Economics Roundtable

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.


The Economics Roundtable is sponsored by EconModel.

The Classic Economic Models cover micro, macro, and financial markets.

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December 1, 2015, 5:33 am, 1584119

(p. A17) Full-time employment is technically defined as more than 35 hours. This raises an obvious problem: A simple side-by-side comparison of all men and all women includes people who work 35 hours a week, and others who work 45. Men are significantly more likely than women to ...

December 1, 2015, 4:05 am, 1584056

That is the new book by Claire Adida, David Laitin, and Marie-Anne Valfort.  Some parts are interesting, especially those showing both statistical and taste-based discrimination against Muslims in France.  But most of the book — above all the title — makes claims which are far too ...

December 1, 2015, 3:03 am, 1583992

December 1, 2015, 3:03 am, 1583991

Tim Duy:

The Final Countdown, by Tim Duy: The latest read on the Fed’s preferred inflation metric was not particularly kind to policymakers:

Indeed, asCraig Torres at Bloombergnotes, this is only one of a number of indicators ...

December 1, 2015, 2:44 am, 1583990
Today's monetary policy effectiveness depends upon expectations of future monetary policy. Shocks affect such expectations, but the nature of the shock matters. This column presents evidence that negative demand shocks lead markets to expect looser policy in the short run. Negative supply shocks lead to expectations of looser policy in ...

December 1, 2015, 2:04 am, 1583974

It is worth reading what one of the African-American civil rights leaders, and a brilliant man, thought of Woodrow Wilson at the time of his candidacy:

As to Mr. Wilson, there are, one must confess, disquieting facts; he was born in Virginia, and he was long president of a college which ...

December 1, 2015, 2:04 am, 1583973

Here’s something you should be thankful for this Thanksgiving: work.

Sure, that sounds counterintuitive. Thanksgiving Thursday is the first day of a (for most of us) four-day weekend, a time devoted to gorging on comfort food and nonstop viewing of college and professional football games.

December 1, 2015, 2:04 am, 1583970

December 1, 2015, 2:04 am, 1583969

President Obama and other world leaders are in Paris for talks to limit climate-altering emissions.

Now the problem here is that a) the world needs to get richer, b) that requires more energy, and c) more energy has meant rising atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide.

December 1, 2015, 2:04 am, 1583971

In a recent article for National Review Online, I advocated Social Security reforms that combine a universal, guaranteed, flat retirement benefit provided by the government with expanded 401(k) retirement savings accounts to supplement that minimum benefit. These proposed reforms are similar to the retirement systems of New Zealand and ...

December 1, 2015, 2:04 am, 1583972

Sometimes you can learn something about today’s world from a history book — even a book about obscure characters in a long ago time in an obscure corner of the planet featuring conflicts between regimes that ceased existing at least a century ago. For me, one such book has been ...

December 1, 2015, 2:04 am, 1583968

December 1, 2015, 2:04 am, 1583965

1. Chart of the Day (above). Based on the most recent “Traffic Volume Trends” report from the Federal Highway Administration, Americans drove more in September of this year (about 264 billion miles) than in any previous September in US history. The number of ...

December 1, 2015, 2:04 am, 1583963

To join the Hangout, click here on December 7 at 11:00 AM ET. Registration is not required.

“Innovation” has been a buzzword in education for decades, yet classrooms look and feel the same. Even charter schools — designed to be laboratories of innovation where teachers can experiment with new pedagogies and ...

December 1, 2015, 2:04 am, 1583964

David Levinson writes thusly:

New technologies are changing whether and how people travel, including telecommuting, e-shopping, and being virtually connected to your friends and family 24/7. Labor force participation continues to fall (even with economic expansion) as automation and information technology change the nature of work.

December 1, 2015, 2:04 am, 1583966

In assuming the speaker’s chair, Paul Ryan shouldered the role of unifying a party divided. The House GOP’s “establishment” wing wants to demonstrate that Republicans can be trusted to address kitchen-table concerns and govern responsibly, while the Tea Party wing is intent on rolling back a national government run amok ...

December 1, 2015, 2:04 am, 1583967

Today, the IMF announced that the Chinese currency will be included in its Special Drawing Rights basket. There can be little doubt that this will be of considerable symbolic importance for the Chinese renminbi’s status as well as for that of the Chinese economy itself, as the Chinese currency would ...

December 1, 2015, 1:33 am, 1583962
Via translation from La Vanguardia, Euribor at Historic Lows, Mortgage Interest Drops by €166 Per Year.

The 12-month Euribor, on which most Spanish mortgages are based, closed the month of November at 0.079%, setting a new record low and falling for the first time below 0.1%.

December 1, 2015, 1:03 am, 1583940

Read on, only if you believe in considering data.


2015 is on track to be the hottest on record.

Figure 1: Global land and sea temperature anomaly year-to-October. Source: NOAA.

For those wondering about statistical significance (e.g., this person), from

December 1, 2015, 12:04 am, 1583937

November 30, 2015, 11:03 pm, 1583914
From the LA Times: After subprime collapse, nonbank lenders again dominate riskier mortgages

So-called nonbank lenders are again dominating a riskier corner of the housing market — this time, loans insured by the Federal Housing Administration, aimed at first-time and bad-credit buyers. Such lenders now control 64% of the ...

November 30, 2015, 10:34 pm, 1583913

The ...

November 30, 2015, 10:04 pm, 1583912
(December 1, 2015 12:09 AM, by Bryan Caplan) Here's how Dominic Lieven's The End of Tsarist Russia dissects Balkan politics in the years right before World War I:Here Macedonia remained the key focus of instability. The commitment of the new regime in Constantinople to centralization and Turkish nationalism... (0 ...

November 30, 2015, 8:04 pm, 1583885
(November 30, 2015 08:49 PM, by David Henderson) Rising demand for urban living by the elite could be met largely by increasing supply. There's still room to build, even in New York, especially upward. Yet while there is something of a building boom in the city, it's far... (2 COMMENTS)

November 30, 2015, 5:03 pm, 1583789

Colm McCarthy writing at The Irish Economy blog:

The Euro Debate and the Abuse of Language: Defenders of the Eurozone’s initial design, subsequent management and purported reform invariably refer to the system as a ‘monetary union’. So do academic commentators including the authors of the recent Vox piece on ...

November 30, 2015, 5:03 pm, 1583788
Fannie Mae reported today that the Single-Family Serious Delinquency rate declined slightly in October to 1.58% from 1.59% in September. The serious delinquency rate is down from 1.92% in October 2014, and this is the lowest level since August 2008.

The Fannie Mae serious delinquency rate peaked ...

November 30, 2015, 4:04 pm, 1583782
(November 30, 2015 02:08 PM, by Alberto Mingardi) Can we have "socialism, with an iPad"? This is the picture the Labour Shadow Chancellor recently used, with the aim of providing a somewhat modernized, albeit only symbolically, face for Jeremy Corbyn's economic proposals. Labour-leaning columnist Zoe Williams argues that... (0 COMMENTS)

November 30, 2015, 3:33 pm, 1583778
Volatility in the Chicago PMI likely has economists scratching their heads. Following last month's surge comes this month's contraction. It's been off and on for 10 months. No swing in either direction has lasted more than two months.

Yet, the overall trend has been weakening for a year ...

November 30, 2015, 3:33 pm, 1583777

November 30, 2015, 3:33 pm, 1583776

1. Chart of the Day (above). Based on the most recent “Traffic Volume Trends” report from the Federal Highway Administration, Americans drove more in September of this year (about 264 billion miles) than in any previous September in US history. The number of ...

November 30, 2015, 3:03 pm, 1583715

Jared Bernstein:

Is balanced growth really the answer?: A recent must-read article by journalist Alec MacGillis documents a phenomenon that he suggests must “give Democrats the willies:” the increasing political opposition to safety net programs, even among those who’ve been helped by them. ...

MacGillis argues that this ...

November 30, 2015, 2:34 pm, 1583714

November 30, 2015, 2:04 pm, 1583713

What Lower Bound? Monetary Policy with Negative Interest Rates (Job Market Paper)

Abstract:  Policymakers and academics have long maintained that nominal interest rates face a zero lower bound (ZLB), which can only be breached through major institutional changes like the elimination or taxation of paper currency.  Recently, several central banks have ...

November 30, 2015, 2:04 pm, 1583712

November 30, 2015, 1:34 pm, 1583707
A month ago, I attended the SF Fed/Bank of Canada conference on fixed income. I had the chance to comment on Michael Bauer and Jim Hamilton's "Robust Bond Risk Premia.Mycomments here.

As usual when faced with a really nice paper, I used most of my ...

November 30, 2015, 1:34 pm, 1583706

November 30, 2015, 1:33 pm, 1583705
Pending home sales for the month of October were nearly flat vs. economists expectations of something much higher.

The Wall Street Journal reports Pending Home Sales Rise 0.2% in October, economists had predicted a 1.5% increase.

The Bloomberg Econoday consensus was for a ...

November 30, 2015, 1:33 pm, 1583704

Lea Kosnik:

This paper investigates whether academic research attention to certain policy-related measures (including gross domestic product, unemployment, and inflation) is correlated with empirical measurements of the measures themselves. In other words, when unemployment rises, does research attention to the matter increase? Or do economists pursue research (in the short run) ...

November 30, 2015, 1:33 pm, 1583703

I particularly like this response to the question: Why do people question climate change? (although I'm not sure I would group libertarians and 'other political conservatives' quite so closely here):

Most of the attacks on climate science are coming from libertarians and other political conservatives who do not like the policies ...

November 30, 2015, 1:03 pm, 1583644

After a quiet, Thanksgiving holiday-shortened week, the S&P 500 is almost exactly where investors who might have taken the entire last week off left it.

November 30, 2015, 1:03 pm, 1583643

"You don’t have to be a conservative to believe that we have too much regulation":

Inequality and the City, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: New York, New York, a helluva town. The rents are up, but the crime rate is down. The food is better than ever, and ...

November 30, 2015, 1:03 pm, 1583642
Here is a minor indicator I follow from the National Restaurant Association: Restaurant Performance Index Rose in October

Driven by stronger same-store sales and a more optimistic outlook among restaurant operators, the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) posted a moderate gain in October. The RPI – ...

November 30, 2015, 12:34 pm, 1583641
The ISM Manufacturing Index for the US is expected to tick up to 50.2 in tomorrow’s update for November vs. the previous month, based on The Capital Spectator’s average point forecast for several econometric estimates. The prediction is fractionally above the neutral 50.0 mark. The estimate still translates into a ...

November 30, 2015, 12:04 pm, 1583640

November 30, 2015, 11:33 am, 1583638
via the Urban word of the day, Turd Ferguson:

When you get the great idea to start making ToDo lists at work, of which's items only a fraction get done. As the list grows after a few days, weeks, whatever, you begin to realize you've made a huge list of ...

November 30, 2015, 11:33 am, 1583637
Dr. Krugman haswritten a great column in today's NY Times focused on the consequences of increased income inequality in Superstar cities such as Manhattan. He sketches how the combination of rising national income inequality with severe local land use regulations and common tastes among the rich for what are ...

November 30, 2015, 11:03 am, 1583575

It's long, complex, and no one's really sure what it says. It's the NFL Rulebook, at least according to Sunday Night Football analyst Chris Collinsworth during last night's broadcast. Struggling with the excess timeout rule (Rule 4, § 5, art. iv), Collinsworth opined, "The [NFL] Rulebook is like the IRS ...

November 30, 2015, 11:03 am, 1583574
Chicago PMI: Nov Chicago Business Barometer Down 7.5 Points To 48.7

The Chicago Business Barometer decreased 7.5 points to 48.7 in November from 56.2 in October, as a sharp fall in New Orders put it back into contraction for the sixth time this year.

The significant decline ...

November 30, 2015, 11:03 am, 1583573
From the NAR: Pending Home Sales Nudge Forward in October

The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, inched 0.2 percent to 107.7 in October from an upwardly revised 107.5 in September and is now 3.9 percent above October 2014 (103.7). The index has increased ...

November 30, 2015, 10:04 am, 1583572
(Don Boudreaux)

Fifty-eight years ago today my parents were married in St. John the Baptist Church

November 30, 2015, 9:33 am, 1583569

Along with enormous misery, the financial crisis brought an opportunity for long-needed reform. At the top of the list was the clear need for more bank capital. To ensure resilience of the financial system, and protect the public purse, banks’ owners had to have much more skin in the game. ...

November 30, 2015, 9:03 am, 1583506
Elderly people work out in the grounds of a temple in Tokyo in September to celebrate Japan’s Respect for the Aged Day. The estimated number of people aged 80 ...

November 30, 2015, 8:34 am, 1583505
Real estate investment trusts (REITs) in the US took the lead in last week’s shortened holiday trading week for the major asset classes via a set of proxy ETFs. Vanguard REIT (VNQ) climbed nearly 1.0%, a comfortable edge over last week’s number-two performer for the four trading days through Friday, ...

November 30, 2015, 8:04 am, 1583503

The RAND Database of Worldwide Terrorism Incidents (RDWTI) contains data on terrorist incidents worldwide from 1968 through 2009. Terrorism is defined as the deliberate creation and exploitation of fear through violence or the threat of violence in the pursuit of political change.

According to the Rand database, there were 567 terrorist ...

November 30, 2015, 8:04 am, 1583502
A version of this interview appeared in The Sunday Times In his job as an economist for one of the world’s biggest and most aggressive hedge funds Gertjan “Jan” Vlieghe tried to second-guess what the Bank of England would...

November 30, 2015, 8:04 am, 1583501
(Don Boudreaux)

… is from page 618 of Alberto Mingardi’s Fall 2015 Cato Journal article, “A Critique of Mazzucato’s Entrepreneurial State” ...

November 30, 2015, 7:34 am, 1583498

"After decades of failure, maybe government should get out of the business of giving dietary advice."

A hearty amen to that.

(But Glenn Reynolds notes--as he does more and more frequently these days--"But that would mean giving up on so many opportunities for graft and self-importance and control over others.")

November 30, 2015, 7:33 am, 1583497

"People in glass houses shouldn’t write mean peer review comments."

November 30, 2015, 7:33 am, 1583496

Where "professors" here explicitly means humanities professors and where the focus is not on demand but supply.

This approach to scholarship has little to do with what draws conservatives to the study the humanities and social sciences. For them, innovation and novelty are precisely the problem — ...

November 30, 2015, 7:33 am, 1583495

A review in the Detroit Free Press. There's substantial good news but also some not-so-good news.

November 30, 2015, 7:33 am, 1583494

A review of Robert Putnam's book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, by Amy L. Wax.

I also highly recommend her "Engines of Inequality: Class, Race, and Family Structure,"Family Law Quarterly, Fall 2007, the sort of article that gets her branded a "racist" at ...

November 30, 2015, 7:33 am, 1583493

I think rather than "controversial" the article is better described by "surprising". And Benford's Law and the Harmonic series diverging are the most surprising to me.

November 30, 2015, 6:44 am, 1583432

Are we on the verge of driverless cars and other forms of autonomous robots and artificial intelligence? David Mindell of MIT and the author of Our Robots, Ourselves talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the robotic revolution. Mindell ...

November 30, 2015, 6:34 am, 1583431
● PMI: US service sector growth rebounds in November | Markit ● US GDPNow Q4 growth estimate slips to 1.8% | Atlanta Fed ● Eurozone eco sentiment stable as inflation expectations tick higher | Reuters ● German retail spending dips in October | RTE ● German consumer confidence slips again ...

November 30, 2015, 5:34 am, 1583428

I hadn't heard of Teespring before. It certainly sounds interesting, but presumably all the easy money has been made by now.

November 30, 2015, 5:03 am, 1583395

November 30, 2015, 2:44 am, 1583364
WTO members have somehow found it extremely difficult, in the 21st century, to reach a comprehensive multilateral agreement to expand mutual gains from trade. This column argues that success in expanding global trade will depend on major trading countries’ willingness to seek new institutional paths to multilateral agreements, through new ...

November 30, 2015, 2:44 am, 1583363
The EZ ‘consensus narrative’ argues the Crisis should not be thought of as a government debt crisis in its origin. Instead it regards large intra-EZ capital flows that emerged in the decade before the Crisis as the real culprit. This column argues that while the narrative is correct, it is ...

November 30, 2015, 2:04 am, 1583362

November 30, 2015, 2:04 am, 1583361

Based on a minimum wage debate I participated in recently at Northwood University, here are ten reasons that I support market-determined wages over government-mandated minimum wages.

1. Government-mandated minimum wages are always arbitrary and almost never based on any sound economic/cost-benefit analysis. Why $10.10 an hour (Obama said “ten-ten is easy ...

November 30, 2015, 2:04 am, 1583360

A strong, bipartisan commitment to global leadership has long informed America’s foreign policy. Today, however, the global architecture the United States helped conceive, build, and maintain is in jeopardy.

A seminal bipartisan report from AEI’s American Internationalism Project “Why American Leadership Still Matters” provides a comprehensive consensus on America’s role in ...

November 30, 2015, 1:33 am, 1583359
Drone delivery is coming, and faster than most think.

Time Magazine disagrees. Time proclaims Here’s Why Drone Delivery Won’t Be Reality Any Time Soon

Time notes the FAA will not have anything to do with autonomous deliveries other than line-of-sight, but I expect regulations ...

November 30, 2015, 12:04 am, 1583349
(November 30, 2015 12:14 AM, by Bryan Caplan) Lieven's The End of Tsarist Russia subtly proposes a novel theory of Russia's disastrous entry into World War I: Millions died to spare Russia's elites from feelings of humiliation. First, Lieven sets the stage:Revolution at home had undermined the Russian... (1 COMMENTS)