Saturday, May 28, 2011

Taylor reviews Reckless Endangerment

In the Washington Post John Taylor reviews a new book that argues that business-government connections led to the financial meltdown of 2008:
In a series of clearly written narratives with many names, dates and figures, they show that government officials took actions that benefited well-connected individuals, who in turn helped the government officials. This mutual support system thwarted good economic policies and encouraged reckless ones. It thereby brought on the crisis, sending the economy into a tailspin.
One economist who has argued that housing policy had nothing to do with the crisis is Joseph Stiglitz. However, Stiglitz was one of those who gave us those housing policies, so he is not an unbiased voice.

Update: Walter Russell Mead also likes the book.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mead on Obama

From Walter Russell Mead, more devastating because Mead actually wants to like Obama:
Three times he has gone up against Netanyahu; three times he has ingloriously failed.  This last defeat — Netanyahu’s deadly, devastating speech to Congress in which he eviscerated President Obama’s foreign policy to prolonged and repeated standing ovations by members of both parties — may have been the single most stunning and effective public rebuke to an American President a foreign leader has ever delivered.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The government and the financial panic

The theme that the financial panic of 2008 and the recession that accompanied it were caused by a lack or regulation or by deregulation is common, especially on the Left. The counterargument is that the financial panic was the direct result of government regulation and policy, especially in the housing market. Joseph Lawler makes the case in The American Spectator:
[T]he financial crisis was not caused by weak or ineffective regulation. On the contrary, the financial crisis of 2008 was caused by government housing policies -- sponsored and promoted by many of the same people who framed and ultimately enacted the DFA.
Because his argument puts the blame on the government and not on the private sector, it has been attacked. He responds here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The stimulus and jobs

From Greg Mankiw's blog, a summary of a paper trying to determine the effects of the 2009 Obama stimulus bill:
Our benchmark results suggest that the ARRA created/saved approximately 450 thousand state and local government jobs and destroyed/forestalled roughly one million private sector jobs.

Friday, May 6, 2011

China's birth dearth

Is the fertility rate in China only 1.3?
To keep a society sustainable, the birth rate needs to be kept around at 2.3 children per female inhabitant. But all the objective surveys, including that of the 2000 census and the 1% sampling survey of 2001, show that since the mid-1990’s the birth rate in China has been stuck around 1.3.
China is set to repeat Japan’s economic recession experience of the 1990s. The difference is Japan became rich before growing old, while China is growing old before even getting rich.
 Demography remains the great untold story.