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Tag Archives: Cross-country Comparisons

Why does Australia have mini-recessions?

Both here and at MoneyIllusion I’ve occasionally done posts on the odd lack of mini-recessions in the US. I define these as periods where unemployment rises by between 1.0% and 2.0% and then falls back, although you could set the lower bar at 0.7% if you removed the brief 1959 steel strike. If you smoothed the unemployment series with a three-month moving average you could also get a wider range. In other words, when unemployment starts rising in America, it rises by...

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Countries are not anecdotes

Most of us know very little about foreign countries. Our lives are quite busy and we have only so much space in our brains to store information. I notice that people often think about foreign countries in terms of anecdotes. Thus if you mention Singapore, then people might say, “Isn’t that the place that bans chewing gum.” If you mention Saudi Arabia, they might talk about the fact that women are not allowed to drive (a ban that was recently lifted.) Even big, complex...

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America Needs Defenders Who Understand Freedom

Former government bureaucrat has epic fail. When I was a journalist, I loved Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.’s assertion that the Constitution and the First Amendment are not just about protecting “free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.” But as a government official traveling around the world championing the virtues of free speech, I came to see how our First Amendment standard is an outlier. Even the most...

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Duflo and Banerjee advocate bigger government

Nobel Laureates Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee have a new piece in the New York Times.  A reasonable summary of their position might be that they would like American economic policy to more closely resemble the economic policies of the Eurozone.  This would include much higher taxes and also much more generous social welfare programs.  They also claim that higher taxes and higher spending on social welfare programs would not significantly reduce work effort.  They...

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Making Canada Great for the first time

Canada has always been a rather successful country by global standards, with relatively high living standards, good human rights, lots of green space, not much civic strife, and other nice features. Canada is nice. Now for the first time, Canada has a chance to become great: Behind the robust health are data showing Canada transitioning to a technology juggernaut from a country defined by its dependence on fossil fuels. While the government continues to subsidize...

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Adam Silver Cut No Constitutional Corners

Unfortunately, however, O’Rourke, Warren and Silver demonstrate the tendency of too many progressives to cut constitutional corners, to despise and bully adversaries, and to practice theatrical but selective indignation about attacks on fundamental American principles, some of which they themselves traduce. Just what we did not need in our dispiriting civic life: additional evidence that there really is no such thing as rock bottom. So writes George Will in...

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Is the UK about to become Canada?

Overall, I believe the EU has had a positive effect on Europe. Unfortunately, it has become too interventionist in some areas, especially when imposing regulations that are better left to national or local governments. At the same time, in many other areas it has not gone nearly far enough, especially in terms of creating a free trade zone in services. The UK is likely to leave the EU in the near future and there are indications that it may adopt a relationship that...

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So you don’t believe in using PPP data?

Is the Chinese economy larger than the US economy? In nominal terms (measured at current exchange rates), the Chinese economy is only about two-thirds the size of the US economy. In purchasing power parity terms (adjusting for differences in prices), the Chinese economy is actually larger than the US economy.  That’s because China has much lower prices. Over the years, I’ve seen numerous commenters make the following two claims: 1. Economies should be compared using...

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The Great Successor: Inside North Korea

I highly recommend Anna Fifield’s The Great Successor.  It’s full of information about not only the life of Kim Jong Un, but what’s happened inside North Korea since his ascent to the Red Throne.  Most readers will be shocked by her description of the North Korean hell-state, but that’s all old hat to me.  Here’s what surprised me in Fifield’s book: 1. Kim Jong Un didn’t just attend a fancy English-language school in Switzerland.  After his expat guardians – his...

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Bernie Sanders Didn’t Say It

When I wrote a review of the excellent Socialism Sucks by Bob Lawson and Ben Powell, I quoted a passage from it that they attributed to Bernie Sanders. It did sound extreme, even for Bernie, and I should have checked. Unfortunately, I didn’t. That’s a problem because Bernie didn’t say it. Here’s the relevant passage in my review: They [Lawson and Powell] quote Bernie Sanders’s 2011 comment that “the American dream was more apt to be realized” in Venezuela than in the...

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