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Scott Sumner: January 2017

An Author Archive by Month (19 entries)

Poverty is a far bigger problem than inequality

Income Distribution
Scott Sumner
Back in the 1960s, progressives talked a lot about poverty. Now they talk a lot about inequality (which perhaps helps to explain the rise of Trump.) This post was triggered by a comment Tyler CowenAlex Tabarrok made, after his recent... MORE

The retaliation begins

Scott Sumner
One of my lifelong dreams has been to visit Isfahan, said to be one of the world's most beautiful cities. Now it looks like that will not be possible: Iran said on Saturday it would stop U.S. citizens entering the... MORE

Puzzled by the border tax

Scott Sumner
The recent discussion over a possible 20% border tax/subsidy scheme has me more puzzled than anything else I've seen since I began blogging. Advocates like Martin Feldstein say it would not be a protectionist policy, as the dollar would appreciate... MORE

If a President pardons a single individual for violations of the law, it's generally viewed as a legitimate act, within the President's authority. People might view the pardon as unwise, but they generally don't argue that the act was unconstitutional.... MORE

When I was younger, I associated nationalism with country formation. Poland and Czechoslovakia became countries after WWI, India and Pakistan (and later Bangladesh) achieved statehood after the British left India, and Slovenia and Croatia after the break-up of Yugoslavia. Nationalism... MORE

Commenter Bill directed me to an interesting Ben Bernanke post: As a general matter, Fed policymakers view economic or policy developments through the prism of their economic forecast. Developments that push the forecasted path of the economy away from the... MORE

Arrival: Xi Jinping, Davos man

Scott Sumner
Last night I saw the sci-fi film "Arrival". (Spoiler alert.) At the beginning of the film, 12 alien spacecraft visit Earth, and there are attempts to communicate with the aliens. The film mostly takes place in Montana, where one of... MORE

AS/AD: Another suggested interpretation

Scott Sumner
Nick Rowe has a post entitled "AS/AD: A Suggested Interpretation". I'm going to offer a very different interpretation, which (interestingly) has almost identical implications. I'm not quite sure why. In my view, the "classical dichotomy" lies at the very heart... MORE

Trumpism in China

Scott Sumner
Trump's ideas are increasingly popular around the world. Here's an example from Shanghai, China, discussing China's version of Uber: Didi Chuxing, China's dominant car-sharing company, is gutting its fleet of drivers in Shanghai to comply with the city's new regulations... MORE

China trade has been a boon to the US, China, and the world.

International Macroeconomics: Exchange Rates, International Debt, etc.
Scott Sumner
Here's Ryan Avent: ECONOMISTS are realising that they have got some things about trade wrong in the past. Just because trade can make everyone better off, doesn't mean it will, for instance (at least without some help from politicians). That... MORE

When I was in grad school in the late 1970s, there was increased interest in the "monetary ineffectiveness proposition", which posited that money was neutral and monetary policy did not impact real variables. There was virtually no interest (at Chicago)... MORE

Liquidity traps and stupidity traps

International Macroeconomics: Exchange Rates, International Debt, etc.
Scott Sumner
Many people are puzzled by the fact that Japan continues to fall short of its 2% inflation target. Some attribute this the Japan being in a "liquidity trap". But surely that can't be the complete explanation. If Zimbabwe can find... MORE

Was Obamacare truly evil, or just a missed opportunity?

Economics of Health Care
Scott Sumner
I was mildly opposed to Obamacare, but mostly because I thought it was a missed opportunity to reform health care. I was bemused to see very strident opposition to the program on the right, with some pretty hyperbolic language about... MORE

Border tax bleg

International Macroeconomics: Exchange Rates, International Debt, etc.
Scott Sumner
Martin Feldstein had a recent piece in the WSJ that defended the idea of a border tax adjustment, which would be a part of the proposed corporate tax reform. He points out that if imports were no longer deductible, and... MORE

James Alexander directed me to a very good Bloomberg article on "monetary offset": Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen may well be thinking it. Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Richmond Fed, came close to saying it. "A more stimulative fiscal outlook... MORE

Deficits always matter

Fiscal Policy
Scott Sumner
Paul Krugman has a new post entitled "Deficits Matter Again": Not long ago prominent Republicans like Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, liked to warn in apocalyptic terms about the dangers of budget deficits, declaring that a Greek-style crisis... MORE

Brian Moore asked me the following question: I have read your site for years, but this is the first time I felt compelled to ask a question: some friends and I were discussing the various benefits to society that would... MORE

Utilitarianism: beyond victims and villains

Economic Philosophy
Scott Sumner
In a recent post over at TheMoneyIllusion, I criticized the attitude of liberals and conservatives toward the poor. Conservatives often seem to blame the victim, whereas liberals tend to romanticize victims, absolving them of any role in their plight. I... MORE

Finland's Universal Basic Income experiment

Income Distribution
Scott Sumner
Finland has begun an experiment with a universal basic income (UBI) program: Finland has started a radical experiment: It's giving 2,000 citizens a guaranteed income, with funds that keep flowing whether participants work or not. The program, which kicks off... MORE

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