Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: GDP

Obama’s Legacy: The Evidence Beyond the Punditry

As President Obama’s term draws to a close, every political writer under the sun is offering a hot take on how he’ll be remembered. These can be fun to read, but they don’t tell you very much about what really happened while Barack Obama was president. So today I’d like to look at some of the evidence and data we have on this president. Let’s see how he stacks up next to past presidents and America’s friends and rivals.

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How Brazil Got the Worst Austerity Program in the World

Brazil’s new president, Michel Temer, has introduced austerity via constitutional amendment, freezing Brazil’s state spending at 2016 levels for 20 years, allowing it to increase only at the rate of inflation. This is really dumb–if Brazil’s population grows, or Brazil has an economic crisis, or Brazil has to go to war, it will be trapped within 2016 fiscal parameters. So as its population grows, the same level of spending will be divided across ever larger numbers of people, and if Brazil gets into major trouble it will only be able to pay for emergency measures by lashing social spending. To make matters worse, the amendment disallows its own repeal for a 10 year minimum, so there is nothing anyone in Brazil can constitutionally do about this ridiculous rule until 2027. But you know what makes this even more incredible? Temer was never elected president of Brazil in the first place. What follows is the bizarre story of how Brazil’s broken constitution empowered a man committed to an absurd political agenda.

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François Fillon is a Big, Fat Mistake

France’s center-right Republican Party has chosen to nominate François Fillon for the presidency. This is a big, fat mistake. Fillon is a relic from the 2000’s–he was Former President Nicolas Sarkozy’s Prime Minister from 2007 to 2012, and he calls for a slate of policies that would cut public services, increase economic disparities, and shred France’s economy. He is a massive risk not just to France but to Europe as a whole, both in the short-term and the long-term. Here’s why.

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Should You Flee to Canada if Trump Wins?

Recently Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hung out with President Obama. The American left has been cooing all over Trudeau, and many people suggest they might move to Canada if Donald Trump becomes president. This idea of Canada as a haven for American progressives is an old one, and at times it has come in handy for Vietnam draft dodgers and runaway slaves. For many left-leaning democrats, Canada is considered something of a paradise, and in some ways it is–healthcare is a right of all people in Canada, and Canada scores better on life expectancy, homicide rate, obesity, social mobility, and in a number of other areas. But lately I get a sense that Americans are being perhaps a bit too utopian about Canada, and if you’re considering relocating, there are a few things you should know first.

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Why American Families are Worse off Now Than They Were in 1997

When we evaluate whether or not the economy is performing well, we sometimes pay too much attention to GDP. Gross domestic product tells us about the total amount of exchange going on in an economy, but many of those exchanges only serve to enrich those at the top of the economic ladder. To get a better sense of how ordinary people are doing, we need to look at real (inflation-adjusted) median household income. Today I checked in on the American figures, and they are bleak:

The median American family is not only poorer than they were before the 2008 crisis–they’re poorer than they were during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. What on earth is going on?

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