PERC Blog


Authored by PERC staff, the PERC Blog focuses on policy issues including fiscal policy, Social Security and Medicare entitlement programs, income inequality and Federal Reserve policy.

The Fed and Interest Rates: Where Do We Go From Here?

Posted: September 13, 2019 by Dennis W. Jansen, Thomas R. Saving
As market interest rates continue their downward slide, the press is awash with predictions of how much the Fed will reduce interest rates at its September 17 and 18 meeting. The very fact that market interest rates are changing without Fed action begs the question of whether the Fed can even influence the direction of change in market interest ...

FOMC July 31: A Post-Mortem

Posted: August 05, 2019 by Dennis W. Jansen, Thomas R. Saving
On July 31 the Fed announced a 25 basis point cut in both its target band for the federal funds rate and in its rate of interest on excess reserves (IOER).  The new IOER would be 2.15%.  Media coverage widely parroted the statement that the Fed had lowered interest rates for the first time since the onset of the Great Recession.  ...

FOMC July 30-31: Ten Reasons to Cut Rates

Posted: July 29, 2019 by Dennis W. Jansen, Thomas R. Saving
Speculation is running high regarding whether the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will cut interest rates – either the Federal Funds Rate upper bound or more importantly, the interest rate on reserves– at its next meeting scheduled for July 30 and 31.  Opinions are split on what the FOMC should do, and what they will do.&nb...

FOMC June 18: A Post-Mortem

Posted: June 25, 2019 by Dennis W. Jansen, Thomas R. Saving
Media coverage of the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee’s action on June 18 reported that the Fed left interest rates unchanged, with the Federal Funds Rate range holding steady at 2.25% -2.5%.  Unremarked upon by the financial media, and unmentioned in the lead section of the Fed's statement, was the fact that the Fed’s...

The Cost of Tariffs on Chinese Products

Posted: June 13, 2019 by Dennis W. Jansen, Liqun Liu, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
Who pays for U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods?  According to some in the popular press, the answer is that the tariffs on China are paid entirely by U.S. importers, and eventually by U.S. consumers.  This answer seems to be based on the observation that U.S. importers must pay the tariff to the U.S. Customs authorities before the imported...

The Fed Must Reduce Rates Now!

Posted: June 11, 2019 by Dennis W. Jansen, Thomas R. Saving
The FOMC’s press release from its May 1 meeting emphasized that the economy was on an even keel, and that no change in the Fed Funds Rate target was in store. This steady-as-you-go decision was highlighted in the popular press. Hardly noticed was the small 5 basis point reduction in the interest rate on excess reserves, IOER, despite the f...

Reforming Social Security the Right Way

Posted: June 04, 2019 by Dennis W. Jansen, Liqun Liu, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
Social Security (and specifically the Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance, or OASDI) is in deficit.  We are collecting less in Social Security taxes than we pay out in benefits,  the trust fund is declining and is expected to be fully depleted in sixteen years, in 2035. Baby Boomers are retiring in record numbers, the number of...

The Downsides of Minimum Wage Increases

Posted: May 10, 2019 by Jonathan Meer
The House of Representatives recently took up the Raise the Wage Act, which would more than double the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next five years. The debate among economists over the impacts of minimum wage increases on employment is still ongoing, even as there is widespread agreement that low-income families need support. Bu...

Federal Liabilities and Individual Assets: The Case of Social Security

Posted: March 01, 2019 by Dennis W. Jansen, Liqun Liu, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
Each spring or early summer, the Social Security and Medicare Trustees issue their annual reports on the status of the programs’ Trust Funds. The news stories that follow primarily focus on the year when the Trust Funds will be exhaust...

The Cost of Democratic Socialism

Posted: February 20, 2019 by Svetozar Pejovich
A defining feature of the 20th century was the struggle between capitalism and three major types of socialism: Communism, national socialism, and fascism. All three types of socialisms, as well as Cuba and Venezuela today, failed to duplicate the accomplishments of capitalism in raising the standard of living. Yet, a supposed new brand of social...

The Little-Known Fact That Will Make the National Debt Even Harder to Tackle

Posted: December 19, 2018 by Dennis W. Jansen, Thomas R. Saving
The federal government is skirting dangerous shoals with an irresponsible fiscal policy. We are running massive budget deficits in a booming peacetime economy. These deficits are increasing our federal debt—which means we are also paying more to service the debt and more interest on every dollar of debt. While the Federal Reserve has be...

Pensions Rescued by Borrowing: What Could Go Wrong with That?

Posted: October 02, 2018 by Dennis W. Jansen, Liqun Liu, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
A Tale of Two Cities   The dominant form of pensions for public sector workers are defined benefit plans. Such plans typically specify a retirement age and a benefit formula that determines the yearly payment to retirees. The benefit formulas are based on the number of years of employment, the average of their...

How Not to Solve the Problem of Trade Deficits

Posted: July 09, 2018 by Dennis W. Jansen, Liqun Liu, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
The U.S. has run persistent trade deficits since the early 1990s and the annual trade deficit has increased to $566 billion in 2017.  This has raised concerns that our trading partners are taking advantage of us.  Since March, President Trump has roared about our trade deficit with China, equal to $375 billion in 2017, as well as China...

Riding the Spending Wave

Posted: July 06, 2018 by Andrew J. Rettenmaier
The Congressional Budget Office’s recently released long-term forecast does not paint a pretty picture of the federal government’s financial future.  Deficits are expected in all future years as federal spending grows faster than tax revenues. The aging of the US population combined with rapidly growing per capita health care sp...

Social Security Trust Fund Underscores Need for Reform

Posted: July 03, 2018 by Dennis W. Jansen, Thomas R. Saving
The Social Security Trust Fund is basically an interest-bearing I.O.U. from the U.S. Treasury to the U.S. Social Security Administration.  As long as general revenue is used to cover all shortfalls in Social Security taxes, the trust fund plays no important economic role in allocating resources, but may highlight the need for reform...

Fiddling While Rome Burns?

Posted: June 05, 2018 by Dennis W. Jansen, Andrew J. Rettenmaier
Economists often counsel that we should look at 'revealed preferences,' the idea that actions speak louder than words.  What does this viewpoint tell us about our commitment to fiscal responsibility since last January? Recent actions by Congress have both lowered tax revenues and raised previously set spending caps....

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