Economy

Worth Reading
September 02, 2009

A very good explanation of why deficits aren't necessarily inflationary. Fed considered extending MBS purchases at last meeting. Willem Buiter is against, and Dean Baker is for, taxing trades. 10% of House and Senate have family members who also served in Congress. How credit derivatives are different from insurance.

Seasons Change… Unemployment Rates
September 02, 2009

The Wall Street Journal reports this morning, based on new figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that unemployment rates continued to climb in July in metropolitan America. It’s probably true, based on BLS estimates that the nation overall shed another 247,000 jobs in July.  But BLS’ metropolitan data don’t exactly show us what’s going on from month to month. That’s because they don’t take account of the natural fluctuations in employment levels that occur everywhere due to seasonal labor market changes. Or, in data-wonk terms, they’re not “seasonally adjusted.”  Why does this matter f

Underneath the Hood of the Stimulus
September 02, 2009

New employment data for August will be released this Friday, fueling a fresh round of analysis and punditry about whether the economy is on the upswing. To get ahead of that news, Vice President Biden will give what’s billed as a “major address” tomorrow  at Brookings to reinforce the administration’s assessment that the economy is improving and the federal stimulus package is working. No doubt, he will come armed with a new set of corroborative economic statistics and federal spending data. These national statistics are encouraging, but there’s just one problem. There is no uniform national

Questioning a Soda Tax's Effectiveness
September 02, 2009

A proposed tax on sugary drinks has gotten some good press of late, but here's a new paper that casts doubt on its obesity fighting abilities for children and adolescents. Jason Fletcher of Yale, David Frisvold of Emory, and Nathan Tefft of Bates collected data on the effects of soft drink taxes in about 20 states that had implemented them at some point between 1988 - 2006. While the taxes -- which averaged about 2% over the period -- did reduce soft drink consumption by the young, they were not helpful in reducing obesity rates. The reason?

Worth Reading
September 01, 2009

Bailouts of Fannie and Freddie could also turn a profit. Sheila Bair: Super-regulator would "benefit the largest banks and punish community ones." Vanity Fair profiles Hank Paulson. Flash orders come to an end at Nasdaq. The number of "decent jobs" will stay flat over the next decade. Study: Multi-taskers are slowed down by irrelevant information.

A 'New Era' for Infrastructure?
September 01, 2009

Infrastructure—roads and rails, ports and pipes, bits and bytes—determines how efficiently and rapidly people, goods, and information move within and across our major metropolitan markets, driving their success and prosperity. It's only slightly hyperbolic to contend that the past 12 months marked a new era in U.S. infrastructure.

TNRtv: Geithner May Be More Arsonist Than Firefighter
September 01, 2009

Simon Johnson, professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and co-founder of B

Madoff and the SEC: Intricate and Extremely Interesting
September 01, 2009

Edward Jay Epstein has become the de facto historian of the Madoff scandal. Every time he and I speak, he has found another key to the master Ponzi schemer's evil genius. There was a time when the Securities and Exchange Commission trusted Madoff absolutely. So he was able to clear two other stock markets by saying that the documents they used in their defense were kosher.

Geithner May Be More Arsonist Than Firefighter
September 01, 2009

Simon Johnson, professor at MIT's Sloan School of Management, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and co-founder of b

Is Modern Finance Like Junk Food?
September 01, 2009

Is modern finance more like electricity or junk food? This is, of course, the big question of the day. If most of finance as currently organized is a form of electricity, then we obviously cannot run our globalized economy without it. We may worry about adverse consequences and potential network disruptions from operating this technology, but this is the cost of living in the modern world. On the other hand, there is growing evidence that the vast majority of what happens in and around modern financial markets is much more like junk food--little nutritional value, bad for your health, and a h

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