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August 17, 2012

Latest Posts from Economist's View

Latest Posts from Economist's View

Posted: 14 Aug 2012 12:24 AM PDT
We are live:
RomneyRyanomics: The Not So Grand Bargain
Romney is doing his best to hide it, but large costs to middle class households cannot be avoided under his economic plan.
Posted: 14 Aug 2012 12:06 AM PDT
Posted: 13 Aug 2012 12:24 PM PDT
I doubt this will surprise anyone, but it's worth noting that recent research finds:
political representation functions reasonably well for the affluent. But the middle-class and the poor are essentially unrepresented (unless they happen to share the preferences of the well-off)
Why are the findings important?:
In a democracy, all citizens—the rich, middle-class, poor alike—must have some ability to influence what their government does. Few people would expect that influence to be identical: those with higher incomes and better connections will always be more influential. But if influence becomes so unequal that the wishes of most citizens are ignored most of the time, a country's claim to be a democracy is cast in doubt. And that is exactly what I found in my analyses of the link between public preferences and government policy in the U.S.
In addition to the consequences for democracy, I've argued that the political empowerment of the working class is one of the keys to better economic policy:
When we talk about leveling the playing field, it is generally in terms of economic opportunity. However, leveling the political playing field is just as important, and in the past unions provided workers with a powerful voice in the political arena. But unions have largely faded from the scene, leaving workers with very little organized power. Correcting the political imbalance this has created through the renewed political empowerment of the working class must be part of any attempt to improve our response to serious recessions.
But how to make that happen? How does a "renewed political empowerment of the working class" come about?
Posted: 13 Aug 2012 10:33 AM PDT
I don't understand why someone with such a clownish views is lauded as a policy wonk:
What did Ayn Rand teach Paul Ryan about monetary policy?, by Brad Plumer: In 2005, Paul Ryan explained that he often looks to Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged" as inspiration for his views on monetary policy. "I always go back to, you know, Francisco d'Anconia's speech, at Bill Taggart's wedding, on money when I think about monetary policy," he said in a speech at the Atlas Society. So what are Ryan's views on this front? And what do they have to do with Ayn Rand? ...
Paul Ryan ... comes at monetary policy from a fairly non-mainstream perspective ... Perhaps Ryan's most unconventional opinion on monetary policy came in the summer of 2010, when he told Ezra Klein that the Federal Reserve should actually raise interest rates even as the U.S. economy was still struggling: "[T]here's a lot of capital parked out there, and we need to coax it out into the markets," he said. "I think literally that if we raised the federal funds rate by a point, it would help push money into the economy, as right now, the safest play is to stay with the federal money and federal paper."
That's not a common view. Most economists tend to think that raising interest rates will slow the economy down. ...
Yet Ryan has been consistent in his view that the Fed should do whatever it takes to fight inflation — and stop trying to bring down the unemployment rate. In 2008, Ryan sponsored a bill that would repeal the Federal Reserve's "dual mandate" to tackle both inflation and high unemployment. Instead, under his bill, the Fed would focus only on "price stability." ...
As an alternative approach, Ryan has suggested that the United States should return to "sound money" by anchoring the value of the dollar to, say, the price of a basket of commodities. This isn't quite a return to the now-abandoned gold standard, but it's a roughly similar concept. ...
So what does any of this have to do with Ayn Rand? Over at Slate, Dave Weigel has a longer explanation of the parallels between Ryan's monetary policy and "Atlas Shrugged." ... "I hope it doesn't surprise you that Ryan, since at least 2008, has wanted the Fed to abandon the employment mandate. He doesn't say this in a stupid way, like Rick Perry. He says it by citing Ayn Rand."
[See Brad DeLong too: Reflections on Paul Ryan's Transactions in Individual Bank Stocks in 2008.]
Romney and Ryan don't approve of fiscal policy stimulus (unless it's tax cuts for the wealthy), and Ryan would take away the ability of the Fed to respond to unemployment as well. Basically, they are telling us that if a recession hits and they have their way, nothing will be done. Not a thing. No fiscal policy response (except perhaps austerity to make it worse), and no monetary response (except, if Ryan has his way, interest rate increases based upon a misunderstanding of how the economy works -- that would also make things worse). So it wouldn't just be the "you're on your ownership society" of Randian dreams, Ryan would have monetary and fiscal authorities making things even worse than they already are.
Ryan is not a well-informed policy wonk with new, exciting ideas. He's a policy idiot. Don't let this guy anywhere near the policy levers.

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