Randomized control trials and economic models: friends or foes?

Randomized control trial (RTC) studies are getting more and more attention among policymakers in the last few decades. In addition, the RCT is one of the core experimental methodologies used by the recent nobel prize laureates in economics Duflo, Kremer and Banerjee

Given the excitement around these methods, Chicago University has recently run the IGM Economic Experts Panel asking economic experts on whether the “ Randomized control trials are a valuable tool for making significant progress in poverty reduction”. The results of the poll are summarized in the graph below. 

The chart above highlights respondents’ agreement distribution. What struck me most from the results was Angus Deaton’s strong disagreement with the statement – especially given that he is an expert in the field.

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Measuring “OK Boomer”

In a sense OK Boomer has a history as long as the lives of Baby Boomers themselves – at least if we relate such things to the overlapping generations models in economics.

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Should a central bank target wage inflation instead of price stability?

Olivier Blanchard’s recent speech at the Brookings Institution event “What’s (not) up with inflation?” encouraged me to write this post.

Blanchard is still my second favourite economist (after Matt Nolan of course 🙂 ). But despite that I felt that some of the important elements of the discussion was missing, and I didn’t fully agree with some of Blanchard’s arguments on GDP inflation being used in the same way as the CPI inflation, which needs a separate post perhaps.

Today I want to discuss wage inflation, price inflation, and central bank targets.

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Retirement savings and tax: Why are we disincentivising green alternatives?

In an earlier post I noted that a partial solution to the climate crisis is large scale investments in capital-intensive green energy projects, particularly in developing countries. This provides an opportunity for middle-aged savers in high income countries, so long as their savings are productively invested.

This is where New Zealand has an issue. 

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When to run the economy hot?

Former Fed Chair Janet Yellen has recently suggested it is a good time to run the US economy hot (in the short-run) underpinned by the argument that the further fall in unemployment rate didn’t drag the inflation up.

The justification behind this is that the Phillips curve appears to have become quite flat.  As a result, stronger demand need not drive up inflation by much – suggesting we have a situation where, even with relatively low unemployment, inflation expectations are strongly anchored. 

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Finance and greenhouse gas emissions

The world faces three particularly awkward economic issues over the next fifty years:  how global living standards can be maintained with lower greenhouse gas emissions; how poor people in countries that still have high population growth rates can be brought out of poverty; and how the impact of population ageing in higher income nations can be managed.

In this post I will discuss how the solution to these three issues can be linked. In a follow up I’ll use the example of New Zealand to show how policy settings may be making the third issue worse than it needs to be.

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