Posts filed under “Taxes and Policy”

Will Détente with Iran Create a Peace Dividend?

The possibility of a deal to limit Iran’s nuclear capabilities and end the international trade sanctions against the country raise a fascinating question: Will there be a peace dividend?

A look at history may provide some insight. Based on what we have seen in the past, it is possible that an agreement would have a positive economic impact. But there are many variables that will determine the outcome, not the least of which is what this obstructionist Congress does.

For those too young to remember, the “peace dividend” was a term popularized by former President George H. W. Bush in the early 1990s. It referred to the economic benefit generated by a reduction of U.S. defense spending after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Once the Cold Warand arms race ended, that money would be put to more productive uses than building a nuclear arsenal that everyone hoped would never be used.

Dollar for dollar, nonmilitary spending tends to generate more economic benefits than military spending. The term weaponized Keynesianism is often used to describe the stimulative effects of military spending, but it is typically more modest than civilian spending. The Pentagon is saddled with a noncompetitive bidding system, contractor cost overruns on big weapons systems that don’t work as planned and plenty of good old-fashioned corruption. In other words, it is very costly and inefficient. This is especially true when compared with government spending on civilian and pure research.

The Berlin Wall fell in 1989, a few years after military spending peaked. The end was already near for the Soviet Union, which would collapse in 1991. As the chart below shows, once the Cold War ended military spending fell for most of the next decade. Meanwhile, nonmilitary government spending rose. The reduction in spending, plus an increase in tax revenue during the dot-com boom, led to the last balanced federal budgets we have seen in more than a decade.

Continues here: Could We Get an Iran Peace Dividend?

 

Category: Economy, Taxes and Policy, War/Defense

Category: Taxes and Policy, Think Tank, Wages & Income

Gay Discrimination Is A Billion Dollar Self-Indulgence

By now, you have surely heard about Indiana’s so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act and its potential for giving cover to those who discriminate against gay people. A backlash that had already been gathering momentum burst open this weekend, driven by an op-ed by Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook in the Washington Post. As Cook wrote:…Read More

Category: Legal, Politics, Really, really bad calls, Taxes and Policy

Interest Rates Aren’t Going Anywhere . . .

Source: BAML, Fiscal Times     I have been fairly agnostic on several issues related to where interest rates are heading. It has never been my job to forecast where the 10-year yield will be in six months. Not predicting and not caring are two very different things, however. Rates matter a great deal — to investors, to the economy…Read More

Category: Credit, Federal Reserve, Fixed Income/Interest Rates, Psychology, Really, really bad calls, Taxes and Policy

More Long Bonds Now!

Every once in a while, there is a way to resolve a host of problems that is so obvious it gets overlooked. With that in mind, and in light of yesterday’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting and the reaction that followed, let’s have a look at four big problems: crumbling U.S. infrastructure; federal budget deficits;  normalizing…Read More

Category: Really, really bad calls, Taxes and Policy

Time for Janet Yellen to Go On the Ellen DeGeneres Show

This week, the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll on presidential contenders for 2016 came out. It was the usual sort of thing: Favorable versus unfavorable ratings for the candidates: Democrats like Hillary; Republicans like Jeb (but not as much as Dems like Hillary); no one likes Chris Christie or Donald Trump. But you might have missed a fascinating tidbit buried…Read More

Category: Federal Reserve, Really, really bad calls, Taxes and Policy

John Oliver on Infrastructure

America’s crumbling infrastructure: It’s not a sexy problem, but it is a scary one.

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Category: Economy, Humor, Really, really bad calls, Taxes and Policy, Video

Fed Gives Congress Room to Shirk Resposibility

One of my favorite thought experiments is the careful-what-you-wish-for scenario. I was reminded of its utility during Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen’s Congressional testimony the other day. Consider the critique of the Fed by some members of Congress. As the New York Times described it, the three-hour hearing was “testy” as “Republicans on the House Financial…Read More

Category: Bailouts, Politics, Really, really bad calls, Taxes and Policy

Does front-loading taxation increase savings?

Category: Taxes and Policy, Think Tank

John Oliver on Big Tobacco

Thanks to tobacco industry regulations and marketing restrictions in the US, smoking rates have dropped dramatically. John Oliver explains how tobacco companies are keeping their business strong overseas.

 

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Tobacco

 

 

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Category: Humor, Science, Taxes and Policy, Video