Coming Posts

These are the posts that I’m thinking about. Any preferences? Or suggest your own:

1)  Growth and government/private debt:  The arithmetic of how long-term growth affects our ability to pay off our private and public debt

2) Multinationals and exports:  Are multinationals more or less likely to export from the U.S.?

3)  Goldman Sachs and side bets:  If you are making a side bet on the economy, do you care who you are betting against?

4)  Credit ratings and growth:  Did the credit ratings issued by S&P and Moody’s implicitly depend on long-term growth expectations?

5) What can journalists learn from the financial crisis?


  1. Mike,
    Can I vote for 1) and suggest that you also deal with other forward obligations as well as debt – especially significant with boomer demographics. Another possible post is the impact of various banking activities on the supply of US dollars and currency dynamics in general. Another is the proper role of government in the economy – drawing the line between anarcho-capitalism and totalitarianism. Another might be on the interaction between globalisation and innovation (have the opportunities provided by labour market arbitrage drained resources from innovation – what are the track records of second and third world countries on innovation). And finally government and innovation – what is the track record of government in generating and supporting valuable innovation (eg does wartime innovation indicate governments can do this) and what are the strengths and weaknesses

  2. mike shupp says:

    1. Does a “commercially oriented” space program, as Obama seems to be promising us, lead to anything signifcant decades from now?

    2. Is it in the US interest to impede the economic growth of China and India, or should we try to expedite their progress to GNP-per-capita values that are equal to our own? If so, how do we make this palatable to the American public.

    3. Assume global warming is a real phenomenon, which might be countered by determined government action. Assume that the impact of such government action, decades from now, is a world without global warming but lumbered by various taxes and regulations all of which highly piss off conservatives and libertarians. Assume conservatives and libertarians look about, see no global warming, but do see taxes and regulations which have been cruelly imposed upon them by global warming extremists for No Reason At All. Discuss the nature of American society and government in this situation.

    4. Within a decade (actually now) it will be possible, even commonplace, for prospective parents to screen or modify the genomes of their unborn children to produce offspring which are likelier to be healthier than average, more intelligent than average, longer lived than average, comelier than average. Should this basically be restricted to the well to do who can afford such treatments, or should it be policy that all American parents should have the best posssible offspring? Assume, for such pleasure as it may give, that policy in the USA differs from policy in Europe and most nations in East Asia. For really exquisite pleasure, assume US policy differs from policy in India, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc.

    Just a few thoughts that occur to me. None of them very important of course.

  3. Randall P says:

    I like #1 on your list. Does demographics have an effect? Not just an aging population, but one that is not growing as fast as say 60 years ago. How does Japan’s demographics impact their economic problems?

  4. I like #1 the most, although I confess some curiosity towards the others in the order listed.

  5. Castro BR says:

    Definitely #1, and maybe a variation of #5 what can ECONOMISTS learn from the financial crises?

  6. #1. Also, I would be interested in your take on targeted tax cuts like the child care credit. How effective are they at their stated goals? Are they really just buying votes? Are they ever repealed?


  7. I like them all. I’m enthusiastic about suggestions to expand #1 to include demographics. Maybe I’m reading the wrong stuff, but I find that demographics has been mysteriously missing from the business press for years. For instance, who did all those future retirees think would buy their houses at high prices, in lieu of retirement savings, anyway? It seemed an impossible dream, rudely not mentioned, to me.

    I would add, please help us sort out undocumented immigrants from the rest if you can. For any given government statistic, I cannot tell whether they are in or out, yet it is statistically significant. Legal non-citizen immigrants are certainly players, too, and yet the numbers and projections are hard to uncover.

    Rycoka’s suggestions are good.

    Feel free to elevate the importance of journalism. My personal conclusion about the failure of the major business press to call the meltdown is that nobody who relies on business advertising could afford to be the one to bring down the market. I saw enough revealing data and stories to hyperventilate, so I don’t feel too peeved that I had to read between the lines to know that something bad had to happen. It would have been nice, though, if everything we’re learning now about the unregulated financial instruments could have been at least explored more fully beforehand.

    There is one unmentioned subject that I obsess over — GDP. Last time I looked, there was a significant disconnect between GDP and the money that actually makes its way to anyone, according to BLS data. I am not overlooking imports/exports. What accounts for the missing money? Is there something wrong with my analysis? (I don’t think so.)

    Now allow me to be the brave one in class who asks the painfully ignorant question that it sometimes turns out everybody else wanted to know. It’s about the Fed. I’m not inclined to join the calls to obliterate it, but there are aspects of its mechanisms on which I can’t get a solid grip. If they are being expansionary, that does not impose debt on the nation, does it? Conversely, if they are contracting, that does not obliterate national debt, does it? I think that the Fed absorption of AIG and payment of its obligations does not burden the nation, because it was simply covered by sudden expansion and no national debt obligation. Is that correct or not? The purchase of Treasuries is a bit mind boggling. It seems like a guarantee that the nation cannot default. Why does the press not bother to discuss these things?

    There is one other Fed issue that somebody needs to explore. Perhaps you are the one. The Fed mandate includes minimizing the nation’s unemployment. They are clearly failing. I propose that the economy has been so unnaturally transformed by the conversion to a service economy based on imports that economic and monetary theories are breaking down. How likely is their approach to ever positively impact jobs?

    Given a week or two, I might be able to formulate my penultimate question. It is about economic structure.

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