At last, Obama stands up to the big banks — Simon Johnson

MIT Sloan Prof. Simon Johnson

From MarketWatch

Not surprisingly, at least some people at the Securities and Exchange Commission have reacted negatively — this is stepping onto their turf, after all. And the lobbyists are, naturally, out in full force.

But with sufficient White House willpower, the administration can see this through. What is needed is a change in the rules set by the Department of Labor, which has jurisdiction over retirement-related issues.

No doubt industry defenders will claim that current practices benefit small investors — a point disputed directly by the CEA. The broader and more interesting question is: Where are the statesmen in the financial industry? Where are the leaders who push for a race to the top, by better serving their clients’ best interests?

Read More »

On the Path to Paris, Obama and Xi Invite Stronger Global Climate Ambition — Valerie Karplus

Assistant Professor Valerie Karplus

Assistant Professor Valerie Karplus

From ChinaFAQs

The latest Obama-Xi announcement sends a strong message: the two nations are acting fast to enable a global low carbon transition. Friday’s joint announcement is an unprecedented step by the world’s #1 and #2 emitters to commit, at the highest levels, to a strong set of domestic policies and to reinforce global mechanisms that will help to engage peers ahead of the upcoming landmark climate change negotiations in Paris.

Read More »

Obama should follow overtime plan with more unilateral moves to update labor laws — Thomas Kochan

MIT Sloan Professor Thomas Kochan

MIT Sloan Professor Thomas Kochan

From The Conversation

Late last month, President Barack Obama took a step around the longstanding congressional gridlock over labor and employment policies by announcing a plan to boost the salary threshold governing overtime from US$23,600 to $50,440 and to index it to inflation.

Essentially, that means white collar workers in that salary range, currently exempt from being paid overtime, would get 1.5 times their hourly wages for anything over 40 hours.

The administration estimates this action will extend coverage to an additional five million workers who will either receive overtime pay or work fewer hours at the same salary, with some of their extra work shifted to part- or full-time hourly workers. Either way, the workforce and the economy will record a small win in efforts to raise wages and reduce income inequality.

I’ve been immersed in this issue for decades, including as a member of the Clinton administration’s Commission on the Future of Worker Management Relations in the early ‘90s and as codirector of the MIT Sloan Institute for Work and Employment Research.

Read More »

President Obama’s Inaugural Speech: Exceptionalism with a view — Leigh Hafrey

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Leigh Hafrey

In the months leading up to last fall’s presidential election, even Obama’s supporters mourned his lack of a vision for the next four years. They haven’t taken much consolation from developments since then, despite the moment of unity over the shootings in Newtown, and the rhetorical uplift of the second inaugural address. At first glance, that speech seems merely to confirm the President’s conventionally liberal intent on multiple fronts: the war in Afghanistan, immigration, health care and education reform, climate change and social justice. Republicans see little or no effort at the bi-partisan solidarity the President had announced—perhaps naively—in his first inaugural address.

And yet, the form of engagement that he at one point calls “collective action” does surface repeatedly in the speech: so, if not a bridge across the aisle in Congress, what collectivity does the President have in mind?

Read More »

Dean David Schmittlein–Government, Business and Academia for Jobs

From CNBC Squawk Box 8/31/11

The government should be smart and strategic about the type of spending it will do, says David Schmittlein, MIT Sloan School of Management dean, who says if the government spends on innovative enterprise in America, it can put those dollars to better use.