Wednesday , October 28 2020
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Econbrowser – James Hamilton

Guest Contribution: “The Relative Performance of the U.S. Federal Debt”

Today we are fortunate to have a guest contribution by Sam Williamson, Emeritus Professor of Economics at Miami University, and President of Measuring Worth. This is the second post in a series; the first post is here. It is not surprising that the largest increases in the debt were during the terms of Wilson and FDR who were financing the two World Wars and both were Democrats. Between the wars and after, the attitude was to reduce the debt by running surpluses to pay off the war...

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Guest Contribution: “The Relative Economic Performance of the Trump Administration”

Today we are fortunate to have a guest contribution by Sam Williamson, Emeritus Professor of Economics at Miami University, and President of Measuring Worth. When the estimates of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the third quarter come out on October 29, they are likely to show a significant growth in the economy compared to the second quarter. If so, we can expect statements by President Trump and his supporters about how great the economy has performed during his term and another tweet...

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Yet More Economists against Trump

In addition to previous open letters, here is one released today, with over 750 signatories: We, the undersigned economists, strongly urge voters not to re-elect Donald Trump on the following grounds: His chaotic and ineffective approach to negotiation has damaged relations with trade partners, interrupted supply chains, degraded international norms, and harmed American farmers — all without achieving his stated goal of reducing the trade deficit. Even his landmark trade deal, the USMCA,...

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Labor Force Developments

Nationwide, labor force down 2.7% from February, and down 2.4% from year ago. Figure 1: Civilian labor force, 000’s, s.a. Red arrow denotes year-on-year decline. NBER defined recession dates. A NBER peak was declared for February 2020. Source: BLS via FRED, NBER, and author’s calculations. In other words, the labor force declined in September, indicating that the labor market recovery has at a minimum slowed, and the scarring effects are getting more pronounced as more people drop out of...

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Alan Blinder on the Biden Agenda

The Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy (CROWE) sponsored a series of talks on the election and economic issues. Yesterday’s talk was by Princeton’s Alan Blinder (former CEA member, former Fed Vice Chair). His talk with Q&A is here (YouTube). Other visitors included Lee Ohanian, Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, Casey Mulligan and Brian Riedl (Manhattan Institute). [ on Ohanian,  Mulligan, and on Riedl.’

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Covid-19 Hospitalizations, Fatalities Trending Up

Two days ago, reader Bruce Hall wrote: Cases continue to escalate; deaths do not; hospitalizations are basically level. The hyperbole around cases is unfortunate because infections are not categorized for action since asymptomatic to severe are lumped together. Mr. Hall should revise and extend his remarks. Figure 1: Covid-19 related current Hospitalizations (blue, left scale), fatalities, seven day moving average (red, right scale). Source: Covid Tracking Project, accessed 10/22/20. Given...

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Covid-19 Fatalities and Excess Fatalities

The most recent “excess fatality” count remains solidly in the positive region, despite the severe under-reporting bias in the most recent observations. To see this, consider the most recent estimates for each of the previous vintages of “excess fatalities” calculated as actual-expected. Figure 1: Excess fatalities, 10/21 vintage (chartreuse), 10/7 vintage (purple red), 9/30  vintage (violet), 9/23 vintage (chartreuse), 9/16 vintage (red), 9/9 vintage (green), 9/2 vintage (orange), 8/25...

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Guest Contribution: “Post COVID-19 Exit strategies and Emerging Markets Economic Challenges”

Today, we are pleased to present a guest contribution written by Joshua Aizenman (University of Southern California) and Hiro Ito (Portland State University) .  The pandemic of the new corona virus, COVID-19, wreaked havoc of the global economy in 2020. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as of June 2020, the world economy’s GDP is predicted to shrink by 4.4% in 2020, the largest shrinkage since the Great Depression of the 1930s. To calm financial markets and avoid a...

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Some People Think Covid-19 Hospitalizations Are Level

Reader Bruce Hall writes yesterday: Cases continue to escalate; deaths do not; hospitalizations are basically level. The hyperbole around cases is unfortunate because infections are not categorized for action since asymptomatic to severe are lumped together. I do not think this assertion regarding current hospitalizations are correct (and by definition, those are not asymptomatic cases, so the argument against using cases numbers does not apply). And where hospitalizations go, fatalities...

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Fiscal Policy Efficacy in Times of Covid

Just in time for the module on fiscal policy in my macro policy course, multipliers in a time of Covid-19. From a CBO working paper by Selsiki, Betz, Chen, Demirel, Lee, and Nelson, “Key Methods That CBO Used to Estimate the Effects of Pandemic-Related Legislation on Output”. Table 2 reports the ranges for a period of economic slack (empirical evidence in support of recounted in this New Palgrave survey article on multipliers), and then the adjustments made for social distancing. Source:...

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