Economics Roundtable

Technical Problems 3/9/15

The website was down several hours today, but is back up now.

May 2014 Payroll Employment

After 76 months, we finally got back to the prerecession level of payroll employment.

Click on the image to get a bigger version.


The best summary of the state of our economy is the graph (below) of employment as a fraction of population for people over 16 years old. The decrease is large, but the most troubling feature of the graph is the flat trend .

Click on the image to get a bigger version.

Graph-of-the-Year Candidates

Donald Marron likes European interest rates. Click on the image to get a bigger version. Can you find three distinct subperiods?

Brad DeLong favors the U.S. gdp gap.

Remember M1?

Money Supply M1 growth is now over 20% per year over a 12 month lag. M1 growth has touched 20% before, but not with excess reserves of $1.6 trillion. Where is M1 headed?

Click on the chart for a larger version.


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Environmental and Urban Economics

April 25, 2015, 11:33 am, 1461784
The WSJ reports some optimism  about aggregate water demand by California golf courses. Recall that golf courses are well watered but California is in the midst of serious drought.  Is golf "doomed" in California?  Of course not.  

A direct quote:

"Most of California’s 900-plus golf courses, particularly ...

April 25, 2015, 11:33 am, 1461785
What motivates people to conserve water?  Most economists would recite the "the Law of Demand".  1/2 cent a gallon water provides weak incentives to conserve --- so Californians face Jerry Brown's water restrictions and crazy prices.  While California is home to 100s of top economists, we face deadweight loss ...

April 22, 2015, 5:33 pm, 1460021
Each morning I read the NY Times backwards as I start by reading the Sports Section. In the print edition on most days, the Sports Section is in the back of the Business Section.  My eye immediately spotted Orly Ashenfelter's name in this piece about labor versus capital income. ...

April 20, 2015, 1:33 pm, 1458379
In many blog posts I expressed disgust at the failure of Econ 101 teachers to convey some of our most important ideas.  Since people sleep through intro micro, many go on to not anticipate the unintended consequences of bad policies such as raising the minimum wage.  In today's NY Times, ...

April 19, 2015, 11:33 am, 1457920
In 1972,  Issac Ehrlich and Gary Becker wrote an important JPE paper on Self Protection and Insurance.  An ungated version is available here.   To provide some intuition, consider a random variable such as your house catching on fire.  If this event occurs, you suffer both financial damage and ...

April 18, 2015, 5:33 pm, 1457753
Today the NY Times has a front page piece on the mistreatment of specific dogs in China.  The Times reports that you don't want to be Tibetan Mastiff.  Here is a memorable quote: "

"There once was a time, during the frenzied heights of China’s Tibetan mastiff craze, ...

April 16, 2015, 9:33 pm, 1456874
When I was a teenager, I would listen to Cream and Led Zeppelin nonstop.  I was not a productive teen.  Now that I'm no longer a teenager, I've returned to listening to 1970s rock.  On Google Play, I just keep looping through the same 5 Led Zeppelin albums over and ...

April 16, 2015, 11:33 am, 1456538
In an OP-ED today, Nicholas Kristof offers a feel good convexity hypothesis that humanities people need to study more economics and STEM and that science nerds need to read their Shakespeare.  Here is a direct quote:

"My second reason: We need people conversant with the humanities to help ...

April 14, 2015, 11:33 am, 1455151
I just finished reading Prof. Ezra Vogel's biography of Deng Xiaoping.  This book has sold over 800,000 copies in China.   This is a fascinating book.   Prof Vogel views Deng to be a major figure whose policies sharply improved China's overall quality of life.   While Deng was ...

April 13, 2015, 1:33 pm, 1454519
Secretary Clinton would be a fine President of the United States.   While I would prefer for President Obama to serve a third term, I realize that this is unlikely event.  I am troubled by the idea of having a married couple in the White House where one is the ...