Posts Tagged ‘Mark Thoma’

What is the Role of the State?

What is the Role of the State?

Courtesy of Mark Thoma at Economist’s View

When I teach the History of Economic Thought, one thing we focus on is how views on the role of the state have changed over time. It has a natural cycle to it, with eras such as the highly interventionist Mercantilist years followed by Physiocratic and Classical views stressing minimal government intervention. This is followed by a rebound in the other direction, and so it goes with a Keynes followed by a Friedman in the 50s, a rebound back to Keynes in the 60s, to classical ideas following the experience of the 70s, and so on, and so on. We are involved in the same debate, and a smaller version of the grand historical lurches in each direction, yet again today:

What is the role of the state?, by Martin Wolf: It is … a good time to ask … the biggest question in political economy: what is the role of the state? This question has concerned western thinkers at least since Plato (5th-4th century BCE). It has also concerned thinkers in other cultural traditions… The perspective here is that of the contemporary democratic west.

The core purpose of the state is protection. This view would be shared by everybody, except anarchists… Contemporary Somalia shows the horrors that can befall a stateless society. Yet horrors can also befall a society with an over-mighty state. …

Mancur Olson argued that the state was a “stationary bandit”. A stationary bandit is better than a “roving bandit”, because the latter has no interest in developing the economy, while the former does. But it may not be much better, because those who control the state will seek to extract the surplus over subsistence generated by those under their control.

In the contemporary west, there are three protections against undue exploitation by the stationary bandit: exit, voice … and restraint. By “exit”, I mean the possibility of escaping from the control of a given jurisdiction, by emigration, capital flight or some form of market exchange. By “voice”, I mean a degree of control over, the state, most obviously by voting. By “restraint”, I mean independent courts, division of powers, federalism and entrenched rights.

This, then, is a brief background to … the problem, which is defining what a democratic state … is entitled to


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Is the Unemployment Problem Cyclical or Structural?

Is the Unemployment Problem Cyclical or Structural?

Courtesy of Mark Thoma, writing at CBS MoneyWatch

a young man lying on a sofa holding a glass of wine

As I noted in a previous post, economists define three types of unemployment: frictional, structural, and cyclical:

Frictional unemployment is defined as the unemployment that occurs because of people moving or changing occupations. Demographic change can also play a role in this type of unemployment since young or first-time workers tend to have higher-than-normal turnover rates as they settle into a long-term occupation. An important distinguishing feature of this type of unemployment, unlike the two that follow it, is that it is voluntary on the part of the worker.

Structural unemployment is defined as unemployment arising from technical change such as automation, or from changes in the composition of output due to variations in the types of products people demand. For example, a decline in the demand for typewriters would lead to structurally unemployed workers in the typewriter industry.

Cyclical unemployment is defined as workers losing their jobs due to business cycle fluctuations in output, i.e. the normal up and down movements in the economy as it cycles through booms and recessions over time.

In a recession, frictional unemployment tends to drop since people become afraid of quitting the job they have due to the poor chances of finding another one. People that already have another job lined up will still be willing to change jobs, though there will be fewer of them since new jobs are harder to find. However, they aren’t counted as part of the unemployed. Thus, the fall in frictional unemployment is mainly due to a fall in people quitting voluntarily before they have another job lined up.

But the drop in frictional unemployment is relatively small and more than offset by increases in cyclical and structural unemployment. One of the big questions right now is whether the US economy is suffering, for the most part, from structural or cyclical unemployment. If it’s cyclical, then there’s a good chance that government intervention can help. If it’s structural, i.e. a decline in automobile production and manufacturing more generally, a decline in home construction, and a decline in the financial industry all of which free workers that need to be absorbed elsewhere in the economy, there’s less that can be done and some do not think that government can do much at all about this type of problem (though as I…
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Never Let the Threat of a Manufactured Crisis Go to Waste

Never Let the Threat of a Manufactured Crisis Go to Waste

Courtesy of Mark Thoma, Economist’s View 

There’s been a lot of speculation about the motives of the Austerians — those who want to begin balancing budgets now because they believe that’s what markets want. For example, Paul Krugman attributes it, in part, to

moralizing and posturing. Germans tend to think of running deficits as being morally wrong, while balancing budgets is considered virtuous, never mind the … economic logic. “The last few hours were a singular show of strength,” declared Angela Merkel … after a special cabinet meeting agreed on the austerity plan. And showing strength — or what is perceived as strength — is what it’s all about.

But there is another argument based upon the notion of "never let a crisis — or the manufactured threat of one — go to waste." This is an opportunity to "starve the European Beast" in the eyes of many European conservatives, and there are those who are using the "that’s what markets want" argument as cover for an ideological agenda:

The spectre of laissez-faire stalks Britain, by Jeremy Seabrook, CIF: The relish with which David Cameron announced that our whole way of life would be affected for years by impending cuts, and no one in the land would be exempt from the asperities about to be inflicted, suggested to many that he and his fellow cabinet-millionaires will probably weather the coming storm better than the rest of us.

His parade of Margaret Thatcher, who resembled nothing so much as a faded kabuki performer, outside 10 Downing Street, was also highly symbolic. It was a redemptive moment, the "ultimate" triumph of policies she advocated (but did not entirely follow) 30 years ago. It exhibited the qualities of purification ritual, reversion to a more severe form of capitalism; and in the process a transformation of nanny state into stepmother state.

Nick Clegg’s pious assertion that cuts would be fair and compassionate was at odds with Cameron’s gusto, which is familiar enough in Conservative rhetoric: Cameron confronting an overweening state, which will be shrunk so the private sector might flourish once more. When he said the effects of his policies would be felt for decades to come, he meant something more than a mere diminution of the structural deficit. He admitted as much… 

While cutting back big government may appear a


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On kleptocracy and the sense that we have a one-party system

On kleptocracy and the sense that we have a one-party system

Matt TaibbiCourtesy Edward Harrison at Credit Writedowns

As a writer, Matt Taibbi is a lot more vitriolic than I am. He curses, makes some pretty over-the-top personal attacks, and divines a policymaker’s intent where I don’t think he can. But, this goes mostly to style.  Substantively speaking, he has a lot to say and we should take notice. 

I wanted to highlight a piece he wrote yesterday called Fannie, Freddie, and the New Red and Blue. The crux of his argument is this: The partisan rhetoric is on full display in the dust-up over the unlimited liabilities coming from Fannie and Freddie thrust upon taxpayers on Christmas Eve. This rhetoric is not just beside the point, it is specifically designed to obscure the point, namely that both Democrats and Republicans, private industry and the government are culpable in the shambles our economic system has become.

Taibbi says:

Over the Christmas holiday a nasty thing happened: Tim Geithner’s Treasury Department decided to lift the cap on aid to the Government-Sponsored Entities, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, apparently in response to Obama administration fears that the two agencies would become insolvent. The cap was raised from $200 billion on each and government backstopping of the mortgage market will apparently now extend into infinity for at least three years, through 2012.

The move has already inspired a mini-firestorm, with several outlets delving deeply into the recent history of the GSEs and uncovering some disturbing new facts…

Sometimes I’m amazed at the speed with which highly provocative information like this GSE business can be converted into distracting propaganda in this country…

What worries me is that we’re… starting to see fault lines develop, where one side blames the government while another side blames Wall Street for the messes of the last two decades…

Everyone was involved in the mortgage scam. At the lender level the deceptions were myriad; liar’s loans, fraudulent income documentation, negative amortization loans, HELOCs, etc. The rush to get as many loans written as possible and then get those hot potatoes moved to the next sucker in the line was furious and extended from coast to coast, sinking one lender after another in Ponzoid debt and indictments….

Everyone had a hand in the bubble,


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Mark Thoma: Libertarians and populists are against Bernanke

Mark Thoma: Libertarians and populists are against Bernanke

Courtesy of Edward Harrison at Credit Writedowns

Mark is right that time is not on Chairman Bernanke’s side. If you saw the Ron Paul video earlier today, you can see what’s happening. I don’t have a strong view, although I believe most of the other bloggers are against.

Reminder: This is what Mark wrote about the Chairman’s being re-appointed in June.

Bernanke, Summers, or Yellen? None of the Above?

I’d reappoint him. If forced to choose between Yellen and Summers, I’d choose Yellen.

Question: are these still the alternatives if Bernanke is not confirmed?

(video embedded above)

See also Bernanke’s nomination approved by Senate banking panel from the BBC

 


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Zero Hedge

Radioactive Dust Is Sweeping Over Parts Of Europe From The Sahara 

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

An alarming health disaster could be in the making as it's being widely reported this week that radioactive dust has been sweeping out of the Algerian desert and broader Sahara region across the Mediterranean. Further scientists say the ominous sounding 'radioactive Saharan dust' is causing a pollution spike even over parts of Southern Europe.

The Association for Control of Radioactivity in the West (Acro) ...



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ValueWalk

Adversity and Pandemics: Dr Yosef Alhasany's Innovative Perspective on Psychoanalysis

By Adriaan Brits. Originally published at ValueWalk.

  • The WHO pointed out that the pandemic caused mass trauma bigger than that of WWII
  • A unique and ‘medically realistic’ approach provides new, innovative insights and paves the way towards a much brighter future in today’s challenging and stigma-infested society in relation to Mental Health.
  • With the arrival of COVID-19 mental health issues have seen a drastic incline worldwide, and more people are now looking for a form of therapy that actually works. 

The adversity brought by the global pandemic, have experts rethink mental health provisions, most notably, access to ass...



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Phil's Favorites

Goldman, Bank Of America Made Hundreds Of Millions From Texas Blackouts

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

Courtesy of ZeroHedge

Who needs Enron when you have taxpayer-backed "banks."

Whereas 20 years ago, it was Enron that made billions from the California electricity crisis (which it caused), a scandal which culminated with Enron's scandalous and convoluted bankruptcy, this time it is pristine banks such as Goldman and Bank of America that made hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue as tens of millions of Texans were stuck in the dark.

A...



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Chart School

Who is King? The Bond Market or the FED

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

The King Arthur story is battle between a false KING and the true KING. Generally the movie involves surprises, love and violence, and all this coming to the risk on markets very soon. 

The financial blog space expects the FED to do some sort of Yield Curve Control (YCC) to hold interest rates down while inflation moves higher, this is allowing inflation to run hot. The FED wishes to do this over time to deflate the debt away. Very similar to the 1940's post WW2, yields were pegged to 2% and risk on assets went sky high.

However Peter Boockvar suggest the FED may soon learn it is not in control and the true king of the markets is the BOND MARKET. Peter says simply the bond market is telling the FED to bite me!

The FED is not us...

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Biotech/COVID-19

88% Of COVID Deaths Occurred In Countries Where Over Half Of Population Overweight

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

A new report by the World Obesity Federation found that 88% of deaths in the first year of the pandemic occurred in countries where over half of the population is classified as overweight - which is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) above 25. Of note, BMI values above 30 - considered obese - are associated with 'particularly severe outcomes,' accor...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Tech Indicator Peaking Again At Dot.com Highs? Joe Friday Says Watch This Index!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Technology is at the heart of our economy… the same way that industrials were 100 years ago.

And that leadership has been present in the stock market for the past two decades. Today’s chart illustrates this… as well as a potential “pause” in that leadership vacuum.

Below is a long-term “monthly” ratio chart of the Nasdaq Composite versus the S&P 500 Index. Here you can see how technology stocks...



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Politics

Why repressive Saudi Arabia remains a US ally

 

Why repressive Saudi Arabia remains a US ally

A demonstrator dressed as Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with blood on his hands protests outside the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 8, 2018. Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

Courtesy of Jeffrey Fields, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman “approved an operation … to capture or kill Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi,” according to a...



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Mapping The Market

Which Governments Ordered Johnson & Johnson's Vaccine?

 

Which Governments Ordered Johnson & Johnson's Vaccine?

Courtesy of Niall McCarthy, Statista

On Wednesday, U.S. regulators announced that Johnson & Johnson's Covid-19 vaccine being developed by its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals in Belgium is effective at preventing moderate to severe cases of the disease. The jab has been deemed safe with 66 percent efficacy and the FDA is likely to approve it for use in the U.S. within days.

The Ad26.COV2.S vaccine can be stored for up to three months in a refrigerator and requires a single shot, ...



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Digital Currencies

Crypto - It Is Different This Time

 

Crypto – It Is Different This Time

Courtesy of Howard Lindzon

?I have been astonished as you know by the growth of crypto.

I remember back in 2017 when I noticed that Stocktwits message volume on Bitcoin ($BTC.X) surpassed that of $SPY. I knew Bitcoin was here to stay and Bitcoin went on to $19,000 before heading into its bear market.

Today Bitcoin is near $50,000.

Back in November of 2020, something new started to happen on Stocktwits with respect to crypto.

After the close on Friday until the open of the futures on Sunday, all Stocktwits trending tickers turned crypto. The weekend messages on Stocktwits have increased 400 percent.

That has continued each weekend...



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The Technical Traders

Adaptive Fibonacci Price Modeling System Suggests Market Peak May Be Near

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Our Adaptive Fibonacci Price Modeling system is suggesting a moderate price peak may be already setting up in the NASDAQ while the Dow Jones, S&P500, and Transportation Index continue to rally beyond the projected Fibonacci Price Expansion Levels.  This indicates that capital may be shifting away from the already lofty Technology sector and into Basic Materials, Financials, Energy, Consumer Staples, Utilities, as well as other sectors.

This type of a structural market shift indicates a move away from speculation and towards Blue Chip returns. It suggests traders and investors are expecting the US consumer to come back strong (or at least hold up the market at...



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Lee's Free Thinking

Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia - The Branch COVIDIANS Are Still Burning Down the House

 

Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia – The Branch COVIDIANS Are Still Burning Down the House

Courtesy of Lee Adler, WallStreetExaminer 

The numbers of new cases in some of the hardest hit COVID19 states have started to plateau, or even decline, over the past few days. A few pundits have noted it and concluded that it was a hopeful sign. 

Is it real or is something else going on? Like a restriction in the numbers of tests, or simply the inability to test enough, or are some people simply giving up on getting tested? Because as we all know from our dear leader, the less testing, the less...



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Insider Scoop

Economic Data Scheduled For Friday

Courtesy of Benzinga

  • Data on nonfarm payrolls and unemployment rate for March will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.
  • US Services Purchasing Managers' Index for March is scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. ET.
  • The ISM's non-manufacturing index for March will be released at 10:00 a.m. ET.
  • The Baker Hughes North American rig count report for the latest week is scheduled for release at 1:00 p.m. ET.
...

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