Washington's Blog reminds us that things got ugly during the last prolonged depression in the United States. This interesting historical footage from the Great Depression shows what happens when large numbers of people are unemployed for years at a time, get desperate, and perceive that the game is rigged to the benefit of Wall Street. … Continue reading The Economy Has Caused Riots Before – In the Great Depression
I've been asked what I think of the Occupy Wall Street Movements. I say it's about d*** time. The anger and discontentment that the movement has tapped into is real and has been building for a long time. The mass numbers of people - like say the 99% - have good reasons to be angry. … Continue reading On the Occupy Wall Street (and Everywhere Else) Movement
I want to follow up a little on my discussion of the liquidity trap that we are have been in. Brad Delong has an excellent post today called "Four Years After the Wakeup Call". In it he shows some graphs which illustrate very well our the liquidity trap. Delong first serves us two graphs on … Continue reading What a Liquidity Trap Looks Like in Pictures
Blogging time has been in short supply lately. To compound things, I've had a bunch of inter-woven ideas bouncing around in my head that I want to explain, but I've been struggling to figure out how to do it. I've been stuck in the "can't explain this until I explain that which in turn needs … Continue reading Politics and Job-Creation Policies – Disagreements and The Theories Behind Them
Both official Washington and the chattering political classes have spent most of the past 12 months debating how to cut the government budget, reduce deficits, and limit debt. Key groups, and perhaps the most vocal and strident groups in the debate, have been the self-described "constitutional conservatives" and Tea Party types. They have staked out … Continue reading Founding Fathers Would Have Opposed A Balanced Budget Amendment – The Purpose of National Government Was to Borrow
The study of economics starts with recognition of the economic problem: we (humanity) have unlimited wants but limited resources to satisfy those wants, so something has to give. Famine is perhaps the starkest reminder of the economic problem. People die simply because they cannot get enough food to eat. Yet while there have been famines throughout … Continue reading The Famine in Horn of Africa and Political Economy Failure
Averages, if you're not careful, can as easily mislead as enlighten. It matters a lot which statistical measure of the "average-ness" that's used. A good example comes in the case of the U.S. long-term trend of economic growth. What we're interested in is to what degree the amount of GDP the average household has available … Continue reading The Mean and the Median Tell Two Different Stories
Ok, normally I'm writing about the disastrous effects of changes in GDP. Today, though, I'm going to write about the effects of disasters on GDP. As I write this, it's mid-day on Saturday, Aug 27. Hurricane Irene has just hammered North Carolina and the Outer Banks. Irene is continuing in both it's push up the Eastern seaboard … Continue reading Hurricanes, Disasters, and GDP
When people think about "income distribution" there's a tendency to think of it only in terms of what different people or households have available to spend. In other words, we focus on the fairness or equity of whether some households should only have a small amount of money to live off of vs. others who … Continue reading Income Distribution Does Matter. It’s Wrong Now and Stopping Growth.
Peter Dorman at Econospeak has an excellent post on the real challenges facing the U.S. today. It's the political economy that must change. It no longer serves the interests of the vast majority of Americans. We need more discussion and action at these levels> It’s the Political Economy, Stupid!, by Peter Dorman: Sometimes living in … Continue reading It’s the Political Economy That Must Change.