Jan 042017
 
Living dangerously

The global economy is likely to grow at between 3% and 4% in 2017 adjusted for inflation and¬†differences in exchange rates. Emerging economies, led by Asia, are likely again to outgrow advanced economies (the U.S., Europe, Japan). That’s the word from one of the world’s most respected and widely followed [continue reading . . . ]






Aug 192015
 
The next recession: Made in China?

If you haven’t read it, get to your library (or use your library card) to read Ruchir Sharma’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal August 17 (Page A 11). He argues that with advanced economies stuck in slow-growth mode, the globe is “one shock away from recession” and that the [continue reading . . . ]






Jan 102013
 

Don’t miss today’s New York Times obit of the 1986 Nobel laureate and George Mason University professor James M. Buchanan. Like everyone else, Buchanan taught, politicians tend to act in their own self-interest Courting voters at election time, for example, legislators will approve tax cuts and spending increases for projects [continue reading . . . ]






Dec 122012
 
Printing more will do what, exactly?

So we have just started Year 5 of N-ZIRP, the Fed’s near-zero-interest-rate policy, and it is working so well that the Fed will have to keep printing money. What’s wrong with this picture? In fact, despite a massive expansion of the Fed’s balance sheet, and some of the lowest interest [continue reading . . . ]






Oct 302012
 
Fix the fisc? Not a chance

In the decade through Fiscal 2008, Uncle Sam spent at the rate of about 19.4% of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), and took money in at the rate of about 18.3% of GDP, resulting in annual deficits of about 1.1% of GDP. In Fiscal 1999, at the start of that [continue reading . . . ]






Sep 172012
 
QE and financial repression

Say what you please about Ben Bernanke’s unconventional monetary policies (quantitative easing, QE for short, and Operation Twist), they’ve been good for the stock market. The first chart shows that stock prices have roughly doubled, give or take a few percentage points, since Dr. Ben launched the first round of [continue reading . . . ]






Sep 042012
 

Fix Medicare, primarily by restricting end-of-life care, as insurance companies do now. Fix Social Security by minor changes to (1) the payroll tax, (2) the benefit formula for high-income beneficiaries and (3) the retirement age. Fix the hopeless hairball that is the U.S. tax code primarily by (1) broadening the [continue reading . . . ]






Jun 052012
 

Martin Wolf, much-honored chief economics commentator of the Financial Times, has been my beacon during the financial crisis. So it is especially discouraging to read his June 6, 2012, column, headlined “Panic has become all too rational”. Wolf argues that the advanced economies are caught in a “contained depression,” that [continue reading . . . ]






May 302012
 

Uh, oh. That’s what I find myself muttering these days when I fire up the news browser or open my morning papers. The economic news leaves me with a sense of dread. I find three developments especially worrisome: 1. Europe’s slow-motion economic crisis, now more than three years old, rumbles [continue reading . . . ]






May 162012
 

Are America’s best days in the rear-view mirror? The Economist‘s Lexington columnist reminds us (May 12, 2012, print edition) that bouts of what it labels “declinism” are, well, almost as American as apple pie. It wasn’t so long ago that Japan was buying up iconic U.S. real estate (New York [continue reading . . . ]






Apr 262012
 
Low U.S. rates = default?

Prompted by reading, I’ve been thinking about an essay arguing that today’s exceptionally low interest rates are a form of default. The idea is far from original. Op-ed pieces in the Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal have seeded my thinking. An op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal by [continue reading . . . ]