Photo above: The Hertford Bridge in Oxford, England. Used by Permission. © Tom Ley 01302 782837

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Quick Links on the Economy

Dr. Douglas O. Walker
Robetson School of Government

Some links to items of interest to students of economics:

1. A new paper by N. Gregory Mankiw on "Questions about Fiscal Policy" offers a survey of current issues regarding U.S. fiscal policy. Professor Mankiw is the author of the text used in RSG's Principles class. Strongly recommended to RSG students.

2. The Bureau of Labor Statistics summary report on the Employment Situation, released this morning. Note the many links to statistical data at the bottom of this report. Recommended to those with an interest in the details of the current labor market situation in the U.S.

3. Pointer to a new book providing a perspective on the financial crisis by a distinguished Marxist (by definition, all academic Marxists are “distinguished”) at an old haunt where I once toiled in slavery as an adjunct. Too tempting not to comment. Here is an "exciting" tidbit from the book:

"Capitalism will never fall on its own. It will have to be pushed. The accumulation of capital will never cease. It will have to be stopped. The capitalist class will never willingly surrender its power. It will have to be dispossessed."

Yea, yea, yea, Capitalism is terrible, isn't it? Obese poor suffering from mass starvation, workers with swimming pools in their backyards enduring awful exploitation on the job, only the rich Capitalists having a decent place to live and the wherewithal to drive an auto or eat in a restaurant. Terrible, terrible! Worse. We, the overwhelming masses, are so stupid and downtrodden we can’t rise up and overthrow the vicious Capitalists by ourselves, but must be led by intelligent and public-spirited Marxists. So, “Yes, yes, yes,” to the barricades we go on the heels of our leaders, the followers of Karl and Vladimir!!! (Or, should there be danger, to the barricades in front of our dear leaders?)

But then what? Why do Marxists never tell us exactly how (not why, but how) what they propose as an alternative economic, political and social system (do they actually propose anything?) would be better than this terrible system from which we now all suffer so much?

It is so easy to make things worse and so very difficult to make things better.

Recommended to those with time to waste:
4. Keith Hennessey questions why taxpayers should subsidize underwater homeowners. Recommended to those with an interest in how policy should be tailored to deal with real problems rather than broad concerns.

5. Robert Barro, professor of economics at Harvard, discusses the current recession and recommends five books on The Great Depression. Professor Barro has been in a running (and nasty) feud with Paul Krugman on matters macroeconomic, and, naming names, puts forward his case against the “Voodoo multipliers” used by the Administration to justify their policies. Recommended to those with an interest in economic history and the technical debates surrounding current policy.

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