The Great Debate

from Nicholas Wapshott:

Robert Fogel and the economics of good health

By Nicholas Wapshott
June 13, 2013

Robert Fogel, who died this week, won a Nobel for economics by mining historical data and in the process shook up the study of history forever. Just as with cholesterol, it seems there is good data mining and bad data mining. Fogel’s was undoubtedly the good kind.

Where is Obama’s promised minimum-wage hike?

By Ralph Nader
July 24, 2012

During the 2008 campaign, presidential candidate Barack Obama made a pledge to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 per hour by 2011. Promises like this one inspired a generation of young voters, excited long-neglected progressive voters and gave hope to millions of his supporters across the country.

The late conversion of a famous monetarist

By Nicholas Wapshott
June 27, 2012

The death of Anna Schwartz has been marked with reverential obituaries. Her contribution to economics was making sense of historical facts to offer a guide to what should be done today. Posterity will know her as the co-author, with Milton Friedman, of Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960, which revolutionized our understanding of the Great Depression. The pair concluded that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the slump was caused by the Federal Reserve not pumping enough money into the economy.

from MacroScope:

The Law of Diminishing Greeks

April 13, 2012

The Law of Diminishing Returns  states that a continuing push towards a given goal tends to  decline in effectiveness after a certain amount of effort has been expended. If this weren't the case, Usain Bolt would be able to run the mile in  less than 2-1/2 minutes.

No, a nation’s geography is not its destiny

By Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson
March 19, 2012

This essay is adapted from Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty, published this week. For more from these authors, see their blog.

Subsidizing people instead of corporations

By John Stoehr
February 3, 2012

Reaganomics is so well established that state officials, both Republican and Democratic, don’t call it that anymore. They simply call it smart policy.

The limits of the scientific method in economics and the world

By Roger Martin
November 10, 2011

By Roger Martin
The opinions expressed are his own.

This is part one of this essay. Read part two here.

As the economy teeters and the capital markets gyrate, I can’t get out of my mind the evening of May 19, 2009.  We were near the stock market nadir and fears were cresting that we were heading straight into the next Great Depression. I was invited to a dinner along with half a dozen tables of guests to hear a very prominent macroeconomist opine on the state of the economy and the path to recovery.

from Ian Bremmer:

The secret to China’s boom: state capitalism

By Ian Bremmer
November 4, 2011

By Ian Bremmer
The views expressed are his own.

One of the biggest changes we’ve seen in the world since the 2008 financial crisis can be summed up in one sentence: Security is no longer the primary driver of geopolitical developments; economics is. Think about this in terms of the United States and its shifting place as the superpower of the world. Since World War II, the U.S.’s highly developed Department of Defense has ensured the security of the country and indeed, much of the free world. The private sector was, well, the private sector. In a free market economy, companies manage their own affairs, perhaps with government regulation, but not with government direction. More than sixty years on, perhaps that’s why our military is the most technologically advanced in the world while our domestic economy fails to create enough jobs and opportunities for the U.S. population.

Mindless tax slogans dominate our debate

By Robert Frank
September 13, 2011

By Robert Frank
The opinions expressed are his own.

What do the following slogans have in common?

“All taxation is theft.”

“It’s your money and you know how to spend it better than any bureaucrat in Washington.”

The jobs proposal ignores economics

By David Callahan
September 9, 2011

By David Callahan
The opinions expressed are his own.

It’s a cruel fact for millions of unemployed Americans that the jobs plan President Obama unveiled last night will never be fully enacted by Congress. What’s even crueler, though, is that the least effective elements of the plan have the best chance of passage. New direct federal spending, the most powerful form of stimulus, is widely considered DOA on Capitol Hill – while weaker tax cut options will get a real hearing.