James Pethokoukis

The economics of small classroom size

March 28, 2011

A charter school boss runs the numbers (via the WaPo):

At Harlem Success Academy Charter School, where we’ve gotten some of the best results in New York City, some classes are comparatively large because we believe our money is better spent elsewhere. In fifth grade, for example, every student gets a laptop and a Kindle with immediate access to an essentially unlimited supply of e-books. Every classroom has a Smart Board, a modern blackboard that is a touch-screen computer with high-speed Internet access. Every teacher has a laptop, video camera, access to a catalogue of lesson plans and videotaped lessons.

Extra Fed transparency might keep Congress at bay

March 24, 2011

By James Pethokoukis
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Walking on the supply-side

March 23, 2011

One of my favorite blogs, The Supply Side, has a great round-up of an NY conference supply-side economics:

White House confusion on corporate tax holiday

March 23, 2011

The White House perhaps rightly worries, via a Treasury blog posting, that a tax amnesty for U.S. companies repatriating profit might distract from broader reform. (House GOP Majority Leader Eric Cantor recently came out for the idea.)  But its economic objection to the idea is confused.

Rand Paul and the 2012 Republican presidential nomination

March 23, 2011

Steve Kornacki of Slate makes the case:

Rand Paul was in South Carolina on Monday and will soon make appearances in Iowa and New Hampshire. On Monday he told reporters that “the only decision I’ve made is I won’t run against my dad. I want the Tea Party to have an influence over who the nominee is in 2012.” An unnamed “Paul family advisor” also told CBS News that “there’s better than a 50/50 chance that there will be a Paul in this race.”

Obama’s wildly dangerous budget

March 22, 2011

President Barack Obama’s 2012 budget plan is dead on arrival — and rightfully so, it turns out. U.S. fiscal scorekeepers calculate it taking federal debt levels into dangerous territory. Meanwhile, both parties in Congress are showing tentative new signs of embracing fiscal responsibility. But without some leadership from the White House, nothing will get done.

Time to scuttle the 30-year, fixed mortgage?

March 17, 2011

Cato’s Mark Calabria makes a powerful case for doing so:

First, we should recognize that the 30-year fixed isn’t going anywhere. The “jumbo” mortgage market offers a 30-year fixed without a government guarantee. In fact, fixed-rate mortgages have historically been around half of the jumbo market.

Japan shows why U.S. must slash debt

March 15, 2011

You never know when a black swan will float your way. And when your credit card is nearly maxed out, dealing with emergencies can be tricky. A massive rebuilding effort may stretch Japan to its financial limits. Politicians in Washington should take note of the warning for several reasons:

Impact of earthquakes, natural disasters on economic growth in Japan

March 11, 2011

How will today’s terrible earthquake and tsunami affect Japan’s economy, not to mention those of other global economies? After spending all day reviewing a bunch of academic research, the verdict remains unclear. For instance,  simulations run by the Inter-American Development Bank find only the biggest disasters have an  impact. Take disasters in the 99th percentile:

Americans growing more worried about debt

March 10, 2011

They are still more concerned about jobs —  but debt fears are growing, Gallup says: