Posts tagged with: economy

trade-flow-international2In their defenses of free trade, advocates routinely focus only on the long-term, economic benefits, and understandably so. The overall expansion of trade in recent years has led to greater economic growth, innovation, and prosperity for all, including America.

Protectionist policies may offer immediate relief and security, including a host of short-term political and economic solutions and benefits for particular industries or corporations. But on the whole and in the long run, politically directed tariffs and taxes are more likely to spur crony capitalism, harm consumers, cramp innovation, and delay the necessary re-tooling to remain a strong and dynamic nation in a globalized world.

Given our newfound national appetite for protectionist policies, free market advocates have plenty of work to do in better communicating those concerns, as Samuel Gregg recently pointed out. Yet in addition to more carefully making the economic arguments, we should also be mindful that free trade presents an opportunity for something else: namely, the expansion of creative collaboration and connection.

Part of that lesson was famously illustrated in “I, Pencil,” the popular essay by Leonard Read which urges us to have “a practical faith” in the economic and material good that might happen if we simply “leave all creative energies uninhibited.” Yet even here, readers tend to focus too heavily on the material ends and outcomes, rather than reflecting on the social, cultural, and spiritual benefits of the exchanges themselves. (more…)

Donald-Trump-Americas-Debt-900If President-elect Donald Trump wants to make America great again, he needs to find a way to reduce the federal debt.  Samuel Gregg, in a new article at the Stream,  explains why this is so important. There’s much at stake if no action is taken to reduce the federal debt:

On December 30, 2016, the United States’ official public debt was $19.97 trillion. It’s almost doubled since 2008. It also exceeds the size of America’s economy in nominal GDP in 2016 ($18.56 trillion).

Put another way, America’s public debt is approximately 107% of nominal GDP. To make matters worse, these numbers don’t include state and local government debt or the unfunded liabilities of entitlement programs like Social Security.

The reasons for this rise in public debt aren’t hard to grasp. At its most basic level, it reflects a failure of Congress and the Executive Branch to match spending and revenue since 2000. The gap has narrowed over the past 5 years. Nonetheless, spending continues to exceed revenue. In terms of what’s driving federal expenditures, it is social programs such as healthcare, income security, education, and housing. Spending on activities such as national defense has remained static.

So why should we care? What’s another trillion here or there?

Americans should worry because there’s plenty of evidence that this level of public debt can have grave effects on economic growth.

Once a country’s debt/GDP ratio reaches a particular threshold, one consequence appears to be slower economic growth. Economists argue about the exact threshold at which debt starts to impact growth. Some cite the figure of 85% of GDP. Others say 90%. Economists also debate how fast high debt negatively impacts growth. Yet there’s considerable consensus that, at some point, high debt-to-GDP ratios do have this impact.

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unemployment-decemberSeries Note: Jobs are one of the most important aspects of a morally functioning economy. They help us serve the needs of our neighbors and lead to human flourishing both for the individual and for communities. Conversely, not having a job can adversely affect spiritual and psychological well-being of individuals and families. Because unemployment is a spiritual problem, Christians in America need to understand and be aware of the monthly data on employment. Each month highlight the latest numbers we need to know (see also: What Christians Should Know About Unemployment).

Positive news is marked with the plus sign (+) while negative employment data is marked with a minus sign (-). No significant change is marked by (NC).

Overview: While most of the metrics were positive, few jobs were added and a large number of Americans dropped out of the labor for, making this one of the worst jobs report in years.
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“A lot of doom and gloom types say we’re living in dark times. But they’re wrong,” says economist Donald J. Boudreaux. “While there are real problems, the world has never been healthier, wealthier, and happier than it is today. Over a billion people have been lifted from dire poverty in just the past few decades.”

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, January 5, 2017
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sayToday is the 250th anniversary of Jean-Baptiste Say, one of the most important economic thinkers of the nineteenth century. Here are five facts you should know about this French economist:

1. Say’s conviction that the study of economics should start not with abstract mathematical and statistical analyses but with the real experience of the human person was likely based on his own vocational experiences. He had worked at a broad range of occupations including journalist, soldier, politician, cotton manufacturer, writer, apprenticeship in a commercial office, and secretary in a life insurance company. As David M. Hart explains, “The major reason for his constantly changing career were the political and economic upheavals his generation had to endure: the French Revolution, the Revolutionary Wars, the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte, economic warfare with Britain, and eventually the fall of the Empire and the Restoration of the Bourbon monarchy. Only after this quarter century of turmoil could Say take up his first position teaching political economy in Paris in 1815, an activity he was to continue until his death in 1832.”

2. Say is credited with coining the term “entrepreneur” in his influential book, A Treatise on Political Economy, or the Production, Distribution, and Consumption of Wealth. When the book was translated into English in 1880, it included this note on the term: “The term entrepreneur is difficult to render in English; the corresponding word, undertaker, being already appropriated to a limited sense. . . For want of a better word, it will be rendered into English by the term adventurer.”
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Blog author: jsunde
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
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As protests for a $15-per-hour minimum wage continue to rage across the country, cities like Seattle and states like California and New York have already begun to adopt such schemes.

But alas, prices are not play things, and such measures are bound to reap a range of deleterious effects, from raised consumer prices to increased unemployment to reduced working hours to outright business closures. Contrary to the popular narrative, those consequences tend to hit small businesses and less-skilled workers first and hardest.

With the recent laws, the destruction has already begun. To illustrate the damage thus far, the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) is cataloging hundreds of stories on its Faces of $15 website, including a range of videos highlighting the frustrations and responses of business owners, employees, and faithful customers alike.

In the following 5 case studies, we see but a glimpse of the minimum wage’s cramping effect on human enterprise, creative service, and economic diversity.

1. Abbot’s Cellar

For Abbot’s Cellar, a newly founded restaurant in San Francisco, the recent wage hike made their start-up model unfeasible, even despite tremendous initial success. “How are businesses that have practically no margins as is – mom and pops, small businesses – how are they supposed to just absorb that?” asks Nat Cutler, one of the owners.

“San Francisco is a city that seems like it’s supposed to be built on a Bohemian, small-business, mom-and-pop-type vibe,” he continues. “That’s the culture of the city. I worry that the type of change that’s happening is going to take away from the great culture that was here…I wish a little more thought would be put into the long-term impact.” (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Thursday, December 22, 2016
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What was the greatest invention of the industrial revolution? Hans Rosling makes the case for the washing machine. Rosling explains how the productivity gains of the washing machine—and similar labor-saving devices—lead to increases in education and economic growth in the developing world.