Archive for the 'Links' Category

Is the Fed Independent?

July 26, 2011

by Mario Rizzo

In today’s Wall Street Journal frequent contributor to ThinkMarkets, Jerry O’Driscoll, has an important opinion piece, “Why the Fed Is Not Independent.”

There has been much discussion recently of the importance of “preserving” Fed independence. But is the Fed independent? Independent of what? Jerry concentrates on the link between the Fed’s monetary policy and the Treasury’s fiscal policy.  Consider:

Today, however one parses the term, the Federal Reserve is not now independent. It has voluntarily relinquished the very independence it secured in 1951 by entering into a modern version of the bond support program. That is what the so-called zero interest rate policy amounts to, reinforced by the quantitative easing implemented through QE1 and QE2.

The Fed is committed to holding interest rates at a very low level by purchasing as much Treasury debt as necessary to maintain those interest rates. That is precisely the position the Fed found itself in before the 1951 accord.

Monetary policy once again is not independent of fiscal policy. None of the Fed’s critics can do as much harm to the institution’s independence as it has done to itself.

The whole article is quite interesting. It raises importance questions not only of economics but of politics as well.

Of Interest to All Market Process Economists

July 6, 2011

by Gene Callahan

Dan Klein responds, on the meaning of economic coordination, mostly to Israel Kirzner, and secondarily to several others, including me. Here is Klein’s abstract:

The Fall 2010 issue of the Journal of Private Enterprise featured a complicated set of papers. The lead article was a long paper by Jason Briggeman and me, on Israel Kirzner’s work on coordination and discovery. The thrust of our paper was an affirmation of Kirzner’s central claims, but with two alterations. First, we propose that the coordination that figures into the central issues ought to be understood as what we call concatenate coordination. Second, the central statements at issue ought not be asserted as holding 100 percent of the time, but rather should be by-and-large statements, making for a strong presumption, not a categorical result. Israel Kirzner then replied to our paper. The pair of papers was then the object of commentary by Peter Boettke and Daniel D’Amico, Steven Horwitz, Gene Callahan, and Martin Ricketts. Here, I respond to Kirzner, and, in an appendix, more briefly to the others.

We should pay more attention to Radley Balko

June 15, 2011

by Roger Koppl

On June 14th, Radley Balko posted an article on Huffington Post entitled “Private Crime Labs Could Prevent Errors, Analyst Bias: Report.”  He explains some of the problems of forensic science in the US.  He suggests that “rivalrous redundancy” could improve the system and links to my 2007 Reason Foundation Report explaining how rivalrous redundancy works. 

For years, Radley has documented shocking problems in the American criminal justice system from no-knock warrants, to the snitch system, to forensic science.  He contributed to the July 2011 special issue of Reason magazine on “Criminal Injustice.”  The criminal justice system is the great fulcrum point where the power of the state meets the people.  We need to be more conscious of the problems of our criminal justice system and the risks to our liberties created by those problems.  And liberty loving scholars need to think harder about the nature of the problem and what to do about it.

Too Much Aid Will Hobble Arab Spring

June 8, 2011

by Mario Rizzo

For those who have access to the Financial Times, a must-read is the opinion piece by Saifedean Ammous. Saif attended our NYU colloquium regularly during his last year as a graduate student at Columbia University. Congratulations.  See the FT online here.

Great New Blog

June 7, 2011

by Bill Butos

Friends of ours, including Richard Ebeling, Steve Horwitz, Gerry O’Driscoll, George Selgin, and Larry White, and others, are contributors to a new blog on “Free Banking”.

Quoting its credo, 

“The Free Banking blog is a venue for leading free banking advocates to share their insights with the world. This illustrious cast includes academics, public policy experts, government officials, and rabble rousers. Guest bloggers will feature financial gurus, entrepreneurs, historians, celebrities, and many other different perspectives.
We hope that making these ideas and conversations more accessible will help educate the lay public, amateur economists, and influential intellectuals. Most importantly we aspire to promote and facilitate the transition to free banking in both developed and developing countries.”

Are market rates below the natural rate again?

April 9, 2011

by Andreas Hoffmann and Mario Rizzo

We know from Wicksell’s (1898) Interest and Prices, there is something important about the interest rate that balances saving and investment in an economy over time. This equilibrium interest rate is called the “natural rate of interest”. When market interest rates are below the natural rate, an unsustainable credit boom which distorts the production structure in the economy and inflation are the result.

In line with this idea, most economists agree – today – that the Fed held interest rates “too low for too long” following the burst of the dot-com bubble. As expected, this contributed to a credit boom in the US economy. With the emergence of the crisis, the Fed lowered interest rates to stabilize the price level, financial system and output. Yet, a year of recovery is over and interest rates are still low. What about the natural rate today? Read the rest of this entry »

The Good Sense of Ronald Coase

January 14, 2011

by Mario Rizzo  

Ronald Coase was recently interviewed by Wang Ning on the occasion of Coase’s 100th birthday and to discuss the Ronald Coase Society in China. There is a good deal that is interesting about the interview, especially to those interested in China. However, here I’d like to point to a number of statements Coase makes of more general interest. Read the rest of this entry »

Pragmatic Road to Bankruptcy

September 16, 2010

by Mario Rizzo

In the September 15th Wall Street Journal there is a chart that gives a quick view of the “pragmatic” expansion of entitlement programs that has led to where we are now. Who could have predicted the long-term consequences of case-by-case pragmatic problem solving?  I suggest Herbert Spencer, Ludwig von Mises, and Friedrich Hayek. Read the rest of this entry »

Perils of Macro Aggregation

August 14, 2010

by Mario Rizzo  

Richard Ebeling, as usual, does an excellent job of showing how the inability to see macroeconomic phenomena as the outcome of complex micro-processes leads to poor policy prescriptions. Take a look at his response, at EconomicPolicyJournal.com edited by Richard Wenzel, to a post by Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution. The upshot is that the subsidization of employment during a recession is a bad idea.

Ending Austerity in the Austerity Debate

August 1, 2010

by Mario Rizzo  

What has been disappointing about the recent stimulus vs. austerity debate is the recycling of arguments that have been gone over many times before in many newspapers and blogs. The debate has become tiresome and unenlightening.  

The major feature of the debate that is responsible for the lack of enlightenment is, well, its unrelenting macro-aggregate character.  The main variables are excess demand for goods, excess supply of financial assets, total government spending, deficit to GDP ratios, government debt to GDP ratios, the confidence of economic agents in government bonds (as measured by yields), and so forth.  

Is there anything important going on beneath the surface – factors that have a more direct causal relationship to the decisions of real economic agents?  

Now a breath of fresh air!   Read the rest of this entry »

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