Category: Economy

Let the Fed Pay For Our Roads and Bridges/Heaven Forbid Users Should Pay Through Tolls and Gasoline Taxes

Okay, the House passed a highway bill (a good thing) that included resurrecting the Import-Export Bank (I’m not sure, but probably a good thing). The House bill provided partial financing by raiding the Fed’s capital surplus account (a bad thing) rather than following the Senate’s lead in reducing the Fed’s dividend to member banks to […]

Audit the Fed! Oh, Wait. The Fed is Already Audited

The Audit the Fed folks, including two in the latest Republican presidential debate, are being disingenuous by implying that the Fed is not now audited when they know better. The Fed is audited internally, by an external independent audit firm, and, yes, by the GAO. My brush with one GAO audit in the early 1990s […]

China’s Baby Policy

On one of my first visits to China, I recall seeing no obvious signs that the government was a Communist government until the last day in the airport lounge waiting for departure. I picked up an English language Chinese newspaper and saw an article on China’s one-child policy. The article was about tweaks that were […]

Ben Bernanke’s Memoir

Ben Bernanke’s memoir is out. It’s a very thick book. It’s a wonder it isn’t thicker since the FOMC’s voluminous verbatim transcripts are obviously its main source of detail about who said what when. I wasn’t sure I would buy the book, but I looked in the index at the bookstore. Sure enough, there were […]

The Shrinking Budget Deficit and the Slower Growth of Debt

The U.S. budget deficit for the fiscal year 2015, which ended in on September 30, was $435 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office. The 2015 deficit was lower than the $483 deficit in 2014, and much lower than the trillion dollar plus deficits of 2008-2012. The deficit has declined from 10% of GDP in […]

The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Are We Up To The Challenge?

“ What protection teaches us, is to do to ourselves in time of peace what enemies seek to do to us in time of war.” Henry George To close our borders to imports, that is. And to those who think exports are okay but imports are not, and that countries who have a surplus in […]

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 […]