Links for 2008-12-28

  • Econbrowser | “Stuff Happens”: the Bush Administration’s Economic Stewardship – «As we near the end of the year, and the end of eight years of Bush economic policy, I think it’s useful to look back. The White House has recently tangled with the NYT regarding what got us into the current economic crisis. This comes on the heels of the Paulson argument that he would not have done anything different, had he known the full extent of the looming crisis. This leads me to wonder how we should view the Bush Administration’s stewardship of the economy»;
  • Greenspan roundtable: The value of reliable information | – «Even if we recapitalise every bank that is in trouble, remove every existing toxic asset on every bank balance sheet, and refinance every mortgage so that it is not in danger of default, we still will not have fully repaired financial markets. We will still be left with a lack of trust—for good reason—in the informational architecture people use to make financial decisions. Until that is repaired—which will require a new regulatory structure, among other things—these markets will not perform to their full potential without some sort of insurance against the lack of credible information»;
  • Economics learns a thing or two from evolutionary biology | – «There is another lesson to be learned from evolutionary biology that will not make economists, or the public at large, particularly happy: when complex systems evolve over time the paths they take is contingent on historical accidents (as opposed to being deterministic, like the laws of macro-physics, outside quantum mechanics). Sociologists, psychologists, ecologists and evolutionary biologists will readily tell their economic colleagues that it is certainly possible toexplain past events (the extinction of the dinosaurs, the dot-com bubble) by the use of sufficiently complex causal-historical models. What seems to be out of reach, however, is precisely what economists want most: predicting the future, the hallmark of “good” science»;
  • Talking Points Memo | Depression Economics: Normal Rules Don’t Apply – «Thus, if everything goes right, the tax cut will trickle down to the unemployed workers, but they aren’t helped directly by, say, a payroll tax cut. This doesn’t have to be the case, it would be possible to target a tax rebate or other program directly at the unemployed workers, but the point is that many tax proposals rely upon the hope that first, the money will be spent instead of saved, and that second, it will then trickle down to help the unemployed. These policies might work, but if we do pursue tax instead of government spending options, my preference would be to target the transfer payments directly at the unemployed workers»;

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