Thursday, April 16, 2009

Macroeconomics again, Africa, safety nets, and retail spending.

Matt Nolan at TVHE provides a critique of macro critiques. Over the past few months, he has provided some insightful commentary on the state of macroeconomics, I think. While it's important to try to explain stylized facts about the economy, I think what people want out of macroeconomics is something more concrete. Hopefully that'll come with time.

The Guardian emphasizes the dire condition of Africa during the global recession. Though they have relatively little political capital, they are in great need of assistance. I'm not convinced that people are more willing to help during a recession, though. It's hard enough to help Africa when things are going well. Still, it's important for that region to improve. Thank goodness Zimbabwe dollarized!

Mike Moffatt comments on safety nets--protect people when they start businesses.
safety nets. Sure, it's inefficient and could cause people to take advantage of the system, but it'll speed up growth a lot. While I agree it'll speed up growth in the short run, I'm not convinced it's a good idea. Since we're trying to affect the recession, it'd have to be a temporary safety net. Do we want to prop up the economy with temporary inefficiencies? What will happen when we take away the safety nets?

Michael Mandel points out why falling retail sales are good--they reduce our trade deficit. It matters whether retail is falling more in imports or domestic goods, though. Still, since we've been spending beyond our means for quite some time, reeling that back and having some savings will be a good thing in the long run.

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