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  • Search Term: Richard S. Grossman

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Are ultra-low interest rates dangerous?

The industrialized world is currently moving through a period of ultra-low interest rates. The main benchmark interest rates of central banks in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the euro-zone are all 0.50% or less. The US rate has been near zero since December 2008; the Japanese rate has been at or below 0.50% since 1995. Then there are the central banks that have gone negative: the benchmark rates in Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland are all below zero. Other short-term interest rates are similarly at rock-bottom levels, or below.

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The limits of regulatory cooperation

One of the most striking structural weaknesses uncovered by the euro crisis is the lack of consistent banking regulation and supervision in Europe. Although the European Banking Authority has existed since 2011, its influence is often trumped by national authorities. And many national governments within the European Union do not seem anxious to submit their financial institutions to European-wide regulation and supervision.

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The economics of Scottish Independence

On September 18, Scots will go to the polls to vote on the question “Should Scotland be an independent country?” A “yes” vote would end the political union between England and Scotland that was enacted in 1707. The main economic reasons for independence, according to the “Yes Scotland” campaign, is that an independent Scotland would have more affordable daycare, free university tuition, more generous retirement and health benefits, less burdensome regulation, and a more sensible tax system.

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Happy new year, China: Recent economic booms and busts

The Chinese New Year begins on 8 February, ushering out the year of the sheep (or goat, or ram) and bringing in the year of the monkey. People in China will enjoy a week-long vacation and will celebrate with dragon dances and fireworks. Given the financial fireworks emanating from China, this is a good time to briefly review some of the major economic news coming out of the Middle Kingdom.

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Don’t panic: it’s October

t the conclusion of the mid-September meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), the Federal Reserve announced its decision to leave its target interest rate unchanged through the end of this month. Although some pundits had predicted that the Fed might use the occasion of August’s decline in the unemployment rate (to 5.1 percent from 5.3 percent in July), to begin its long-awaited monetary policy tightening, those forecasts left out one crucial fact.

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Can we finally stop worrying about Europe?

By Richard S. Grossman
Because Europe accounts for nearly a quarter of the world’s economic output, this question is important not only to Europeans, but to Africans, Asians, Americans (both North and South), and Australians as well. Those who forecast that the United States’s relatively anemic five-year-old recovery is poised to become stronger almost always include the caveat “unless, of course, Europe implodes.”

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Tax facts

As long as rulers have needed money for the military, public works, or just to enrich themselves, they have relied on taxes. As Americans approach the dreaded April 15 income tax-filing deadline, it is worth considering some key facts about taxation. There are many different modes of taxation: individual income taxes, corporate profits taxes, capital gains taxes, property taxes, inheritance taxes, sales taxes, social insurance taxes, taxes on imports, and a whole host of government-levied fees that look and feel a lot like taxes.

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Seven historical facts about financial disasters

By Richard S. Grossman
In the early 1600s, the King of Sweden declared that copper, along with silver, would serve as money. He did this because he owned lots of copper mines and thought that this policy would increase the public’s demand for copper—and also its price, making him much wealthier.

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The danger of ideology

By Richard S. Grossman
What do the Irish famine and the euro crisis have in common? The famine, which afflicted Ireland during 1845-1852, was a humanitarian tragedy of massive proportions. It left roughly one million people—or about 12 percent of Ireland’s population—dead and led an even larger number to emigrate. The euro crisis, which erupted during the autumn of 2009, has resulted in a virtual standstill in economic growth throughout the Eurozone in the years since then.

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The gold standard and the world economy [infographic]

By Richard S. Grossman
Britain operated under the gold standard for nearly 100 years before World War I forced Britain — and many other countries — to abandon it. During that century, Britain was the world’s military, financial, and industrial superpower.

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Something to like about bitcoin

By Richard S. Grossman
Within months of being introduced in 2009, enthusiasts were hailing bitcoin, the digital currency and peer-to-peer payment system, as the successor to the dollar, euro, and yen as the world’s most important currency. The collapse of the Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange last month has dulled some of the enthusiasm for the online currency.

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Five myths about the gold standard

By Richard S. Grossman
Although the dollar has had no legal connection to gold since 1973, the gold standard continues to hold an almost mystical appeal for many politicians and commentators. The 2012 Republican Platform called for the creation of a commission to study the possible restoration of the link between the dollar and gold. When asked about the gold standard this summer, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a potential 2016 Republican presidential nominee, replied: “We need to think about our currency that once upon a time had a link to a commodity, and I think we should study it.”

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In case you missed it … six notable economic stories from 2013

By Richard S. Grossman
2013 was an eventful year from the perspective of economics. The US government was shut down for 16 days as ideologically-driven Republicans held the budget hostage in an effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Japan’s new nationalistic government embarked on a bold, and so far largely successful attempt to revive the country’s anemic economy.

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Quantitative easing comes to Europe

Last month, the European Central Bank (ECB) announced its plans to commence a €60 billion (nearly $70 billion) of quantitative easing (QE) through September 2016. In doing so, it is following in the footsteps of American, British, and Japanese central banks all of which have undertaken QE in recent years. Given the ECB’s actions, now is a good time to review quantitative easing. What is it?

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I miss Intrade

Although the media hype is usually most frenetic during presidential election years, this season’s mid-term elections are generating a great deal of heat, if not much light. By October 13, contestants in 36 gubernatorial races had spent an estimated $379 million on television ads, while hopefuls in the 36 Senate races underway had spent a total of $321 million. For those addicted to politics, newspapers and magazines have long provided abundant, sometimes even insightful coverage.

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