Economics Feed

A Tweet thread from Jon Steinsson, economics professor at UC Berkeley

"I just heard that 1st year PhD students in Econ at MIT no longer need to take a full year of macro. This should be a wakeup call for macro, lest this turn into a new trend. Some (perhaps controversial) thoughts."

Separately, there's also this observation about the recent ASSA meetings:

By my calculations, of all the panel, paper, and plenary sessions, there were 69 featuring at least one paper that focused on gender issues, 66 on climate-related topics, and 65 looking at some aspect of racial issues. Most of the public would probably argue that inflation is the acute economic issue of our time. So, how many sessions featured papers on inflation? Just 23.

Both links via Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution.


"What Would It Take to Balance the Budget?"

I'm so old I remember when R's and D's--depending on which party was out of power--used to be frightened by deficits beginning with "b" and talked about balancing the budget in five years. Now we have had deficits beginning with "t" and balancing the budget in ten years is likely impossible. This is discouraging as heck:

However, the path to get to balance within ten years is likely infeasible, and it is virtually impossible if major parts of the budget and tax code are exempt from change.

Related: "California’s Budget Black Hole: Where Did the $97.5 Billion Surplus Go?" and Kevin Hassett, "Congress Should Prepare for a Historic Showdown".

"Which is the most successful country in Africa?"

I've read some about Botswana and it's a remarkable story.

At independence, Botswana was the poorest country in Africa. The drought-stricken nation surrounded by the Kalahari Desert contained 5 kilometers of roads and one high school. Its GDP-per-capita stood at $1000 and half of the government’s budget was supplied by Britain.

"False Narratives of Inequality"

Another review of  an important new book co-authored by former Senator Phil Gramm: The Myth of American Inequality.

For decades, there’s been no surer route to success within academic social science and history departments, or on the left side of the partisan divide, than to lament the persistence and rise of economic inequality in the United States. . . . And more broadly, in 2020 The Economist, channeling Jane Austen, proclaimed it “a truth universally acknowledged that inequality in the rich world is high and rising.”

The problem with these assertions (both quoted on this book’s opening page), as economist (and former Senator) Phil Gramm and two other distinguished academic colleagues demonstrate, is that they are false. And their falsity is a product of a distortion of statistics by economists inside and outside the government.

Related: "Paying Americans Not to Work".