The Great Debate

Britain’s austerity experiment is faltering

By Nicholas Wapshott
March 28, 2012

It was the Welsh sage Alan Watkins who remarked that a budget that looked good the day it was delivered to the British Parliament was sure to look terrible a week later, and vice versa. The avalanche of new information dumped by the Treasury is simply too much to grasp at a single sitting, and governments tend to bury bad news in a welter of statistics. And so it proved with finance minister George Osborne’s budget served up last week.

How the Industrial Revolution created modern debt

By Philip Coggan
February 7, 2012

This is an excerpt from Paper Promises: Debt, Money and the New World Order, published this week by PublicAffairs.

To bridge the deficit, collect some taxes

By David Callahan
January 12, 2012

By David Callahan

The views expressed are his own.

At a time when the U.S. government needs every dollar of revenue it can get, alarm bells should be sounding in Washington about a new IRS study showing that the Treasury is losing a fortune to tax evasion.

Italy’s fundamentals aren’t worse than usual

By Guest Contributor
November 10, 2011

By James Macdonald
The views expressed are his own.

The markets have come to the conclusion that Italy’s debts are unsustainable in the long term. They are therefore demanding a higher risk premium to compensate for the risk that they might not be repaid in full. So runs the conventional wisdom. However, the situation is not that simple.

from Edward Hadas:

What is the morality of debt?

By Edward Hadas
October 26, 2011

Debt is a moral matter. While most economic activity is concerned with the “is” of how things are (investment, consumption and so forth), debts are always entwined with an “ought” – to repay. In discussing controversial debts--for example government borrowing in the euro zone and the U.S.--the moral question should be addressed directly: should these debts be paid off in full, or is some forgiveness justified?

Take advantage of today’s low costs

By Robert Frank
August 3, 2011

By Robert H. Frank
The opinions expressed are his own.

Reuters invited leading economists to reply to Lawrence Summers’ op-ed on his reaction to the debt ceiling deal. We will be publishing the responses here. Below is Franks’s reply. Here are responses from Laura Tyson, Benn Steil, Russ Roberts, Donald Boudreaux and James Pethokoukis as well.

Three reasons conservatives should oppose a balanced budget amendment

August 1, 2011

By James Ledbetter
The opinions expressed are his own.

One of the crucial lubricants allowing Congress to resolve the debt-ceiling friction was, apparently, the inclusion of a provision to vote on a balanced-budget amendment. Assuming this version of the deal passes, then at some time between September 30 and December 31 of this year, both houses of Congress will be required to vote on a  ‘‘joint resolution proposing a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution of the United States.’’

Zero U.S. debt wasn’t so great the first time around

By Chadwick Matlin
July 29, 2011
By Chadwick Matlin
The opinions expressed are his own. 

At this rate, we’re going to have more debt-reduction proposals than we have trillions in debt. There was Simpson-Bowles, the Gang of Six (Pt. 1), Obama’s $4 trillion gambit, Coburn’s $9 trillion slash, Cut-Cap-and-Balance, and the Gang of Six (Pt. 2), Obama and Boehner’s near-deal, and as of this week Reid and Boehner’s dueling plans. But even the most austere of these proposals would have left us more than $5 trillion in debt, and the one likely to pass—if one passes, that is—will likely still leave us with more than $10 trillion of obligations. Somewhere, Andrew Jackson is shaking his skeletal head, pissed that a bunch of profligate Americans have soiled his legacy.

from Reuters Money:

Is the American Dream dead?

June 23, 2011

The American Dream lures people from all over the world, and it’s because of this possibility: If you come here and work hard, your kids will have a better life than you.

Five ways to correct the Greek debt crisis

By Mohamed El-Erian
May 3, 2011

By Mohamed El-Erian
This piece is the English version of the one that appeared in Handelsblatt. The opinions expressed are his own.