Why this blog really is worthwhile

October 29, 2011

This blog may actually be worth the web page it is electronically printed on. A paper from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (not Dean Baker’s shop but the other CEPR, in London) discussed here at VoxEU by University of Bologna economist Paolo Manasse, finds that, at least for American economic thinkers, blogging yields high returns — even from an economists’ strictly utilitarian, efficiency-maximizing perspective.

Fed’s 2013 low-rates window no cause for alarm: paper

October 22, 2011

When the Federal Reserve announced back in August that it expected to keep interest rates at very low levels until at least mid-2013, three top policymakers voted against the decision —  and a number of non-voting officials grumbled as well. St. Louis Fed President James Bullard is one prominent critic of the policy, arguing in a speech last month it ties the central bank down unnecessarily and potentially threatens its credibility if conditions require a course correction:

Will Fed policy go the Swedish route?

October 20, 2011

The Federal Reserve’s long-quiet doves are becoming increasingly louder about championing more aggressive forms of monetary easing, including possibly setting employment and inflation targets and/or engaging in another round of bond purchases. Most prominent among these have been Charles Evans, the Chicago Fed president who openly favors more transparent policy guidance and Eric Rosengren, who told CNBC on Wednesday a third round of monetary easing could be in store:

Being poor is no fun: study

October 13, 2011

Poor people have shorter life spans and more health problems than the wealthy. Surprising? For growth-obsessed economists, yes actually. A new study from The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development represents a worthy attempt to move economics away from its traditional tendency to equate growth with well being. Its rankings suggest factors other than the rate of gross domestic product expansion are important in determining quality of life.

Macroeconomics deserves a prize?

October 12, 2011

Europe on the brink. United States risks double-dip recession. Financial turmoil threatens world economy. Not the sort of headlines you would associate with a Nobel-prize-winning contribution to the progress of humanity. To their credit, recipients Christopher Sims of Princeton and Thomas Sargent of New York University did develop methods and models that are wisely used by economists around the world, including central banks. But it’s unclear what practical applications their findings have for the world’s current economic predicament.

The euro zone recovery is over

September 22, 2011

“The recovery has finished, we are now contracting. The forward looking indicators suggest that things will deteriorate further in the coming months,” – Chris Williamson, chief economist at PMI compiler Markit.

Evans doctrine gains traction at Fed

September 13, 2011

Chicago Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans takes a question during a round table with the media in Shanghai March 23, 2010. REUTERS/Nir Elias

Once seen as an extreme, even imprudent notion in the corridors of respectable central banking, the idea that a little bit of inflation is needed to let some of the air out of a decades-long debt bubble is gaining ground in establishment economics. Even the U.S. Federal Reserve, a central bank that prides itself in offering a high degree of steady predictability on inflation, is now actively pondering taking more drastic steps, such as linking the path of interest rates to the direction of unemployment or inflation.

About those low rates … we really really mean it

August 10, 2011

The Fed this week took the unprecedented step of putting interest rates of virtual permahold for a set period of time — in this case, until the middle of 2013. That’s a long time away, and the promise underscores just how concerned about the central bank is about the U.S. economic outlook. In the short-run, it looked a clever trick, stemming a precipitous slide in global stock markets. (The hint that it might be prepared to take even further action didn’t hurt either). But will the Fed’s doubling-down on its “extended period” pledge work to support a flagging economic recovery when other, stronger unconventional monetary tools have already been deployed to questionable avail?

Beige, black and blue

July 28, 2011

It would have been worse without Canadians, big families and stately homes.

U.S. growth slowed in most parts of the country in June and into mid-July, the Federal Reserve said in its Beige Book survey of economic conditions across the country.