Author Archive

Did the Weak September Jobs Report Derail a 2015 Rate Hike?

Probably. It wasn’t just the weaker-than-expected gain of 142,000 payroll jobs in September that disappointed, but also the downward revisions for August from 173,000 to 136,000 and for July from 245,000 to 223,000. These revisions dropped the average payroll gains for the 3 months of the third quarter to 167,000, which is lower than the […]

An Obvious Point About Fed Transparency: They Can’t Signal What They Don’t Know

(I’m writing this before today’s FOMC decision is announced, because my point has nothing to do with the decision reached.) Lately, but especially this morning, I’ve heard much criticism of the FOMC for not telegraphing their decision in advance. Market participates seem almost evenly divided over whether they will or whether they won’t have rate […]

A $15.00 Minimum Wage in New York State Would Be A Self-Inflicted Wound

Governor Cuomo’s proposal for a $15.00 minimum wage in New York is bolder than most, but why stop at $15.00? Why not $20.00 or $30.00? The reason is that even most advocates for a higher minimum wage implicitly acknowledge its drawbacks even while they deny any significant negative consequences. While some lucky workers who get […]

The Employment Report–Not Bad Enough To Derail Fed Action

Like Wagner’s music, the August jobs report is better than it sounds. Not great, but good enough to permit a long-overdue tiny adjustment in the Federal Funds rate. Yes, 173,000 more establishment payroll jobs could have been better, but the farther we go in taking up the slack in a labor market with increasing mismatches […]

The Yuan and the Dollar

In March 2003, I was in China making the rounds of universities, government agencies, and think tanks. My appointments included two officials involved in setting the Chinese exchange rate. One was an official of the Peoples Bank of China, the central bank, and the other was with the assistant administrator of SAFE, the State Administration […]

Reflections on the Greek Tragedy

(This was written on July 8, 2015.) In the late 1980s, I spent about 16 days touring Greece and the Greek Islands and came away with a fondness for the place. Two of my fondest memories were that Amstel Light seemed to be their beer of choice and old time rock and roll was the […]

Productivity and Silicon Valley

The front page of today’s Wall Street Journal (7/17/15) features an interesting and important article titled “U.S. Productivity: Missing Or In Hiding?” and subtitled “Silicon Valley economists say official tallies fail to measure latest innovations.” The particular economist featured in the article is Hal Varian, one of the best in the business. I agree that […]

The Fed Should Act on July 29

I agree with the consensus view that September 17 is the most likely date for the FOMC to make its first tweak in the Federal Funds rate in a long, long time. I also agree that this week (June 17 to be precise) is probably not on their agenda because of their promise to be […]

Trade Is Not About Counting Jobs; It’s About Making Jobs Count

I view the House vote today on trade-promotion authority, a necessary prelude to an important Asian trade deal, as a test of economic literacy. If there is anything most economists that don’t work for labor unions tend to agree on, it is freer trade. However, even if they pass the trade authority and ultimately some […]

Monetary Freedom

Okay, I confess. I usually drive under the speed limit to avoid getting stopped for driving over the speed limit. Until recently it never occurred to me that I might get stopped for driving in a manner to avoid getting stopped. Now, I wonder. The law requires banks to report customers who withdraw cash totaling […]