Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Did Jonathan Portes Cause Brexit?

I should like to show that Jonathan Portes most probably did not cause Brexit. To do so, however, I first must examine the plausibility of the case that his actions and words did indeed provoke a decisive margin for the Leave vote in the EU referendum last June. Portes is Principal Research Fellow, formerly Director, […]

Question for Labor Day, 2016

“…it is often said that to regulate the hours of labour, or to introduce differential import duties, is to break economic law.” — Palgrave’s Dictionary of Political Economy, 1894 Do you agree that regulating the hours of labor is a violation of economic law?

The Road to Trumpdom

I always Google my headline ideas to try to avoid the appearance of plagiarism. I was thinking of the title for this post as I was looking at a cartoon adaptation of Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, originally published by Look magazine in 1945 and subsequently distributed in the 1950s as a pamphlet by the General Motors […]

The Great Growth Target Leak of 1961

In Doctor Strangelove, General Ripper explains to Captain Mandrake why Clemenceau’s dictum on war is now obsolete: He said war was too important to be left to the generals. When he said that, 50 years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither […]

Can John Cochrane and Jennifer Rubin handle the truth about the lump-of-labor fallacy?

An open letter to John Cochrane and Jennifer Rubin Dear John Cochrane and Jennifer Rubin, I read with interest your column, Jennifer, which led me to your chapter, John, in Blueprint for America on trade and immigration. I have studied the history of the lump-of-labor fallacy claim for nearly 20 years and have have published several […]

It’s An Idea (not all) Economists View With Contempt…

As the derisive name suggests, it’s an idea economists view with contempt, yet the fallacy makes a comeback whenever the economy is sluggish. — Paul Krugman Isabel V. Sawhill (Brookings): “Time for a shorter work week?“ Dean Baker: “Shorter Workweeks Will Defeat the Robots“ Eva Swidler: “Radical Leisure“ Ilana E. Strauss: “Would a Work-Free World Be […]

“Why Are Voters Ignoring Experts?”

That is the question Jean Pisani-Ferry asks at Project Syndicate. In the wake of the Brexit vote there is a veritable chorus of experts and economists asking the same question. One explanation I don’t expect to see very often is that the supposed experts systematically ignore their own critical literature. Hubris. Professor Pisani-Ferry inadvertently presents an […]

FLEXIT

“If, as a result of Brexit, the economy crashes it will not vindicate the economists, it will simply illustrate once more their failure.” — Ann Pettifor You can see immigrants. You can’t see NAIRU or flexible labor market policies. Most people wouldn’t know a NAIRU from a Nehru jacket and have probably never heard of flexible […]