The year in money

A 2017-end post with this title might be thought to focus on bitcoin, and I will indeed have something to say about that, but in my view the bitcoin bubble is mostly a symptom of deeper trends that need to be uncovered first. Today money is global, so we can start pulling the string anywhere and eventually get the full

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Cryptos Fear Credit

Proposals for monetary reform, whether mild or radical, are always and everywhere informed by some underlying theory of money.  A week ago I spent two days talking with a group of technologists and lawyers–perhaps I should say digital coders and legal coders–and pressed them on this point.  Chatham House rules prevent me from associating views with actual people, but the

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The Making of a Public Economist

Walter Lippman (1889-1974) is usually remembered, if at all, as a journalist and political commentator, and certainly not as an economist.  But that is exactly how we should understand him, so argues Craufurd Goodwin, in his last book Walter Lippman, Public Economist.  The reason we don’t see him as an economist is that our understanding of what it means to

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Beyond the Taylor Rule

The following is in blog form the substance of a talk I gave Sept 7 at a Mercatus conference, “Monetary Policy Rules for a Post-Crisis World.“ “Rules versus discretion” is a hardy perennial of monetary policy debate, dating from earliest debates between Bullionists and anti-Bullionists, to the 19th century Currency School versus Banking School, up to the 20th century monetarists

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Family Reunion at Jackson Hole

You can title your conference whatever you want, but the actual content will depend on the speaker list.  The convenors of the Jackson Hole Economic Symposium apparently hoped to generate discussion about “Designing Resilient Monetary Policy Frameworks for the Future“.  Having read all the papers, I can report that only one of them really engages the conference title.  Everyone else

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Financialization and its Discontents

Financialization is not new, nor is discontent with it. “Capitalism is essentially a financial system, and the peculiar behavioral attributes of a capitalist economy center around the impact of finance upon system behavior.”  Minsky (1967) Fifty years ago, Minsky zeroed in on instability as the central flaw of the financial system of his time, and located the source of that

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Channeling Kindleberger on Brexit

What would Charlie have made of Brexit? Charles P. Kindleberger’s very last book-length effort was the slim volume titled Centralization versus Pluralism, a historical examination of political-economic struggles and swings within some leading nations (1996).  In his frame, the historical struggles and swings he recounts–in the Dutch Republic, Germany, France, Britain, Canada, The United States, Japan and China–were all driven

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BIS looks through the financial cycle

“I wouldn’t start from here,” the BIS never says explicitly in its recent Annual Report, but nevertheless it goes on to paint a rather comprehensive and compelling picture of a possible future toward which they think we should be trying to head, and of the present dysfunctional economic policies that are daily making it harder to achieve that possible future.

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In memoriam, Jack Treynor

[Remarks at Jack Treynor Memorial, MIT Chapel, June 19, 2016] “Jack has never been easy,” wrote Charles D. Ellis in 1981 as Jack stepped down from his position as editor of the Financial Analysts Journal which he had held since 1969.   In Jack’s own departing words in the same issue of the FAJ, he described a “guerilla war” between black

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