• A New Kind of Misery Index?

    Dec 20 • Thinking Economically • 259 Views

    11.84 is the current level of our “misery index” if we use what Arthur Okun (economic advisor to Lyndon Johnson) created. November unemployment + inflation rates = 11.84.
    However, according to Floyd Norris, a new index might be more appropriate. Suggested by Pierre Chilleteau, it combines a nation’s budget deficit as a percent of GDP with its unemployment rate.

    The Economic Lesson

    A misery index reflects an economic dilemma. Each has a different opportunity cost for less unemployment. Each requires a tradeoff. For Okun, if we solve unemployment, we get more inflation (or the opposite). For Chilleteau, a Keynesian solution to unemployment means an even higher budget deficit or less spending means (Keynes again) more unemployment.

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  • Adam Smith and Wine

    Dec 19 • Thinking Economically • 239 Views

    Known for his absentmindedness, Adam Smith seemed always to be pondering economic issues. According to The Economist, not always. In their December 17 issue, Smith is quoted in an article on the history of wine. He seemed to be alluding to “terroir” when he noted that “the vine is more affected by the difference of soils than any other fruit tree. From some it derives a flavour which no culture or management can equal.

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  • Paul Samuelson’s Nephew

    Dec 18 • Thinking Economically • 274 Views

    During a recent interview, Larry Summers, Director of President Obama’s National Economic Council, (former economics professor, president of Harvard, Secretary of the Treasury) spoke about his family. His mother’s brother (Kenneth Arrow) and his father’s brother (Paul Samuelson) were Nobel laureates in economics. His parents taught economics at the University of Pennsylvania.
    Saying during the interview that economics permeated his life–even when deciding who would get to watch TV, he added that for years he did not realize that his childhood was atypical.
    (Interview from Bloomberg on the Economy 12/15/09)

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  • A Stimulating Idea From China

    Dec 17 • Thinking Economically • 238 Views

    The place is Inner Mongolia. The city is Ordos. Actually, within 18 miles, there are two Ordos. One looks like a normal city. Built with stimulus money, the second Ordos looks complete except for one detail; there are no people. The apartments are empty, the offices, and the streets are empty.
    The results? China’s GDP growth remains near 8%.

    Is this like the New Deal

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  • Freshwater or Saltwater?

    Dec 16 • Thinking Economically • 263 Views

    Smith or Keynes? Free market or government fine-tuning?
    If you are the latter, you can say you are a saltwater economist. A recent article from Paul Krugman (NY TIMES MAGAZINE; 9/06/09) characterizes the economists who reside along either coast as saltwater. By contrast, those near the Great Lakes (University of Chicago), near freshwater, can be called the classical/Adam Smith crowd.

    However, not everyone agrees:


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