Friday, June 15, 2018

Why Aren’t More Men Working?

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

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

What a Sensible President Sounds Like

Thursday, May 31, 2018

On Tariffs, Blame Congress Too

The tariffs just imposed by President Trump are, of course, terrible policy. Mr. Trump deserves the first line of blame for making decisions that no sensible economist would advocate.

But let's not let Congress off the hook. Over many years, Congress has passed the laws that give the President a lot of discretion over international trade policy. The assumption is that the President could be counted on to act responsibly. That assumption has now been proven wrong. Congressional leaders should think hard, in a bipartisan way, about how to revoke, or at least severely limit, those discretionary powers.

Update: Several senators are proposing a bill to rein in the President's power.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Open Letters from Economists

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Digital Textbooks

This podcast (from last summer, but new to me) offers a good discussion of the benefits of digital textbooks.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A T-shirt for the Times

Perfect for wearing when you teach Chapter 9 of my favorite textbook. (Make sure to check out the image on the back.)

Sunday, March 04, 2018

What I've Been Watching

The End of the F***ing World.  A compelling coming-of-age/crime/love story, like a merger of The Breakfast Club and Bonnie and Clyde. On Netflix in eight brief episodes. Most definitely binge-worthy.

Friday, March 02, 2018

President Trump unites the country

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Summer Camp at Hoover

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Case for Free Trade

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

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Still Number One

Economics 10B: “Principles of Economics” topped the charts in undergraduate enrollment for the fifth consecutive spring semester, boasting 585 students as of Monday morning, according to the Registrar’s office of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences....[It] enrolls 200 more students than the next most popular course on campus.
FYI, here are this semester's guest lecturers:

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Wisdom about Bitcoin

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Industrial Organization Summer Camp

Organized by my colleagues Eric Maskin and Ariel Pakes and aimed at graduate students, information here.

History of Econ Summer Camp

Click on graphic to enlarge. For more information, click here.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Decline in Brand Value

The University of Chicago's Allan Sanderson alerts me to this story about the Chicago real estate market:
Condos in Trump International Hotel & Tower sold for an average of $747 a square foot in 2017....That's down almost 12 percent from 2016....In the same period, prices in the downtown condo market overall rose by 2.8 percent.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Robert Barro on the Tax Bill

My colleague Robert Barro is enthusiastic about the recently passed tax bill. You can read his analysis of it here. His bottom line:
I estimate that the total tax package will create extra GDP growth of 1.1% a year through 2019. The main effect (0.8%) comes from changing the individual tax code, with the remainder from the corporate reform. Over the following eight years, the projected growth rate rises by 0.2 to 0.3 percentage point a year because of the law’s expansionary effects on long-run capital and GDP per worker.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Measuring Bias, or Reflecting Reality?

The above graphic, from today's NY Times, is intended to show bias in economics textbooks. I am not so sure that is the right interpretation.

In the world, only 4 percent of CEOs (of Fortune 500 companies) are women, so does the figure of 6 percent shown above demonstrate underrepresentation of women in textbooks or an accurate reflection of reality? Similarly, policymakers mentioned in texts are most often Presidents or Fed chairs. Historically, only one woman has been a member of this group. Economists mentioned in texts are most often important historical figures (Smith, Ricardo, Keynes) or prominent modern economists, such as Nobel laureates. Once again, 8 percent is higher than for the population being sampled.

To be sure, the role of women in society is changing, and in some circles there is some bias. But measuring the amount of bias is hard. The graphic above is not a useful gauge.

Or maybe in my next edition, I should add a discussion of Paulina Volcker's disinflation.

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Update: Some twitter commentators seemed to misinterpret my cheeky last line. At the risk of being pedantic, let me explain: Textbooks reflect reality, which includes a history in which men played a larger role than women in some spheres of life. If a history professor were to write a text on the history of presidential politics, and you were to find that there were more mentions of men than women in the book, would that be evidence that the historian is biased? I don't think so. The writer has to reflect what occurred and is not free to change the gender of historical protagonists.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Quick Quiz

According to the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, before the recent change in the tax law, taxpayers earning more than $1 million a year were scheduled to pay 19.3 percent of all federal taxes in 2019. What impact does the new tax law have on this percentage?

(a) It falls to 17.8 percent.
(b) It falls to 18.7 percent.
(c) It stays the same.
(d) It rises to 19.8 percent.

Find the answer here. (First table, seventh column, penultimate row.)

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Case Against Taxing Higher Ed

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

Monday, December 18, 2017

Tax Cuts for the Rich?

As I have stated repeatedly, I have mixed feelings about the tax bill going through Congress. There is a lot of it that I don't like. But I nonetheless disagree with much of the commentary of its critics. A common refrain is that the bill entails big tax cuts for the rich. I am not so sure.

True, the top tax rate is reduced by 2.6 percentage points. But for those in states with a personal income tax, this merely offsets the loss of the state and local tax deduction. And if you are in a high tax state like California, where the top tax rate is 13.3 percent, the offset is far from complete.

The heart of the tax bill is a cut in the corporate tax rate. To be sure, in the short run, this change benefits shareholders, who are generally wealthier than average. But in the long run, increased profitability should increase capital accumulation and productivity, raising wages. That is, workers will benefit from the corporate rate cut.

Economists differ in how large this effect is. The Tax Policy Center, whose numbers are widely quoted, estimates that 20 percent of the corporate tax cut goes to labor. That seems low to me. I have not seen a poll of economists asking what percentage of corporate taxes is paid by labor in the long run (calling the IGM panel), but I would guess that many economists would put the number at higher than 20 percent.

In any event, when you see distribution tables for this tax bill, remember that these numbers are not facts, they are judgments.