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 […]

Our Weakening Economy Is Getting Harder To Ignore

We had two decent GDP quarters in mid-2014, and that’s about it. The 4th quarter reverted back to a 2.2 percent growth rate. The first estimate of the 1st quarter 2015 was up only 0.2 percent, but that will almost certainly be revised down into negative territory because of weak March exports. We came into […]

Productivity Is Down: Are U.S. Workers Slacking Off?

U.S. labor productivity fell at a 1.9 percent annual rate in the first quarter, the second quarterly decline in a row and the first back to back drop since 2006. According to the official release, over the past four quarters, productivity has risen at a 0.6 percent rate, just one-fourth the nation’s average since the […]

The FOMC’s Cacophony

When Buddy Holly was little, he insisted on getting on the stage with his uncle’s band and playing along with his fiddle. The unpleasant screeching caused the uncle to wax Buddy’s bow. Buddy could still play, but it didn’t bother anybody. Alan Greenspan used to wax my bow and the bows of the other Reserve […]

More on the Euro-Dollar Exchange Rate

Nineteen countries now use the Euro as their currency. Fifty states use the Dollar as their currency. While that comparison is correct, it is a bit misleading for various reasons. U.S. states are more homogeneous than Euro-zone countries. Our states share a national government, including fiscal policy. We speak a common language, sort of. We’ve […]