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A Real-Assets Model of Economic Crises: Will China Crash in 2015

Henry George proposed that land speculation creates boom-bust cycles. I propose a real-assets model of economic crises, loosely based on George’s theory, in which land prices play a central role. Swings in land prices affect the entire economy by three mechanisms: construction on marginal sites, partial displacement of circulating capital by fixed capital investment, and the . . . → Read More: A Real-Assets Model of Economic Crises: Will China Crash in 2015

How to Thaw Credit, Now and Forever

Working capital is the bloodstream of economic life. It is physical capital, the fast turning inventories of goods in process and finished goods that supply materials to the worker, and feed and clothe her family. Short term commercial loans and trade credit buy it, but the capital is “real”—a fact often forgotten in the paper and virtual worlds of . . . → Read More: How to Thaw Credit, Now and Forever

THE GREAT CRASH OF 2008

This crash is The Big One; it has signs of becoming a Category 5. How do we know? We’ve “been there and done that” so many times before, roughly every 18 years over the last 800 or more. Major wars and, rarely, plagues have broken the rhythm, along with the little ice age, reformation and counter-reformation, political revolutions and . . . → Read More: THE GREAT CRASH OF 2008

Stimulus: the False and the True

“Stimulus” is the buzzword du jour of domestic policy, but its old metaphors ring with sad satiety: kick-start the motor, jump the battery, prime the pump, shot-in-the-arm, wake-up call, jolt, multiplier, ripple effect, … . Fact is, “we’ve been there and done that” several times for generations back. We have been doing it again for seven years now – that . . . → Read More: Stimulus: the False and the True

The Shrinking Dollar

In January 2006 Insights showed how successive administrations in Washington have doctored the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to conceal the real rise in the Cost of Living (COL). Self-defined “mainstream” economists have served as tools, some as active leaders and others as sheep in the herd.

For Insights column in Groundswell . . . → Read More: The Shrinking Dollar

What Is “Consumption”?

To consume most goods and services is to eat them up, burn them, wear them out, see them break or rust out or crack or tumble down. But how about land, does anyone think of that? Land as space is not used up. To consume it is to preempt its service flow without impairing . . . → Read More: What Is “Consumption”?

Taxes, Capital and Jobs – Revised

We hear a lot these days about the need for more capital to make jobs. Some of what we hear and read we may discount as self-serving, lobbying for more preferential tax treatment of profits. Yet there is a case argued by sincere and public-minded people on objective grounds which we must take seriously.
It had better be a good . . . → Read More: Taxes, Capital and Jobs – Revised

A Cannan Hits the Mark

In 1907 Cannan fired off a round at local rating of site values. It hit home. First he recited the logic of what today we call the “tragedy of the commons” (it was common coin long before Garrett Hardin). Then he pointed out that a city taxing only site values to provide free public services would attract too many people . . . → Read More: A Cannan Hits the Mark

Land Gains, Fast Write-Off, and Incentives to Build

Once upon a time each building was written off from taxable income over something purporting to approximate its economic life. Then Congress and the industry began implementing the Commons variation of the George principle. They began shortening tax lives and steepening the gradient of depreciation paths. The light broke on most of us with the speed of a crepuscular Yukon sunrise, but . . . → Read More: Land Gains, Fast Write-Off, and Incentives to Build

Environmental Policies and Full Employment

In order to protect the environment, we are going to have to face up to the chronic (and now acute) problem of mass unemployment. To save jobs and make jobs we now tolerate polluting mills and vehicles; we chew up more earth each year for energy and materials; we secure and protect mineral rights abroad at great material, environmental and human . . . → Read More: Environmental Policies and Full Employment