Macro Musings

Macro Musings

United States

Hosted by David Beckworth of the Mercatus Center, Macro Musings is a new podcast which pulls back the curtain on the important macroeconomic issues of the past, present, and future.


62 – Mandel and Swanson on *The Coming Productivity Boom*  

In this week’s episode, David is joined by two guests, who make a case for economic optimism. Michael Mandel, chief economist at the Progressive Policy Institute, and Bret Swanson, president of Entropy Economics and visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, are the co-authors of the new paper, “The Coming Productivity Boom: Transforming the Physical Economy with Information.” Michael and Bret argue that, despite the slowdown in productivity of the last few decades, innovations in information technology such as artificial intelligence are going remake our economy for the better. David’s blog: Michael Mandel’s homepage: Brett Swanson’s homepage: David’s Twitter: @DavidBeckworth Michael Mandel’s Twitter: @MichaelMandel Bret Swanson’s Twitter: @JBSay Related links: “The Coming Productivity Boom: Transforming the Physical Economy with Information” by Michael Mandel and Bret Swanson

61 - Steve Horwitz on Monetary Disequilibrium and Austrian Business Cycle Theory  

Steven Horwitz is a professor of economics at Ball State University and a senior affiliated scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He joins the show to discuss monetary disequilibrium (the condition when the supply and demand for money are not aligned, which leads to either inflation or deflation). David and Steve also examine Austrian Business Cycle Theory – a theory of how “malinvestment” caused by bad policy leads to an unsustainable boom and inevitable bust. Steve also explains how monetary disequilibrium led to the Great Recession and offers some solutions for minimizing business cycles in the future. David’s blog: Steve Horwitz’s personal website: Steve Horwitz’s Mercatus profile: David’s Twitter: @DavidBeckworth Related links: *Microfoundations and Macroeconomics: An Austrian Perspective* by Steven Horwitz “An Introduction to U.S. Monetary Policy* by Steven Horwitz

60 – Matt Klein on Greece, Optimal Currency Areas, and Safe Assets  

Matt Klein is a columnist for the Financial Times and blogger at FT Alphaville. Today, he joins the show to discuss his work on the Eurozone, optimal currency areas, and safe assets. David and Matt examine the monetary policy problems and debt burdens facing the Eurozone area and Greece, in particular. They also chat about the possibility of the United States becoming less of an optimal currency, which would make Fed policy more challenging. David’s blog: Matt Klein’s bio: David’s Twitter: @DavidBeckworth Matt Klein’s Twitter: @M_C_Klein Related links: “Is the United States Becoming Less of an Optimal Currency Area?” by David Beckworth “Will Nevada Ever Recover from the Housing Boom?” by Matt Klein “The IMF Implies Greece Should Have Left the Euro Long Ago” by Matt Klein

59 - Jay Shambaugh on the Macroeconomic Trilemma (“The Impossible Trinity”)  

Jay Shambaugh is a professor of economics and international affairs at The George Washington University and a former member on the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA). Today, he joins the show to discuss his work on the “Macroeconomic Trilemma” (or “Impossible Trinity”): the problem that a country cannot maintain a fixed exchange rate, free movement of capital, and an independent monetary policy all at once. He also shares stories from his time at the CEA as well as thoughts on current monetary policy both for the U.S. and the Eurozone. David’s blog: Jay Shambaugh’s GW profile: David’s Twitter: @DavidBeckworth Jay Shambaugh’s Twitter: @JayCShambaugh Related links: “The Euro’s Three Crises” by Jay C. Shambaugh “Financial Stability, the Trilemma, and International Reserves” by Maurice Obstfeld, Jay C. Shambaugh, & Alan M. Taylor

58 – David Schleicher on Local and State Regulation and Declining Mobility  

David Schleicher is an Associate Professor of Law at Yale Law School and is an expert in election law, land use, local government law, urban development, transportation, and local regulation of the sharing economy. He joins the show to discuss his new journal article, “Stuck! The Law and Economics of Residential Stability,” which argues that government regulations, such as occupational licensing and land-use laws, have led to a significant decline in inter-state mobility. Schleicher describes the negative macroeconomic implications of this trend and explains how we can reverse it. David’s blog: David Schleicher’s Yale profile: David Beckworth’s Twitter: @DavidBeckworth David Schleicher’s Twitter: @ProfSchleich Related links: “Stuck! The Law and Economics of Residential Stability” by David Schleicher

57 – Paul Krugman on Liquidity Traps, the Great Recession, and Isaac Asimov  

Paul Krugman is a Nobel Laureate in economics, a columnist at *The New York Times,* and a Distinguished Professor of Economics at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. He joins the show to discuss his work on liquidity traps, Japan’s Lost Decade, and lessons from the Great Recession. Paul also explains how Isaac Asimov’s science fiction inspired him to become an economist. David’s blog: Paul Krugman’s CUNY profile: Paul Krugman’s blog: Paul Krugman’s NYT archive: David’s Twitter: @DavidBeckworth Paul Krugman’s Twitter: @paulkrugman Related links: “It’s Baaack: Japan’s Slump and the Return of the Liquidity Trap” by Kathryn M. Dominguez, Kenneth S. Rogoff, and Paul R. Krugman "Debt, Deleveraging, and the Liquidity Trap: A Fisher-Minsky-Koo approach" by Gauti Eggertsson and Paul Krugman “The New York Economic Geography, Now Middle-Aged” by Paul Krugman *Global Inequality: A New Approach for the Age of Globalization* by Branko Milanovic

56 – Ethan Ilzetzki on the U.S. Dollar as an Anchor Currency  

Ethan Ilzetzki is an assistant professor of economics at the London School of Economics and a research affiliate at the Centre for Economic Policy Research. He joins the show to discuss exchange rate regimes, anchor currencies, and the new Triffin dilemma. Ethan points out how the U.S. dollar is connected to a staggering 70 percent of global GDP. David and Ethan discuss what the dollar’s dominant role in the global economy means for U.S. monetary policy, both at home and abroad. David’s blog: Ethan Ilzetzki’s LSE profile: David’s Twitter: @DavidBeckworth Ethan Ilzetzki’s Twitter: @ilzetzki Related links: “Exchange Arrangements Entering the 21st Century: Which Anchor Will Hold?” by Ethan Ilzetzki (with Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff) “How Big (Small?) are Fiscal Multipliers?” by Ethan Ilzetzki (with Enrique G. Mendoza and Carlos A. Vegh)

55 – Daniel Griswold on the Basics of Trade  

Daniel Griswold is a Mercatus Center Senior Research Fellow and Co-Director of the Program on the American Economy and Globalization at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He joins the show to discuss the theory of trade, dating back to Adam Smith, and his work on current US trade policy. Daniel and David discuss some of the misconceptions surrounding trade and why Americans should embrace free trade instead of protectionism. David’s blog: Daniel Griswold’s blog: David’s Twitter: @DavidBeckworth Daniel Griswold’s Twitter: @DanielGriswold Related links: “Plumbing America’s Balance of Trade” by Daniel Griswold *Mad About Trade: Why Main Street America Should Embrace Globalization* by Daniel Griswold “The China Shock: Learning from Labor-Market Adjustment to Large Changes in Trade” by David Autor, David Dorn, & Gordon Hanson

54 – Josh Zumbrun on Challenges and Angst Facing the Economics Profession  

Josh Zumbrun is a national economics correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. David and Josh discuss what seems to be the diminished status of economists in a populist era and what role economists will play in the Trump Administration. Josh also shares his thoughts on life as an economics journalist in the digital age. David’s blog: Josh Zumbrun’s WSJ archive: David’s Twitter: @DavidBeckworth Josh Zumbrun’s Twitter: @JoshZumbrun Related links: “How to Restore Faith in Economics” by Noah Smith “Donald Trump’s Cabinet Won’t Include Chairman of CEA” by Josh Zumbrun

53 – James Bullard on Life as a Fed Bank President and Monetary Policy in 2017  

In this week’s episode, Jim Bullard, the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, joins the show to discuss his work as a Federal Reserve executive and as a researcher in monetary policy. Bullard shares his thoughts on why inflation has been so persistently low since 2008 and whether the Fed should pursue a more symmetric inflation target. He and David also discuss the Fed’s plans for monetary policy in 2017. In Bullard’s view, the Fed should focus on reducing its balance sheet before it turns to raising rates further. (Note: this episode was recorded on April 5, 2017) Interview transcript: David’s blog: Jim Bullard’s Federal Reserve profile: David’s Twitter: @DavidBeckworth St. Louis Fed’s Twitter: @stlouisfed Related links: “Comments on the FOMC's Amendments to Its Statement on Longer-Run Goals” by James Bullard “Current Monetary Policy, the New Fiscal Policy and the Fed’s Balance Sheet” by James Bullard “Everything the Market Thinks About Inflation Might be Wrong” by Jon Sindreu (Wall Street Journal) “As Debate Rages, Simple Analogy Shows How Fed Controls Inflation” by David Beckworth (The Hill) The Dallas Fed Trimmed Mean Inflation Rate

52 – Tyler Cowen on Complacency, Immobility, and Stagnation  

Tyler Cowen is a professor of economics at George Mason University as well as the general director of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. He joins the show to discuss his new book, *The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream.* Tyler argues that restlessness and willingness to take risks have been key traits throughout American history. However, in the last few decades, American society has become more risk-averse. While we may have become more comfortable with less risk-taking, this complacency has led to less innovation and dynamism in the economy. Such stasis is causing economic stagnation and other woes throughout the United States. David’s blog: Tyler Cowen’s blog: David’s Twitter: @DavidBeckworth Tyler Cowen’s Twitter: @tylercowen Related links: *The Complacent Class: The Self-Defeating Quest for the American Dream* by Tyler Cowen *How Complacent Are You? Take the Quiz!* “Why the Global Shortage of Safe Assets Matters” by David Beckworth "The Making of Hawks and Doves: Inflation Experiences on the FOMC" by Ulrike Malmendier, Stefan Nagel, and Zhen Yan

51 – George Selgin on Reforming Open Market Operations and Normalizing Fed Policy  

George Selgin, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Monetary and Financial Alternatives, returns to *Macro Musings* to discuss his new proposal to reform how the Fed conducts open-market operations. He proposes abolishing the current primary dealer system and expanding the Fed’s number of counterparties. David and George also discuss the Fed’s plans for 2017 and whether it will seek to reduce its large balance sheet. David’s blog: George Selgin’s Cato archive: George Selgin’s Alt-M archive: (contains George’s monetary policy primer posts) David’s Twitter: George Selgin’s Twitter: Related links: *Money: Free and Unfree* by George Selgin “Reforming Last-Resort Lending: The Flexible Open-Market Alternative” by George Selgin (as part of *Prosperity Unleashed: Smarter Financial Regulation* published by the Heritage Foundation)

50 - Steve Hanke on Hyperinflations  

Steve Hanke is a professor of applied economics and co-director of the Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. He is also a senior fellow and director of the Troubled Currencies Project at the Cato Institute. Steve joins the show to discuss his work on the history of hyperinflations. David and Steve discuss what exactly constitutes hyperinflation as well as historical examples of hyperinflation from 1940s Hungary to present-day Venezuela. David’s blog: Steve Hanke’s Cato profile: David’s Twitter: @DavidBeckworth Steve Hanke’s Twitter: @steve_hanke Related links: Venezuela Enters the Record Book: the 57th Entry in the Hanke-Krus World Hyperinflation Table (contains full list of world hyperinflations)

49 - Jeffrey Frankel on Recession-Dating, the Plaza Accords, and Globalization  

Jeffrey Frankel is a professor and economist at Harvard University and the director of the Program in International Finance and Macroeconomics at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). He joins the show to discuss serving on the NBER’s Business Cycle Dating Committee, which officially declares the start and end of recessions. David and Jeff also discuss the monetary history of the Plaza Accord, an international agreement in 1985 to devalue the U.S. dollar. Jeff also shares his thoughts on globalization in the past few decades and current-day challenges facing it. David’s blog: Jeff Frankel’s Harvard profile: Jeff Frankel’s NBER publications: David’s Twitter: @DavidBeckworth Related links: “Globalization of the Economy” by Jeffrey Frankel “Globalization and Chinese Growth: End of Trends” by Jeffrey Frankel “The Plaza Accord: 30 Years Later” by Jeffrey Frankel

48 - Jason Furman on Fiscal Stimulus, the Platinum Coin, and Male Labor Force Participation  

Jason Furman is a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Previously, he served as the Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama. He joins the show to reflect on his time in the Obama Administration. Among other things, Jason and David discuss the efficacy of fiscal policy, the fiscal multiplier, and whether the platinum coin was ever seriously considered. They also discuss the problem of declining male labor force participation, its causes, and possible solutions. David’s blog: Jason Furman’s PIIE profile: David’s Twitter: @davidbeckworth Jason Furman’s Twitter: @jasonfurman Related links: “The New View of Fiscal Policy and Its Application” by Jason Furman “The Long-Term Decline in US Prime-Age Male Labor Force Participation” by Jason Furman

47 – Larry White on India’s Demonetization and Austrian Macroeconomics  

Larry White is a professor of economics at George Mason University and has written widely on monetary theory, free banking, and the Austrian School of Economics. Today, he joins the show to discuss the recent demonetization efforts in India to crack down on corruption. White argues that India’s efforts to end the circulation of large notes and begin the circulation of new notes is having pernicious effects on the Indian population. He and David also discuss Austrian Business Cycle Theory, how this theory was developed by great economists such as Ludwig von Mises, and how the theory may have played a role in the lead up to the Great Recession. David’s blog: Larry White’s GMU profile: Larry White’s Alt-M archive: David’s Twitter: @davidbeckworth Larry White’s Twitter: @lawrencehwhite1 Related links: “India’s Currency Cancellation: Seigniorage and Cantillon Effects” by Larry White and Shruti Rajagopalan *Free Banking in Britain: Theory, Experience and Debate 1800-1845* by Larry White *The Clash of Economic Ideas: The Great Policy Debates and Experiments of the Last Hundred Years* by Larry White *The Theory of Money and Credit* by Ludwig von Mises

46 – Tim Duy on the Art of Fed Watching and the Future of U.S. Monetary Policy  

Tim Duy is a professor of economics at the University of Oregon and a widely read “Fed Watcher.” Today, he joins the show to discuss writing on the Federal Reserve and how to interpret statements from Fed officials. In particular, Tim stresses the importance of the Fed Chair’s post-FOMC meeting press conferences. He also warns against taking too much stock in FOMC minutes. David and Tim also discuss the proper role of the Fed’s balance sheet in stabilizing monetary policy. David’s blog: Tim Duy’s homepage: Tim’s “Fed Watch” blog: Tim’s Bloomberg archive: David’s Twtter: @davidbeckworth Tim’s Twitter: @TimDuy

45 – Hester Peirce on *Reframing Financial Regulation*  

Hester Peirce is a Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University and director of Mercatus’ Financial Markets Working Group. She joins the show to discuss the new Mercatus book, *Reframing Financial Regulation: Enhancing Stability and Protecting Consumers*, which she coedited. The book examines the problems with the United States’ current financial regulation regime (including the Dodd-Frank Act) and offers alternative policies that rely less on a centralized regulation and more on market discipline. David’s blog: Hester’s Mercatus profile: David’s Twitter: @davidbeckworth Hester’s Twitter: @HesterPeirce *Reframing Financial Regulation: Enhancing Stability and Protecting Consumers* edited by Hester Peirce and Benjamin Klutsey

44 - Sebastian Mallaby on Alan Greenspan's Legacy  

Sebastian Mallaby is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a contributing columnist for the Washington Post. Today, he joins the show to discuss his new book, *The Man Who Knew: the Life and Times of Alan Greenspan,* a biography of the former Fed Chairman. Sebastian describes Greenspan’s humble origins, his rise to power, and his public career that spanned several decades. David and Sebastian discuss the degree to which Greenspan should be praised for the economic stability of the Great Moderation and blamed for the Great Recession. They also chat about Greenspan’s musical talents, his relationship with Ayn Rand, and his reputation as a “ladies man.” David’s blog: Sebastian’s bio: Sebastian’s Washington Post archive: David’s Twitter: @davidbeckworth Sebastian Mallaby: @scmallaby *The Man Who Knew: the Life and Times of Alan Greenspan* by Sebastian Mallaby

43 – Eswar Prasad on Chinese Monetary Policy – Past and Present  

Eswar Prasad is the Tolani Senior Professor of Trade Policy and Professor of Economics at Cornell University and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. He joins the show to discuss his new book, *Gaining Currency: The Rise of the Renminbi,* which examines the rise of China’s currency, the renminbi (RMB), and its role in global finance. Prasad argues that the RMB is on the road to becoming a reserve currency, but it will not challenge the US dollar’s dominance as a safe haven currency. David and Eswar also discuss China’s interesting history as the first country with paper money and a fiat currency. David’s blog: Eswar’s Cornell homepage: Eswar’s Brookings homepage: David’s Twitter: @davidbeckworth Eswar’s Twitter: @EswarSPrasad Related links: *Gaining Currency: The Rise of the Renminbi* by Eswar S. Prasad

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