17 Items

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

The Phylloxera Analogy: Lessons from Emerging Markets

| Dec. 24, 2010
In 2008, the global financial system was grievously infected by so-called toxic assets originating in the United States. As a result of the crisis, many have asked what fundamental rethinking will be necessary to save macroeconomic theory. Some answers may lie with models that have in the past been applied to fit the realities of emerging markets — models that are at home with the financial market imperfections that have now unexpectedly turned up in industrialized countries. The imperfections include default risk, asymmetric information, incentive incompatibility, procyclicality of capital flows, procyclicality of fiscal policy, imperfect property rights, and other flawed institutions.

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

The US & Europe Could Look South to Re-learn Countercyclical Fiscal Policy

| Oct. 28, 2010
During much of the last decade, U.S. fiscal policy has been procyclical, that is, destabilizing.   We wasted the opportunity of the 2003-07 expansion by running large budget deficits.   As a result, in 2010, Washington now feels constrained by inherited debts to withdraw fiscal stimulus at a time when unemployment is still high.   Fiscal policy in the UK and other European countries has been even more destabilizing over the last decade.  Governments decide to expand when the economy is strong and then contract when it is weak, thereby exacerbating the business cycle.

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

Food Security: Export Controls are Not the Cure for Grain Price Volatility, But the Cause

| Aug. 23, 2010
         My last blog post listed some policies and institutions with which various small countries around the world have had success — innovations that might be worthy of emulation by others.  Of course there are plenty of other examples of policies and institutions that have been tried and that are to be avoided.    The area of agricultural policy is rife with them.   Many start with a confused invoking of the need for “food security.”           The recent run-up in wheat prices is a good example.

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

Some Big Ideas from Small Countries

| Aug. 15, 2010
     Two decades ago, many thought the lesson of the 1980s had been that Japan’s variant of capitalism was the best model, that other countries around the world should and would follow it.   The Japanese model quickly lost its luster in the 1990s.        One decade ago, many thought that the lesson of the 1990s had been that the US variant of capitalism was the best model, that other countries should and would follow.   The American model in turn lost its attractiveness in the decade of the 2000s.

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

UAE and Other Gulf Countries Urged to Switch Currency Peg from the Dollar to a Basket That Includes Oil

| July 08, 2008
The possibility that some Gulf states, particularly the United Arab Emirates, might abandon their long-time pegs to the dollar has been getting increasing attention recently (for example, from Feldstein and, especially, Setser). It makes sense. The combination of high oil prices, rapid growth, a tightly fixed exchange rate, and the big depreciation of the dollar against other currencies (especially the euro, important for Gulf imports) was always going to be a recipe for strong money inflows and inflation in these countries.

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

Support the Free Trade Agreement with Colombia!

| Apr. 24, 2008
Nicholas Kristof’s column in the New York Times today, “Better Roses than Cocaine,” says it all.   There is no good reason for the US Congress to continue to hold up the free trade agreement that the Administration has negotiated with Colombia.    Free trade with Colombia can’t have anything to do with loss of US jobs:   Colombia’s exports already enter the US duty-free.   Rather, the Free Trade Agreement would reduce remaining Colombian barriers to imports from the US.

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

The NYT Should Have Paid More Attention To The Nordhaus Estimates Before The Iraq War

| Mar. 19, 2008
At the 5th anniversary of the war in Iraq, estimates of its long-run cost range from $1.2-$1.7 trillion by my former colleague Peter Orszag, now Director of the Congressional Budget Office, to $2 - 3 trillion by my current colleague Linda Bilmes with another former colleague Joe Stiglitz (in a book that is appropriately getting lots of attention, including for example from John Cusack). The important point is that the costs far exceed the $50-$60 billion that the White House predicted ahead of time.