Sunday, November 23, 2014

Trash Talking at the Harvard-Yale Game

Saturday, November 22, 2014

McCloskey on Piketty

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Elmendorf for CBO Director

Roll Call speculates about who the next director of the Congressional Budget Office might be. This is a key decision facing the newly elected GOP-controlled Congress. After giving a talk at CBO on Thursday and participating in its Academic Advisers Panel on Friday, I am reminded how impressive the CBO staff is and how important the institution is to the policy process. (FYI, my own affiliation with CBO dates back to the summer of 1978, when I was an intern there.)

So who should the next CBO director be? There are a lot of reputable economists on the Roll Call list. Many are friends of mine. All things considered, however, I believe there is a clear choice: Doug Elmendorf.

Someone recently said to me that the CBO director is not really a player in the political game. He is more like the referee. That analogy sheds light on why Doug is the right person for the job. What do you want in a good referee? Competence and impartiality. Doug has demonstrated both. He is a superb economist and, over the past six years as CBO director, has shown himself to be scrupulously non-partisan.

I understand that GOP leaders may be tempted to put their own stamp on the Congressional Budget Office. But sometimes the benefits of continuity transcend ideology and political affiliation. Ronald Reagan reappointed Paul Volcker, and Barack Obama reappointed Ben Bernanke, despite the fact that both Fed chairs were initially appointed by a president of the other party. In the same spirit, I would encourage the GOP congressional leaders to reappoint Doug Elmendorf as CBO director.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Tax Fact of the Day

Source. Click on graphic to enlarge.

A Textbook Example of Arbitrage

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Coase Theorem in Action

Friday, October 31, 2014

Job vacancy rate is back to pre-crisis level

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Latest from Merle Hazard

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

National Economists Club

If you are in the DC area, you can hear me speak on November 13.  Click here for more information.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Profile of an Ec 10 Student

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Charles Murray on Ayn Rand

A great and balanced essay.  Thanks to Alex Tabarrok for the pointer.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Head Section Leader in Ec 10

Love teaching introductory economics?  Want to live in the Boston area?  Well, then, I have a job for you.

Mean Comments

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Inequality and Parenting

Click on graphic to enlarge. Source.

Friday, October 10, 2014


Congratulations to the recipients of the 2014 Economist Educators Best in Class Teaching Award. These three were chosen by the Board of the National Economics Teaching Association (NETA) from numerous submissions. Prizes are provided by Cengage Learning.

1st Place       Michael Enz, Roanoke College 

                Self Grading

 2nd Place       Sherri Wall, University of Alaska-Fairbanks

                Team Based Learning (TBL) - Econ Style!

3rd Place       Amy Cramer, Pima Community College

                Voices on the Economy, or VOTE.
Winners will receive a cash award for themselves and for their departments as well as a trip to the 10th Annual Economics Teaching Conference next month in San Diego.

You can see their submissions HERE.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Where danger lurks

A nice essay by Olivier Blanchard on the lessons we should learn from the financial crisis and Great Recession.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

On Textbook Prices

NPR takes a look.  Generally, a good and balanced treatment. But they play a bit too fast and loose with the difference between high and rising.  Some of the hypotheses they suggest can explain high prices but not rising prices.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

A VoxEU Course Companion

Teachers of intermediate macroeconomics will find this new book of interest:
This Vox EU Course Companion, the first in the series, is a collection of carefully selected Vox columns designed to supplement Mankiw’s Macroeconomics textbook. Vox Course Companions provide relevant examples of economic theory in action and offer thought-provoking perspectives on arguments that come up time and again in exam-style questions. They bring together analyses of economic phenomena by leading economists as they happened, while applying and comparing the suitability of competing economic theories.

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

The IMF on Infrastructure

The IMF endorses the free-lunch view of infrastructure spending. That is, an IMF study suggests that the expansionary effects are sufficiently large that debt-financed infrastructure spending could reduce the debt-GDP ratio over time. 

Certainly this outcome is theoretically possible (just like self-financing tax cuts), but you can count me as skeptical about how often it will occur in practice (just like self-financing tax cuts).  The human tendency for wishful thinking and the desire to avoid hard tradeoffs are so common that it is dangerous for a prominent institution like the IMF to encourage free-lunch thinking.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Predicting the Nobel