Author: Henrik Fogh Rasmussen (page 1 of 2)

Økonomisk teori fra det ydre rum

Min seneste torsdagskommentar i Børsen (1. september) handler om den keynesianske nobelpristager Paul Krugmans nye teori, som han fremlagde på CNN den 14. august:

Hvis vi opdagede, at rumvæsener planlagde et angreb, og vi havde brug for massiv oprustning for at imødegå truslen, og inflation og underskud trådte i baggrunden, så ville denne lavkonjunktur være ovre i løbet af 18 måneder.

Her er indslaget fra CNN:

Jeg foreslår en alternativ teori i min kommentar:

Hvis alle keynesianere fløj til det ydre rum, ville denne lavkonjunktur være ovre i løbet af 18 måneder.

Kriminalitet, økonomi og smadrede ruder

FBI har netop offentliggjort de seneste kriminalitetstal for USA. På linje med sidste år viser tallene, at kriminaliteten er faldende på trods af den økonomiske krise. I første halvdel af 2010 faldt den voldelige kriminalitet med 6,2 procent sammenlignet med samme periode sidste år. Berigelseskriminaliteten faldt med 2,8 procent.

Bortset fra en lille stigning i perioden 2005-2006 har den voldelige kriminalitet i USA nu været faldende siden 1991. Man skal tilbage til 1964 for at finde et lavere drabstal pr. indbygger, end vi har i dag.

Tallene understreger, at økonomi og kriminalitet ikke nødvendigvis hænger sammen. Andre forhold – såsom politiet, retssystemet, fængselsvæsenet og en række faktorer, som man kunne samle under rubrikken ”sammenhængskraft” – spiller også ind, men der er ingen klar konsensus blandt eksperterne.

En af de mere holdbare teorier om kriminalitet er den såkaldte ”broken windows”-teori, som blev fremsat af James Q. Wilson og George Kelling i 1982. Kort fortalt går teorien ud på, at smadrede ruder, graffiti, affald og andre synlige tegn på forfald kan sende et kvarter ud på en glidebane med stigende småkriminalitet efterfulgt af mere alvorlig kriminalitet.

Politiet i New York City støttede sig til ”broken windows”-teorien, da de i 90’erne lancerede en ”zero tolerance”-politik over for småkriminalitet. Mellem 1990 og 2000 faldt drabstallet i New York City fra 30,7 pr. 100.000 indbyggere til 8,4 pr. 100.000 indbyggere.

I 2008 udførte forskere i Holland et eksperiment, som yderligere underbyggede ”broken windows”-teorien.

I anledning af sidste års faldende kriminalitetstal havde James Q. Wilson et indlæg i Los Angeles Times, hvor han bl.a. roste politiet i New York City og Los Angeles for deres indsats. En af mændene bag New Yorks succes i 90’erne, William J. Bratton, blev chef for politiet i Los Angeles i 2002. Drabstallet i Los Angeles faldt fra 17,1 til 8,1 pr. 100.000 indbyggere i perioden 2002-2009.

Gør Ekstra Bladet danskerne dummere?

Ifølge Ekstra Bladet er der nu videnskabeligt bevis for, at ”Fox News gør amerikanerne dummere”:

Den magtfulde amerikanske tv-station Fox News er i årevis blevet beskyldt for at være fuld af løgnagtige og alt for skarpt vinklede nyheder.

Den republikaner-venlige og højreorienterede nyhedsstation bliver også beskyldt for åbenlys propaganda, og noget tyder på, at der er hold i begge påstande.

Det viser en ny undersøgelse, som er foretaget af forskere på University of Maryland.

Undersøgelsen viser, at jo mere Fox News man ser, jo mere misinformeret er man om samfundsforholdene i USA og resten af verden.

Det er fuldt forståeligt, at en seriøs og objektiv avis som Ekstra Bladet udtrykker sin bekymring over ”løgnagtige og alt for skarpt vinklede nyheder”, men efter et nærmere kig på Ekstra Bladets dokumentation kan jeg berolige denne blogs læsere: Fox News gør ikke amerikanerne dummere. Snarere tværtimod.

Et nærliggende spørgsmål er derimod, om Ekstra Bladet gør danskerne dummere. Døm selv – og se så i øvrigt dette TV-indslag, som viser, at Fox News havde de mest nøjagtige prognoser og den mest afbalancerede dækning af præsidentvalget i 2008:

Farvel til en liberal høg

Præsident Obamas særlige udsending til Afghanistan og Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, døde i mandags. Holbrooke stod for en aktiv amerikansk udenrigspolitik, og det var i høj grad hans fortjeneste, at USA greb ind og fik stoppet krigen i Bosnien i 1995. Mange af de mindeord, som de amerikanske medier har bragt, fortjener at blive gengivet her:

Strobe Talbott i Washington Post:

The obituaries are filled with words not always associated with eulogies: brash, aggressive, unyielding, exhausting. But put those together with effective, pragmatic, purpose-driven, indefatigable and idealistic, and they’re redolent of our national character. Not the Ugly American, and certainly not the Quiet American, but the Can-Do, Must-Do, Get-the-Hell-Out-of-My-Way American.

Fouad Ajami i Wall Street Journal:

American patriotism and American liberalism were still tethered together as Holbrooke made his way. There may have been hubris in that outlook. Our country would be bloodied in distant places, it would learn that the world wouldn’t always bend to our will. But the lodestar remained that essential belief that American power could be a force for the good in the world beyond our shores.

Ahmed Rashid i New York Daily News:

No American has tried as hard to ease the fears, apprehensions, doubts, conspiracy theories and ill-informed views of Pakistanis toward the U.S. as has Richard Holbrooke. His death is a tragedy for American diplomacy – but much more so for Pakistan, because whether you liked him or disliked him, there is no denying that in the last two years, he constantly battled for Pakistan.

The image of Holbrooke wading through floodwater, distributing relief goods to this year’s 20 million flood victims – not once but repeatedly at the ripe age of 69 – is an indelible one, that our own much younger leaders barely ever replicated. He pushed for U.S. helicopters to be deployed in Pakistan for the flood victims. He pushed for more aid money for Pakistan from a reluctant Congress.

Leder i Wall Street Journal:

Military force, as he saw it, was often the indispensable ally of diplomacy, not merely its alternative. That’s a lesson Holbrooke took to his final assignment in Pakistan and Afghanistan as a proponent of President Obama’s surge. In August, he wrote us personally about the task ahead. His counsel is worth sharing: ’We face an extraordinary challenge – and our greatest enemy is time. Americans are by nature impatient and driven by election cycles and screaming cable guys; Afghans see time differently and everything moves more slowly than we expect. If [the mission] is as important as we say it is, we must give it time.’

Holbrooke’s energy and intellect made him America’s best-known diplomat, but we’ll remember him in particular as a diplomat who never doubted America as a force for good in the world.

Foreign Affairs har samlet nogle af Richard Holbrookes bedste artikler gennem årene her.

Ære være Richard Holbrookes minde.

De trykker penge II

Apropos diskussionen her på bloggen omkring Helikopter-Ben og QE2, så har George Selgin (University of Georgia), William Lastrapes (University of Georgia) og Lawrence White (George Mason University) netop udgivet et interessant papir, hvor de evaluerer den amerikanske centralbanks optræden siden 1914. Her er et resumé:

As the one-hundredth anniversary of the 1913 Federal Reserve Act approaches, we assess whether the nation‘s experiment with the Federal Reserve has been a success or a failure. Drawing on a wide range of recent empirical research, we find the following: (1) The Fed‘s full history (1914 to present) has been characterized by more rather than fewer symptoms of monetary and macroeconomic instability than the decades leading to the Fed‘s establishment. (2) While the Fed‘s performance has undoubtedly improved since World War II, even its postwar performance has not clearly surpassed that of its undoubtedly flawed predecessor, the National Banking system, before World War I. (3) Some proposed alternative arrangements might plausibly do better than the Fed as presently constituted. We conclude that the need for a systematic exploration of alternatives to the established monetary system is as pressing today as it was a century ago.

Er stimulanspakker effektive? II

Christian Bjørnskov berettede forleden om ny forskning fra Harvard Business School, som viser, at en stigning i de offentlige udgifter gennem øremærkninger i Kongressen ofte får den private sektor til at skære ned på kapitalinvesteringer, forskning og nyansættelser i stedet for at sætte gang i hjulene.

I dag har John Cogan fra Hoover Institution og John Taylor fra Stanford et tankevækkende indlæg i Wall Street Journal, hvor de konkluderer, at Obama-administrationens store stimulanspakke på 862 milliarder dollar fra 2009 ikke har ført til øget økonomisk aktivitet:

The bottom-line is the federal government borrowed funds from the public, transferred these funds to state and local governments, who then used the funds mainly to reduce borrowing from the public. The net impact on aggregate economic activity is zero, regardless of the magnitude of the government purchases multiplier.

Tag fra de rige – sænk skatten

Hvis man vil øge beskatningen af samfundets rigeste, så bør man paradoksalt nok sænke deres skatteprocent. Ihvertfald hvis man skal tro Laffer-kurvens udvikler, som havde et glimrende indlæg i gårsdagens Wall Street Journal. Arthur Laffer giver følgende historiske eksempler fra USA:

  • 1921-1928: Den øverste marginalskat blev sænket fra 73% til 25%. Skatteindtægterne fra de rigeste 1% steg fra 0,6% af BNP til 1,1% af BNP.
  • 1928-1940: Den øverste marginalskat steg fra 25% til 83%. Skatteindtægterne fra de rigeste 1% faldt fra 1,1% af BNP til 1,0% af BNP.
  • 1960-1968: Den øverste marginalskat blev sænket fra 91% til 70%. Skatteindtægterne fra de rigeste 1% steg fra 1,3% af BNP til 1,9% af BNP.
  • 1968-1981: Johnson, Nixon, Ford og Carter hævede skatterne. (Den øverste marginalskat var 70% hele perioden, men grundet den høje inflation blev flere indtægter ramt af denne skatteprocent). Skatteindtægterne fra de rigeste 1% faldt fra 1,9% af BNP til 1,5% af BNP.
  • 1981-2007: Den øverste marginalskat blev sænket til 35%. Skatteindtægterne fra de rigeste 1% steg fra 1,5% af BNP til 3,3% af BNP. I samme periode faldt skatteindtægterne fra de 95% ”fattigste” fra 5,4% af BNP til 3,2% – altså mindre end hvad de 1% rigeste bidrog med.

Laffer indleder sin artikel med et citat fra John F. Kennedy, som nok burde inspirere i disse økonomiske krisetider:

Tax reduction thus sets off a process that can bring gains for everyone, gains won by marshalling resources that would otherwise stand idle—workers without jobs and farm and factory capacity without markets. Yet many taxpayers seemed prepared to deny the nation the fruits of tax reduction because they question the financial soundness of reducing taxes when the federal budget is already in deficit. Let me make clear why, in today’s economy, fiscal prudence and responsibility call for tax reduction even if it temporarily enlarged the federal deficit—why reducing taxes is the best way open to us to increase revenues.

Optimisten Gary Becker

Wall Street Journal har i dag et stort opsat weekendinterview med nobelpristageren Gary Becker, som giver en frisk indsprøjtning af historisk perspektiv og optimisme til avisens læsere.

Om sundhedsreformen:

Here in the United States, we spend about 17% of our GDP on health care, but out-of-pocket expenses make up only 12% of total health-care spending. In Switzerland, where they spend only 11% of GDP on health care, their out-of-pocket expenses equal about 31% of total spending. The difference between 12% and 31% is huge. Once people begin spending substantial sums from their own pockets, they become willing to shop around. Ordinary market incentives begin to operate. A good bill would have encouraged that.

Om midtvejsvalget i november:

One of the points Secretary Paulson made earlier today was how outraged – how unexpectedly outraged – the American people became when the government bailed out the banks. This belief in individual responsibility – the belief that people ought to make their own decisions, but should then bear the consequences of those decisions – this remains very powerful. The American people don’t want an expansion of government. They want more of what Reagan provided. They want limited government and economic growth. I expect them to say so in the elections this November.

Om Milton Friedman og nutidens økonomer:

When Milton was starting out, people really believed a state-run economy was the most efficient way of promoting growth. Today nobody believes that except maybe in North Korea. You go to China, India, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, even Western Europe. Most of the economists under 50 have a free-market orientation. Now, there are differences of emphasis and opinion among them. But they’re oriented toward the markets. That’s a very important intellectual victory.

Om fremtiden:

When I think of my children and grandchildren, yes, they’ll have to fight. Liberty can’t be had on the cheap. But it’s not a hopeless fight by any means. I remain basically an optimist.

Læs hele interviewet her.

Faldende kriminalitet i USA II

Jeg skrev for nylig om de seneste opgørelser fra FBI, som viser faldende kriminalitet i USA på trods af den økonomiske krise. Heather Mac Donald fra tænketanken Manhattan Institute har i dag et glimrende indlæg i Wall Street Journal, hvor hun angriber 1960’ernes teorier om, at kriminalitet først og fremmest skyldes fattigdom og ulighed. Her er et par udpluk:

The recession of 2008-09 has undercut one of the most destructive social theories that came out of the 1960s: the idea that the root cause of crime lies in income inequality and social injustice. As the economy started shedding jobs in 2008, criminologists and pundits predicted that crime would shoot up, since poverty, as the “root causes” theory holds, begets criminals. Instead, the opposite happened. Over seven million lost jobs later, crime has plummeted to its lowest level since the early 1960s. The consequences of this drop for how we think about social order are significant.

If crime was a rational response to income inequality, the thinking went, government can best fight it through social services and wealth redistribution, not through arrests and incarceration. Even law enforcement officials came to embrace the root causes theory, which let them off the hook for rising lawlessness. Through the late 1980s, the FBI’s annual national crime report included the disclaimer that “criminal homicide is largely a societal problem which is beyond the control of the police.” Policing, it was understood, can only respond to crime after the fact; preventing it is the domain of government welfare programs.

The recession could still affect crime rates if cities cut their police forces and states start releasing prisoners early. Both forms of cost-saving would be self-defeating. Public safety is the precondition for thriving urban life. In 1990s New York, crime did not drop because the economy improved; rather, the city’s economy revived because crime was cut in half. Keeping crime rates low now is the best guarantee that cities across the country will be able to exploit the inevitable economic recovery when it comes.

Faldende kriminalitet i USA

Det amerikanske forbundspoliti (FBI) har netop offentliggjort de foreløbige kriminalitetstal for den første halvdel af 2009. I lyset af den økonomiske krise havde mange forventet, at kriminaliteten ville stige, men den er tværtimod faldet markant i forhold til samme periode sidste år. Den voldelige kriminalitet faldt med 4,4 procent, mens berigelseskriminaliteten faldt med 6,1 procent. Antallet af mord faldt med 10 procent. Kriminaliteten i USA har været faldende siden begyndelsen af 90’erne og er nu på sit laveste niveau i mere end 40 år.

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