Backgrounder posted September 12, 2014
Understanding Thomas Piketty and His Critics
Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century is a treatise on how wealth inequality evolves in capitalistic economies. It is the most talked-about and most critiqued economics book of 2014 because Piketty’s timing was perfect: He released the English edition when income inequality was being actively debated in the United States. President Barack Obama brought…
Backgrounder posted August 7, 2014
The Export-Import Bank: What the Scholarship Says
Much of the published support for the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) is based on inaccurate views of the function of the bank or on mischaracterizations of the economics of providing export subsidies, which is the bank’s actual function. Export subsidies were extensively studied in a lengthy scholarly literature on “strategic trade policy,” which…
Backgrounder posted June 9, 2014
Stimulus or Austerity? Fiscal Policy in the Great Recession and European Debt Crisis
The Great Recession of 2008–2009 and the European debt crisis of 2010–2012 were the greatest interruption in economic growth since the Second World War. A debate has raged since the recession began between economists who believe that government spending is the problem and those who believe it is the solution. Available data show neither a uniform European “age of…
Special Report posted June 6, 2014
Europe’s Fiscal Crisis Revealed: An In-Depth Analysis of Spending, Austerity, and Growth
About the Authors
Alberto Alesina, PhD, is Nathaniel Ropes Professor of Political Economy at Harvard University. He is also a member of the National Bureau of Economic Research, the Center for Economic Policy Research, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Econometric Society.
Romina Boccia is Grover M. Hermann Fellow in Federal Budgetary Affairs in the…
Issue Brief posted January 10, 2014
Heritage Jobs Report: Unemployment Drop Is Coal in America’s Stocking
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent in December from 7.0 percent in November, but the change was caused by people who gave up looking for work. Employers created only 74,000 jobs, a depressing drop from the previous three months. Labor force participation dropped to 62.8 percent, matching the lowest rate since 1978. The…
Issue Brief posted December 6, 2013
Heritage Employment Report: Slow Recovery Continues in November
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the recovery continued at a steady pace in November. The unemployment rate fell 0.3 percentage point while employers created 203,000 jobs. Although the numbers are initially impressive, they partly reflect the return of federal employees furloughed during the October government shutdown. Labor force participation fell over the…
Issue Brief posted November 14, 2013
America’s Austerity: It’s the Tax Increases
U.S. policymakers pursued deficit reduction (also called “fiscal consolidation” or “austerity”) twice in 2013. As economists have shown in dozens of papers, how a country goes about reducing deficits matters a lot in determining the economic impact of the deficit reduction. As Alberto Alesina of Harvard, Daniel Leigh of the International Monetary Fund, and Kevin Hassett…
Issue Brief posted November 8, 2013
Heritage Employment Report: What U.S. Can Learn from Canada’s Recession and Recovery
The economy created 204,000 jobs in October, although labor force participation dropped to its lowest level in 35 years and unemployment ticked up to 7.3 percent. The labor market remained mediocre despite a monthly payroll survey that showed “no discernible impacts of the partial federal government shutdown on the estimates of employment, hours, and earnings.”
Backgrounder posted November 7, 2013
Supply and Demand: Why Job Growth Remains Sluggish
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the “Great Recession” officially ended four years ago. Nonetheless, job growth remains anemic. Many economists have struggled to explain its prolonged weakness. Neither weak demand nor mismatches between workers’ skills and job requirements can fully account for it. An overlooked cause may contribute to the…
Working Paper posted October 24, 2013
Europe’s Fiscal Crisis Revealed: In-Depth Analysis of Spending, Austerity, and Growth
NOTE: A newer report and data compendium are now available.
Edited by Salim Furth
Why would your time be well spent reading this special report on detailed economic data from Europe over the past half-dozen years? It is very simple: Washington must learn from Europe’s mistakes, or be doomed to repeat them.
Those who favor ever-increasing spending…
Issue Brief posted September 6, 2013
Heritage Employment Report: Chilly Summer for Jobs
The labor market remains one of the weakest aspects of the broadly mediocre economic recovery. Although the headline unemployment rate has gradually fallen to 7.3 percent, job creation has merely kept up with population growth, not regaining the ground it lost in the Great Recession.
The unemployment rate has fallen because fewer Americans are looking for work. The…
Issue Brief posted August 13, 2013
CBO Should Measure Long-Term Obligations and Policy Impact
Senators John Thune (R–SD) and Tim Kaine (D–VA) have introduced legislation to require the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to conduct long-term fiscal scoring and annual measurement of the fiscal gap. Their effort is timely.
Today, the largest fiscal questions facing Congress concern policies that will determine the health of America’s finances decades in the…
Issue Brief posted August 8, 2013
Research Review: What Can Be Learned from Local Multiplier Estimates?
With a large economic downturn underway, the Administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama pushed for “stimulative” deficit spending in 2008 and 2009. According to Keynesian theories of economics, a dollar of deficit spending or tax rebates during a recession can increase gross domestic product (GDP) by more than a dollar. The results of those policies, and similar…
Issue Brief posted August 2, 2013
Heritage Employment Report: Labor Market Recovery Is Still on Vacation
The Bureau of Labor Statistics employment report found steady but disappointing growth in the labor market in July. Employers added 162,000 net jobs, and the unemployment rate fell slightly to 7.4 percent. While this would be considered decent growth in normal economic times, it falls short of expectations for a recovery from a deep recession. However, part-time workers…