More in Global Economy


2 years

A Classic Question: Does Government Empower or Stifle?

If you look at the high-income countries of the world--the US and Canada, much of Europe, Japan, Australia--all of them have government which spend amounts equal to one-third or more of GDP (combining both central and regional or local government). Apparently, high-income countries have relatively large government. Conversely, when you look at some of the world's most discouraging and dismal economic situations--say, Zimbabwe, North Korea, or Venezuela--it seems clear that the decisions of the government have played a large role in their travails. So arises a classic question: In what situations and with what rules does government empower its people and economy, and under what situations and with what rules does the government stifle them?

2 years

The Clean Cooking Problem: 2.3 Million Deaths Annually

"Today around 2.8 billion people – 38% of the global population and almost 50% of the population in developing countries – lack access to clean cooking. Most of them cook their daily meals using solid biomass in traditional stoves. In 25 countries, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, more than 90% of households rely on wood, charcoal and waste for cooking. Collecting this fuel requires hundreds of billions of hours each year, disproportionately affecting women and children. Burning it creates noxious fumes linked to 2.8 million premature deaths annually."

2 years

Inequality in US Life Expectancy

Here's a topic for lunch-table, hallway, and water-cooler conversation: How much would you be willing to pay, in actual money, for an additional 30 years of life expectancy?

2 years

Share of US Adults Without Health Insurance

One genuine accomplishment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 is that it reduced the share of Americans lacking health insurance. The National Center for Health Statistics has just published the most estimates for 2017 in "Health Insurance Coverage: Early Release of Estimates From the National Health Interview Survey, 2017," Robin A. Cohen, Emily P. Zammitti, and Michael E. Martinez (May 22, 2018). Here are a few snapshots:

2 years

Why is Inflation Stuck so Low?

I suspect that I am like many economists, in that when I am asked about causes of inflation, I can almost see the words from a 1970 speech by Milton Friedman scrolling across my mind's eye: "Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon in the sense that it is and can be produced only by a more rapid increase in the quantity of money than in output." (It's from Friedman's 1970 lecture, The Counterrevolution in Monetary Theory.")

2 years

The Stockholm Congestion Charge

Economists have long argued that it's very hard to build your way out of traffic congestion--regardless of whether the building means adding lanes to roads or adding mass transit. The fundamental issue is that many of the people commuting to work have three adjustments they can make: some of them can adjust the time they choose to travel; some of them can adjust the route they travel; and some of them can adjust the method of their travel (single car vs. carpool, car vs. mass transit, and the like).

2 years

China Now Has a Trade Deficit

A large share of the concern over China's effect on the world economy starts with large Chinese trade surpluses. But in the first few months of 2018, China's trade balance was negative (using the standard broad measure of the current account balance). That is, China had a trade deficit, not a trade surplus. For example, the Economist magazine reports: "China’s vanished current-account surplus will change the world economy" (May 17, 2018).  The South China Morning Post reports: "China’s first current account deficit for 17 years ‘could signal fundamental shift" (May 4, 2018).