Category: economics

The CBO on the Budget Deficit

The federal government’s fiscal year 2011 has come to a close, and CBO estimates, in its latest Monthly Budget Review that the federal budget deficit for the year was about $1.30 trillion, approximately the same dollar amount as the shortfall…

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Aside

From Steve Randy Waldmann at interfluidity:

I no longer trust my own government to be the provider of a civilized society. No government is perfect or without corruptions. But in 2007, I thought I lived in a remarkably well-governed nation that had gone off-kilter under a small and mean administration. In 2011, I view my government as the sharp edge of an entrenched kleptocracy, engaged in ever more expansive schemes of surveillance and arrogating powers of ever less restrained brutality. At a visceral level, I dislike President Obama more than I have disliked any politician in my lifetime, not because he is objectively worse than most of the others — he is not — but because he disproved my hypothesis that we are a country with basically good institutions brought low by poor quality leadership. Whenever I hear the President speak and am impressed by the quality of his intellect, by his instinct towards diplomacy and finding common ground and rising above petty struggles, I despair more deeply. Not just because a leader of high quality failed to restore passably clean and beneficient government. It is worse than that. The kleptocracy has harnassed this man’s most admirable qualities and made them a powerful weapon for its own ends. He has rebranded as “moderate”, “adult”, “reasonable”, practices such as unaccountable assassination lists and Orwellian nonhostilities. He has demostrated that the way grown-ups get things done in Washington is by continually paying off thieves in suits. Perhaps it is unfair to blame Barack Obama for all this. Maybe he has done the very best a person could do under our present institutions. But then it is not unfair to detest the institutions, to wish to see them clipped, contained, or starved. [link]

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Lunatics Might Topple Ivory Tower

(Ignore the title for a second — it will make sense at the end of the post.) Online education is still not accepted as a legitimate source of education. As a (self-proclaimed) tech-savvy educator, this is a puzzle to me.…

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A Nobel Cause

Very apropos that the Nobel committee gave the prize to economists who did work in unemployment. Nothing sexy this year, just plain old unemployment. Nice. People who know a lot more than me have said enough about it, so here’s…

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Deflating

Narayana Kocherlakota, the Minneapolis Fed President, gave a speech on August 17th in which he said: But over the long run, money is, as we economists like to say, neutral…. [I]f the FOMC maintains the fed funds rate at its…

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Behavioral Tax

On Time magazine’s Curious Capitalist blog, the blogger decides to solicit behavioral economists for their opinion on a higher tax rate for the super-rich. That is, specifically, what should the tax rate be? Read on: My basic assumption was that…

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Rate Hikes or No Rate Hikes?

Raghuram Rajan of the University of Chicago, along with William White, former head of the Bank for International Settlements’ monetary and economic department, are arguing for an increase in interest rates. Interest rates near zero risk fanning asset bubbles or propping…

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Bad News-Bad News

Sales of newly-built homes declined in July, as did the sales of existing homes. See the graph below from Calculated Risk: The gap started to widen starting in 2006 (around the time the housing bubble burst), and continues to widen.…

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Does This Pop Your Corn?

Since we’re talking about movies and documentaries today, this post from Marginal Revolution rounds out the trifecta pretty well: I’ve lately found a new empirical paper on why popcorn is so expensive in the movie theater.  The authors are Ricard Gil and…

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