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Showing posts from April, 2019

Elizabeth Warren and Cancelling Student Debt

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As the 2020 election nears and Democrats begin their campaign to take down the incumbent President Trump, the candidates are presenting their agendas to the American public. One of the most recent policy declarations was Elizabeth Warren's introduction of student debt cancellation. The idea is simple. The Massachusetts senator wants to forgive any outstanding student debt for any American citizen. The policy would be massive and have significant consequences for the U.S. economy. The effect is presented in a February 2018 report by the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, "The Macroeconomic Effects of Student Debt Cancellation."


The student debt situation in the United States is dire. In 2011-2012, seniors graduated with, on average, over $26,000 in debt. As if the first quarter of 2016, $1.35 trillion of student loan debt was outstanding, up 40 percent from 5 years before. As the cost of education has risen by 156 percent between 1990-1991 and 2014-2015, financing …

U.S.-China Trade Issues: The Congressional Research Service Keeps Trade Talks in Focus

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Updates on the U.S.-China trade negotiations have been progressing, but reporting on that progress has been far from transparent. On April 8th, 2019, the Congressional Research Service published a short report on "U.S.-China Trade Issues." The report continues to nail down the reasons why the economic squabble continues between the two largest nations in the world. 


President Trump has cited his desire to shrink the trade deficit between the United States and China. In 2018, that deficit reached the highest it's ever been at $419 billion. The report suggests that economists could explain a rising deficit not as an unfair trading relationship, but as a result of "low U.S. domestic savings relative to total investment." Of course, this could be a result of rising rates, but that trend might be temporary.
In addition to a general "unfair" trade relationship, the current administration sees a problem with Chinese cybertheft and the stealing of intellectua…

The Tamed Asian Tigers

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) released its most recent version of the Asian Development Outlook. The economists had a lot to say about the moderation in Asian growth; in particular, what they see as China's expectations start to get milder. For the overall region, the ADB sees growth moderating from 6.4 percent in 2018 to 6.2 percent in 2019 and 6.1 percent in 2020. As for inflation, ADB economists suggest the 10-year historical average of 3.2 percent will be undercut for the next two years with forecasted inflation around 2.5 percent (similar to the U.S. Federal Reserve's inflation target of 2.0 percent).


The stories told by the ADB are not of sharp deceleration but gradual deterioration. China is expected to slow from 6.8 percent in 2018 to 6.3 percent in 2019 "as restrictions on housing markets and shadow banking continue and as the trade conflict with the US weakens exports." In Southeast Asia, growth should be remain at around 5 percent this year as stronger …