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March 2, 2014

Latest Posts from Economist's View

Latest Posts from Economist's View

'In Search of a Stable Electronic Currency'

Posted: 02 Mar 2014 12:24 AM PST

Robert Shiller:

In Search of a Stable Electronic Currency, by Robert Shiller, Commentary, NY Times: ... Bitcoin's future is very much in doubt. Yet whatever becomes of it, something good can arise from its innovations... I believe that electronic forms of money could give us better pricing, contracting and risk management. ...
Bitcoin has been focused on the wrong classical functions of money, as a medium of exchange and a store of value. ... It would be much better to focus on another classical function: money as a unit of account...
This has already begun to happen. ... For example, since 1967 in Chile, an inflation-indexed unit of account called the unidad de fomento (U.F.), meaning unit of development, has been widely used. Financial exchanges are made in pesos, according to a U.F.-peso rate posted on the website One multiplies the U.F. price by the exchange rate to arrive at the amount owed today in pesos. In this way, it is natural and easy to set inflation-indexed prices, and Chile is much more effectively inflation-indexed than other countries are. ...
With electronic software in the background, we can ... move beyond just one new unit of account to a whole system of them...
Bitcoin has been a bubble. But the legacy of the Bitcoin experience should be that we move toward a system of stable economic units of measurement — a system empowered by sophisticated mechanisms of electronic payment.

Links for 3-02-14

Posted: 02 Mar 2014 12:03 AM PST

'Whither the Euro?'

Posted: 01 Mar 2014 06:43 AM PST

Kevin O'Rourke:

Whither the Euro?, by Kevin O'Rourke: The euro area economy is in a terrible mess.
In December 2013 euro area GDP was still 3 percent lower than in the first quarter of 2008, in stark contrast with the United States, where GDP was 6 percent higher. GDP was 8 percent below its precrisis level in Ireland, 9 percent below in Italy, and 12 percent below in Greece. Euro area unemployment exceeds 12 percent—and is about 16 percent in Portugal, 17 percent in Cyprus, and 27 percent in Spain and Greece.
Europeans are so used to these numbers that they no longer find them shocking, which is profoundly disturbing. These are not minor details, blemishing an otherwise impeccable record, but evidence of a dismal policy failure.
The euro is a bad idea, which was pointed out two decades ago when the currency was being devised. The currency area is too large and diverse—and given the need for periodic real exchange rate adjustments, the anti-inflation mandate of the European Central Bank (ECB) is too restrictive. Labor mobility between member countries is too limited to make migration from bust to boom regions a viable adjustment option. And there are virtually no fiscal mechanisms to transfer resources across regions in the event of shocks that hit parts of the currency area harder than others. ...[more]...

Links for 3-01-14

Posted: 01 Mar 2014 12:03 AM PST

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