Thoughts From the Frontline, February 2014

The Worst Ten-Letter Word

February 23, 2014

“Inequality has emerged as a major issue in the US and beyond. A generation ago it could reasonably have been asserted that the overall growth rate of the economy was the main influence on the growth in middle-class incomes and progress in reducing poverty. This is no longer a plausible claim.

“The share of income going to the top 1 per cent of earners has increased sharply. A rising share of output is going to profits. Real wages are stagnant. Family incomes have not risen as fast as...

The Economic Singularity

February 15, 2014

I fully intended to write today about a recently released academic paper that illustrates nearly every bad idea currently being bandied about in the field of economics. The insidious part is that the paper is considered mainstream and noncontroversial. Simply reading it required me to up my blood pressure medicine dosage. It is going to take me a little longer to finish that letter, and I realized that it needs a certain setup – one that coauthor Jonathan Tepper and I conveniently wrote a few...

A Most Dangerous Era

February 9, 2014

"In the economic sphere an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen; we are fortunate if we foresee them.

"There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the...

Central Banker Throwdown

February 1, 2014

Those of us who have attained a certain age can remember being bombarded by commercials in which we were asked "Is it live or is it Memorex?" The thrust of the ad was that it didn't make any difference, that the tape recording was just as good as being there to watch that TV show live. Video recording technology was in its infancy, and the ability to play a movie whenever you wanted was really cool. Imagine being able to set a video recorder to record a TV show while you were away! … As long...