Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Biden's Leaky Bucket

 Click here to read my new guest essay in The New York Times.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Talking Economics Education

Blog readers might be interested in an upcoming interview of me, at 7 pm on October 20, 2021. Information available here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

A Movie for These Tragic Times

I don't publicly comment on foreign or military policy, as it is beyond my area of expertise. But my heart is breaking over the tragic events now unfolding in Afghanistan. It brought to my mind the 2003 film Osama about life under the Taliban. If you have not seen it, do so now. It is available for streaming via Amazon.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

My Interview at the International Economics Olympiad

Friday, July 23, 2021

Income effects on labor supply

Here is a fascinating new paper by Mikhail Golosov, Michael Graber, Magne Mogstad, and David Novgorodsky on the effects of winning the lottery. The bottom line on what people do with their good fortune: "On average, an extra dollar of unearned income in a given period reduces pre-tax labor earnings by about 50 cents, decreases total labor taxes by 10 cents, and increases consumption by 60 cents." 

In other words, people use their extra wealth not only to buy more goods and services but also to buy more leisure. As a result, "the introduction of a UBI will have a large effect on earnings and tax rates. For example, even if one abstracts from any disincentive effects from higher taxes that are needed to finance this transfer program, each dollar of UBI will reduce total earnings by at least 52 cents."

Saturday, June 12, 2021

A Pigou Biography

Ian Kumekawa's biography of A.C. Pigou has been sitting on my shelf since it was published a few years ago, but I just got around to reading it, and I very much enjoyed it. The book tells the story of the arc of Pigou's career--from a top student of Alfred Marshall, to a leader of his field, to a fading star struggling with age and declining relevance, to finally a content elder statesman of academia. The general public won't find the book of much interest, but for economists like me, it is a great read.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Testing the Mill Hypothesis

My intermediate macro book begins with a quotation from John Stuart Mill, which ends with this conclusion:

"My advice to you is to study the great writers on Political Economy, and hold firmly by whatever in them you find true; and depend upon it that if you are not selfish or hardhearted already, Political Economy will not make you so."

A recent study suggests that Mill was right.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

The Deficit Gamble

Monday, May 03, 2021

Economic Theory Summer Camp

Run by my colleague Eric Maskin (aimed at graduate students in economics, now an online event).

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Fair Share

Yesterday, President Biden said, "I will not impose any tax increase on people making less than $400,000. But it’s time for corporate America and the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans to just begin to pay their fair share....But I will not add a tax burden, additional tax burden on the middle class of this country. They’re already paying enough."

According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, the middle class (defined here as the middle quintile of the income distribution) now pays about 13 percent of its income in federal taxes. The top 1 percent pays about 30 percent of its income in federal taxes.

I wonder: What constitutes a "fair share" in President Biden's eyes? On what basis does he conclude that the current distribution of the tax burden is not fair?

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Ranking economists

 ...with google trends. (More complete ranking here.)

Monday, March 08, 2021

Market Power in Neoclassical Growth Models

Click here to read my most recent paper, coauthored with Larry Ball. Here is the abstract:

This paper examines the optimal accumulation of capital and the effects of government debt in neoclassical growth models in which firms have market power and therefore charge prices above marginal cost. In this environment, the real interest rate earned by savers is less than the net marginal product of capital. We establish a new method for evaluating dynamic efficiency that can be applied in such economies. A plausible calibration suggests that the wedge between the real interest rate and the marginal product of capital is more than 4 percentage points and that the U.S. economy is dynamically efficient. In addition, government Ponzi schemes can have different implications for welfare than they do under competition. Even if the government can sustain a perpetual rollover of debt and accumulating interest, the policy may nonetheless reduce welfare by depressing steady-state capital and aggregate consumption. These findings suggest that even with low interest rates, as have been observed recently, fiscal policymakers should still be concerned about the crowding-out effects of government debt.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Watch the Speed Limit

Click here to read my column in this coming Sunday's New York Times.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Upcoming Webinar

I will be giving a webinar open to all on March 5. You can find more information and register here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

My recent "visit" to the LSE

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Fiscal Stimulus Around the World

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

CBO on the Minimum Wage

NPR reports:

Raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 would increase wages for at least 17 million people, but also put 1.4 million Americans out of work, according to a study by the Congressional Budget Office released on Monday.

A phase-in of a $15 minimum wage would also lift some 900,000 out of poverty, according to the nonpartisan CBO. This higher federal minimum could raise wages for an additional 10 million workers who would otherwise make sightly above that wage rate, the study found.

Potential job losses were estimated to affect 0.9 percent of workers, the CBO wrote, adding: "Young, less educated people would account for a disproportionate share of those reductions in employment."

Monday, February 01, 2021


Sebastian Mallaby was a good column on the GameStop phenomenon.

A family member also suggested a good hypothesis: The bubble is being being driven by internet trolls. The right model of a troll is a person willing to waste his time and money to get other people to waste their time and money. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

A Discussion about My Favorite Textbooks

Saturday, January 02, 2021

ASSA 2021

 If you want to see me at the upcoming virtual ASSA meeting, you can do so at this session:

Sunday, January 3, 12:15 PM to 2:15 PM (EST)

What Does Critical Thinking Mean in Economics, the Big and Little of It?

Hosted By: American Economic Association & Committee on Economic Education
  • Chair: Gail Hoyt, University of Kentucky

What Does Critical Thinking Mean in Economics, the Big and Little of It?

David Colander
Middlebury College
John Siegfried
Vanderbilt University
Daron Acemoglu
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Melissa S. Kearney
University of Maryland-College Park
John A. List
University of Chicago
Gregory Mankiw
Harvard University
Deirdre McCloskey
University of Illinois-Chicago
Betsey Stevenson
University of Michigan