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Posts Tagged ‘USA’

Trump’s tax cuts likely to have limited impact on growth

May 14, 2017 Leave a comment

Donald Trump has indicated that the US economy needs a big tax cut to stimulate some growth and aggregate demand –  C+I+G+(X-M). His rationale is that with consumers having greater income they will spend consume more (C) and businesses keeping more of their profits will invest more (I). He is even so confident that the tax cuts won’t put a dent in the overall tax revenue of the government. However economists are suggesting that the US economy is already growing as fast as it can and in order to improve its growth rate it needs to investment in productivity.

D Pull Inflation.jpegNevertheless, US tax cuts in the 1980’s under Ronald Reagan proved to be very effective in stimulating aggregate demand but the economic environment then was different to that of today. The 1980’s was an era of stagflation with the US experiencing 10% unemployment and inflation reaching 15%. Since the GFC in 2007 growth has been positive and unlike the 1980’s unemployment has been falling  – from 10% in Oct 2009 to 4.4% in April 20178. Tax cuts are all very well when you have high unemployment but with the rate falling to under 5% companies may find it difficult to respond to the greater demand for goods and services by taking on workers to increase supply. Tax cuts would then lead to an increase in inflationary pressure (see graph) which is turn would prompt the US Fed to increase interest rates.

ProductivityTrump’s plan would also increase the Federal deficit and borrowing from the government. This would put upward pressure on interest rates for the private sector which reduces the potential for further growth. As noted earlier the area that needs to be addressed is productivity, with a shift of the LRAS curve to the right – see graph.

Categories: Growth, Inflation, Interest Rates Tags: ,

NAFTA – Positives and Criticisms

February 26, 2017 1 comment

NAFTA took effect in 1994 during the Clinton administration although he had to rely on support from the Republicans in the House – 60% of congressional Democrats voted against NAFTA. NAFTA got rid of tariffs on more than half of its members’ industrial products and by 2009 the deal eliminated tariffs on all industrial and agricultural goods.

Positives of NAFTA

  • American corporates believed the deal would cut labour costs and therefore increase efficiency and international competitiveness.
  • American consumer would also benefit from lower prices.
  • It would raise Mexico’s living standards especially in the north.
  • Trade between the USA and Mexico has risen 1.3% in 1994 to 2.5% in 2015
  • Mexico’s real income has risen – $10,000 in 1994 to $19000 in 2015
  • Less Mexicans are migrating to the USA – 500,000 a year to virtually nothing.

Criticisms
Mexican incomes are no better, as a share of those in the US, than they were in 1994.  Americans are slightly better off. NAFTA has caused significant job losses in the manufacturing industry.

However there are some unseen circumstances which have affected the deal.

1. The crisis of the Mexican Peso in 1994-95  – Zapatista rebels launched an uprising in Southern Mexico and the leading presidential candidate was assassinated. Worried about stability, foreign investment began to flee the country. It was eventually brought under control by a loan from the US government.

2. September 11th – this terrorist attack increased the cost of moving goods and people

3. The rapid growth on the Chinese economy which accounted for more than 13% of global exports and 25% of global manufacturing value-added. This puts a lot of pressure on global supply chains.

Have job losses been a result of NAFTA?

Brad DeLong (University of California) estimated that NAFTA could be blamed for only 0.1% of job losses in the US economy. This equates to fewer jobs than the US economy adds in a typical month. But to be realistic job losses would have increased without NAFTA for the following reasons:

1. the advances in technology would see labour being substituted
2. the strong US dollar would make US exports less competitive and thereby making overseas production attractive
3. Transport and communications improvements have made overseas production also attractive

Source: The Economist – 4th February 2017
Below is Paul Krugman on Bloomberg news. He talks of the poor performance of NAFTA for Mexico in that the country hasn’t developed as a whole. Some of the northern states have done well but southern Mexico is still very poor.

 

Categories: Trade Tags: , ,

USA and China Trade – will the USA create more jobs?

February 13, 2017 Leave a comment

USA China Trade Deficit.pngDonald Trump appointed Peter Navarro as the head of the newly created National Trade Council – it has been his anti-China stance outlined in his book ‘Death by China’ that has led to his surprise hiring by Trump. The book talks of the economic and military rise of China and the demise of the US manufacturing industry unable to compete with the Chinese sweatshops.

However a lot of the criticisms that Navarro has pointed at China have been quite valid.

1. Currency – the intervention on the foreign exchange market to keep their currency weak so improving the competitiveness of exports.
2. Intellectual property – forcing American firms to hand over intellectual property as a condition of access to the Chinese market.
3. Pollution – Chinese firms pollute the environment and have weak environmental controls on industry.
4. Working conditions – these are far worse than what is the law in most industrialized countries.
5. Export subsidies – government assistance help reduce the cost and ultimately the price of exports from China.

In 2006 he estimated that 41% of China’s competitive advantage over the USA in manufacturing came from unfair practices like those above and when China joined the WTO in 2001 the trade deficit with the USA ballooned at the same time millions of manufacturing jobs disappeared. The deficit though was funded by the Chinese and it was a consequence of the Chinese buying US Treasury bills – to put it simply the Chinese funded US consumers to buy Chinese products. Niall Ferguson refers to the relationship as Chimerica – the two are interdependent in that the USA borrows off the Chinese and then uses that money to buy Chinese products.

Navarro believes that with China adhering to global trade rules the deficit in manufacturing will decrease and manufacturing jobs will return to the US. However when jobs return they are not the same as they were in previous years as it is highly likely that productivity/technology has refined the production process. Research has also suggested that when the trade deficit with China increased (1998-2010) the loss of manufacturing jobs only rose slightly 2.5m to 2.7m. One wonders what Navarro will do in the coming months?

Sources: The Economist, The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson.

Categories: Trade Tags: ,

The 3 heads of Donald Trump

February 10, 2017 Leave a comment

Below is a great cartoon clip from the FT with Gillian Tett talking about the 3 heads of Donald Trump. With some excellent cartoon graphics she goes through each of the following:

  1. The sensible serious Trump
  2. The love to shock Trump
  3. Sleezy, freewheeling, write my own rules, anti elitist Trump

One wonders which Trump will be more prevalent in his presidency? A lot of references to economics – animal spirits, NAFTA, tax cuts, corporate tax etc. As Gillian Tett points out ‘nobody really knows who he is’

Categories: Politics Tags: ,

Options for taking on Trump – the Japanese Model.

February 7, 2017 Leave a comment

trump-abeA colleague alerted me to a Terrie Lloyd a New Zealand businessman in Japan who writes a weekly newsletter. With the election of Donald Trump his recent writing looked at bullies and ways in which you deal with them. Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, has been proactive in getting to know Trump and his team and how the two countries can work together.

Research on bullies

Lloyd suggests that there are generally three ways to deal with a bully.

Run – UK seem to be taking this option
Fight – Chinese will do this
Suffer and appease – Japan, having a bullying culture already, will go for appeasement

Abe will be meeting with Trump on 10th February for a second time in as many months and will want to convince him that Japan is one of the good guys and if he has to pick on someone in the area he should pick on China. For this to work Abe also needs to feed Trump’s ego publicly

Lloyd looks at the work of Dacher Keltner who has written about appeasement and related
human emotion and social practice. He looks at two general classes of appeasement.

1) reactive – the person provides appropriate responses after incidents and these responses are usually public displays of embarrassment and shame.
2) anticipatory appeasement where a person is proactive and engages in certain strategies to avoid conflict. Polite modesty and shyness are also considered anticipatory appeasement.

Japanese Model for dealing with bullies

With Japan taking the latter option, Keltner is suggesting that Abe must appease Trump with gifts of value and that they are seen publicly to assist Trumps power and reputation. Last month the Japanese gave access to US car manufacturers but will that be enough to keep Trump happy? At the meeting on 10th February Abe will propose a package that could generate 700,000 U.S. jobs and help create a $450-billion market. It includes the building of infrastructure projects such as high-speed trains in the northeastern United States, and the states of Texas and California, and renovating subway and train cars. It also includes cooperation in global infrastructure investment, joint development of robots and artificial intelligence, and cooperation in cybersecurity and space exploration, among others.

Toyota the car manufacturer has also been taking the appeasement option after the Trump administration criticised their building of a second car assembly plant in Mexico and also threatened to impose a 20% tariff on Japanese automobile and auto parts makers with plants in Mexico. Toyota quickly announced it would invest $10 billion in its U.S. operations over the next five years.

Abe has definitely been massaging the ego of Trump not only being the first international leader to visit Washington after his election but also telling Trump that he “hopes the United States will become a greater country through (your) leadership,” adding Japan wants to “fulfill our role as your ally.” It will be interesting to see what happens after their meeting on Friday 10th February.

Sources: Terrie Lloyd,  The Japan Times

Contributions to world GDP 2013-16

January 30, 2017 Leave a comment

The Economist produced a graph showing world GDP data and made the following points:

  • India and China account for 65% of world growth
  • Emerging markets contributions in 2016 were down to its lowest figure since 2008 – falling commodity prices would have been a factor
  • Norway contributed less to global GDP with lower oil prices being prevalent.
  • USA with increased government spending and greater export volumes improved its position
  • Brazil has been in negative territory since mid 2014 – interesting point with significant government spending on hosting the Football World Cup and the Olympics.

Maybe a good starter for your classes asking the question who contributes most to world GDP?

World GDP 2013-16.png

 

Categories: Growth Tags: , , , , ,

The economic legacy of Obama

January 16, 2017 Leave a comment

Here is a good overview of President Obama’s economic legacy from PBS’s Paul Solman. Did his efforts to turn the country around after the 2008 financial crisis constitute a robust recovery, or too little, too late? Economics correspondent Paul Solman assembled a panel of economic experts to discuss employment across racial groups, the types of jobs created and the obstacles the president faced in enacting his economic agenda. Some of the comments are as follows:

  • He saved us from a great depression.
  • Over 15 million jobs have been added; 22 million more people have health insurance coverage than they did before.
  • If we characterise an economy as being in a catastrophe at unemployment rates greater than 8 percent, the black unemployment rate is still above 8 percent. So, frankly, black Americans are still in a great depression, or great recession at the very least.
  • The failure by the Obama administration to focus on economic growth.
  • A long-term infrastructure program would have made a great deal of sense, and frankly still does today. But that’s not what the Obama administration proposed. I think we need to have a more holistic structural agenda for lower-income Americans, rather than just treating it as a problem of recession and recovery.
  • We needed bolder, stronger, more fundamental, not tinkering, ideas to really structurally change the U.S. economy.

Real Housewives, US Election and Economics

October 21, 2016 Leave a comment

You may remember a previous post I did on  ‘WetheEconomy’ now there is ‘WetheVoters’ The site has 20 short films designed to inform, inspire and ultimately activate voters nationwide with fresh perspectives on the subjects of democracy, elections and U.S. governance.

Below is a parody of the television programme “Real Housewives” with a political and economics twist. It shows a good example example of the current political climate and some possible avenues for change. On the one side you have Jessica who is concerned with the government balancing its budget and Lara who believes that the government needs to spend more on infrastructure etc to stimulate the economy and creates jobs. She also uses the austerity measures in the EU as an example to support her opinion. Jessica does make the point as to who is going to pay for all this spending – our kids. Then there is Vanessa who is neutral although does get into trouble by informing Lara that Jessica thinks the government should increase defence spending. From this point it gets quite heated but they do make up. Enjoy!

Categories: Eco Comedy, Fiscal Policy Tags: ,

Fox News Graphic vs US Labour Department Graphic

January 10, 2015 Leave a comment

A hat tip to David Parr for this piece from the Visual Communication Guy on how umemployment data was presented by the media. The graph below shows US unemployment as presented by Fox News. Although it may seem quite genuine at first glance if you look closely you will see that the spacing of the dates on the horizontal axis are not consistent but manipulated in such a way to give the impression of accelerating unemployment. Furthermore as it is presented on TV you are unlikely to have the chance to pick the axis as your eyes are fixated with the rising line.

Fox Unemp data

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
While there certainly was an increase in unemployment from the end of 2007 to June 2009, the chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells a very different story than Fox News’ graphic. Although there is a steep increase in unemployment during the first 6 months of President Obama’s presidency, there was a plateauing and reason to suggest that the stimulus packages were starting to work.

Official Unemp data

Whether or not you like Fox News or whether you agreed with President Obama’s stimulus packages is beyond the scope of this article. What matters is that we recognize how information is being presented to us and how easy it is for media gurus to tweak information to tell completely different stories with the same data.

We might ask ourselves: in a country where we strongly believe in freedom of speech, where do we draw the boundaries, if any, on the visual representation of data in the mass media? Where does the communication start to become unethical, and, at what point should unethical turn into illegal?

Categories: Teaching visuals, Unemployment Tags:

China set to overtake US as world’s largest economy

October 29, 2014 Leave a comment

From RT – China is poised to overtake the US as the world’s largest economy way ahead of schedule. The IMF predicts that by the end of the year China’s GDP, adjusted to the countries relatively low cost of living, will be $17.6 trillion, topping the US essentially that means, even though a typical person in China earns less than their American counterpart, they can afford more with their money.

Categories: Growth Tags: ,

Who are the top 3 economies?

October 21, 2014 Leave a comment

Here is a videographic from The Economist showing the top three economies throughout history. Does China have the world’s largest economy? Is China’s economy bigger than America’s? Interesting how history repeats itself.

Categories: Economic History, Growth Tags: , ,

UK and US unemployment falls but for very different reasons

March 19, 2014 Leave a comment

For both the newly appointed Governor of the Bank of England and the Chairwomen of the US Federal Reserve, Mark Carney and Janet Yellen respectively, the level of unemployment has been targeted as an indicator for increasing interest rates. It is encouraging that the unemployment rates have been dropping in both countries but for different reasons.

The flow chart below show that the US unemployment has dropped mainly because of the fact that people are leaving the workforce. Whilst across the Atlantic the UK’s fall in unemployment is more to do with conventional growth. However the US economy has experienced some significant growth which hasn’t feed through into more positive employment figures. On the contrary the UK economy has had weak growth but it has had little impact on employment figures. The Economist stated the following:

This divergence is commonly explained with nods to Britain’s “productivity puzzle”. America, the thinking goes, suffered a “normal” recession. Its low rate of inflation is symptomatic of weak demand, which can account for its output loss and much of the shortfall in jobs. In Britain, in contrast, tumbling demand has been matched by a strange decline in workers’ productivity. Falling productivity cushioned the economy against large job losses, since more workers were needed to do the same amount of work. But it also reflected a loss of productive capacity, the evidence for which was stubbornly high inflation. Since late 2007 annual inflation in Britain has been almost twice as high as in America, at 3.1% to 1.8%.

US UK unemp

To Taper or not to Taper – that is the question

February 7, 2014 Leave a comment

The US Federal Reserve announced on 18th December a tapering of its bond-buying program to $75bn a month beginning in January. This video from Paul Solman of PBS is a useful guide about the process and asks economists (including Robert Shiller) their opinion on the matter. Recently the Fed said that it would lower its monthly long-term Treasury bond purchases to $40 billion and mortgage-backed securities to $35 billion a month.

US Inequality Graphs

December 18, 2013 Leave a comment

Here are a couple of graphs that I picked up from John Cassidy’s blog on the New Yorker website.

The first graph shows that at the start of the Second World War and the first oil-price shock of 1973, families in the bottom ninety-nine per cent saw their incomes rise sharply. With the exception of the late nineteen-nineties, the past forty years have been marked by slow growth. For those at the top of the income distribution, recent history has been very different. After growing modestly in the postwar decades, the incomes of families in the top one per cent took off in the late nineteen-seventies, and have been zig-zagging upward since then.

US Ineq 1

The second graph shows that in places where income is divided very unequally, and poorer groups get only a small slice of the pie, very few people manage to start at the bottom and end up at the top. With a measure of inequality on the horizontal axis and a level of social mobility on the vertical axis shows the evidence for metro areas across the United States.

The negative slope indicates that high levels of inequality are associated with low levels of social mobility. Obviously, correlation is not causation. But the relationship, which Princeton’s Alan Krueger, the former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, has dubbed the Gatsby Curve, is certainly suggestive. If nothing else, the chart implies that those hoping to rely on high levels of social mobility to offset the effects of rising income inequality are likely to be disappointed.

US Ineq 2

Categories: Inequality Tags:

The US Economic Policy Uncertainty Index

October 31, 2013 Leave a comment

To measure policy-related economic uncertainty, the Economic Policy Uncertainty construct an index from three types of underlying components.

1. The first component is an index of search results from 10 large newspapers. The newspapers included in our index are USA Today, the Miami Herald, the Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Boston Globe, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal. From these papers, they construct a normalized index of the volume of news articles discussing economic policy uncertainty.

2. The second component of our index draws on reports by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that compile lists of temporary federal tax code provisions. They create annual dollar-weighted numbers of tax code provisions scheduled to expire over the next 10 years, giving a measure of the level of uncertainty regarding the path that the federal tax code will take in the future.

3. The third component of our policy-related uncertainty index draws on the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s Survey of Professional Forecasters. Here, they utilize the dispersion between individual forecasters’ predictions about future levels of the Consumer Price Index, Federal Expenditures, and State and Local Expenditures to construct indices of uncertainty about policy-related macroeconomic variables.

They find that current levels of economic policy uncertainty are at extremely elevated levels compared to recent history. Since 2008, economic policy uncertainty has averaged about twice the level of the previous 23 years. See animation from The Economist below.

America’s debt row makes economic policy more uncertain than amid actual war.

US Debt as a % of GDP – who is responsible?

October 31, 2013 Leave a comment

US debt 1940-2012
A hat tip to colleague David Parr for this great graphic. It shows which administrations have been America’s biggest borrowers from 1940-2012. What is interesting to note is the level of borrowing during recessions – grey columns. During the 1970’s there was very little borrowing as the policy of the day was to reduce the inflationary pressure and cut the money supply. Compare that with 2002 onwards and you will see an increase in debt to get out of the recessionary periods. Click the link below to go to the enlarged image.

US Debt as a % of GDP

Categories: Economic Cycle, Fiscal Policy Tags: ,

Interest Rates under Volcker, Greenspan and Bernanke

October 21, 2013 Leave a comment

Here is a chart from WSJ Graphics which shows the level of interest rates in the US from 1980 to today. With the stagflation of the 1970’s Paul Volcker was faced with some very tough decisions. Below is an extract from an interview with him on the PBS Commanding Heights documentary.

It came to be considered part of Keynesian doctrine that a little bit of inflation is a good thing. And of course what happens then, you get a little bit of inflation, then you need a little more, because it peps up the economy. People get used to it, and it loses its effectiveness. Like an antibiotic, you need a new one; you need a new one. Well, I certainly thought that inflation was a dragon that was eating at our innards, so the need was to slay that dragon.

If you had told me in August of 1979 that interest rates, the prime rate would get to 21.5 percent, I probably would have crawled into a hole. I would have crawled into a hole and cried, I suppose. But then we lived through it.

US Interest rates 1979-2014

US Inequality – a concern for all

October 17, 2013 Leave a comment

PBS Newshour Economics correspondent Paul Solman talks to Robert Reich about “Inequality for All,” a documentary about the former labour secretary’s personal crusade to explain to Americans why everyone should care about the nation’s growing economic disparity and divisiveness. Here is part of the interview in which Reich states what is bad about inequality.

Well it’s a bad thing in two regards, even if you don’t particularly worry about issues of fairness or public morality. It’s bad, number one, because no economy can continue to function when the vast middle class and everybody else don’t have enough purchasing power to buy what the economy is capable of producing without going deeper and deeper into debt. Seventy percent of the entire economy is basically consumer spending. And if consumers don’t have the wherewithal to spend because all the money’s going to the top, and the people at the top only spend a very small fraction of what they earn, then the economy is almost inevitably destined to slow.

US debt default – what are the consequences?

October 16, 2013 Leave a comment

If lawmakers fail to avert a debt default, there could be a devastating impact on the national economy: mortgages soaring, consumers unable to borrow, the government forced to pay more to borrow more, plunging us deeper into debt. PBS Economics correspondent Paul Solman reports on how the bond market is anticipating the situation. Features former IMF Chief Economist and now MIT Professor Simon Johnson.

Categories: Financial Markets Tags: ,
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