Tag Archives: despite

Productivity Is the Key to Economic Growth

Mother Jones

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Mick Mulvaney says the haters don’t know what they’re talking about:

In his remarks Tuesday, Mulvaney mentioned that the economy had often grown in the past at rates of 3 percent and called people’s objections to the Trump administration’s expectation of growth rates that high “absurd.”

“It used to be normal. Ten years ago, it was normal. In fact, it’s been normal for the history of the country,” said Mulvaney.

Mulvaney is sort of right about this. But there’s more to it. The basic formula for economic growth is simple: Economic growth = Population growth + Productivity growth. Population growth has been slowing down for decades, and Mulvaney isn’t going to change that. We know exactly what the population of the country is going to be over the next few years.

So that leaves productivity growth, which the BLS estimates here. Here’s what all three factors have looked like since 1960:

In order to achieve 3 percent economic growth, we need productivity growth of about 2.3 percent. This is decidedly not normal for the history of the country—not in the past 50 years, anyway. With the brief exception of the unsustainable housing bubble era, we haven’t hit that since the end of 60s.

Productivity growth is a real problem, and it’s something of a mystery why it’s been so low lately. But it’s a mystery to Mulvaney too, and it’s certainly not due to punitive tax rates or heavy-handed regulations. Despite this, Mulvaney is suggesting that Trump can more than double the productivity growth rate of the past ten years, reaching a target we haven’t hit in a normal, healthy economy for the past half century. There’s simply no reason to believe this, and Mulvaney hasn’t even tried to explain how he thinks Trump can accomplish it. Not even hand waving. He’s literally said nothing about productivity growth at all.

Until he does, nobody should believe his growth estimates. It all comes down to productivity, and that’s what Mulvaney needs to talk about.

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Productivity Is the Key to Economic Growth

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Raw Data: Health Care Spending Growth Around the World

Mother Jones

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I got into a conversation today about my contention from last night that national health care systems are better at controlling costs than the private sector. We all know that US health care costs are the highest in the world, but are they growing faster than the rest of the world? And how about different health care sectors in the US?

I haven’t looked at this in years, so I decided to dig up the data and see. First off, here is growth in health care spending among a representative group of rich countries during recent decades:

This data is a little tricky because some countries changed the way they calculated health care spending during this period. I didn’t use any of them, and it’s possible that one or two might have grown faster than us. But the US is certainly in the top two or three, if not at the very top.

One problem with international comparisons of health care spending is that some countries are aging faster than others, and it stands to reason that countries with older populations will spend more than those with younger populations. Here’s a look at spending growth during the period 1970-2002 that controls for aging:

During these earlier decades there are several countries with higher growth rates than the US. I’m a little surprised there weren’t more, given that postwar European countries were still catching up to the US during the first half of this period.

Finally, here’s a comparison of growth rates just within the US:

The data here tells a pretty consistent story. Despite starting at a higher base, the US is in the top two or three in the world—maybe at the very top—for health care spending growth over the past half century or so. Within the US, private health care spending growth has outpaced both Medicare and Medicaid. Both internationally and in the US, government-run health care programs appear to be better at controlling costs than the private sector.

Of course, there are other sources of data and other ways of doing comparisons, so don’t take this as the last word. If I come across any other studies that seem to have interesting ways of slicing the data, I’ll follow up.

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Raw Data: Health Care Spending Growth Around the World

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Chart of the Day: The Supreme Court Over the Past 70 Years

Mother Jones

Christopher Ingraham at Wonkblog pointed me to an interesting bit of data yesterday. It’s the Martin-Quinn measure of how the Supreme Court tilts over time, and apparently it’s widely accepted as reasonably accurate. Here it is for the entire postwar period:

There are two fascinating nuggets here:

Despite conservative kvetching, the Court has leaned conservative for all but seven years from 1946 to 2013. The seven years of the Warren Court are literally the only period in recent history during which the Court has been consistently liberal.
The Martin-Quinn measure depends on the votes of the median judge, which is Anthony Kennedy right now. This is what accounts for the Court’s recent shift to the left. According to his Martin-Quinn score, Kennedy has been getting steadily less conservative ever since he joined the Court, and over the past three years he’s become positively liberal:

I suppose this is old news to veteran court watchers, but it’s new to me. Has Kennedy really shifted that much over his career? And is he now generally left of center? If so, does this have anything to do with the effect of Sotomayor and Kagan joining the Court in 2009-10? It sure looks like it.

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Chart of the Day: The Supreme Court Over the Past 70 Years

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While Trump tweets out insults, Obama publishes an article about clean energy in a scientific journal.

In the piece, which appeared in Science on Monday, the president outlines four reasons that “the trend toward clean energy is irreversible”:

1. Economic growth and cutting carbon emissions go hand in hand. Any economic strategy that doesn’t take climate change into account will result in fewer jobs and less economic growth in the long term.

2. Businesses know that reducing emissions can boost bottom lines and make shareholders happy. And efficiency boosts employment too: About 2.2 million Americans now have jobs related to energy efficiency, compared to about 1.1 million with fossil fuel jobs.

3. The market is already moving toward cleaner electricity. Natural gas is replacing coal, and renewable energy costs are falling dramatically — trends that will continue (even with a coal-loving president).

4. There’s global momentum for climate action. In 2015 in Paris, nearly 200 nations agreed to bring down carbon emissions.

“Despite the policy uncertainty that we face, I remain convinced that no country is better suited to confront the climate challenge and reap the economic benefits of a low-carbon future than the United States and that continued participation in the Paris process will yield great benefit for the American people, as well as the international community,” Obama concludes — optimistically.

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While Trump tweets out insults, Obama publishes an article about clean energy in a scientific journal.

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New York State will shut down its dangerously placed Indian Point nuclear plant.

In the piece, which appeared in Science on Monday, the president outlines four reasons that “the trend toward clean energy is irreversible”:

1. Economic growth and cutting carbon emissions go hand in hand. Any economic strategy that doesn’t take climate change into account will result in fewer jobs and less economic growth in the long term.

2. Businesses know that reducing emissions can boost bottom lines and make shareholders happy. And efficiency boosts employment too: About 2.2 million Americans now have jobs related to energy efficiency, compared to about 1.1 million with fossil fuel jobs.

3. The market is already moving toward cleaner electricity. Natural gas is replacing coal, and renewable energy costs are falling dramatically — trends that will continue (even with a coal-loving president).

4. There’s global momentum for climate action. In 2015 in Paris, nearly 200 nations agreed to bring down carbon emissions.

“Despite the policy uncertainty that we face, I remain convinced that no country is better suited to confront the climate challenge and reap the economic benefits of a low-carbon future than the United States and that continued participation in the Paris process will yield great benefit for the American people, as well as the international community,” Obama concludes — optimistically.

Source: 

New York State will shut down its dangerously placed Indian Point nuclear plant.

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