More in Global Economy


7 months

The High Costs of Renewable Portfolio Standards

A "renewable portfolio standard" is a rule that a certain percentage of electricity generation needs to come from renewable sources.  Such rule have been spreading in popularity. But Michael Greenstone and Ishan Nath argue in "Do Renewable Portfolio Standards Deliver?" that they are an overly costly way of reducing carbon emissions (Becker Friedman Institute, University of Chicago, April 21, 2019). As they explain in the Research Summary (a full working paper is also available at the link):

7 months

Single Payer Requires Many Choices

I sometimes hear "single payer" spoken as if it was a complete description of a plan for revising the US health care system. But "single payer" actually involves a lot of choices. The Congressional Budget Office walks through the options in their report "Key Design Components and Considerations for Establishing a Single-Payer Health Care System" (May 2019).

7 months

Globalization: More Than Before, But Less than You Think?

Globalization can be loosely defined as increases in the flow of goods, services, finance, people, and information across national boundaries. It has been generally on the rise in recent decades, although this trend experienced a substantial hiccup around the time of the Great Recession. Steven A. Altman, Pankaj Ghemawat, and Phillip Bastian have written "DHL Global Connectedness Index 2018: The State of Globalization in a Fragile World"(February 2019). Most of the report is country- and region-level descriptions of the level globalization.

7 months

The Squeezed Middle Class: An International View

Being "middle-class" is a perception that includes more than a certain range of numerical rankings in the distribution of income. For example, it includes a sense that one's job is reasonably stable heading into the future, a sense that income from the job is sufficient to purchase the goods and services associated with middle-class social status, and a sense that this status is likely to be passed on to one's children.

7 months

The Disability Insurance Debate

Back in 2015, the trust fund for the Social Security Disability Insurance Trust Fund was in deep trouble, scheduled to run out of money by 2016. A short-term legislative fix brought a few years more solvency for the trust fund, by moving some of the payroll tax for other Social Security benefits over to the disability trust fund, but the situation continued to look dire. For some of my previous takes on the situation, see this from 2016, this from 2013, or this from 2011. Or see this three-paper symposium on disability insurance from the Spring 2015 Journal of Economic Perspectives, with a discussion of what what going wrong in the US system and discussions of reforms from the Netherlands and the UK.

7 months

Washing Machine Tariffs: Who Paid? Who Benefits?

When import tariffs are proposed, there's a lot of talk about unfairness and helping workers. But when the tariffs are enacted, the standard pattern is that consumers pay more, profits for the protected firm go up, and jobs are reshuffled from unprotected to protected industries. Back in 1911, satirist Ambrose Bierce defined "tariff" this way in The Devil's Dictionary: "TARIFF, n.A scale of taxes on imports, designed to protect the domestic producer against the greed of his consumer."

7 months

When Special Interests Play in the Sunlight

There's a common presumption in American politics that special interests are more likely to hold sway during secret negotiations in back rooms, while the broader public interest is more likely to win out in a transparent and open process. People making this case often quote Louis Brandeis, from his 1914 book Other People's Money: "Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants ..." This use of the sunlight metaphor wasn't original to Brandeis: for example, James Bryce also used it in an 1888 book The American Commonwealth.