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George Warren, market monetarist

Market monetarists like myself have criticized the “wait and see” approach used by many macroeconomists. This refers to the tendency of economists to watch how the economy plays out over time, after a new policy initiative. This technique is not reliable, as the economy is constantly being buffeted by all sorts of shocks, and it’s not easy to isolate the impact of any one shock. Instead, the immediate impact of policy announcements on market forecasts provides the...

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An Alternative Perspective on Anglo-American Economic Liberties

As economic freedom gains traction in different spheres of the world, with marked successes most notable in Asia of late, understanding how markets come about within a state of economic freedom are tied closely to limitations on arbitrary executive powers. Michael Patrick Leahy’s Covenant of Liberty: The Ideological origins of the Tea Party movement assess the emergence of the Tea Party movement in the United States, which gained steam in 2008, arguing the US draws...

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GOT’s final season may have been disappointing, but not on politics

There are a number of remarkable things about Game of Thrones. One is of course how millions of people are, synchronously, watching the series’ ending. This sort of collective TV viewing was once reserved for big sports matches, or perhaps for a few great rock music concerts, like LiveAid. Many people have commented on the last episodes. They are full of plot faults. Still, at least there is no JarJarBinks or young Anakin spoiling the franchise. The last one has...

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Letter from an “Anti-School Teacher”

I recently received this email from a self-styled “anti-school teacher.”  Reprinted unchanged with permission of the author, Samuel Mosley. Dear Professor Caplan, My name is Samuel Mosley. I studied economics at Beloit College, my advisor was a former graduate student of yours, Laura Grube. I recently read The Case Against Education and it explained so much of what I see. Like many new graduates who do not know exactly what they want to do but want to do something...

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Virtue and vice signalling

Robert Shrimsley has an amusing piece in the Financial Times, which discusses virtue signalling: Virtue-signalling, for those who have never felt drawn to the term, is the apparently modern crime of trying to be seen doing the right thing. The implication is that the virtue-signaller does not really believe what they are saying but simply wishes to be admired as a good person. It is most often used against celebs who identify with more fashionable or liberal political...

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Alice Rivlin Reminiscences

I discussed the late Alice Rivlin here and here. Here are one personal reminiscence about Alice Rivlin and one thought about a 1993 or 1994 Wall Street Journal op/ed she wrote. At the December 1988 American Economic Association Meetings, Alice was on a panel with Martin Feldstein and Mike Boskin. The chair was Joe Stiglitz and the discussants were Joe Pechman, George Break, and John Shoven. The topic was “Tax Policy for the Next Administration.” In her comments,...

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Alice Rivlin Continued

Yesterday, I posted some highlights from a 2002 interview with Alice Rivlin. Here are more highlights from that interview. Speaking Truth to President Clinton Then we went back and worked on the draft and sent it over to him. He read it, and we had another meeting. He had clearly read it, and he’d marked it up, and he’d had some ideas about it. He wanted to add things. We added this and we added that. Finally he came up with an idea—I don’t remember the substance of...

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Recognizing a Tyrant or Tyrant-To-Be

Societies are made of more than one individual. If a ruler governed only one individual, it would be easy to find whether or not he is a tyrant: just ask his single subject. Does “society” love its ruler? But in any actual country, the fact that a minority or even a majority of the ruled supports a ruler does not mean that he is not a tyrant. That a society must not be conceived as a single individual is a central feature of the methodological individualism used by...

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Alice Rivlin RIP

Economist Alice Rivlin died Tuesday at age 88. She was my favorite liberal (in the modern, not classical, sense) economist. She called it the way she saw it and was generally regarded by all sides as independent. That sometimes got her in hot water with her fellow Democrats. I have two stories about her, one about an interaction she and I had at the American Economic Association annual meetings in New York in December 1988, and one about a very telling Wall Street...

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A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing

Generally speaking, there’s an advantage to being better-educated. But is this always true? There are actually quite a few cases where education leads people astray. Thus it is often better educated people who say silly things like “IQ doesn’t measure anything important”. Occasionally, being somewhat well educated leads one astray, whereas being highly educated leads one back to the truth. Consider this question: Would our economy benefit if Americans were to save...

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