September 27, 2012
Benchmark Revisions and Nonfarm Payroll Employment since January 2009
The BLS released preliminary annual benchmark revisions for March 2012. Nonfarm payroll series and private nonfarm payroll series, in logs, normalized to 2009M01, are shown below; adding on the revised levels for March 2012 yields the series shown in red.
The Employment Situation in Governor Walker’s Wisconsin in 2012: “Grim”
From IHS-Global Insight, “U.S. Regional - Perspective Article: Swing States: Wisconsin,” 9/24/2012:
September 26, 2012
China's economic slowdown
As Niels Bohr (and others) observed, prediction is difficult, especially about the future. But if the challenge is predicting the number of 20-year-olds 5 years from now, you can get a pretty darn good start if you know the number of 15-year-olds right now.
September 25, 2012
Lost Decades: Two Years Later
The paperback edition of Lost Decades (W.W. Norton) is to be officially released October 1st. This seems as appropriate a juncture as any to assess the predictions Jeffry Frieden and I wrote almost two years ago.
September 23, 2012
Fat fingers and the price of oil
Can the wild swings in the price of oil over the last few weeks have anything to do with supply and demand?
September 19, 2012
Thresholds in the economic effects of oil prices
As U.S. retail gasoline prices once again near $4.00 a gallon, does this pose a threat to the economy and President Obama's prospects for re-election? My answer is no.
September 18, 2012
Some observations on the difficult tasks of identifying and explaining such imbalances
September 16, 2012
Effects of QE3
On Thursday the Federal Reserve announced a series of measures that will come to be referred to as a third round of "quantitative easing," or QE3. Here I review what effects this is intended to have and some of the developments so far.
September 13, 2012
Imperfect Information, Biased Reasoning, and the Energy Efficiency Gap
In a new working paper, David Austin argues that for a variety of reasons, private agents do not optimize with respect to energy efficiency measures. From Addressing Market Barriers to Energy Efficiency in Buildings:
September 12, 2012
Geopolitical unrest and key oil producers
Some people observed 9/11 by lighting candles, others by killing more Americans.
September 11, 2012
China’s Trade Surplus
The August numbers are in. From MarketWatch:
China posted a wider-than-expected trade surplus in August as imports unexpectedly contracted from the year-ago period, suggesting anemic domestic demand, according to data released Monday.
September 10, 2012
Influencing the internets
It seems UFollow's algorithms decided I'm among the 100 most influential columnists and bloggers. Other econbloggers on their list included Paul Krugman, Felix Salmon, Ezra Klein, Yves Smith, and Bill McBride.
September 09, 2012
Woodford and QE3
Columbia University Professor Michael Woodford's paper at the Fed's Jackson Hole conference last week made the case that more large-scale asset purchases by the Fed would by themselves do nothing, and suggested that instead what really matters is the Fed's communication of its future intentions. There's a fair bit in Woodford's analysis that I agree with. But unlike Woodford, I think that asset purchases can be an important part of what the Fed could do in the here and now. Here I explain why.
September 07, 2012
The August Employment Report
Policy action is needed, with all deliberate speed.
September 06, 2012
Representative Ryan on Conditional Macroeconomic Prediction
September 05, 2012
The gold standard and economic growth
Tyler Cowen acknowledges that the gold standard as implemented in 1929-1932 was a disaster, and that a gold standard would also work very poorly in the presence of the big changes in the real value of gold over the last decade. But in the interests of promoting a balanced discussion, he asks:
Dare anyone critical of the gold standard bring themselves to utter these (roughly true) words?: "For the Western world, the gold standard era, defined say as 1815-1913, was arguably the greatest period of human advance ever, at least in matters of economics, culture, and technology."
Here are my thoughts on Tyler's question.
September 03, 2012
Are You Better Off Than You Were at the End of the Bush Administration? A Data-Based Assessment
I've heard a lot about the "four years ago" comparison. Four years ago, we were on the cusp of Don Luskin’s famous prediction (“... we're on the brink not of recession, but of accelerating prosperity.”), and Phill Gramm had two months earlier decried the ongoing “mental recession”.  It seems to me the more appropriate marker is the last election, in 2008Q4. We can then assess what the data tells us about 2012Q2 vis a vis 2008Q4.
September 01, 2012
Return to the gold standard
Several sources reported that the 2012 Republican Platform would call for a commission to explore the possibility of the U.S. returning to a gold standard. However, the final document makes no mention of gold, and instead seems to have settled on a proposal that is unlikely to do any harm:
President Reagan, shortly after his inauguration, established a commission to consider the feasibility of a metallic basis for U.S. currency. The commission advised against such a move. Now, three decades later, as we face the task of cleaning up the wreckage of the current Administration’s policies, we propose a similar commission to investigate possible ways to set a fixed value for the dollar.
I thought it would be worthwhile to review some of the reasons why we should be thankful that saner heads seem to have prevailed.