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Tag Archives: Public Choice Theory

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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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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Trusting the State: the Stock Market Case

Recent stock market gyrations illustrate one interesting phenomenon. Each time the administration promises an easing in the “trade tensions” it itself created, the stock market picks up. Every time the promises are not realized, the market drops. And the process starts again. Today’s Wall Street Journal writes (“Stocks Turn Higher on Trade Hopes,” May 15, 2019): Stocks erased declines from earlier in the day after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said U.S....

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Theatre of the Absurd: Godot, Trump, and Xi

In Samuel Beckett’s postwar play “Waiting for Godot,” a defining work in the theater of the absurd, Didi and Gogo are waiting for Godot, nobody knows who Godot is, and he never comes. In many ways, the current trade negotiations between the American government and the Chinese government verge on the absurd: for most subjects of the two governments, such negotiations are meaningless and tragic. Look at the economics and politics of international trade with the...

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Effects of the 2018 Tariffs on Washing Machines

When President Donald Trump announced tariffs of 20% to 50% on imported washing machines in January 2018, the prediction of economic theory was quite straightforward: the price of all washing machines in the U.S., both imported and domestic, would rise in roughly the same proportion as the tariffs. In an essay for Regulation, (“Putting 97 Million Households through the Wringer“, Spring 2018), I wrote: Goldman Sachs, an investment bank, forecasts that the price of...

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Government Expenditures in GDP

When three economists meet to eat seafood on the Maine coast, chances are that they will talk about economics, or—what is the same—use economic theory to discuss topics ranging from religion and sex (why are some religions more anti-sex than others?) to the inclusion of government expenditures (on goods and services) in GDP. This is naturally what happened when, yesterday, I met Germain Belzile (HEC-Montréal and Montréal Economic Institute) and Vincent Geloso (who is...

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Condorcet’s Brexit

Does a referendum represent “the will of the people”? What if this will can change even if nobody’s will change among the people? Can the British Parliament produce inconsistent votes even if no Member of Parliament changes his mind? The Economist writes: Politicians on both sides of the Brexit divide talk sanctimoniously of the “will of the people.” … In truth, the will of the people is decidedly muddy, declares Sir John Curtice in his latest report for NatCen Social...

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The Life and Life and Life of the NATO Bureaucracy

The Partnership also prompted Foreign Affairs to publish an article strongly in favor of rapid NATO expansion. Its authors, Ronald D. Asmus, Richard L. Kugler, and F. Stephen Larabee, argued that German-Russian nationalist competition was bound to recur unless the former Soviet satellites were incorporated into NATO and the EU. The “new NATO,” the authors concluded, must go “out of area or it will go out of business.” This is from Walter A. McDougall, “NATO at Three...

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Do “We” Want to Rule Over Others?

On Friday, president Donald Trump tweeted: “The problem is, no matter what the Radical Left Democrats get, no matter what we give them, it will never be enough. Just watch, they will Harass & Complain & Resist (the theme of their movement). So maybe we should just take our victory and say NO, we’ve got a Country to run!” From a libertarian or classical-liberal perspective, that is indeed the problem. “We” do not have a country to run. “We”—or at least some of...

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