Tag: Economics

Over six million prime-age men are neither working nor looking for work; America’s low unemployment rate hides the fact that many men have dropped out of the workforce altogether. Our workforce participation rate is on par with that seen during the Great Depression.

Why does this problem affect men so acutely? Why is it so specific to America? What are these missing men doing with their time? How do we differentiate between leisure and idleness? Demographer and economist Nicholas Eberstadt of the American Enterprise Institute discusses these trends and what they mean for America’s future.

With contentious midterm elections coming up fast, Annika sits down with one of the best-known commentators and participants in the American political economy over the past four decades: Larry Kudlow.

Director Kudlow has had a long and storied career; in addition to great success both on Wall Street and as a political commentator, he served in the Ronald Reagan administration in 1981, and as the Director of the National Economic Council under President Trump. He currently hosts the popular Larry Kudlow Show.

With the Biden Administration’s student loan relief coming down the pike, Annika sits down with Dr. Beth Akers, a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who specializes in higher education finance. Beth discusses the issue of student debt, and what the Biden relief plan will and will not achieve.

You can find more information about Dr. Akers and her recent writing and appearances here.

Abstraction, Power, Virtue, and Vice

 

Abstraction is the flip side of Division of Labor. It’s been a long time since I’ve read Adam Smith’s pin factory example, so forgive me if I’m fuzzy on the details. Suppose that the operation consists of the wire stretcher upstream of me, myself on the point grinder, and the guy down below me puts the heads on, shooing away any dancing angels. Smith teaches us that by focusing on my job, on grinding pins, that me and my two fellows will make vastly more pins than we would have separately. And indeed our experience with society bears this out; I’ve never made a pin myself but I can purchase as many as I’d like at almost no cost.

So huzzah Division of Labor, right? That’s where Abstraction comes in. To focus on grinding pins I’ve got to stop worrying about cutting the wires and placing the heads. If I’m trying to cut my own wires then I’ve lost whatever advantage I’d gained from Division of Labor and now my pin output has plummeted. So I abstract away those concerns, contenting myself with the knowledge that there will always be a stretched wire for me to reach out and grab, and that the sharpened wires will always have heads placed. Because I’ve abstracted those away to the other guy’s concern I’ve necessarily given that other guy Power over me.

MI senior fellow and Wall Street Journal columnist Jason Riley joins Brian Anderson to discuss black economic progress before the pandemic and the free-market policies that contributed to it. His new book, The Black Boom, is out now.

Find the transcript of this conversation and more at City Journal.

Economic Realities I Confront Students with in Public University

 

Helping students to understand the outcomes of their assumptions.

These are comments I send to each student after they have written their final project for one of my classes. The lines of thought deal with issues of economics based on the movie “Parasite” (Joon-ho, 2019). Most students write about class, capitalism, discrimination, equity, or the like as a theme that they draw from the movie and then do a semester full of research on their topic. I have suggested alternate viewpoints throughout the semester, pointing out economic approaches students in a public university do not always hear. Student tendencies espouse a general socialistic perspective where “government” is seen as having jurisdiction over monetary affairs. I never press my views on students but I surely have them consider the implications of theirs (or any) economic theory.

My general comments about the “Argumentative Writing” final project:

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Click here to listen to the podcast! On this episode of The Resistance Library Podcast, Sam Jacobs interviews Jason Hartman. Hartman is a real estate investing expert, practical economist, and host of The Creating Wealth Podcast with a timely message for our day: Freedom lovers can leverage the state and central banks against themselves to […]

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Economic Illiteracy on Parade

 

The new Democratic talking point about their $3.5 trillion budget “reconciliation” is that it “costs zero dollars.” You read that correctly. From our avatar president’s Twitter feed:

The last line tells us how Democrats define “costs zero dollars.” It “adds zero dollars to the national debt.”

Jason Riley talks with Brian Anderson about his new book, Maverick: A Biography of Thomas Sowell. They discuss Sowell’s upbringing, his work as an academic economist and a public intellectual, his research on disparities between groups, and more.

Find the transcript of this conversation and more at City Journal.

Selecting Customers

 

One reason American culture is in such a sorry state today is because the customer is always right.

I have explained on Ricochet before why this aphorism is actually a bad business model. It encourages misbehavior among customers and thereby increases expenses (in turn, increasing prices) while making both customers and employees miserable.

130th Anniversary of the Papal Encyclical ‘Rerum Novarum’

 

May 15, 2021, was the 130th anniversary of the Papal Encyclical Rerum Novarum. A rough Latin translation of the title is; “Of new things”, or; “Revolutionary change”.

Written by Pope Leo XIII the subtitle is; “Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor”. The encyclical advocates the right of workers to form unions, critiques of socialism, and unfettered capitalism, as well as the right to own private property. Labor and capital problems are a bit different today, but not so different in that we have problems today with both sides seeking favors from the government in our economy. Today we call it the government picking winning and losers.

Ayaan talks with Dambisa Moyo about growing up in Zambia, the ideas and reception behind her first book, Dead Aid, and her new book, How Boards Work.

Dambisa Moyo is a co-principal of Versaca Investments – a family office, focused on growth investing globally. She serves on a number of global corporate boards including: 3M Corporation, Chevron, and Conde Nast, as well as, the Oxford University Endowment investment committee. Her areas of interest are on capital allocation, risk, and ESG matters.

Introducing Kite & Key

 

Admit it: you’re a nerd. Admit it, Ricochet!

No worries — me too. And during my years as a think tank executive, that was always a frustration. People who casually followed politics would ask me how to get a quick understanding of a public policy issue and … I wouldn’t know where to send them.

TV and the major newspapers increasingly focus on the political dimensions of policy fights, without telling you anything meaningful about the substantive debates. But where was I going to steer people? To one of our white papers? To a book I knew they didn’t have the time to read? I got paid to be immersed in that stuff — and I loved it. But these people had lives to lead. They wanted to be responsible, informed citizens, but didn’t have endless free time to delve deep into policy research.

On this episode of “The Federalist Radio Hour,” the Wall Street Journal’s Jason Riley joins Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky to discuss his new documentary and book highlighting the life of economist, social theorist, and acclaimed intellectual Thomas Sowell and how his work affects American culture today.

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Mr. Milton Friedman would have turned 108 years old yesterday – had he chosen to stick around, that is. In honor of the Godfather of American conservative libertarianism, who brought economics the concepts of stagflation and monetarism, we have dedicated the latest eposode of The Resistance Library podcast to Mr. Friedman. You may also learn […]

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Economist Donald J. Boudreaux joined host Ben Domenech to discuss the long-lasting economic impact of the government shutdown. Boudreaux is a Professor of Economics at George Washington University, and serves as a Senior Fellow at the Mercatus Center and The Fund for American Studies.

Boudreaux wrote an article earlier this week titled “Who is Making Decisions About Our Lives?” in which he outlined the limited knowledge American leaders have. The American people also don’t understand, he argued, the government’s decision to have the Federal Reserve print money doesn’t create actual wealth in the form of any goods and services.

Call It the Great Panic of 2020

 

In the last 100+ years we had The Great War (later “World War I”), the Great Depression, and the Great Recession. I think it’s time to give a name to the first self-inflicted worldwide depression: the Great Panic of 2020. Getting the right name for the current crisis could frame the public debate on the policy solution. Other suggestions for a name are welcome in the comments section.

Financial depressions in the 19th Century were known as “panics.” The Panic of 1837 was one of the worst with bank failures, bankruptcies, and 25% unemployment. Some historians believe it lasted almost seven years.

I Get Why the Kids Like Bernie

 

My children are in their early twenties and just starting out. Neither one of them studied anything particularly lucrative (Film; Art). They take after their old man that way (Drama). 

But when I was starting out, I had little trouble getting a job with a Chicago restaurateur who gave me all the work I wanted tending bar and waiting tables. I did not have to deal with a 29 hour per week limit to avoid Obamacare requirements. I could get 40 hours no problem. After 40 hours I would work off the clock for tips only, which was just fine with me. All in all, I could count on about $700 per week.

In a Century

 

An old country girl now in her 80s reflected the other day on how much life has changed since she was a kid. It wasn’t the usual story of colorless television and walking to school with a lunch pail. There was no TV in her small town.

Baths were on Saturdays. They filled “the number 3 bathtub” with water heated on a fire stove.  They stitched their own clothes together from feed sacks. “Burlap?” I asked. No, the sacks were softer cotton then. So many Americans made their own clothes from feed sacks that feed makers produced the sacks in a variety of colors and patterns. Attractive patterns improved sales.

Her family had two horses and two mules. When they visited the nearest significant market 18 miles away, her dad hauled the kids in a wagon behind the horses. The mules he used to plow.