Trump's Food Stamp, SNAP, Cuts Are Just Reversing The Keynesian Ratchet - So What's The Problem?
And my concept of the Keynesian Ratchet is looking pretty good too. We might well be sensible to expand the safety net in hte hard times. But once we recover from those the usual suspects are just going to treat the expansion as the new baseline. And thus does government grow ever larger.
As you know, Emmanuel Macron is the new President of the French Republic. Macron has beaten Marine Le Pen with a substantial majority: 66% of the votes. Most commentators- at least, most of European commentators, were so relieved by Le Pen's loss, that they have quickly transformed Macron into an icon. But what can we actually expect out of Macron? I've read Macron's book, Revolution, and came to think that he, as a smart politician, is being most careful and purposefully ambitious in crafting this message. This makes plenty of sense for the leader of a movement that was to go beyond traditional parties both on the left and on the right. I thought, however, that to get a better picture I may benefit from the views of those that follow French politics more closely. This is why I've quizzed a few French friends by e-mail and I publish here, with their permission, their answers. Macron as a minister To understand where Macron is heading, it might be helpful to see where he is coming from. I thought that it might be useful to have my correspondent's opinion on Macron's tenure as Minister of the Economy, in the government of Manuel Valls. Alan Kahan, a professor of history at Sciences Po Saint-Germain-en-Laye and the author of the remarkable Mind Vs Money, reminds me that Macron made his reputation abroad for a package of "liberalisations", which included the opening to competition of the long-distance bus industry. "The reforms were very modest, but at least we now have inter-city bus service, and the way in which he dealt with the Socialist Party showed character". Cécile Philippe, the director of Institut Molinari, a public policy think tank, commented that Macron was "amazingly energetic and showed an amazing amount of persistence for a law that was unfortunately very light and on some issues even counterproductive. You could not help but admire how he responded to questions and fought for his law. But at the same time, it was so disappointing to see that the only thing which in the end he was able to reform was the bus sector". So Philippe and Kahan seem to agree that Macron was forceful and committed, but didn't accomplish much. Far more trenchant is Pascal Salin, an accomplished economist and a member and past president of the Mont Pelerin Society. Salin reminded me that "before being minister of the economy he was the economic adviser of François Hollande and he has a great responsibility for the destructive economic policy of François Hollande (increase in public spending and in taxation, regulations, etc..). Therefore, from what he did, both as an adviser and as a minister, one should consider that he is a traditional socialist". On the other hand, Ran Halévi, a well known historian and the director of Centre de recherches politiques Raymond Aron, points out that "Macron didn't influence much Holland's policies when he was a senior adviser at the Elysée. But it took him quite a long time -- too long -- to realize how little influence he exercised there". The upcoming elections France is going back to the ballot in one month, for parliamentary elections. They will be crucial for securing a viable majority to Mr Macron. It is very unlikely that he could be an effective leader if he needs to engage in continuous bargaining with a hostile Parliament. For Kahan, "Only a fool has confidence about the results of the parliamentary elections. But whether En Marche wins an absolute majority or not, I expect he will be able to make deals with former Socialist and Republican splinter groups and have a working majority". Halévi is less hopeful: "I doubt he may obtain absolute majority. At best, probably he will have to form a coalition, but nobody knows with whom, since both the Republicans and the Socialists are divided and prone to dissidence among their ranks". Cecile Philippe points out that "for the Senate, this is going to be even more complex as only a third is going to be replaced this year. The thing is that even if he has a majority he will not necessarily be able to pursue any big policy change. In France, you do not only govern with the parliament. Trade unions and the street can be very potent. And as you might know, abstention has been the highest of the 5th republic and the extreme left has already warned Macron: he has been elected because he is not Marine Le Pen but he better be careful what he wishes for. The biggest lesson of this election is that the extreme represents around half of the voters. It will have a huge impact on the next 5 years.". So far, Macron has appointed a prime minister, Edouard Philippe, who comes from the moderate wing of the main centre-right, the Republicans party. We will see if this move will help him in growing his electoral support. Reforms? Let's assume that Macron succeeds in securing a new government. What shall we expect from him? Pascal Salin maintains that reforms are very unlikely to happen under Macron's watch. Kahan is more hopeful: "There will be reforms, albeit not enough. The 'moralisation law' will happen, eliminating the hiring of family members by elected officials, among other things. There will be some labour law reform, not enough, but of some use. Some tax reform (not enough). But the most important thing is this. French taxation is 57% of GDP. Macron promises to bring it down to 53% over 5 years. By comparison, between 1979 and 1986 public spending under Thatcher was unchanged as a % of GDP, at 45%, From 86-89 it fell to 39%, partly as a result of growth. IF, an enormous IF, Macron does what he says in this regard, I think he will have done as well as anyone could reasonably hope." Philippe points out that Macron "has already said that he will start with a clean-up of politics, a simplification of the labor law (Hollande tried to do the same thing with a lot of debates and no effect so far), a reform of primary schools, a right to make mistake that is, especially in fiscal matters, the right to have made a mistake in the amount you paid, and a reorganization of the fight against terrorism". But, explains Cecile, "Macron does not really have a big plan of what must be done, so far. Maybe it is part of his strategy. As you can see above, he has many targets. I do not believe that they are the most important ones because they never touch upon the issue of institutional competition. It is a bit the same as Sarkozy and Hollande, he wants to touch upon many things without going deep into any. The risk is he'll provoke a lot of resistance for nothing really big". What about Europe? I've also asked my correspondents if they think Macron will side with Germany in pretending Eurozone partners stick with fiscal responsibility, or would pursue big, Keynesian-like projects to develop in Brussels. Halévi thinks Macron will try to associate the Germans in some attempt to "reshape" the European Union, though the chances he may succeed are "uncertain at best". Kahan maintains that "he will push hard for Greek debt relief, which I approve of, and fairly hard for some pan-Keynesian European spending, which I don't approve of, and which the Germans will stop". Salin is quite skeptical: "Macron may agree in speeches with fiscal responsibility, but he will likely act quite differently, since he has a demagogical program and he seems to be ready to spend public money in order to please many categories of people". Of course these answers reflect my friends' politics, and their hopes, not just their cold blooded analysis. And yet I think they provide some sobering words of caution. The risk of a Le Pen presidency was thwarted, with great relief. But this is far from meaning France is now on the way to solid, liberalising reforms. It is very likely that Mr Macron will continue to run up hill - and France and Europe too. (1 COMMENTS)
Submitted by Valentin Schmid via The Epoch Times, Mainstream economics is under heavy pressure. Consistently wrong policies and forecasts have damaged the field dubbed “the dismal science.” But what do critics propose should supersede the prevailing neo-Keynesian and neoclassical schools? Almost all alternative economists are calling for more government involvement to “fix” the free market and make it work better. But there is one school of economics, once prevalent in academia until it was pushed into obscurity, that places the power to fix the world’s problems in the hands of the people. “Economists err if they forget that economic life existed before them and that it operates, for the most part, independently of them,” American economist Peter J. Boettke wrote in his book “Living Economics.” Economics was once tasked with describing how man manages the world’s scarce resources, a process far older than economics as a science. But it has morphed into a field that blames the individual and reality for not measuring up to its theories, and then uses the coercive power of the state in an attempt to shape individuals and reality according to its ends. The Austrian school of economics, the once dominant school of economic thought at the turn of the 19th century, focuses on the individual—and his or her actions and motivations—to explain economic life. It derives its name from the many scholars from Austria who developed 19th-century classic liberalism into a coherent explanation of economic life. “Economics is in reality very simple. It functions in the same way that it did thousands of years ago. People come together to voluntarily engage in commerce with one another for their mutual benefit. People specialize and divide work among themselves to advance their condition,” writes modern Austrian economist Philipp Bagus in his book “Blind Robbery!” Reason Versus Force A bedrock principle of this understanding is that exchange should occur voluntarily and not under the coercion of the state or any other party. If exchange is voluntary, the individual or company must offer something of value if it wants to obtain something of value. This premise encourages innovative, creative, and productive behavior. It also forces individuals to think about what their fellow humans may appreciate or need. Every decision to allocate capital and labor needs to stand the test of reason, argument, and negotiation. On aggregate, this decision-making process is much more elaborate and prudent than any central planning decision, which must use force to compel its subjects. “Production is directed either by profit-seeking businessmen or by the decisions of a director to whom supreme and exclusive power is entrusted. . . . The question is: Who should be master, the consumers or the director?” Austrian school economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973) writes in his book “Human Action.” Skin in the Game This approach to economics can do without the complex mathematical models of the current schools because it admits that perfection doesn’t exist. There is no equilibrium. Things aren’t perfect, but the best possible solution to economic problems will be found by private individuals acting voluntarily, each assessing new situations for themselves. “This is precisely what the price system does under competition, and which no other system even promises to accomplish. It enables entrepreneurs, by watching the movement of comparatively few prices, as an engineer watches the hands of a few dials, to adjust their activities to those of their fellows,” Nobel laureate Friedrich von Hayek wrote in his 1944 classic “The Road to Serfdom.” This acceptance of imperfection, and the insight that those on the ground are best suited to make decisions about allocating scarce resources, avoids the false promise that central planning can solve every problem if only the right people are in power. Even if central planners, including politicians and bureaucrats who pass laws and regulations, are not corrupt, they can never have enough information to make the right decisions for all individuals impacted by their directives. They are also insulated from the consequences of their decisions, since their offices are protected until the next election. They have “no skin in the game,” as contemporary philosopher Nassim Taleb put it. Positive View The Austrian school also dispenses with the myth that individuals and companies are inherently greedy and need a government to restrain their avarice. It takes a more positive view of humanity, which includes mutually beneficial exchange as well as charity. Anybody who has ever made time and money available to help a fellow human knows that the neoclassical description of man as only maximizing his material welfare does not hold true in the real world. In fact, Austrian economists argue that the welfare state, which has so far failed to deliver on its promise to completely eradicate poverty—a promise the competitive system never makes—reduces the individual’s incentives to give. It limits the individual’s material resources through taxation and provides an excuse to evade philanthropy because the government is taking care of the problem. What holds for market pricing also holds for charity. Individuals and communities can make charitable decisions based on their values and local considerations, rather than a one-size-fits-all policy. Furthermore, if we are to believe that the individual is fundamentally selfish and cannot be trusted with these decisions, why should we trust central planners, if they can only be removed from office every couple of years (or never, in the case of some bureaucrats)? “Since the natural tendencies of mankind are so bad that it is not safe to allow them liberty, how comes it to pass that the tendencies of organizers are always good? Do not the legislators and their agents form a part of the human race?” asked Frédéric Bastiat in his 1850 essay “The Law.” The answer, of course, is that the organizers are driven by the same flawed, human incentives as everyone else, and the more centralized power becomes, the greater the potential for maximum damage if bad decisions are made. The Chinese tyrant Mao Zedong’s decision to increase steel output to rival that of the United States starting in the late 1950s cost an estimated 38 million lives, because he did not know or care that the situation on the ground dictated food production for survival. The farmers, if left to their own devices, would have known better. If a couple of farmers had gone into steel of their own volition, they might have suffered losses, but the rest of the population would have been unaffected. Although this is an extreme example, the principles behind it are applicable to bureaucracies in democratic countries. Limited Government If individuals, entrepreneurs, and companies have the best information for making the best decisions, and if their mistakes cost society less than under central planning, then naturally the state will have to take a limited role in interfering with people’s lives. The system would also limit the scope of corporate and government collusion to limit competition, a malady many blame on free markets alone. Bastiat said the only law the state should enforce is the protection of life, liberty, and property, including a court system for the enforcement of private contracts. He and many Austrian economists looked favorably on the U.S. Constitution, which envisions very limited powers for the federal government. This is also the reason you’ve likely never heard of this school of economic thought, or read classic liberal teachings in high school or college. Since the majority of secondary and tertiary education is either government-run or sponsored, bureaucrats and politicians would undermine their own claims to necessity if Austrian-school ideas flourished. A competition among ideas, however, is critical for intellectual discourse. According to another champion of the Austrian school, Ludwig von Mises, it is ideas that determine the fate of our civilization. “The aim of the popularization of economic studies is not to make every man an economist. The idea is to equip the citizen for his civic functions in community life. The con?ict between capitalism and totalitarianism, on the outcome of which the fate of civilization depends, will not be decided by civil wars and revolutions,” von Mises pronounced. “It is a war of ideas. Public opinion will determine victory and defeat.”
I am going to criticize a recent Tyler Cowen post on Greece. But before doing so, let me explain where I think we agree. 1. Fiscal policy doesn't explain very much of the business cycle. 2. Greece's problems go far beyond deficient aggregate demand; indeed it has rather severe structural rigidities, and well as excessive government debt. Is there anything we disagree about? Tyler seems to think so: I said it before, I'll say it again: the 2008-2012 period was a very special one, with a very high risk premium (sorry, Scott!) and with massive contractions in bank intermediation in some of the key affected countries. We draw broader conclusions from it at our peril. [Perhaps it's presumptuous to assume that "Scott" refers to me, as it's a very common name. So I googled "Scott economist" and my name came second. However the first name specialized in IO and ag. econ, so I'll assume Tyler was referring to me.] In the past, I've argued against people who put too much weight on aggregate demand, and too little on aggregate supply. I do believe that NGDP shocks are the primary driver of the business cycle in developed countries, but I've also been careful to confine my analysis to single currency zones, such as the US, the UK, the Eurozone and Hong Kong. Does NGDP matter for Greece? I'd say yes and no. Here's an analogy that might help. Suppose that we measured the NGDP for Detroit and Houston, and discovered that Houston's NGDP was rising fast while Detroit's was flat. Would we say that "AD shocks" explain the divergent paths of those two cities? Clearly not---Detroit has serious structural problems. Both cities are part of the US, and both face the same monetary policy at the national level. So while I view the national NGDP as being almost completely under the control of the Fed (with an appropriate policy regime), at the local level, variations in NGDP tend to reflect supply-side factors. Now of course Greece is a country, not a city. But it's one that lacks its own currency. Thus for purposes of analysis, the difference between Greece and Germany is equivalent to the difference between Detroit and Houston. So why did I say "yes and no" above? Because when talking about business cycles, NGDP always matters in the short run (even if not in the long run) even if ultimately reflects supply side factors. Thus if the Federal government had dropped billions of dollars onto Detroit from a helicopter, I don't doubt that the Detroit economy would have had a temporary boost (although it's long run problems would remain unsolved.) So why does Tyler think we disagree? He starts off the post citing a predicted 1.8% RGDP growth rate for Greece, and then says: Of course that's not great, especially with all the catch-up they could be doing (but please don't assume that all or even most of the output gap represents potential catch-up). Still, the Greek economy is not shrinking, even though Keynesian fiscal theories predict it should be: "We accept that there will need to be a 3.5 per cent primary surplus until the end of the [bailout] programme [in 2018] but after that it should come down to something like 1.5 per cent to allow for more capital expenditure to lift the Greek economy." When combined with his "sorry, Scott!" remark, I see two possible mistakes: 1. Perhaps Tyler assumes I'm a Keynesian that believes fiscal shocks have a big impact on the business cycle. No, that's Paul Krugman, not me. 2. More likely, Tyler might have meant that I favor AD theories of the cycle, and the recent Greek recovery goes against AD-oriented models. That's wrong for two reasons. First, NGDP in Greece is expected to rise this year. Output is beginning to recover, and Greece just went from deflation to inflation. If anything, I'm surprised that the RGDP growth rate is not even higher----Greece is having more inflation and less RGDP growth than I would have expected for any given NGDP growth. And second, I believe that NGDP shocks only matter in the short run. Thus even if NGDP did not recover, the labor market would eventually adjust---as we've seen in Japan. (Of course Greece's labor market is more rigid, and takes longer to adjust.) Tyler also seems to suggest that I overrate the importance of NGDP shocks and underrate the importance of financial distress. I don't think so. In this case, I believe that part of the financial distress (not all) is due to falling NGDP. I also agree that financial distress can have a negative effect on growth, even with stable NGDP growth. And finally, I believe that financial distress plays a greater (negative) role in regional areas such as Greece and Puerto Rico, and that NGDP shocks are relatively more important for large diversified economies, such as the US, Japan and the Eurozone. (9 COMMENTS)
The Greek economy is projected to grow 1.8 per cent this year, against an earlier forecast of 2.7 per cent according to the proposal… Of course that’s not great, especially with all the catch-up they could be doing (but please don’t assume that all or even most of the output gap represents potential catch-up). Still, […] The post The Greek economy is now managing “austerity” OK appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.
In Which I Call for the Immediate Impeachment and Removal of Mike Pence from His Office as Vice President of the United States
Mike Pence needs to be immediately impeached and removed from his office as Vice President of the United States for failing to carry out his constitutional duty. Which constitutional duty? His duty under [Amendment 25] to "transmit to the President _pro tempore_ of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office." The latest two things to cross my screen: [Amendment 25]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twenty-fifth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution >[**Economist**]: It’s OK if the tax plan increases the deficit? >**Trump**: It is OK, because it won’t increase it for long. You may have two years where you’ll…you understand the expression “prime the pump”? >**Economist**: Yes. >**Trump**: We have to prime the pump. >**Economist**: It’s very Keynesian. >**Trump**: We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world. Have you heard that expression before, for this particular type of an event? >**Economist**: "Priming the pump?" >**Trump**: Yeah, have you heard it? >**Economist**: Yes. >**Trump**: Have you heard that expression used before? Because I haven’t heard it. I mean, I just—I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good. It’s what you have to do. >**Economist**:...
After many indications that he has no plans to release his tax returns and false claims that he can’t do so because he’s under an IRS audit, President Donald Trump now suggests that he may make the returns public after he leaves office. In an interview conducted last week and published Thursday, Trump told The Economist he doubted that he would release his tax returns and insisted that only reporters are concerned about the issue, despite large public protests demanding Trump release them. “Nobody cares about my tax return except for the reporters,” he said. “Oh, at some point I’ll release them. Maybe I’ll release them after I’m finished because I’m very proud of them, actually. I did a good job.” “I might release them after I’m out of office,” he added, after White House communications official Hope Hicks interrupted to say, “Once the audit is over.” Trump is the first president in four decades to not unveil his tax information, raising questions about transparency and accountability regarding his business dealings. He has repeatedly kept up the charade that he will release them after the audit is complete, but the IRS has indicated that “nothing prevents individuals from sharing their own tax information,” including being under audit. Trump and White House officials have previously insisted the issue no longer matters because he won the election. I did what was an almost an impossible thing to do for a Republican-easily won the Electoral College! Now Tax Returns are brought up again?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 16, 2017 Democratic lawmakers renewed their calls for the president to release his tax returns after Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin introduced Trump’s tax plan last month, partly because the plan’s provisions would likely benefit Trump himself. Mnuchin joined Trump for the interview with The Economist, during which the president falsely claimed that his tax plan would place restrictions on the wealthy. After Trump bragged that the plan would enact “the biggest tax cut in the history of the country,” a reporter pointed out that “the biggest winners from this tax cut, right now, look as though they will be the very wealthiest Americans.” “I don’t believe that,” Trump responded. “Because they’re losing all of their deductions, I can tell you.” But the proposed plan would significantly benefit the wealthy, as it cuts taxes on stocks and investments, reduces the corporate tax rate and eliminates the tax on millionaire heirs and heiresses. Trump also claimed that he coined the phrase “priming the pump.” From the transcript: But beyond that it’s OK if the tax plan increases the deficit?It is OK, because it won’t increase it for long. You may have two years where you’ll… you understand the expression “prime the pump”? Yes.We have to prime the pump. It’s very Keynesian.We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world. Have you heard that expression before, for this particular type of an event? Priming the pump?Yeah, have you heard it? Yes.Have you heard that expression used before? Because I haven’t heard it. I mean, I just… I came up with it a couple of days ago and I thought it was good. It’s what you have to do. The Merriam-Webster dictionary’s Twitter account, which frequently corrects the president’s questionable command of the English language, pointed out on Thursday that the phrase originated in the 19th century. The phrase 'priming the pump' dates to the early 19th century.— Merriam-Webster (@MerriamWebster) May 11, 2017 At one point, Trump interrupted the interview to brag about “that beautiful Rose Garden,” pointing it out to The Economist’s reporters while speaking on an unrelated topic. Read the full interview here. type=type=RelatedArticlesblockTitle=Related Coverage + articlesList=5905f439e4b0bb2d086f3982,5900ef4be4b0af6d718afb4e,5900e870e4b0af6d718af15f -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Today my 8th-grade homeschoolers take the Advanced Placement test in Macroeconomics. Back in 1989, when I took this exam, it covered little more than 1960s Keynesianism. The current test is marginally better. Now we've got long-run Aggregate Supply curves and long-run Phillips curves to remind students that pumping up demand has clear long-run dangers and little long-run benefit. But this AP is still far worse than it should be. The biggest lacuna: There's essentially nothing on the fundamental question of macroeconomics: Why are some countries rich and others poor? Short-run macro stabilization policy questions outnumber long-run growth questions by at least 20:1. Part of the reason is probably the legacy of Keynesianism: "In the long run, we're all dead." But the main reason is that the test writers fear to be empirical - even when the empirics are clear. Saying, "Economic freedom is a major cause of development" just sounds too ideological, even when the statistics are pretty clear and the natural experiments are crystal clear. The essay portion of the test is especially defective. The history AP essays demand high-level understanding of the world. A typical U.S. history question would be, "To what extent did slavery cause the Civil War?" The econ AP essays, in contrast, test mid-level understanding of models. A typical macroeconomic question:Suppose Rankinland has a current account deficit. Rankinland's currency is called the bera.(i) What will initially happen to the current account deficit in Rankinland solely due to the change in the real GDP from part (b)(iv) ? Explain.(ii) What will happen to the international value of the bera solely due to the change in the real GDP from part (b)(iv) ? Explain.This is fine material for the multiple-choice section of the test, but the essay ought to tap students' ability to apply the concepts to a complex real-world economic problem. For example, you could give students six documents and statistical series about the Venezuelan economy for 2012-2017, then have them explain what's going on.Too hard to grade? Historians bravely rise to the challenge, why can't we economists do the same? (8 COMMENTS)
**Should-Read: Ronald Schettkat and Sonja Jovicic**: _Macroeconomic revolution on shaky grounds_: "That the predictions of Keynesian theory 'were wildly incorrect, and that the doctrine on which they were based is fundamentally flawed, are now simple matters of fact, involving no novelties in economic theory' wrote Lucas and Sargent (1978: 49)... >...in the 1970s... “the inflationary bias on average of monetary and fiscal policy in this period should, according to all these models, have produced the lowest average unemployment rates for any decade since the 1940s. In fact, as we know, they produced the highest unemployment rates since the 1930s. This was econometric failure on a grand scale” (Lucas/Sargent 1978:57)... Solow (1978) as well as Blinder (1988) argued in response to the Lucas/Sargent (1978) paper that... supply shocks can well explain the coexistence of unemployment and inflation during the 1970s.... >Using ‘learning’ as a metaphor for discovering an assumed stationary model and ignoring the adjustment process is insufficient and misguiding; it is, in this case, evidentially flawed. Lucas and Sargent assume that economic agents learn that the economy converges to the ‘long-run’ solution of their specific model. Actually, agents learn from their experience, which may well be that expansionary macroeconomic policy...
The Effects of Fiscal Consolidations: Theory and Evidence -- by Alberto Alesina, Omar Barbiero, Carlo Favero, Francesco Giavazzi, Matteo Paradisi
We investigate the macroeconomic effects of fiscal consolidations based upon government spending cuts, transfers cuts and tax hikes. We extend a narrative dataset of fiscal consolidations, finding details on over 3500 measures. Government spending and transfer cuts reduce output by less than tax hikes. Standard New Keynesian models match our results when fiscal shocks are persistent. Wealth effects on aggregate demand mitigates the impact of a persistent spending cut. Static distortions caused by persistent tax hikes cause larger shifts in aggregate supply under sticky prices. This channel explains different sizes of multipliers found in fiscal stimuli compared to consolidation plans.
World views derived both from Austrian Economics and Post-Keynesian Economics suggest that so-called secular stagnation and the resulting political radicalization in Europe and the United States are here to stay. Here's why.
During 2008, the Fed became increasingly concerned about high inflation, which was partly driven by rising oil pr ices. This caused them to refrain from rate cuts between April and November, resulting in an unintentional tightening of monetary policy. They were focused on inflation when recession was the real threat. In retrospect, the Fed should have focused on NGDP growth, which was slowing during 2008. What will be the next example of economic policymakers fighting the last war? Perhaps fiscal policy. I don't have much confidence in the Keynesian view that the stance of fiscal policy has a big impact on the business cycle. But let's say I'm wrong. Here's what I expect to happen: 1. The President and Congress will enact deep tax cuts and increases in military spending, which will cause the deficit to balloon. Entitlement spending will also rise as boomers retire. 2. The deficit will rise to unsustainable levels, with the national debt steadily increasing as a share of GDP. 3. By the time the next recession is on the horizon, there will be a political backlash against expansionary fiscal policy. Policy will tighten and become effectively pro-cyclical. I hope that I am wrong, but this is the danger I see from running a series of large budget deficits when the unemployment rate is 4.5%. What will we do if unemployment rises to 7.5%? (3 COMMENTS)
That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column, and here is one part of my argument: This argument for a corporate tax cut — “let’s borrow more now while rates are relatively low” — is remarkably like the argument that Keynesians have been using for more government infrastructure spending for years. The main difference […] The post What about Trump’s plan to cut the corporate tax rate? appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.
Portugal slashed its public sector deficit by more than half in a single year, when measured as a proportion of GDP, the national statistics bureau has said, taking the shortfall comfortably below euro zone limits. The deficit dropped to 2.1% of gross domestic product in 2016, a staggering reduction from its 4.4% level a year earlier. […] The post Public sector expenditure cut when economies are not already imploding appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.
Authored by Charles Hugh-Smith via OfTwoMinds blog, Clinging to magical-thinking fixes that change nothing on the fundamental level hastens collapse. Here we stand on the precipice, and all we have in our kit is a collection of delusional magical thinking that we label "solutions." We are not just morally and financially bankrupt, we're intellectually bankrupt as well. Here are three examples of magical thinking that pass for intellectually sound ideas: 1. Mainstream neo-classical/ Keynesian economics. As economist Manfred Max-Neef notes in this interview, neo-classical/ Keynesian economics is no longer a discipline or a science--it is a religion. It demands a peculiar faith in nonsense: for example, the environment--Nature-- is merely a subset of the economy. When we've stripped the seas of wild fish (and totally destroyed the ecology of the oceans), no problem--we'll substitute farmed fish, which are in economic terms, entirely equal to wild fish. In other words, the natural world cannot be valued in our current mock-science religion of economics. Other absurdities abound. Stripping the seas of wild fish adds to GDP, so it's all good, right? Dismantling newly constructed buildings and building a replacement structure also adds to GDP, so it's an excellent source of "growth." As Max-Neef points out, conventional economists have absolutely no understanding of poverty. If you need a sobering account of just how this abject willful ignorance works in the real world, I recommend reading The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good. Gail Tverberg (among others) has shown how the existing economic model no longer makes sense of the actual economy we inhabit: The Economy Is Like a Circus. As for rising wealth/income inequality--there is a cure for that, but it's not in mainstream econ textbooks: The Only Thing, Historically, That's Curbed Inequality: Catastrophe Plagues, revolutions, massive wars, collapsed states—these are what reliably reduce economic disparities.(via Arshad A.) 2. Universal Basic Income. As noted in yesterday's essay, wages are no longer an adequate means of distributing the dwindling surplus of advanced economies. Wages as a share of GDP have been declining for decades, and only click up temporarily during massive speculative bubbles. Once these bubbles pop, which they inevitably do due to their instability and unsustainability, wage earners' share of GDP plummets to a new low. The mainstream is enthusing about the "solution": Universal Basic Income (UBI). The solution to low pay and scarcity of middle-class paid work is to give everyone a basic income for doing nothing. Delusional academics anticipate a flowering of creative talent akin to a new Renaissance as people are freed from work by robots and automation. But if we look at people already receiving the equivalent of "free money" UBI--disability-- studies find recipients are simply watching more TV and YouTube videos and pursuing opioids, not writing poetry and composing concertos. They are not volunteering in their community or engaging their communities in any positive fashion. What actually happens with UBI is recipients become isolated and miserable because UBI strips their lives of meaning, purpose and the need to contribute to a community. The real purpose of UBI is to chain every household to the state, and drain all social relations between the isolated "consumer" and the state. As tragic as the delusion of UBI is to individuals, it is unworkable financially because profits will fall as automation becomes commoditized, and the surplus available to distribute to every household will diminish. I explain this at some length in my books Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform and A Radically Beneficial World: Automation, Technology & Creating Jobs for All. Much of what is passed off as "corporate profits" is accounting fraud and the monetization of what was once free. For example, all that customer labor: now that we pump our own gasoline, check and pack our own purchases, do our own banking--who's skimming the output of our labor? Yup, the corporations. Commoditization of software and tools + the Internet = loss of monopoly. This is a problem, for the core function of the state-cartel version of capitalism we inhabit is the state enforces a cartel-monopoly structure to guarantee steady surpluses it can tax for its own expansion. As automation is commoditized, profits plummet as competition can no longer be controlled by cartels or even the state--just as Marx laid out. Combine declining productivity and declining surplus (profits) (both for deeply structural reasons) and there cannot be enough money to fund UBI. Weirdly, proponents of UBI never even perform a back of the envelope calculation of cost and the source of all this free money (tax revenues and/or borrowing from future generations). Perhaps they intuit that such an exercise would reveal the bankruptcy of their magical thinking. As we shall see below, the system can't even support the entitlements it has already promised to hundreds of millions of people, never mind an additional universal entitlement. (Note to UBI enthusiasts: there are limits on what robots and automation can and will do: they will only perform work that is highly profitable. Since most human work is not profitable (or even paid), the idea that robots and automation will free everyone from work is delusional fantasy. I explain all this in greater detail in A Radically Beneficial World.) 3. Medicare for all. I understand the desire for a single-payer healthcare system, and have published various proposals over the years for such a system. The latest magical-thinking "solution" attracting widespread support (again, without any basis in actual numbers) is Medicare for all. The idea is: take a system (Medicare-Medicaid) that's already bankrupting the government and the nation and expand it from 70 million people to 320 million people. Uh, right. Shall we consult reality before embracing delusional "solutions"? Here's a chart of the rise of administrative costs in healthcare, public and private. Proponents of Medicare for All claim admin costs are lower in Medicare, but this conveniently overlooks the estimates that 40% of Medicare costs are paper-shuffling, needless or harmful tests, procedures, etc. and outright fraud. We know a few things as fact. One is that the populations qualifying for Medicare and Medicaid (the elderly and low-income households) are expanding at a high and very predictable rate. The other thing we know is that the Medicare-Medicaid costs are rising at a rate far above the growth rate of the economy that supports these programs (GDP), far above the growth rate of tax revenues and far above the growth rate of wages, which matters because payroll taxes fund Medicare. It doesn't take much to extend these lines and conclude Medicare-Medicaid alone will bankrupt the federal government and the nation. The problem is these programs are bloated by fraud, defensive medicine, predatory pricing for medications, and every other costly ill of our healthcare system. Like every other centrally funded/regulated sector, Medicare-Medicaid is optimized for maximizing private-sector profits and increasing regulatory costs. This is one manifestation of the diminishing returns on the entire centralized-control model: We'd all like "solutions" that don't change anything, but when the system itself is the source of our problems, changing nothing guarantees collapse. As noted in the article linked above, various inequalities and asymmetries get resolved by collapse. Clinging to magical-thinking fixes that change nothing on the fundamental level hastens collapse. In that sense, magical-thinking fixes are "solutions," but not the sort their proponents imagined. * * * If you found value in this content, please join Charles in seeking solutions by becoming a $1/month patron of my work via patreon.com. Check out both of Charles' new books, Inequality and the Collapse of Privilege ($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print) and Why Our Status Quo Failed and Is Beyond Reform ($3.95 Kindle, $8.95 print, $5.95 audiobook) For more, please visit the OTM essentials website.
Authored by Caleb McMillan via Mises Canada, "Beneath the symbol We’ll all assemble Oh how we’ll fly Oh how we’ll tremble” — Captain Beefheart, “Ice Cream for Crow” If interest rates are the symbol beneath which we all assemble, then there are some bad times ahead. But Canada’s “leading economists,” say interest rates are “too blunt a tool” to cool the housing market. This week, Governor Stephen Poloz as expected did not raise rates, but continues to face tough questions about the connection between low rates and the “hot” housing market. Of course, he deserves every hard question thrown at him. And it’s nice that journalists are actually starting to question the obvious connection between low-interest rates and the housing bubble. With Canadians across the country locked out of their local housing markets, and with foreign buyers using Canadian property to protect their wealth from destructive communist dictatorships, frustration needs an outlet and it looks as if Poloz and the BoC are, finally, in the crosshairs. But that doesn’t mean Poloz will listen. After all, the central bank is supposed to remain “independent” from democratic government and popular opinion. Poloz is making his decisions based on his misunderstanding of the economy, not the will of the mob. As Avery Shenfeld, CIBC Capital Markets’ chief economist, told BNN in an email, “The Bank of Canada will likely stick to its view that house prices are best dealt with through macro-prudential policies particular to that market, with the interest rate setting used to steer the economy overall." Meaning, let the banks and federal government deal with the issue. The BoC will do what it can, but it will not include raising rates. Raising interest rates will certainly “cool” the housing market, but it will also lead to some unintended consequences that would “hurt” the overall economy. Remember, the BoC is stacked with Keynesians, who regard the “hangover theory” as implausible as the irrefutable Say’s Law. So if the Bank can’t or won’t raise rates, and leaving the price of interest to the free market isn’t even on the table, then what about a rate cut? Doug Porter, chief economist at BMO Capital Markets, also told BNN, “The BoC should cease and desist with talk of possible further rate cuts, which simply fuel the sense that rates are never going higher, and instead start warning that rates will someday rise.” That would be smart, we’ll have to see what the weeks ahead bring. So far, Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz has left real estate to the experts, meaning, not him. Capital Economics Senior Canada Economist David Madani told BNN that the “Bank of Canada needs to pay more attention to the housing issue because it is a huge threat to the entire economy.” But Poloz, like his predecessor before him, prefers “moral suasion.” Madani thinks the Bank should be using “much stronger language.” Oh, how we’ll fly, oh how we’ll tremble.
**Live from the Banks of the Charles River**: May 27, 2017 (Tentative): The Future of Higher Education and Lifelong Learning: >**Moderator**: Seth Lloyd ’82 (Ph.D., Rockefeller University), Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Systems and Physics, and Director, Center for Extreme Quantum Information Theory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; author of _Programming the Universe: A Quantum Computer Scientist Takes On the Cosmos__ >**Panelists:** >* J. Bradford DeLong (Ph.D., Harvard University): Professor of Economics and Chief Economist of the Blum Center for Developing Economies, University of California, Berkeley; Weblogger, Washington Center for Equitable Growth; Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research; sometime Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy, U.S. Treasury. Greatest intellectual influence from "Noise Trader Risk in Financial Markets," “Fiscal Policy in a Depressed Economy”, "In Defense of Mexico's Rescue", and "Keynesianism, Pennsylvania-Avenue Style. >* Ivonne M. Garcia-Acosta (Ed.M., Harvard University), Associate Provost and Associate Professor of English, Kenyon College >* Noel Michele Holbrook (Ph.D., Stanford University), Charles Bullard Professor of Forestry, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University >* William G. Sakas (Ph.D., City University of New York), Chair, Department of Computer Science, Hunter College, and Director, Computational Linguistics Program, the Graduate Center, City University of New York. >*...
**Must-Read:** The only big problem with this from Dani Rodrik is that Karl Polanyi got it completely wrong when he wrote that it is "democracy" striking back against the "market". It is not "democracy" that is striking back against the "market". To say so is to misread what is going on completely. And I think it is also to misread what went on in what my teacher Jeffrey Williamson calls the first era of "globalization backlash" from... call it 1900-1940. And Karl Polanyi *still* needs somebody to play Charlie Kindleberger to his Hyman Minsky. I nominate Dani: **Dani Rodrik**: _A Foreword to Kari Polanyi Levitt_: "I first encountered Karl Polanyi as an undergraduate, in a course on comparative politics... >...“The Great Transformation” was on the course syllabus, sitting somewhat awkwardly amidst more standard political science fare. The assigned reading, on the Speenhamland system and the reform of the Poor Laws in Britain made little impression.... But over the years, I found myself coming back to the central arguments of the book: the embeddedness of a market economy in a broader set of social arrangements, the rejection of an autonomous economic sphere, the folly of treating markets as self-stabilizing. I am...
**[This]** is an interesting, if an Aesopian, article by Olivier Blanchard... [This]: https://piie.com/blogs/realtime-economic-issues-watch/need-least-five-classes-macro-models He says that we need five kinds of macroeconomic models. He then gives examples of the five kinds. The examples of four of the kinds track—foundational, policy, toy, and forecasting—and we do indeed need those four kinds. Then we come to the fifth kind, which Blanchard introduces by saying that we need: >DSGE models. The purpose of these models is to explore the macro implications of distortions or set of distortions. To allow for a productive discussion, they must be built around a largely agreed upon common core, with each model then exploring additional distortions... But two paragraphs down he writes, of all existing DSGE models: >The current core, roughly an RBC (real business cycle) structure with one main distortion, nominal rigidities, seems too much at odds with reality... the Euler equation for consumers and the pricing equation for price-setters... What is he saying? That all existing DSGE models are worthless. We should throw them away, and start over with respect to building this fifth kind of model. We can *call* it "DSGE", but it will not be what has—hitherto at least—been "DSGE". In his view, it...
2016 год ознаменовал восьмидесятилетнюю годовщину публикации одной из самых влиятельных книг по теме экономики когда-либо увидевших свет. Эта книга – “Общая теория занятости, процента и денег” Джона Мейнарда Кейнса – нанесла непоправимый экономический и политический ущерб Западному миру и другим… читать далее → Запись Antoniusaquinas.com: Джон Мейнард Кейнс “Общая теория”: Восемьдесят лет спустя впервые появилась .
Глобальный кризис формирует экономико-политическую повестку. Она требует переосмысления многих выводов экономической теории и практики, которые до сих пор считались общепринятыми. В статье ректор Российской академии народного хозяйства и государственной службы при Президента РФ и Владимир Мау и Министр экономического развития РФ Алексей Улюкаев, опубликованной в журнале "Вопросы экономики" (11/2014) анализируют ключевые вопросы экономического развития на среднесрочную перспективу. В числе важных для формирования новой модели экономического поста проблем рассматриваются: темпы роста и вероятность долгосрочной стагнации, новые вызовы макроэкономической политики в связи с широким распространением ее нерадиационных инструментов, неравенство и экономический рост, контуры нового социального государства, перспективы глобализации,а также реиндустриализация в развитых странах. В. Мау , А. Улюкаев Глобальный кризис и тенденции экономического развития* Аннотация на русском, ключевые слова, коды JEL Глобальные кризисы – общее и особенное Экономическое развитие ведущих стран определяется прежде всего предпосылками и характером глобального кризиса, который начался в 2008 г. и продолжается по настоящее время. Это кризис особого рода: он не описывается одним-двумя параметрами (например, спадом производства и ростом безработицы), а является многоаспектным, охватывая разные сферы социально-экономической жизни, и, как правило, имеет серьезные социально-политические последствия. Это системный кризис, и в этом отношении он аналогичен кризисам 1930-х и 1970-х годов (Мау, 2009). Разумеется, здесь не может быть прямых аналогий. Структурные кризисы уникальны, то есть опыт, накопленный в ходе преодоления каждого из них, практически нельзя использовать в новых условиях. Тем не менее есть ряд качественных характеристик, которые позволяют относить их к одному классу, то есть эти кризисы можно сравнивать, учитывать их особенности, но не прилагать рецепты антикризисной политики, эффективные в одном случае, к другому. Можно выделить следующие черты системных кризисов. Первое. Такой кризис одновременно и циклический и структурный. Он связан с серьезными институциональными и технологическими изменениями, со сменой технологической базы (некоторые экономисты используют термин «технологические уклады»). Эти изменения выводят экономику на качественно новый уровень эффективности и производительности труда. Системное обновление технологической базы на основе новейших достижений науки и техники – важнейшее условие успешного выхода из кризиса. Второе. Существенным элементом системного кризиса выступает финансовый кризис. Именно наложение последнего на собственно экономический кризис (спад производства и падение занятости) затрудняет выход из него, обусловливает необходимость проведения комплекса структурных и институциональных реформ для выхода на траекторию устойчивого роста. Третье. Неизбежным результатом кризиса выступает формирование новой модели экономического роста: она предполагает структурную модернизацию как развитых, так и развивающихся стран, что связано с созданием новых технологических драйверов. Возникновение новых отраслей и секторов реального производства, их географическое перемещение по миру определяют новую глобальную экономическую реальность и одновременно создают предпосылки для появления новых вызовов и инструментов экономической политики. Эту тенденцию хорошо отражает появившийся в 2009 г. термин «новая нормальность» – newnormal (Улюкаев, 2009). Четвертое. Отметим серьезные геополитические и геоэкономические сдвиги, формирование новых балансов сил (отдельных стран и регионов) в мировой политике. В начале кризиса можно было предположить, что он приведет к закреплению двухполярной модели, на сей раз основанной на противостоянии США и Китая, которых иногда обозначают как G2 – «большую двойку» (Brzezinski, 2009), а Н. Фергюсон назвал «Кимерикой» (Chimerica = China + America; см.: Ferguson, 2008). Однако постепенно все отчетливее проступают контуры многополярного мира, который хотя и не отрицает наличия двух-трех ключевых экономических центров, на практике означает возврат к хорошо известной по XIX в. модели «концерта стран», балансирующих интересы друг друга. С поправкой на нынешние реалии речь может идти, скорее, о балансе интересов ключевых региональных группировок. Пятое. В ходе системного кризиса происходит смена модели регулирования социально-экономических процессов. В 1930-е годы завершился переход к индустриальной стадии развития и закрепились идеология и практика «большого государства», сопровождаемого ростом налогов, бюджетных расходов, государственной собственности и планирования, а в некоторых случаях – и государственного ценообразования. Напротив, кризис 1970-х годов привел к масштабной либерализации и дерегулированию, к снижению налогов и приватизации – словом, к тому, чего требовал переход к постиндустриальной технологической фазе. В начале последнего кризиса создавалось впечатление, что мир вновь вернется к модели, основанной на доминирующей роли государства в экономике (появился даже термин «примитивное кейнсианство» – Crass-Keynesianism). Практика, впрочем, пока не подтверждает такую тенденцию. Роль государственного регулирования действительно возрастает, однако это относится преимущественно к сфере регулирования финансовых рынков на национальном и глобальном уровнях. Действительно, в настоящее время важнейшим противоречием выступает конфликт между глобальным характером финансов и национальными рамками их регулирования. Важно выработать механизм регулирования глобальных финансов в отсутствие глобального правительства. Шестое. Системный кризис ставит на повестку дня вопрос о новой мировой финансовой архитектуре. В результате кризиса 1930-х годов сформировался мир с одной резервной валютой – долларом. После 1970-х годов сложилась бивалютная система (доллар и евро). Направление эволюции валютных систем после новейшего кризиса пока не определилось. Можно предположить усиление роли юаня, а также региональных резервных валют, если значение региональных группировок в мировом балансе сил возрастет. Множественность резервных валют могла бы поддержать тенденцию к многополярности мира и способствовать росту ответственности денежных властей соответствующих стран (поскольку резервные валюты будут конкурировать между собой). Седьмое. Начнет формироваться новая экономическая доктрина, новый мейнстрим в науке (по аналогии с кейнсианством и неолиберализмом в ХХ в.). Из всего сказанного вытекают важные выводы относительно перспектив преодоления системного кризиса и соответствующих механизмов. Во-первых, системный кризис связан с масштабным интеллектуальным вызовом, требующим глубокого переосмысления его причин, механизмов развертывания и путей преодоления. Как генералы всегда готовятся к войнам прошлого, так и политики и экономисты готовятся к прошлым кризисам. До поры до времени это срабатывает, пока приходится иметь дело с экономическим циклом, то есть с повторяющимися проблемами экономической динамики. Поэтому сначала для борьбы с системным кризисом пытаются применить методы, известные из прошлого опыта. Применительно к 1930-м годам – это стремление правительства Г. Гувера (прежде всего его министра финансов Э. Меллона) не вмешиваться в естественный ход событий, жестко балансировать бюджет и укреплять денежную систему, основанную на золотом стандарте. Как свидетельствовал опыт предшествующих 100 лет, кризисы обычно рассасывались примерно за год и никакой специальной политики для этого не требовалось. Аналогично в 1970-е годы с началом кризиса попытались задействовать традиционные для того момента методы кейнсианского регулирования (бюджетное стимулирование в условиях замедления темпов роста и даже государственный контроль за ценами в исполнении республиканской администрации Р. Никсона), но это обернулось скачком инфляции и началом стагфляционных процессов. К системным кризисам плохо применимы подходы экономической политики, выработанные в предыдущие десятилетия. Возникает слишком много новых проблем, изначально не ясны механизмы развертывания кризиса и выхода из него, его масштабы и продолжительность. В ХХ в. на преодоление системных кризисов требовалось порядка десяти лет. Именно на это обстоятельство указывал П. Волкер, когда в июле 1979 г., в разгар предыдущего системного кризиса, вступил в должность руководителя ФРС: «Мы столкнулись с трудностями, которые до сих пор еще не встречались в нашей практике. У нас больше нет эйфории…, когда мы возомнили, что знаем ответы на все вопросы, касающиеся управления экономикой». Во-вторых, системный кризис не сводится к рецессии, росту безработицы или панике вкладчиков банков. Он состоит из ряда эпизодов и волн, охватывающих отдельные секторы экономики, страны и регионы. Это предопределяет его продолжительность – примерно десятилетие, которое можно назвать турбулентным. Более того, статистические данные могут неточно или даже неадекватно отражать происходящие в экономике процессы. Сам факт технологического обновления может искажать (причем существенно) динамику производства, поскольку новые секторы сначала плохо учитываются традиционной статистикой. Проблемы создает и статистика занятости. Если в ходе циклического кризиса одним из важных показателей его преодоления выступает рост занятости, то при системном кризисе этот критерий действует лишь в конечном счете. Технологическое обновление предполагает качественно новые требования к трудовым ресурсам, то есть серьезные структурные изменения на рынке труда. Поэтому для выхода из системного кризиса характерно запаздывающее восстановление занятости, когда высокая безработица сохраняется на фоне экономического роста. Возникает своеобразный конфликт между новой экономикой и старой статистикой, и для его разрешения требуется определенное время. В-третьих, нельзя преодолеть системный кризис лишь мерами макроэкономической политики, макроэкономического регулирования при всей важности бюджетных и денежно-