By Bryan Caplan
Last night’s Ask Me Anything was a treat. Main surprise: I was expecting more weird and personal questions. A few highlights:
As a replacement for the status quo, maybe. As an addition, no.
Libertarians like it because they think it will be a replacement. Socialists like it because they think it will be an addition.
done 10x better than I expected, but I still don’t expect it to be more
than a niche financial instrument. It’s long been noted that people
around the world continue using their national currencies even in the
face of 20 or 30% inflation because national currencies are more
convenient and focal. Also, I expect regulators to crack down if
Bitcoin becomes much of a threat.
But hopefully I’m wrong!
open borders, the biggest policy change would be for Third World
countries to fully open their doors to international investment. Work
by van Reenen and many others shows that multinational corps in the 3rd
World are vastly better-run than local firms. If multinationals could
freely compete, they would quickly raise productivity. Back of the
envelope calculate is that if all firms on earth were managed at
multinational levels, global GDP would go up by 25-50%. Most of the
benefit, of course, would be in the Third World.
economist who gives policy advise is implicitly relying on philosophy.
Unfortunately, most economists want to rely on philosophy without
really reflecting on it, so they’re usually just crude utilitarians
(with a heavy bias toward the status quo and democratic fundamentalism).
For my own part, I start with a strong presumption of liberty, but
admit that we should override this presumption when the benefits of
violating liberty heavily outweigh the costs. (See http://www.econlib.org/archives/2010/08/how_far_does_th.html) So economics ends up being a vital servant of political philosophy, but nothing more.