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Economic History

Bonus Weekly Reading for June 16, 2024

By David Henderson | Jun 16, 2024

  Two more articles, one I read late in the week and one I read this morning, are too good to pass up. The Dark Side of Alexander Hamilton by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, Reason, July 2024. This is Jeff Hummel’s review of William Hogeland, The Hamilton Scheme: An Epic Tale of Money and Power in .. MORE

Political Economy

The Possibility of Despotism in America

By Pierre Lemieux | Jun 16, 2024

Economics is interested in despotism and tyranny if only because the profile of government interventions depends, at least partly, on the nature of the political regime. Moreover, the recent school of constitutional political economy analyzes alternative constitutional arrangements. Economists have analytical tools to study the consequences of government intervention or non-intervention. It is thus not .. MORE

Central Planning

My Weekly Reading for June 16, 2024

By David Henderson | Jun 16, 2024

  Some highlights of my weekly reading. Most Palestinians Don’t Want Hamas Rule, Poll Shows by Matthew Petti, Reason, June 13, 2024. Excerpt: The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) released its latest poll data from the West Bank and Gaza on Wednesday. It turns out that Palestinians are unhappy with all of the current .. MORE

Information Goods, Intellectual Property

When China innovates

By Scott Sumner | Jun 15, 2024

Western countries frequently complain that Chinese firms do not innovate, rather they copy western ideas and technology.  So how does the West respond when Chinese firms actually do innovate? Nicholas Welch and Kevin Zhang have an interesting article on the US response to innovation in the Chinese electric vehicle industry: Since Chinese EV manufacturers “poach” .. MORE

Political Economy

Reflections on Flags and “Flag Day”

By Pierre Lemieux | Jun 14, 2024

It is strange that there should be a Flag Day, which is today June 14. That’s in the United States. I don’t know of another country in the (more or less) free world where such a day exists, although governments have many other ways to inspire national pride and obedience. A flag can represent a .. MORE

Moral Reasoning

Equalize, or Minimize?

By Kevin Corcoran | Jun 14, 2024

Here’s a thought experiment that recently occurred to me that I’d like to run by you, dear EconLog readers. I think the intuitive reactions one might have to this thought experiment might do a lot to clarify how one conceives of justice.  Suppose you live in a world where there is a military draft. In .. MORE

Economic Growth

Is Art as Progressive as Science?

By Scott Sumner | Jun 13, 2024

A few years ago, I answered the question in this post’s title in the negative: It seems to me that human progress is very uneven: Technology: Very rapid progressScience: Rapid Progress Public morals: Slow progressSports: Slow progress Human personalities: No progressArt: No progress Now, I wonder if this judgment was too hasty.  Perhaps I was .. MORE

Free Markets

Should We Reexamine Adam Smith’s Views of Animals?

By David Henderson | Jun 13, 2024

The most famous passage in Adam Smith’s An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations is this: It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. We address ourselves, not to their humanity .. MORE

History of Economic Thought

Henderson on South Royalton Austrian Conference

By David Henderson | Jun 12, 2024

Later this month is the 50th anniversary of the South Royalton, Vermont conference on Austrian economics. Liberty Fund asked Richard Ebeling, one of the attendees to write the long essay, and then two people who attended (Mario Rizzo and I) and one person who didn’t (Geoffrey Lea) wrote responses. Here’s an excerpt from my response: .. MORE

Economic and Political Philosophy

Reciprocity, Symmetry Breakers, and Semantic Stopsigns

By Kevin Corcoran | Jun 12, 2024

I find the debate over the existence of a god intrinsically interesting. Among the many arguments that exist, one argument in favor of a god’s existence I find fairly clever is Alvin Plantinga’s modal ontological argument. I’m not going to get too into the weeds over the finer details of that argument here, but in .. MORE


Bernanke on Forward Guidance

By Scott Sumner | Jun 12, 2024

The Economist has an article discussing the issue of forward guidance in monetary policy. Here’s an excerpt: To guide expectations credibly, officials must eventually follow through with the changes they indicate. The quandary is deciding what to do when conditions change, as they have since the Powell pivot, with inflationary pressure stronger than expected, which .. MORE

Political Economy

D-Day and the Naïve Conception of Democracy

By Pierre Lemieux | Jun 11, 2024

The speech that President Biden gave at Pointe du Hoc (Normandie, France) in celebration of D-Day echoed a naïve and widespread conception of democracy. The general theory goes like this: Democracy is a system where the voter is in power. He is well-informed and votes to express his interest in the public goods that the .. MORE


More Firms Doesn’t (Necessarily) Mean Better Competition

By Kevin Corcoran | Jun 10, 2024

Mike Munger recently wrote about an elementary misunderstanding of economic competition many legislators and regulators seem to harbor – the idea that improving competition means ensuring there are more firms rather than less. This misunderstanding springs from what Munger calls a confusion between the textbook definition of “perfect competition” (which Munger calls an “idiotic concept”) .. MORE

Fiscal Policy

Where Biden Went Off Course

By Scott Sumner | Jun 9, 2024

I often learn more from people whose views partially overlap, than from those with whom I completely agree or completely disagree. Thus, I’ve learn a lot from reading Matt Yglesias’s Substack, even though he has a much more favorable view of the Biden administration than I do. In particular, he supports their early effort to .. MORE

Energy, Environment, Resources

My Weekly Reading and Viewing for June 9, 2024

By David Henderson | Jun 9, 2024

Our Kids Have No Economic Immune Systems by Michael Munger, AIER, June 5, 2024. Excerpt: This seems paradoxical. The commercial system has delivered, consistently and broadly shared across the population. Yet having to participate in a system where one plans, saves, invests, and designs an individual “pursuit of happiness” is overwhelming the very people who .. MORE

Books: Reviews and Suggested Readings

The Law and Economics

By Jon Murphy | Jun 9, 2024

For well over a century, economists have studied ways to make the law more efficient.  While the Journal of Law & Economics (the premier field journal) was not founded until 1958, early 20th century economists like Alfred Marshall, A.C. Pigou, John Maynard Keynes, and many others were busy studying how economics can inform legislation to .. MORE


A Quiet Belief in Authoritarian Values

By Pierre Lemieux | Jun 8, 2024

The ideological certitude with which FTC Commissioner Lina Khan explains her latest investigation of Microsoft is revealing of the zeitgeist of our time. Interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, she explains that Microsoft may have violated antitrust law–or rather policy and politics, because it is not properly law–by consensually hiring the co-founder of startup Inflection .. MORE


Double Trouble

By Scott Sumner | Jun 7, 2024

Today’s jobs report contained two pieces of information that suggest policy may be a bit too expansionary.  First, payroll employment rose by a stronger than expected 272,000.  (The household survey was weak, but that data is viewed as less reliable.)  Second, nominal wages grew at 0.4% (an annual rate of nearly 5%.)  If you think .. MORE

Energy, Environment, Resources

How to Give U.S. Car Buyers, Environmentalists, Free Traders, and U.S. Auto Workers Much of What They Want

By David Henderson | Jun 7, 2024

  One of the first things you learn about in an economics course is the concept of trade-offs: You can’t have everything you want. This is relevant in the debate about electric vehicles. U.S. auto workers want to keep their jobs. Most U.S. drivers still prefer cars with internal combustion engines. Environmentalists want Americans to .. MORE

Adam Smith

Plastic Rings and Woolen Coats

By Kevin Corcoran | Jun 6, 2024

Recently, a meme from one of Twitter’s many socialist denizens got a lot of attention. The message it seemed to deliver was that workers are undervalued, because they are paid for far less than they produce: The implication is clear, and is reflective of a popular talking point in socialist circles. The worker in this .. MORE


Lessons from a Non-Recession

By Scott Sumner | Jun 6, 2024

Most economists expected a recession in 2023. This prediction didn’t even come close—indeed 2023 was a boom year. I’ve already discussed one implication of that fact; economists are lousy at predicting the business cycle, and should not even try. There’s another lesson to be derived from the 2023 non-recession; don’t put too much weight on .. MORE

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