Economics

The Difference between Public and Private Debt

A Longer form response on this issue in summary

– All government debt is not used to pay for infrastructure, and often paying for things with no return

– Governance of Public institutions are more political with more fragmented interests that a private institution leading to worse usage of capital from debt

– Government unlike private institutions doesn’t pay back its debt once its investment matures but rolls it over so when rates do rise, it’s super problematic

– Makes it hard monetary policy authorities to raise rates when they need to forcing them to choose between a budget crisis and inflation

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Free Markets and Europe

Free Markets and EuropeBy Alex Merced
 When you hear left wing politicians like Bernie Sander and Hillary Clinton argue for policies that require forced transfers of wealth (high taxes with generous welfare programs), they often site European nations as country who have succeeded with these types of policies?
Do these countries truly combines the level of regulations, taxes and welfare that many people think or do they have a more broader mix of these policies with free market friendly stances that many give them credit for. (Which makes the source of their alleged prosperity less clear)
In this new episode of the contra krugman podcast, Tom Woods and Robert Murphy spend time focusing on Denmark which is regarded as the happiest country in the world. The results is a very insightful discussion that makes you question much of the lefts rhetoric which you can listen here:
http://contrakrugman.com/ep-6-enough-about-denmark-already-heres-what-krugman-and-sanders-left-out/
Here are some other good articles on Europe and economic policy:
http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/europe-embraces-freemarket-reforms
http://www.cato.org/events/switzerland-free-market-model-europe
http://www.aei.org/publication/swedens-swing-toward-a-free-market/
https://www.freeenterprise.com/did-sweden-just-make-case-free-market-policies/

http://www.npr.org/sections/money/2011/09/23/140707524/germanys-painful-unemployment-fix
http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/magazine/italys-labor-pains-11162011.html
https://mises.org/library/vampire-economy-italy-germany-and-us

Libertarian 101

So over the last few political seasons you’ve had a few questions about this term you’ve kept hearing people mention, “Libertarian”.
Essentially libertarians are those who look at all questions regarding government and policy from the perspective of the golden rule (do unto others as you’d have done unto yourself). Although, libertarian philosophy and tradition runs much deeper.
To understand what is a libertarian and the different categories of libertarianism watch this video:

Now below I’ll link to several videos to address different issues regarding libertarianism:

(Watch all the videos below, I’ll be surprised if you don’t find yourself thinking more libertarian when you done)
Healthcare


The Great Depression

Inequality


Central Banking


Taxation


Minimum Wage

Simple Overview of the Great Depression

Recently I made a blog post where I shared several articles to help dispute characterization sod the free market in history. I figured I’d post a very simplified timeline of the Great Depression. 
step 1 – Andrew Mellon who is the treasury secretary advocates tax and spending cuts under Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge freeing up capital the of colony begins growing

(keep in mind in 1920-1921 there was a deep recession but with very little government intervention the economy was rebounding a year later)​

step 2 – Fed Chairman Ben Strong in the mid 20’s begins to increase the money supply and cut interest rates creating an artificial increase in credit. 

step 3 – companies which are already doing well issue stock then use the money to buy foreign bonds (lending money abroad so they can keep buying stuff from the U.S.) the return on these bonds make the companies look more profitable than they are and traders begin using the credit created by Fed chairman Ben Strong to speculate and the stock prices went up beyond the actual real profitability of these companies. 
Step 4 – eventually in 1929 valuations hit their ceiling and prices begin to fall, this forces margin calls (people having to sell to pay their loans since their stocks are falling) which causes prices to fall even further. The market crashed
Step 5 – the economy finds it hard to recover as Herbert Hoover signs the Smoot Hawley tariff which taxes many foreign goods but many countries then do the same In retaliation, hurting trade further weakening the economy.
step 6 – US policy influenced by economist Irving Fisher (who failed to predict the crash and lost almost everything cause of it) focuses on policies to prevent the fall of asset prices (which were overvalued… Duh) slowing down the ability for economy to discover what the true value of these assets are so they can be sold and the economy can again move forward
Step 7 – Herbert Hoover raises taxes to 62% in 1932
Step 8​ – FDR becomes president raises taxes to the 90s and continues to fight asset price deflation dragging out the liquidation even further
step 9 – While GDP and Umeployment improve during World War II (building tanks and drafting soldiers will do that) It’s not till post WWII tax and spending cuts does private investment and quality of life truly begin to improve

Debunking Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders on Trade and Immigration

The Dark Horse candidates for the republican and democrat primaries (Donald Trump & Bernie Sanders respectively) have both expressed skepticism of Immigration and Trade in regard to U.S. Wages and Wealth. To me the ignorance that this exemplifies results in promoting a xenophobic sentiment with hostility towards globalization that I find well… offensive. So below I’ve collected many articles on the topic of Immigration and Trade the benefits they bring the U.S. Economy to settle this debate.
(For those who havn’t noticed Sanders tone on immigration, read this)
(For the record I support Rand Paul for the republican nomination and in the case he does not get the nomination I support Gary Johnson for the Libertarian Party nomination.)
IMMIGRATION
http://www.cato.org/blog/immigrations-real-impact-wages-employment

http://www.hamiltonproject.org/papers/what_immigration_means_for_u.s._employment_and_wages/

http://www.nber.org/papers/w12497

http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2015/06/01/does-immigration-suppress-wages-its-not-so-simple/

http://www.aei.org/publication/how-does-immigration-affect-us-wages-and-jobs/
TRADE
http://reason.com/archives/2015/04/30/globalization-is-good-for-you

https://www.imf.org/EXTERNAL/PUBS/FT/ISSUES11/INDEX.HTM

https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/cea_trade_report_final_non-embargoed_v2.pdf

http://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/rising-trade-deficit-signals-good-times-us-economy

http://blogs.piie.com/trade/?p=211

Video Series on Economic Indicators

Video Series on Economic Indicators
By Alex Merced

I’ve been doing videos on economic theory for years at LearnEconomicsNow.com but am now doing a project more geared towards application of economic knowledge.

Last weekend I picked up the book “the secrets of economic indicators”, and decided to do a series of videos about all these indicators.

In these videos I discuss these indicators impact on the market, what they tell you about the economy, and how they are put together.

I have created a playlist just for this series which you can find at indicators.learneconomicsnow.com.

If you enjoy my work and would like to show a token of support please make a pledge at patreon.com/alexmerced of as little as $1/mo or more.

Libertarianism & Free Exchange

from Alex Merced

I’m Libertarian and I’m for Free Exchange, which are not exactly me saying the same thing twice.

When I say I’m libertarian, I’m just saying I value an individuals right to their property and don’t want me or others to aggress on their property, mainly cause I don’t want anyone to do that to me so it only makes sense I should approach others the way I want them to approach me. Although this does not imply any particular doctrine of what is the optimal property rights framework, economic system, or make up of society… just that I don’t want people to aggress on each others property (which includes you body in just about all property right frameworks)

When I say I’m for free exchange, I am making a normative statement, that a world where the barriers to exchange between individuals are as little as possible will yield better social results. Thus, I do believe in removing barriers that come from aggression (basically government intervention, organized crime and cartelization, etc.) but I also believing in making non-aggressive (so fixing without policy) efforts to remove non-aggressive barriers to exchange (social intolerance, lack of access to information, technological barriers).

Although Libertarianism and Free Exchange line up when it comes removing aggressive barriers to exchange, Libertarianism in it’s purest broadest has nothing to say about what or whether anything should be done about non-aggressive barriers.

Point I’m saying is ones own personal philosophical framework is never made up of one principal or value, but of many.

And honestly, keeping them separate is probably for the better since it makes working through problems and communicating clearer and easier.

Reality Shows, Market Forces, and Tolerance

by Alex Merced

I am admittedly of pretentious cultural tastes enjoying television shows with complex thought provoking writing and production values and enjoying complex and unique musical genres. Although, while my personal aesthetic often finds me raising my nose at mainstream popular culture, there is beauty in its role in the evolution of societies values and its interplay with the laws of economic forces. In particular I’m referring to my belief that the growing proliferation of reality shows has had a role to play in what seems a rapidly increasing proliferation of tolerance of groups and individuals of all types.

The Economics

First of all, the growth in reality tv is a story of economics and scarcity. While the profit margins of television shrank as more alternatives for entertainment came to existence also diluting the supply of prime advertising space driving the cost of ad space down, there was demand to create low cost programming to increase the profit margin on shrinking ad revenue. With the success of shows like The Real World, Survivor, and Big Brother it became clear reality television would fill this gap.

The Tolerance

This easy and cheap to produce culture created a rush of finding subjects that would capture the audience in this genre saturated with programming. The result is that may channels sought to display groups and individuals that many would have a  curiosity about such as polygamist, gypsies, drag queens, and more. So while these shows sensationalize and sometimes can be seen as “exploiting” (how I so dislike that word) these groups and individuals for profit, the end result often shows the humanity in these diverse groups of people which in my opinion led sometimes initial curiosity of the audience to turn into empathy and tolerance as they interact with the diverse world around them.

In short, growing scarcity led to decisions for ones own benefit that in my opinion had great social externalities. Yes, the market works, and it works well.

The Mechanics of the Minimum Wage [Video]

by Alex Merced

Often times when you try to create protections or regulations of the market, the result is to create an undue burden on those least able to bear them. The result is those at the very bottom can seem stuck there, and those who are somewhat to very well off find themselves relieved of a lot of competition, allowing them to take a bigger participation in the ever changing economic pie. The minimum wage is one of the policies that have these results. Although due to the amount of labor that may already be working at bottom of the income ladder can be limited, the result of this policy for good or worse can be hard to truly measured or seen. Yet, understanding the impacts of market intervention on economic disparities and in turn economic tolerance needs to be more part of the economic discussion.

Why Economics, Choice and Tolerance are Inseperable

by Alex Merced

Often times people define issues into two categories, economic and social, as if there is no influence these have on each other. I contend a world with a more robust competitive economy would also be a world of greater tolerance. Many social and caste divides are born out of economic scarcity, out of a demand for a reason to justify taking more of the economic pie for “us” and leave less for “them” because the sentiment is that there isn’t enough for everyone. If anything history, I think, shows pretty clearly that wealth is more abundant when more of us cooperate and compete with each other to provide value (aka the FREE market) instead of competing over limiting market access to others (protectionism/regulated markets/no markets). Although these divisions over time get ingrained in the culture of these arbitrary groups and can lead to generations of resentment, hostility, and sometimes violence which is why a focus on robust free market policy is an imperative for wealth building but also social cohesion (if you are prosperous you’re less likely to resent other people for being prosperous, or try to prevent them from being so).

So, essentially, economic performance will make people more tolerant of each other, which in turn improves economic scale. So, essentially, any discussion of promoting tolerance can’t be separated from people’s quality of life (which is partly determined by the wealth, and in other part determined by internal factors which often come from peoples ability to pursue their interests and attain property). As people’s quality of life drops, whether from losing their economic (wealth) or autonomous (choice) means to pursue their ends (goals), they begin to look for scapegoats to blame.

Bottom line: A libertarian world view which focuses on empowering peoples economic opportunities and individual choices, is the formula to having a more tolerant socially cohesive society.