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

Boskin on Social Security: Abuse of Utility Theory

Michael Boskin makes his case for Bush’s Social Security deform, while Max Sawicky provides the critique. Max briefly touched on two aspects of Michael’s paper that relate to utility theory. Michael tried to argue that the income elasticity for government benefits (G) is less than unity: Economists use a term called the diminishing marginal utility […]

Do We Need an Energy Bill?

President Bush tried to explain the need for the Republican energy proposal: WASHINGTON (AP) – President Bush on Wednesday pushed Congress to pass a long-stalled energy bill before its summer recess, but acknowledged there is nothing he can do to ease rising gas prices in the short-term. “I wish I could simply wave a magic […]

Social Security: Jane Bryant Quinn v. Cato

I normally don’t read Ms. Quinn but the Cato critique made me take a look. Ms. Quinn’s premise is: What’s more, you’ll be getting a double cut in Social Security benefits—a fact that the White House hasn’t exactly advertised. Investment returns from private accounts can potentially make up for one of the cuts, but they’re […]

Bruce Bartlett Utters the R-word

Via CalculatedRisk comes the latest from Bruce Bartlett. Bruce is not predicting a recession but he is concerned that our monetary policy is becoming too tight. While I agree with his concern, I don’t agree with Bruce’s analogy to the FED tightening during 1999-2000 for two reasons. One is simply that labor markets were tight […]

Inflation Measures

Today’s Consumer Price Index report came in a bit higher than expected: On a seasonally adjusted basis, the CPI-U rose 0.6 percent in March, following an increase of 0.4 percent in February. Energy costs advanced sharply for the second consecutive month–up 4.0 percent in March… The index for all items less food and energy, which […]

Privatization: Brad Plumer Joins The No Free Lunch Chorus

As Brad was having fun with President Bush’s confusion in Ohio (“Risk, Return, Confusion”) he reasoned: Okay, so currently every working man and woman puts his or her savings in some combination of Social Security/the bank/the stock market/etc. These investments have total risk X and expected return Y. Now anyone who thinks Y is too […]

Housing starts slide 18%

The title of this CNN/Money story captures its news: NEW YORK (CNN/Money) – The news was bad: Housing starts plunged 17.6 percent in March, marking their steepest drop in more than 14 years, a Commerce Department report showed Tuesday. But analysts weren’t ready to use that indicator to call an end to the housing boom […]

PPI Report

Part one of the BLS’s monthly inflation check was released today: the Producer Price Index for March. It shows a sharp but entirely expected jump, thanks to higher energy costs. However, excluding energy costs, producer prices rose quite moderately. The Producer Price Index for Finished Goods advanced 0.7 percent in March, seasonally adjusted, the Bureau […]

Public Opinion of Health Care

To help round out our series of posts on health care, I was going to survey the survey evidence about the public’s opinion of their health care system in various countries. But Kevin Drum has beaten me to it: check out his post for the story. The punchline: the US ranks 14th out of 17 […]

The National Review’s Definition of Savings

Angrybear reader Rob provides the shorter PGL to my side note on John Tamny, which was critique #2 from Brad DeLong. Rob writes: Shouldn’t any “economist” who confuses stocks … with flows … Of course, Tamny is not an economist and few of the NRO econopundits are. But there may be a consistent definition of […]