Benjamin Studebaker

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

Tag: Stimulus

John Oliver Doesn’t Understand How Stein’s Student Debt Policy Works

Last Week Tonight‘s John Oliver recently ran a segment in which he slated Jill Stein’s proposal to eliminate student debt through quantitative easing:

His criticism seemed to suggest that the Federal Reserve is obviously irrelevant in this policy area:

It’s basically akin to saying, ‘I’ll make us energy independent by ordering the Post Office to invade Canada.’ No, Jill. That’s impractical, it’s a terrible idea, and you don’t seem to understand anything about it.

Oliver, who is usually quite perceptive and well-informed, gets this wrong, and he gets it wrong in no small part because monetary policy is complicated and difficult to understand, both in terms of the economics and in terms of the politics. So let’s talk about how Stein’s idea works.

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Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party are the Best Choice for Canada

Canada has a federal election on October 19. Back in August, I wrote a post detailing why Stephen Harper needs to go–his austerity program and fixation on developing Canada’s mineral resources have resulted in chronic under-investment in Canadian infrastructure and social programs, and they have resulted in an unnecessary recession. But the Canadian election is a three horse race. Should Canadians choose the New Democratic Party (NDP) or the Liberal Party? Over the past month and a half, I’ve been pondering this quite a bit. Both the NDP and the liberals have interesting policy ideas, and there are good arguments to be made on both sides. But ultimately, I think that if you are going to vote in the Canadian election or know someone who is, the liberals are the better choice. Here’s why.

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Stephen Harper’s Austerity and Weak Oil Prices are Sinking Canada’s Economy

Canada has a federal election coming up on October 19, 2015. The election could not have come at a worse time for Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party. Canada’s economy has ground to a halt, and the voters are furious with Harper. His net approval rating has dropped to a disastrous -32:

What has he done wrong? Let’s take a closer look.

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Piketty is Right: The Germans Never Repaid Their Debts

I recently read a fantastic exchange between the German newspaper Die Zeit and French economist Thomas Piketty. Here is the original in German–there is an English translation by Gavin Schalliol, but at the time of writing Zeit is disputing Schalliol’s right to publish it. Fortunately, copies of the English translation have shared elsewhere on the web. In the exchange, Piketty makes a point that is seldom made–Germany itself is a direct beneficiary of the debt forgiveness and currency devaluation policies Keynesian economists are recommending for Greece.

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The 4 Strategies Available to the British Left

After getting thrashed in the election, Britain’s Labour Party is gearing up for a leadership contest. This provides us with an opportunity to talk about the different strategies open to the left and the potential consequences of each. There are four that stick out to me:

  1. The Miliband Strategy–concede that the Tories are right that austerity is needed, but accuse the Tories of being too cruel and indifferent to the welfare state to be trusted with it.
  2. The Blair Strategy–enthusiastically embrace the Tory position on economic issues to demonstrate economic competence and political seriousness to voters.
  3. The Corbyn Strategy–mount a vigorous intellectual attack on austerity presenting a clear ideological alternative to the Tories.
  4. The Brand Strategy–attack the structure of the political system itself for being unable to produce good political outcomes.

Let’s talk about each one.

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