12 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

Brexit, Trump, and Workers Left Behind

| July 19, 2016
Observers have pointed out many parallels between the June referendum on Brexit in the United Kingdom and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in the US.  One parallel is that both the British movement to leave the EU and the Trump campaign for the American Republican nomination achieved success that few had expected, particularly not the various elites.  In both cases, the general interpretation is that the elites underestimated the anger of working class voters who feel they have been left behind by economic forces in a fast-changing world, and in particular by globalization.

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 Domestic Threat to US Leadership

| Apr. 13, 2016
US President Barack Obama has racked up a series of foreign-policy triumphs over the last 12 months. But one that has gained less attention than others was the passage last December of legislation to reform the International Monetary Fund, after five years of obstruction by the US Congress. As the IMF convenes in Washington, DC, for its annual spring meetings on April 15-17, we should pause to savor the importance of this achievement. After all, if the United States had let yet another year go by without ratifying the IMF quota reform, it would have essentially handed over the keys of global economic leadership to China.

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

Black Swans of August

| Aug. 21, 2012
Throughout history, big economic and political shocks have often occurred in August, when leaders had gone on vacationin the belief that world affairs were quiet.   Examples of geopolitical jolts that came in August include the outbreak of World War I, the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939 and the Berlin Wall in 1961.  Subsequent examples of economic and other surprises in August have included the Nixon shock of 1971 (when the American president enacted wage-price controls, took the dollar off gold, and imposed trade controls), 1982 eruption in Mexico of the international debt crisis, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, the 1991 Soviet coup, 1992 crisis in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and US subprime mortgage crisis of 2007.