Blog - Views on the Economy and the World

Views on the Economy and the World

A blog by Jeffrey Frankel

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251 posts

The Sugar Swamp

| June 26, 2017

As the United States, Mexico, and Canada prepare to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, as US President Donald Trump’s administration has demanded, much attention is being devoted to one item in particular: sugar. The negotiations will probably produce a sweet deal for the US sugar industry, highlighting the emptiness of Trump’s promises to “drain the swamp” of special-interest influence over policymaking.
Sugar producers’ political clout is nothing new, in the US or other industrialized countries. They have often received trade protection, in the form of import tariffs and quotas, to ensure that domestic sugar prices far exceed those in supplier countries like Australia, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, and Mexico.

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Economists hesitate to explain to people that they should borrow less. The advice sounds too “schoolmarmish.” It seems to lack sympathy for those whose incomes are not keeping up with the standard of living that they had expected based on historical trends. But for those concerned with the reach of the nanny state, the state is precisely what encourages citizens to borrow. And it does nobody any favors to get them overly indebted, as the millions of homeowners who went underwater in the housing crisis ten years ago discovered.

How to Re-Negotiate NAFTA

| Apr. 27, 2017

If NAFTA is to be renegotiated, improvements could include strengthening labor and environmental protections, improving dispute-settlement mechanisms, adding new issues areas, and including more countries.  Is that pie in the sky?  The negotiators already did it last year.  It was called TPP.  

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin  needs to explain to his boss that China is no longer manipulating its currency, preferably in time for Trump’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jin Ping, scheduled for April 6-7.  Neither is Germany.

The quantity of financial regulation is not quite as important as the quality.  One must get the details right.  The case of the US “fiduciary rule” strongly suggests that President Trump will not get the details right.

Several countries are undergoing “demonetization” or currency reforms in which the government recalls bills of particular denomination that are circulation and replaces them with new notes. Some of these initiatives are going better than others.

Barack Obama

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Looking Back on Barack

| Jan. 16, 2017

Barack Obama

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At the end of his time in office Barack Obama merits an enumeration of some of his many accomplishments.

Outlook for 2017

| Jan. 03, 2017

Five journalist’s questions about the economic outlook in the New Year and my answers: In the first year of Trump’s presidency, what do you predict for the US economy in 2017?The US economy is currently at or near full employment, for the first time in 9 years.  So there is limited capacity for an acceleration of growth in the medium term.  Mr. Trump is fairly likely to follow through with his proposals for massive tax cuts and spending increases (which the economy needed 5 years ago, but were blocked by Republicans).

A year-end summing up of where we stand is harder than usual this time!I have recently spoken: on “Global Economic Challenges for Donald Trump,” (outline; slides: Ppt, pdf) on a panel at the American Enterprise Institute, Washington, DC, Dec. 5, 2016. Summary & video. And on “An Economy That Works for All Americans” (slides: ppt, pdf)  to the Bipartisan Program for Newly Elected Members of Congress, Institute of Politics, December 7, 2016. And  on “Trade and Inequality,” (slides: Ppt, pdf) at the  Providence Committee on Foreign Relations, Dec.

We unexpectedly find ourselves in uncharted territory, in so many ways. The United States has never before had a president with no political or military experience. And Donald Trump is especially unpredictable: he has so often said things that conflict with other things he has said. So it is hard to know what he will do.But a possible precedent for what the Trump presidency may look like sits in plain sight: the George W. Bush presidency. To be fair, the Bush family clearly did not support Trump’s campaign.