Economics: Growth Feed

The Great American Tax Heist Turns One: No Longer Live at Project Syndicate

Let me hammer this point again: the failure of any of Barro, Bhagwati, Boskin, Calomiris, Cogan, Holtz-Eakin, Hubbard, Lazear, Lindsey, Mankiw, Rosen, Shultz, Taylor, and a hundred-odd others to write about—or even express curiosity about why—their confident predictions of a year ago that the Trump-McConnell-Ryan corporate tax cut would generate a huge investment boom—that silence speaks very loudly about the genre in which they viewed their forecasts back at the time:

Clowns (ICP)

A year ago there were a substantial number of economists who were assuring us that the Trump-McConnell-Ryan corporate tax cut was not just a giveaway to rich stockholders but would provide a sustained and substantial boost to investment in America that would boost productivity by:

And Kevin Hassett and Greg Mankiw told us that these productivity gains would primarily boost wages not profits—because the relevant model was not one in which the tax cut raised after tax profit and interest rates but rather one in which foreigners would flood America with savings, lending to and investing in this country on a large scale to finance the bulk of this surge and investment.

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The Democrats’ Deficit Line in the Sand: Hoisted from the Archives

Federal Surplus or Deficit as Percent of Gross Domestic Product FRED St Louis Fed

From ten years ago: J. Bradford DeLong: The Democrats’ Line in the Sand: "A dilemma for Democratic deficit-hawk economists trying to determine what good economic policies would be should Barack Obama become president.... A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and it seems pointless to work to strengthen the Democratic links of the chain of fiscal responsibility when the Republican links are not just weak but absent...

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DeLong's Principles Of Neoliberalism: Thanks to Miniver Cheevy for Formatting: Hoisted from the Archives from 1999

Il Quarto Stato

Attempting to pass the crown of Chief Neoliberal Shill on to me, Noah Smith has an excellent Twitter thread that cites me: Noah Smith: "Here is a thread about neoliberalism. At the beginning of this year I was elected "Chief Neoliberal Shill", but the true Chief Neoliberal Shill has always been Brad @delong. In 1999, he wrote the following neoliberal manifesto: DeLong's case for neoliberalism is basically: It's not about YOU, rich-country person. It's about people in poor countries. Neoliberalism, he says, is the best (only?) way for the world to recover from the inequalities generated by colonialism and unequal industrialization.... Obviously, lots of people toss around the word 'neoliberalism', using it to mean anything from Obama-style centrism to Ayn Rand-style feudalist libertarianism. But I like DeLong's version best. Neoliberalism as the most expeditious antidote to colonialism.

The "neoliberalism" I was talking about then is a relatively distant cousin (but was a cousin) of what people are calling "neoliberalism" today...

And Miniver Cheevy has formatted my argument of 1999:

Miniver Cheevy: : DeLong's Principles Of Neoliberalism: "Neoliberalism is many things. It is:

  • a counsel of despair with respect to the possibility of social democracy today (outside of the global economy’s industrial core).
  • a counsel of hope with respect to the prospects for rapid market-generated economic development outside the global economy’s industrial core—if governments adopt market-conforming policies.
  • a bet that improvements in transportation and communication—the shrinking world—“globalization”—gives us today an extraordinary opportunity to rapidly reduce global inequality by incorporating more and more people and more and more more regions into the global economy.
  • the only live utopian program in the world today...

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The Great American Tax Heist Turns One: Live at Project Syndicate

Clowns (ICP)

Time has passed: a year's worth of water under the bridge. But I have not become less angry at and disappointed with how the Republican economists behaved in what my Project Syndicate editors call the Great American Tax Heist of last December:

Live at Project Syndicate: The Great American Tax Heist Turns One: Last December, Republicans relied on the support of conservative economists who predicted that the party's corporate tax cuts would boost productivity and investment in the United States substantially. The forecasts were wrong, and the silence of those who made them suggests that they knew it all along....

Critics of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” described it as a cynical handout for wealthy shareholders. But a substantial number of economists came out in support of it.... One prominent group, most of whom served in previous Republican administrations, predicted in The Wall Street Journal that the tax cuts would boost long-run GDP by 3-4%, with an “associated increase” of about 0.4% “in the annual rate of GDP growth” over the next decade. And in an open letter to Congress, a coterie of over 100 economists asserted that “the macroeconomic feedback generated by the [tax cuts]” would be “more than enough to compensate for the static revenue loss,” implying that the bill would be deficit-neutral over time... Read MOAR at Project Syndicate

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Two Differences Between a Clinton Administration and a Trump Administration...

Real Gross Private Domestic Investment FRED St Louis Fed

Here is one difference between a Clinton Administration and a Trump Administration. The Clinton administration of 1993-2001 sold its 1993 deficit-reduction reconciliation bill as a phased-in five-year plan to boost American economic growth and American incomes. By raising taxes and by cutting government spending relative to the then-projected baseline—half of the cuts coming from the military, half of the cuts coming from the social insurance programs—Clinton sought to redirect 1%-point of GDP's worth of funds each year for five consecutive years from funding the government debt to funding productive private investment.

Over the five years as the program was being phased in, this boost in investment was projected by the administration—i.e., by me and others—to be a supply-side economic stimulus raising the rate of growth of potential output and boosting the rate of economic growth and thus of American incomes by 0.2%-points per year. Thereafter, once it was fully phased in, the program was projected by the administration—i.e., by me and others—to boost investment relative to the baseline by 4%-points of national product and so boost the rate of potential output growth and thus of American incomes relative to bas3eline by 0.4%-points per year. The program was supposed to make the U.S. 1% richer after 5 years; 3% richer after 10 years; 5% richer after 15 years, and so on.

It worked. Investment grew. Growth accelerated. Income rose relative to the baseline.

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Note to Self: Coffee with Brink Lindsey, co-author of The Captured Economy: How the Powerful Enrich Themselves, Slow Down Growth, and Increase Inequality "Brink Lindsey and Steven M. Teles identify a common factor behind... breakdowns in democratic governance that allow wealthy special interests to capture the policymaking process for their own benefit...

Alfred lost. But a very good anti-NIMBY set of posters...

Brink Lindsey and Steve Teles: The Captured Economy: How the Powerful Enrich Themselves, Slow Down Growth, and Increase Inequality

#books #NIMBYism

Monday Smackdown: Revisiting the Trump-McConnell-Ryan Tax Cut Debate

Gross Private Domestic Investment Nominal Potential Gross Domestic Product FRED St Louis Fed

A year ago, during the Trump-McConnell-Ryan corporate tax cut debate, Greg Mankiw wrote that "a relevant exercise for my readers... [is assuming] the capital stock adjusts so that the after-tax marginal product of capital equals the exogenously given world interest rate r..." That was unprofessional. That is not a relevant model for a large country with a floating exchange rate. If you want an investment boom, cut the deficit—like Clinton-Mitchell-Gephardt did over 1993-1996.

Paul Krugman explains why: Paul Krugman: Why Was Trump’s Tax Cut a Fizzle?: "The blue wave means that Donald Trump will go into the 2020 election with only one major legislative achievement: a big tax cut for corporations and the wealthy. Still, that tax cut was supposed to accomplish big things. Republicans thought it would give them a big electoral boost, and they predicted dramatic economic gains. What they got instead, however, was a big fizzle...

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From Berkeley's Blum Center: Whither 21st Century Development; and Other Topics?: A Q&A with Brad DeLon

School of Athens

Blum Center: Why did you decide to become an economist?: I would say that it was a long, slow process. As I look back, some milestones stand out:

  • Back when I was a child, my best friend Michael Froomkin’s father Joseph Froomkin was an economist—he always seemed to have very interesting and smart things to say that came at the world from a different and very insightful perspective than others.
  • When I was 12, I think, at the American Academy of Arts and Sciences meeting I got to spend a day playing with the “World Dynamics” global economic-ecological model. The model, I now think, was very wrong—we are certainly not on any of the trajectories it forecast. But the idea that you could do such a thing was very interesting.
  • When 1982 came around and I graduated from college, the unemployment rate was heading for 11%: my classmates weren’t having as easy a time getting jobs, and so staying in school seemed attractive.
  • Becoming a lawyer seemed to involve too much proofreading of documents, becoming a lab scientist seemed to involve too much moving of small volumes of liquid from one test tube to another...

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Review of "Capitalism in America: A History" by Alan Greenspan and Adrian Wooldridge

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Review of Capitalism in America: A History by Alan Greenspan and Adrian Wooldridge: The world as a whole is much richer than it was three centuries ago. And the United States of America is the richest land of all. For nearly two centuries its unique dynamic of economic growth has made America, as Leon Trotsky put it after his brief residence in New York, “the furnace where the future is being forged.” Alan Greenspan and Adrian Wooldridge’s “Capitalism in America: A History” argues that it is the American love and embrace of capitalism, the resulting entrepreneurial business culture, and the creative destruction inherent in the capitalist-market system that have given America its special, unique edge in economic wealth. In America, successful entrepreneurs, innovators, organizers and promoters have become not just well-off but heroes.... While it is no surprise that Greenspan and Wooldridge have produced this book, they are, I think, broadly correct in their argument... Read MOAR at the Washington Post

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William D. Nordhaus (1996): Do Real-Output and Real-Wage Measures Capture Reality? The History of Lighting Suggests Not: "During periods of major technological change, the construction of accurate price indexes that capture the impact of new technologies on living standards is beyond the practical capability of official statistical agencies. The essential difficulty arises for the obvious but usually overlooked reason that most of the goods we consume today were not produced a century ago...

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One thing making me hopeful for our future is that as our technological powers and capabilities grow, our ideas of what people need to be fully included members of society grow as well to keep pace. Just think of how high-speed computer access is becoming something that it is obvious that all Americans—and especially all American children—very much need to have. The fact that we—or some of us, at least—think that the failure of us to make sure this is provided is a "gap" is something I at least, in historical perspective, find very heartening Delaney Crampton: Why Accessibility To High-Quality Broadband Matters To U.S. Schoolchildren: "Nearly 5 million households with school-aged children in the United States lack high-quality broadband access at home... 31.4 percent of households earning an annual income lower than $50,000 with school-aged children... 40 percent of those with annual incomes lower than $25,000...

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Note to Self: Alan Greenspan and the Bush Tax Cut: Was Alan Greenspan in 2001 playing a subtle reputation-enhancing game—anxious to give testimony that the administration and its press lapdogs would spin as a green-light endorsement, but in which economists like me and financiers like Robert Rubin would be unable to find any sentence that was truly objectionable? Perhaps... Perhaps not...

Let's give the mike to Alan Greenspan, p. 220 ff.:

Bob Rubin phoned.... With a big tax cut, said Bob, "the risk is, you lose the fiscal discipline."... "Bob, where in my testimony do you disagree?"

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How Confident Are We That Middle-Income Convergence to the Global Productivity Frontier Is Now the Rule? Not at All...

Everything You Know about Cross Country Convergence Is Now Wrong PIIEInteresting from:

Paul Krugman: Notes on Global Convergence: "I take a short break from our national crisis. Political anxiety will resume shortly.... In the 1970s... development economics... was mostly non-development economics...

...True, we were already seeing a growth takeoff in smaller East Asian economies, but few saw this as a trend.... Something happened.... It’s a good guess that it has something to do with hyperglobalization.... But we don’t really know even that.... At any given time, not all countries have that mysterious “IT” that lets them make effective use of the backlog of advanced technology developed since the Industrial Revolution. Over time, however, the set of countries that have IT seems to be widening. Once a country acquires IT growth can be rapid... because best practice is so far ahead.... The frontier keeps moving out.... Japan’s postwar growth was vastly faster... countries catching up... in the late 19th century; Korea’s growth... faster than Japan’s had been; China’s growth faster still. The IT theory also... explains... middle-income countries grow [ing]faster than either poor or rich countries. Countries that are still very poor... haven’t got IT; countries that are already rich are already at the technological frontier.... In between are countries that acquired IT not too long ago.... The result is a world in which inequality among countries is declining if you look from the middle upward, but rising if you look from the middle down.... a story of diminishing Western exceptionalism, as the club of countries that can take full advantage of modern technology expands...

Hmmm... One of us, probably me. seems confused...

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Cosma Shalizi: Machine Learning: Data, Models, Intelligence: Weekend Reading

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"The 'big data' point... huge opportunity... to really expand the data.... The 'machine learning' point... a tremendous opportunity to use more flexible models, which do a better job of capturing... reality. The 'AI' point is that artificial intelligence is the technology of the future, and always will be...": Cosma Shalizi: The Rise of Intelligent Economies and the Work of the IMF: "We've been asked to talk about AI and machine learning.... I do understand a bit about how you economists work, and it seems to me that there are three important points to make: a point about data, a point about models, and a point about intelligence. The... an opportunity, the second... an opportunity and a clarification, and the third... a clarification and a criticism—so you can tell I'm an academic by taking the privilege of ending on a note of skepticism and critique, rather than being inspirational...

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Yes, "overeducation" is a thing: Ammar Farooq: The U-Shape of Over-Education? Human Capital Dynamics nd Occupational Mobility Over the Life Cycle: "The proportion of college degree holders working in occupations that do not require a college degree is U-shaped over the life cycle and that there is a rise in transitions to non-college jobs among prime age college workers...

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Daniel Little: Social Mobility Disaggregated: "Valuable contribution from the research group around Raj Chetty, Nathan Hendren, and John Friedman... on... neighborhood-level social mobility.... Children born in Highland Park, Michigan earned an average individual income as adults in 2014-15 of $18K; children born in Plymouth, Michigan earned an average individual income as adults of $42K...

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Development and Security

Battle of crecy froissart 58bf04d43df78c353c2c2e0f jpg 768×650 pixels

Not what I said at the Blum Center Development Lunch today: more what I wish I had said—albeit it is still incoherent and disorganized:

Let me begin with three direct responses to points Michael Nacht made. Let me then try to—briefly—propose a framework, perhaps a framework for analysis, perhaps merely a framework for convincing people in the national security community that they should take issues of economic development seriously, and so give large grants so that the Berkeley development community can do more things—things closely related to what we would be doing anyway.

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Blum Hall B100: Plaza Level: 2 PM: Bill Janeway: The Digital Revolution and the State: The Great Reversal

Bill Janeway: Doing Capitalism in the Innovation Economy 2.0 "The innovation economy begins with discovery and culminates in speculation. Over some 250 years, economic growth has been driven by successive processes of trial and error: upstream exercises in research and invention and downstream experiments in exploiting the new economic space opened by innovation...

...Drawing on his professional experiences, William H. Janeway provides an accessible pathway for readers to appreciate the dynamics of the innovation economy. He combines personal reflections from a career spanning forty years in venture capital, with the development of an original theory of the role of asset bubbles in financing technological innovation and of the role of the state in playing an enabling role in the innovation process. Today, with the state frozen as an economic actor and access to the public equity markets only open to a minority, the innovation economy is stalled; learning the lessons from this book will contribute to its renewal...

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