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Tag Archives: Central Planning

Central Planning of Water Levels

Do the Central Planners Give a Damn? I have a cottage at Minaki, Ontario, which is down the Winnipeg River from the Lake of the Woods. Under a treaty between Canada and the United States, the Lake of the Woods can’t go above a certain level. The reason is that part of the Lake of the Woods is in Canada and part is in the United States. So when it gets close to that level, the government opens the dam at the north end of the lake to let the water flow downstream. We...

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Cecilia Rouse on Biden Economic Policy, Part III

This is my final post on Cecilia Rouse’s talk last Thursday on Biden’s Economic policies. Part I is here and Part II is here. 30:00: Many people say that the increased child care tax credit and the enhanced unemployment benefits were a disincentive to work. “The evidence on that is not as strong as one might think, at least theoretically. I’m not going to say that there was no impact on labor supply.” But, she added, the evidence on the effect of enhanced...

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Is there a “right” angle to industrial policy?

Our sister website, Law and Liberty, is hosting a forum discussion on industrial policy.  The discussion begins with a masterful piece by Acton Institute’s Sam Gregg. Gregg rejects the notion of “broad-based growth”, defined by the World Bank as economic growth which is “broad-based across sectors, and inclusive of the large part of the country’s labor force.” There are a number of excellent points Sam’s article (beginning with the first paragraph), but let me single...

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That Awful Russian Oligarch

The UK has imposed sanctions on Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, freezing his assets even after he vowed to sell off a major football club and donate the proceeds to victims of the war in Ukraine. The much-needed humanitarian aid is now in limbo amid a Western inquisition against all things Russian. This is from Kyle Anzalone and Will Porter, “UK Sanctions Russian Billionaire, Barring Him From Aiding Ukrainians,” Antiwar.com, March 10, 2022. Another excerpt: In...

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Joel Kotkin’s Criticism of Libertarians and the Cato Institute

Yet in recent years, libertarians increasingly seem less concerned with how their policies might actually impact people. Convinced that markets are virtually always the best way to approach any issue, they have allied with many of the same forces – monopoly capital, anti-suburban zealots and the tech oligarchy – which are systematically undermining the popular rationale for market capitalism. This is one of the opening paragraphs of Joel Kotkin, “The limits of...

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Henderson on Inflation on KCBS

I was called by KCBS yesterday afternoon while watching the San Francisco 49ers game and asked to come on to discuss inflation. This is the result. It goes only 4 minutes and 17 seconds. For more on inflation, see Lawrence H. White, “Inflation,” in David R. Henderson, ed., The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics, Liberty Fund, 2008.

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Classical Liberalism Solves the Hobbesian Problem

In debates, I’ve had colleagues on the left sneer at me: “You need to read Thomas Hobbes!” That’s not wrong; we should all read Hobbes. He thought that human quarrels could not be solved by promises to cooperate. His 1651 summary was pithy: “Covenants, without the sword, are but words and of no strength to secure a man at all.”  Hobbes thought that the only way to assure cooperation was to constitute a sovereign, or “Leviathan.” Paradoxically, then, people who...

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The Economist on the growth of government

The Economist devotes its last cover to “The triumph of big government”. The brief is an interesting piece on governments getting bigger all the time. A citation of Bob Higgs’ Crisis and Leviathan would have been nice, as the piece deals with the core ideas of that, marvelous book, but to its credit The Economist interviewed and quoted a couple of libertarians, like John Cochrane, Johan Norberg and Mark Littlewood of the IEA. Mark is credited with the only thing...

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Hawley’s Folly

. Josh Hawley is a man of system. In a guest essay in the October 29 New York Times titled “The Only Way to Solve Our Supply Chain Crisis Is to Rethink Trade,” US Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) challenges what he sees as a dangerous reliance on imports from other countries. He claims that Washington politicians from both parties have “helped build a global economic system that prioritized the free flow of capital over the wages of American workers, and the free flow...

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Monetary policy and central planning

Milton Friedman once debated Robert Mundell on exchange rates. Mundell advocated using monetary policy to fix the exchange rate, whereas Friedman suggested that this sort of price control was interfering with the free market, and thus a bad idea. Friedman was probably right that fixed exchange rates are a bad idea, but his argument was flawed in two very important respects. First, Mundell was advocating the targeting of nominal exchange rates. The real exchange rate...

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