Martin Feldstein was a pillar of American economics

For a half-century Martin Feldstein was everywhere you looked in American economics. He was an astoundingly prolific columnist, sometimes churning out several a week, for several newspapers, on the big economic stories of the day. He was a fixture at conferences and seminars and the teacher, for two decades, of Harvard University’s introductory economics course. He served presidents of both parties. In short Mr Feldstein, who died on June 11th aged 79, was an American economic institution. Born in New York City, he spent most of his life in Cambridge, Massachusetts,…

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Why are we still pretending ‘trickle-down’ economics work?

Art Laffer’s career has been heavy on punditry, light in academic rigor, and absolutely destructive for the average American and the long-term health and sustainability of our economy. Photograph: AP Next Wednesday, Donald Trump will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the arch-conservative economist Art Laffer. Sadly, Laffer’s career has been heavy on punditry, light in academic rigor, and absolutely destructive for the average American and the long-term health and sustainability of our economy. A number of economists have already dismissed Laffer’s signature supply-side economics theory as pure nonsense. For his…

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UK economic growth picks up as stockpiling bolsters manufacturing

Manufacturing increased by 1.5% in January but by only 0.9% in March. Photograph: Si Barber/Bloomberg News Britain’s economy strengthened in the first three months of the year, with growth of 0.5% helped by unprecedented stockpiling by manufacturersfearful of the impact from a no-deal Brexit. It was an improvement on 0.2% growth in the previous three months and was bolstered by the strongest quarterly performance for manufacturers since 1988, with factory output up 2.2%, according to the figures from the Office for National Statistics. However, widespread uncertainty about the Brexit negotiations proved to have a…

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The Economics That Made Boeing Build the 737 Max

The infamous 737 Max is now grounded and considered a liability, but this was not always the case. What made Boeing design this particular airplane? Wendover Production explains the economics behind this ill-fated airplane in this video. Part of the reason is that airlines would rather have a cheap small plane than an expensive super efficient small plane. The 737 is just that: a cheap small plane. Priced at just $89 million, the now doomed plane was considered a great deal. This is because Boeing had perfected the 737 manufacturing process…

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Why the world is due a revolution in economics education

Economic thinking governs much of our world. But the discipline’s teaching is stuck in the past. Centred around antiquated 19th-century models built on Newtonian physics, economics treats humans as atomic particles, rather than as social beings. While academic research often manages to transcend this simplicity, undergraduate education does not – and the influence of these simplified ideas is carried by graduates as they go on to work in politics, media, business and the civil service. Economists such as myself tend to speak in tightly coded jargon and mathematical models. We speak of “economic…

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The economics of the “Avengers” universe

The cast and crew of “Avengers: Infinity War” attend the Los Angeles premiere.    – Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney This post contains spoilers for “Avengers: Infinity War.” What would happen to the economy if half the population suddenly disappeared? Thanos — a space warlord who’s the main villain in the crossover Marvel film “Avengers: Infinity War” —  decides to eliminate 50% of all living beings at random, in a single snap. He spends the movie acquiring infinity stones, which grant him the ability to manipulate reality and carry out his goal.…

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Oil prices edge lower on economic concerns, but geopolitics support

Oil prices declined on Friday, with Brent slipping from the $70 mark reached the previous day, but both main contracts were set for weekly gains on mounting geopolitical risks. Brent crude futures dropped 25 cents to $69.15 a barrel by 1204 GMT, having touched $70.03 in the previous session, its highest since November 12. US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude fell by 13 cents to $61.97, having hit their highest since November 7 on Wednesday at $62.99. Brent and WTI are on track for their second and fifth consecutive weeks…

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Economists must think broader – or risk becoming irrelevant

Economists should have taken a more nuanced approach to the row between the US and China. Photograph: Damir Sagolj/Reuters The economics profession took a beating after most of its leading practitioners failed to predict the 2008 global financial crisis and it has been struggling to recover ever since. Not only were the years after the crash marked by unusually low, unequal growth; now we are witnessing a growing list of economic and financial phenomena that economists cannot readily explain. Like the Queen, who famously asked in November 2008 why nobody had seen…

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