9 Items

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

The Fed and Inequality

| Oct. 28, 2016
Populist politicians, among others, have claimed in recent years that monetary policy is too easy and that it is hurting ordinary workers.   But raising interest rates is not the way to address income inequality.It is a strange claim for anyone to make, but especially for populists.  Low interest rates are good for debtors, of course, and bad for creditors. Throughout most of US history, populists have supported easy monetary policy and low interest rates, to help the little guy, against bankers, who had hard hearts and believed in hard money.

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

Fiscal Education for the G-7

| May 26, 2016
As the G-7 Leaders gather in Ise-Shima, Japan, on May 26-27, the still fragile global economy is on their minds.  They would like a road map to address stagnant growth. Their approach should be to talk less about currency wars and more about fiscal policy.Fiscal policy vs. monetary policyUnder the conditions that have prevailed in most major countries over the last ten years, we have reason to think that fiscal policy is a more powerful tool for affecting the level of economic activity, as compared to monetary policy.

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

The Top Ten Reasons Why Trade Agreements Should Not Cover Currency Manipulation

| June 17, 2015
President Obama is still pressing the difficult campaign to obtain Trade Promotion Authority and use it to conclude international negotiations -- across one ocean for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), and then across the other ocean for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Many in the Congress, particularly many Democrats, insist that the trade agreements must include mechanisms designed to prevent countries from manipulating their currencies for unfair advantage.The President is right.

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

A Pre-Lima Scorecard for Evaluating Who is Doing their Fair Share in Pledged Carbon Cuts

| Nov. 19, 2014
Those worried about the future of the earth’s climate are hoping that this year’s climate change convention in Lima, Peru, December 2014, will yield progress toward specific national commitments, looking ahead to an international agreement at the make-or-break Paris meeting to take place in December 2015.The precedent of the Kyoto Protocol negotiated in 1997 is more discouraging than encouraging. It was an encouraging precedent in that countries were politically able to agree on legally binding quantitative limits to their emissions of Greenhouse Gases, to be achieved with the aid of international trading and other market mechanisms.

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

IMF Reform and Isolationism in Congress

| Jan. 29, 2014
A long-awaited reform of the International Monetary Fund has now been carelessly blocked by the US Congress.   This decision is just the latest in a series of self-inflicted blows since the turn of the century that have needlessly undermined the claim of the United States to global leadership.The IMF reform would have been an important step in updating the allocations of quotas among member countries.  From the negative congressional reaction, one might infer that the US was being asked either to contribute more money or to give up some voting power.

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

Economists Polled On Pre-Election Economy

| Oct. 15, 2012
A survey of economists is published in the November 2012 issue of Foreign Policy.  One question was whether we thought that the US unemployment rate would dip below 8.0% before the election.   When the FPconducted the poll at the end of the summer, unemployment was 8.1-8.2%.  Now it’s 7.8%.  Only 8% of the respondents said “yes.”   (I was one.  I basically just extrapolated the trend of the last two years.)My fellow economists choose defense and agricultural subsidies as the two categories of US federal spending that they think the best to cut.

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

More Black Swans?

| Aug. 23, 2012
I have arguedthat the best way to think of “black swan” events is as developments that, even though low-probability, can in fact be contemplated ahead of time.  Even if they are the sort of thing that has never happened before within an analyst’s memory, similar things may have happened before in the distant past or in other countries.What current possible shocks have probabilities that, even if fairly low, are high enough to warrant thinking about now?  Some have been discussed ad infinitum, others hardly at all.

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

Barrels, Bushels & Bonds: How Commodity-Exporters Can Hedge Volatility

| Oct. 20, 2011
The prices of minerals, hydrocarbons, and agricultural commodities have been on a veritable roller coaster. Although commodity prices are always more variable than those for manufactured goods and services, commodity markets over the last five years have seen extraordinary volatility.Countries that specialize in the export of oil, copper, iron ore, wheat, coffee, or other commodities have boomed.  But they are highly vulnerable. Dollar commodity prices could plunge at any time, as a result of a new global recession, a hard landing in China, an increase in real interest rates in the United States, fluctuations in climate, or random sector-specific factors.

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

Telling China to Stop Buying Dollars Now Would Be Even More Foolish Than Before

| June 08, 2009
The current visit of Secretary Tim Geithner to Beijing once again shines the spotlight on the Renminbi (RMB) and on demands by US politicians that the People's Bank of China (the country's central bank) abandon the peg to the dollar.Throughout the period 2003-2008, I, as some others, have thought that demands from American politicians of both parties that China loosen the dollar link have been misguided in a number of particulars. They were misguided in thinking that an appreciation of the RMB would, alone, do much to boost US output or employment.