Fiscal policy makers have faced an extraordinarily challenging environment over the last few years. At the outset of the global financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the first time advocated a fiscal expansion across all countries able to afford it, a seeming departure from the long-held consensus among economists that monetary policy rather than fiscal policy was the appropriate response to fluctuations in economic activity. Since then, the IMF has emphasized that the speed of fiscal adjustment should be determined by the specific circumstances in each country.
Since 2008, economic policymakers and researchers have occupied a brave new economic world. Previous consensuses have been upended, former assumptions have been cast into doubt, and new approaches have yet to stand the test of time. Policymakers have been forced to improvise and researchers to rethink basic theory. George Akerlof, Nobel Laureate and one of this volume’s editors, compares the crisis to a cat stuck in a tree, afraid to move.
Modern economics has largely ignored the issue of outright conflict as an alternative way of allocating goods, assuming instead the existence of well-defined property rights enforced by an undefined third party. And yet even in ostensibly peaceful market transactions, conflict exists as an outside option, sometimes constraining the outcomes reached through voluntary agreement. In this volume, economists offer a crucial rational-choice perspective on conflict, using methodological approaches that range from the game theoretic to the experimental.
American monetary policy is formulated by the Federal Reserve and overseen by Congress. Both policy making and oversight are deliberative processes, although the effect of this deliberation has been difficult to quantify. In this book, Cheryl Schonhardt-Bailey provides a systematic examination of deliberation on monetary policy from 1976 to 2008 by the Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee (FOMC) and House and Senate banking committees.
Liberal internationalism has been the West’s foreign policy agenda since the Cold War, and the West has long occupied the top rung of a hierarchical system. In this book, Hilton Root argues that international relations, like other complex ecosystems, exists in a constantly shifting landscape, in which hierarchical structures are giving way to systems of networked interdependence, changing every facet of global interaction. Accordingly, policymakers will need a new way to understand the process of change.
The United States is bankrupt, flat broke. Thanks to accounting that would make Enron blush, America’s insolvency goes far beyond what our leaders are disclosing. The United States is a fiscal basket case, in worse shape than the notoriously bailed-out countries of Greece, Ireland, and others. How did this happen? In The Clash of Generations, experts Laurence Kotlikoff and Scott Burns document our six-decade, off-balance-sheet, unsustainable financing scheme. They explain how we have balanced our longer lives on the backs of our (relatively few) children.
In 2011, the International Monetary Fund invited prominent economists and economic policymakers to consider the brave new world of the post-crisis global economy. The result is a book that captures the state of macroeconomic thinking at a transformational moment.
The Earth is getting warmer. Yet, as Hans-Werner Sinn points out in this provocative book, the dominant policy approach--which aims to curb consumption of fossil energy--has been ineffective. Despite policy makers’ efforts to promote alternative energy, impose emission controls on cars, and enforce tough energy-efficiency standards for buildings, the relentlessly rising curve of CO2 output does not show the slightest downward turn.
The recent economic crisis--with the plunge in the stock market, numerous bank failures and widespread financial distress, declining output and rising unemployment--has been reminiscent of the Great Depression. The Depression of the 1930s was marked by the spread of protectionist trade policies, which contributed to a collapse in world trade. Although policymakers today claim that they will resist the protectionist temptation, recessions are breeding grounds for economic nationalism, and countries may yet consider imposing higher trade barriers.
Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman once noted that free immigration cannot coexist with a welfare state. A welfare state with open borders might turn into a haven for poor immigrants, which would place such a fiscal burden on the state that native-born voters would support less-generous benefits or restricted immigration, or both. And yet a welfare state with an aging population might welcome young skilled immigrants.