Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Japan on deflation

The quotes in today's article on combating inflation in Japan do not exactly inspire confidence. One can't imagine the ECB or Fed announcing a policy of monetary easing that its own head thinks "would not clear up the cloud hanging over the ... economy" on its own.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Munnell and Biggs take on the retiree lobby

In an op-ed on March 7, Alicia Munnell and Andrew Biggs present a pretty compelling case why Social Security beneficiaries do not need an additional $14 billion in compensation for not receiving a COLA. Their two main points are that prices have fallen, so the COLA should indeed be zero rather than positive; and that beneficiaries have not borne the brunt of the financial crisis, while the unemployed have.

A related point is an implicit argument that beneficiaries' marginal propensities to consume out of additional cash is lower than that of the unemployed. I'm not sure what the literature suggests about this relatively fine distinction, but it sounds plausible.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Krugman on the financial crisis in Ireland

Today Paul Krugman discusses the financial crisis in Ireland, a state without Fannie or Freddie Mac and also presumably one without strong consumer protection.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Perspectives on mental health

For a truly mind-bending read, try this Times magazine article on efforts to understand depression. Simultaneously, Louis Menand discusses depression and the pharmaceutical industry in the New Yorker.

Obesity and Small Changes

Tara Parker-Pope's health blog in the Times discusses small changes in diet (and exercise), referencing recent commentary in JAMA. The main point is that it's unlikely changing habits by a small amount, like eating one less cookie a day, would have much of an effect on obesity trends. Rather, larger changes more like 5-10 times as weighty (pardon the pun), are on the right scale. I'll be the first to drop my 10-cookie-a-day habit.