This is the first in what I’m planning will be a series of posts discussing the contribution that the energy price spike of 2008 made to our present economic difficulties. In this first installment, I revisit a very interesting research paper on the response of consumer spending to energy price increases written by Lutz Kilian (Professor of Economics at the University of Michigan), and Paul Edelstein (Senior Economist for Decision Economics). I first brought this paper to the attention of Econbrowser readers in the spring of 2007. I thought now would be a good time to take a look at how well the equations in Edelstein and Kilian’s paper can describe what we saw happen in the later part of 2007 and first half of 2008.
The global financial crisis is drying up the financing that firms depend on for trade. That’s making the global recession nastier and deeper than it otherwise would be.
As with all kinds of credit these days, financial institutions are making less trade finance available and charging more for it. But the squeeze in trade stands out because it pinches otherwise healthy companies that should be driving a recovery in global commerce. Already, the World Bank predicts trade will contract next year for the first time since 1982.
As we near the end of the year, and the end of eight years of Bush economic policy, I think it’s useful to look back. The White House has recently tangled with the NYT regarding what got us into the current economic crisis  (see also ). This comes on the heels of the Paulson argument that he would not have done anything different, had he known the full extent of the looming crisis. This leads me to wonder how we should view the Bush Administration’s stewardship of the economy.
Several months ago, I discussed the implications of a model of the exchange rate wherein Taylor rule fundamentals — the output , inflation and exchange rate gaps — were central (post). In that paper [pdf], I showed that Taylor rule fundamentals outperformed purchasing power parity, interest rate parity, and the monetary model of exchange rates in terms of in-sample fit, at least insofar as the dollar/euro exchange rate is concerned.
Here I survey how we got here, where things currently stand, and what it all means.
A few thoughts on how the federal government might best implement a fiscal stimulus.
One of the debates regarding the current financial crisis is whether in fact there is a crisis, or whether in fact the financial system is operating normally. I’ve been skeptical myself of the “times are normal view”, but here is some evidence that the credit crunch is real. The findings also reinforces my view that un-nuanced reliance on highly aggregated volume statistics (e.g., Chari et al. 2008) is likely to result in misleading inferences (See the rejoinder from the Boston Fed’s economists). From the conclusion to Tong and Wei (2008) ungated version of Tong and Wei:
Chrysler LLC, awaiting a federal rescue as its cash dwindles, will shut all 30 of its plants for at least a month starting Dec. 19 as unsold cars and trucks pile up at showrooms.
Ford Motor Co. said it will idle most of its North American assembly plants for the first week of January, while General Motors Corp. said a new factory making engines for the Chevrolet Volt electric car is being delayed to conserve cash.
The cutbacks showed how far automakers are going to save money and prune output in a year in which industrywide U.S. sales are poised to fall to their lowest levels since 1991. GM and Chrysler say they may run out of operating funds in just weeks without emergency U.S. aid.