also included these:

  • “It’s like when all the ghetto people started coming to the nice suburbs. Instagram was our nice lil suburb.”
  • “Instagram just got a whole lotta ghetto.”

The italics are mine, and I’ve added them for a reason. Yes, it’s the dreaded G word, and it comes up again in a Dec. 13, 2011 article by Glenn Derene, who wrote that “Android’s Cheap, Low Quality Apps Make It Feel Like A Technological Ghetto.”

Related: Henry Blodget, founder of Business Insider, writes about the horrors of flying economy. Evidently, he couldn’t charge his laptop, there was no wifi and the food was bad.

A Trillion Dollar Coin
Wired reports on how a 2010 bull session in the comments section of an economics blog turned into a 2013 legal monetary exercise discussed by economists, pundits and politicians.
Via Wired:


It’s been a remarkable journey. The path of the trillion-dollar coin, as [an anonymous online commentator named] Beowulf described it to Wired, began with a “silly question” in a “pointless … online bull session” in the comments section of financier Warren Mosler’s blog. Anonymous supporters helped spread the concept to the comments of other economics blogs and ultimately into posts on such sites. The idea soon attracted attention from more prominent liberal economists like James Galbraith and Paul Krugman, and then from writers like Matthew Yglesias and Ezra Klein. From there it was a short hop into the center mainstream. NBC’s Chuck Todd hammered a White House spokesman about the coin possibility on Wednesday.
If the president uses such a coin to bypass intransigent Republicans who refuse to raise the debt ceiling, or even if he merely uses the possibility of such as leverage in negotiations, it will underline how ad-hoc online communities, like the anonymous international band of commenters to which Beowulf belonged, are increasingly able to move their ideas from the fringes into the middle of political debate. It’s one thing for bloggers to help bring down a Mississippi senator or to embarrass a presidential frontrunner, as they have in years past; it’s quite another for commenters to re-engineer the funding of the entire federal budget.


Bonus: Also from Wired, Why Stealing a $1 Trillion Coin Isn’t Worth the Price of a Getaway Van. Hint: there’s not much you could do with it.
Image: Charmin’s submission — and possible commentary on the disposability of US currency — to Slate’s User design challenge for the Trillion Dollar Coin.

A Trillion Dollar Coin

Wired reports on how a 2010 bull session in the comments section of an economics blog turned into a 2013 legal monetary exercise discussed by economists, pundits and politicians.

Via Wired:

It’s been a remarkable journey. The path of the trillion-dollar coin, as [an anonymous online commentator named] Beowulf described it to Wired, began with a “silly question” in a “pointless … online bull session” in the comments section of financier Warren Mosler’s blog. Anonymous supporters helped spread the concept to the comments of other economics blogs and ultimately into posts on such sites. The idea soon attracted attention from more prominent liberal economists like James Galbraith and Paul Krugman, and then from writers like Matthew Yglesias and Ezra Klein. From there it was a short hop into the center mainstream. NBC’s Chuck Todd hammered a White House spokesman about the coin possibility on Wednesday.

If the president uses such a coin to bypass intransigent Republicans who refuse to raise the debt ceiling, or even if he merely uses the possibility of such as leverage in negotiations, it will underline how ad-hoc online communities, like the anonymous international band of commenters to which Beowulf belonged, are increasingly able to move their ideas from the fringes into the middle of political debate. It’s one thing for bloggers to help bring down a Mississippi senator or to embarrass a presidential frontrunner, as they have in years past; it’s quite another for commenters to re-engineer the funding of the entire federal budget.

Bonus: Also from Wired, Why Stealing a $1 Trillion Coin Isn’t Worth the Price of a Getaway Van. Hint: there’s not much you could do with it.

Image: Charmin’s submission — and possible commentary on the disposability of US currency — to Slate’s User design challenge for the Trillion Dollar Coin.

Occupy Crowdsourcing Debt Forgiveness
Strike Debt, an Occupy Wall Street offshoot, launched Rolling Jubilee late last week to buy back and forgive debt. To do so, it’s collecting funds and then purchasing debt in arrears:

Banks sell debt for pennies on the dollar on a shadowy speculative market of debt buyers who then turn around and try to collect the full amount from debtors. The Rolling Jubilee intervenes by buying debt, keeping it out of the hands of collectors, and then abolishing it. We’re going into this market not to make a profit but to help each other out and highlight how the predatory debt system affects our families and communities. Think of it as a bailout of the 99% by the 99%.

As of this morning, Rolling Jubilee has raised over $350,000 with which it has purchased (and forgiven) over $7.1 million in debt.
Small change when compared to the $1 trillion in student loan debt Americans owe but important to consider. As Rolling Jubilee notes, part of the effort is to “highlight how the predatory debt system affects our families and communities.”

Occupy Crowdsourcing Debt Forgiveness

Strike Debt, an Occupy Wall Street offshoot, launched Rolling Jubilee late last week to buy back and forgive debt. To do so, it’s collecting funds and then purchasing debt in arrears:

Banks sell debt for pennies on the dollar on a shadowy speculative market of debt buyers who then turn around and try to collect the full amount from debtors. The Rolling Jubilee intervenes by buying debt, keeping it out of the hands of collectors, and then abolishing it. We’re going into this market not to make a profit but to help each other out and highlight how the predatory debt system affects our families and communities. Think of it as a bailout of the 99% by the 99%.

As of this morning, Rolling Jubilee has raised over $350,000 with which it has purchased (and forgiven) over $7.1 million in debt.

Small change when compared to the $1 trillion in student loan debt Americans owe but important to consider. As Rolling Jubilee notes, part of the effort is to “highlight how the predatory debt system affects our families and communities.”

Mapping Gender Income Inequality

A collaboration between Slate and the New America Foundation. The interactive visualization was created using MapBox.

Via Slate:

Women in Utah have it the worst. There, the average working woman makes 55 cents for every dollar the average working man makes. The state is followed closely by Wyoming, at 56 cents; Louisiana, at 59 cents; North Dakota, at 62 cents; and Michigan, at 62 cents. The best states for income equality are Hawaii, Florida, Nevada, Maryland, and North Carolina. In each, women make about three-fourths of what men make.

County-level data illustrate the best cities for pay equality: Washington, D.C. and Dallas lead, followed by San Francisco, Los Angeles, Austin, Santa Fe, New York, and Boston. In each, women make at least 80 cents per dollar that men make. In most other major cities, they make about 70 cents.

For a biggie version, see Slate, Map Shows the Worst State for Women To Make Money.

The FJP stands with Big Bird.

How to Succeed in Journalism when You Can't Afford an Internship →

An essay about money, class, determination and whether journalism is becoming a glamor industry.

Via Random House (Canada):

To be a writer in this market requires not only money, but a concept of “work” that is most easily gained from privilege. It requires a sense of entitlement, the ability to network and self-promote without seeing yourself as an arrogant, schmoozing blowhard. And it requires you to think of working for free—at an internship, say, or on one of those gratis assignments that seem to be everywhere now—as an opportunity rather than an insult or a scam.

This is no longer an industry that rewards working-class values, in other words, and I underestimated how hard it would be to shuck them. It still seems strange to me that people work, unpaid, without a guaranteed job at the end. And I haven’t reconciled myself with the central irony here: that journalism, ostensibly a populist endeavour, is becoming a rarefied practice best suited, both financially and psychologically, to the well-off.

Alexandra Kimball, How to Succeed in Journalism when You Can’t Afford an Internship.

A global super-rich elite had at least $21 trillion hidden in secret tax havens by the end of 2010, according to a major study. — BBC

The figure is equivalent to the size of the US and Japanese economies combined.
The Price of Offshore Revisited was written by James Henry, a former chief economist at the consultancy McKinsey, for the Tax Justice Network.
Tax expert and UK government adviser John Whiting said he was sceptical that the amount hidden was so large.
Mr Whiting, tax policy director at the Chartered Institute of Taxation, said: “There clearly are some significant amounts hidden away, but if it really is that size what is being done with it all?”
Mr Henry said his $21tn is actually a conservative figure and the true scale could be $32tn…
…Mr Henry used data from the Bank of International Settlements, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and national governments.
His study deals only with financial wealth deposited in bank and investment accounts, and not other assets such as property and yachts.
The report comes amid growing public and political concern about tax avoidance and evasion. Some authorities, including in Germany, have even paid for information on alleged tax evaders stolen from banks.
The group that commissioned the report, Tax Justice Network, campaigns against tax havens.

FJP: Impossibly large, no? If not, simply staggering.

A global super-rich elite had at least $21 trillion hidden in secret tax havens by the end of 2010, according to a major study. — BBC

The figure is equivalent to the size of the US and Japanese economies combined.

The Price of Offshore Revisited was written by James Henry, a former chief economist at the consultancy McKinsey, for the Tax Justice Network.

Tax expert and UK government adviser John Whiting said he was sceptical that the amount hidden was so large.

Mr Whiting, tax policy director at the Chartered Institute of Taxation, said: “There clearly are some significant amounts hidden away, but if it really is that size what is being done with it all?”

Mr Henry said his $21tn is actually a conservative figure and the true scale could be $32tn…

…Mr Henry used data from the Bank of International Settlements, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and national governments.

His study deals only with financial wealth deposited in bank and investment accounts, and not other assets such as property and yachts.

The report comes amid growing public and political concern about tax avoidance and evasion. Some authorities, including in Germany, have even paid for information on alleged tax evaders stolen from banks.

The group that commissioned the report, Tax Justice Network, campaigns against tax havens.

FJP: Impossibly large, no? If not, simply staggering.

When These Women Tweet, You Should Listen
Via Foreign Policy:

When Foreign Policy published its 2012 Twitterati 100 list, we could not help but be struck by the lack of women. Of the 100 tweeters Foreign Policy said “you need to follow,” nearly 90 percent are men. Given the strong presence of smart, powerful, influential women on Twitter, we found this a bit hard to take. So, beginning near midnight U.S. East Coast time on Monday, a group of women from around the world created a list of interesting and influential activists, journalists, analysts, economists, geeks and wonks. Within a few hours, we had more than 200 names and our list had begun to make the rounds on Twitter.
How is this list different than FP’s original list? It includes many prominent, influential women who know and tweet about foreign policy and international affairs but were overlooked by FP. It includes women who tweet in languages other than English, or tweet multilingually, and women who work and lecture in areas rarely covered by FP — such as international development.
Most importantly, this is a list generated by a global network of inspired and knowledgeable women worldwide who contributed possibly lesser-known but fresh and important voices. The #FPwomeratti list includes the invigorating diversity of local voices with insider information and breaking news who are not to be missed.

The women on this new list are by and large listed by region, although there are categories for overall wonks and geeks. Click through to learn more about them and follow.
Foreign Policy’s original Twitterati list is here.
Image: Collage of some very important and very good to listen to women, by the FJP.

When These Women Tweet, You Should Listen

Via Foreign Policy:

When Foreign Policy published its 2012 Twitterati 100 list, we could not help but be struck by the lack of women. Of the 100 tweeters Foreign Policy said “you need to follow,” nearly 90 percent are men. Given the strong presence of smart, powerful, influential women on Twitter, we found this a bit hard to take. So, beginning near midnight U.S. East Coast time on Monday, a group of women from around the world created a list of interesting and influential activists, journalists, analysts, economists, geeks and wonks. Within a few hours, we had more than 200 names and our list had begun to make the rounds on Twitter.

How is this list different than FP’s original list? It includes many prominent, influential women who know and tweet about foreign policy and international affairs but were overlooked by FP. It includes women who tweet in languages other than English, or tweet multilingually, and women who work and lecture in areas rarely covered by FP — such as international development.

Most importantly, this is a list generated by a global network of inspired and knowledgeable women worldwide who contributed possibly lesser-known but fresh and important voices. The #FPwomeratti list includes the invigorating diversity of local voices with insider information and breaking news who are not to be missed.

The women on this new list are by and large listed by region, although there are categories for overall wonks and geeks. Click through to learn more about them and follow.

Foreign Policy’s original Twitterati list is here.

Image: Collage of some very important and very good to listen to women, by the FJP.


The United States and Childhood Poverty: In the Developed World, Only Romania is Worse
Unicef released a new study (PDF) exploring childhood poverty in the world’s wealthiest countries.
What’s happening in this table is a look at what’s called “relative poverty,” defined as the percentage of children aged 0 to 17 “living in a household in which disposable income, when adjusted for family size and composition, is less than 50% of the national median income.”
Via the International Business Times:

The UNICEF report is far from the first to highlight the growing rate of childhood poverty within the U.S. The National Center for Children in Poverty reports that in 2010, the most recent statistics available, 15 million U.S. children were living in families with incomes below the federal poverty level of $22,050 a year for a family of four.
Although children only compose 24 percent of the population, the organization reports they comprise nearly 34 percent of all people living in poverty. The proportion of children in poverty has been on the rise. For instance, the percentage of children living in low-income families (both poor and near poor) increased from 40 percent to 44 percent between 2005 and 2010, including an 11 percent increase among low-income children and a 17 percent rise among those living below the federal poverty rate.

Filed Under: Unfortunate Chart of the Day.

The United States and Childhood Poverty: In the Developed World, Only Romania is Worse

Unicef released a new study (PDF) exploring childhood poverty in the world’s wealthiest countries.

What’s happening in this table is a look at what’s called “relative poverty,” defined as the percentage of children aged 0 to 17 “living in a household in which disposable income, when adjusted for family size and composition, is less than 50% of the national median income.”

Via the International Business Times:

The UNICEF report is far from the first to highlight the growing rate of childhood poverty within the U.S. The National Center for Children in Poverty reports that in 2010, the most recent statistics available, 15 million U.S. children were living in families with incomes below the federal poverty level of $22,050 a year for a family of four.

Although children only compose 24 percent of the population, the organization reports they comprise nearly 34 percent of all people living in poverty. The proportion of children in poverty has been on the rise. For instance, the percentage of children living in low-income families (both poor and near poor) increased from 40 percent to 44 percent between 2005 and 2010, including an 11 percent increase among low-income children and a 17 percent rise among those living below the federal poverty rate.

Filed Under: Unfortunate Chart of the Day.

For Mainstream Media, Occupy and Economic Inequality are Yesterday’s News

Via Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting:

Occupy Wall Street is rightly credited with helping to shift the economic debate in America from a fixation on deficits to issues of income inequality, corporate greed and the centralization of wealth among the richest 1 percent. The movement has chalked up other victories as well, from altering New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tax plan (New York Times, 12/5/11) to re-energizing activists and unions, but bringing some discussion of class into the mainstream dialogue has been one of its crowning achievements. 

As Occupy slowed down for the winter, though, would corporate media continue to talk about our increasingly stratified society without a vibrant protest movement forcing their hand? The answer, unsurprisingly, is no.

As mentions of “Occupy Wall Street” or “Occupy movement” waned in early 2012, so too have mentions of “income inequality” and, to an even greater extent, “corporate greed.” The trend is true for four leading papers (New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, L.A. Times), news programs on the major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC), cable (MSNBC, CNN, Fox News) and NPR, according to searches of the Nexis news media database. Google Trends data also indicates that from January to March, the phrases “income inequality” and “corporate greed” declined in volume of both news stories and searches.

From June 2011 through March 2012, mentions of the phrase “income inequality” in the four papers first increased dramatically, then decreased slightly more slowly. The number of mentions per month ranged from 8 to 15 between June and September. Then in October, when OWS coverage peaked, “income inequality” mentions increased nearly fourfold to 44, and reached 52 mentions in November. January had a total of 64 mentions, though 13 of those stories focused on President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address.

By March, there were only 16 mentions of “income inequality,” half from the New York Times—which also far outpaced the other papers in coverage of OWS that month, at 45 mentions to the L.A. Times’ 12, the Post’s 10 and USA Today’s three, due in part to the scores arrested in New York City on the movement’s six-month anniversary on March 17.

Network broadcasts followed the same pattern, albeit with significantly lower numbers. From June to September, there was only one mention of income inequality (ABC, 8/10/11). Mentions across ABC, CBS and NBC jumped to seven in October and held fairly steady through January, but returned to zero by February. 

Similarly, “income inequality” was barely mentioned on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News in the early months of the study. October saw a dramatic increase on MSNBC and CNN, with 10 and 14 mentions, respectively, while Fox News stayed low at only five mentions. The numbers peaked at 54 total in January—again, partially due to the SOTU—but by March, “income inequality” was mentioned only six times across all three cable news channels, four times on CNN and once each on MSNBC and Fox.

NPR followed the same pattern, with a peak of 18 mentions in October and only one mention each in February and March.

Read on.