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23 февраля, 01:24

Will We Run Out of Energy or Other Resources?

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I just came across a talk I gave at the Naval Postgraduate School in my last few months on the faculty. It’s titled “Will We Run Out of Energy or Other Resources?” Short answer: No. It’s here. I haven’t done my usual time stamping. But my favorite part is about the Julian Simon bet. It starts at 15:16 and my favorite slide is at 21:23. The $10,000 bet that I offered Paul Krugman is at 29:16. At around the 35:00 point it segues into Q&A.     (7 COMMENTS)

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23 января, 18:50

If the Only Way You Can Get Your Great Idea Implemented…

Economics textbooks are full of clever-and-appealing policy proposals.  Proposals like: “Let’s redistribute money to the desperately poor” and “Let’s tax goods with negative externalities.”  They’re so clever and so appealing that it’s hard to understand how any smart, well-meaning person could demur.  When critics appeal to “public choice problems,” it’s tempting to tell the critics that they’re the problem.  The political system isn’t that dysfunctional, is it?  In any case, reflexively whining, “The political system will muck up your clever, appealing policy proposal,” hardly makes that system work better.  The naysayers should become part of the solution: Endorse the clever-and-appealing policy proposals – and strive to bring them to life. When you look at the real world, though, you see something strange: Almost no one actually pushes for the textbooks’ clever-and-appealing policy proposals.  Instead, the people inspired by the textbooks routinely attach themselves to trendy-but-awful policy proposals.  If you point out the discrepancy, they’re often too annoyed to respond.  When they do, reformers shrug and say: “The clever-and-appealing policy never has – and probably never will – have much political support.  So we have to do this instead.” Examples?  You start off by advocating high-impact redistribution to help poor children and the severely disabled… and end defending the ludicrously expensive and wasteful Social Security program.  “Unfortunately, the only politically viable way to help the poor is to help everyone.”  Or you start off advocating Pigovian taxes to clean the air, and end up defending phone books of picayune environmental regulations.  “Unfortunately, this is the way pollution policy actually works.” Don’t believe me?  Here’s a brand-new example courtesy of Paul Krugman: But if a nation in flames isn’t enough to produce a consensus for action — if it isn’t even enough to produce some moderation in the anti-environmentalist position — what will? The Australia experience suggests that climate denial will persist come hell or high water — that is, through devastating heat waves and catastrophic storm surges alike… […] But if climate denial and opposition to action are immovable even in the face of obvious catastrophe, what hope is there for avoiding the apocalypse? Let’s be honest with ourselves: Things are looking pretty grim. However, giving up is not an option. What’s the path forward? The answer, pretty clearly, is that scientific persuasion is running into sharply diminishing returns. Very few of the people still denying the reality of climate change or at least opposing doing anything about it will be moved by further accumulation of evidence, or even by a proliferation of new disasters. Any action that does take place will have to do so in the face of intractable right-wing opposition. This means, in turn, that climate action will have to offer immediate benefits to large numbers of voters, because policies that seem to require widespread sacrifice — such as policies that rely mainly on carbon taxes — would be viable only with the kind of political consensus we clearly aren’t going to get. What might an effective political strategy look like? … [O]ne way to get past the political impasse on climate might be via “an emphasis on huge infrastructural projects that created jobs” — in other words, a Green New Deal. Such a strategy could give birth to a “large climate-industrial complex,” which would actually be a good thing in terms of political sustainability. Notice the pattern. Step 1: Economics textbooks offer a clever-and-appealing policy proposal: Let’s tax carbon emissions to curtail the serious negative externalities of fossil fuels.  It’s cheap, it’s effective, it provides great static and dynamic incentives.  Public choice problems?  Don’t listen to those naysayers. Step 2: Argh, Pigovian taxes are going nowhere. Step 3: Let’s have a trendy-but-awful populist infrastructure program to get the masses on board. So what?  For starters, any smart activist who reaches Step 3 tacitly concedes that public choice problems are dire.  You offer the public a clever-and-appealing remedy for a serious social ill, and democracy yawns.  To get action, you have to forget about cost or cost-effectiveness – and just try to drug the public with demagoguery. Note: I’m not attacking Krugman for having little faith in democracy.  His underlying lack of faith in democracy is fully justified.  I only wish that Krugman would loudly embrace the public choice framework that intellectually justifies his lack of faith.  (Or better yet, Krugman could loudly embraced my psychologically-enriched public choice expansion pack). Once you pay proper respect to public choice theory, however, you cannot simply continue on your merry way.  You have to ponder its central normative lesson: Don’t advocate government action merely because a clever-and-appealing policy proposal passes a cost-benefit test.  Instead, look at the trendy-but-awful policies that will actually be adopted – and see if they pass a cost-benefit test.  If they don’t, you should advocate laissez-faire despite all those shiny ideas in the textbook. Krugman could naturally reply, “I’ve done the math.  Global warming is so terrible that trendy-but-awful policies are our least-bad bet.”  To the best of my knowledge, though, this contradicts mainstream estimates of the costs of warming.  That aside, why back a Green New Deal instead of deregulation of nuclear power or geoengineering?  If recalcitrant public opinion thwarts your clever-and-appealing remedy, maybe you started out on the wrong path in the first place. Unfair?  Well, this is hardly the first time that Krugman has rationalized destructive populism when he really should have reconsidered.  Krugman knows that immigration is the world’s fastest way to escape absolute poverty.  He knows that standard complaints about immigration are, at best, exaggerated.  But he’s still an immigration skeptic, because: The New Deal made America a vastly better place, yet it probably wouldn’t have been possible without the immigration restrictions that went into effect after World War I. For one thing, absent those restrictions, there would have been many claims, justified or not, about people flocking to America to take advantage of welfare programs. Notice the pattern. Step 1: You start with the textbook case for a welfare state to alleviate domestic poverty.  Public choice problems?  Bah. Step 2: Next, you decide that you can’t get that welfare state without horrible collateral damage. Step 3: So you casually embrace the status quo, without seriously engaging obvious questions, like: “Given political constraints, perhaps its actually better not to have the New Deal?” or even “How close can we get to the New Deal without limiting immigration?” The moral: If the only way you can get your great idea implemented is to mutilate it and/or package it with a pile of expensive junk, you really should wonder, “Is it still worth it?” Well, is it? (26 COMMENTS)

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01 марта 2019, 19:54

More MMT follies (Sympathy for Krugman), by Scott Sumner

Paul Krugman must be pulling his hair out about now. He recently complained that it was almost impossible to figure out what MMTers were advocating, and then tried to pin them down with some very specific questions: Are MMTers claiming, as Kelton seems to, that there is only one deficit level consistent with full employment, that there is no ability to substitute monetary for fiscal policy? Are they claiming that expansionary fiscal policy actually reduces interest rates? Yes or no answers, please, with explanations of how you got these answers and why the straightforward framework I laid out above is wrong. Today, Stephanie Kelton responded as follows: Quick responses first, followed by explanations behind my thinking. #1: Is there only one right deficit level? Answer: No. The right deficit depends on private behavior, which changes. MMT would set public spending always to the level required to achieve full employment, and then accept whatever deficit may result. #2: Is there no ability to substitute monetary for fiscal policy? Answer: Little to none. In a slump, cutting interest rates is weak tea against depressed expectations of profits. In a boom, raising interest rates does little to quell new activity, and higher rates could even support the expansion via the interest income channel. #3: Does expansionary fiscal policy reduce interest rates? Answer: Yes. Pumping money into the economy increases bank reserves and reduces banks’ bids for federal funds. Any banker will tell you this. #4: Does MMT accept Krugman’s “straightforward framework”? No. We can come back to this at the end. I can’t even imagine Krugman’s reaction to all this.  First of all, although she says “no” in answer to question #1, her explanation makes it quite clear that she is actually answering “yes”, especially when you combine the answers to questions #1 and #2.  Krugman is asking whether, assuming a given macroeconomic situation (including a given level of private spending), there is only one budget deficit consistent with full employment.  She clearly thinks the answer is yes.  So why does she answer “no”.  I suspect she doesn’t understand Krugman’s question (which is pretty straightforward.) Answer #2 is completely wrong, as she seems to ignore the hot potato effect from adding high-powered money when interest rates are positive.  She also answers question #2 as if it is a separate question from #1, whereas it’s obviously just a clarification of question #1. The third response is a complete non sequitur.  Krugman asks if expansionary fiscal policy reduces interest rates and she responds that expanding the money supply reduces interest rates.  Huh? And people wonder why Krugman gets frustrated. (24 COMMENTS)

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24 января 2019, 19:52

Henderson’s Case Against Higher Taxes, by David Henderson

  A number of Democratic politicians—and some economists including Paul Krugman—have recently advocated substantially higher income tax rates on high-income Americans. The current top federal tax rate on income is 37 percent for married people filing jointly, and it applies to all taxable income over $612,350. The highest state income tax rate in the United States is in California, where it is 13.3 percent on taxable income over $1 million. Thus, the highest-income people in California lose over half of their incremental income to the government. That the politicians favor higher tax rates is not surprising; that some economists do and that one particular economist is making such a bad case for higher tax rates is somewhat surprising. Economists, whatever their ideology, tend to oppose high marginal tax rates for one very good economic reason: what they call deadweight loss. Moreover, a substantial minority of economists, including myself, opposes high marginal tax rates on philosophical grounds. Also interesting is that the majority of Americans, if they understood how high are the tax rates that high-income Americans pay, would favor substantially cutting tax rates on the top earners. These are the opening paragraphs of my article on the Hoover Institution’s Defining Ideas site yesterday. The article is titled “The Case Against Higher Tax Rates.” And here are my two favorite paragraphs, which I’m grateful that the editor kept: Notice something else that Krugman seems to believe: rich people literally don’t count. He writes, “[T]he social benefit from getting high-income individuals to work a bit harder is the tax revenue generated by that extra effort.” That’s true only if rich people aren’t part of society. And in case you thought Krugman was just being careless, look at another line above: “[W]hen taxing the rich, all we should care about is how much revenue we raise.” He seems to regard “the rich” as cattle to be raised and exploited. That’s a very negative view of humanity. It’s also a strange view. Krugman, who is quite rich whether measured by income or wealth, is excluding himself from society. Some might say that I care more about Paul Krugman than Paul Krugman does. And finally: Even noted activist Al Sharpton thought the rich should be taxed less. In a 2004 interview with John Stossel, Sharpton said that the rich should pay their fair share of taxes. Stossel asked him what percent of total federal income taxes the rich should pay. Sharpton’s answer: at least 15 percent. At the time, noted Stossel, they paid 34 percent of all federal income taxes. All the rich people I know, except for Paul Krugman, would take Sharpton’s deal in a New York minute. Read the whole thing, or, as Tyler Cowen always says, “Do read the whole thing.” (28 COMMENTS)

30 ноября 2018, 08:17

Why historians worry more about Trump than economists do

That is the topic of my latest Bloomberg column.  Here is one excerpt: …historians stress the importance of contingency, that things really could have gone another way. The decisions of a solitary assassin or the outcome of a single battle can shift the course of history. Particular leadership decisions might have avoided or limited World […] The post Why historians worry more about Trump than economists do appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

29 ноября 2018, 01:06

Без заголовка

**Paul Krugman**: _[The Bank of England's Dire Estimates of Brexit](https://twitter.com/paulkrugman/status/1067854650471313408)_: "Another trade discussion where I would like to believe the worst but not convinced: Brexit. The Bank of England just released some very dire scenarios... >...And I won't make a full judgement until I see the details. But their bad-case losses from a no-deal Brexit look extremely high. I mean, 8 percent of GDP was the kind of estimate we used to make for countries with 150 percent effective rates of protection. I don't understand how you can get that kind of cost without making some big ad hoc assumptions about productivity or something. And I have worried in all this about motivated reasoning on the part of people who oppose Brexit for the best of reasons. As best I can tell, the big results depend on assumed relations between trade/FDI flows and productivity. It's really important to understand that this channel does not follow from basic trade theory and comparative advantage; it's a black-box story. What we have are correlations between trade and investment flows and productivity that don't really follow from standard models. Are these causal? There is surely room for skepticism. Yet that seems to be the...

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28 ноября 2018, 03:20

Katie Haun versus Paul Krugman on Cryptocurrency, by David Henderson

Tyler Cowen recently linked to a debate between Stanford professor Katie Haun and Paul Krugman on cryptocurrency. I found myself torn but I did learn a few things and noticed a few interesting things. It starts with a 36-minute presentation by Haun. Then there’s a 25-minute presentation by Krugman and then a third 39-minute video with Q&A with the audience in Mexico City. My noting of interesting things is not at all comprehensive; they’re simply things that I found worthy of noting. Main highlight from the Haun presentation (for me anyway): I had thought that cryptocurrency was anonymous. Probably many readers know better; I didn’t. Professor Haun absolutely convinced me that if I wanted to engage in illegal behavior, I should use cash, not cryptocurrency. Main highlight (for me) from the Krugman presentation: At the 20:14 point: $50 bills and $100 bills are effectively not money. Very few stores will accept $100 bills for a sandwich. Maybe I’m seeing a biased sample but I’m often at Safeway or Lucky in Pacific Grove when someone in front of me pays with a $100 bill. The few times I’ve had $50 bills, I’ve had no trouble. Now it’s true that the people using them have typically not been buying sandwiches, but they have sometimes bought things whose prices are roughly the same as the prices of sandwiches. So, for example, I’ve seen someone use a $100 bill, without raising the cashier’s eyebrows, to buy something whose price is $10. Main highlights from the debate: At the 17:42 point: A questioner points out some striking data on cryptocurrency in Mexico. 18:40: The questioner gets to his question. How is a Mexican who wants to spend $10 on a video game supposed to do it if he doesn’t have a credit card or a bank account? In Mexico today, that is a very popular kind of transaction using crypto. 19:10 to about 20:30: Paul has a good answer, I think. His gut feel is that it should be able to be done without crypto but that it’s not because of some regulation that makes that difficult. He does cartwheels to avoid saying that the regulation preventing other methods is probably bad. But still, he has the good economist’s gut feel: when you see something that seems like an elaborate way of doing something when other simpler methods would seem to be available, check for the regulations that are making those other methods too costly or not available. 37:50: Asked by the moderator if Katie Haun’s views shifted Paul’s thinking at all, Paul admits that he was surprised by the use of crypto by low-income, unbanked people, and that he wanted to do some homework on that. Note: For the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics entry on money, see Anna J. Schwartz, “Money Supply.” (5 COMMENTS)

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24 октября 2018, 21:27

Krugman and Public Choice, by Bryan Caplan

A few readers have observed that Paul Krugman‘s general neglect of public choice problems is especially odd because it takes such problems very seriously in the area he knows best: trade policy.  Here’s what Paul says in his 1993 AER piece, “The Narrow and Broad Arguments for Free Trade“: The broad argument for free trade, to which many economists implicitly subscribe, is essentially political: free trade is a pretty good if not perfect policy, while an effort to deviate from it in a sophisticated way will probably end up doing more harm than good. Elaboration: Now suppose that a new trade theorist comes along and informs the countries that markets are imperfect, and free trade is not really an efficient policy after all. There is, however, no simple and easily defined policy that can take its place, and the gains from optimal deviations from free trade will be small. What should the countries do? It seems quite reasonable to argue that the countries should stick with free trade rather than try something complicated that could easily lead to a breakdown in cooperation. The perfect may be the enemy of the good: free trade may be a reasonable, rule-of-thumb way of avoiding what could otherwise degenerate into a prisoner’s dilemma, in which a seemingly more sophisticated strategy might fail. Furthermore: [Countries] seem to protect in order to redistribute income to selected producer groups. Although there have been some attempts to model this political process, notably the clever recent effort by Gene Grossman and Helpman (1992), it is not yet possible to offer as neat a story as that of optimal tariff warfare. Nonetheless, it is not too hard to imagine that setting trade policy also amounts to a kind of prisoner’s dilemma: in a country in which each interest group gets the protection it wants, the net effect may be to make even the interest groups themselves worse off than if there had been a prior commitment to free trade. Paul’s punchline: These examples suggest how one can be both a new trade theorist and a free-trader. That is, one can believe quite strongly that the international economy bears little resemblance to the perfectly competitive, constant-returns world of pre-1980 theory and yet at the same time continue to support free trade as the best policy we are likely to get. That is indeed the position that I personally hold. My question: Why on Earth didn’t Paul say exactly the same thing when Tyler asked him about tech policy?  How can Paul look at the endless triumphs of the tech industry over the last three decades and not say, “It would be a disaster if government started picking winners and losers based on political horse-trading and flowery rhetoric about fairness”?  How can Paul look at the strangling of construction in high-wage areas over the same time frame and not say, “It would have been far better if government just pretended the negative externalities of construction didn’t exist”? In all seriousness, Paul: How?! P.S. I’m speaking in Laredo, Texas tomorrow on The Myth of the Rational Voter.  If you attend, please say hi! HT: Cameron Harwick. (5 COMMENTS)

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23 октября 2018, 20:46

Optimality versus Fire, by Bryan Caplan

Public choice economists have long argued that conventional economists hold markets to far higher standards than they hold government.  Markets “fail” unless they’re optimal.  Governments “succeed” unless they’re on fire.  If this seems unfair, compare the standard definitions of “market failure” and “failed state.”  Market failure exists whenever markets fall short of perfect efficiency.  To be a failed state, in contrast, requires habitual disaster. Is this a Straw Man?  I think not.  Even the most sophisticated conventional economists hold markets to unreasonably high standards – and hold governments to unreasonably low standards.  Paul Krugman, arguably the world’s most sophisticated conventional economist, provides a fine case study in his recent Conversation with Tyler. Tyler asks Paul, “To start with a very basic question: The major tech companies have become increasingly controversial. Do you think there’s a significant market failure there? And if so, what would it be?”  Paul’s response: Everything about tech, certainly everything about networks, is a violation of the principles that say that a market should be efficient. The trouble is, it’s hard to sort out. It’s not that there’s any one thing. It’s got increasing returns, it’s got imperfect competition, it’s got spillovers. So I’m not sure what I know is the particular market failure. There’s no reason at all to think that Facebook or Twitter or Google are doing the optimal thing from a social point of view. The trouble is, trying to figure out what to do as an alternative is not trivial. When Tyler prods him about all the great stuff consumers get, Paul pushes back: What’s problematic is that they’re still — although they’re not charging us anything — they’re not in business for our health, they’re in business for their health. They’re in business to sell something else. What Google is selling, really — it’s still ads. It’s selling advertiser access. At some level, that’s what Facebook is doing as well. Since it’s indirect, in some ways, the reasons to think that it’s going to be non-optimal are even greater. Paul’s right, no doubt, that tech markets are “non-optimal.”  But that’s an absurd way to frame the situation.  A reasonable frame is more like: Mankind has received a cornucopia of wonderful stuff for free, so thanks a million!  If you described the modern Internet to people in 1988, almost everyone would have laughed at your naive optimism.  Sure, things could have been even better.  But if your main reaction to the Internet is to complain that it’s “non-optimal,” there simply is no pleasing you. Does Krugman really hold government to lower standards?  He definitely has many negative things to say about current U.S. politics. Exhibit A: [O]ur political system is set up on the basis that we elect representatives who will not exactly reflect their voters but will, in fact, deliberate and exercise independent judgment. But we are in an extreme partisan environment in which, for all practical purposes, only the party matters. All that matters on most things is whether there’s an R or a D, which means that all of the . . . Not that long ago, people used to refer to the Senate as the world’s greatest deliberative body in a non-ironic fashion. [laughs] These days, it’s ridiculous. There is no deliberation that goes on. It’s a completely partisan institution. Exhibit B: I think that the role of money in politics has created . . . a lot of people in political life now have spent their entire lives within a partisan ecosystem, never really having to step outside. Any independence in judgment, any demonstration of an independent conscience is actually career destroying. So the kind of people you get are people who are basically bad people, at the very least very cynical people. I still find it hard to understand how people can be quite as cynical as they have become. Exhibit C: Ordinary people, people with real lives, real jobs, people who aren’t paid to think about abstract policy issues are, understandably really, more poorly informed that those of us who push around words and symbols for a living can easily appreciate. If you ask people, do they actually know what the policies are being propounded, if you ask them do they know what Republican healthcare policies actually are — maybe more so now than a year or two ago — but still mostly not. People are poorly informed. Of course, sometimes they’re actively misinformed by Fox News or something. It’s instructive, being out there in public, writing for a newspaper, even writing for the New York Times, and then looking at the mail you get. Leaving aside the crazy and hate stuff, but just the sort of ordinary citizens — they’ve heard from somebody that there’s a plan to replace the US dollar with some global currency. You know and I know that’s ridiculous. But these aren’t necessarily stupid people. They’re not devoting a lot of time to public affairs. Of course, the news environment is — leave aside, again, the partisan media — tends to be very information scarce. Strangely, though, none of this negativity leads Paul to question his support for government intervention – or support stricter limits on government.  Common sense tells us that great power comes with great responsibility.  Common sense tells us that “very cynical people” and “basically bad people” with power will do very bad things.  Common sense tells us that ignorant people who don’t “devote a lot of time to public affairs” will be easy for cynical and bad politicians to manipulate.  But as far as I can tell, Paul’s only proposed remedy for democracy’s deep structural flaws is to elect more Democrats.  No matter how poorly our government performs, we must grin and bear it. When does our political system’s performance get bad enough for Paul to muse, “Democracy in chains is a lot better than it sounds”?  The answer, strangely, seems to be “never.” Aside from the fact that the world is going to hell otherwise, I’m just basically having a good time. A joke?  Perhaps.  Yet it still exposes a deep truth.  When markets fall short of perfection, Paul cries for government to fix them.  When government is an ongoing disaster, Paul prays for government to fix itself. What’s the alternative?  Recognize that due to pervasive government failure, economists should often oppose government intervention even when a thoughtful, well-intentioned government could readily make the world a better place.  Why?  Because actually-existing governments are rarely thoughtful or well-intentioned.  Public choice problems hardly provide an iron-clad case for laissez-faire, but they plainly tip the scales in that direction.  And due to the ubiquity and severity of these problems, we should never forget to put them on the scales. (19 COMMENTS)

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23 октября 2018, 20:28

A not so happy ending, by Scott Sumner

At first glance, this looks like a win for housing regulation in Santa Monica: In March 2014, Wilshire Skyline settled a lawsuit with a group of tenants who had sued alleging harassment. The residents had claimed that the owners were trying to push them out to rent the units at higher rates. . . . The owners and management company agreed to receive training in fair housing practices, adopt written policies for making repairs, and halt the practice of offering commissions to employees who persuaded tenants to move out. So far so good.  But then this happened: Then, less than one year later, in February 2015, the owners invoked the Ellis Act, a state law that allows owners to boot tenants from a rent-controlled building in order to take the building off the rental market. It will be converted into an office building: As part of the renovation, the three-story building at 1305 Second Street will be retrofitted for earthquakes, its brick facade and decorative cornice and corbel details will be restored, and a deck area will be added on the roof. . . . Formerly named Mar Vista Apartments, the building, until recently, held 49 rent-controlled apartments. Eight of those units were rented by Section 8 tenants. A recent study looking at housing in San Francisco found that not only does rent control make a city as a whole worse off, it even makes the renters in a city worse off: Rent control appears to help affordability in the short run for current tenants, but in the long-run decreases affordability, fuels gentrification, and creates negative externalities on the surrounding neighborhood. PS.  It’s sad to see a respectable publication like The New Republic carrying an article defending rent control.  This is not like the widely debated minimum wage laws. As Paul Krugman pointed out, there really isn’t any respectable argument for rent controls: [E]conomists, on both the left and the right, tend to disagree. As Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times in 2000, rent control is “among the best-understood issues in all of economics, and—among economists, anyway—one of the least controversial”. Economists reckon a restrictive price ceiling reduces the supply of property to the market. When prices are capped, people have less incentive to fix up and rent out their basement flat, or to build rental property. Slower supply growth exacerbates the price crunch. And those landlords who do rent out their properties might not bother to maintain them, because when supply and turnover in the market are limited by rent caps, landlords have little incentive to compete to attract tenants. Rent controls also mean that landlords may also become choosier, and tenants may stay in properties longer than makes sense. And some evidence shows that those living in rent-controlled flats in New York tend to have higher median incomes than those who rent market-rate apartments. That may be because wealthier households may be in a better position to track down and secure rent-stabilised properties. HT:  Tyler Cowen (5 COMMENTS)

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22 сентября 2018, 21:42

Micro vs. macro, by Scott Sumner

Paul Krugman has an interesting post, where he pushes back against the conventional view that micro is more successful than macro. Here’s Krugman: So let me talk about three things: The unsung success of macroeconomics The excessive prestige of microeconomics The limits of empiricism, vital though it is I think Krugman’s basically right, although I’d emphasize some different points. Krugman spends a lot of time on the IS-LM model, which he finds useful and I do not.  He emphasizes the fact that IS-LM allowed him to avoid falling into the trap of expecting QE to lead to high inflation.  Rapid increases in the money supply are often inflationary, but not when interest rates are near zero. I prefer to think in terms of money supply and money demand when trying to explain movements in nominal aggregates.  For instance, macroeconomists who understand monetary theory can easily explain why inflation has averaged 2% since 1990, whereas non-economists and economists with non-monetary models have no explanation at all.  And no, the following does not constitute an “explanation”: 1.  Congress 2.  Fiscal policy 3.  A miracle happens! 4.  2% inflation for 28 years Macroeconomists also have a pretty good model of the business cycle.  The combination of nominal shocks and sticky wages/prices results in short term movements in employment and output that are highly correlated with short run movements in NGDP.  In the long run, wages and prices adjust and the economy goes back to the natural rate.  These theories are not perfect (hysteresis is not well understood), but they are pretty good. So why can’t we predict business cycles?  For the same reason that microeconomists cannot predict individual prices—economic theory (such as rational expectations and the EMH) suggests that many types of predictions are almost impossible. Macroeconomics is also pretty good at explaining long run growth.  It seems to be based on 5 factors (human capital, physical capital, technology, natural resources, and good institutions.)  Yes, the final one is a bit vague, but probably involves relatively free markets, property rights, non-excessive taxes, etc. Microeconomists have one highly successful model—perfect competition.  But most markets are not perfectly competitive.  As soon as you move to imperfect competition, micro is just as ambiguous as macro.  Minimum wages?  Who knows if they reduce employment?  Health care economics?  A huge mess, where economists cannot even reach a consensus on the key issues that need to be focused on. Microeconomics might be a bit more successful in some ways, as the problems being considered are often less complex.  As an analogy, macrophysics (earthquake prediction, weather forecasting, etc.) is less precise than microphysics (a rocket’s trajectory through outer space.)  But less complexity is the only sense in which micro is more “scientific”. The law of large numbers allows certain parts of macro (inflation, business cycles, etc.) to actually be better understood than some parts of micro (health care, antitrust, etc.) Inflation is simply about money supply and money demand.  In contrast, health care is about barriers to entry, information asymmetries, moral hazard, adverse selection, intellectual property rights, cross-subsidization, mandates, and many other market imperfections. A macro perspective often gives a more complete picture of the economy.  Thus you might (wrongly) assume from micro that immigration would reduce wages.  More immigrants means more supply of labor, which means lower wages.  Of course this isn’t actually a prediction of micro, but it’s an easy trap to fall into (read commenter Ben Cole).  A macroeconomist would notice that America has similar wage levels to Canada, despite roughly 10 times as much immigration.  Then she might notice that immigration also increases the demand for labor, indeed at roughly the same rate that the supply of labor rises. This idea is sometimes called the “macro foundations of microeconomics.” Krugman’s also right that data are not enough; we need to combine data with theory to make sense of the world. PS.  A quick follow-up on my previous post.  It was southern Orange County (Trump country) that opposed the nice new airport; the more Democratic northern part of the county supported the project.  In other areas of the country, it could easily be the reverse.  Remember that next time someone asks you, “why can’t we have nice things?” (24 COMMENTS)

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19 сентября 2018, 23:06

Rashomon in 2008, by Scott Sumner

There’s a classic Japanese film where four different viewers see the same event in four different ways. I am reminded of this when I consider all the different ways in which the events of 2008 are interpreted.  Obviously you have Keynesian, monetarist and Austrian views, as well as MMT, new classical, and many others.  And even within the Keynesian tradition, there are numerous perspectives.  Here’s Paul Krugman discussing Ben Bernanke: There’s an economic dispute underway about the causes of the Great Recession . . . on one side you have Dean Baker, who has long argued that the burst housing bubble was the main factor in both the slump and the slow recovery, with financial disruption a minor and transitory factor — a view I mostly agree with. On the other side we have none other than Ben Bernanke, who argues in a new paper that credit market disruption was indeed the big story. I believe they are both right, and both wrong.  In both cases, the criticism of the alternative view is persuasive.  For instance, Krugman’s right that Bernanke’s view doesn’t explain the persistence of the Great Recession: I have trouble seeing the “transmission mechanism” — the way in which the financial shock is supposed to have affected actual spending to the extent necessary to justify a finance-first account of the slump. Let me focus specifically on investment, which is what you’d expect a credit crunch to depress — and which did indeed plunge in the Great Recession. First, there was the housing bust, which led to a huge decline in residential investment, directly subtracting around 4 points from GDP: So can we attribute this decline to credit conditions? If so, why did residential investment remain depressed five years after credit markets normalized? I would add that the failure of Lehman occurred nine months into the recession, and several months into the most intense phase of the recession. But Krugman’s housing view also has problems, as the housing slump had been occurring for 2 years before any significant increase in unemployment.  The unemployment rate inched up from 4.7% in January 2006 to 5.0% in April 2008, even though by the latter date we’d already lost 3 of the 4 percentage points of GDP from depressed residential investment. If I were to defend their two hypotheses, I’d make essentially the same argument in both cases.  Both the housing slump and the credit crunch had the effect of reducing the Wicksellian equilibrium interest rate.  Thus in both cases, the Fed needed to reduce their target interest rate in tandem with the falling equilibrium rate in order to prevent a severe recession.  During 2007 and early 2008 they did this, but then the equilibrium rate fell increasingly far below the policy rate (then 2%.) In the end, I don’t find these explanations to be satisfactory, partly because I don’t share the same view as Krugman and Bernanke on what it means to say monetary policy caused something to happen. I don’t see the Fed as a helpless bystander, which might or might not act to prevent sharp changes in NGDP caused by exogenous shocks, but rather as being more like the captain of a supertanker, who has a duty to steer the nominal GDP of the economy. One can argue that this metaphor is inappropriate at the zero bound, but the US was not at the zero bound during 2008.  Indeed rates didn’t even fall to 0.25% until mid-December of 2008.  Thus the severe slump in NGDP during the second half of 2008 represented the outcome of an explicit Fed policy.  One can try to defend the Fed using arguments such as “recognition lags”, etc., but the merely redefines the type of mistake that was made, not the source of the problem. Unless I’m mistaken, the asset markets, Paul Krugman, and I all agree on one point; policy was clearly too tight in the second half of 2008, and that fact was obvious at the time.  In his memoir, Bernanke also acknowledges that policy was too tight in the period after Lehman failed. I’m guessing that Krugman and Bernanke would not agree with my claim that a more expansionary policy during 2008 would have been sufficient to prevent a severe recession, or at least that a more expansionary conventional monetary policy would have been sufficient.  In turn, I reject the notion that interest rates should be viewed as “conventional policy”.  In my view, open market operations (including QE) should be regarded as conventional monetary policy, and interest rates are one of many possible short run targets.  I would add that (because of the zero bound issue) interest rates are one of the least effective policy targets. The Great Recession would not have been “great” if any two the following three steps had been taken in early 2008: 1. A policy of 5% NGDP growth, with level targeting to correct short run deviations from the trend line. 2. A policy of targeting the market forecast of NGDP. 3.  A “whatever it takes” approach to open market operations, which means buying whatever quantity of assets that is necessary to keep expected future NGDP equal to the policy target. Instead of adopting at least two of these three highly effective policy tools, the Fed adopted zero of the three.  That’s why the recession was so deep. PS.  My hunch is that Bernanke would have favored the level targeting option (at least for prices), but could not get support from within the Fed.  I’m not sure of his views on the other two policy tools. PPS.  Holman Jenkins of the WSJ seems open to alternative perspectives on 2008: What bubble there was seemed confined to a few subprime hot zones mainly in the West and Southwest. Now comes the Mercatus Center’s Kevin Erdmann to complicate the story. The hottest markets in the country never stopped being hot because restrictive zoning and building regulations turn them into what he calls “closed-access cities,” such as New York and San Francisco, where it is legally impossible to supply the housing demanded by the nonrich. . . . He also shows, based on rents, construction and housing’s share of personal consumption, there never was a national oversupply of housing but the opposite: a shortage that continues today, centered on the closed-access cities that generate so much of U.S. economic activity. Every day the sun rises in the world capital markets on countless scenes of failed risk-taking without causing a general panic. This is where the housing story interacts with another strand of revisionism, led by Bentley University’s Scott Sumner, which faults the Ben Bernanke Fed for tightening all through the Great Recession, oblivious to plunging inflation and a rising public demand to hold cash. Here’s the great Toshiro Mifune, star of Rashomon: HT: Marcus Nunes, Kate DeLanoy, Ben Klutsey       (6 COMMENTS)

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02 сентября 2018, 22:43

Social democracy isn’t socialism, by Scott Sumner

Bob Murphy recently pointed to a misleading remark in a recent column by Paul Krugman. I’d like to point to another: But what can be done about it? Corey Robin says “socialism” – but as far as I can tell he really means social democracy: Denmark, not Venezuela. Government-mandated employee protections may restrict the ability of corporations to hire and fire, but they also shield workers from some very real forms of abuse. I actually have several problems with these two sentences.  The first is clearly inaccurate; Corey Robin’s column reads like a sustained critique of the Danish economic model.  And the second is slightly misleading.  That’s because while Krugman doesn’t explicitly make the connection, most readers would naturally assume that Krugman’s comments on employment protections refer back to the previous sentence, which references Denmark. In fact, among students of comparative economic systems, Denmark is famous for its “flexicurity model“, which means companies are relatively free to hire and fire workers, but those who do lose jobs have the security of generous employment compensation problems programs.  Denmark is often viewed as the world’s leading example of an economy that combines highly free markets with extensive social insurance.  When I researched this topic in 2008, I found that by some measures Denmark had the most capitalist economy in the world, if you exclude the variable of government spending. At the same time, government spending as a share of GDP was among the highest in the world.  The net effect is that (back in 2008) various “economic freedom” rankings put Denmark about even with the US, with its much higher government spending tending to roughly offset its much lower level of economic regulation. If you read Corey Robin’s piece, it’s pretty clear that he is opposed to the Danish model.  He is highly skeptical of deregulation, and even goes out of his way to suggest that the Scandinavian model is not what he’s talking about: Socialism means different things to different people. For some, it conjures the Soviet Union and the gulag; for others, Scandinavia and guaranteed income. But neither is the true vision of socialism. What the socialist seeks is freedom. . . In magazines and on websites, in reading groups and party chapters, socialists are debating the next steps: state ownership of certain industries, worker councils and economic cooperatives, sovereign wealth funds. Once upon a time, such conversations were the subject of academic satire and science fiction. Now they’re getting out the vote and driving campaigns. It’s too soon to tell whether they’ll spill over into Congress, but events have a way of converting barroom chatter into legislative debate. What ultimately gives shape to socialist desire is less the specific policies in a politician’s head than the men and women marching with their feet. Of course in any complex economy, including both Denmark and the US, you can find examples of “socialism”.  But what makes the Danish model distinctive is precisely the extent to which the Danes have pursued neoliberal policies in a wide range of areas, including free trade and capital mobility, freedom to hire and fire workers, no official minimum wage laws, privatization of many services that are traditionally in the public sector, etc. While I have no doubt that a socialist administration in America would be less inept than the Chavez/Maduro version in Venezuela, let’s not forget than many on the left were praising Chavez’s policies during the period when soaring oil prices propped up his socialist regime.  (One example is Jeremy Corbyn, a slightly more left-wing version of Bernie Sanders, and quite possibly the next leader of the UK.)  American liberals are deluding themselves if they think the younger generation of socialists is interested in the Scandinavian model.  They want high minimum wages, protectionism, nationalization of certain industries, restrictive labor market legislation and many other types of statist policies.  For the most part, this is not the Danish model. PS.  I doubt whether many American socialists are interested in the Danish model for fire fighting.  A private company named Falck provides 65% of firefighting services in Denmark, at a cost lower than in other countries. PPS.  Brad DeLong explains what’s wrong with the Robin piece, or at least one of the problems. HT: David Henderson   (20 COMMENTS)

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02 сентября 2018, 04:57

Live Free and Die?, by David Henderson

In a recent New York Times column, economist Paul Krugman writes: The other day I had some fun with the Cato Institute index of economic freedom across states, which finds Florida the freest and New York the least free. (Is it OK for me to write this, comrade commissar?) As I pointed out, freedom Cato-style seems to be associated with, among other things, high infant mortality. Live free and die! (New Hampshire is just behind Florida.) With his keen eye, contra Krugmanist Robert Murphy points out two huge problems with this one small paragraph. I had missed both. I missed the first one because I didn’t immediately go and look at the data that Krugman cites about New Hampshire. But take a look at the last 3 sentences, especially the last two of the three: As I pointed out, freedom Cato-style seems to be associated with, among other things, high infant mortality. Live free and die! (New Hampshire is just behind Florida.) Almost anyone reading this would think that New Hampshire is just behind Florida not only in freedom but also in high infant mortality. Otherwise the snarky “Live free and die!” wouldn’t make sense. Well, the first part is correct: New Hampshire is up there on freedom. But the second part? Not so much. Murphy writes: Yet ironically, as Krugman’s own chart shows, New Hampshire has just about the lowest infant mortality of the 50 states. (This CDC ranking says in 2016 New Hampshire’s infant mortality was the second-lowest in the country, behind only Vermont.) So, as Murphy points out, Krugman’s joke doesn’t make any sense. Which is too bad because whatever else Paul didn’t have going for him, his humor was often first-rate, as in this case. The second slip that Murphy notes is one I missed because I don’t read Krugman’s columns as frequently or as carefully as I used to. Murphy writes: Before diving into the meat of the dispute, let me note something hilarious: Literally the day after Krugman mocks the Cato Institute for ranking U.S. states according to their freedom—such that the state in last place, New York, must be a “socialist hellhole” ha ha—Krugman wrote a column warning his readers that freedom was on the verge of disappearing in America.   Murphy then gives a screen shot showing the contrast: Is it OK for me to write this, commissar, asks Krugman? Apparently yes on August 26 when he makes fun of other people who care about freedom but not on August 27 when, in his view, we’re not just close, but very close, to becoming another Poland or Hungary. Murphy, by the way, digs into the Cato study data a lot and has interesting things to say about freedom and where people move.   (11 COMMENTS)

26 июня 2018, 15:15

Падение американской империи. The New York Times, США

Американское правительство, реализуя свою политику, буквально вырывает детей из рук их родителей и размещает их...

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21 июня 2018, 11:20

Мигранты дробят Запад. Теперь —официально

«У нас разные модели цивилизации и, очевидно, мы не разделяем определенные ценности». Цитата принадлежит официальному...

01 апреля 2018, 21:52

FDR's immaculate inflation, by Scott Sumner

David Glasner has an excellent post on the relationship between inflation and unemployment. At one point he links to Paul Krugman, who makes the following comment: Even if you think that inflation is fundamentally a monetary phenomenon (which you shouldn't, as I'll explain in a minute), wage- and price-setters don't care about money demand; they care about their own ability or lack thereof to charge more, which has to - has to - involve the amount of slack in the economy. As Karl Smith pointed out a decade ago, the doctrine of immaculate inflation, in which money translates directly into inflation - a doctrine that was invoked to predict inflationary consequences from Fed easing despite a depressed economy - makes no sense. David has lots of interesting things to say about Krugman's argument, but I'd like to make a few additional observations. 1. Inflation does not require an elimination of "slack". Here Krugman is confusing microeconomics with macroeconomics. Microeconomics is about relative prices, which are determined by conditions in individual markets. Macro is about nominal prices, which are determined by the supply and demand for base money. Let's take FDR's policy of devaluing the dollar, which occurred during 1933-34, a time of 25% unemployment. I'd call that "slack", wouldn't you? As you can see, the policy led to a high rate of inflation: This policy increased the expected future rate of inflation, which reduced the current demand for base money. The very high unemployment did not prevent inflation from rising sharply, because inflation is a monetary phenomenon. Back to Krugman: And to get back to my broader point: economics is about what people do, and stories about macrobehavior should always include an explanation of the micromotives that make people change what they do. This isn't the same thing as saying that we must have "microfoundations" in the sense that everyone is maximizing; often people don't, and a lot of sensible economics involves just accepting some limits to maximization. But incentives and motives are still key. You don't need microfoundations such as overheating product/labor markets to get inflation; you simply need to reduce the value of the medium of account. Suppose Mexico replaces 1000 old pesos with one new peso, in a currency reform. What motivates Mexican businesses to cut all prices by 99.9%? Is it "slack" in the economy? Obviously not. It's enough to assume that Mexicans are rational, and know that the currency reform will reduce prices by 99.9% in the long run. Similarly, back in 1933, Americans understood the implications of dollar devaluation. At the same time, Krugman is right that inflation and unemployment are often negatively correlated in the short run. David points out, however, that Krugman is confusing a correlation with a causal relationship. Consider the following hypothesis: 1. Inflation is always and everywhere caused by monetary (supply and demand) factors. 2. Changes in inflation are often negatively correlated with unemployment, due to sticky wages. These two hypotheses are consistent with the Phillips Curve holding during some periods (such as 1932, 1969, 1982 and 2009, and not holding during other periods (1933-34, 1974, 1980-81, 1998-2000, etc.) But these two hypotheses do not imply that unemployment has any causal impact on inflation. If we assume that monetary factors are the underlying cause of inflation, and the Phillips Curve relationship is contingent on a set of special factors, then we can explain the history of American inflation. If we assume that unemployment (i.e. "slack") is the causal factor that determines the rate of inflation, then we are left with all sorts of puzzles. Back to Krugman: Consider, for example, the case of Spain. Inflation in Spain is definitely not driven by monetary factors, since Spain hasn't even had its own money since it joined the euro. Nonetheless, there have been big moves in both Spanish inflation and Spanish unemployment: The fact that Spain lacks its own money has no bearing on whether Spanish inflation is caused by monetary factors. The typical state in American (let's say Indiana), did not have its own money in 1966-81, but nonetheless suffered from high inflation due mostly to "monetary factors" (i.e., excessively expansionary Fed policy.) That's not to say that real factors don't also matter---presumably they explain why Spain's inflation rate might differ from a neighboring Eurozone member---but that doesn't mean that both Spanish and Eurozone inflation are not largely monetary. I would never deny that slack might have played some role in the inflation process of 1933-34. Thus the same policy of dollar depreciation might have produced even higher rates of inflation had the unemployment rate been 3%, rather than 25%. But you can certainly get plenty of inflation in a depressed economy, as we saw in 1933-34. PS. We lack good data on inflation from the 1930s, which is why I use the WPI. Broader indices have been estimated, and they show lower rates of inflation. But even so, the inflation rate by any measure was far higher than predicted by Phillips Curve models. (10 COMMENTS)

31 марта 2018, 17:34

Monopolies are unhealthy, but high taxes make the disease worse

Copyright, TheHill.comTaxes are necessary to fund worthy government activities, but taxes come with side effects. The side effects can be especially harmful in an economy where businesses enjoy monopoly power.People and businesses individually attempt to reduce their tax burden by doing less of the activities taxed at high rates and more of the activities tax at low rates or by doing activities that aren't taxed at all.If the primary activities hit with high rates were unpleasant -- pollution is an example -- then thankfully taxes would not only bring revenue to the treasury but also induce people to pollute less.However, most of the objects of taxation are labor and capital, which are not intrinsically undesirable the way pollution is. The reduction in labor and capital, and ultimately national income, by taxes is a regrettable side effect.The size of government is ultimately a along the tradeoff between reducing side effects and obtaining tax revenue. Former Obama-administration economists, and New York Times economist Paul Krugman, have recently decided to treat corporate income as a kind of pollution that is supposedly a source of tax revenue without adverse consequences. They are confused about how monopolies work. We all agree that a real problem with monopolies is that they may charge too much, owing to the fact that by definition they have little concern that a competitor will outbid them. But charging high prices is equivalent to producing too little, because customers' natural reaction to high prices is to buy less.So the problem with monopolized industries is that they produce too little, and with their lower production levels, they ultimately have less need to hire labor and capital. Taxing monopolies only worsens their low usage of labor and capital. In this way, monopolies are the opposite of pollution.A second feature of monopolies is that everybody wants to own one! The result is a competition for the ability to have a monopoly. Sometimes this feature of competition for monopoly rights only adds to the problem, as when businesses compete to convince government officials to grant them monopoly power.Other times, businesses and individuals compete to invent a new product that they can successfully monopolize. Yes, it's too bad for the consumer that the new product costs so much -- that's the first feature of monopoly noted above -- but that's better than having no product at all. Taxing the profits of innovators discourages innovation.An important aspect of taxing monopoly profits is therefore to understand how the monopoly rights are attained and who benefits from the competition for rights. Certainly, the headline "monopolists" of today, like Facebook, Google, Apple, etc., got their monopoly rights from socially valuable innovation and not government favors.Are we sure that we want to discourage the next generation of innovators?None of this is to say that monopoly is a sign of a healthy economic system. It's just that taxes probably make the disease worse. A time of rising monopoly is the time for tax cuts, not increases.

30 марта 2018, 20:24

Links for 03-30-18

Is It Policy, or Just Reality TV? - Paul Krugman How to Think About Corporate Tax Cuts - Justin Wolfers Misconceptions about Trade Deficits - Tim Taylor “Globalization Has Contributed to Tearing Societies Apart” - Dani Rodrik Congress Considers Going...

29 марта 2018, 01:04

Explication, Language, and Mathematics in Economics: Thinking Like an Economist

A great deal of stuff relevant to teaching, reading, and doing economics. Also highly relevant to: **Brad DeLong**: [Optional Teaching Topic: How to Think Like an Economist... (Provided, That Is, You Wish to...) (Pre-Class? Mid-Class?)](http://www.bradford-delong.com/how-to-think-like-an-economist.html): ---- **Tim Taylor**: [Some Thoughts About Economic Exposition in Math and Words](http://conversableeconomist.blogspot.com/2018/02/some-thoughts-about-economic-exposition.html): "[Paul Romer's] notion that math is 'both more precise and more opaque' than words is an insight worth keeping... >...It reminded me of an earlier set of rules from the great economist Alfred Marshall, who... wrote in 1906 letter to Alfred Bowley (reprinted in A.C. Pigou (ed.), _Memorials of Alfred Marshall_, 1925 edition, quotation on p. 427): >>But I know I had a growing feeling in the later years of my work at the subject that a good mathematical theorem dealing with economic hypotheses was very unlikely to be good economics; and I went more and more on the rules: >>1. Use mathematics as a shorthand language; rather than as an engine of inquiry. >>2. Keep to them till you have done. >>3. Translate into English. >>4. Then illustrate by examples that are important in real life. >>5. Burn the mathematics. >>5. If you can't succeed in 4, burn 3. >>This last I...

02 февраля 2017, 14:18

7 самых успешных управляющих хедж-фондов

Лондонский фонд LCH Investments, подразделение Edmond de Rothschild Capital Holdings Limited, опубликовал свой ежегодный рейтинг 20 самых успешных фондовых управляющих 2016 года.

31 мая 2015, 21:21

новая норма от Лиссабона до Владивостока

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Прочитав статью о плачевном состоянии экономики Финляндии, Пол Кругман предложил посмотреть в странах еврозоны на изменение ВВП на душу с 2007 года. Латвия, которую Кругман продолжает ошибочно ругать за якобы неправильную антикризисную политику, на фоне остальных стран с фиксированным курсом выглядит совсем не плохо. Но в целом картинка окончательной победы Европейского союза довольно депрессивная. Полная деградация стран победившего евро-капитализма, губят людей европейские институты...Не удивительно, что кризис еврозоны все еще продолжается, сохраняется недовольство Грецией, растет нелюбовь к трудовым и прочим мигрантам. Это экономика, а не российская пропаганда, виновата в росте противоречий и популярности евроскептиков. Многие сейчас ругаются и переживают из-за замедления экономического роста в России после 2008. На всякий случай глянул на регион от Лиссабона до Владивостока :) За базу выбрал не 2007, а 2008. Картинка игнорирует докризисные темпы роста, которые, например, у прибалтов, России и Беларуси были очень высокими, намного лучше, чем в Польше. За такой длинный срок правильнее было бы сравнивать ВВП на душу, как у Кругмана, но есть некоторые сомнения в точности данных по населению. Если считать на душу, то рост Турции, Узбекистана и Таджикистана, естественно, был бы поменьше. Украина выглядела бы получше, но все равно была бы последней в списке. Беларусь и Польша так и остались бы рядом, как близнецы. В общем и целом сокращение разрыва между доходами богатых и бедных продолжалось.

10 декабря 2013, 22:28

Почему должны расти зарплаты

Наступила пора развлечений – или, во всяком случае, пора провести время в торговых центрах. Также, по традиции, это время подумать о положении тех, кому повезло меньше – например, о человеке по другую сторону кассы. оследние несколько десятилетий были трудными для многих американских рабочих, но особенно тяжело пришлось людям, занятым в розничной торговле – это категория, включающая продавцов Walmart и сотрудников McDonald’s. Несмотря на остаточное действие финансового кризиса, Америка сейчас гораздо богаче, чем 40 лет назад. Однако зарплата неруководящего персонала в розничной торговле, скорректированная с учетом инфляции сократилась почти на 30% с 1973 г. Так можно ли как-то помочь этим рабочим, многим из которых, чтобы накормить семью, нужны продуктовые карточки (при условии, что они смогут их получить), и многие из которых зависят от программы Medicaid (опять же при условии доступа к ней) для получения необходимого медицинского обслуживания? Да. Мы можем сохранить и расширить продуктовые карточки, а не сокращать программу, как этого хотят Республиканцы. Мы можем обеспечить успешное проведение реформ в сфере здравоохранения, несмотря на попытки правых подорвать процесс реализации программы. И мы можем повысить минимальную зарплату. Для начала - несколько фактов. Несмотря на увеличение минимальной, национальной, зарплаты несколько лет назад, она все же остается очень низкой по историческим меркам, значительно отставая от инфляции и средних уровней зарплаты. Кто же получает этот небольшой минимум? По большому счету, это мужчины или женщины, работающие на кассе: почти 60% американских рабочих, получающих минимальную зарплату, занимаются продажей продуктов питания или оказанием сопутствующих услуг. Между прочим, это значит, что один из аргументов, часто выдвигаемых против повышения зарплат - угроза конкуренции со стороны иностранных компаний – в данном случае не убедителен: американцы не поедут в Китай за гамбургерами и картошкой фри. Тем не менее, даже если международная конкуренция – не проблема, можем ли на самом деле помочь рабочим, просто законодательно установив более высокую зарплату? Не нарушает ли это закон спроса и предложения? Не поразят ли нас боги рынка невидимой рукой? Но есть множество свидетельств того, что происходит при повышении минимальной зарплаты. И результат является положительным: повышение минимальной зарплаты мало влияет, или совсем не влияет, на занятость, при этом значительно увеличивает доходы рабочих. Важно понять, насколько можно доверять таким доказательствам. Обычно экономическому анализу препятствует отсутствие контролируемых экспериментов. Например, мы можем увидеть, что случилось с американской экономикой после внедрения стимулов, предложенных Обамой, но мы не можем оценить состояние альтернативной вселенной, в которой не было стимулов, и не можем сравнить результаты. Однако существуют примеры, когда один штат поднимал минимальную зарплату, а другой нет. Если бы что-то подтверждало значительное негативное влияние повышения минимальной зарплаты на сферу занятости, подобный результат был бы очевиден при сравнении штатов. Но этого не произошло. Так что повышение минимальной зарплаты помогло бы низкооплачиваемым рабочим, без особых негативных последствий. И мы говорим о большом числе людей. В начале этого года Институт экономической политики подсчитал, что повышение минимальной национальной зарплаты с 7,25 доллара до 10,10 доллара принесло бы пользу 30 миллионам рабочих. Большинство получило бы непосредственную выгоду, поскольку сейчас они зарабатывают менее 10,10 доллара в час; а остальные получили бы косвенную выгоду, так как их оплата на самом деле привязана к минимуму – например, управляющие магазинов быстрого питания, получающие немного (но только немного) больше, работников, которыми они руководят. Сейчас многие экономисты испытывают неприязнь ко всему, что связано с установлением цен, даже при наличии положительных последствий. Некоторые из этих скептиков выступают против всего, что помогло бы низкооплачиваемым рабочим. Другие утверждают, что мы должны обеспечить субсидии и расширить программу E.I.T.C. (налоговый зачет за заработанный доход), которая, в сущности, оказывает значительную помощь малообеспеченным семьям. Между прочим, я полностью за расширение программы E.I.T.C. Но, оказывается, существуют веские причины рассматривать минимальную зарплату и E.I.T.C. как дополнение друг к другу, а не замену. Следует увеличить и то, и другое. К сожалению, учитывая политическую реальность, нет никаких шансов, что Конгресс примет закон об увеличении помощи работающему бедному населению. С другой стороны, минимальная зарплата может быть повышена благодаря огромной государственной поддержке. Эта поддержка исходит не только от Демократов или даже самовыдвиженцев; за повышение выступает подавляющее большинство Республиканцев (57%) и консерваторы (59%). Словом, повышение минимальной зарплаты помогло бы многим американцам, и, соответственно, американской экономике. Пол Кругман Подготовлено Forexpf.ru по материалам New York Times

12 ноября 2013, 19:58

Бернанке, не Кругман

Пол Кругман предложил вниманию читателей свою лекцию (с двумя моделями ) о роли политики обменного курса и наличия собственной валюты во время кризиса. Он настаивает на том, что спекулятивный кризис доверия практически не возможен в развитых странах с плавающим валютным курсом. Эту ситуацию он противопоставляет "греческим" кризисам в странах еврозоны, повторяя свои обобщения о природе кризиса в странах валютного союза. На доброжелательных ирландцев повторение пройденного большого впечатления не произвело.  Одним из важных элементов в рассказе Кругмана является хорошо знакомая роль правительственных и частных займов в собственной валюте, а не иностранной. Ничего нового для знакомых с "первородным грехом" в экономике и тех, кто слыхал о работах Кармен Рейхарт с коллегами про "боязнь плавания" и "неожиданные астановки"... В дополнение к лекции, за последние недели Кругман разместил в своем блоге серию записей с атаками на Германию, защитой Франции и критикой ЕЦБ с евробюрократами. Большинство из этих нападок повторяют тезисы 2-3-4-х летней давности. Как будто бы за это время мы не узнали ничего нового. Версию о том, что кризис в еврозоне был вызван потерей конкурентоспособности стран периферии в пользу Германии, мы обсуждали в начале 2010 здесь, и потом часто (начиная с немцы против немцев). С тех пор ко многим экономистам пришло понимание природы кризиса в Латвии, затем в Ирландии, затем в Италии и Испании.  Как здесь уже записано, огромным, хотя и запоздалым, ударом по позициям Кругмана была недавняя статья Бланшара о кризисе в Латвии. Благодаря внимательному изучению опыта этих стран, понимание кризиса в еврозоне стало намного более глубоким. На версию о потере конкурентоспособности теперь приходится, быть может, процентов 10-20 его объяснения :), и она теперь годится разве что для лекции в сельском клубе... Лекция Бернанке (там же, интересно) о кризисе как классическом набеге на финансовый сектор и панике на финансовых рынках, важна для понимания уроков кризиса в США, в еврозоне и Великобритании.  В еврозоне эти моменты были особенно важны, потому что банки там были слабее, и механизмы защиты от паники были институцуионально не проработанными. Рассмотрение еврозоны Кругманом как одной страны граничит с профанацией анализа.  Ожидать от правительства Германии действий не в интересах экономики своей страны, а в интересах экономики Греции или Испании, мне кажется верхом наивности. Конечно, валютный союз накладывает дополнительные обязательства на правительства еврозоны, и за время кризиса они обсуждались, менялись, кодифицировались. Но национальные правительства там пока никто не отменял, и избирают партию Меркель граждане Германии, а не кругманы. Критика Кругманом денежно-кредитной политики ЕЦБ, как мне кажется, тоже несправедлива, но об этом лучше черкнуть отдельно. Большинству, наверное, давно не интересно разбираться в уже разобранном, но Кармен Рейнхарт не поленилась указать нобелевскому лауреату на его ошибочные комментарии к картинке про Великобританию. А о том, что "греческий кризис" был только в Греции, что еврозона не страна, похожая на США, и что банковский кризис в еврозоне многим отличался от механики кризисов в других странах, никто уже блогеру не жаждет рассказывать... Офтопик: Своими грубыми нападками, часто выходящими далеко за рамки приличий, Кругман удобен тем, кому выгодно атаковать ЕЦБ, Европейскую комиссию и антикризисную политику в Европе.  С одной стороны, Кругмана нельзя игнорировать, потому что блогер-экономист пользуется популярностью и авторитетом среди читателей и многих коллег. С другой стороны, отвечать ему грубостями не каждый захочет и не каждый может себе это позволить. Поэтому европейцы пытаются отвечать взвешенными заметками, как Бути и Падоан здесь и, в ответ Кругману, здесь.  Или как только что тужился сделать один из бывших лидеров ЕЦБ Смаги в заметке "Аскетизм и тупость" :) Народная мудрость: "Против лома нет приема, если нет другого лома".  Для ответа Кругману, наверное, нужен евро-Ильвес с большой командой неглупых экономистов :) Рогофф и Рейнхарт, как мне кажется, лучше других защищались от гадких наездов Кругмана. По крайней мере в среде профессионалов им удалось поставить Кругмана на место. Но в популярном сознании Рогофф и Рейнхарт все равно подозреваются в тяжких грехах.  Утешение атакуемых Кругманом в том, что люди, принимающие решения по антикризисной политике, слушают не Кругмана, а его оппонентов. И народ, который свои правительства избирает, этих людей поддерживает.

26 апреля 2013, 12:44

Странглия, Мервин Кинг и Сергей Игнатьев

На графике ВВП Великобритании (картинка из свежайшей речи одного из лидеров Банка Англии, там другие есть). Красным показан докризисный тренд, а синим жизнь. Вчера все с напряжением ждали, объявят ли народу об уже ТРЕТЬЕЙ по счету рецессии, но бог миловал и объявили о небольшом росте в первом квартале. Почему нет роста в любимом россиянами Лондонграде и его окрестностях?Кругман, ДеЛонг и другие уверяют своих читателей, что это из-за бюджетной консолидации бюджетного аскетизма, как в России.  Они видят на этой картинке ошибку в статье Рейнхарт-Рогофф 2010 года, и письмо о бюджетной дисциплине, которое в феврале 2010 года подписал Кеннет Рогофф вместе с другими экономистами. Статья и письмо подтолкнули правительство Камерона на ужасную экономическую политику и лишили британцев благосостояния, измеряемого разницей между красной революционной линией и синей, преступной. Чтобы убедиться, что красная линия является для Кругмана и ДеЛонга критерием успеха, желающие могут почитать свежую заметку ДеЛонга про США или поискать его и Кругмана многочисленные атаки на Великобританию, а про Латвию с Эстонией я лучше промолчу.Вопрос на засыпку про бюджетный аскетизм упирается в Великобританию по ряду причин.  У страны своя валюта, которая, как постоянно повторяет Кругман и Ко. необходима для успеха.  С начала кризиса фунт стерлингов подешевел процентов на 20-25, что, по мнению Кругмана, должно было привести с скачку экспорта.  Инфляция была намного выше 2%, к чему тоже призывали Кругман и другие экономисты.  Много чего было в Великобритании в кризисные годы. А роста не было и пока нет.  Поэтому для Кругмана, ДеЛонга и их единомышленников  главным виновником преступления должен быть бюджетный аскетизм.  В Великобритании, по их мнению, нужен был значительный бюджетный стимул, достаточный для быстрого возвращения к красной черте.  На всякий случай напомню сразу, что дефицит бюджета в Странглии на автомате сразу скакнул к 10-11% ВВП (картинка).  Этого, по мнению борцов с бюджетным аскетизмом, было мало, надо было гораздо больше. По мнению Кругмана, инвесторы бы этого совсем не испугались, потому что никакой "Волшебницы доверие" нет (добавим от себя следствие: нет и "Волшебницы Недоверие").  Вот свежая заметка ДеЛонга, где он обвиняет Камерона и "правых" экономистов в попытке реализовать в Великобритании "стимилирующее сокращение" дефицита бюджета а ля Алесина.Как и в случае российских дебатов о замедлении роста, за более объективным мнением я обратился к уходящему руководителю центрального банка - Банка Англии - Мервину Кингу, коллеге Сергея Игнатьева. В своей январской речи Кинг подробно рассказывал о диагнозе, лечении и будущем экономики Великобритании.  Речь советую почитать. В отличие от Банка России, британцы публикуют речи своих руководителей, чтобы каждый желающий не гадал, какие у них мысли, а мог прочитать речь и поглазеть на иллюстрации к ней и даже почитать указанную дополнительную литературу.Кинг сразу же напомнил слушателям об избыточном докризисном энтузиазме:Much of this reflects the inevitable correction of exuberance on the part of borrowers and lenders, the conditions for which were created by the failure to tackle the global imbalances that left most major countries with unsustainable exchange rates, unsustainable paths of consumption, saving and borrowing, and unsustainably low long-term real interest rates.Затем отметил три фактора, сдерживающих рост, некоторые из них внутренние, некоторые внешние. Не буду пересказывать, но среди них упомянуты цены на еду и энергию.  Системный финансовый кризис привел к нарушениям в банковском секторе, толкнул банки к осторожности и затруднил доступ к кредиту, особенно для мелких и средних предприятий. Но среди причин анемичного роста у Кинга нет даже намека на излишний бюджетный аскетизм.  Единственное упоминание о бюджетной политике во всей речи сводится к ограничениям в ее использовании из-за большого госдолга:In many countries, including the UK, fiscal policy is constrained by the size of government indebtedness, and monetary policy has come to be seen as the only game in town.Нет бюджетного стимулирования и среди нескольких рецептов лечения (помимо денежно-кредитной политики КуЕ). Рецепта три, включая укрепление банков, увеличение экономического потенциала за счет структурных реформ и (все еще надежда на)  восстановление еврозоны и слабый фунт стерлингов/экспорт:What are those other policies? They come under three headings: restoring confidence in our banks, reforms to raise the future potential supply of our economy, and changes in the world economy and exchange rates.Этот диагноз, рецепты лечения и прогноз мы услышали от одного из сотен британских экономистов, которые в свое время в открытом письме возмутились преступным бюджетным аскетизмом Маргарет Тэтчер :). Кто-нибудь наверняка скажет мне, что старик Кинг кривит душой, что не хочет осложнять жизнь правительству Камерона. Но ведь он пожилой уже человек, ему нечего терять, кроме своего доброго имени. Не боится же он требовать значительного дополнительного увеличения акционерного капитала у всесильных банков, которые могли бы его подкармливать в старости. Неужели Кинг промолчал бы, если бы действительно верил во вред бюджетной дисциплины?Что такое ужасное делает правительство Великобритании, какой такой особый аскетизм в Лондонграде?  Смотрим еще раз на сокращение дефицита, ожидаемое в разных странах за три года 2011-2013, и видим, что у британцев сокращение дефицита очень похоже на небольшое сокращение в других странах, как у Франции или Бельгии, и меньше, чем в США, не говоря уже о больных еврозоны Испании, Ирландии и Ко., которым Кругман, кстати, тоже раньше регулярно предлагал активнее стимулировать экономику дополнительными бюджетными расходами (?!).Можно допустить, что сейчас, когда инвесторы успокоились после испуга 2008-2011 гг., британцы могли бы сокращать дефицит чуть медленнее, как это может себе теперь легко позволить Эстония или Латвия. Сейчас, а не в 2010, когда инвесторы, включая Билла Гросса, буквально тряслись от страха. И американцы могли бы сейчас дать слабину. Но надо же быть реалистами. К красной линии они бы все равно долго не вернулись. И Кругман с ДеЛонгом все равно будут ругать всех и вся во всю силу своих легких.  Никакого чрезмерного аскетизма в Великобритании нет, просто не нашли там вовремя сланцевый газ, банковский сектор там побольше и еврозона поближе. Разница между Великобританией и США еще и в том, что в Америке нет никаких бюджетных планов, а есть секвестр, знакомый нам по предкризисным 1990м. Там правит политический паралич. Планы же британцев известны заранее, и за выполнением планов уже давно следят специально обученные независимые люди в Офисе бюджетной ответственности, как и учил реалист Кеннет Рогофф.ДОП: Пока я кропал и выдергивал из интернета чужие мысли и картинки, появился пользительный пост zhu_s...Как я уже заметил в тексте, мы не можем ознакомиться с речью Сергея Игнатьева о причинах замедления роста российской экономики и посмотреть на познавательные картинки-иллюстрации к его увлекательному рассказу.  Но у нас есть zhu_s, который думает и пишет на эту важную для экономической политики тему.

28 февраля 2013, 20:13

Стимулирование или спад? МАКРОЭКОНОМИКА РЕЦЕССИИ

ДЕЛОНГ: Период между 1985 и 2007 – период «Великого Спокойствия» - Фед Резерв и Правительство США с одной стороны на Западе, а центральные банки и финансовые институты Евросоюза на востоке Атлантического океана обеспечили устойчивое макроэкономическое окружение в рамках которого частный бизнес сектор, рабочие и инвесторы могли реализовывать свои экономические устремления. В США в годовом выражении прирост номинального ВВП опускался ниже 4% только 3 раза в эти годы и превышал 7% только 2 раза в течение 22 лет, уровень потребительской инфляции был выше 5% 3 раза и падал ниже 2%  только 2 раза в течение этих 22 лет, а уровень занятости взрослого населения (отношение числа занятых к общей численности взрослого населения) колебался в границах 60-64%. Западная Европа переживала примерно такой же период «Великого Спокойствия» с низкой инфляцией, плавным ростом и снижающейся безработицей. Как говорил Роберт Лукас в эти спокойные годы: «проблема предотвращения депрессии была решена». Далее в 2008-2009-м гг. уровень прироста номинального ВВП в США рухнул к -3% - неожиданное значительное снижение для любого, кто ожидает «Великого Спокойствия» с прежним уровнем роста расходов, потребительская инфляция ушла в отрицательную зону (-2%), а занятость населения упала с 63% до 58-59%. В Западной Европе изначально рецессия была слабее, но последующая ситуация на рынке труда оказалась более разочаровывающей, так что в настоящий момент чистое снижение к тренду производства и занятости в Западной Европе превышает аналогичные показатели в США. Проблема предотвращения депрессии и её излечения не была решена. В этом контексте мы собрались обсудить следующие четыре вопроса: Может ли политика ФРС, ЕЦБ, государственных органов адоптироваться так, чтобы в короткие сроки вернуть уровень занятости к значениям которые мы в течение 1985-2007 считали «нормальными», а темпы роста занятости к уровням Рейгановского бума 1982-1989 гг.? Если может, какой должна быть эта политика? Если может, является ли эта политика приемлемой? Как ваше мнение на вопросы 1-3 отличается от мнения 6 лет назад?  Карло Коттарелли из Международного валютного фонда.