Thursday, December 10, 2009

News In Brief

-Australia saw employment rise again, by 31,200 (equivalent to about 450,000 in America). This increases the likelihood that the Reserve Bank of Australia will again raise interest rates at their next meeting.

-Rising stock and real estate prices causes the aggregate net worth of Americans to rise for a second quarter during Q3 2009. However, downward revisions of previous numbers means that reported Q3 2009 net worth was only slightly above initially reported Q2 2009 net worth.

-In this New York Times article, it is noted that in terms of volume of key consumer goods like cars and refrigerators, China has already taken over America (though at a per capita level, America is still of course way ahead). The article does rightly note that the current boom in China is however partially based on an unsustainable credit boom, which makes a cyclical setback in the near future likely.

The other caveat that the authors make is however less legitimate, as they note that while the number of cars and other consumer durables sold in China is higher than in America, the dollar value is lower. While it is possible that this could to some extent reflect differences in quality, a more likely explanation is that the general price level in China is lower. China is after all widely criticized for having an undervalued currency.

-Paul Krugman compares the followers of the Austrian School to the followers of infamously deranged sectarian Lyndon LaRouche (his theories are best summarized by Homer Simpson in the "Citizen Kang" segment of the Simpsons episode "Treehouse of horror VII": "aliens, bio-duplication, nude conspiracies. Oh my god, Lyndon LaRouche was right!"), and implies that he prefers the LaRoucheans to Austrians. He has however not answered the critique against his criticism of the Austrian school that I and others have raised.

-Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia all saw their goods trade deficits drop dramatically compared to the previous year. Combined with rising surpluses in service trade and investment income, this has caused their current account balances to go from large deficits to large surpluses. The Baltic States have thus clearly achieved the desirable correction of their imbalances-though at the painful price of significant drops in output and increases in unemployment.

And finally, another thanks to those who have contributed and a reminder to those who still haven't contributed.