Rotten Referendums

While referendums seem like a great way to raise political engagement, they are risky (hello Great Britain) because they treat every issue in isolation, ignoring the inevitable and painful political and budgetary trade-offs inherent in lawmaking. This results in incoherent outcomes such as … [Read more...]


International Influence

It may have been the dotcom bust of 2001 or the housing bust of 2008, but it’s always been the US that’s dragged other nations into recessions. Next time things may reverse. The US share of global GDP keeps falling, reducing our influence. Trade matters more to the US than before, and globally … [Read more...]


Bionic Biles

The Friday File: Last Sunday, Simone Biles became the most decorated gymnast ever after earning her 25th career medal, including 19 golds, topping the prior record of 24 set by Ukrainian Vitaly Scherbo in 1996. Moreover, women’s gymnastics has only six events in which to medal; men have eight, … [Read more...]


Global Growth

The IMF is predicting global growth to slump to just 3% in 2019, the weakest rate since the housing bust and down from 3.8% as recently as 2017. The major culprit, global trade, which will grow by just 1.1%; in 2017 it was 5.7%. US growth is expected to be 2.4% this year and 2.1% next. Unless the … [Read more...]


More Money

When raising the minimum wage two things are relevant. First, what percentage of impacted firms are exporters? They are much less able to raise prices to offset the increase as they compete in world markets. Second, what percentage of the median wage is the new minimum? The higher it is, the more … [Read more...]


Tariff Travails

Prior to slapping tariffs on China, US tariff revenues were $3 billion/month. They’re now $7 billion/month; an increase of around $50 billion/year or 0.25% of GDP. Thus, GDP has been reduced by at least this much, and realistically much more because some purchases are simply not made and we’re … [Read more...]


Nobel Noteworthy

Earlier this morning, the Nobel Prize in Economics was awarded to a trio of economists, Abhijit Banerjee and his wife Esther Duflo (only the second woman to win an Economics Nobel and the youngest recipient ever at 46) both from MIT, and Michael Kremer of Harvard. They won the award for their … [Read more...]


Sophisticated Scammers

The Friday File: On social media, 91% of survey respondents said they initially failed to recognize fraudulent advertisements as scams and proceeded to engage and 53% eventually lost money. On websites, things were slightly better; the percentages were 81% and 50% respectively. However, via … [Read more...]


Tax Trauma

In 2012, California raised taxes by three percentage points on individuals with income above $500,000/year and couples with incomes greater than $1 million/year. The latest CA tax data shows that due to a combination of emigration of these wealthy households and behavioral changes in how income is … [Read more...]


Automotive Activity

In 2018, automakers sold 81.8 million vehicles and 4.2 million light commercial vehicles, down 400,000 from 2017, the best year ever. 2019 looks to be slightly weaker than 2018. The biggest market is China, with sales of 28.1 million vehicles. The US is a distant second at 17.3, followed by Japan at … [Read more...]