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Tag Archives: Economic growth

Comments on Siegel’s Fewer, Richer, Greener

Last week, I was part of the Cato Institute’s book forum on Laurence Siegel’s Fewer, Richer, Greener: Prospects for Humanity in an Age of Abundance.  Here’s my commentary on the book. 1. Vast areas of agreement: a. Until March, the world was getting richer at a marvelous pace. Absolute poverty has been disappearing before our eyes after ten thousand years of apparent permanence. b. Conventional measures sharply understated the glorious reality, because the environment...

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The European Union, Italy writ large

It has been called Europe’s “Hamiltonian moment.” It’s true that for the first time the EU has seen a common issuance of debt. As the Wall Street Journal summarizes: On Tuesday European Union leaders agreed to a recovery plan funded by the bloc’s first major issuance of common debt, and some are calling it a historic moment for the Continent’s political and fiscal integration. This is a significant development, but don’t hold your breath for a United States of...

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The 1918 Pandemic and Economic Freedom

One would think that, in the case of an economic shock such as a pandemic, an economy would suffer less damage and recover more rapidly the greater its level of economic freedom and the more flexible it is. To the typical economist, this seems rather obvious in theory. But is it empirically confirmed? Worse than the current COVID-19 pandemic, the influenza pandemic that started in 1918 infected half a billion individuals or one-third of the world population and killed...

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Flintstones Without the Nice Tune

I just finished watching an excellent 45-minute discussion led by my Hoover colleague Scott Atlas. The two participants he questioned were Hoover colleagues Russ Roberts and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The topic was Hoover’s Human Prosperity Project and both had a lot of great insights and great lines. Among the lines that stood out was one from Ali. If I remember correctly, she said it in the context of her story about growing up in Somalia and seeing her mother lining up...

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The “Trump Economy” Before Covid-19

In the cover feature of the Summer issue of Regulation, I review the American economy and the economic performance of the Trump administration before Covid-19 hit. I review the evidence on unemployment, GDP growth, wages, stock prices, regulation, trade, public finance, etc. Nine figures illustrate my evaluation. A short excerpt on only one of the topics covered: In the spring of 2016, then-candidate Trump told WashingtonPost reporters Bob Woodward and Robert Costa,...

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Adam Smith: Myths and Realities

Myth: Adam Smith argued that the welfare gains from free trade among nations were limited to countries’ exploitation of their production cost advantages. The Reality Behind the Myth: Adam Smith is heralded today for his incisive argument for free international trade, unfettered by tariffs and quotas that curbed imports and “bounties” (subsidies) that promoted exports. For two centuries prior to the publication of The Wealth of Nations (1776), advanced countries had...

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Don’t anthropomorphize the economy

Here’s a nice graph from the Financial Times: These graphs are very manipulative, as we think we are seeing the impact of various presidents on the economy.  But is that really so? I’ve argued that the performance of the US (economic, military, social, etc.) is about 3% the president and 97% other factors.  Three percent is not nothing; it’s way more influence than a blogger has.  But it’s not enough to be decisive. This tendency to think in terms of a “Bush...

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Coronavirus, Powell and Gold

The number of cases and deaths by the new coronavirus have escalated quickly. However, the fears subsided and the stock market rebounded. How did gold perform, and what can we expect from the king of metals next? Should We Stop Worrying about the Coronavirus? Well, that was a quick escalation. On February 2, when we wrote the first Fundamental Gold Report about the coronavirus, there were 14,557 confirmed cases and 305 deaths. Yesterday, the World Health Organization reported almost 45,171...

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Coronavirus, Powell and Gold

The number of cases and deaths by the new coronavirus have escalated quickly. However, the fears subsided and the stock market rebounded. How did gold perform, and what can we expect from the king of metals next? Should We Stop Worrying about the Coronavirus? Well, that was a quick escalation. On February 2, when we wrote the first Fundamental Gold Report about the coronavirus, there were 14,557 confirmed cases and 305 deaths. Yesterday, the World Health Organization reported almost 45,171...

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Borrowing Our Way to Prosperity?

Americans are driving the US economy along with borrowed money. The question is how much longer can it last? Consumer debt surged once again in December as Americans charged up their credit cards for the holidays. Total consumer credit grew by $22.1 billion in December, according to the latest data released by the Federal Reserve. That represents an annual growth rate of 6.3%. Total consumer debt now stands at a record $4.197 trillion. The Fed consumer debt figures include credit card...

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