Tag Archives: basic economics

An Economics Disaster

Even Nobel laureates forget their economic fundamentals sometimes. Paul Krugman, who knows better, recently fell for the broken window fallacy in a post at his New York Times blog. He argues that the tsunami that hit Japan last year has boosted the economy. An error that basic demands correction; my attempt ran today in The American Spectator:

Imagine for a minute that the tsunami never happened. Japan’s GDP growth would probably be slower; Krugman is almost certainly correct on that. And yet, a tsunami-less Japan would be better off. For one, the survivors wouldn’t have 15,000 holes in their hearts where their families, friends, and neighbors used to be.

As far as the economy goes, all that reconstruction spending would instead go to creating brand new wealth, as opposed to merely replacing what people already had to begin with. It is better to build than to rebuild.

Read the whole thing here.

Yes, Regulation Does Keep Unemployment High

Over at RealClearMarkets, my colleague Wayne Crews and I argue that the law of demand holds. Hard to believe that’s actually controversial, but that’s Washington for you. Here’s our conclusion:

Eberly was put in an uncomfortable position when she came to Washington. Just as a lawyer’s job is to vigorously defend clients even if she knows they are guilty, Eberly’s job is to vigorously defend policies that are obviously harmful to the economy. Try as she might, she cannot argue against the law of demand.

Regulations make hiring costlier and thus make jobs scarcer. And regulatory uncertainty makes companies reluctant to hire employees they might not be able to afford down the road. Case closed.

Read the whole thing.

ATM: Wrong for America

Here is a hilarious short video accusing ATMs of killing jobs, loitering on street corners late at night, and even dispensing money to terrorists. It’s good. I couldn’t figure out how to embed it on this site, so you’ll have to click the link to watch it.

 

Art Carden on the Broken Window Fallacy

Good stuff. If the embedded video doesn’t work, click here.

CEI Podcast for June 15, 2011: Do ATMs Kill Jobs?

 

 

Have a listen here.

In a recent NBC interview, President Obama blamed ATMs for taking away bank tellers’ jobs, and computerized airline check-in kiosks for eliminating aviation jobs. Communications Coordinator Lee Doren points out that innovation doesn’t affect the number of jobs so much as the types of jobs. Accomplishing more while using less labor is actually the key to prosperity. People looking for an explanation for today’s high unemployment need to look elsewhere.

Country of Origin Labels Are False Advertising

Don Boudreaux makes good sense on why country of origin labels only tell part of the story of where a product comes from:

Yes, Mr. Hoch’s socks say “Made in Swaziland,” but who developed the computer software to operate the loom that wove the cloth used to make his socks?  Who designed the loom itself?  Who figured out how to transform crude oil into the elastic in the socks?  Who devised the method for pooling risks so that the Swaziland factory is profitably insured against fire and that the cargo ship carrying his socks to America is profitably insured against sinking?

Don concludes:

In fact, Mr. Hoch’s socks – and nearly everything else that he consumes – should be labeled “Made on earth,” for they truly are global phenomena.

Read the whole thing. Keep it in mind the next time someone grouses —falsely — that America doesn’t make anything anymore, or that Americans buy too many goods from foreigners.

One Way to Create High-Tech Jobs

My colleague Ryan Radia and I recently sent this letter to The New York Times:

Editor, New York Times:

Catherine Rampell’s September 7 article, “Once a Dynamo, the Tech Sector Is Slow to Hire,” mourns the recent decline in U.S. data processing jobs. She blames much of the decline on the automation of previously tedious tasks.

May we suggest one way to get those jobs back: No more automation. Ban the use of computers for data processing. Imagine how much information flows through today’s global economy in an average day. Computers handle most of the load. That costs millions of jobs.

The effects would reverberate far beyond the tech sector. The paper, pen, and pencil industries would also boom.

Companies are dead-set on doing more with less. True, that creates more jobs in the long run by freeing up resources — and employees — for new ventures. But if only they would consider doing less with more, they could create more data processing jobs.

Ryan Young and Ryan Radia
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Washington, D.C.

Explaining Free Trade in Under Three Minutes

Sometimes, the fastest, most effective way to explain economics is to tell a story. One of the best-done examples is in Steven Landsburg’s book The Armchair Economist, where he tells David Friedman’s “Iowa Car Crop” story to get readers to think about trade (see pp. 197-99).

[T]here are two technologies for producing automobiles in America. One is to manufacture them in Detroit, and the other is to grow them in Iowa.

Okay… how does that work?

First you plant seeds, which are the raw material from which automobiles are constructed. You wait a few months until wheat appears. Then you harvest the wheat, load it onto ships, and sail the ships eastward into the Pacific Ocean. After a few months, the ships reappear with Toyotas on them.

Sounds almost magical. But it happens millions of times every day. The lesson is that trade is about specialization. A farmer doesn’t know how to build a car. But he can still have one by sticking to his specialty – growing wheat. He can trade his surplus to other people who do nothing but specialize in building cars.

This cuts both ways. Most factory workers don’t know a thing about farming. But by concentrating on building cars, they eat far better than if they grew their own wheat. The nature of trade is that everyone wins when they specialize. The only limit on specialization is the size of the market.

Restrictions on trade – tariffs, quotas, antidumping duties — shrink that market. And by shrinking the market, they limit specialization, which is the source of all prosperity. It’s good to grow cars in Iowa.

The lesson doesn’t apply to just wheat and cars. It applies to everything. Tom Palmer from the Atlas Economic Research Foundation makes that clear as day in this excellent video. If you want to learn the meaning of free trade in under three minutes, this is as good as it gets.

The Correct Capital Gains Tax Rate Is Zero

Cato’s Dan Mitchell gives a quick primer on the capital gains tax in the latest short video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity.

President Obama wants to raise the rate from 15 percent to 20 percent. Dan gives six reasons why he should lower it to zero:

-Taxing saving and investment more means there will be less of it.

-Entrepreneurs will take fewer risks since higher capital gains taxes lower their return on investment. Why bother to innovate?

-America’s high capital gains tax rate makes us less competitive than other countries that have a lower tax rate – or no tax at all.

-IRS busybodies nosing around in our investment portfolios is hardly conducive to protecting privacy.

-Investment creates jobs. The capital gains tax lowers investment, and therefore job creation.

-A capital gains tax is inherently unfair. Tax laws should not penalize people based on how they earn, spend, or save their income. Taxes should be as neutral as possible.

Fixing America’s Immigration Black Market

One of the problems with current immigration laws is that they raise the price of immigrating legally. Basic economics tells us that when something costs more, people consume less of it.

That’s why so many of America’s immigrants are turning to dangerous but cheap immigration black markets to enter the country. This is a problem with an obvious solution. In today’s American Spectator, Alex Nowrasteh and I make the case that lowering the cost of legal immigration through liberalization will reduce the amount of illegal immigration, and shrink cruel black markets.

Basic economics wins again.