Monday, August 31, 2009

Hoover and the Depression

It has become part of modern Democratic dogma that Hoover just fiddled while the economy collapsed, necessitating a rescue by FDR. Not at all true.

Pro-labor policies pushed by President Herbert Hoover after the stock market crash of 1929 accounted for close to two-thirds of the drop in the nation's gross domestic product over the two years that followed, causing what might otherwise have been a bad recession to slip into the Great Depression, a UCLA economist concludes in a new study.

"These findings suggest that the recession was three times worse — at a minimum — than it would otherwise have been, because of Hoover," said Lee E. Ohanian, a UCLA professor of economics.

The policies, which included both propping up wages and encouraging job-sharing, also accounted for more than two-thirds of the precipitous decline in hours worked in the manufacturing sector, which was much harder hit initially than the agricultural sector, according to Ohanian.

"By keeping industrial wages too high, Hoover sharply depressed employment beyond where it otherwise would have been, and that act drove down the overall gross national product," Ohanian said. "His policy was the single most important event in precipitating the Great Depression."

The findings are slated to appear in the December issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Economic Theory and were posted today on the website of the National Bureau of Economic Reasearch ( as a working paper.

The Opinion Journal Imitates Me

This sounds familiar:

Two Columnists in One!
"Basically we have a world-class budget deficit not just as in absolute terms of course--it's the biggest budget deficit in the history of the world--but it's a budget deficit that as a share of GDP is right up there....

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Krugman on Deficits

Paul Krugman on his blog yesterday shows once again how he has stopped becoming a serious economics. First Kruggie from 2004, when the budget deficit was a mere $413 billion:

PROFESSOR PAUL KRUGMAN, PRINCETON ECONOMIST: Well, basically we have a world-class budget deficit not just as in absolute terms of course - it's the biggest budget deficit in the history of the world - but it's a budget deficit that as a share of GDP is right up there.It's comparable to the worst we've ever seen in this country.

It's biggest than Argentina in 2001.

Which is not cyclical, there's only a little bit that's because the economy is depressed.

Mostly it's because, fundamentally, the Government isn't taking in enough money to pay for the programs and we have no strategy of dealing with it.

So, if you take a look, the only thing that sustains the US right now is the fact that people say, "Well America's a mature, advanced country and mature, advanced countries always, you know, get their financial house in order," but there's not a hint that that's on the political horizon, so I think we're looking for a collapse of confidence some time in the not-too-distant future.

Now from his blog, when it was announced that the deficit will total over $9 trillion, over the next decade, more than double the worst deficit under Bush, for 10 straight years!

It turns out that I was a little over-pessimistic in my assessment, mainly because the $9 trillion includes this year’s deficit, so we start from debt at 40% of GDP, not 50%. Overall, the OMB puts debt in 2019 at 76.5% of GDP; that figure is slightly exaggerated, however, because various financial rescues get counted as additions to the deficit even though taxpayers end up with additional assets. Net of these assets, the debt in 2019 is 68.9% of GDP.

As I’ve pointed out, that’s bad, but it’s not horrific either by historical or international standards. On a comparable basis, federal debt hit
109 percent of GDP at the end of World War II, and hit a second peak of 49 percent at the end of the Reagan-Bush years. And a number of European countries have hit substantially higher debt levels without crisis.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Postalization of Health Care

I went to the post office this morning, there is a major one only a couple of blocks from work. I simply needed to pick up some stamps. I searched around for a vending machine, as I destest having to deal with postal employees, but alas, there were none. Finally I asked a couple of employees standing behind a counter chatting with each other accomplishing nothing, if I could buy some stamps.

They informed me that I could not, because it was only 8:25, and the people who sold the stamps do not come on duty until 8:30. With a scowl I replied, "Thanks for the great service." and one of them replied sarcastically, and with no apparent sense of shame "you are welcome".

Now continuing what is possibly the world's most clueless argument for getting government involved in our healthcare, is Jesse Jackson Jr. I swear this guy is setting new records for bad economics.