Saturday, June 5, 2010

Assault of Thoughts - 6/5/10

"Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking" - JMK

- I'm very excited about a new opportunity that's just come up for me. I was just asked by a former colleague of mine (Hal Salzman, now at Rutgers) to co-author a chapter of a forthcoming NBER volume with him. For those of you who aren't aware, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) is an independents economics research organization that puts out a tremendous amount of working papers and maintains a large network of affiliated scholars. It's best known to the public as the organization that dates business cycles. The project I'm working on is funded by the Sloan Foundation and organized by Richard Freeman (Harvard) and the NBER's Science and Engineering Workforce Program. It will be about the engineering workforce. The chapter I'm working on will review the data on trends in the production of new engineers over the last several decades. To put it mildly, I'm stoked :)

- The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has been sounding the alarm on state spending cuts here and here. This is a huge issue for me - people think we're doing fiscal stimulus right now, but that's only because they're looking at what's going on at the federal level. If you consider all of government, we're barely engaging in any stimulus at all. What frustrates me is that these CBPP posts insist that Washington needs to do more about it. In my mind, that's treating the symptom rather than the disease. Washington shouldn't do more - the states need to do more. My state, Virginia, has a great credit rating. It is completely irresponsible to cut school budgets right now when we're in a great position to borrow money. If we double-dip, the states will largely be to blame. But contrary to CBPP, effectively nationalizing their budgets is not the answer.

- Robert Reich discusses the prospect of a double-dip recession, something that I think is on everyone's mind after that last jobs report. I renew my query: how does the Austrian School explain double dip recessions? You can see my earlier post for a few of my thoughts on that.

- I still haven't gotten a chance to read this yet, but Jonathan at Economic Thought recently published a primer on Austrian economics at the Mises Institute. This has been a long time in the making, and is based on some lecture notes of his.

- Recently I remarked on a running debate between Mark Thoma, Tyler Cowen, and Scott Sumner on monetary vs. fiscal policy. There have been a few more posts, and Mark Thoma sums them all up nicely here.

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