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Scott Sumner: September 2017

An Author Archive by Month (14 entries)

Cultural Philistines and Marxism

Central Planning vs. Local Knowledge
Scott Sumner
I guess if I'm going to pretend to write about art, I'd better at least bring in some economics. So here goes. First a disclaimer. Here I'll try to employ a non-pejorative definition of 'philistine'---let's make it a simple descriptive... MORE

Modern Art and Occam's Razor

Economics and Culture
Scott Sumner
Bryan Caplan has a new post, which suggests that modern art is greatly overrated, and perhaps even a big mistake. Before commenting, a few clarifications: A. I'm not a huge fan of "modern art", as the 20th century is probably... MORE

Ben Southwood directed me to a paper by Lawrence Christiano, with the following executive summary: The Great Recession was particularly severe and has endured far longer than most recessions. Economists now believe it was caused by a perfect storm of... MORE

You see a lot of hand wringing about the plight of America's middle class, so I thought I'd check the data. But which data? You might start with average incomes, but these are skewed by the rapid growth in income... MORE

Reply to Bryan on utilitarianism

Growth: Consequences
Scott Sumner
Bryan Caplan has responded to my recent post on liberalism and utilitarianism. I agree with his first criticism: First, if "Liberalism is what happens when you are optimizing for a safe environment, and illiberalism is what happens when you optimize... MORE

Don't change the forecast; change the policy

Monetary Policy
Scott Sumner
Today the Fed abandoned its previous forecast, which called for 2% inflation in 2018. Now they forecast that inflation will run below 2% in 2018, as it has for most of the past decade. I agree that it is likely... MORE

Beckworth interviews Summers

Macroeconomics
Scott Sumner
David Beckworth's recent interview of Larry Summers was a treat for two reasons; there was lots of thought-provoking discussion, and I found a written transcript of the interview. Here's an excerpt (discussing secular stagnation): You have a demassification of the... MORE

Does prosperity push us to the left?

Growth: Consequences
Scott Sumner
Bryan Caplan recently posted the following: A while back, Scott Alexander defended what he called the "Thrive/Survive Theory" of left and right. Digest version: My hypothesis is that rightism is what happens when you're optimizing for surviving an unsafe environment,... MORE

Lots of non-economists think that economics is just common sense. Not so. It's not common sense that imports help an economy, or that price gouging is good and rent controls are bad. And the field of taxation also produces lots... MORE

How do we evaluate Robert Shiller's forecast?

Finance: stocks, options, etc.
Scott Sumner
Nobel Laureate Robert Shiller recently made some comments about Bitcoin: When it comes to economic bubbles, there is perhaps no single greater authority than Yale economics professor Robert Shiller. Shiller wrote a seminal book on speculation and its devolution into... MORE

A new paper by Vipin Veetil and Richard Wagner discusses a heterodox theory of business cycles, and then uses this theory to criticize NGDP targeting. Here is the abstract: This paper argues that NGDP targeting is unlikely to produce macroeconomic... MORE

Are most Americans radical libertarians?

Politics and Economics
Scott Sumner
This survey by Stanford University suggests the answer is yes: Notes: The surveys asked whether individuals agreed or disagreed with the statement "I would like to live in a society where government does nothing except provide national defense and police... MORE

Larry Summers on the rise of monopoly power

Growth: Consequences
Scott Sumner
Here's Larry Summers in the Financial Times: Consumers also appear more likely now to have to purchase from monopolies rather than from companies engaged in fierce price competition meaning that pay checks do not go as far. I decided to... MORE

A week ago I criticized an article in the Economist, which saw a "puzzle" in the co-existence of low unemployment and sluggish wage gains. I said there was no puzzle, as wage growth was slow because nominal GDP growth was... MORE

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