In popular lore, government looms large in the economy. This is mostly because it has assumed more transfer functions. In contrast, the function of governing itself, and the expense associated with it, was by 2011 smaller than at any time since the 1930s. . . . → Read More: U.S. government spending—back to the 1930s
Reading the economic tea-leaves is hard. On the view that most analysts and the media hold, the U.S. economy is under-performing. But on another view, the U.S. is right back on track. . . . → Read More: The U.S. economy: Back to trend?
Net investment by business firms in physical plant, property, and equipment is necessary for continuous improvements in worker productivity. The column shows that for the first time since the end of World War II, U.S. net investment turned down to zero during the 2008/9 recession. . . . → Read More: Net private domestic investment
Look who’s working—at the federal government. Data for the past 30 years show that about two-thirds of the 2.1 million civilian federal employees work, one way of another, in jobs related to the security sector. The data also show that federal employment fell during the Clinton years and rose during the Bush (Jr.) and the first two Obama years. No unemployment at the feds! . . . → Read More: Unemployment? What unemployment?
Reading the business press, and hearing politicians pontificate on the matter, the blame for inducing recessions is usually put at the feet of consumers. If consumers or households would only spend more, then everything would be fine. This is wrong: The culprit, actually, is volatility in business investment spending. . . . → Read More: Business investment and economic recessions
There is no agreement on how to measure an economic recession or, for that matter, an expansion. Moreover, semi-official announcements of recessions or expansion are made very late in the game, thus proving of little value to policymakers. . . . → Read More: Measuring Recessions
The public finances of the United States government are spiraling out of control. Here is a proposal that might rein in the budget deficit and cumulative debt. . . . → Read More: A Call for a Council on Fiscal Sustainability
For the United States, the decade of the 2000s has been politically and economically terrible. Here is a review, and hopeful wishes for a better decade of the 2010s. . . . → Read More: The Terrible 2000s Come to an End
Dividing GDP by population size yields average income per person, a measure often abused to claim that the U.S. is the richest country on earth. Adjusting the numbers for hours worked shows that even the Belgians and the French outperform the United States. . . . → Read More: GDP, the Standard of Living, and Hours Worked
The world is in an economic recession and politicians relentlessly talk about getting economies to grow again. Few appear to know what they are talking about. . . . → Read More: What GDP Does—and Does Not—Mean
U.S. “official” unemployment has reached 8.1 percent in February 2009. This column shows that a different measure – of unemployment and underemployment – is nearly twice as high: 16 percent! [For a Black & White print version of this column, click here.] . . . → Read More: Unemployment and Underemployment
Tongue-in-cheek, I propose an equivalent to the famous “Laffer curve”. . . . → Read More: The “Brauer Curve”