Thursday, June 15, 2006

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How to make people read about economic concepts

Megan McArdle has two posts today on economics that are worth checking out -- both for their substantive content and for the excellent way in which she lures readers who might be put off by economic jargon into perusing them anyway.

For example, in this post on comparing the U.S. macroeconomic situation to the developing world, there is this great passage:

It is common, and silly, for people worrying about America's current account deficit to make statements like this:
If the US were a developing nation, it would have been IMFed by now.
And if I were Anna Nicole Smith, I would have absolutely ENORMOUS . . . vacation homes. This is not very relevant to my current summer plans.
Check out this post on stagflation as well. It's a moment of convergence between Megan and Kevin Drum.

posted by Dan on 06.15.06 at 03:43 PM


"If the US were a developing nation, it would have been IMFed by now."

You're missing the fact that that is actually an accurate statement.

Fortunately the U.S. isn't a developing country and a safer bet for investments than most other countries, as she points out. But she is poo-pooing some serious stuff: the U.S. economy's ratios are waaay out of whack and we are operating with a minimalist safety net; plus there are potential wild cards out there such as terrorism. The U.S. needs to get it house in order pronto.

As extreme as it may sound, the U.S. is closer to becoming Argentina than it wants to acknowledge.

posted by: St. James the Lesser on 06.15.06 at 03:43 PM [permalink]

Our "leaders" think the laws of physics and economics don't apply to the US. In the words of philospher Gilberto Santa Rosa: "Todo lo que sube tiene que caer." I don't see any sign that the spending binge by both govt and consumers will end until every asset has been tapped out and foreigners finally stop buying US debt. The dollar will fall hard and the economy will change seemingly overnight.

posted by: OpenBorderMan on 06.15.06 at 03:43 PM [permalink]


You should wade into the comments. It would be very interesting.



posted by: mickslam on 06.15.06 at 03:43 PM [permalink]

Another way to phrase it is that the US is pursuing policies which lead quickly to disaster, in countries which don't have the 'cushion' that the US has. This wouldn't be a problem, except that the ruling party has made it clear that a 'cushion' isn't a margin of safety, but something to be looted.

posted by: Barry on 06.15.06 at 03:43 PM [permalink]

Panicking? Why, life can be muy bueno in our corrupt pathetic banana republic, at least for the benevolent elite to which you sad proles clearly do not belong. We need only wait for real depreciation to cut the poignant little nesteggs of the home-biased patriots and the big claims of timorous ass-covering Chinese reserve managers. Then we get back in and snap up your nontraded goods and services, cheap. We buy your tight-packed luxuriant heaving homes and smash them down to show our taste. We slash the perpetuity value of your cute little perky human-resource job skills and make you work work like abject slaves for peon wages, and pretend you are fulfilled, to make us laugh. Then, the disappearances and the nunraping, and cigars, big Havana cigars, so big I have to twiddle them with both hands! Ah, life is good.

posted by: Sourdes Menées on 06.15.06 at 03:43 PM [permalink]

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