Category: Other

Mercantilist sentiments are dangerous nonsense

Some erroneous ideas die hard. That diseases are caused by “miasmas” no longer influences doctors. Farmers no longer believe, as the Greeks did, that the west wind somehow impregnates mares. But mercantilism, the erroneous notion that exports are inherently good…






Border adjustment tax is dangerous unknown

Congress is finally moving on tax “reform” and House Ways and Means Committee’s hearings brought forth a bevy of corporate executives — including from our own Target Corp. — to opine on the proposed “border adjustment tax” — a tax…






Trump’s ‘pump’ looks like liberal economics

When Donald Trump described his tax and spending proposals as “priming the pump,” we came full circle on the GOP’s approach to fiscal policy. Forth-six years after Richard Nixon offended many in his party by acknowledging, “I am now a…






Measles outbreak illustrates economic phenomena

Minnesotans like to excel, but I’d venture no one takes pleasure in us exceeding any other states in measles cases. The latest outbreak includes more than 50 cases, nearly all in Hennepin County and in Minneapolis, but there are at…






A wish list for the GOP Congress

The GOP majorities in both houses of Congress and the Trump administration talk expansively about cutting unnecessary federal spending, abolishing unneeded regulation and reforming the tax code to give greater incentives to economic efficiency. But the New Testament warning that…






Softwood saga is old tale with new twists

The Trump administration’s imposition of a tariff on softwood lumber imports from Canada is getting a lot of coverage. The story is a long one however, and in this chapter it will prove to be less important than it might…






Some facts about taxes

Taxes are in the news. We all just finished our returns for 2016; Donald Trump again claims that he cannot disclose his returns because he is being audited; and rumor has it that a distinguished University of Minnesota economics prof…






What big banks and airlines have in common

This was a mixed week for John Stumpf, the disgraced ex-CEO of Wells Fargo. A debacle with elements of farce occurring last Sunday on a United Airlines flight has replaced Stumpf with UAL’s CEO Oscar Munoz as hapless corporate executive…






A professor’s garden of rational expectations

Economics is the study of how humans make decisions about allocating scarce resources. We all do that every day. So I make my microecon students identify examples of key economic phenomena in their own daily activities. I demonstrate with examples…






Why farm ‘income’ is hard to measure

Nearly a third of Minnesota farmers are losing money, according to a joint report from our two statewide public university systems. This is not surprising news. Most farm product prices are down and everyone in the sector knows that farmers…