Milton Friedman vs. the conservatives

After my recent trip I was appalled to discover the number of leading conservative voices opposing monetary easing.  Even worse, many seemed to assume the Fed was already engaged in monetary stimulus.  Before considering their views, let’s examine the thoughts of the greatest conservative monetary economist of all time, Milton Friedman.  Here he discusses the zero rate problem in Japan:

Low interest rates are generally a sign that money has been tight, as in Japan; high interest rates, that money has been easy.

.   .   .

After the U.S. experience during the Great Depression, and after inflation and rising interest rates in the 1970s and disinflation and falling interest rates in the 1980s, I thought the fallacy of identifying tight money with high interest rates and easy money with low interest rates was dead. Apparently, old fallacies never die.

Friedman was absolutely right, near-zero interest rates are an almost foolproof indicator that money has been too tight.  Were he still alive, I can’t even imagine what he would think of the views being expressed by his fellow conservatives.  Here is Minneapolis Fed president Narayana Kocherlakota:

Monetary stimulus has provided conditions so that manufacturing plants want to hire new workers. But the Fed does not have a means to transform construction workers into manufacturing workers.

Actually money has been tight.  And those construction jobs were mostly lost in 2007 and early 2008, when employment was still high.  The serious unemployment problem developed in late 2008 and early 2009, and reflected a generalized drop in AD across the entire economy.  And manufacturing has also shed lots of jobs.

Update:  Regarding 2007-08, I should have specified construction jobs associated with the housing bubble.  The subsequent sharp fall in NGDP obviously cost construction jobs in commercial and industrial building.  But those were cyclical losses due to tight money, not misallocation problems.

The right seemed to have latched onto the view that since tight money can’t be the problem, it must be some mysterious “structural problem.”  Obviously there may be some structural problems, indeed I have argued that some government labor market policies are counterproductive.  But there is nothing structural that could explain the sudden dramatic jump in unemployment between 2008 and 2009. 

Even worse, we already have a perfectly good explanation for that rise in unemployment; in 2009 NGDP fell at the fastest rate since 1938.  You’d expect a massive rise in unemployment from this sort of nominal shock, even if there were no structural problems.  Now of course there is a respectable argument that the US currently faces both problems.  But economists who make that argument (e.g. Tyler Cowen) correctly note that this means we need more monetary stimulus.  They simply warn us not to expect miracles.  But unless you are an extreme RBC-type who doesn’t believe monetary shocks matter at all (and most conservatives are not) then how can one not favor monetary stimulus? 

I suppose one argument is that we are “recovering,” and hence that no more stimulus is needed.  People seem to have forgotten that deep recessions are generally followed by fast growth.  Both NGDP and RGDP growth was very fast in the first 6 quarters of recovery from the 1982 recession.  But now we are getting only 4% NGDP growth, not the 11% of the earlier recovery, so how can we expect the 7.7% RGDP growth of the recovery from 1982?  Even worse, David Beckworth presents data (from Macroeconomic Advisers) that NGDP peaked in April, and actually declined in May and June.  We may see the already anemic 2nd quarter numbers revised downward this week.  Goldman Sachs expects less than 2% growth in 2011.  And a rise in unemployment.  That’s no recovery.

If we really were facing structural problems, then on-target NGDP growth would lead to stagflation, as in the 1970s.  Conservatives keep insisting that high inflation is just around the corner, and Paul Krugman keeps making them look like fools.  This pains me because I like most conservative economists more than I like Krugman.

Friedman and Schwartz noted that in the 1930s the low interest rates and high levels of liquidity (cash and reserves hoarding) lulled people into thinking money was easy.  Thus pundits during that era pointed to all sorts of structural problems, which were actually symptoms of the Depression, not causes.  So I have been disappointed to read statements like this one from Edmund Phelps:

THE steps being taken by government officials to help the economy are based on a faulty premise. The diagnosis is that the economy is “constrained” by a deficiency of aggregate demand, the total demand for American goods and services. The officials’ prescription is to stimulate that demand, for as long as it takes, to facilitate the recovery of an otherwise undamaged economy — as if the task were to help an uninjured skater get up after a bad fall.

The prescription will fail because the diagnosis is wrong. There are no symptoms of deficient demand, like deflation, and no signs of anything like a huge liquidity shortage that could cause a deficiency. Rather, our economy is damaged by deep structural faults that no stimulus package will address — our skater has broken some bones and needs real attention.

Or William Poole:

More bond buying from the Federal Reserve won’t help the U.S. economy, because purchases can’t remedy the main problem plaguing the U.S., which is fiscal and regulatory uncertainty, former St. Louis Federal Reserve President William Poole said.

While the Fed buying more debt will bring rates down, it won’t inspire spending and lending given uncertainties in the U.S. ranging from tax cuts to health care reforms.

Or Gerald O’Driscoll:

A policy of low interest rates is a textbook response of monetary authorities to the economic weakness brought on by deficient aggregate demand. The policy is justified by pointing to various ways in which money can promote economic activity—including by stimulating investment, discouraging savings, encouraging consumption spending, and allowing individuals to lower their debt burdens by refinancing existing debt. While these effects are theoretically plausible, this textbook policy does not apply to our present situation.

First, our lingering crisis and economic weakness was brought on not by a Keynesian failure of effective demand, but by a Hayekian asset boom and bust. Second, the textbook case for low interest rates treats the policy as one of benefits without costs. No such policy exists.

Yes, Hayek did briefly oppose monetary stimulus in the early 1930s.  But in the 1970s he admitted that he had been wrong, as the problem was not simply “misallocation” resulting from an asset boom, but also insufficient nominal spending. 

Or the Wall Street Journal:

As the Bible says, we know that our redeemer liveth. And on Wall Street and Washington these days, the economic redeemer of choice is the Federal Reserve. When the Fed’s Open Market Committee meets again today, markets are expecting a move toward easier money that is supposed to prevent deflation, re-ignite a lackluster recovery, revive the jobs market, and turn water into Chateau Petrus.

It’s a tempting religion, this faith in the magical powers of Ben Bernanke and monetary policy, but it’s also dangerous. It puts far too much hope in a single policy lever, ignores the significant risks of perpetually easy money, and above all lets the political class dodge responsibility for its fiscal and regulatory policies that have become the real barrier to more robust economic growth.  .  .  .

As for the current moment, the Fed has maintained its nearly zero interest rate target for 20 months, while expanding its balance sheet by some $2 trillion. By any definition this is historically easy monetary policy, and not without costs of its own.

Not by Milton Friedman’s definition.  And then it gets worse:

This is the real root of our current economic malaise—the conceit of Congress and the White House that more government spending, taxing and rule-making can force-feed economic expansion. Now that this great government experiment is so obviously failing, the politicians and the Wall Street Keynesians who cheered the stimulus are asking the Federal Reserve to save the day. Mr. Bernanke should tell them politely but firmly that his job is to maintain a stable price level, not to turn bad policy into wine.

So that’s what it’s really all about.  I agree that Obama’s economic policies are highly counterproductive.  But unlike some conservatives I am not willing to unemploy millions of workers to win a policy argument.  I guess that’s the difference between hard core conservatives and pragmatic classical liberals like Friedman and I.  We should do the right thing and then put our trust in the democratic system.

Update:  I should clarify that my attack here was not directed at all conservatives–most are well intentioned, but rather the sentiments in the WSJ editorial.  On many policy issues I agree with the other conservatives mentioned here.

BTW, when I researched the Great Depression, I was shocked at how the conservative Wall Street establishment hated dollar devaluation, despite the fact that the stock market obviously loved it.  I noted (to myself) that “at least the modern WSJ is much better; they often use the market reaction to policy announcements as a way of establishing their likely effects.”  I guess the WSJ has reverted back to the primitive pattern of the 1930s.  “Yes, the markets are screaming for easier money, probably because it will boost the economy.  But we can’t have that because it might make Obamanomics look successful.”  Plus ca change . . .

HT:  Marcus Nunes, JimP, 123, Ryan Avent.


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31 Responses to “Milton Friedman vs. the conservatives”

  1. Gravatar of Matt Flipago Matt Flipago
    24. August 2010 at 07:27

    I still think it’s crazy to believe that the FED is just some crazy conservative bankers. I still the main problem is the Fed doesn’t think it can suck the liquidity out easily and thus any target of 3-4% is far too difficult for them to achieve without flying past it.

  2. Gravatar of W. Peden W. Peden
    24. August 2010 at 07:29

    Did Goldman give an inflation forecast for 2011? Is the full report freely available?

    Back in 2008 and early 2009, I expected US inflation to be at least 5% by 2010 and pushing at double figures in 2011, while my prediction for the UK was 5% in 2010 and 3-8% in 2011. My only excuse for getting the US figure so wrong is that I’m not familiar with most of the hard numbers in the US economy. What’s the excuse of conservative commenters in the US, who have been predicting high inflation just over the horizon for over two years?

    I doubt that the US can match the UK for structural problems, but I’m more confident about the outlook for the UK economy, simply because the Bank of England has been better at keeping inflation up and has more or less forgotten its 2% rule. Dr. Weale, the new Monetary Policy Committee member, has already made dark mutterings about inflation falling below 2% in 2011 and the MPC has gently but regularly been making noises about more quantitative easing if things start drying up. My only fear is that their obsession with credit and interest rates will lead them away from looking at M4 again.

  3. Gravatar of Rafael Rafael
    24. August 2010 at 07:40

    Scott,

    A great issue of The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review. The Woodford and Curdia article about conventional and unconventional monetary policy is the highlight.

    http://research.stlouisfed.org/publications/review/current/

  4. Gravatar of StatsGuy StatsGuy
    24. August 2010 at 07:40

    Best quote in a while:

    “If we really were facing structural problems, then on-target NGDP growth would lead to stagflation, as in the 1970s. Conservatives keep insisting that high inflation is just around the corner, and Paul Krugman keeps making them look like fools. This pains me because I like most conservative economists more than I like Krugman.”

    IMHO, I’m sticking by earlier predictions – no meaningful change on Fed until the new blood comes on board, which might very well require a series of recess appointments given the Senate dynamics. Also, we won’t see real inflation until the Treasury completes lengthening the maturity cycle of federal debt (which it’s already moved outward), which should be around 2012. The current debt environment has already helped move out the yield curve, forcing yield seekers to buy longer term bonds in a search for return (and also creating implied inflation projections that are quite low). 2012 will also coincide with Obama’s re-election, and election seems to be one of the few things that motivates the guy to overrule his aides.

    As an aside, in an increasingly difficult search for silver linings, the only positive thing I can point to as a result of the last 2 years is a change in attitudes – less consumption, greater focus on quality and longevity of products (consistent with low real interest rates), etc. Economics as a whole doesn’t address preference formation, so this is quite outside the models, but quite real.

  5. Gravatar of Some guy… Some guy...
    24. August 2010 at 07:51

    From a layman:

    You said this:

    “And those construction jobs were mostly lost in 2007 and early 2008, when employment was still high. The serious unemployment problem developed in late 2008 and early 2009, and reflected a generalized drop in AD across the entire economy. And manufacturing has also shed lots of jobs.”

    But a quick google came up with this (from Feb 2010):

    “While most of the job market continued to rebound in January, the construction industry remained mired in its worst downturn since the Great Depression. It lost 75,000 jobs last month, almost single-handedly preventing U.S. employment from showing its second gain in two years. Employers overall shed 20,000 jobs.”

    http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/employment/2010-02-25-construction25_ST_N.htm

    What gives? Are you sure most construction jobs were lost in ’07 and ’08?

  6. Gravatar of Jeff Jeff
    24. August 2010 at 08:02

    It seems that just about everyone has become a partisan whore. Liberals do not want to acknowledge that monetary policy can work, as they prefer to grow the government and call it fiscal policy. Now it appears that many conservatives don’t want to see a successful monetary policy either, evidently in the hope that a really bad economy will help defeat the Democrats in 2010 and Obama himself in 2012.

    This is getting too disgusting for words of more than four letters.

  7. Gravatar of Bonnie Bonnie
    24. August 2010 at 08:12

    “I agree that Obama’s economic policies are highly counterproductive. But unlike some conservatives I am not willing to unemploy millions of workers to win a policy argument.”

    I think they (the “conservatives” – in whatever context it is being used) just don’t understand what they are saying based on a sort of ignorance about the many facets of monetary policy and the many different tools available to monetary policy makers. They obviously have not been educating themselves before they open the pie hole. To me, however, they are as much a part of the problem, maybe even in a ‘structural’ sense, as the big government (the bigger the better) crowd. If they woke up in the morning at the helm, they would be expected to produce an improvement over the economic conditions of the present and they would fail as miserably as the radical lefties in power have, and will do so for the same reason – doing all the wrong things.

    It really bothers me that neither side of our political system has an appropriate solution and we are stuck with whichever brand of ignorance/stupidity they happen bring to the table. Perhpas that, in itself, is a structural issue.

  8. Gravatar of Liberal Roman Liberal Roman
    24. August 2010 at 08:17

    Scott,

    It’s simple. Today’s conservatives are against government doing ANYTHING. Bill Crystol once wrote that the most dangerous government programs are the ones that work. You think about what that means.

    Actually, this isn’t totally a new thing. I remember reading a book about the construction of the Panama Canal. A brief history of the canal is that a French private syndicate tried to build it and failed miserably. The United States government took over the project and completed it successfully. And yet, a lot of people, especially the ones in power, worried about what type of signal this would send to the people and the fear that it would cause people to think favorably of socialism.

  9. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    24. August 2010 at 08:53

    Yet another excellent post by Scott Sumner.

    If one wants to feel cynical, read some recent statements from Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher. He comes within a whisker of suggesting that Fed policy will ease when he gets the regulatory and tax policies that he approves. One gets the distinct impression that Fisher would ease up if Bush was president. It’s a political thing.

    Jeff-I concur with your sentiments, and I admire your restraint in refraining from four-letter words.

  10. Gravatar of David Stinson David Stinson
    24. August 2010 at 08:59

    The central impediment from a conservative perspective is the framing of monetary policy as “stimulus” or “contraction”, i.e., as government fine-tuning and direction of the economy.

    I supppose bad monetary policy could certainly fall into those categories but not optimal monetary policy. Optimal monetary policy should be to maintain monetary equilibrium, or some desired relationship between money supply and demand. This is something that would occur even in the absence of central banking (as long as fractional reserve banking was permitted).

    The question then becomes: are we currently in monetary equilibrium or have we achieved the desired relationship between money demand and supply?

    The solution to the conservative perception problem, I would humbly suggest, is to derive, if it has not already been done, an “as if” monetary policy rule from a theoretical free-banking environment that can be explicitly applied in a central banking environment. I wouldn’t be surprised if it would be similar in form to the things that you and Bill Woolsey have suggested.

  11. Gravatar of Wonks Anonymous Wonks Anonymous
    24. August 2010 at 09:06

    O’Driscoll is an Austrian, though not of the 100% reserves Rothbardian variety. Not surprising for him to differ with Friedman on monetary policy. Steve Horwitz is another Austrian, who has defended a monetary disequilibrium approach in which M should respond to changes in V, but he attacks Krugman’s macro argument for negative interest rates here:
    http://www.coordinationproblem.org/2010/08/krugmans-waytoosimple-model.html
    Bill Woolsey sticks up for Krugman in the comments. Someone there also mentions that Rajan explicitly cites the Austrian Business Cycle Theory as a forerunner of his current view. I suppose that’s preferable to Anna Schwartz’ I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Austrianism.

    Maybe you should write a letter to the WSJ. I expect they still take the authority of Milton Friedman seriously.

  12. Gravatar of Contemplationist Contemplationist
    24. August 2010 at 10:39

    I second Wonks Anonymous’ idea. Scott, please craft an excellent letter, (you just need to copy and paste, this post among some others) demonstrating using Milton Friedman himself why monetary ‘stimulus’ is needed and what exactly conservatives have forgotten about monetary theory since his death…that its about EXPECTATIONS, and monetary DISEQUILIBRIUM not “printing money to create wealth” nonsense.

    Anyone else with me and WA on this? Scott needs to publish such an op-ed

  13. Gravatar of scott sumner scott sumner
    24. August 2010 at 10:41

    Matt, They need to target inflation (or NGDP) expectations. Those respond in real time to monetary policy. There is no danger of overshooting if you target expectations.

    W. Peden, I relied on a recent article that compared the economic forecasters of GS and MS. The guy at GS (Jan Hatzius?) had done the better job. I presume they have a 2011 inflation forecast, and I assume it is quite low.

    Conservatives always explain it away with long and variable lags. Of course financial markets (TIPS spreads) react immediately to monetary policy.

    Rafael, Thanks, I’ll take a look.

    Statsguy, Thanks.

    I agree about the new blood, but think they will get through the Senate by November. At least 2, and probably three.

    I agree we are too materialistic, but they also said similar things in the Great Depression, so it’s a pretty small silver lining.

    BTW, did you see that Tyler Cowen named your post on economic freedom the best of the year?

    Some guy; I am not sure, and added an update in response to your comment. I was thinking of housing construction, where most of the drop occurred between 2006 and mid-2008. After August 2008 housing starts fell a bit further, but by far the biggest part of the decline was over. I assumed housing construction is closely correlated with jobs in housing construction.

    You are right that other types of construction have fallen sharply since mid-2008, but that is a result of falling NGDP, not structural problems that would require re-allocation.

    Jeff, As Clinton would say “I feel your disgust.”

    Bonnie, Can someone dig up some WSJ editorials on monetary policy when Reagan was in office and inflation was 4%? I don’t recall them calling for “price stability” in 1984 when he was up for re-election. A killer quote would make a great post–and I’d name the reader who found it.

    Liberal Roman, You said;

    “Today’s conservatives are against government doing ANYTHING.”

    In defense of conservatives, the government is doing way too much. But conservatives actually support many things that don’t work—the war on drugs, excessive homeland security measures, etc.

    Benjamin, I normally tried to avoid ad hominems (and left an update to explain that fact) but the WSJ article makes me suspicious.

    David Stinson, Very good point. That’s why the NGDP level targeting Bill and David and I propose is so important. I just want to see continuity with the 5% trend line of the past 20 years.

    Wonks Anonymous, I did try a letter to the WSJ, I don’t think they will publish it (especially after today.) Thanks for the info on Austrians. I left an update to the post pointing out that I agree with them on many things, as the tone of my initial post was probably too harsh. It was actually just the WSJ editorial that pissed me off.

  14. Gravatar of scott sumner scott sumner
    24. August 2010 at 10:43

    Contemplationist, I’m trying.

  15. Gravatar of Greg Ransom Greg Ransom
    24. August 2010 at 11:42

    Scott, as an economist who grounds his work in microeconomics and real world causal processes, Hayek doesn’t believe in the idea of “stimulus”. The conception is part of crank economics, not part of economic science.

    Scott wrote,

    “Yes, Hayek did briefly oppose monetary stimulus in the early 1930s.”

  16. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    24. August 2010 at 17:06

    Proving once again, minus rents, we have PLENTY of inflation…

    http://www.moneymovesmarkets.com/journal/2010/8/20/us-double-core-inflation-above-pre-recession-level.html

    Something else I don’t understand, Headline Inflation which basically maps the price of oil – if we factor energy out, why in the heck wouldn’t we insist we factor out rents right now?

  17. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    24. August 2010 at 17:44

    With the amount of home prices FALLING over the next year, we’d likely need a TON more QE than you are currently imagining.

    http://blogs.reuters.com/felix-salmon/2010/08/24/why-the-housing-report-presages-lower-prices/

    The expectation is a 10% decrease.

    If expectations matter so much, WHY NOT rip off the band-aid, and give the market of home buyers what they are expecting – lower prices.

  18. Gravatar of StatsGuy StatsGuy
    24. August 2010 at 18:11

    “BTW, did you see that Tyler Cowen named your post on economic freedom the best of the year?”

    Uh, no – I’ve been incommunicado for a month, totally buried. I wish I had time to write more; it’s been a hidden blessing you’ve been taking a break!

  19. Gravatar of TGGP TGGP
    24. August 2010 at 18:28

    I didn’t think Phelps was actually a conservative (or even libertarian), but I thought I’d play Devil’s Advocate for his injured patient metaphor. Michele Boldrin debated Brad Delong on the stimulus taking a similar position that countries don’t recover from financial busts unless they fix their banking system. Adam Pozen similarly credits the reform of Japan’s banking system, combined with expansionary monetary policy, with their underrated recovery. A little while back there was a dispute over the difference between Milton Friedman’s monetary view of the proper response to recession and Bernanke’s focus on the credit-channel. Perhaps it is the case that both must be fixed, so that in the absence of a repaired banking sector (not a “broke banking system” as in the Keynes-Hayek rap) monetary policy will be ineffective.

  20. Gravatar of Mike Sandifer Mike Sandifer
    24. August 2010 at 21:08

    Scott,

    To perhaps be overly simplistic, is it possible the conservatives, as you identify and define them, have permanently left you behind?

    I see you and Krugman, Bob Reich, etc. in much closer agreement than with many conservatives, even with your deep skepticism and otherwise aversion to Keynesian stimulus. At least you all agree the problem is AD and that all feasible monetary solutions should be tried.

  21. Gravatar of Richard W Richard W
    24. August 2010 at 22:06

    scott sumner
    24. August 2010 at 10:41
    ‘ I don’t recall them calling for “price stability” in 1984 when he was up for re-election. A killer quote would make a great post–and I’d name the reader who found it. ‘

    You would probably find something in The Seven Fat Years and How To Do It Again by Robert L. Bartley who was the opinion editor at the time.

  22. Gravatar of David Tomlin David Tomlin
    24. August 2010 at 22:57

    Scott Sumner:

    Conservatives always explain it away with long and variable lags.

    Milton Friedman also believed in long and variable lags. I’m still not clear on why you are so confident he would be on your side of this divide.

    Btw, I think Milton Friedman self-identified as a libertarian. That’s what his son David Friedman said in a Usenet discussion some time ago.

    Back when Milton Friedman was on TV all the time he was usually described as a conservative, and I never heard say otherwise.

  23. Gravatar of scott sumner scott sumner
    25. August 2010 at 07:15

    Greg, OK, by the 1970s he said a more expansionary monetary policy would have been desirable. I call that stimulus, and couldn’t care less what Hayek called it.

    Morgan, Expected inflation is around 1% for the next two years, that’s too low. And I don’t expect home prices to fall 10%, although if NGDP gets much worse, it may happen.

    Statsguy, I think it was around July. Earlier he had praised it, but the second time he said it was post of the year. Not bad!

    TGGP, When FDR fixed monetary policy, bank failures almost immediately dried up. That’s the best way to fix the banking system. The Fed’s QE in March 2009 also led to much smaller estimated losses in banking.

    Remember, the IMF data suggests that it was tight money that caused most of the damage to the financial system.

    I see Phelps as being a moderate conservative. He is critical of the European welfare state, for instance, so he’s no liberal.

    Pozen thinks Japanese monetary policy is expansionary?!?!? It’s the tightest in the world, and has been since 1994.

    Mike, I agree with them on AD, but on most other issues am much closer to the conservatives. Indeed I am closer to conservatives even on the issue of whether easy money can raise NGDP at the zero bound.

    Richard W, Thanks for the tip. I don’t have time now, which is why I am asking for help. Anyone have that book?

    David, I meant that he would be on my side on the issue of whether money is easy or tight. He’d clearly think it was tight. Whether he’d favor my policy prescriptions is another issue.

    Yes, he is libertarian not conservative. I should have said Friedman vs the right.

  24. Gravatar of Morgan Warstler Morgan Warstler
    25. August 2010 at 08:22

    Scott, we CAN’T count rents! Those who know expect oversupply to cause another 10% drop:

    http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2010/08/existing-home-inventory-decreases-19.html

    Note the article, it might take till October to see price declines that are already happening show up.

    So for a second, let’s assume we KNOW home prices are falling….

    Without rents we ALREADY have 2% inflation. And if you look at headline growth, it really just lives and dies on the price of oil.

    So if oil were to keep going up, and home prices falling (AS THEY SHOULD), how can we NOT remove rents from our calculations about inflation?

  25. Gravatar of Curious Curious
    25. August 2010 at 23:23

    Is there any reading list you could recommend for a lay person to gain some understanding of the competing economic theories in this context? A kind of Economic Crises for Dummies? I do have basic macroeconomic understanding, but not enough to credibly argue for monetarism over neo-Keynesianism for example.

    I read your blog regularly, but my take-aways are weak. I don’t mind some effort.

  26. Gravatar of Bernanke’s speech | Clive Crook’s blog | FT.com Bernanke’s speech | Clive Crook's blog | FT.com
    27. August 2010 at 11:59

    [...] easy is policy, really? Scott Sumner is worth reading on [...]

  27. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    27. August 2010 at 13:03

    Morgan, I can’t tell whether you worry about inflation or deflation. I agree rents are misleading, but the whole CPI is flawed.

    Curious. At the end of FAQs (on the right side of the blog) I have reading suggestions.

  28. Gravatar of arthur lee davis arthur lee davis
    27. August 2010 at 16:38

    The key indusrty that was omitted from each of yout comments, was the rapid deceases of jobs losses in the U.S.Steel industry, which is still in steep decline . A major factor in the equation of continued job decline across a wide spectrum of America`s real estate; Those closure begin prior to 2007, 2008,or even 2009, and are in constant decrease mode . Why ?
    GO ASK THE IMPORTERS,WHAT HAPPENED ????

  29. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    28. August 2010 at 15:31

    Arthur. Have imports risen? I’ve argued the dollar was too strong.

  30. Gravatar of Blaming the Party « Progenies of a Dark Apocalypse Blaming the Party « Progenies of a Dark Apocalypse
    4. September 2011 at 13:30

    [...] quotes are from a blog by Scott Sumner (the first being a quote from Friedman) written a year ago. Sumner has been making this argument since early 2009 when his blog began, if not earlier. As a [...]

  31. Gravatar of Blaming the Party | Progenies of a Dark Apocalypse Blaming the Party | Progenies of a Dark Apocalypse
    4. September 2011 at 15:18

    [...] quotes are from a blog by Scott Sumner (the first being a quote from Friedman) written a year ago. Sumner has been making this argument since early 2009 when his blog began, if not earlier. As a [...]

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