Sunday, March 26, 2017

How the heck did they choose that name?

If anyone knows why this GPS car tracker has the name it does, please let me know.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Economics Teaching Workship

I will be speaking at the University of Kentucky Economics Teaching Workshop on April 22.  If you are interested in more information, click here.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

A Guide to the GOP Tax Plan

Tax policy nerds will enjoy this detailed and thoughtful discussion of the proposed Brady-Ryan tax reforms by University of Chicago law professor David Weisbach.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Econ 101 for Potus 45

Click here to read my column in Sunday's NY Times.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

An Odds-On Bet

According to the betting odds over at Ladbrokes, President Trump is more likely to resign or be impeached than he is to serve a full term.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Swagel on Tax Reform

My old friend Phill Swagel has good things to say about the Brady-Ryan tax reform.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Three Cheers for Kevin Hassett

Numerous news reports suggest that President Trump will tap Kevin Hassett to chair the Council of Economic Advisers.  This would be an excellent choice.  Here is an overview of Kevin's perspectives on economic policy, and here is my old review of his book Dow 36,000.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

You have got to be kidding me

If I did not know the source, I might have thought that this report was from The Onion:
The Trump administration is considering changing how U.S. trade deficits are calculated, a move that would make the deficit look larger on paper, the Wall Street Journal reported 
People involved in the discussions told the Journal that the leading idea is to count “re-exports” — goods that are imported to the U.S., and then exported to a third country unchanged — as imports, but not exports.
The change would inflate the trade deficit number, an important figure in trade negotiations and policy.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

The Path Ahead on Climate Change

Click here to read an article in today's NY Times that I coauthored with Martin Feldstein and Ted Halstead.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Macro/Finance Summer Camp

Grad students and young faculty with interests in macro and finance should consider this opportunity.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Policy Summer Camps

Undergraduates with interests in public policy should consider this opportunity and this one as well.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Econ Theory Summer Camp

Graduate students with an interest in economic theory may be interested in considering this opportunity.

Good News at Harvard College

The Crimson reports:
Economics 10b: “Principles of Economics” is the most popular course in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences for the fourth consecutive spring, beating out the second-largest class—Life Sciences 1b: “An Integrated Introduction to the Life Sciences: Genetics, Genomics, and Evolution”—by a hefty margin of about 150 students.

Worthwhile Canadian Initiative

My friend Joshua Gans alerts me to the following:
The Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto is offering to help scholars and students impacted on by the new US immigration restrictions. We would like to hear from anyone who: 
- Can no longer return to the US to continue their academic position or studies in a business, economics or related areas 
- Students who have missed application deadlines for University of Toronto degree programs in business, economics or related areas but are concerned they will not be able to undertake studies in the US anymore 
- Students and scholars who are facing temporary disruptions as a result of the new policies who may need a place in North America to continue their academic work.
More information can be found here.

The Demise of the CEA?

This is not good news:
CEA DOA?… MM hears there’s a chance Trump will simply pass on filling the CEA Chair job that at one point appeared to be going to Larry Kudlow. Trump could decide to just stick with Gary Cohn and the National Economic Council and skip over the more academically-inclined CEA. Not a done deal at all but the chatter is out there.
Let's hope the rumor is unfounded.

Monday, January 30, 2017

A Three-Point Tax Reform

Consider the following tax reform:

1. Impose a retail sales tax on consumer goods and services, both domestic and imported.
2. Use some of the proceeds from the tax to repeal the corporate income tax.
3. Use the rest of the proceeds from the tax to significantly cut the payroll tax.

Before moving on, ask yourself: Do you like this plan?

As I understand it, this plan is, in effect, what the Republicans in Congress are proposing.

Note the words "in effect."  There are a few differences, which are more important administratively than in their economic effect. One is that the consumption tax is not collected at the retail level but rather along the chain of production (much like a value-added tax). Once this is done, you need border adjustments to ensure the tax is really like a retail sales tax: imports must be taxed, and exports have to get a rebate. In addition, the payroll tax is not cut but rather firms get a deduction for labor payments, but that deduction is much the same as a payroll tax cut.

Personally, I like the three-point plan listed above, and I therefore like the reform proposal being discussed in Congress. A lot of confusion about things like border adjustments might disappear if commentators realized that what is being discussed is largely equivalent to this three-point plan.

Addendum: I don't think it is quite right to say, as Paul Krugman does, that this plan is a shift from taxing profits to taxing consumers. That ignores part 3 of the three-point plan.  It is more accurate to say it is a shift from taxing profits to taxing consumed profits. Moreover, I think the reform would promote economic growth and rising living standards. A large literature suggests that taxing consumption is preferred to taxing income, especially capital income. So a shift from a profits tax to a consumed profits tax is a step in the right direction.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Euclidean Index

Motty Perry and Philip J. Reny propose a way to rank economists by citations (published AER September 2016), and now RePEc implements it here.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

You are not entitled to your own facts

Readers of this blog will surely want to know about a new website: econofact.org, a "non-partisan publication designed to bring key facts and incisive analysis to the national debate on economic and social policies. It is written by leading academic economists from across the country who belong to the EconoFact Network, and published by the Edward R. Murrow Center for a Digital World at The Fletcher School at Tufts University."

Check it out.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Careless Headline Writing

I have noticed over the years that headline writers often try to make stories more sensational than they really are. This one at Yahoo News and Time, however, got me chuckling. The story tells us:
The gap between the super-rich and the poorest half of the global population is starker than previously thought, with just eight men, including Bill Gates and Michael Bloomberg, owning as much wealth as 3.6 billion people.
That fact is not really surprising, as many people live hand-to-mouth with hardly any accumulated wealth at all. But the headline makes a stronger claim:
Half of the World’s Wealth Is In the Hands of Just Eight Men
Of course, this conclusion does not follow from the fact reported in the story and is not even close to being true.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

History of Econ Summer Camp

Graduate students with an interest in the history of economic thought should consider this opportunity.