Monday, September 19, 2016

The Coming Anti-National Revolution

NEW HAVEN – For the past several centuries, the world has experienced a sequence of intellectual revolutions against oppression of one sort or another. These revolutions operate in the minds of humans and are spread – eventually to most of the world – not by war (which tends to involve multiple causes), but by language and communications technology. Ultimately, the ideas they advance – unlike the causes of war – become noncontroversial.

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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Today’s Inequality Could Easily Become Tomorrow’s Catastrophe

Economic inequality is already a concern, but it could become a nightmare in the decades ahead, and I fear that we are not well equipped to deal with it.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

The Global Economy’s Hesitation Blues

NEW HAVEN – Economic slowdowns can often be characterized as periods of hesitation. Consumers hesitate to buy a new house or car, thinking that the old house or car will do just fine for a while longer. Managers hesitate to expand their workforce, buy a new office building, or build a new factory, waiting for news that will make them stop worrying about committing to new ideas. Viewed from this perspective, how worried should we be about the effects of hesitation today?

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Friday, July 15, 2016

Why Land May Not Be the Smartest Place to Put Your Nest Egg

Buy land: They’re not making it anymore. That often repeated adage sounds like good financial advice.

But over the long run, it hasn’t been. Despite solid price increases over the last few years, land and homes have actually been disappointing investments. It’s worth considering why.

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Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Overinflated Fear of Being Priced Out of Housing

Rising home prices set off fears that real estate will become even more expensive, making it impossible ever to buy a home in a given city.

It’s easy to understand how such worries spread, but the historical record suggests that these fears are generally exaggerated. Cities with steep price increases today will probably have much smaller upticks in the future. And for the most part, differences in price increases among cities are well explained by short-term variations in employment growth.

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Friday, May 20, 2016

Fighting the Next Global Financial Crisis

NEW HAVEN – What do people mean when they criticize generals for “fighting the last war”? It’s not that generals ever think they will face the same weapon systems and the same battlefields. They certainly know better. The error, to the extent that the generals make it, must operate at a more subtle level. Generals are sometimes slow to get around to developing plans and ordnance for those new weapon systems and battlefields. And just as important, they sometimes assume that the public psychology, and the narratives that influence the morale that is so important in achieving victory, is the same as in the last war.

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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Listen Carefully for Hints of the Next Global Recession

Economists are good at measuring the past but inconsistent at forecasting future events, particularly recessions. That’s because recessions aren’t caused merely by concrete changes in the markets. Beliefs and stories passed on by thousands of individuals are important factors, maybe even the main ones, in determining big shifts in the economy.

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