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Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

How China Compares Internationally in New GDP Figures

| May 31, 2020

The World Bank on May 19, as it does every six years, released the results of the most recent International Comparison Program (ICP), which measures price levels and GDPs across 176 countries.  The new results are striking.  It is surprising that they have received almost no attention so far, perhaps overshadowed by all things coronavirus.

For the first time, the ICP shows China’s total real income as slightly larger than the US.  It reports that China’s GDP was $19,617 billion in 2017, in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) terms, while the United States’ GDP stood at $19,519 billion.

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

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).

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

Talk on trade: TPP & Trump

| May 20, 2016
The ITC Wednesday released its mandated report on the economic effects estimated to result from the TransPacific Partnership.  As is usual in standard trade models, the estimated welfare gains may sound small: on the order of ¼ % of income.  But that would still be way worth doing.    Furthermore the ITC study, by design, leaves out a lot.  For example, the Petri-Plummer study from the Peterson Institute estimates income gains from TPP that are twice as large, in part because it takes into account Melitz-style opportunities for  more productive firms to expand.

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

China crash?

| Jan. 27, 2016
An extended version of my column on “China’s slowdown” now appears at VoxEU, including academic references.Someone at Seeking Alpha responds with the following question:  What are the odds of an outright recession in China, with substantially negative GDP growth?My reply:This scenario is certainly possible. I have even described financial bubbles-and-crashes as a sort of “rite of passage” that newly arrived economic powers undergo (Holland 1637, England 1720, US 1929, Japan 1990, Korea 1997).

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

China’s Slowdown

| Jan. 22, 2016
Investors worldwide are closely watching the steep decline in China’s stock market.  The Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index is down more than 40% since June 2015.The reason observers are concerned is not because they themselves are invested: China’s stocks are overwhelmingly held by Chinese themselves.  Rather, many are interpreting it as evidence that China’s economy is going down the tubes.China’s growth rate has indeed slowed down and there are plenty of reasons to believe that the slowdown is not just temporary.

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

The Fed, China and Oil

| Jan. 01, 2016
My answers to three questions at the start of 2016 (from Chosun Ilbo, leading Korean newspaper):1. How do you analyze the recent US interest hike, and how will it influence the global economy in the coming year?The Fed had telegraphed its decision to raise the interest rate so far in advance and (by December) so clearly, that the policy change was already fully reflected in markets.  For example most of the substantial appreciation of the dollar since 2014 can be attributed to anticipation of the Fed tightening.

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

TPP Critics’ Nighttime Fears Fade by Light of Day

| Oct. 11, 2015
The TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) that was finally agreed among trade negotiators of 12 Pacific countries on October 5 came as a triumph over long odds.  Tremendous political obstacles, domestic and international, had to be overcome over the last five years.  Now each country has to decide whether to ratify the agreement.Many of the issues are commonly framed as “Left” versus “Right."  The unremitting hostility to the negotiations up until now from the Left – often in protest at being kept in the dark regarding the text of the agreement -- has carried two dangers.