Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday round up.

On Forbes, Jeff Bell and Rich Danker make a strong case for the economic and political viability of a gold-backed dollar.

Yet most sympathetic politicians, policymakers and academics shy away from embracing gold. A common refrain is lack of voter knowledge, and there is some truth to this. In focus groups of Democrats and Republicans that we observed over the summer in Cincinnati, most participants had come of age after Bretton Woods and therefore had no living memory of gold playing a central role in monetary policy. But they did comprehend the gold standard when it was explained to them (a third session in Cincinnati with Tea Party activists elicited surprising levels of historical knowledge and support).

Even if they have never heard of the price-specie-flow mechanism, voters have an increasing sense of how the gold standard works because there is an intuitive association of gold with money. A system that last fully operated before World War I is more transparent and understandable than the monetary regime we live under today, dictated by central bankers making policy according to their macroeconomic preoccupations. The monetary authorities themselves do not understand the impact of their decisions on the wider world, where foreign central banks recycle excess reserves into U.S. dollar-denominated debt that artificially boosts asset prices and generates recurring bubbles below the radar of inflation.

At Alhambra Investments, Joe Calhoun sees economic negatives outweighing positives, unless spending and the tax system are reformed.

On The Kudlow Report, former Atlanta Fed President William Ford explains that rising interest rates could render the U.S. central bank insolvent:

Apropos my recent article, The Washington Times reports on President Obama’s meeting with President Sarkozy of France to discuss the dollar and the euro.
Mr. Sarkozy repeatedly has warned of the dangers to international firms posed by disparities between the euro and the dollar, and has suggested that reliance on the dollar as the world's sole reserve currency exacerbated the financial crisis.

The French leader has called for "updating" the global monetary order — something he's now pursuing as he holds the revolving presidencies of the Group of Eight and the Group of 20 nations. But, at least in his public comments alongside Mr. Obama, he avoided pointed rhetoric challenging the dollar's status.

"I've always been a great friend, a tremendous friend of the United States, and I know how important a role the Unites States plays in the world, how important the U.S. dollar is as the world's No. 1 currency," Mr. Sarkozy told reporters following an Oval Office meeting with Mr. Obama.

At the International Economic Law and Policy blog, Simon Lester reports on papers by John Williamson of the Peterson Institute, and conservative Keynesian Martin Feldstein of Harvard, on how to deal with trade imbalances (here and here).

The WSJ editorializes on a new study illustrating why trade deficit fears are overblown.

From The WSJ, former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan advocates higher taxes and denies any mistakes in monetary policy during his tenure:

Cato’s Dan Mitchell suggests taxpayers will flee tax Illinois’s tax increases.

At Foreign Affairs, Columbia’s Robert C. Lieberman argues government policy favors the rich getting richer.

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