The G20 agenda, as the pandemic continues

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August 28, 2021 — Italy hosts the G20 this year.  The 2021 Summit of the Heads of Government will take place in Rome in October. Officials of member countries, including the finance ministers and central bank governors, are preparing.

The G20 meeting will come at a time of great uncertainty as concerns the health and economic effects of the pandemic, midway through its 2nd year.  Although the mechanisms of international cooperation have been badly bruised by events of recent years, they are more important than ever, in light of the interconnectedness across nations that the pandemic so vividly demonstrates. read more

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The Virus, Vaccination, and Voting

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July 25, 2021 — Ever since the 1960s, we have heard the cliché, “If they can put a man on the Moon, why can’t they do X?” where X is usually some goal like eliminating hunger — technologically simpler than the scientific miracle of space flight, but harder to accomplish in practice because it involves human behavior.  In 2021, the salient question is, “If we can accomplish the scientific miracle of developing vaccines capable of ending the Covid-19 pandemic that has killed millions, why can’t we convince enough people to get vaccinated?” read more

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How concerned am I about a bubble?

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For The International Economy magazine, Summer Issue, 2021.
Question: “HOW CONCERNED ARE YOU ABOUT A BUBBLE?”

“On a scale of one to ten, how worried are you about the potential for asset bubbles bursting?”

My response:  9 out of10

Financial markets are indeed experiencing bubbles, spurred in part by easy money. Eventually, the bubbles will end.  A bursting could have severe adverse consequences for the real economy, as in 1929 or 2008; but fortunately, that outcome is not guaranteed.

Asset prices are high by historical standards. For example, Shiller’s ratio of US stock prices to cyclically adjusted earnings is above 37, as of June 2021.  It has been above 30 only twice before: 1929 and 2000. read more

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