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.