“Government favoritism in the form of subsidies, tariffs, and other interventions allocates resources (labor and capital) differently than the way resources are allocated by consumers spending their own money. Ordinarily, businesses—spending their investors’ money—compete for these consumer dollars. Industrial policy rests on the assumption that such market outcomes don’t adequately support higher causes such as national security. If that’s true, it’s all the justification industrial policy needs. Nothing needs to be said about jobs.”
“As Noah Smith reminded his readers in a recent blog post, “Most of the actual production work will be done by robots, because we are a rich country with very high labor costs and lots of abundant capital and technology. Automated manufacturing is what we specialize in, not labor-intensive manufacturing.””
“Be wary of those who push industrial policy as a means of job creation. It’s a short-sighted approach that distracts us from the more important question, which is whether hindering the market allocation of resources is truly justified for national security or other valid reasons.”
“At its heart, industrial policy strives to solve a “classic Keynesian political problem,” says economic historian Yakov Feygin, director of the Berggruen Institute’s Future of Capitalism program: The only way to grow the economy is ultimately through productivity-enhancing investment — but there are enormous upfront costs to building new plants or buying new equipment, especially at the technological bleeding edge, while returns are years in the future if they ever come at all.
If only capitalists get to decide when to invest, they may — rightfully — decide that the unpredictability of future demand and credit conditions make it difficult to justify expanding capacity in crucial sectors even in the face of soaring prices. They fear the “bullwhip effect,” where investors may put up cash for new plants or equipment to respond to higher prices, only for those prices to fall before new production can actually come online.”
“The government, for better or worse, has the unique ability to stabilize the investment cycle and goad risk-averse private capital into making desperately needed, but enormously costly, long-term investments.”
“Biden’s economic team is betting on something Hamilton knew: Long-term investment in the real economy is essential, but private investors might not provide it. That’s where government can — and should — step in.”
“President Joe Biden and his staff have said repeatedly he is willing to sit down with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to negotiate a compromise on government taxes and spending.
Biden has also said, repeatedly, that he is unwilling to negotiate over raising the debt ceiling.
These things may seem contradictory. They are not, and the somewhat subtle distinction between the two is important for understanding what is happening in Washington, DC, this summer.
Congress has two important deadlines coming up.
One is the day that the US officially hits the debt ceiling, and cannot borrow more money from bond markets without further congressional authorization.
We don’t know when that day will be, exactly — but we have a guess. In a Monday letter to McCarthy and other lawmakers, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that “our best estimate is that we will be unable to continue to satisfy all of the government’s obligations by early June, and potentially as early as June 1” without a debt ceiling increase.
Once we reach that date, the federal government will not be able to pay its bills, or for things like Social Security checks, payroll for service members and other federal employees, and Medicare reimbursements. Interest payments on past debt could go unpaid, which would mean the US government would default on its debts.
The US would almost certainly enter a recession, probably a quite severe one, and the whole world could face a massive financial crisis. Beth Ann Bovino, chief US economist at Standard and Poor’s, was hardly alone in 2017 when she predicted that “the impact of a default by the U.S. government on its debts would be worse than the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008.”
The second deadline is September 30, 2023, the date that funding for the federal government runs out. If Congress does not pass funding bills lasting beyond that date, then on October 1, the federal government will “shut down” as it has done many times before, with many federal employees going without pay and “non-essential” services shutting down, but ordinary operations like Social Security, Medicare, and the military continuing.
Biden is willing to negotiate over the latter. He is not willing to negotiate over the former, as he reminded everyone anew in his invitation to congressional leaders for a May 9 debt ceiling discussion at the White House.
Whether he and McCarthy can navigate those distinctions and negotiate in good faith will likely determine whether the US tips into crisis in the next few months.”
“Biden’s principled case against bargaining over the debt ceiling is that doing so is effectively bargaining over policies Congress has already passed.
When Congress passed an omnibus spending bill in December 2022, it authorized specific amounts of funding for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends on September 30.
Congress has also, through literally hundreds of bills over the years, dictated the levels of tax on personal income, corporations, payroll, tobacco, etc. The revenue from these taxes do not come close to paying for the spending Congress has also authorized — meaning it has to borrow to pay for its obligations.
So the White House sees a debt ceiling bill as simply Congress agreeing to pay for spending it’s already approved, and obeying the 14th Amendment’s dictate that the federal government must always pay its debts.
“Like the President has said many times, raising the debt ceiling is not a negotiation; it is an obligation of this country and its leaders to avoid economic chaos,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre explained in January. “Congress has always done it, and the President expects them to do their duty once again. That is not negotiable.”
By contrast, arguing over the budget is arguing over future spending, which is a proper thing for the White House and Congress to debate with each other.”
“Overall, liberalizing prostitution laws was linked to a significant decrease in rape rates, while prohibition was linked to a significant increase—but the magnitude of these two shifts was far from equal. Rather, “the magnitude of prohibiting commercial sex is about four times as large as that of liberalizing it,” write Gao and Petrova.
The average rape rate in the sample countries was nine rapes per 100,000 people. Countries that liberalized prostitution laws saw a decrease of approximately three rapes per 100,000 people, relative to countries that did not change their prostitution laws. Meanwhile, countries that banned or further criminalized prostitution saw an increase of around 11 rapes per 100,000 people, relative to the control countries.”
“Gao and Petrova do offer the caveat that “changes in prostitution laws might not be random. It is possible that a country changes the laws as part of a general program to improve women’s social status and is thus instituting other policies that may affect rape rates,” and although they attempted to control for this in various ways, these techniques “may not fully address the possible nonrandomness of prostitution laws.””
“their findings are in line with a spate of previous research linking liberalized sex work laws to decreases in sexual violence. For instance, a 2018 study showed that rapes in Rhode Island decreased when the state temporarily decriminalized indoor prostitution. A 2017 study found fewer sexual assaults after legal street prostitution zones were opened in 25 Dutch cities. Another 2017 study linked the launch of Craigslist “erotic services” ads in various U.S. cities to decreases in female homicide rates.”
“Biden’s industrial policy is, not surprisingly, far more expansive than Trump’s. And unlike the Foxconn facility, which was subsidized by the state of Wisconsin, it has been bolstered by major legislation from Congress. Biden’s industrial policy rests primarily on three pieces of legislation: the bipartisan infrastructure law signed in 2021, and the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS Act signed last year. Together, this trio of bills provided hundreds of billions in subsidies, tax breaks, and inducements for domestic manufacturing, with a particular emphasis on semiconductor production and clean energy and transportation.
But these subsidies are already being used as vehicles to pursue unrelated goals: The Commerce Department, for example, recently announced that companies receiving subsidies from the CHIPS Act would have to provide child care for their workers.
In addition, the rules say beneficiaries should try to use union labor and pay union wages to construction workers. Biden, of course, is a self-described “union man,” but these provisions will inevitably drive up costs and make it more difficult to find suitable workers, since, as Cato Institute scholar Scott Lincicome has noted, only about 12 percent of U.S. construction workers are unionized.
Similarly, Biden’s infrastructure plans have been stymied by a requirement to “buy American,” since many of the products needed to build domestic infrastructure are no longer made in the United States.
Domestic production requirements have proven more than a headache for builders. When a Michigan baby formula plant stopped production last year following a bacterial infection, Americans struggled to find a replacement because federal rules make it nearly impossible to import baby formula from Europe. At best, “buy American” requirements raise costs. At worst, they put American lives at risk by making vital goods more difficult to procure in emergencies.”
“As a bevy of experts from the Cato Institute point out in the recent book Empowering the New American Worker, policy makers should pursue policies that make employment more flexible—like remote work and gig employment, rather than make it more rigidly defined. And they should recognize that factory jobs are not the best or only path for non-college graduates: Retail managers increasingly command six-figure salaries. Occupational licensing laws that require dozens or hundreds of hours of training before certification to work in a profession have mostly served as barriers to entry for aspiring professionals. Eliminating state licensing boards and licensing types can go a long way to making the work force more accessible. Ending the Jones Act, meanwhile, would not only lower prices for American households: It would also mean the end of regulation-driven shipping emergencies like the one in Puerto Rico.”
Fiscal Policy – The Economic Lowdown Podcast Series Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. https://www.stlouisfed.org/education/economic-lowdown-podcast-series/episode-21-fiscal-policy How Can Fiscal Policy Help Reduce Inflation? Peter G. Peterson Foundation. 2023 3 7. https://www.pgpf.org/blog/2023/03/how-can-fiscal-policy-help-reduce-inflation US history lesson: Taxes on rich people helped to beat inflation (and
“President Joe Biden ditched Trump’s brawling style. But he is keeping some of the former president’s key policies in place that are disliked by CEOs — including tariffs on imports from China and the EU and pressure on U.S. companies to cut their vast overseas supply chains to manufacture in America.
Biden has also stocked key agencies with people who have dedicated their careers to antitrust enforcement — including Lina Khan at the Federal Trade Commission and Jonathan Kanter at the Justice Department. In the last week alone, regulators have moved to blow up both a proposed airline merger and a major Wall Street deal, while attacking lucrative fees slapped on consumers by banks, cable providers and myriad other businesses.”