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What can we learn from economic policy disasters?

Is it morbid or therapeutic to analyze the economic catastrophes of the past? What critical strategies can be imported from the realms of medicine and military history to the study of the current state of the economy? Richard Grossman, author of Wrong: Nine Economic Policy Disasters and What We Can Learn From Them, skillfully dissects the cadavers of economic policies.

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Fixed Term Parliaments Act

Was there ever a more hollow and impotent piece of legislation than the UK’s Fixed Term Parliaments Act? Trumpeted by the Conservative-led coalition as a way of stopping opportunist prime ministers ever again calling snap elections to capitalize on hefty poll leads – by complicating simple confidence votes in ways that prompted Labour to condemn it as a constitutional “stitch-up” – within six short years of receiving Royal Assent it has proved itself wholly incapable of doing any such thing.

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Globalization’s prospects, 2017

2016 was a rough year for globalization. And 2017 may get even rougher. By globalization, I mean the growing interconnectedness between economies through cross-border flows of goods and services, money, and people. The world has undergone two “eras of globalization” during the past century and a half. The first occurred during the 40 years or so before World War I.

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Alexander Hamilton and the public debt

have not yet seen Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit Broadway show Hamilton. I feel badly about this for three reasons. First, Miranda is a 2002 Wesleyan graduate, a loyal and generous alumnus who gave a great commencement speech in 2015 and remains solidly committed to the university. Second, the music and lyrics are, quite simply, amazing. Third, as an economic historian, it is heartening to see one of America’s economic heroes make it to Broadway.

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Location, location, location: Why the HSBC headquarters stayed in London

Last month HSBC, one of the world’s largest banks, decided not to move its headquarters from London to Hong Kong.The revelation that a company is staying put is usually not earth-shattering news. Nonetheless, HSBC’s decision made headlines in Asia, Europe, and the US for three reasons. First, HSBC is the world’s fifth largest commercial bank: it holds more than $2.5 trillion in assets and is exceeded in size only by four state-owned Chinese banks.

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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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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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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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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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Changing focus

By Richard S. Grossman
For the past half dozen years or so, the first Friday of the month has brought fear and dread to large portions of the United States. This heightened anxiety has nothing to do with the phases of the moon, the expiration of multiple financial derivatives, or concerns about not having a date for the weekend.

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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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The economics of sanctions

By Richard S. Grossman
Russia’s seizure of Crimea from Ukraine has left its neighbors—particularly those with sizable Russian-speaking populations such as Kazakhstan, Latvia, Estonia, and what is left of Ukraine—looking over their shoulder wondering if they are next on Vladimir Putin’s list of territorial acquisitions. The seizure has also left Europe and United States looking for a coherent response.

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The good tax

No one enjoys paying taxes. Remember receiving your first paycheck and discovering how much of your hard-earned money you would be sharing with the government? Most of us recognize that some taxes are necessary. Although economics recognizes the need for taxes to fund the government, it is pretty clear-eyed about the downside of taxes. One example is the tax on cigarettes.

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2016 US presidential election reading list

Following the 2016 US Presidential election, we have curated a series of reading lists with resources that provide insight into electoral politics, key themes that stimulated some of the major debates from the election season, and important topics of discussion relating to the potential outcomes of the election. We have selected books and resources that detail American politics and investigate issues that influenced the recent presidential campaigns,

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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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A fist-full of dollar bills

The next time you are slipping the valet a couple of folded dollar bills, take a good look at those George Washingtons. You might never see them again. Every few years, there is a renewed push for the United States to replace the dollar bill with its shiny cousin, the one dollar coin.

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