#macro Feed

COVID & the Economy: As of 2020-09-09—Lecture

What can we say about the economy? That depends on the course of the coronavirus plague. So what can we say about the coronavirus plague? We can say, it turns out, little that is good. (22 minutes).


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Macroeconomics for Beginners | Optional Lecture

The “general glut”: What people used to talk about, instead of recession and depressions. It focuses on what is going on: excess supply in pretty much all of the markets. Back Up to 1803: Jean-Baptiste Say argued back then that a “general glut” was a metaphysical impossibility: “If certain goods remain unsold, it is because other goods are not produced; and that it is production alone which opens markets to produce.... Whenever there is a glut, a superabundance, [an excess supply] of several sorts of merchandize, it is because other articles [in excess demand] are not produced in sufficient quantities...” By 1830 Say had changed his mind...



.#berkeley #economics #highlighted #lecture #macro #monetaryeconomics #monetarypolicy #optional #2020-08-29

Boushey: How to Deal with the Coronavirus Plague Recession—Noted

Where are the Republican economists? Yes, the coronavirus plague recession has a supply-shock component, but it has a larger demand-shock component as well, and a social insurance component. We should be fighting all three:

Heather Boushey: Testimony Before the Joint Economic Committee on the Coronavirus Recession https://equitablegrowth.org/testimony-by-heather-boushey-before-the-joint-economic-committee-on-the-coronavirus-recession/: ‘Addressing the administration’s failure to contain the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, is the only way to fully restore confidence and put us on the path to economic recovery...

...The United States is experiencing the most uncontrolled and deadly outbreak of any high-income country in the world. Compared to the European Union, we now record 10 times as many daily coronavirus cases and COVID-19 deaths. Until the virus is contained, however, there are key actions that can bolster economic confidence and rein in uncertainty. Specifically:

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Higgins & Klitgaard: Japan’s Experience with Yield Curve Control—Noted

For reasons that have never been clear to me, central banks have hitherto always focused on influencing interest rates at the short end of the yield curve. I understand why you would do so in a financial crisis: in a financial crisis it is the stringency of short term money that is the key problem. But when central banking moves out from dealing with dire and immediate crises into the business of making Say’s Law generally true in practice even though it is false in theory—the business of matching the propensity to save with the animal spirits of enterprisers—the short run opportunity cost of immediate cash money is no longer a key or even an especially interesting financial economic quantity to manage. Yet central banks have consistently, historically, and traditionally focused on managing it. Now, finally, the Bank of Japan has been experimenting with alternatives. And they look very promising indeed:

Matthew Higgins & Thomas Klitgaard: Japan’s Experience with Yield Curve Control https://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2020/06/japans-experience-with-yield-curve-control.html: ‘Any central bank considering a move to implement its own version of YCC... has many questions to ponder.... For Japan... YCC has had one clear benefit. Under the new policy, the BoJ has been able to exert fairly close control over the term structure of interest rates without resorting to large-scale interventions in the JGB market. Investors accept that the Bank can buy whatever quantity of JGBs is needed to keep yields from rising and, as a result, it has not had to buy many at all... .#macro #monetarypolicy #2020-07-10

"The Market Was Made for Man, Not Man for the Market": Time to Ramp Up Direct Cash Payments

Lord of the sabbath

The need for large redirections of financial flows to avoid large increase in poverty during this coronavirus plague is large. The need for substantial top-ups to spending flows in view of the large jump in savings rates triggered by the arrival of coronavirus is large. The U.S. government continues to be able to borrow at unbelievable terms—terms so unbelievable that, when the accounting is done correctly, a larger national debt is not a drag on the funds the government has available for its other missions but rather a source of current cash flow.

(Why? Because in real population-adjusted terms, people are not charging the government interest on its debt but are instead paying the government to keep their money safe, but that is a discussion for another time.)

Moreover, a plan to have the government top off spending flows by whatever large amount is necessary to immediately return to full employment is moderately conservative, and the only effective way to give American businesses their proper chance to adjust and survive the coronavirus plague. It is, as John Maynard Keynes wrote back in 1936:

moderately conservative... [to] enlarge... the functions of government... [to include] the task of adjusting to one another the propensity to consume and the inducement to invest.... [It is] the condition of the successful functioning of individual [entrepreneurial] initiative. For if effective demand is deficient, not only is the public scandal of wasted resources intolerable, but the individual enterpriser who seeks to bring these resources into action is operating with the odds loaded against him. The game of hazard which he plays is furnished with many zeros, so that the players as a whole will lose if they have the energy and hope to deal all the cards.... [Success then requires] courage and initiative... supplemented by exceptional skill or unusual good fortune. But if effective demand is adequate, average skill and average good fortune will be enough... [thus] preserving [both] efficiency and freedom...

Our financial flows and property orders are a societal accounting system to guide and manage our collective societal division of labor. If dotting the i's and crossing the t's in this societal accounting system produces mass unemployment, the right response is to adjust it to produce full employment and then reconcile the accounting entries, not to watch employment fall and then sit around with our thumbs up our butts wondering what to do.

After all, the market was made for man, not man for the market—wasn't it?:


Olugbenga Ajilore,​ Mark Blyth,​ J. Bradford DeLong,​ Susan Dynarski,​ Jason Furman,​ Indivar Dutta-Gupta,​ Teresa Ghilarducci,​ Robert Gordon, ​Samuel Hammond, Darrick Hamilton,​ Damon Jones, ​Elaine Maag, Ioana Marinescu,​ Manuel Pastor,​ Robert Pollin,​ Claudia Sahm, & al.: Open Letter from economists on Automatic Triggers for Cash Stimulus Payments https://www.economicsecurityproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/emp_economists_letter.pdf: We urge policymakers to use all the tools at their disposal to avoid further preventable harm to people and the economy, including​ ​recurring direct stimulus payments, lasting until the economy recovers. The widespread uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic and recession calls for a multifaceted response​ ​that includes automatic, ongoing programs and policies including more direct cash payments to families; extended and enhanced unemployment benefits; substantial aid to state and local governments; stronger SNAP benefits; robust child care funding and more. These programs and policies will hasten the economic recovery far more effectively if they stay in place until economic conditions warrant their phaseout. ​Direct cash payments are an essential tool that will boost economic security, drive consumer spending, hasten the recovery, and promote certainty at all levels of government and the economy–for as long as necessary…

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Blanchard: Reopening the Economy—Noted

Olivier Blanchard: Reopening the Economy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrFIFWgDXuk&feature=youtu.be: 'Where we are depends on whether you're in Europe or not and where in Europe you are. But there are, I think, commonalities.... The stop was a policy decision based on very good health policy reasons. So the worst was at the beginning. From then on, it just goes up. The question is: at what speed? There I see three phases:

  1. In the very short run you end lockdown and allow firms to start again, even if not at full speed.... You are then going to make up part of the fall.... My sense is in most european countries where the virus is more or less under control you can make up about two-thirds of the fall. In the U.S. where things are not so good and people are... scared... then it could be that we only make up half....

  2. In the period between the end of this first one and the vaccine—the time when... we can stop physical distancing, restaurants can go back to the normal way they do business, people take planes without thinking too hard, and so on—recovery is going to be much slower because many sectors are still going to be affected... in a fairly strong way.... This would be a very tough period for a large number of firms and a large number of workers....

  3. Then the vaccine comes, hopefully sometime next year, and then we have... the long-run changes and reallocations. We don't have a good sense of whether... it is going to be the type of relocation we always see, or something much worse... structural unemployment for quite a while....

I am worried that people are going to see the numbers in the short run and think "Oh! Things are just fine."... Yes, for a while we're going to go up fairly fast.... IN the short run things are going to go better than people fear.... And in the medium run things might go worse than people hope.... I am slightly worried about optimism leading people and maybe governments not to do the right thing.... It starts like a "V" but very quickly it turns into something much more horizontal.... If we are not careful the horizontal portion could be long and bad....

In retrospect... with information we now have... maybe the lockdown was too strong. Maybe there was a way of doing it with slightly less economic cost. Now that's not a criticism of what was done because the precautionary principle is obvious... But it may be that it turned out to be more costly—economically, psychologically, and maybe politically—than we anticipated....

One thing that does seem possible in the long run is that machines don't get the virus, making robotization and all such trends accelerating even more....

We're facing two types of shocks looking forward: (1) shocks due to the presence of a virus at some fairly high level of intensity, [and] these will likely go away when the vaccine is here (think of restaurants)... (2) the hysteretic effects... when we've learned to do things differently... learned about different risks—telecommuting and all its implications is the quintessential example...

.#coronavirus #macro #noted #publichealth #2020-07-05

Was the Great Recession More Damaging Than the Great Depression?

Brad DeLong: Was the Great Recession More Damaging Than the Great Depression?: Your parents’—more likely your grandparents’—Great Depression opened with the then-biggest-ever stock market crash, continued with the largest-ever sustained decline in GDP, and ended with a near-decade of subnormal production and employment. Yet 11 years after the 1929 crash, national income per worker was 10 percent above its 1929 level. The next year, 12 years after, it was 28 percent above its 1929 level. The economy had fully recovered. And then came the boom of World War II, followed by the “thirty glorious years” of post-World War II prosperity. The Great Depression was a nightmare. But the economy then woke up—and it was not haunted thereafter. Our “Great Recession” opened in 2007 with what appeared to be a containable financial crisis. The economy subsequently danced on a knife-edge of instability for a year. Then came the crash — in stock market values, employment and GDP. The experience of the Great Depression, however, gave policymakers the knowledge and running room to keep our depression-in-the-making an order of magnitude less severe than the Great Depression. That’s all true. But it’s not the whole story. The Great Recession has cast a very large shadow on America’s future prosperity. We are still haunted by it... Read MOAR at Project Syndicate

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Paulus: COVID Was Never “Under Control”—Noted

A conceit of my in-draft economic history of the long twentieth century is that it was the American century, and that it came to an end, finally and ultimately, on November 8, 2016—when the second minority government led by somebody really not up to the job of president in anyone’s estimation took control. But I confess I did not think that even Donald Trump and his enablers could do so much damage. And I confess that I did not think that the most competent rank of Trump enablers would be as… simply stupid… as Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin really does seem to be:

Shannon Paulus: COVID Was Never “Under Control” in America https://slate.com/technology/2020/06/covid-never-under-control-america.html: ‘We need to remember this as we proceed with reopening: If we’ve learned anything in the past several months, it probably ought to be that the coronavirus is hard to contain.... Or at least, some of us have learned that. On Wednesday, in making a case for restaurants opening up indoor seating, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin suggested otherwise: “I don’t see why on an indoor basis, socially distanced, that restaurants can’t be serving indoors,” he said. “Particularly in parts of the country where COVID is under control.” He also seemed to not understand why indoor dining is a particular point of focus: "This distinction between indoor & outdoor seems a bit random, and I don’t know what people would do when it rains..." Let’s set aside Vox journalist Aaron Rupar’s correct point that people dining indoors is scientifically more dangerous for COVID spread than people dining outside. Mnuchin’s other suggestion is that the virus isn’t really an issue in some places of the country. He thinks that there are some places where case counts are low (this is objectively true) and that in these places we can begin loosening restrictions on activities not slowly and thoughtfully, but significantly... #coronavirus #depression #macro #noted #publichealth #2020-06-24

Goolsbee: 'Rona Cases, Not Lockdowns, Depress the Economy—Noted

Hell of a moment to have a large, loud indoor gathering in Arizona: Austan Goolsbee: 'The results from March-May https://twitter.com/Austan_Goolsbee/status/1275575900499775488 suggest that the fact that cases are back on the rise is very ominous not just for public health but for the economy. If people get scared again, a lot of activity may start to tank.... Short version: they don't do much. Of the 60% drop in consumer activity, only 7 came from shutdown orders. Fear of the virus is the main thing. The collapse of economic activity in 2020 from COVID-19 has been immense.... We have consumer visits to 2.3m businesses in 110 industries through the crisis. We tracked down the county level shutdown orders and can compare across borders in the same metro area where the policy differs.... Evidence of fear as the driver: 1) more covid deaths in your county drive down economic activity signif[icantly] even including metro-week dummies, 2) people heavily shift visits away from larger/busier stores to smaller/less busy ones in the same industry (and especially if lots of local deaths). We have data up to late May and include some states ending their shutdown orders. The increase in economic activity is just as modest coming out as it was going in. Policy itself isn't the driver. But there is one way policy matters: diversion from one kind of business to another. We have essential/non-essential definition in each place. Non-essential business collapses. Essential business soars. Restaurant/bar orders cause massive hit there but an equally big increase to grocery and food stores.... If people get scared again, a lot of activity may start to tank.…

.coronavirus #depression #macro #noted #publichealth #2020-06-23

State cases 2020 06 23

State new cases 2020 06 23

Trying to Prevent Another Subpar Recovery

A slow recovery from the coronavirus recession will be a societal policy choice. But I think that it is a societal policy choice that we are going to make. Adam Ozimek is trying to push back the tide, and it is a tide:

Adam Ozimek: '[Labor market] matching matters https://twitter.com/ModeledBehavior/status/1269979410947506177. The argument from the G[reat ]R[ecession] was never that recovery could happen overnight, but that it could have happened significantly faster...

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What To Watch For in the Employment Report

Equitable Growth alumnus Nick Bunker is closely watching the labor market in advance of this week’s employment report. The employment report will be one of our first significant clues as to the extent to which the coronavirus supply shock is turning into a demand shock as well:

Nick Bunker: May 2020 Jobs Day Preview: Tracking the Spread of the Coronavirus Shock https://www.hiringlab.org/2020/06/02/may-2020-jobs-day-preview/: ‘The coronavirus has devastated the US economy, leading to the destruction of over 21 million payroll jobs since February.... The concentration of job losses so far is unsurprising, with the leisure and hospitality sector seeing total employment drop by almost 50%. Employment in the utilities sector has barely fallen, losing less than 1% of jobs.

If the cumulative employment drop starts to pile up in utilities or other indirectly affected sectors, that could mean that more of the aggregate job loss is due to a systematic, economy-wide shock rather than a sector-specific one. Cumulative job loss will also put the eventual jobs recovery in a fuller context....

Hopes for a V-shaped recovery were already fleeting, but if more and more employers are shedding jobs, they might be gone for good. Elsewhere in the report, I’ll be looking for the answers to these questions:

  • Will unemployment due to reasons other than temporary layoff start to rise, as job loss becomes permanent?

  • Will employers continue to reduce work hours and shift more workers to involuntary part-time work?

  • How much further will the drop in the labor force participation rate hold down the rise in the unemployment rate?…

    coronavirus #equitablegrowth #labormarket #macro #noted #2020-06-02

What the Democrats Must Do: Project Syndicate

teddy roosevelt at plymouth rock

What the Democrats Must Do https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/democrats-must-embrace-full-employment-by-j-bradford-delong-2020-06: Although the United States has entered a period of deepening social strife and economic depression, the Republicans who are in charge have neither the ideas nor the competence to do anything about it. The Democrats must start planning to lead, starting with a commitment to full employment…. A federal commitment to full employment is not a new idea. The US Employment Act of 1946 embraced the principle.... The best response to... objections has always been John Maynard Keynes.... “Anything we can do, we can afford.”...

Far from acting as an independent binding constraint on economic activities, the financial system exists precisely to support such activities. Finding useful jobs for willing jobseekers is surely something we are capable of doing.

Adjusting the prevailing payments and financial structure to support full employment would of course have consequences.... Supporting full employment... may... require higher and more progressive taxes... sky-high debt... that we divert demand from elite consumption to labor-intensive sectors like public health. It also may require a large-scale labor-intensive public-works program. So be it. It’s time to make full employment our highest priority. Once we have done that, everything else will fall into place...

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Acting Comptroller Brian Brooks Is Way Out of Line

Equitable Growth’s Amanda Fischer finds the acting Comptroller of the Currency going way beyond his competence, apparently in order to try to curry favor with his political masters. It is his job to help avoid unnecessary negative financial and economic fallout from necessary public health measures. It is not his job to try to put constraints that would prevent undertaking necessary and desirable public health measures:

Amanda Fischer: ‘About this letter from Acting @USOCC head Brian Brooks to mayors & county officials... https://twitter.com/amandalfischer/status/1267831757950328832: ‘I have not seen such an opportunistic, inappropriate & frankly dangerous statement from a financial regulatory official maybe ever https://occ.gov/news-issuances/news-releases/2020/nr-occ-2020-73a.pdf. Brooks wrote to state & city officials basically telling them, "nice economy you have there; I wouldn't want anything to happen to it." It should be read as more of a threat than a warning. And it is obviously theatrics meant to endear himself to the President. Brooks is telling mayors & county officials that there may be a banking crisis if they don't reopen, as commercial businesses default on loans & cause a cascade of defaults that elected officials should consider.

A couple points on why Brooks is wildly inappropriate:

First, he's not an epidemiologist, and the OCC is independent of the Executive branch. He has no idea if reopening is actually worse for the economy. In fact, plenty of economists have cautioned against premature reopening as being bad for long-term growth & public health.

Second, it is not mayors' or county officials' responsibility to worry about financial stability. His examiners should do a better job of predicting losses, and the OCC and Federal Reserve should do a better job of ensuring banks are well-capitalized. Don't put this on mayors. It is also rich given the actions taken by the OCC and Federal Reserve to deplete banks' loss-absorbing capital, including allowing banks to continue to pay out dividends given all the risks Brooks cites in this letter.

Finally, the letter is wild, considering the debate in Congress right now. A simple way to keep the economy on ice is to ensure people & small businesses have adequate money to pay their bills. If people have money, creditors have money, & banks will be fine. Brooks' own political leadership seems to oppose extending UI, direct payments or other relief—relief that would ease pressure on the banking sector. Instead, Brooks is trying to threaten states and cities to reopen without regard for public health recommendations…

#coronavirus #macro #noted #orangehairedbaboons #2020-06-02

Why Do We Need Automatic Triggers?

The first and most crucial tasks of economic policy in the coronavirus public health crisis are to keep the supply shock from becoming a distributional shock and from becoming a demand shock as well. Successfully accomplishing these ranks requires, first, a great increase in social insurance spending: in a country as rich as this one is, nobody should be thrown in the poverty and destitution and have to deal with those problems as well as with the disease. The expansion of social insurance spending cannot be precisely targeted: lots of people will wind up getting more than their fair share. Too bad: it is inappropriate to make the best the enemy of the good and the attainable here, and to make it such that in order to prevent some from getting more than their share, we ensure that many who need support get much much less.

Somewhat similarly, the necessary expansion of aggregate demand in order to maintain and return the economy to as close to full employment as possible will attract, in fact has already attracted, critics. Preventing the coronavirus shock from becoming a major and prolonged demand shock will be inconsistent with the government not spending a lot more, will be inconsistent with a stability in the value of the national debt, will be inconsistent with avoiding a long run increase in taxes, may well be inconsistent with any form of normalizing interest rates to gratify rentiers, And might be inconsistent with maintaining a 2% per year Inflation target. Once again, the proper societal response would be: too bad. As John Maynard Keynes said: what we can do, we can afford in the sense of arranging government finances to make it so.

Our task is to arrange government finances so that Americans can do as much as possible, and not to hit what are some times artificial and are sometimes intermediate policy objectives targets:

Heather Boushey: Off-Kilter Podcast: Beyer + Boushey https://medium.com/@OffKilterShow/beyer-boushey-8be89af1e80: ‘Continuing Off-Kilter’s ongoing series on poverty and inequality in the age of COVID19… This week brought the somber news that 2.1 million more Americans filed for unemployment in the past week. This brings the total number of unemployment claims over the last 10 weeks to 40.8 million — more than a quarter of the American workforce. Meanwhile, 1 in 5 families, including 1 in 3 families with children, are reporting they can no longer afford adequate food.... We run through some of our listeners’ top FAQ — like, what are automatic triggers and why do we need them?... Rebecca sat down with Democratic Congressman Don Beyer, Vice Chair of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (and self-described “econ junkie”) and Heather Boushey, president & CEO of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth and author of Unbound: How Inequality Constricts Our Economy and What We Can Do About It. This episode’s guests: Congressman Don Beyer (D-VA), vice chair, U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee. Heather Boushey, president & CEO, Washington Center for Equitable Growth…

#coronavirus #equitablegrowth #macro #noted #socialinsurance #2020-06-02

Tracking the Labor Market Spread of the Coronavirus Shock

Nick Bunker: May 2020 Jobs Day Preview: Tracking the Spread of the Coronavirus Shock https://www.hiringlab.org/2020/06/02/may-2020-jobs-day-preview/#sendgrid_mc_email_subscribe: ‘The coronavirus has devastated the US economy, leading to the destruction of over 21 million payroll jobs since February.... The concentration of job losses so far is unsurprising, with the leisure and hospitality sector seeing total employment drop by almost 50%. Employment in the utilities sector has barely fallen, losing less than 1% of jobs. If the cumulative employment drop starts to pile up in utilities or other indirectly affected sectors, that could mean that more of the aggregate job loss is due to a systematic, economy-wide shock rather than a sector-specific one. Cumulative job loss will also put the eventual jobs recovery in a fuller context.... Hopes for a V-shaped recovery were already fleeting, but if more and more employers are shedding jobs, they might be gone for good. Elsewhere in the report, I’ll be looking for the answers to these questions: * Will unemployment due to reasons other than temporary layoff start to rise, as job loss becomes permanent? * Will employers continue to reduce work hours and shift more workers to involuntary part-time work? * How much further will the drop in the labor force participation rate hold down the rise in the unemployment rate?…

#forecasting #labormarket #macro #noted #2020-06-02

John Maynard Keynes: How Much Does Finance Matter?

John Maynard Keynes: How Much Does Finance Matter https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/article-keynes-finance-matter.pdf: ‘Where we are using up resources, do not let us submit to the vile doctrine of the nineteenth century that every enterprise must justify itself in pounds, shillings and pence of cash income, with no other denominator of values but this. I should like to see that war memorials of this tragic struggle take the shape of an enrichment of the civic life of every great centre of population. Why should we not set aside, let us say, £50 millions a year for the next twenty years to add in every substantial city of the realm the dignity of an ancient university or a European capital to our local schools and their surroundings, to our local government and its offices, and above all perhaps, to provide a local centre of refreshment and entertainment with an ample theatre, a concert hall, a dance hall, a gallery, a British restaurant, canteens, cafes and so forth. Assuredly we can afford this and much more. Anything we can actually do we can afford. Once done, it is there. Nothing can take it from us. We are immeasurably richer than our predecessors. Is it not evident that some sophistry, some fallacy, governs our collective action if we are forced to be so much meaner than they in the embellishments of life?…

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This Is Not Like the 1970s...

The extremely thoughtful David Glasner explains why those who analogize the coronavirus supply shock to the monopoly oil price shocks of the 1970s are profoundly mistaken. This is not an inflationary supply shock. This looks overwhelmingly likely be a profoundly deflationary supply shock:

David Glasner: “The Idleness of Each Is the Result of the Idleness of All” https://uneasymoney.com/2020/03/20/the-idleness-of-each-is-the-result-of-the-idleness-of-all/: ‘Whether the cause of the downturn is a supply shock or a demand shock. Some, perhaps many, seem to think that if the shock is a supply, rather than a demand, shock, then there is no role for a countercyclical policy response designed to increase demand...

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I do not see anyone inside the Trump administration understanding how the international monetary system works. And I see no sign that Steve Mnuchin—whose brief this is—is willing to spend any time trying to learn. But if he were, he would be listening to Barry Eichengreen. Right now COVID-19 is administering a disastrous health shock to the world. Following that is the less deadly but still important negative supply shock to our economies. Behind that is a manageable but as yet unmanaged knock-on domestic demand shock. And behind that is the rapidly-apporaching international financial crisis with its global negative demand shock that, as of yet, nobody is seriously trying to manage:

Barry Eichengreen: Managing the Coming Global Debt Crisis https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/managiing-coming-global-debt-crisis-by-barry-eichengreen-2020-05: ‘These countries’ private companies borrow in dollars.... When it comes to the stabilizing use of monetary and fiscal policies, emerging markets are hamstrung. Which is why we are back to Baker Plan 2.0...

...suspend[ing] interest payments... private creditors... roll[ing] over an additional $8 billion worth of commercial debt. That, at least, is something. But, to borrow the baseball apostle Yogi Berra’s line, it is also “déjà vu all over again.” The Baker Plan likewise proceeded on the premise that the shock was transient and that a temporary debt standstill would be enough....

By 1989, seven unproductive years after the onset of the crisis, the Baker Plan finally was superseded by the Brady Plan.... Debts were written down. Bank loans were converted into bonds—often a menu of securities from which investors selected their preferred terms and maturities. Advanced-economy governments facilitated the transaction by providing “sweeteners”.... Today’s crisis is also being treated as temporary, with a moratorium on interest payments and a promise of commercial credits remaining valid only through the end of the year. The reality is different. Weak global growth and depressed primary commodity prices will persist. Supply chains will be reorganized and shortened, auguring further disruptions of trade. Receipts from tourism and remittances will not pick up anytime soon. And unless the debt overhang is addressed, capital flows will not resume… #finance #internationalfinance #macro #noted #2020-05-27

2.4 Million More UI Filings

And the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that still more workers, 2.4 million of them, lost their jobs and applied for unemployment benefits in the past week. Relaxing lockdowns looks to have increased the virus caseload. Relaxing lockdowns has not all has not yet boosted production:

Equitable Growth: ’2.4 Million Workers Applied for Unemployment Benefits in the Week of May 10–16 https://twitter.com/equitablegrowth/status/1263447742627667968: 'According to the US DOL’s Weekly Unemployment Insurance claims report released today. Since the onset of the #coronavirus crisis in mid-March, 38.6 million workers have filed initial UI claims. The number of continued claims reached 25 million the week ending May 9. The insured unemployment rate, which represents the share of workers receiving benefits as a percentage of the labor force, reached 17.2 %—a 1.5 percentage point increase from the previous week. While the additional $600 in unemployment benefits stipulated under the #CARESAct are set to expire on July 31, the #HeroesAct, which passed the House of Representatives last Friday, would extend the extra benefits through January 2021. Want to learn more about why extending additional Unemployment Insurance benefits would be good for workers and the entire economy? Check out this piece by Kate Bahn https://www.barrons.com/articles/the-good-economics-behind-generous-unemployment-benefits-51585594272… #equitablegrowth #macro #noted #unemployment #2020-05-27

The extremely thoughtful David Glasner explains why those who analogize the coronavirus supply shock to the monopoly oil price shocks of the 1970s are profoundly mistaken. This is not an inflationary supply shock. This looks overwhelmingly likely be a profoundly deflationary supply shock:

David Glasner: “The Idleness of Each Is the Result of the Idleness of All” https://uneasymoney.com/2020/03/20/the-idleness-of-each-is-the-result-of-the-idleness-of-all/: ‘Whether the cause of the downturn is a supply shock or a demand shock...

...Some, perhaps many, seem to think that if the shock is a supply, rather than a demand, shock, then there is no role for a countercyclical policy response designed to increase demand.... The problem with that reasoning is that reductions in supply are themselves effectively reductions in demand. The follow-on reductions in demand constitute a secondary contractionary shock on top of the primary supply shock, thereby setting in motion a cumulative process of further reductions in supply and demand....

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Noted: Jackson & al.: Global Economic Effects of COVID-19...

We really have very little idea what the long-term and even the short term economic effect of the coronavirus will be. We have a somewhat better handle on the human mortality costs: a worst-case scenario of 240 million worldwide deaths, a bad-case scenario of 50 million worldwide deaths, and hopes that vaccines and much better antiviral treatment protocols will arrive soon enough to substantially reduce that death toll. But virus suppression is now a lost cause—individual countries can suppress and can thus hope to insulate their populations until vaccine arrival, but for the globe as a whole, we are in mitigation mode. And as for morbidity? We really do not know enough to say much of anything: James K. Jackson & al.: Global Economic Effects of COVID-19 https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R46270.pdf: ‘Since the COVID-19 outbreak was first diagnosed, it has spread to over 190 countries and all U.S. states. The pandemic is having a noticeable impact on global economic growth. Estimates so far indicate the virus could trim global economic growth by as much as 2.0% per month if current conditions persist. Global trade could also fall by 13% to 32%, depending on the depth and extent of the global economic downturn. The full impact will not be known until the effects of the pandemic peak. This report provides an overview of the global economic costs to date and the response by governments and international institutions to address these effects…

#coronavirus #macro #noted #orangehairedbaboons #2020-05-18

Noted: Bahn: JOLTS

Started by Equitable Growth alumnus Nick Bunker, its monthly JOLTS Day coverage—coverage of the release of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’s latest survey results on job openings and labor turnover—should be at the very top of the must-reads in your monthly must-read lists. These survey numbers are, of course, now two months stale, so they speak of a different world than we now live in. Nevertheless, they are very interesting: Kate Bahn & Carmen Sanchez Cumming: JOLTS Day Graphs: March 2020 Report Edition https://equitablegrowth.org/jolts-day-graphs-march-2020-report-edition/: ‘The quits rate decreased sharply from 2.3% in February to 1.8% in March, as workers’ confidence about job prospects declined amid the public health crisis and requisite state shutdowns…. While both the rates of job openings and hires decreased in March, openings did more so, leading to a slight increase in the vacancy yield… #equitablegrowth #labormarket #macro #noted #2020-05-18

Noted: Krugman & co.: The Case Against Austerity

The best webinar on why austerity is a really bad idea that I have yet managed to see. Basically, the world needs massive social-insurance spending right now for pandemic-related reasons and the world needs substantial inflation right now for macroeconomic balance reasons: https://www.evernote.com/l/AAFb_b4l7S9Af5l5hnVycrMskm11Y61DXQ4 Equitable Growth: A Conversation on Austerity: https://twitter.com/equitablegrowth/status/1262390906222792709 ‘Why, especially in an economic crisis, it is such a dangerous idea. RSVP: https://bit.ly/3dKnnrB… #equitable growth #macro #noted #2020-05-18

Noted: Boushey & Cumming: Coronavirus Recession

Much more attention should be being paid to the class skew in the economic pain being caused by the coronavirus recession: Heather Boushey & Carmen Sanchez Cumming: Coronavirus Recession Deepens U.S. Job Losses in April. Especially Among Low-Wage Workers & Women https://equitablegrowth.org/coronavirus-recession-deepens-u-s-job-losses-in-april-especially-among-low-wage-workers-and-women/: ‘many of the workers most affected by the swift economic downturn hold jobs that are not classified as essential and cannot be done from home. This month about 90 percent of job losses happened in sectors where less than one in five workers reported in a survey conducted between 2017 and 2018 that they have the option to telecommute. It is likely that this measure somewhat misrepresents the number of workers who have been able to work from home since the onset of the pandemic. Even so, with 7.7 million jobs lost in the leisure and hospitality industry alone, which makes up nearly half of all the jobs in that sector, jobs where workers previously rarely had the option to telecommute accounted for more than a third of this last month’s economy-wide decline in employment…

#coronavirus #depression #equitablegrowth #inequality #macro #noted #2020-05-13

Noted: Sahm & al.: Household Response to the 2008 Tax Rebate

Claudia R. Sahm & al.: Household Response to the 2008 Tax Rebate http://www-personal.umich.edu/~shapiro/papers/w15421.pdf: 'Only about one-fifth of respondents in the Reuters/University of Michigan survey report that the 2008 tax rebates led them to mostly increase spending, while over half said it would lead them to mostly pay off debt. Of those in the mostly-spend category, the response was swift, with over 80 percent reporting increasing their spending within three months of receiving their rebate. Older households, households with higher wealth and higher income, and those expecting future income growth were generally more likely to spend the rebates. A review of other surveys confirms the general pattern of results and suggests that small changes in survey design do not have a major effect on the distribution of responses. The distribution of survey answers corresponds to an aggregate MPC after one year of about one-third. The paper combines this survey-based estimate of the MPC and the survey-based estimate of the timing of spending to show that the rebates help explain the aggregate movements in saving, spending, and debt in 2008. Because the rebate was large and distributed over a short period, it had a non-trivial effect on total spending in the second and third quarters of 2008. Nonetheless, the results imply that the rebates provided only a modest stimulus to spending per dollar of rebate...

#fiscalpolicy #macro #noted #2020-05-13

Noted: Boushey: The Path to Recovery

It really is not too late to turn the coronavirus recession into a sharp V-shaped recession. But I would say that the odds that we are going to do so are less than 10%. Only a very small number of people with any access to the levers of power or the megaphones understand that the keys to rapid recovery lie in boosting aggregate demand quickly by enough and in ensuring that businesses are not sent miss leading "bankruptcy shut down” signals. Heather Boushey understands this. Only a small proportion of other people of status and influence in Washington DC understand this:

Heather Boushey: It’s Not too Late to Put the American Economy on a Path to Recovery https://medium.com/@heatherboushey/its-not-too-late-to-put-the-american-economy-on-a-path-to-recovery-809fa1259fdc: ‘We know what we need to do in a recession...

...Unemployment Insurance, aid to the states, enhanced nutrition support, direct payments—and infrastructure and job programs—are the tried-and-true programs that stabilize the macroeconomy while supporting America’s families. Decades of evidence show these programs work. Now, in this package, Congress should ensure that the supports we put in place stay in place by crafting them so that they trigger off when the labor market recovers, and not before… #coronavirus #macro #noted #2020-05-12

Employment Population Ratio

Not as bad as I had feared it would be. But the Coronavirus Depression was here in April: BLS: Employment Situation Summary https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm: ‘Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 20.5 million in April, and the unemployment rate rose to 14.7 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The changes in these measures reflect the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it.... This is the highest rate and the largest over-the-month increase in the history of the series (seasonally adjusted data are available back to January 1948).... The labor force participation rate decreased by 2.5 percentage points over the month to 60.2 percent, the lowest rate since January 1973 (when it was 60.0 percent). Total employment, as measured by the household survey, fell by 22.4 million to 133.4 million. The employment-population ratio, at 51.3 percent, dropped by 8.7 percentage points over the month. This is the lowest rate and largest over-the-month decline in the history of the series (seasonally adjusted data are available back to January 1948).... Establishment Survey Data: Total nonfarm payroll employment fell by 20.5 million in April, after declining by 870,000 in March…

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Note to Self: Francois Velde on Economic Effects of Spanish Flu: European Macro History Online Seminar

Note to Self: "European Macro History Online Seminar: session 1" will begin in 1 hour on: Date Time: Apr 21, 2020 04:00 PM Paris: Francois Velde on economic effects of Spanish Flu:


Employment in the Spanish Flu


The Early Amazon Effect: Mail-Order Retail in the Spanish Flu

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Dealing with Coronavirus: The Hunker Down and the Jubilee


The problem of dealing with the economic policy consequences of the current coronavirus public health emergency is best analyzed in two pieces: the Jubilee, and the Hunker Down.


Bringing the Jubilee

What is the Jubilee? It happens after we have managed to get the virus under control, so that normal public health measures of (1) testing a random panel sample periodically to understand where we are, (2) testing the symptomatic, (3) tracing and testing their contacts, and (4) hospitalizing patients with serious illnesses can manage the situation as best as it can be managed.

Note: I say “managed” rather than eliminated. The extent of asymptomatic transmission means that this disease will not be eliminated. It will become endemic. The task is to delay until our virologists can work their miracles. The task is to delay so that the medical care system is not overwhelmed so that we can keep mortality from the disease at 1% rather than 5% or more.

Once the virus is under control—by June 1, say—we will want every job that existed on February 1 and every business that was running on February 1 to resume. We will want no business to have received a “bankruptcy shut down“ from the market system. We will want no worker to have a received a “you are not wanted“ signal from the market economy.

There is a side constraint on the Jubilee: whatever policies we adopt need to be crafted to minimize unjust enrichment. Perhaps the second biggest economic policy mistake committed by the Obama administration was that its policies to deal with the great recession were both inadequate out of the fear of being perceived to contribute to unjust enrichment, and yet somehow also managed to generate a huge amount of unjust enrichment for the financial sector.


Hunkering Down

Then there is the question of how to manage the Hunker Down. In the Hunker Down, social distancing needs to reach a level that reduces the caseload to what the medical system can currently handle, but should not be pushed far beyond that point. Beyond that point, the benefits of generating a situation in which our ICUs and emergency rooms have excess capacity are low and the costs are high. In the Hunker Down, as many people as possible need to be given financial incentives to move into new productive occupations that provide useful goods and services without disrupting social distance. And in the hunker down, everyone needs to receive the income flow they need to pay their bills.

Managing the Hunker Down and bringing the Jubilee are two separate problems that need to be designed and implemented separately. We need to think about both. We need to keep worries about bringing the Jubilee from damaging our ability to undertake the Hunker Down. We need to keep inplementing the Hunker Down from impairing our power to bring the Jubilee.

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Bloomberg-BNN TalkIng Points on Economic Situation

  • At the moment, we have a huge negative supply shock
  • But as people lose their jobs as a result of this negative supply shock, it is going to turn into a demand shock
  • And we also have a very powerful distribution shock as well
  • We want to offset the demand shock without overdoing it
  • We want to let the prices of goods and services in high demand rise to encourage people to produce more of them
  • Hence an interesting policy problem:
    • The right inflation rate for the next 3 months is not 2%
    • The right inflation rate for the next 3 months is 2% + (share of the economy in high demand) x (how much prices need to rise to boost supply of commoditeis in high mand)/4
    • The right monetary policy is... stimulative, but uncertain...
    • The right fiscal policy is... stimulative, but uncertain...
    • The right distribution policy is... massive boost to unemployment insurance: 100% replacement for those who lose their jobs
    • The right lending policy is... lend enough on easy enough terms that businesses stay afloat, but not enough that stockholders make out like bandits—they are risk bearers, aren't they? Handsomely paid. Now is when they earn the money they earn in normal times...

  • I really wish the public health people were being louder and more forthcoming...
  • Because we do not know where we are
  • At the moment, 200 deaths in USA
    • Takes 4 weeks to die
    • At a 1% death rate, that means 20000 cases in U.S. on Feb 20
    • At a 3.33% death rate, that means 6000 cases in U.S. on Feb 20
  • If cases have been doubling every 7 days...
    • Then at least 100000 cases in the U.S. right now (and our testing is missing 6 out of 7)
  • If cases have been doubling every 4 days...
    • Then at most 2000000 cases in the U.S. right now (and our current testing is missing nearly everybody)
  • We don't know which it is, because Trump said he didn't want bad numbers
    • At the moment, 12% of those being tested are coming out as positive
    • But to get the true fraction, you need to multiply that 12% by (those who have it who got tested)/(those who have it), and then divide the result by (those who don't have it who got tested)/(those who don't have it).
      • & because are testing is messed up AF, we have no idea what those two key ratios are...
  • And the Trumpists saluted and slow-walked building up testing capacity
  • He should have been impeached and removed from office last week for this High Crime alone...

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Time to Bang My Head Against the Wall Some More (Pre-Elementary Monetary Economics Department): Hoisted from the Archives from 2009

Hoisted from the Archives: Time to Bang My Head Against the Wall Some More (Pre-Elementary Monetary Economics Department) https://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2009/01/time-to-bang-my-head-against-the-wall-some-more-pre-elementary-monetary-economics-department.html: Oh boy. John Cochrane does not know something that David Hume did--that the velocity of monetary circulation is an economic variable rather than a technological constant. Cochrane:

Fiscal Fallacies: First, if money is not going to be printed, it has to come from somewhere. If the government borrows a dollar from you, that is a dollar that you do not spend, or that you do not lend to a company to spend on new investment. Every dollar of increased government spending must correspond to one less dollar of private spending.  Jobs created by stimulus spending are offset by jobs lost from the decline in private spending. We can build roads instead of factories, but fiscal stimulus can’t help us to build more of both. This is just accounting, and does not need a complex argument about “crowding out”...

Let us take this slowly.

  1. Suppose that we have four agents: Alice, Beverly, Carol, and Deborah.

  2. Suppose that Beverly has $500 in cash that she owes Carol, due in two months. Suppose that Alice and Carol are both unemployed and idle.

  3. In one scenario in two months Beverly goes to Carol and pays her the $500. End of story.

  4. In a second scenario Beverly says to Alice: "I have a house. Why don't you build a deck--I will pay you $500 after the work is done. Here is the contract." Alice takes the contract and goes to Carol. She shows the contract to Carol and says: "See. I will be good for the debt. Cook me meals so I will have the strength to build the deck--here's another contract in which I promise to pay you $500 within 90 days if you cook for me." Carol agrees.

  5. Two months pass. Carol cooks and feeds Alice. Alice goes and builds the deck.

  6. Alice then asks Beverly for payment. Beverly says: "Wait a minute." She goes to Carol and says: "Here is the the $500 cash I owe you." Beverly pays the money to Carol. Beverly then says: "But now could I borrow the cash back by offering you a long-term mortgage at an attractive interest rate secured with an interest in my newly more-valuable house?" Carol says: "Sure." Beverly files an amended deed showing Carol's mortgage lien with the town office. Carol gives Beverly back the $500. Beverly then goes to Alice and pays her the $500. Alice then goes to Carol and pays her the $500.

  7. The net result? (a) Alice who would otherwise have been idle has been employed--has traded her labor for meals. (b) Carol who would otherwise have been idle has been employed--has traded her labor for a secured lien on Beverly's house. (c) Beverly has taken out a mortgage on her house and in exchange has gotten a deck built. (d) Carol has the $500 cash that Beverly owed her in the first place.

  8. Alice has more income and consumption expenditure than if she hadn't taken Beverly's job offer. Carol has more income and saving than if she hadn't cooked for Alice and then invested her earnings with Beverly. Beverly has an extra capital asset (the deck) and an extra financial liability (the mortgage) than if she had never offered to hire Alice.

  9. A deck has gotten built. Meals have been cooked and eaten. Two women have been employed. And all this has happened without printing any extra money.

John Cochrane would say that this is impossible.

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Weekend Reading: John Maynard Keynes: On Speculation, from The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money


Weekend Reading: John Maynard Keynes: On Speculation, from The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money https://www.bradford-delong.com/2015/02/weekend-reading-john-maynard-keynes-the-general-theory-of-employment-interest-and-money-by-john-maynard-keynes-1.html: 'The professional investor is forced to concern himself with the anticipation of impending changes, in the news or in the atmosphere, of the kind by which experience shows that the mass psychology of the market is most influenced. This is the inevitable result of investment markets organised with a view to so-called ‘liquidity’. Of the maxims of orthodox finance none, surely, is more anti-social than the fetish of liquidity, the doctrine that it is a positive virtue on the part of investment institutions to concentrate their resources upon the holding of ‘liquid’ securities. It forgets that there is no such thing as liquidity of investment for the community as a whole. The social object of skilled investment should be to defeat the dark forces of time and ignorance which envelop our future. The actual, private object of the most skilled investment to-day is ‘to beat the gun’, as the Americans so well express it, to outwit the crowd, and to pass the bad, or depreciating, half-crown to the other fellow...

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Note to Self: The Two Faces of Jean-Baptiste Say... https://www.bradford-delong.com/2010/04/the-two-faces-of-jean-baptiste-say.html: Say I (1803): A Treatise on Political Economy Book I, Chapter XV:

To say that sales are dull, owing to the scarcity of money, is to mistake the means for the cause; an error that proceeds from the circumstance, that almost all produce is in the first instance exchanged for money, before it is ultimately converted into other produce: and the commodity, which recurs so repeatedly in use, appears to vulgar apprehensions the most important of commodities, and the end and object of all transactions, whereas it is only the medium. Sales cannot be said to be dull because money is scarce, but because other products are so. There is always money enough to conduct the circulation and mutual interchange of other values, when those values really exist. Should the increase of traffic require more money to facilitate it, the want is easily supplied, and is a strong indication of prosperity—a proof that a great abundance of values has been created, which it is wished to exchange for other values. In such cases, merchants know well enough how to find substitutes for the product serving as the medium of exchange or money...


Say II (1829): Cours Complet d'Economie Politique Pratique:

The Bank [of England], legally obliged to redeem its banknotes in specie, regarded itself as obliged to buy gold back at any price, and to coin money at a loss and at considerable expense. To limit its losses, it forced the return of its banknotes, and ceased to put new notes into circulation. It was then obliged to cease to discount commercial bills. Provincial banks were in consequence obliged to follow the same course, and commerce found itself deprived at a stroke of the advances on which it had counted, be it to create new businesses, or to give a lease of life to the old. As the bills that businessmen had discounted came to maturity, they were obliged to meet them, and finding no more advances from the bankers, each was forced to use up all the resources at his disposal. They sold goods for half what they had cost. Business assets could not be sold at any price. As every type of merchandise had sunk below its costs of production, a multitude of workers were without work. Many bankruptcies were declared among merchants and among bankers, who having placed more bills in circulation than their personal wealth could cover, could no longer find guarantees to cover their issues beyond the undertakings of individuals, many of whom had themselves become bankrupt...

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Executive Summary of Obama Transition Economic Policy Work: Hoisted from the Archives


Hoisted from the Archives: Note that if 600 billion in fiscal stimulus would have reduced the expected unemployment rate as of the end of 2010 from 9.5% to 8%, 900 billion would still have left the economy with an expected end-of-2010 unemployment rate of 7.25%. And, of course, the memo ought to have highlighted that things had a 50% chance of being worse than expected—even considerably worse, which they were: the end of 2010 unemployment rate was 9.3%. To seek as your economic policy goal a set of policies that would might well have—and did—leave the unemployment rate two years hence above 9% seemed like malpractice on the part of the Obama-Emmanuel-Biden team then. It still seems like it was malpractice now: Obama National Economic Council Presumptive (December 2008): EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF ECONOMIC POLICY WORK https://delong.typepad.com/20091215-obama-economic-policy-memo.pdf: 'In the absence of fiscal stimulus the economy is projected to lose 3 to 4 million jobs in 2009. Together with the jobs we have already lost and population growth, we will be 7 million jobs short of full employment. The unemployment rate is projected to rise above 9 percent and not projected to start falling until 2011. We believe that $600 billion in stimulus over two years would create 2.5 million jobs relative to what would happen in the absence of stimulus. However, this falls well short of filling the job shortfall and would leave the unemployment rate at 8 percent two years from now. This has convinced the economic team that a considerably larger package is justified.... The memo outlines four alternative plan ranging from $550 billion to $890 billion...

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Brad DeLong Says More...: Project Syndicate

Project Syndicate: [Brad DeLong Says More...](htt*PS*: //us10.campaign-archive.com/?u=9116789a51839e0f88fa29b83&id=646c7b19aa&e=a7192bc790): Project Syndicate: One forgotten lesson of the Great Depression, you wrote last month, is that “persistent ultra-low interest rates mean the economy is still short of safe, liquid stores of value, and thus in need of further monetary expansion”...

...Since then, the US Federal Reserve has cut the federal funds rate – a move that you argued in March could either stave off a recession or drastically undermine the Fed’s capacity to respond to one. What steps should the Fed take to help encourage the former and prevent the latter? At a time of growing political pressure on the Fed, what approach is it likely to take?

Brad DeLong: Back in 1992, Larry Summers and I warned participants at the Fed’s annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, that low inflation and high equity-return and bond-risk premiums do not play well together. Dealing with a typical recession had, historically, required that the Fed cut the federal funds rate by five full percentage points. A large recession would require even larger cuts.

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Stop Inflating the Inflation Threat: Project Syndicate


Project Syndicate: Stop Inflating the Inflation Threat https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/us-inflation-flat-phillips-curve-by-j-bradford-delong-2019-10: Given the scale and severity of inflation in America in the 1970s, it is understandable that US monetary policymakers developed a deep-seated fear of it. But, nearly a half-century later, the conditions that justified such worries no longer apply, and it is past time that we stopped denying what the data are telling us.: I remember September 2014: That month the U.S. unemployment rate dropped below 6%, and I was assured by very many that that meant that the Phillips Curve predicted that inflation would soon be on the rise, and that it was time for the Federal Reserve to begin to—rapidly—normalize monetary policy—to begin shrinking the monetary base, and raising interest rates back into a "normal" range. Today unemployment is 2.5%-points lower than what I was then assured was the "natural" rate of unemployment. According to the rule-of-thumb as they stood back when I was an assistant professor in 1990, such a low unemployment rate should lead annual inflation to climb by 1.3%-points every year: if this year inflation were to be 2.0%, next year's would be 3.3%, and—if unemployment stayed this low—the year after that's would be 4.6%, and the year after that 5.9%.

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No, We Don’t “Need” a Recession


Project Syndicate: No, We Don’t “Need” a Recession https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/myth-of-needed-recession-by-j-bradford-delong-2019-10: Business cycles can end with a "rolling readjustment" in which asset values are marked back down to reflect underlying fundamentals, or they can end in depression and mass unemployment. There is never any good reason why the second option should prevail: BERKELEY – I recently received an email from my friend Mark Thoma of the University of Oregon, asking if I had noticed an increase in commentaries suggesting that a recession would be a good and healthy purge for the economy (or something along those lines). In fact, I, too, have noticed more commentators expressing the view that “recessions, painful as they are, are a necessary growth input.” I am rather surprised by it.

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Time for Another Rate Cut by the Federal Reserve!: Wednesday Forecasting

My rule-of-thumb, the result of my degree in forecasting from Parker Brothers University, is that the best estimate of the current state of the labor market is to average the ADP number that came out this morning with the BLS number that will come out on Friday. And my rule-of-thumb is that the BLS number is likely to be 1/3 of the way from the current trend to the ADP number. With the current trend at about 130,000 jobs per month, and with today’s ADP number at 70,000, I now think that the economy added only 90,000 payroll jobs last month. I think that is enough of a warning light that it ought to trigger another Federal Reserve rate cut, given the tail risk generated by the chaos monkey in Washington:

ADP: November Employment Report http://www.adpemploymentreport.com/2019/November/NER/docs/ADP-NATIONAL-EMPLOYMENT-REPORT-November2019-Final-Press-Release.pdf:


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I do confess that I am sad that §7.6 of my "Smith, Marx, Keynes" lecture notes https://www.icloud.com/keynote/0osOOsPvSrTaiK4__D5MghPVA is still just huge honking quotes from Paul Krugman's Mr. Keynes and the Moderns https://delong.typepad.com/files/keynes-moderns.pdf. I kinda want to say "just read the whole thing". But here are the passages I chose:

Chapter 12 is, of course, the wonderful, brilliant chapter on long-term expectations, with its acute observations on investor psychology, its analogies to beauty contests, and more. Its essential message is that investment decisions must be made in the face of radical uncertainty to which there is no rational answer, and that the conventions men use to pretend that they know what they are doing are subject to occasional drastic revisions, giving rise to economic instability. What Chapter 12ers insist is that this is the real message of Keynes, that all those who have invoked the great man’s name on behalf of quasi-equilibrium models that push this insight into the background, from John Hicks to Paul Samuelson to Mike Woodford, have violated his true legacy...

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Lecture Notes: Smith, Marx, Keynes: Thanksgiving 2019 DRAFT

I have finished (a draft of) my "Smith, Marx, Keynes" lecture notes—well, I have not written 7.6 and 8.2. For 7.6, I have simply dumped in (much of) Paul Krugman's Mr. Keynes and the Moderns. 8.2 I have not written anything on. But what it is, it is...


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Contra Raghu Rajan: Economic Stimulus Has Not Failed, It Has Not Been Tried (on a Large Enough Scale)

Hoisted from the Archives from 2013: Contra Raghu Rajan: Economic Stimulus Has Not Failed, It Has Not Been Tried (on a Large Enough Scale): "Back in 2007 I would have said that every macroeconomist who has done any homework at all believes that coordinated monetary and fiscal expansion together increase at least the flow of nominal GDP. Now comes the very smart Raghu Rajan to say, apparently, not so.... From my perspective... Raghu is... saying that if we were to undertake more aggressive coordinated monetary and fiscal expansion we would hit the inflation wall sooner than I think likely--that the difficulties of retraining and readjustment mean that the division of the increase in the flow of spending would soon shift to 100% inflation, 0% extra production. Perhaps it will. But we have not gotten there yet. We are still in a world where the flow of nominal GDP in the North Atlantic is some six percentage points below its pre-2008 trend. Fix that trend of nominal GDP first via coordinated monetary and fiscal expansion, and then we will examine the division at the margin of PY into P and Y, and talk…...

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Hoisted from the Archives: From Eight Years Ago: The Way the World Looked to Me in the Summer of 2011

Hoisted from the Archives: The Way the World Looked to Me in the Summer of 2011: Back in the summer of 2009, Barack Obama had five economic policy principals on the Treasury Bench:

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How Damaging Is Plutocracy for Economic Policy?

Is Plutocracy Really the Problem by J Bradford DeLong Project Syndicate

No Longer Fresh at Project Syndicate: Is Plutocracy Really the Problem?: After the 2008 financial crisis, economic policymakers in the United States did enough to avert another Great Depression, but fell far short of what was needed to ensure a strong recovery. Attributing that failure to the malign influence of the plutocracy is tempting, but it misses the root of the problem.... In fact, big money does not always find a way, nor does its influence necessarily increase as the top 0.01% captures a larger share of total income.... The larger issue...is an absence of alternative voices. If the 2010s had been anything like the 1930s, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Conference Board would have been aggressively calling for more investment in America, and these arguments would have commanded the attention of the press. Labor unions would have had a prominent voice as advocates for a high-pressure economy. Both would have had very powerful voices inside the political process through their support of candidates. Did the top 0.01% put something in the water to make the media freeze out such voices after 2008?... Read MOAR at Project Syndicate

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Weekend Reading: John Stuart Mill (1829): Of the Influence of Consumption on Production

Living Wage report shows economy is based on Victorian workhouse Goldsmiths University of London

Weekend Reading: The birth of macroeconomics as we know it back in 1829. But Mill gets one big thing wrong: a depression happens whenever there is an uncompensated sharp rise in the demand for money, and such sharp rises can and do have many causes—nominal illusion in a time of inflation leading to "over investment" is only one of them. And, of course, Mill as absolutely hopeless with respect to the cure: John Stuart Mill (1829): Of the Influence of Consumption on Production https://delong.typepad.com/mill-questions.pdf: "Periods of 'brisk demand' are also the periods of greatest production: the national capital is never called into full employment but at those periods. This, however, is no reason for desiring such times; it is not desirable that the whole capital of the country should be in full employment. For, the calculations of producers and traders being of necessity imperfect, there are always some commodities which are more or less in excess, as there are always some which are in deficiency. If, therefore, the whole truth were known, there would always be some classes of producers contracting, not extending, their operations. If all are endeavouring to extend them, it is a certain proof that some general delusion is afloat...

...The commonest cause of such delusion is some general, or very extensive, rise of prices (whether caused by speculation or by the currency) which persuades all dealers that they are growing rich. And hence, an increase of production really takes place during the progress of depreciation, as long as the existence of depreciation is not suspected; and it is this which gives to the fallacies of the currency school.... But when the delusion vanishes and the truth is disclosed, those whose commodities are relatively in excess must diminish their production or be ruined: and if during the high prices they have built mills and erected machinery, they will be likely to repent at leisure. In the present state of the commercial world... unreasonable hopes and unreasonable fears alternately rule with tyrannical sway... general eagerness to buy and general reluctance to buy succeed one another... at brief intervals.

Except during short periods of transition, there is almost always either great briskness of business or great stagnation; either the principal producers of almost all the leading articles of industry have as many orders as they can possibly execute, or the dealers in almost all commodities have their warehouses full of unsold goods....

It may very well occur, that there may be... a very general inclination to sell with as little delay as possible, accompanied with an equally general inclination to defer all purchases as long as possible....It is true that this state can be only temporary, and must even be succeeded by a reaction of corresponding violence, since those who have sold without buying will certainly buy at last, and there will then be more buyers than sellers. But although the general over-supply is of necessity only temporary, this is no more than may be said of every partial over-supply. An overstocked state of the market is always temporary, and is generally followed by a more than common briskness of demand...

#macro #weekendreading

Hoisted from the Archives: Department of "Huh!?": Raghu Rajan Is a Member of the Pain Caucus, and I Don't Understand Why...

stacks and stacks of books

Department of "Huh!?": Back in 2010, there were a great many people for whom I had immense respect who were members of the Pain Caucus. And I still cannot follow what they were thinking at all. Construction had already shrunk fully by late 2007. It remains a great mystery—was it just a Chicago echo chamber in which people did not look at data?:

Raghu Rajan Is a Member of the Pain Caucus, and I Don't Understand Why...: Raghu Rajan: "this recession is not a 'usual' recession. It followed a period of ultra-low interest rates when interest sensitive segments of the economy got a tremendous boost. The United States had far too much productive capacity devoted to durable goods and houses, because consumers could obtain financing for them easily. With households recovering slowly from the overhang of debt resulting from the binge, and with lenders extremely risk averse, it is unrealistic to expect households to spend beyond their means again, and unwise to try to tempt them to do so...

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This From Dan Alpert Still Makes Immense Sense

Note to Self: 30-Year Treasury bonds continue astonishingly, bizarrely low:

30 Year Treasury Constant Maturity Rate DGS30 FRED St Louis Fed

It is no longer the case that they are at their lowest levels ever, but this from Dan Alpert still makes immense sense: Dan Alpert: "We awake this morning to an all-time low yield on 30 year US Treasury bond: 2.107%. This is nearly 40 basis points below the average interest rate on all marketable treasury securities https://t.co/j3trQPFxfN. It is time to borrow and invest in infrastructure #LockItIn:


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Solow Growth Model: Python Class/Notebook

CANDIDATE: Solow Growth Model Derived and modified from Stachurski-Sargent http://quantecon.org. A Python class for simulations using the Solow Growth Model, with additional code for performing simulations with baseline- and alternative-scenario parameter values. Focuses on the capital-output ratio κ as the key state variable, as it is (a) observable, and (b) with constant growth-model parameter values converges exactly (in continuous time at least) as an exponential. Now ready to hand over to others for tightening and additions:


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August 16, 2019: Weekly Forecasting Update

Industrial Production Manufacturing NAICS IPMAN FRED St Louis Fed

The market has now delivered 100 basis points of easing in the ten-year Treasury window since the end of last October. On the 30-year bond, you would have made a 20% profit if you both it last October and sold it today, compared to a 3.5% profit on the S&P Composite over the same period. That is a major, major sentiment shift. That means that a number of people short debt with riskier operations than the S&P Composite are about to face margin calls and rollover difficulties. We will shortly see how solvent the market judges them.

Meanwhile, There was essentially no news about real GDP last week: The Federal Reserve Bank of New York nowcast stands at 1.8% for 2019:Q3.

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