Category Archives: Economists

Taylor legislation? Rules versus discretion misunderstood

John B. Taylor is one of the profession’s most recognized macroeconomists, and for good reason. He has made numerous contributions to theories on wage and price formation and monetary policy. Many concepts are so central that they carry his name. “Taylor contracts” (staggered nominal wage or price contracts that are a central ingredient in many macroeconomics models), “Taylor curves” (curves that simply illustrate the feasible monetary policy trade offs), and, of course, the “Taylor Rule”, which is a specification of a nominal interest rate rule for a central bank. Originally mentioned in a 1993 paper, Taylor showed that the simple rule—that recommends that the nominal interest rate adjust to inflation … Continue reading

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Reinhart and Rogoff’s coding mistake: Much Ado About Nothing

This week saw a wide circulation of recent working paper by Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash and Robert Pollin, “Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff“, Working Paper Series Number 322, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts Amherst. The authors challenge the findings in Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff’s “Growth in a Time of Debt“, American Economic Review, Papers and Proceedings 100, 573-578. During their efforts to replicate Reinhart and Rogoff’s findings on the relationship between public debt and growth for 20 developed countries post-WWII, Herndon et al. received the original codes from Reinhart and Rogoff. Upon scrutiny, they discovered a coding error … Continue reading

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Nobel awarded to Roth and Shapley: Personal nostalgia

Today, the “Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for 2012” was awarded to Alvin E. Roth and Lloyd S. Shapley “for the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design”. As always when the Nobel is decided, I realize that I should not be one giving out the prize. Along with many, I try to make clever predictions, which always fail. On the other hand, when the prize is being awarded, I almost always find that the choice is obvious and natural. This year is no exception. I will spare you for my failed prediction(s), but applaud this year’s choice. Roth and Shapley … Continue reading

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White Paper, Great Economists and (really) Bad Science

In Denmark, where I come from, academic economists are often used in the media. Whenever there is a political debate on an economic issue or policy proposal, TV and newspapers call out for economists to get their views and analyses. The norm is that journalists try to cover most views on a given issue, and that the economists in question try to be as balanced as possible. Ideally, the economists act as a sort of independent “expert witnesses”. Of course, personal opinions will to some extent color what a given economist will focus on, but one line is never crossed: An academic economist never endorses a given politician or party … Continue reading

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One more time for the world: There is no simple relationship (if any) between Taylor-rule coefficients and policy preferences

The lack of a relationship between the size of the coefficients in a Taylor rule for monetary policy conduct and the underlying preferences for stabilization of macroeconomic goals is well known. I often have it as a check subject in my exams in monetary economics. When I present the result to students first time—it is fleshed out in Lars Svensson’s “Inflation Forecast Targeting: Implementing and Monitoring Inflation Targets” (European Economic Review 41, 1997, 1111-1141) for a simple backward-looking IS/AS model—I often state that many tend to overlook this, and that it is a common misconception that, e.g., a relatively high coefficient on the output gap in the rule indicates a … Continue reading

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Countdown for Krugman

I recently wrote that I thought Paul Krugman wrote slightly too many blog posts, and that too many spent time commenting on them, and commenting on others’ comments and so on and on—a “Krugman multiplier“. Now an explanation for Krugman’s exceptional blog productivity is beginning to offer itself. The New York Times, who hosts Krugman’s blog, have introduced a counter on their web edition such that you can only read ten articles per month. So, only ten Paul Krugman blog posts per month if that’s your only reason for visiting NYT. A rough guesstimate tells me that this amounts to around only ten to twenty percent of his output. The … Continue reading

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When ”failure” in economics is ”success” and vice versa?

This post fully lives op to the mantra of the blog, as it contains a lot of “stochastic ramblings” (a nod to Greg Mankiw’s mantra of “random observations”). “Stochastic” as I wander unplanned around important subjects on the developments of economic sciences, and “ramblings” as most of it is scientifically unsubstantiated talk with little coherency, which just emerge from my gut. You have been warned. The backdrop of the following is a festive occasion. An occasion I am truly and deeply happy about. The Institute of New Economic Thinking (INET), which is partly funded by George Soros, has given a grant to establish a center on Imperfect Knowledge Economics (IKE) … Continue reading

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US Output Gap: Still negative

John Taylor recently showed how the United States is currently much farther away from returning to “potential output” compared with the recession of the early 1980s, where above-average output growth during the recovery secured a return to the potential output path. Apart from the obvious implications for the evaluation of the current US recovery, this has led to a deeper discussion about the dangers of extrapolating “potential” output from past values (e.g., maybe the 2007 value was just too high?). James Bullard of St. Louis Fed argues (pdf of speech) that the financial crisis lead to a very persistent negative wealth shock that has pushed potential output down. Hence, the … Continue reading

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