Tag: Russ Roberts

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Here are highlights from his interview with Russ Roberts in 2006: I’ve always felt that the big defect politically of the Federal Reserve is precisely that so much depends on unelected representatives. The central bank is treated as if it were the Supreme Court. That’s why during the Depression, there was no effective controls on […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Great Sort and the Rise of Populism

 

Over the course of a generation, American politics has increasingly been shaped by a series of forces which are only now beginning to be understood. This phenomenon has created effects as divergent and seemingly disconnected from each other as the inflation of real estate prices in California’s Silicon Valley to the election of Donald Trump and the rise of populism. Trying to understand the underlying forces which animate these disparate occurrences requires traveling back in time to track both their origins and how they’ve progressed over time.

Let’s start in 1976 with Jimmy Carter winning the Presidential election with 50.1% of the popular vote. He does so with just 26.8% of counties voting for him with a margin in excess of 20%. After Carter’s inauguration in 1977, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs found the Apple Computer Corporation in April. Later that year, Paul Allen and Bill Gates found Microsoft. The median price of a home in the US is $33,000. The median price of a home in Cupertino, CA — where Apple will ultimately place its headquarters — is slightly higher, as California Real Estate tends to be.

I’ve picked this moment in time as a baseline. There was it seems, a much greater sense of interconnectedness between people throughout the country at the local level. The numbers bear this out. The still relatively small number of people who attended college mainly returned home and went to work, married a high school acquaintance (the even smaller number of women who attended college then practically guaranteed this) and lived their lives. People were far more likely to live next to a person of differing ideological persuasion or even a different income stratum.

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I’m a big fan of Russ Robert’s EconTalk Podcast, and last week’s episode, Michael Matheson Miller on Poverty, Inc., continued one of the common themes of discussion, poverty in the developing world. They discuss Miller’s documentary film, Poverty, Inc., which covers the dynamics between NGO’s, agricultural aid, and the barriers facing the poor. I don’t know much […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Dodgy Economics of Infrastructure Spending on ‘Megaprojects’

 

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Democrats often mock Republicans for having a one-track mind when its comes to economic policy. Here is a famous example, President Obama at the 2012 Democratic National Convention: “And that’s because all [Republicans] had to offer is the same prescription they’ve had for the last thirty years: Have a surplus? Try a tax cut. Deficit too high? Try another. Feel a cold coming on? Take two tax cuts, roll back some regulations, and call us in the morning.” I was there when Obama said that. It got a pretty big laugh.

Anyway, Republicans could make a similar charge about Democrats, substituting “infrastructure spending” for “tax cuts.” Among center-left economists, Larry Summer has perhaps been the most outspoken about how we should take advantage of low interest rates for needed public investment: “The single most important step the US government can take to reverse these discouraging trends is to mount a concerted, large-scale program directed at renewing our national infrastructure. At a time of unprecedented low interest rates and long-term unemployment, such a program is good economics but, more fundamentally, it is common sense.”