The utilititarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham wrote of a "sacred truth — that the greatest happiness of the greatest number is the foundation of morals and legislation." The World Happiness Report 2018 is edited by John F. Helliwell, Richard Layard and Jeffrey D. Sachs, with chapters by various scholars. It takes insights about happiness seriously. In this version of the annual report, most of the chapters relate happiness to migration topics, although are also a few chapters with a review of recent happiness data around the world, chapters about about happiness in Latin America more broadly, and about happiness issues related to the US health care system.
Few government bond markets offer a positive real return. Those that do tend to have high associated currency risk. Active management of fixed income portfolios is the only real solution. Italy is the only G7 country offering a real-yield greater than 1.5%.
Overall world debt in the last year or two is at its all-time high as a share of world GDP. But there is common pattern that as countries grow and their financial markets develop, their level of debt also tends to rise. Perhaps even more interesting is that the importance of the components of that debt have been shifting. During and after the Great Recession, government borrowing was the main driver of rising global debt. But corporate borrowing has become more important.
Imagine yourself as the profit-seeking owner of a chain of retail stores. Would you charge the same (or nearly the same) price across all the stores? Or would you vary prices according to average income level of consumers who use that store, or according to whether the local economy was robust or shaky, or according to whether the store had geographically nearby competitors?
In the decades after World War II and up into the 1980s, the US economy experienced regional convergence: that is, the economies and incomes in poorer regions (like the US South) tended to grow more quickly than the economies of richer regions (like the US North). But in the 1980s, this pattern of regional convergence slowed down.
Richard Thaler won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2017 "for his contributions to behavioural economics". He tells the story of how the field evolved from early musings through small-scale tests and more comprehensive theories and all the way to public policy in his Nobel prize lecture, "From Cashews to Nudges: The Evolution of Behavioral Economics." It is ungated and freely available in the June 2018 issue of the American Economic Review (108:6, pp. 1265–1287). Video of the lecture being delivered is here.
A decade after the global financial crisis circa 2008, the global economy has finally recovered. The Global Economics Prospects 2018 report just published by the World Bank, subtitled "Broad-Based Upturn, but for How Long?" tells the story.