CategoryEconomics

Economy 2020?

APRIL 2020 – As I write this, we are a few days from the projected peak day of death from the pandemic here in the United States. With that “light at the end the tunnel” economists are starting to predict what comes next for the economy. McKinstry this week published a prediction. TL;DR: U.S. GDP drops by 8%-13% in 2020. Personally I don’t understand how 15%+ unemployment...

50% Unemployment (or more)

What comes next from the global pandemic? Unfortunately, it looks like we’re headed to massive unemployment. At least the 25% of the Great Depression. Possibly more, if the lock downs continue for 6 or 9 months. From today’s Seattle Times, the following chart shows the number of jobs at risk in King County (where Seattle and Bellevue are located), Snohomish (the northern suburbs, and...

Save the Economy… by saving the People

Now that the governments of the world are woken up to the emergency at hand and finally telling their citizens to stay home, it’s time to focus on how to ensure those citizens stay fed for the coming months. So far, the plans out of Washington DC are not the right answer. Paid sick leave, yes. Payroll taxes and airline bailouts, no. Payroll taxes only work if there are payrolls being paid...

Incompetence, Fraud, and Association Reserves

After finishing The Big Short book I had to re-watch the movie. This time not only was I watching for signs of purposeful fraud vs. emergent fraud, but trying to tease out the difference between incompetence, fraud, and something else that is something between ignorance and stupidity and folly. A real world example of this showed up in my life a week ago. I’m the Treasurer of my homeowner...

Emergent Fraud

Halfway through reading The Big Short, I’m stuck wondering how after trillions of dollars of damage to the financial system, not only did no one go to jail, but no one was even brought in front of a jury. I think I figured out why. To explain, I have to go back to Adam Smith and The Wealth of Nations. Smith’s core argument is that the amazingly efficient system later dubbed Capitalism...

How to collect taxes, without omission

More and more of my work with startups is over in the so-called emerging markets. These are countries not known for being well run nor known for have an efficient and successful way of collecting taxes. That said, a lot of taxes go unpaid here in the U.S. too. One lesson on how to fix this problem comes from Taiwan, one of the Asian Tigers, four success stories in global economics that will...

Don’t Believe Every Economist

One of my hobbies is reading books on economics. (People do call me Luni after all). What I’ve learned from all this reading is that some economists can explain how an economy actually works, but have very odd, very wrong ideas on how should work. Case in point today is The Production of Money by Ann Pettifor. The book explains how central banks don’t actually print money, that...

Trade Treaties with Multinational Corporations

As the USMCA grinds its way toward replacing NAFTA, it is time to question whether the problems with NAFTA and WTO and TPP are due to the fact that the participants in those treaties are countries instead of companies? The idea of trade treaties with companies is one I had never heard of or considered, but an idea that popped out as an off hand comment at an unrelated meeting a few weeks ago, and...

Eating Tomorrow

A few weeks ago there was a talk on Agroecology by Timothy A. Wise. That term is widely used outside the U.S. for what we’d call sustainable or restorative agriculture. That part of the talk was good, but far more interesting were the stories from the book which the talk summarized, Eating Tomorrow: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, and the Battle for the Future of Food. The author traveled the...

Deficits and the Money Markets

What are the negative consequences of large government deficits? Often the “aha moments” of understanding economics come in the midst of reading articles in The Economist. Not usually from the actual words, but from some fact coupled with flashbacks of learnings from all the books I’ve been reading. The latest of those was from an article in the November 2nd magazine, talking...

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