The Great Debate

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.

The sad flaw of measuring hurricanes by GDP

By David Callahan
August 30, 2011
By David Callahan
The opinions expressed are his own. 

Hurricane Irene may not have lived up to all the media hype, but it still did billions of dollars in damage. Some analysts say cleaning up the mess will boost Gross Domestic Product for the second half of 2011. These estimates are surely correct – and remind us why GDP is such a perverse way to measure economic progress.

A great divide holds back the relevance of economists

By Mark Thoma
July 26, 2011

By Mark Thoma
The opinions expressed are his own.

Reuters invited leading economists to reply to Mark Thoma’s Op-Ed on the “great divide” in economics and will be publishing the responses. Here are responses from Ashwin ParameswaranJames HamiltonDean Baker, Lawrence Summers, and a recap of Paul Krugman’s.

The fight of the century: behind the scenes

May 4, 2011

Keynes and Hayek are back. As rappers. For those who don’t know about these two economists, or can’t keep their philosophies straight, there’s a great rap video just out that clearly explains the warring ideologies of those two men, titled “Fight of the Century: Keynes vs Hayek Round Two.” And it is the fight of the century, or at least, right now. If Hamlet were giving a soliloquy about the economy, it would start, “to spend or not to spend. That is the question.” For John Maynard Keynes, the answer is to spend. For Friedrich August Hayek, the answer is to not.