Economics Roundtable

Technical Problems 1/21/15

The website was down for a day and a half, 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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March 1, 2015, 6:04 am, 1431199
The Shadow MPC has voted to keep rates on hold, entrenching its reversal, at the last meeting, of its long-standing call for rate rises. Those favouring a hold included members arguing that there is no inflationary pressure and/or that the...

March 1, 2015, 6:04 am, 1431198
My regular column is available to subscribers on This is an excerpt. Greece’s negotiations with its creditors have provided us all with an entertaining glimpse into the dysfunctional family that is the eurozone. So we have had Wolfgang...

March 1, 2015, 5:33 am, 1431196

Expensive and a bit messy, but I'll second that.

March 1, 2015, 5:03 am, 1431183

March 1, 2015, 4:44 am, 1431182

Like many others, I have been struggling to figure out whether the new lunar ...

March 1, 2015, 4:05 am, 1431181

Over at Vox, Mr. Money Moustache notes:

The first trick is to remind yourself that buying something — pretty much anything — is very unlikely to improve your long-term happiness. Science figured this out for us long ago, but not many people got the memo. Go to your junk ...

March 1, 2015, 4:05 am, 1431180

That is the new book by Mark Greif, and the subtitle is Thought and Fiction in America, 1933-1973.  I very much enjoyed grappling with this one.  One of my more recent views is that the thinkers of the mid-twentieth century are in fact, as a whole, extremely underrated.  ...

March 1, 2015, 1:33 am, 1431138
(This post is based on a few talks I've given lately. There's not much terribly new.But the effort to revisit, clarify and repackage may be useful even if you're a devoted blog reader, as it is to me.)

The Future of Monetary Policy / Classic Doctrines Overturned

February 28, 2015, 9:33 pm, 1431113
One of my favorite characters in TV history was Star Trek's "Spock". Yesterday, Leonard Nimoy, Spock of ‘Star Trek,’ Died at 83.

Leonard Nimoy, the sonorous, gaunt-faced actor who won a worshipful global following as Mr. Spock, the resolutely logical human-alien first officer of the Starship Enterprise ...

February 28, 2015, 7:33 pm, 1431101
On Friday, the German Bundestag Backed the Greek Bailout Extension. Ahead of the vote, many commented that Greece collapsed.

It's not all that simple as I have explained.

The likely explanation for the alleged collapse of Syriza is Greece did not have a primary ...

February 28, 2015, 6:44 pm, 1431096
The Journal's rundown of the biggest news stories and exclusive features from Washington on politics, policy, financial regulation, defense and more.

February 28, 2015, 4:44 pm, 1431087

February 28, 2015, 4:05 pm, 1431085

The latest year-on-year data, from January, highlight the danger. The consumer price index dropped to 0.8%; the producer price index fell by 4.3%; exports contracted by 3.3%; imports were down by 19.9%; and growth of broad money (M2) slowed by 1.4%.

Moreover, the renminbi has come under downward pressure, owing partly ...

February 28, 2015, 3:33 pm, 1431083
Click here to read my column in Sunday's New York Times.

February 28, 2015, 3:03 pm, 1431052
The key report this week is the February employment report on Friday.

Other key indicators includethe January Personal Income and Outlays report on Monday, February ISM manufacturing index also on Monday,February vehicle sales on Tuesday, the ISM non-manufacturing index on Wednesday, and the January Trade Deficit on Friday.

February 28, 2015, 2:05 pm, 1431050

February 28, 2015, 2:04 pm, 1431049
(February 28, 2015 02:38 PM, by David Henderson) In a piece titled "Snow(den) blind: Libertarians' telling 'hero'," William McGurn, a former George W. Bush speechwriter and Wall Street Journal columnist, and currently editorial page editor of the New York Post, writes: The libertarians who champion Snowden will claim... (0 COMMENTS)

February 28, 2015, 2:04 pm, 1431048
(Don Boudreaux)

Here’s a letter to the D.C.-based WTOP Radio:

You report that the IRS is cutting back on “customer service.”  Pleading poverty because of the budget cuts it must endure as a result of Congressional displeasure with its recent mistreatment of many of its ‘customers,’ the IRS moans that it ...

February 28, 2015, 1:33 pm, 1431046

Matthew Continetti:

What the opponents of a bad deal with Iran have witnessed over the last few months is the transference of Obama’s domestic political strategies to the international stage.A senior administration official is on record likening an Iranian nuclear agreement to Obamacare, and the ...

February 28, 2015, 12:05 pm, 1431004

Greece called into question on Saturday a major debt repayment it must make to the European Central Bank this summer, after acknowledging it faces problems in meeting its obligations to international creditors.

There is more here, most of all showing the Greeks have not obtained much leverage ...

February 28, 2015, 11:23 am, 1431003

If you haven’t read it already, Senior Scholar James Galbraith shared his take on the four-month Greek deal in Social Europe:

there was never any chance for a loan agreement that would have wholly freed Greece’s hands. Loan agreements come with conditions. The only choices were an agreement with conditions, or ...

February 28, 2015, 9:03 am, 1430936

February 28, 2015, 9:03 am, 1430935
This is an unofficial list of Problem Banks compiled only from public sources.

Here is the unofficial problem bank list for February, 2015.

Changes and comments from surferdude808:

Very busy week for the Unofficial Problem Bank List as the FDIC closed a bank and provided ...

February 28, 2015, 8:35 am, 1430934
● Global Asset Allocation: A Survey of the World’s Top Asset Allocation Strategies By Meb Faber Summary via Amazon With all of our focus on assets – and how much and when to allocate them – are we missing the bigger picture? Our book begins by reviewing the historical performance ...

February 28, 2015, 8:34 am, 1430933

I'm in two minds about Frances' critique of macroeconomics. A bit of me disagrees, but a bit thinks she might be understating the problem.

First, a disagreement. In one respect, the 2008 crisis actually strengthened economics. The investor who followed the sell in May ...

February 28, 2015, 8:04 am, 1430931
(February 28, 2015 07:02 AM, by Alberto Mingardi) The Liberty Fund has recently made available on line the introductions, written by Richard Ebeling, to the three volumes of "Selected Essays" by Ludwig von Mises that he edited some ten years ago. That project developed out of the discovery,... (0 COMMENTS)

February 28, 2015, 8:04 am, 1430930
(Don Boudreaux)

… is from page 16 of Jeffrey Miron’s excellent 2004 monograph, Drug War Crimes:

Under legalization, the incidence of accidental poisonings or overdoses would not be zero, just as it is not zero for currently legal goods such as alcohol.  But the rate of such incidents would decline significantly, ...

February 28, 2015, 8:04 am, 1430929
by New Deal democrat (Bondaddblog) How wages in services vs. goods-producing jobs explain relative GDP growth during Recoveries (Hint: producing goods is better) This week I will put up several posts discussing the relative impact of goods-producing vs. service jobs in the economy, prompted by an article by Kevin L. ...

February 28, 2015, 7:34 am, 1430927

Cool little free astronomy program.

February 28, 2015, 5:34 am, 1430907

Adam Davidson, New York Times:

The reason a majority of movie studios still turn a profit most years is that they have found ways to, as they say, monetize the ancillary stream by selling pay-TV and overseas rights, creating tie-in video games, amusement-park rides and so forth. ...

February 28, 2015, 5:23 am, 1430906

Photo Credit: Eddy Van 3000

This piece is an experiment.  A few readers have asked me to do explanations of simple things in the markets, and this piece is an attempt to do so.  Comments are appreciated. ...

February 28, 2015, 5:03 am, 1430889

February 28, 2015, 4:05 am, 1430888

Hong Kong is a tough marriage market for women because of the city’s skewed gender ratio — 876 males for every 1,000 females, a gap predicted to worsen to 712 to 1,000 by 2041.

That is from Julie Zhu at the FT.

February 28, 2015, 3:03 am, 1430882

The first Nobel Prize in economics to ever go up for auction sold for $390,848 late last night, according to seller Nate D. Sanders Auctions.

That’s more than for prizes in physics, but far from the million-plus payouts for prizes for medicine or peace.

Only a small number of Nobel Prizes ...

February 28, 2015, 3:03 am, 1430881
Bloomberg News

Congressional Republican leaders named Keith Hall on Friday as the next director of the Congressional Budget Office, an influential nonpartisan budget scorekeeper.

The CBO plays an important role ...

February 28, 2015, 3:03 am, 1430878
Next week’s calendar is chock-full of important data, especially the February jobs report Friday. Weather and West Coast port problems could distort some numbers, however, so be cautious. Here are five things to watch.

February 28, 2015, 3:03 am, 1430880

The Federal Reserve‘s second-in-command said Friday raising rates at some point over the middle of the year isn’t set in stone.

Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer acknowledged broad-based expectations that the Fed will raise rates at either its June or September policy meetings, but added they could easily be foiled.

“We are ...

February 28, 2015, 3:03 am, 1430879

Vitor Constancio, vice president of the European Central Bank, played down worries in financial markets that the ECB will not be able to find enough bonds to complete its “quantitative easing” as planned.

Starting next month the ECB plans to buy €60 billion of debt securities a month until September 2016. ...

February 28, 2015, 2:44 am, 1430877

There is a debate among economists about the effects of serfdom on economic development. This column sheds light on this debate using novel dataset from 19th-century Russia. The findings indicate that serfdom was a crucial factor causing economic slowdown. The abolishment of serfdom was followed by a sharp increase in ...

February 28, 2015, 2:44 am, 1430876

The large international imbalances accumulated in the Eurozone have proven difficult to unwind during the recent Crisis. This column argues that market reforms had a role in generating current account imbalances, and that patterns of relative labour market regulation could be equally important in the aftermath of the Crisis.

February 28, 2015, 2:05 am, 1430875

That is from Timothy Taylor, who remains a model of excellence and lucidity.