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Jeffrey Frankel’s Blog

The G20 agenda, as the pandemic continues

TweetAugust 28, 2021 — Italy hosts the G20 this year.  The 2021 Summit of the Heads of Government will take place in Rome in October. Officials of member countries, including the finance ministers and central bank governors, are preparing. The G20 meeting will come at a time of great uncertainty as concerns the health and economic effects of the pandemic, midway through its 2nd year.  Although the mechanisms of international cooperation have been badly bruised by events of recent years,...

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The Virus, Vaccination, and Voting

TweetJuly 25, 2021 — Ever since the 1960s, we have heard the cliché, “If they can put a man on the Moon, why can’t they do X?” where X is usually some goal like eliminating hunger — technologically simpler than the scientific miracle of space flight, but harder to accomplish in practice because it involves human behavior.  In 2021, the salient question is, “If we can accomplish the scientific miracle of developing vaccines capable of ending the Covid-19 pandemic that has killed millions,...

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How concerned am I about a bubble?

TweetFor The International Economy magazine, Summer Issue, 2021Question: “HOW CONCERNED ARE YOU ABOUT A BUBBLE?” “On a scale of one to ten, how worried are you about the potential for asset bubbles bursting?” My response:  9 out of10 Financial markets are indeed been experiencing bubbles, spurred in part by easy money. Eventually the bubbles will end.  A bursting could have severe adverse consequences for the real economy, as in 1929 or 2008; but fortunately that outcome is not...

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Maxims of Richard Zeckhauser and errors of commission

TweetJuly 14, 2021 — Richard Zeckhauser, my colleague at Harvard Kennedy School, is indeed legendary.  A book by Dan Levy, titled Maxims for Thinking Analytically: The wisdom of legendary Harvard Professor Richard Zeckhauser, has been released today. I recommend it highly. This is not a collection of tangential papers published together in someone’s honor.  Rather each chapter consists of an immortal maxim of Richard’s together with applications to real-world decision-making, whether at...

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The Global Outlook

Tweet          This set of questions and answers appears in Capital Magazine in July 2021, translated into Turkish. – There is a second and third wave of coronavirus in many countries while also vaccines are being delivered. How do you see the outlook for the global economy against this backdrop? How has the world economy performed since the beginning of the pandemic? JF: The world economy has performed about as well as could be expected, if one takes as given the pandemic and the...

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“False Imbalance” in Reporting on Economic Policy

TweetJune 30, 2021 —  One obstacle to productive public discourse and deliberation is a syndrome whereby the media, whether mainstream or otherwise, present policies in a manner that could be called “false imbalance.”  No, I don’t mean “false balance.”  False imbalance is quite different. It refers to the temptation to cast in a negative light, policies that in fact are reasonable attempts to balance competing objectives.  Examples can be drawn from health care, fiscal policy, and...

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The Covid19 death rate looks less bad in historical perspective

Tweet(Part II of “Statistics and the Pandemic”) May 30, 2021 — My preceding blogpost pointed out that excess mortality statistics show Covid-19 death rates to be much worse in most countries than are reported by official statistics.  In this sense, the pandemic is even worse than one thought. But the news all around us is already depressing.  A consideration of longer-term history allows a more encouraging perspective on mortality — provided we handle the statistics properly. A recent...

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Focus on Official Statistics Makes Covid19 Worse, But Look Better

Tweet(Part I of “Statistics and the Pandemic”) May 29, 2021 — Mark Twain said, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”  Too often, the pandemic has unnecessarily allowed scope for the sort of popular suspicions reflected in Twain’s bon mot. Statistics are in fact a critical component of the fight against Covid-19.  Their use ranges from judging the efficacy of different vaccines to judging the performance of different governments. But throughout the pandemic,...

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What Three Economists Taught Us About Currency Arrangements

TweetApril 24, 2021 — A generation of great international economists is passing from the scene.  Richard Cooper died on December 23. An American, he was teaching his classes at Harvard until the very end. Robert Mundell, passed away on April 4.  Originally Canadian, he was a winner of the Nobel Prize in economics.  And John Williamson, on April 11. Originally British, he had been the first scholar hired by the Peterson Institute for International Economics. As a personal note, I was...

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Biden Avoids Mistake of Insufficient Fiscal Stimulus

TweetMarch 27, 2021 — It has been a year since the US and the world went into recession.  Because of its origins in the sudden pandemic, it was possible to reliably discern the advent of the recession before it was reflected in any of the standard economic statistics, which is rare.  (I hope it shocks no one to learn that economists can’t normally predict recessions.) By the end of the second quarter of 2020, US GDP had fallen 11 %. This record plunge took the US economy from a level that...

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