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March 2017

A Monthly Archive (41 entries)
Macroeconomists are often lousy political philosophers. In previous posts I've discussed how macroeconomic views that are considered "liberal" or "conservative" actually have no obvious relationship to those political stances. For instance there's no obvious reason why "using monetary policy" (as... MORE

Restless Judge Posner

Law and Economics
David Henderson
Probably the best-known current federal judge who is not a Supreme Court justice is Richard Posner. He has been a judge on the 7th Circuit since 1981. Posner is known for his judicial decisions, his crystal-clear writing style in... MORE

DeLong on Gains from International Trade

International Trade
David Henderson
UC Berkeley economist Brad DeLong has written one of the best short pieces on the gains from international trade. His post is titled "Are There Benefits from Free Trade?: DeLong FAQ." He writes: Well, typically and roughly, the average import... MORE

Henderson on the John Batchelor Show

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Here's the audio from my interview yesterday. The interview was prompted by this blog post.... MORE

Good Manners vs. Political Correctness

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
My first face-to-face encounter with political correctness came in 1989.  All undergrads in my dorm at UC Berkeley were strongly urged to attend the all-important DARE meeting.  Not DARE as in "Drug Abuse Resistance Education" but DARE as in "Diversity... MORE

Robert Frost and liberalism

moral reasoning
Scott Sumner
Robert Frost once said: A liberal is a man too broadminded to take his own side in a quarrel. This seems very clever to me---I wonder what other people think. 1. He may not be using the term "liberal" to... MORE

EconTalk host Russ Roberts has made no secret of his misgivings about high-level statistical analysis. So it's no surprise that his skepticism is brought to bear in his interview this week with Columbia University's Andrew Gelman. However, Roberts magnanimously... MORE

Tyler Cowen is a Semi-Persuasive Futurist

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
David Henderson
My review of Tyler Cowen's latest book, The Complacent Class, is now out in the pages of Regulation. It's titled "Tyler Cowen: Semi-Persuasive Futurist." This excerpt gives a flavor of what I liked and disliked: Cowen nails the causes and... MORE

Is Immigration a Basic Human Right? Full Video

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
Here's my debate with Christopher Wellman.  Since the audience was admonished to vote on the literal resolution prior to voting, I'm now slightly less confident in my "metaphorical voting" theory of my Intelligence Squared debate outcome.  Either way, enjoy.... MORE

Interest on reserves and stock prices in 2008

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Scott Sumner
I did a recent post criticizing Bernanke's defense of paying interest on reserves. This policy was introduced in October 2008, and even the Fed viewed the policy as contractionary in intent. Indeed Susan Woodward and Robert Hall called the Fed's... MORE

Until recently, I only knew Howard Hughes' World War I saga Hell's Angels (1930) second-hand, from Martin Scorsese's Hughes biopic, The Aviator.  I was amazed when I finally watched Hughes' classic.  The special effects are stunning even by modern standards. ... MORE

Thoughts on the Republican Health Insurance Reform

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
I've held back on commenting in a big-picture sense on the Republicans' plan for repealing and replacing Obamacare. I've found comments by Megan McArdle, Peter Suderman, co-blogger Scott Sumner, and Steven Landsburg, among others, useful. They've tended to focus on... MORE

Here's my opening statement from Thursday's debate.  Enjoy. Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 There are many complaints about governments, but the harshest is, "This government grossly violates human rights."  The background assumption is that human beings have rights that... MORE

Is a falling population contractionary?

Macroeconomics
Scott Sumner
One often comes across articles that suggest Japan faces "headwinds" of a falling population. This is supposed to contribute to falling aggregate demand and deflation. That may be true, but if so it's almost certainly not for the reason that... MORE

Ricardo Reis on price level targeting

Monetary Policy
Scott Sumner
I've devoted much of my life to promoting market-based approaches to monetary policy. To better understand the idea, let's start by assuming the goal is simply a stable price level. Since the value of base money is the inverse of... MORE

Is God a Macro- or Micro- Economist?

EconTalk
Contributing Guest
by G. Patrick Lynch In an essay published in 1978 the late economist Paul Heyne grappled with the place of ethics in economics. Long before scholars such as Deirdre McCloskey had taken it upon themselves to try and awaken the... MORE

When You Lose Something You Don't Want, Is that Really a Loss?

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
One of the big findings in the recent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on the Republican health proposal is that by 2018, about 14 million people who would have had health insurance will lose it. That sounds bad, right? But... MORE

A recent Vox post asked 17 experts for their views on the risks posed by artificial intelligence. Bryan Caplan was grouped with those who views might be described as more complacent, or perhaps less complacent, depending on whether you define... MORE

This is Misleading CNN--and CBO

Fiscal Policy
David Henderson
On the way home from work this evening, I heard an incorrect statement of the latest CBO report's findings on the Republican-proposed health care bill. (I'll have more to say about the bill in a future post; I'm still digesting... MORE

In July 1933, Roosevelt issued an executive order that effectively forced firms to raise nominal hourly wages by 20% in just two months. In the previous 4 months, industrial production had risen by 57%, three times faster than in any... MORE

The Joys of Yiddish and Economics

Price Controls
David Henderson
George Mason University economist Dan Klein has a fun paper, about to be published in the Independent Review, titled "The Joys of Yiddish and Economics." Dan writes: In The Joys of Yiddish, Rosten's method is to introduce each Yiddish term,... MORE

A dangerous myth about trade deficits

International Macroeconomics: Exchange Rates, International Debt, etc.
Scott Sumner
In the long run trade must balance, in the sense that imports must ultimately be paid for with exports---plus interest. Thus if we buy a billion dollars in laptops from China, we might pay for those goods by exporting $1.5... MORE

Can fiscal transfers solve the Eurozone's problems?

Eurozone crisis
Alberto Mingardi
I take a skeptical view in an article for Politico.eu: I don't think transfers will automatically produce economic convergence. My point is based on the Italian experience, which I summarise this way: Since its unification in the nineteenth century, Italy... MORE

Co-blogger Scott Sumner advocates keeping a tax on medical devices. His reason: the medical devices tax was far smaller than the subsidy on medical devices, which is enormous. (Subsidies include Medicare, Medicaid, tax deductibility of insurance, etc.) But normally when... MORE

Why I favor taxing subsidized goods

Regulation and Subsidies
Scott Sumner
A number of people have asked me why I opposed the repeal of the medical devices tax. Taxes generally create deadweight losses, as they reduce output to a position below the socially optimal level (which is usually the free market... MORE

Above is a picture of the late Bill Niskanen. Karl Smith would not pass an Ideological Turing Test. Karl Smith of the Niskanen Institute recently wrote a piece titled "Some Conservative Arguments against the Border Adjustment Tax are Pretty... MORE

The eclipse of classical liberalism

Economic Philosophy
Alberto Mingardi
The Molinari Institute led by Roderick Long deserves great credit for having discovered and republished a splendid little essay by Edwin Godkin, the founder of the magazine The Nation. The article, "The Eclipse of Liberalism", was published in 1900 and... MORE

Initial thoughts on Obamacare 2.0

Economics of Health Care
Scott Sumner
Tyler Cowen directed me to several commentaries on the new GOP health care proposal. My initial impression is mostly negative, as the GOP seems to have avoided tackling the biggest problem in health care, excessive costs due to subsidy and... MORE

Soonish by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings
Bryan Caplan
My co-author, Zach Weinersmith, and his wife, Kelly Weinersmith, have a new book out on future technology and its economic and social implications.  News flash: Soonish is currently at #3 on Amazon.  As Neo said, "Woh."... MORE

Opting Out of Social Security

Social Security
David Henderson
My suggestion is that the government, before making any major changes to the Social Security formulas, first allow Americans to opt out of the system, thereby avoiding any future payroll taxes but also forfeiting any accrued benefits. However, if... MORE

San Diego Immigration Debate

Economic Philosophy
Bryan Caplan
On March 16, I'm debating at the University of San Diego on, "Is Immigration a Basic Human Right?" My opponent is philosopher Christopher "Kit" Wellman of Washington University.  His work on the subject is frankly puzzling, since to my mind... MORE

Why not both?

Monetary Policy
Scott Sumner
Alexander Schibuola directed me to a recent speech by Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer: Committees and rules may appear to be in opposition as approaches to policymaking. One might even argue that if a central bank ever converged on a... MORE

East Side Sushi Celebrates Labor Market

Labor Market
David Henderson
My wife and I saw a very good movie on HBO last night: East Side Sushi. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give it at least an 8. As well as being first-rate drama, with a... MORE

Do checks and balances reduce efficiency?

Political Economy
Scott Sumner
Commenter msgkings recently made the following observation about the factors behind China's rapid growth: China has only one party so they are all working together to get growth (and of course stay in power doing exactly that). In the US... MORE

Three Problems with Chetty's Study of Income Mobility

Income Distribution
David Henderson
Stanford University economist Raj Chetty claims that the American dream is fading. He may well be right, but his data on which he bases that judgment don't make his case. Alan Reynolds points this out well in a recent Cato... MORE

The Perverse Effects of the Pre-Existing Condition Pricing Ban

Economics of Health Care
David Henderson
Health economist John C. Goodman once said, at a talk I attended when Obamacare was being debated, "Would you want to be a patron of a restaurant that didn't want you as a customer?" He was getting at the fact... MORE

Two popular views that can't both be right

Macroeconomics
Scott Sumner
There seems to be a consensus that Japan has been stuck in a "liquidity trap" since the 1990s. Here's a typical story, from the Wall Street Journal: Japan remains definitively stuck, despite a long and aggressive experiment with ultralow rates.... MORE

Power-Hunger

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
Bryan Caplan
"Greed is good."  After a few years in economics, the goodness of greed seems like common sense.  But it's not.  In a randomly selected social environment, greed is brutal.  If you're carrying a bag of gold and meet a well-armed... MORE

The (developed) world's 4th longest expansion

Macroeconomics
Scott Sumner
As I write this post, Australia just announced 1.1% RGDP in the fourth quarter, and 2.4% over the past 12 months, both higher than expected. Thus once again the "Lucky Country" dodged a recession (GDP had fallen 0.5% in the... MORE

Stop Winning Arguments

Behavioral Economics and Rationality
David Henderson
The Institute for Humane Studies asked me to write a piece on persuasion. My post at Learn Liberty, "If you want to persuade people, stop 'winning' arguments" is the result. Normally, I don't like it when editors substitute their title... MORE

Read Meer

Economic Education
Bryan Caplan
Today's speaker at the Public Choice Seminar is Jonathan Meer of Texas A&M, one of my favorite young empirical economists in the world. He's doing the most innovative work on the minimum wage, wisely building on the ubiquity of firing... MORE

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