Sunday, January 12, 2020

My First Beach Read of 2020

I like nothing better than sitting on a beach and reading a book. Well, after the ASSA meeting, my wife and I decamped to Maui for a few days of R&R. One of the books I took along was The Rationing by Charles Wheelan. Readers of this blog may be familiar with Wheelan as the author of Naked Economics, an excellent nontechnical introduction to basic economic ideas, as well as several other nonfiction books. The Rationing is Wheelan's first work of fiction, and it is a fun read. It is a smart, fast-paced political thriller, similar to what James Patterson might write. It won't be finding itself on the reading list of any courses on great literature, but if you need to unwind at the beach, consider taking it along.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

I talk with Bill Kristol

Here. It is about an hour.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

My Whereabouts at ASSA

If blog readers would like to see me at the upcoming ASSA meetings in San Diego, you can find me at the following events:

Friday, Jan. 3, 2020 12:30 PM - 2:15 PM (PST)
Omicron Delta Epsilon John R. Commons Award Lecture

Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, America's Cup AB
Hosted By: Omicron Delta Epsilon
Chair: Stacey Jones, Seattle University

Panelist: N. Gregory Mankiw, Harvard University
Topic: The Past and Future of Econ 101

Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020 2:30 PM - 4:30 PM (PST)
Is United States Deficit Policy Playing with Fire?

Marriott Marquis San Diego, Marriott Grand Ballroom 3
Hosted By: American Economic Association
Chair: Laurence Kotlikoff, Boston University

Public Debt, Low Interest Rates, and Rare Events
Richard Evans, University of Chicago

A Skeptic’s Guide to Modern Monetary Theory
N. Gregory Mankiw, Harvard University

How, Why and When Deficits and Debt Are Dangerous
Michael Boskin, Stanford University

Simulating the Blanchard-Summers Conjecture in a Multi-Period Life-Cycle Model
Jasmina Hasanhodzic, Babson College

Leveraging Posterity's Prosperity?
Johannes Brumm, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology
Laurence Kotlikoff, Boston University
Felix Kubler, University of Zurich

Alan Auerbach, University of California-Berkeley
Seth Benzell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020 10:15 AM - 12:15 PM (PST)
Using Social Media and Blogging in Economic Education

Marriott Marquis San Diego, Marriott Grand Ballroom 11
Chair: Darshak Patel, University of Kentucky

Brandon Sheridan, Elon University
Jessica B. Hoel, Colorado College
N. Gregory Mankiw, Harvard University
Scott Cunningham, Baylor University
Martha L. Olney, University of California-Berkeley
Claudia Sahm, Federal Reserve Board

Cengage Booth
Because the 9th edition of my principles text has just been published, you can also find me at the Cengage booth at the book exhibition from 3 to 4 pm on Friday and 9 to 10 am on Saturday.

Monday, December 16, 2019

My Take on MMT

Readers may be interested in my most recent essay, A Skeptic's Guide to Modern Monetary Theory.

Saturday, December 07, 2019

Furman Reviews Banerjee & Duflo

Here. His bottom line: Great book but...
when it came to the biggest contemporary hot button issues they left all nuance and care behind to present selective evidence for an overly simplistic narrative that would be comforting to typical progressive reader without challenging any of their preconceptions.

Friday, December 06, 2019

The Case for Capitalism

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

How to Increase Taxes on the Rich (If You Must)

Last month I participated in a PIIE conference on inequality. Here is the written version of my remarks.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Why I am now an independent

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

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Warren's Medicare for All

Saturday, November 02, 2019

NPR on The Pigou Club

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Which Harvard students are least comfortable expressing their opinions?

Harvard recently released the results of a survey on "Inclusion and Belonging." One question asked students whether they agreed with the statement "I feel comfortable expressing my opinions to others at Harvard."

Overall, 68 percent of students agreed. Moreover, the statement received majority agreement for most subgroups--men and women; white, black, Hispanic, and Asian; straight and gay; U.S. citizen and foreign; Christian, Jewish, and Muslim; and so on.

The only subgroup for which the statement did not generate majority agreement was those students who self-identified as conservative. Only 44 percent of conservative students agreed, compared with 61 percent of moderates and 73 percent of liberals.

Monday, October 28, 2019

I am no longer a Republican

I just came back from city hall, where I switched my voter registration from Republican to unenrolled (aka independent). Two reasons:

First, the Republican Party has largely become the Party of Trump. Too many Republicans in Congress are willing, in the interest of protecting their jobs, to overlook Trump's misdeeds (just as too many Democrats were for Clinton during his impeachment). I have no interest in associating myself with that behavior. Maybe someday, the party will return to having honorable leaders like Bush, McCain, and Romney. Until then, count me out.

Second, in Massachusetts, unenrolled voters can vote in either primary. The Democratic Party is at a crossroads, where it has to choose either a center-left candidate (Biden, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Yang) or a far-left populist (Warren, Sanders) as their nominee for president. I intend to help them choose the former. The latter propose to move the country too far in the direction of heavy-handed state control. And in doing so, they tempt those in the center and center-right to hold their noses and vote for Trump's reelection.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

A Coffee-Table Book for Economists

No kidding. Includes great portraits of 90 economists.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Yet Another Reason to be Skeptical of Surveys

From Business Insider, without a hint of irony:
About 44% of people surveyed who were either married to or living with a partner said that they made more money than their partner before they started dating, and 30% said they made less. 

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Kotlikoff on Tax Progressivity

Larry has an excellent article summarizing his work looking at the fiscal system from a life-cycle perspective. His bottom line:
Far from being flat, the net tax rate facing middle age Americans rises rapidly with their resources—from negative 46.4% for the bottom 20% to positive 34.5% for the top 1%.

Friday, October 18, 2019

A Discussion of the Wealth Tax

From Thursday afternoon. Includes Emmanuel Saez, Larry Summers, and me, in that order. Larry is particularly interesting.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Sad News from China

Via the NY Times:
Some universities have replaced textbooks by Western academics such as Milton Friedman and N. Gregory Mankiw with books written under a program called “Marxist theory research and building project.”

Blanchard on the Fed's Target

Olivier Blanchard suggests that the Fed consider a target for nominal wages rather than for the prices of goods and services. Ricardo Reis and I agree. (ungated pdf)

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Piketty and Saez Revisited

This paper by Gerald Auten (Office of Tax Analysis, U.S. Treasury Department) and David Splinter (Joint Committee on Taxation) seems important.  The abstract (emphasis added):

Top income share estimates based only on individual tax returns, such as Piketty and Saez (2003), are biased by tax-base changes, major social changes, and missing income sources. Addressing these issues requires numerous assumptions, especially for broadening income beyond that reported on tax returns. This paper shows the effects of adjusting for technical tax issues and the sensitivity to alternative assumptions for distributing missing income sources. Our results suggestthat top income shares are lower than other tax-based estimates, and since the early 1960s, increasing government transfers and tax progressivity resulted in little change in after-tax top income shares.

A key figure:

Click on graphic to enlarge.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Yang vs Warren

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