Economics & Global Affairs

473 Items

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

Get Ready for “Reverse Currency Wars”

| May 28, 2022

The US dollar is up 12% against the euro over the last year.  Having moved from 1.21 $/€ in May 2021 to 1.07 $/€ today, the exchange rate seems to be approaching one-to-one parity for the first time.  Europeans are not happy about it. If you think that prices for oil and other commodities are high now in terms of dollars, you should see what they look like in terms of euros.  Get ready for “reverse currency wars.”

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Analysis & Opinions - The Korea Herald

These Russia Sanctions Are Different

| Mar. 22, 2022

The surprising potency of the multilateral sanctions imposed on Russia has been exceeded only by that of Ukrainians’ resistance to Russia’s invasion of their country. True, it is difficult to imagine that sanctions will bring the Russian economy to its knees faster than Russian troops are able to capture Kyiv or lay waste to the country. But, ultimately, Russia will lose much in this war.


Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

Fighting the Last Inflation War

| Feb. 28, 2022

When Fed Chairman William McChesney Martin delivered his famous line about central banks, his key point was that it is their job to take away the punch bowl just when the party really gets going, rather than waiting until revelers have turned drunken and raucous. In the aftermath of the 1970s inflation, it became an item of faith that monetary authorities shouldn’t wait until elevated inflation shows its face, before reining in an overheating economy.  They are currently developing a renewed appreciation for the wisdom of this old metaphor.

During the decade that began with the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) in 2008, some central bankers arguably followed this time-honored practice into episodes of unnecessarily tight monetary policy.  In retrospect, they at times over-estimated the dangers of inflation.  [More on this below.]  They were “fighting the last war.”

Analysis & Opinions - Project Syndicate

Fighting the Last Inflation War

| 3/7/2022

In 1955, then-US Federal Reserve Chair William McChesney Martin famously said that the Fed’s job was to take away the punch bowl “just when the party was really warming up,” rather than waiting until the revelers were drunk and raucous. Decades later, in the aftermath of the 1970s inflation, it became an article of faith among monetary policymakers that they should not wait until elevated inflation showed its face before reining in an overheating economy. Today, with inflation surging, they are developing a renewed appreciation for the punch-bowl metaphor.

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

El Salvador Exemplifies the Surrealism of Cryptocurrencies

| Sep. 26, 2021

El Salvador this month became the first country to adopt a cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, as legal tender.  One says “the first” as if there will be others.  But the idea is highly dubious.

I will admit, like many economists, that I fail to see what problem cryptocurrencies solve. They aren’t well designed to fulfill any of the classic functions of money — unit of account, store of value, or means of payment – in part because they are so extraordinarily volatile in price.  This volatility is not surprising, since they are backed neither by reserves nor by the reputation of a well-established institution, such as a government or even a private bank or other trusted corporation.

Blog Post - Views on the Economy and the World

What Three Economists Taught Us About Currency Arrangements

| Apr. 29, 2021

A generation of great international economists is passing from the scene.  Richard Cooper died on December 23. An American, he was teaching his classes at Harvard until the very end. Robert Mundell, passed away on April 4.  Originally Canadian, he was a winner of the Nobel Prize in economics.  And John Williamson, on April 11. Originally British, he had been the first scholar hired by the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Ronald Reagan attacked the deficits in his 1980 presidential campaign but once he took over, he and the GOP-controlled Congress launched a programme of extensive tax cuts.

Dennis Cook/AP

Analysis & Opinions - The Guardian

Republicans Are Rediscovering the Dangers of Budget Deficits

| Jan. 26, 2021

High among the US president Joe Biden’s many priorities is reinvigorating an economy that – judging by the latest employment numbers – appeared to be slowing as 2021 began. Even if Covid-19 abates during the course of the year, and pent-up consumer demand kicks in, the US faces immediate challenges in areas such as education, infrastructure investment, state and local finances, and especially the fight against the pandemic itself.