Benn Steil

Geo-Graphics

A graphical take on geoeconomic issues, with links to the news and expert commentary.

“It’s the Growth, Stupid” (Or Half of It): Unemployment in North Carolina

by Benn Steil and Dinah Walker Tuesday, February 11, 2014
north carolina

In July, North Carolina cut off unemployment benefits for those who have been on benefits for 19 weeks, down from 99.  This made it a test run for what would happen nationally after January 1, when the federal extension of unemployment benefits expired. Read more »

“The Euro Crisis Is Dead! Long Live the Euro Crisis!”

by Benn Steil and Dinah Walker Friday, January 24, 2014
spanish spreads

You’ve got to hand it to Mario Draghi.  Never in the history of central banking has one man accomplished so much with so few words and even less action.

Since having announced the creation of the Outright Monetary Transaction (OMT) program in August 2012, Draghi has had the pleasure of sitting back and watching yield spreads between Spanish and German government bonds fall relentlessly without having to buy a single bond.  Italian spreads have done the same. Read more »

Which Fed Guidance Should We Believe?

by Benn Steil and Dinah Walker Monday, January 13, 2014
forward guidance

In October 2012, the Fed issued what came to be called a “pledge” to keep its target interest rate near zero through mid-2015.  The market immediately reacted as the Fed wanted, centering expectations on a rate hike in mid-2015.

At its next meeting, the Fed abandoned date-based guidance in favor of data-based guidance: a pledge to keep rates near zero until the unemployment rate fell below 6.5%.  The Fed emphasized, however, that the two pledges were consistent, as it didn’t expect unemployment to fall below that level until mid-2015. Read more »

“It’s the Inflation, Stupid”

by Benn Steil and Dinah Walker Monday, December 16, 2013
dual mandate

“Based on labor market data alone, the probability of a reduction in the pace of asset purchases has increased,” said Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard on December 9.  Indeed, Fed watchers have been firmly focused on the improving labor market data in their handicapping of the prospects for an imminent Fed “taper” of its monthly asset purchases, known as “QE3,” which it began back in September 2012. Read more »

Beware of Greeks Bearing Primary Budget Surpluses

by Benn Steil and Dinah Walker Wednesday, December 4, 2013
primary balance and default

Things are looking up in Greece – that’s what Greek ministers have been telling the world of late, pointing to the substantial and rapidly improving primary budget surplus the country is generating.  Yet the country’s creditors should beware of Greeks bearing surpluses. Read more »

Is a “Decisive Role” for Market Forces in China Compatible with a 7 Percent Growth Target?

by Benn Steil and Dinah Walker Wednesday, November 20, 2013
china target vs us forecast

The Chinese government is early next year expected to announce a 7% growth target for 2014, a rate China has managed to exceed every year since 1990.  Chinese growth has also exceeded the government target at least as far back as 2001 (the first year for which we have found such targets); the target has therefore in essence been a floor.  In contrast, as today’s Geo-Graphic shows, the White House has overestimated U.S. growth 70% of the time since 2001. Read more »

ECB Rate Cut a No-Brainer; Also, for Many, a No-Gainer

by Benn Steil and Dinah Walker Wednesday, November 6, 2013
inflation and correlation

Back in April, we showed that the eurozone countries most in need of lower corporate borrowing rates benefited only marginally from ECB rate cuts. Today’s Geo-Graphic shows that little has changed in this regard; the financial crisis has clearly done serious and lasting damage to the monetary transmission mechanism in Europe – particularly as it affects Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Italy. Read more »

Paul Krugman’s Baltic Bust—Part III

by Benn Steil and Dinah Walker Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Does Paul Krugman Still Believe in “Icelandic Miracles”?Photo Courtesy of Daniel Williams Does Paul Krugman Still Believe in “Icelandic Miracles”?
Photo Courtesy of Daniel Williams

Geo-Graphics posts in July 2010 and 2012 showed that Paul Krugman’s devaluation-driven “Icelandic Miracle” was nothing of the sort – a figment of his having chosen the most favorable possible starting date (Q4 2007) for his Baltic (and Irish) economic-performance comparisons.  Move it forward or back, and Krugman’s story collapses like a warming arctic ice shelf. Read more »

Why the Labor Data Point to a September Fed Taper

by Benn Steil and Dinah Walker Monday, September 16, 2013
LPFR and discouraged workers

The August “jobs report is an important reminder that all this tapering talk is insane and dangerous,” pronounced Slate economics writer Matt Yglesias, reflecting the consensus of the econo-commentariat.  But as today’s Geo-Graphic shows, the report is actually wholly consistent with a September Fed taper. Read more »