Weekly Roundup

Weekly Roundup

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On December 30, the Bank for International Settlements published a working paper on the role of credit rating agencies in the sovereign debt problems of the 1930s. It finds that their ratings were not especially insightful and added little to what was generally known.

On December 28, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis posted a study of business cycle turning points.

In a December 26 blog post, University of California, San Diego, economist James Hamilton said that the recent rise in interest rates is a good thing. However, it only puts the yield curve back to where it was a year ago, which indicates that rates will have to rise much more before the economy is fully recovered.

In a December 22 commentary, American Enterprise Institute economists Mark Perry and Robert Dell placed 100 percent of the blame for the economic crisis on government policies. (They neglect to note that if this is true, then 100 percent of the blame must necessarily fall on the George W. Bush administration since the crisis began on his watch and was necessarily caused by actions during his presidency.)

On December 21, Towers Watson released the 2010 edition of its annual report on tort costs in the U.S. Its finds that such costs fell in 2009 and have essentially been flat since 2005 after many years of double-digit increases. It estimates total tort costs at $248.1 billion in 2009.

On December 16, the Brookings Institution published a study on the decline of manufacturing jobs in metropolitan areas.

On December 9, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia posted a working paper examining recent data on productivity. It finds that drawing conclusions is difficult because of large and frequent revisions to the data.

On December 3, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston posted a working paper suggesting that the decline of unionization in the U.S. is related to bank deregulation, which made capital more easily available to new startups that are less susceptible to unionization.

On November 18, the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia posted a working paper estimating the impact of unemployment insurance on unemployment rates. It finds that UI adds between 0.9 and 1.7 percentage points to the unemployment rate.

Bruce Bartlett is an American historian and columnist who focuses on the intersection between politics and economics. He blogs daily and writes a weekly column at The Fiscal Times. Bartlett has written for Forbes Magazine and Creators Syndicate, and his work is informed by many years in government, including as a senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House. He is the author of seven books including the New York Times best-seller, Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy (Doubleday, 2006).

Bruce Bartlett’s columns focus on the intersection of politics and economics. The author of seven books, he worked in government for many years and was senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House.