Economics Roundtable

Database Maintenance 7/4/15

Routine database maintenance will induce some duplicated items for the next day or two.

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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August 3, 2015, 5:03 am, 1520687

Last week, we considered what the potential impact of stock buybacks would be to the S&P 500 as if the venerable stock market index was the stock price of a single company. We concluded our analysis as follows:

August 3, 2015, 5:03 am, 1520686

Austerity for Puerto Rico would be a "terrible idea":

America’s Un-Greek Tragedies in Puerto Rico and Appalachia, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: On Friday the government of Puerto Rico announced that it was about to miss a bond payment. It claimed that for technical legal reasons this wouldn’t ...

August 3, 2015, 4:04 am, 1520685

August 3, 2015, 3:33 am, 1520681
How often do you hear a car manufacturer (or any other manufacturer) tell people to "not" buy their product because they lose money if you do?

I highly suspect this is nothing more than a purposely calculated publicity stunt, but please consider California Has a Plan to ...

August 3, 2015, 3:03 am, 1520658

August 3, 2015, 3:03 am, 1520657

Robert Reich:

The Revolt Against the Ruling Class: “He can’t possibly win the nomination,” is the phrase heard most often when Washington insiders mention either Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders.

Yet as enthusiasm for the bombastic billionaire and the socialist senior continues to build within each party, the political establishment ...

August 3, 2015, 2:44 am, 1520656

Corporate Japan is known for avoiding uncertainty. This is one of the reasons why changes of any kind are difficult – but not impossible – to realise. This column employs firm data to show that foreign direct investment has been changing corporate Japan by pursuing risk taking in private Japanese ...

August 3, 2015, 2:44 am, 1520655

A key question for policymakers is how long-term unemployment can be effectively reduced. This column presents new evidence from a large-scale field experiment in which job seekers were provided with information and encouragement. The results indicate that targeted information provision can be an effective policy tool, in particular in the ...

August 3, 2015, 2:04 am, 1520653

Imagine if I wrote a post that just served up a list like this:

The people who deserve to be raised in status:

Norman Borlaug, Jon Huntsman, female Catholics from Croatia, Scottie Pippen, Yoko Ono, Gordon Tullock, Uber drivers, and Arnold Schoenberg,


The people who deserve to be lowered in status:

Donald Trump, Harper ...

August 3, 2015, 2:04 am, 1520652

Does the GOP have a communications problem? Consecutive elections have shown that, despite having the best solutions to problems such as poverty and declining mobility, Americans don’t trust conservatives because they fail to speak in a way that reflects concern and compassion. For too long, conservatives have been a movement ...

August 2, 2015, 11:33 pm, 1520632

Here’s the abstract from a research paper titled “Alcohol as a Gateway Drug: A Study of US 12th Graders” that was published in the Journal of School Health in August 2012 (emphasis added):

BACKGROUND: The Gateway Drug Theory suggests that licit drugs, such as tobacco and alcohol, serve as ...

August 2, 2015, 10:34 pm, 1520622

Not ...

August 2, 2015, 9:03 pm, 1520597
Schedule for Week of August 2, 2015

• At 8:30 AM, Personal Income and Outlays for June. The consensus is for a 0.3% increase in personal income, and for a 0.2% increase in personal spending. And for the Core PCE price index to increase 0.1%.

August 2, 2015, 8:04 pm, 1520595
(August 2, 2015 05:40 PM, by Scott Sumner) Here's a report on China in the Financial Times: Before the release of Wednesday's second-quarter gross domestic product estimate, China's nominal GDP growth rate had plummeted from almost 20 per cent to 5.8 per cent since 2011, a much sharper... (0 ...

August 2, 2015, 8:04 pm, 1520594

August 2, 2015, 6:04 pm, 1520592

Josiah Ober, The Rise and Fall of Classical Greece.  This new history of ancient Greece has an intriguing estimate of living standards during that time, I hope to spend more time with it soon.  Ober argues there was plenty of economic growth at the time and that the ...

August 2, 2015, 5:33 pm, 1520591
Water Outing

Restaurants in California are not supposed to serve water unless asked. Will that make much of a difference?

The answer is no, but what about car washing, sprinklers, etc.?

To pressure citizens to not waste water, California Launches "Drought Shaming" Website.

California ...

August 2, 2015, 4:34 pm, 1520566

Two volumes of Paul Samuelson’s Collected Scientific Papers appeared in 1966, 129 articles, 1,831 pages, published by the MIT Press. Samuelson was only fifty-one. To some it might have seemed premature, but then some part of the point must have been shock and awe: to demonstrate how far economists had ...

August 2, 2015, 3:33 pm, 1520561

August 2, 2015, 3:03 pm, 1520550

In case you somehow missed that socioeconomic mobility is low in the US relative to many other countries, this is Anne Kim at Washington Monthly:

The Myth of Mobility: ... Surveys find that nearly two-thirds of Americans believe it’s “still possible to start out poor in this ...

August 2, 2015, 3:03 pm, 1520549

Paul Krugman follows up on Paul Romer's latest attack on "mathiness":

Freshwater’s Wrong Turn (Wonkish): Paul Romer has been writing a series of posts on the problem he calls “mathiness”, in which economists write down fairly hard-to-understand mathematical models accompanied by verbal claims that don’t actually match what’s going ...

August 2, 2015, 2:05 pm, 1520546

This new book, by Algerian writer Kamel Daoud, starts with Camus’s The Stranger, and then retells the story from the point of view of the brother of the Arab murder victim.  It’s both commentary on the original and a compelling narrative in its own right.  The Guardian

August 2, 2015, 2:05 pm, 1520545

August 2, 2015, 1:33 pm, 1520543
One Brooklyn apartment building has solved its Commons Problem by having its 175 dogs all be registered and DNA tested. This has created a database that can be cross-checked when a new unwanted sample of poop is left in the commons areas. Those dog owners who are caught are ...

August 2, 2015, 1:03 pm, 1520516
From STR: US hotel results for week ending 25 July

The U.S. hotel industry recorded positive results in the three key performance measurements during the week of 19-25 July 2015, according to data from STR, Inc.

In year-over-year measurements, the industry’s occupancy increased 1.5% to 79.1%. Average ...

August 2, 2015, 10:34 am, 1520469

Dan Price announced that he’d pay a middle class salary to all his employees. His clients, customers, and even the employees themselves are unhappy.

NYT (“A Company Copes With ...

August 2, 2015, 10:04 am, 1520464
(Don Boudreaux)

… is from pages 140-141 of 1963 Norton Library edition of the superb posthumous 1951 collection of some of

August 2, 2015, 10:04 am, 1520463
(Don Boudreaux)

Tim Worstall elaborates on my recent post on how Uber and other sharing-economy innovations is helping both to increase the ...

August 2, 2015, 9:33 am, 1520462

It feels like Christmas Eve (but without baby Jesus):

Obama administration will unveil the finalized version of its unprecedented regulations clamping down on carbon dioxide emissions on Monday. The plans will require every state to reduce emissions from existing coal-burning power plants.

Regulations will require power plants to cut emissions by 32%by ...

August 2, 2015, 8:34 am, 1520403
The ISM Manufacturing Index is expected to post a modest increase to 54.3 in tomorrow’s update for July vs. the previous month, based on The Capital Spectator’s average point forecast for several econometric estimates. The prediction is well above the neutral 50.0 mark and so the current outlook still calls ...

August 2, 2015, 7:33 am, 1520401

August 2, 2015, 5:33 am, 1520359

For all--or at least some--of your classic rock needs.

August 2, 2015, 4:04 am, 1520334
My regular column is available to subscribers on This is an excerpt. An economic recovery is all about barriers and milestones. It is a story of getting over the barriers and counting off the milestones as you pass...

August 2, 2015, 3:23 am, 1520332

Photo Credit: Jon Gos

Too often in debates regarding the recent financial crisis, the event was regarded as a surprise that no one could have anticipated, conveniently forgetting those who pointed out sloppy banking, lending and borrowing ...

August 2, 2015, 3:03 am, 1520271

August 2, 2015, 2:04 am, 1520270

That is the new and excellent book by Sebastian Strangio, which you can think of as a post-Sihanouk look at the country from a political economy point of view.  Here are just a few bits:

The cruelty and callousness that allowed jilted wives to order and commit such brutal ...

August 2, 2015, 12:44 am, 1520252

The ‘zero lower bound’ on interest rates has been broken is a few nations, but only marginally. Going to seriously negative interest rates would require reform. This column, which reports the views of the leading UK-based macroeconomists, suggests that there is no strong support for reforming the monetary system to ...