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15 days

China and Currency Manipulation

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has "determined that China is a Currency Manipulator" (with capital letters in the press release). The overall claim is that one major reason for China's large trade surpluses is that the country is keeping its exchange rate too low. This low exchange rate makes China's exports cheaper to the rest of the world, while also making foreign products more expensive in Beijing, thus creating China's trade surplus.

16 days

The Fed’s Unnecessary Rate Cut

If there is something that is evident is that the United States does not need a rate cut.

19 days

Administrative Data Moves Toward Center Stage

For the later decades of the 20th century, the most common source of data for economic studies was government surveys and statisticians. There are household surveys like the Current Population Survey, the Survey of Income and Program Participation, the Consumer Expenditure Survey, the  National Health Interview Survey, the Consumer Expenditure Survey, and the General Social Survey. There were government workers collecting data on prices at stores as input to measures of inflation like the Consumer Price Index. There were business surveys, like the Economic Census, the Retail Trade Survey, an Annual Survey of Manufactures, the Residential Finance Survey, and others. Branches of government like the Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture, and the Health Care Financing Administration collect data on specific industries. There's also a Census of Governments to get data on state and local government. The Bureau of Economic Analysis would pull together data from these sources and others to estimate GDP.

24 days

India Economic Survey: Challenges Accepted

India's economy doesn't get nearly as much attention as China's. Both economies have a similar involvement in international trade: for example, they both export 19-20% of their GDP. But the US imports is about ten times as much from China as from India, and there is a dimension of geopolitical competition with regard to China that isn't present with India.

26 days

Yes, You Can Patent an Invention that Doesn't Exist

It is odd but true that the US Patent and Trademark Office has in the past been willing to grant patents for inventions that did not actually exist. Janet Freilich and Lisa Larrimore Ouellette discuss this policy in "Science fiction: Fictitious experiments in patents: Prophetic examples may unnecessarily distort understanding," published in Science magazine (June 14, 2019, pp. 1036-1037). For a fuller discussion, see the "Prophetic Patents" working paper by Freilich, available at SSRn (June 25, 2018).

28 days

Analysing University Endowments

How much money do major universities and colleges have in their endowments? How are they investing the money? What returns are they earning? The National Association of College and University Business Officers does a survey of these questions each year, and here are some results for 2018. 

30 days

Payments from China for Foreign Intellectual Property

It seems clear that China's government and firms have been aggressive in their pursuit of intellectual property from firms in other countries. Sometimes this aggressiveness comes from government rules that if a foreign firm wished to sell or produce in China, it needs to have a Chinese firm as a partner and to share technology with that firm. There are also widespread allegations of technology theft. I once chatted with a group of California tech executives who did business in China, and they all said that if they take a computer or a phone to China, they only take one where the memory has been previously wiped clean.