Thursday, January 20, 2011


A couple of articles from this weeks Economist have me puzzled. There seems to be a bit of contradiction or confusion in their editorial office.
First, we have the Economist lending credibility to the idea that the "redback" might become a player as a reserve currency. I'm skeptical.
Seocnd, hedge funds are shorting China (i.e. betting on the notion that their boom is about up). On the one hand, this might be self-fulfilling; on the other hand it might explain the US-China trade deficits in terms of the standard inter-temporal current account macro model (if you expect the US to grow in the future, our running trade deficits today is optimal; if you expect China to shrink in the future, their running of trade surplusses today is optimal).
More on the Yuan from Econbrowser.

The Deficit We Want

Via Economix:
Herein lies the political problem. We want to cut spending. We just don’t want to cut the benefits that the spending pays for.

We want to cut the vague notion of spending ahead of raising taxes, but when given the choice between cutting specific spending (on the "big three" - Medicare, Social Security, and Defense - for example) versus funding it with higher taxes, people choose higher taxes in each case.
Cognitive dissonance?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Some links: Climate, China Trade, and Inefficiency

Exchange rates (if relevant in the first place) aren't the whole story with China (Economix)
Rebalancing (Brookings)
Green energy won't create jobs (Economix)
Green energy shouldn't be used to create jobs (Free Exchange) Right. A carbon tax (or if an international mechanism can be designed, cap and trade) would nudge the market to do the job with fewer unintended consequences.
Inefficiency in the tax code; good for somebody (Economix)

One Need not Move to Somalia... appreciate the economic benefits of an active, competent public sector. According to Eric Crampton, New Zealand is "freer" in the libertarian sense (e.g. by the Heritage Foundation's definition) than the U.S.; yet, it seems they are not better off, economically.
By the general axiom of revealed preference, the increment of liberty isn't worth the loss of income (and inconvenience of moving and living abroad) for the vast majority of libertarians.

At what margin is liberty for liberty's sake worth it?

Advice to Right-Wing Bloggers

TC asks where the left-wing bloggers went, and wonders if the sphere promotes moderation. He also sees a few ways things can go: more moderation, or less. He seems to favor the former. Here's one option he proposes:
Hold strongly to a pure free market line, but not much consider the toughest issues, starting with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and finishing with the inability of government to precommit to a lot of policies which might work as rules but never can be rules. There are plenty of easy issues to focus on, starting with farm policy and free trade and on those the market-oriented point of view is a slam dunk.

That's free-market conservatism I can believe in. There are sosme areas where freer markets are not necessarily a win-win proposition.