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1  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: December 21, 2006, 12:21:08 PM
Link to economist Brett Swanson at Discovery Institute:
2  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: December 21, 2006, 12:10:01 PM
21 December 2006

Editor, The Wall Street Journal

200 Liberty Street

New York, NY 10281

Dear Editor:

David Malpass rightly argues that the U.S. trade deficit is a sign, not of American economic weakness, but of vigor ("Embrace the Deficit," December 21). To further strengthen his case he might have pointed out that in 102 of the 120 months of that most economically depressed decade, the 1930s, the U.S. ran trade surpluses. On an annual basis, America had a trade surplus for nine of the ten years of the 1930s (with 1936 being the only year of a trade deficit). For the whole of that decade, the U.S. ran a significant trade surplus. Exports over those dreary ten years totaled $26.05 billion while imports totaled only $21.13 billion.

Clearly, just as a trade deficit is no sign of economic malaise, a trade surplus is no sign of economic vitality.


Donald J. Boudreaux

Chairman, Department of Economics

George Mason University

Fairfax, VA 22030

3  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Economics on: December 21, 2006, 11:48:00 AM
Embrace the Deficit
December 21, 2006; Page A16
For decades, the trade deficit has been a political and journalistic
lightning rod, inspiring countless predictions of America's imminent
economic collapse. The reality is different. Our imports grow with
our economy and population while our exports grow with foreign
economies, especially those of industrialized countries. Though
widely criticized as an imbalance, the trade deficit and related
capital inflow reflect U.S. growth, not weakness -- they link the
younger, faster-growing U.S. with aging, slower-growing economies
Since the 2001 recession, the U.S. economy has created 9.3 million
new jobs, compared with 360,000 in Japan and 1.1 million in the euro
zone excluding Spain. This despite our trade deficit and their trade
surpluses. Like the U.S., Spain (3.6 million new jobs) and the U.K.
(1.3 million new jobs) ran trade deficits and created jobs rapidly
in this five-year period. Wages are rising solidly in these three.
The economics is clear (for once) that a liberal trading environment
allows more jobs with higher wages as people specialize.

The latest data on growth in jobs, retail sales and housing starts,
and the record level of household savings, underscores the solid
economy described by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke last month.
Supporting the "solid-growth" view are rising global stock markets,
strong growth of corporate profits, the narrow credit spread between
Treasurys and riskier bonds, and low interest rates relative to
inflation and to growth -- nominal growth in the 12 months through
September was 6%, yet the Fed funds rate, usually in line with
nominal growth, only averaged 4.6%.
The trade deficit and a low "personal savings rate" are key parts of
the bond market's multi-year pessimism about the U.S. growth
outlook. But just as the high level of U.S. savings is likely to add
to future growth -- the savings rate is only low if you arbitrarily
exclude gains -- the trade deficit and heavy capital inflows are
also positive parts of the growth outlook. Rather than signaling a
slowdown, the inversion of the yield curve -- "Greenspan's
conundrum," in which bond yields are low despite solid growth and
rising inflation -- is probably the result of this deep
underestimate of the U.S. growth outlook, plentiful liquidity, and a
backward-looking deflation premium for bonds, the reverse of the
backward-looking inflation premium that kept bond yields unusually
high in the 1980s.
The common perception is that Americans drive the trade deficit in
an unhealthy way by spending more than we produce. To make up the
difference, foreigners ship us things on credit. This sounds bad,
but should be evaluated in terms of our demographics, low
unemployment rate, attractiveness to foreign investment and rising
household savings.
The recent surge in the U.S. trade deficit reflects, in part, the
unprecedented shift in the demographics of the world's large
economies. The under-60 U.S. population is expected to grow for at
least 50 years while the under-60 populations in Japan and Europe
are already declining and in China will turn down within a decade.
They need bonds while Americans need capital. They want to save more
than they invest in their own economies, and are eager to help us
invest more heavily (through their purchase of bonds.) This makes
good demographic sense. Older investors (concentrated abroad) need
steady returns, lending to younger generations through bank
deposits, bond purchases and life insurance premiums (which are
reinvested in growth). Younger people (concentrated in the U.S.)
need cash and debt for college degrees, houses and business
startups. This creates a healthy synergy across generations and
across borders.
Like young households, many companies also spend more than they
produce, using bonds and bank loans, some from foreigners, to make
up the difference. They add employees, machines, supplies and
advertising before they produce. Growing corporations are expected
to be cash hungry. This leverage is treated as a positive for
companies but a negative for countries, a key inconsistency in
popular economics. Rather than paying the debt back, the growing
company rolls the debt over and adds more, just as the U.S. has been
doing throughout most of its prosperous economic history. Part of
each additional bond offering puts the company and the U.S. in the
position of investing more than we save, drawing in foreign
investment and contributing to the trade deficit.
With all the negativism about the U.S. economy, it's easy to forget
its attractiveness. Foreigners are as eager to invest in the U.S. as
we are to buy goods and services from them -- it's a two-way street.
Our 10-year government bonds yield 4.6% per year versus 1.6% in
Japan, while our government debt is 38% of GDP versus 86% in Japan.
The comparisons with Europe are not as extreme as Japan's, but still
heavily favor the U.S.
While the net foreign debt of the U.S. is growing (the result of
capital inflows), household net worth is growing faster, meaning
foreigners are investing in the U.S. too slowly and conservatively
to keep up with our growth. Their capital mingles with domestic
savings, providing $2.7 trillion of net international capital to
combine with $27 trillion in net U.S. household financial savings as
of Sept. 30.
The already-large foreign demand for investments in the U.S. is
likely to grow from here, putting upward pressure on the trade
deficit even if foreign growth continues to accelerate. The U.S.
offers a relatively high and steady return on investment -- high
because of the innovation and growth taking place here, steady
because the commodity and manufacturing parts of many businesses are
increasingly done abroad, reducing the volatility in U.S. growth.
Equally important, the demographics of the world's large economies
are shifting rapidly in favor of the U.S.
The trade deficit is the mechanism allowing consumption and
investment in the U.S. to grow faster than in Europe and Japan. The
issue for the U.S. is whether it's worth the interest costs. It's
the same question facing a small business: Should it borrow money to
expand the payroll, train employees, buy land and machines, conduct
R&D, build inventory? Profit and credit-worthiness help make the
The post-election dollar weakness pleased those who still think the
U.S. is heading in the wrong economic direction. They advocate a
weaker dollar as medicine for the trade deficit, often blaming it
for more economic problems than we actually have.
But the trade deficit, around for hundreds of years of solid
American growth, doesn't justify the inflation risk from dollar
weakness or the growth risk from protectionism. And the trade
deficit probably wouldn't respond to a weaker dollar anyway -- yen
strength hasn't dented Japan's trade surplus, and it took a
recession to create our last trade surplus in 1990-1991.
The swing vote on the dollar, and probably the controlling vote, is
Fed policy. For now, this leaves unresolved the market debate over
whether the U.S. will encourage dollar weakness and inflation in an
effort to fight the trade deficit. More likely the Fed will fight
inflation, strengthening the dollar, and leaving the trade deficit
dependent on U.S. growth and demographics -- right where it should
Mr. Malpass is Bear Stearns's chief economist.
4  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: A Post From Our Piazza member on: November 26, 2006, 06:48:50 AM
Finding a Lotus/Domino site with an administrator interested in helping us is going to be like finding a needle in a haystack.  It would likely be more expeditious to entice Eric to convert.  Adobe 8 is now available (upgrade price is $129), and Eric thought that would work.

It appears only a few of us have registered here, and without a way of emailing the old OP database we are stymied in alerting them of the opportunity.  Traffic at OP had diminished greatly, but some of the relationships would probably survive if there were a way of communicating with them.

It seems that people who register here without enough disclosure get culled.  So some of our people may have unwittingly encountered that.
5  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: Health Thread (nutrition, medical, longevity, etc) on: November 13, 2006, 05:28:37 AM
The free audio download will take about 28 minutes to hear.  The mp3 file is larger than that because the next presentation is on the same mp3.  While you are at the site, if you haven't already, be sure to listen to Carver Mead's keynote address (at the end of the agenda).
6  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: A Post From Our Piazza member on: November 11, 2006, 05:29:04 PM
Thanks to both Doug and Crafty for sharing the response from Eric.  At least we know that the database wasn't nuked along with the server that hosted OP.  Perhaps I should email Eric directly as he doesn't seem to be aware of some of the late posts to OP.  It is interesting that he references a failed attempt to email me.  I still keep my old domain alive and the email addressed to me there gets forwarded to my more current email addresses.  I haven't received anything from Eric.  I know Roger's email address has changed from what was likely the one he registered at OP so that doesn't surprise me.

Overall that is encouraging.  Of course we still don't know how big a converted database to PDF file might be, but we do know it would be huge. 
7  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: A Post From Our Piazza member on: November 07, 2006, 01:41:56 PM

On the outside chance we are able to resurrect historical OP into a PDF file, can you check with your webhost as to whether a large PDF can be posted here?  I attempted to post a PDF that was refused because of size.  The permitted size of attachments was really small.  Thanks.
8  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Re: A Post From Our Piazza member on: November 02, 2006, 12:11:15 PM
As you are aware, since you visited OP near the end, I offered to deal with the data as well and didn't receive a response.  I think when nobody took Eric up on his conversion for pay offer in conjunction with Marc's kindly offer to make this site available (which solved a significant problem for Eric) that his interest waned.  Of course he might also just be busy as proprietors can get sometimes.  I had suggested he send out a broadcast email pointing recently inactive OP'ers to this site.  I didn't get mine.  smiley
9  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Our Piazza Now Shut Down on: November 01, 2006, 05:55:05 AM
At least it appears that way this morning and Eric indicated he was going to shut it down on October 31, 2006.  I'm not aware as to whether he saved a backup for purposes of converting the data to a PDF file or not.  It doesn't appear that he sent out a broadcast announcement.
10  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Telecosm Audio Downloads on: October 29, 2006, 06:48:43 PM
The original common denominator for folk who populated Our Piazza was being subscribers of the Gilder Technology Report.  During the early 2000s, many dropped their GTR subscriptions.  However the GTR still hosts an annual technology conference, called Telecosm (a word coined by GTR creator, George Gilder) with the most recent one being held in early October, 2006.  Progressively the GTR staff is associating audio files (sometimes video as well) with the publicly posted online agenda.  Here is a link:

Anyone with either technology or futuristic curiosity will enjoy the audios.  I would particularly recommend listening to Carver Mead.  Even if you aren't interested in the subject matter, he is enjoyable.
11  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Spammers on our forums on: October 28, 2006, 07:08:15 PM
I received the email as well.
12  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / A Post From Our Piazza member on: October 28, 2006, 04:57:45 PM
I appreciate the manuevering in topics that seemingly welcome a broader base of posters.  I got an email regarding the first post to this new section.  I also got a surprise when I arrived here to take a look.  Oh well, stuff happens.  Anyway, if other OP'ers arrive here it might be useful to make a chirp here just so we become aware.

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