Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tuesday summary.

At TSGN, Kelly Hanlon quotes Lew Lehrman making a crucial point:

Jacques Rueff spoke of American “deficits without tears,” because the American budget deficit and balance-of-payments deficits were -- they still are -- almost automatically financed by the Federal Reserve and the reserve-currency system -- through the voluntary (or coerced) buildup of dollar balances in the official reserves of foreign governments. These official dollar reserves were, and still are, immediately invested by foreign authorities, directly or indirectly, in the dollar market for United States securities, thus giving back to the United States, at subsidized rates, the dollars previously sent abroad as a result of the persistent United States balance-of-payments deficit and budget deficits. To describe this awesome absurdity, Jacques Rueff invoked the metaphor of an overworked tailor to the King, yoked permanently to fictitious credit payments by His Majesty’s unrequited promissory notes.
The WSJ reports Fed Chairman Bernanke is concerned about the oil price but not enough to change his policy direction.

On The Kudlow Report, Steve Forbes discusses the falling dollar:

On Forbes, Charles Kadlec argues that enterprise – not greed – is good.

From Asia Times, David Goldman reiterates that currency-related food price spikes are behind the Middle East revolts.

Also on Kudlow, John Tamny suggests legalization of insider trading:

At The Washington Times, Richard Rahn examines the non-monetary ways in which the Obama Administration is raising energy prices.

Cato’s Dan Mitchell promotes a new video on tax competition.

From the archives, John D. Mueller recounts the achievements of supply-side economics founder Robert Mundell.

It isn't possible to appreciate Mundell's work without knowing that he began as a junior member in a colloquy that had been going on for decades when he arrived; but he soon established himself as an equal, or more. Mundell recognized in the early 1960s that the Keynesian revolution in economics, dominant among American and British economists after the Second World War, contained some serious shortcomings. 'The Keynesian model is a short run model of a closed economy, dominated by pessimistic expectations and rigid wages. This model is not relevant to modern economies," he wrote in Monetary Theory (1971).

In seeking an alternative to Keynesian theory, Mundell had to return to much older sources, such as the eighteenth-century ideas of David Hume and the 19th-century general-equilibrium theory of Leon Walras. 'The object," Mundell explained, "is to combine the essential features of the specific models of Hume, [Irving] Fisher and Keynes in a more general theory of interest, inflation, and growth of the world economy. I do not claim to have resolved all the problems associated with a new approach, but only to have helped build, with able predecessors and contemporaries, a better foundation for monetary theory."

In doing so, Mundell could draw on a Continental European tradition including economists like Robert Triffin and Jacques Rueff, which had always maintained the classical teachings; but many of their writings were (and remain) unfamiliar to English-speaking economists, and were not expressed in the mathematical form that became standard at about the same time as Keynesian macroeconomic theory. (It's interesting that the return of American and British economists to the fold of classical economics was mediated largely by Canadian-born economists like Mundell and Harry Johnson.) As Mundell noted at a 1967 international monetary conference, "I do not know why it has taken so long for Anglo-Saxon economists to admit the truth of the elementary proposition [Rueff] is making: that there is an adjustment mechanism that is automatically operative under fixed exchange rates if it is allowed to operate." It's fitting that in 1983 Mundell was awarded the Jacques Rueff Prize in Paris by the Jacques Rueff Foundation and the Lehrman Institute.
From Reason, Shikha Dalmia suggests Americans have nothing to fear from India and China’s growth.

At The Financial Times, conservative Keynesian Peter Peterson – funder of the Institute for International Economics – advocates a fiscal rebalancing through deep spending cuts and tax increases.

From NPR, liberal economist Dean Baker argues for growth (through spending) and against balanced budget obsession.

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