Bleg: Puzzles in the Hassett Economic Report of the President, 2019

In the wake of the discussion of Figure 1-6 in the ERP, I thought it might be useful for me to collect up questions about puzzling or misleading graphs/tables or conclusions in the Report.

The entire document is here.

I don’t think I have ever made a similar request. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a similar CEA “massage the message” in quite the same way. Even the G.W. Bush CEA (of which I was briefly a part of) did not make such blatantly misleading graphics as highlighted in this post.

Clarification (3PM): I’ll then compile the contributions with my comments in a new post.

By the way, the more transparently reinterpretation of the ERP, 2019 graph…

Figure 1: Chinn’s reinterpretation of ERP, 2019 Figure 1-6. Trend growth rates calculated using log differences. Nonresidential investment based on reported aggregates. Equipment investment calculations uses data up to 2017Q3 for the pre-TCJA period. Source: BEA 2018Q3 final release, and author’s calculations.

58 thoughts on “Bleg: Puzzles in the Hassett Economic Report of the President, 2019

    1. CoRev

      C’mon Steven, this isn’t a problem, economic or otherwise. Making negative comments about an almost unread specialized report? Now that’s a real problem.

      1. pgl

        You don’t read the Economic Report of the President? Oh wait – you have not yet read any Principles of Economics text. Never mind!

      2. Menzie Chinn Post author

        CoRev: “almost unread specialized report”? Well, this is an economics blog, last I checked. ERP was required reading when I was an undergraduate, 35 years ago…and *economists* still read it.

        1. Steven Kopits

          I am under the impression that CoRev is referring to illegal immigration.

          I’ll be on Fox and Friends tomorrow at 6:15 am (I am sure most of you will want to wake up to watch!) talking about the numbers and the outlook for June. On trend, June should see 150,000 apprehensions at the southwest border, which would be by 35,000 the highest for the month since at least 2000. I’d add that forecasting under these kind of dynamic environments is very hard. On the other hand, I think migrants sense it’s do-or-die time, so if they want to come, now is the time. June could be very bad, potentially.

          Thereafter, I expect the Democrats to tap out and the door to close in July-ish. Keeping this loophole open will prove suicidal for Democrats, so I expect we’re running towards the end of the surge, with maybe a big July, and then a crackdown from August. That’s the working hypothesis, anyway.

          Here’s my interview from earlier in the week with One America News Network.

          1. pgl

            Thanks for the warning. NO ONE here will be watching because EVERY ONE here is bored with your incessant trolling.

          2. pgl

            One America News Network, also referred to as One America News, is an American right-wing pay television news channel launched on July 4, 2013, owned by Herring Networks, Inc.

            Hey Stevie Boy – I choose not to listen to your stupidity but I did read the comments in that youtube. Your usual disgusting racist comments from the people you pander to.

            Do us a favor Stevie Boy – do not bother us with your worthless self promotion. No one here cares what you have to say.

        2. CoRev

          Menzie thanks for confirming: “…about an almost unread specialized report? Now that’s a real problem.” with “…ERP was required reading when I was an undergraduate, 35 years ago…and *economists* still read it.” BLS estimates
          As of 2918 Search on economists gets us 18,650 as a total.

          BTW, that’s a fraction of the agriculture or more specifically the farming industry employment, a subject of some recent interest.

          1. Menzie Chinn Post author

            CoRev: Just thinkin’… how many students take economics. At UW-Madison, the biggest major in L&S is…economics.

            Man, you’re the master of irrelevancy.

          2. CoRev

            Menzie, obviously, “how many students take economics. At UW-Madison..) is irrelevant. Do you dispute the BLS estimate? I hope you noticed Spencer’s comment about no longer reading it.

            Menzie, to be clear I was commenting on Steven’s estimate in order to compare its relevance to the ERP and the complaints of it from one set of economists.

          3. Menzie Chinn Post author

            CoRev: You wrote “almost unread”. If economics majors are required to read, and there are many economics majors, then it hardly seems that ERP is little read. (I assigned ERP *and* CBO Budget and Economic Outlook each semester to 2 classes each semester…).

          4. CoRev

            Menzie, need I repeat my question about disputing the BLS estimate?

            “The UW-Madison Economics Department is a highly ranked program dedicated to excellence in research and teaching. The department is one of the largest departments in the College of Letters and Science with over 35 faculty, 1,200 undergraduate majors, and more than 300 graduate students.”

            So you are actively adding to the super minority of a major minority.

            Why do Dems not recognize the obvious problem, and instead adds to the illegal migration problem? Therre’s a whole list of problem areas that can be discussed instead of the one set of economists interpretation of the ERP. Even solving trade imbalances could be addressed, versus a chart of a minor administration report.

            BTW, it appears there is a Mexico and US deal re: illegal immigration.

  1. pgl

    I’m rehashing my post on figure 1-6 for a couple of reasons:

    The first is this quote from page 45 of ERP:

    ‘Equipment investment, in particular, exhibited a pronounced spike in the fourth quarter of 2017, as both the House and Senate versions of the TCJA bill, which were respectively introduced on November 2 and November 9, stipulated that full expensing for new equipment investment would be retroactive to September 2017. This created a strong financial incentive for companies to shift their equipment investment to the fourth quarter of 2017, so as to deduct new equipment investment at the old 35 percent statutory corporate income tax rate. After the initial spike in the rate of growth in fixed investment, standard neoclassical growth models would predict a return of the rate of growth to its pre-TCJA trend, but from a higher, post-TCJA level, with the capital-to-output ratio thereby asymptotically approaching its new, higher steady-state level.’

    Figure 1-6 gave the false impression that equipment investment fell during the pre-TCJA years, which is what got your initial attention. As you note in your graph, equipment investment rose remarkably during these years. Let’s chalk this quote from page 45 as a lie.

    I also noted in my post that overall investment grew at a 5.1% rate per year – not 1.5% per year. Your chart confirms my point. Let’s chalk this up as another Hassett lie.

    I would close that structures growth was very modest in the pre-TCJA but has been stronger of late. Trump is all about real estate I guess!

  2. Barkley Rosser


    Your noting how the ERP is getting worse and your precious involvement with putting ones together has me realizing how far it has fallen, and how this coincides with the fall of the CEA itself, which was given a major shove by Bill Clinton of all people when he created the NEC. It would become a matter of personalities, but the NEC Head would often become the prime economic policy adviser with the CEA Chair effectively shoved off into the background as someone to gather data and cook up stories to support the latest policy initiatives of the president and whoever is really the “top economic adviser.” For quite a few decades after the CEA was established, that person was more often than not the CEA Chair, and while ERPs certainly highlighted policy initiatives, they were serious documents and even sometimes had data or information not more widely available. Think of the days when Herb Stein was CEA Chair under Nixon or Walter Heller under JFK.

    A sign of this is how I remember the old days of the Cold War. The most valued item one could bring to Soviet economists who were in high level policy making positions was a recent copy of the ERP. I also remember how srudents in introductory classes in econ would have reading the latest one assigned to them. It was a big deal and it was taken seriously for a long time by a lot of people. The decline has been going on for some time, but it is sad, if not surprising at this latest apparent fall off the cliff into outright misleading propaganda nobody will pay attention to other than to point out the problems in it.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Barkley Rosser: The existence of NEC may have diluted CEA’s power (well definitely), but I don’t think it diminished the clarity or increased the partisanship of the Report (at least up to and during the Clinton years).

      1. pgl

        A tribute to Walter Heller who served as chair of the CEA from 1961 to 1964:

        I vividly recall a seminar in the late 1970’s where Heller explained to us the value of effective communication. Part of his story related to how LBJ was sort of the CEO type and preferred economic memos without staples – his colorful way of saying please do not feed me long discussions. It seems the folks at Treasury were incapable of being brief so Heller and his team got to see their long winded memos before they went to the President. Heller’s ability to convey what needed to be said in one page memos made the CEA the center piece of all economic advice that went to the President.

        Now just imagine if we had another Heller in this White House that could just cut off the nonsense from Kudlow, Ross, Navarro, and Mnuchin!

        1. Barkley Rosser

          Reading your link, pgl, reminds me that I received my BA in econ from UW-Madison almost precisely a half century ago, not sure of the exact date. Heller received an honorary degree at the ceremony, on top of his actual PhD from UW. It was clearly being given to him at the behest of his major professor, who was the late Harold Groves, uncle of Theodore Groves, who was retiring then, as is my wife is as of today. Harold had himself was an alum of UW, having gone there in the 19 teens and earliy 20s. He was one of the leading public finance economists in the US of the early to mid-20th century and a nice guy.

  3. pgl

    Trump says some really silly things but his latest is a real hoot!

    “We’re having a great talk with Mexico,” he told reporters. “We’ll see what happens. But something pretty dramatic could happen. We’ve told Mexico the tariffs go on. And I mean it, too. And I’m very happy with it. And lot of people, senators included, they have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to tariffs. They have no — absolutely no idea.”
    Like Trump has a clue. Oh wait – the Idiot in Chief had more to say:

    “When you have the money, when you have the product, when you have the thing that everybody wants, you’re in a position to do very well with tariffs, and that’s where we are,” he continued. “We’re the piggybank. The United States is the piggybank. It has all the money that others want to take from us, but they’re not taking it so easy anymore. It’s a lot different.”

    My Lord –Trump is a babbling bozo!

    1. Barkley Rosser

      The comment about how the US is “the piggbank” with “all the money” is pretty funny given the rather large pile of US treasury securities held by various foreign nations, with China at the top of the heap. But, hey, it is hard to find even a single thing in Trump’s remarks that makes any sense at all.

      1. pgl

        Personal story. A few years ago I decided I really needed a good winter coat and realized that a Burlington Coat factory outlet was nearby. A huge store with all sorts of choices. I bought only one thing there – the best winter coat I have ever owned. Suggest retail price = $200 but it was on sale for a mere $40 so of course I bought it as this was a great deal.

        Of course Burlington Resources has never purchased a thing from me. Trump’s logic has me be their piggy bank as my bilateral trade deficit with them was $40. Of course on some of NYC’s harsh winter days, I do not feel cheated as I definitely wear this coat.

        Yes – Donald Trump is truly an idiot!

  4. Moses Herzog

    Tell you who’s really good at sifting through the weeds on this type stuff. Mike Konczal. Hopefully he’s already looking at this. I don’t think Mike’s content is as good as it used to be when he was doing Rortybomb independently. But his content is still above average. I would be checking Konczal’s “space” over at Roosevelt blog and “The Nation” blog over the next 2 weeks to see if he has anything on it. There’s at least 25% chance Konczal will have something to say on it, and if he does it will be a pretty good numbers breakdown. When he puts his mind on the numbers and away from the “I’m super-SJW guy” stuff there’s few better at the math portion than Konczal.

    1. pgl

      I’m a little surprised that the other economist blogs are not all over chapter 1 of the ERP given its misrepresentations of the alleged benefits of TCJA for investment demand and long-term growth. Maybe the other economists have just decided that anything Hassett has written is not worth the time to read.

        1. pgl

          He and Glassman got to 36000 in a very strange valuation model. Two key assumptions:

          (1) the appropriate cost of capital = the risk-free rate as if the premium for bearing operational risk should be zero.

          (2) Cash flows = operating profits as if one could have a growing firm with absolutely no investment in new assets.

          (1) is weird to be sure but (2) is the utter incompetence that would get most students an F in corporate finance.

          It is not just that the prediction was way off. It showed the authors have no business talking about things like corporate finance let alone long-term economic growth.

      1. spencer

        I can member some 25 years ago when essentially every business economist studied the report.

        Now, I do not remember the last time I used it.

        Of course part of that is how so much more data is now readily and inexpensively available than before the widespread use of personal computers and Excel spreadsheets.

        Otto Eckstein did a masterful job of taking DRI public just before it became obvious that the personal computer and spreadsheets would ruin his business model.

  5. Moses Herzog

    I’m glad NYT got a minority woman to do this critique (or did every male book critic they ask suddenly tell them “Oh damn!!! My bad dysentery is starting again!!!” and frantically race in mortal fear to the NYT office bathrooms??). If they hadn’t Barkley Junior would be forced to put on his large size “SJW old-fart” cosplay outfit and give them hell for picking on this “poor girl” Naomi. After reading this, why does the “Freakonomics” book jump to the front of my mind?? Hmmmmm…… so strange a word association…..

    1. Barkley Rosser

      Just for the record, Moses, I am not a fan of Naomi Klein’s. Feel free to diss her all you want. I am annoyed that so many people take her so seriously.

      1. Moses Herzog

        People, I am not going to be the one to tell Barkley Junior where he screwed up this time. Even this blog-phile has an exhaustion point.

        1. Barkley Rosser

          Go ahead, Moses, tell me. I have no idea what you are talking about, and I doubt anybody else here does either. Please enlighten us. Really.

          1. Moses Herzog

            All I ask the readers to note is, Barkley Junior calls himself an “editor” and draw your own conclusions how that all works out.

          2. Barkley Rosser

            Well, Moses, it is not just me that “calls” me an editor. I am one, an easily verified fact. Go check website of Review of Behavioral Economics. As it is, it certainly remains a mystery to me how it is that I “screwed up” this time. I do not see any misspellings, which seems to be your main recent complaint. Nor have I confused Menzie with any other people, certainly not Naomi Klein.

  6. 2slugbaits

    Menzie I thought it might be useful for me to collect up questions about puzzling or misleading graphs/tables or conclusions in the Report.

    I’m a little unclear as to the purpose of this post. I expected to see a list of questions and puzzles that you had cataloged, but now I’m wondering if you intended this post as an invitation for readers to submit some….not that any of us noneconomists would have much to contribute.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      2slugbaits: I meant this as an invitation (hence, “bleg”) — I will then do a new post. Sorry I wasn’t more clear. Will add clarification.

    2. Moses Herzog

      Nothing gives me a bigger thrill in my blog fanaticism (and boost to my sense of self-worth) than to be the first to find these such economics or finance errors and point them out. But my industriousness and math skills leave me ending up short. I am stuck with following the James Kwaks, Mike Konczals, Gita Gopinaths, Stanley Fischers, and Menzie Chinns of the world like a lost mangy haired street dog, too shabby for even the neighborhood kids to pet. Yet still it’s a decent “skill” to be able to identify individuals far sharper than yourself (“yourself” being me here) and listen and jot notes.

  7. joseph

    Steven Kopits: “We’re the headline on Drudge today.”

    You say that proudly, like a 3-year-old who just dirtied his pants.

    1. Moses Herzog

      @ joseph
      As much as I dislike you, I have to confess you made me laugh on that one. Careful with the toilet humor though, that style of humor is really distasteful. I been trying to shake commenter JBH of the same barbarian habits. Try to follow my lead on that, ok??

      1. Moses Herzog

        He’s got his own little “cottage industry” there, feeding people the answers they want to hear on immigration based on a 1950s suburbia fantasyland that never existed to begin with. And 7/8ths of his comments here are intended to bait people to click links. Over all these months I’ve clicked on his site maybe twice tops, and that was basically to get his bio (which I don’t even half believe what he has there either). If I was employing the man to “consult” (which I would never) the first thing I would do would be to arrange to have his transcripts sent to me directly from the university on university stationary etc. And I’m not believing any reference he gives me, you never know if Kopits worked for Vandalay Industries.

        1. pgl

          I guess that is why Fox and Friends invited him on. Sleep through it as it will assuredly be the usual worthless lying Fox and Friends is known for!

    2. Steven Kopits

      Well, I’ve now been on Drudge 11 days in the last three months and have become the semi-official forecaster of illegal immigration. For a guy who just a little more than a year ago was known primarily as an oil analyst, I think that’s quite an accomplishment.

      1. pgl

        Drudge? Fox and Friends? They do love lying trolls who THINK they are important so no wonder they invite you. Get a clue Stevie boy – no one here gives a hoot about your worthless self promotion.

  8. pgl

    If one has to stoop to Fox & Friends, Drudge Report, and One America News Network to get one’s incredibly stupid and racist rants noticed, the rest of the world knows this person is beyond clueless. The funny thing is that the same person keeps putting up “look at me, look at me” comments as if any one here could care less about his incessant stupid rants. Yea – we all know who I’m talking about as this troll has over and over made the same “look at me, look at me” comment which has nothing to do with this post. Care to guess who I’m referring to?

    1. CoRev

      Pgl, your comments epitomize your own description of a troll. What’s so funny you’ve done this so long you can not even realize you so often describe yourself.

      1. pgl

        Uh CoRev – pray tell WTF Stevie Boy’s racist immigration BS has to do with Figure 1-6 of the Economic Report of the President? Snicker – this should be grand as you have not read the Economic Report of the President per your own account!

  9. pgl

    “BTW, it appears there is a Mexico and US deal re: illegal immigration.”

    I wonder why CoRev failed to tell us what this deal did and did not do:

    “the agreement does not include requiring asylum seekers to first apply for asylum in the US while in Mexico.”
    Trump made a yuuge deal about this and now he just caves. A lot of what he allegedly achieved will be challenged in U.S. courts as being illegal. As usual, Trump creates a lot of needless noise over absolutely nothing. But he did give Wilbur Ross another opportunity to trade on insider information.

    In his same comment, CoRev writes:

    “Why do Dems not recognize the obvious problem, and instead adds to the illegal migration problem? Therre’s a whole list of problem areas that can be discussed instead of the one set of economists interpretation of the ERP. Even solving trade imbalances could be addressed, versus a chart of a minor administration report.”

    Oh mother of pearl. Figure 1-6 does not have a damn thing to do with immigration of the trade balance. Hassett lied about business fixed investment. How on earth could even a village idiot like CoRev get these things confused? Oh yea – he never read the ERP!

    1. CoRev

      Pgl says: “Oh mother of pearl. Figure 1-6 does not have a damn thing to do with immigration of the trade balance.” Wow, he finally gets it. The single figure in a limited interest and use report does not come close to reach the importance of one of the more important issues of the day. Or doe she> We’ll see soon enhough.

      1. pgl

        Oh Lord – your stupidity is in full display. The entire rational for the latest tax cut for the rich aka TCJA was that it would lead to a BOOM in equipment investment. Only the dumbest person on the planet would write:

        ‘The single figure in a limited interest and use report does not come close to reach the importance of one of the more important issues of the day.’

        What Menzie has clearly shown is that when Hassett claims TCJA achieved this goal – he is flat out lying.

        For God’s sake CoRev – are you this incredibly stupid to miss this simple point? I guess so!

        1. CoRev

          Pgl, only someone of your intellect could misunderstand so completely: “The entire rational for the latest tax cut for the rich aka TCJA was that it would lead to a BOOM in equipment investment.” An economic BOOM, yes. A boom in employment, yes. A boom in… were all promises for the TCJA that I remember.

          What have we seen? An overall economic improvement in nearly every category measured over the economic policies that were implemented by the Obama/Dem administrations and approved by most traditionally trained economists.

          We’ve now had three empirical examples to show which policies are better performers, Reagan, Bush and now Trump, and still you folks carp about their overall economic performances. There are always some MINOR areas of performances that can be pointed out as disappointing for a specific period of a policy’s performance, but the OVERALL performance is what matters. That measure is now very, very clear!

    2. noneconomist

      It’s a phenomenal deal. Best ever. They say only Trump was capable of getting such a deal. Now when Mexico pays for the wall—and of course, they will—the border cris will be solved. They say the wall will be the strongest, most durable, most beautiful ever built.
      Sure, the U.S. won’t be collecting billions in tariffs from rich Mexicans, but we’ll make it back by raising tariffs on China. FY deficit is already shrinking from all the money we’re collecting. Believe me, we can use that money to finance the new, really great medical insurance plan scheduled for 2021.

  10. pgl

    Yesterday CoRev wrote:

    “BLS estimates
    As of 2918 Search on economists gets us 18,650 as a total.
    BTW, that’s a fraction of the agriculture or more specifically the farming industry employment, a subject of some recent interest.”

    I did not know BLS forecasted employment 900 years in advance! Oh wait – CoRev misread his own link. May 2018 not 2019.

    Yea there are more farmers than economists. And CoRev’s point is ??? Did CoRev check the mean salary for economists? $116,000 per year. Which is like $100,000 more than CoRev ever made. And at $16,000 a year – CoRev is overpaid!

  11. pgl

    CoRev thinks economics is useless I guess since he notes the BLS estimate of the number of jobs listed as economist. He forgot to note that the list mean salary was $116,000 per year. Given CoRev is reading impaired, I guess he forgot to read the footnote too:

    “Estimates for detailed occupations do not sum to the totals because the totals include occupations not shown separately. Estimates do not include self-employed workers.”

    Ah yes – there are some very successful economic consultants not listed in CoRev’ figure. There are also a lot of other jobs where an economics major helps a lot:

    Besides economic consultants, we have market research analysts, actuaries, Compensation and benefits managers, credit analysts, financial analysts, policy analysts, lawyers, business reporters, management consultants. Of course CoRev likely has no clue what people in these professions even do.

    1. CoRev

      Pgl, I see I’m again in your head. Need I list all the job categories in the agriculture industry? Why are you so proud of a super minority of specialists being well paid?

      BTW, thank you for being concerned of my salary when I did work. Why? Oh, I forgot its a side effect of my living locations. 😉

      1. Moses Herzog

        @ CoRev
        No one will believe this, but I was making at least half an effort not to post in this thread so as not to “muddy the waters” on Menzie’s ERP/CEA query. But I wanted to show something to CoRev, and was hoping to put it where he might actually see it. CoRev has given a lot of lip-service about farmers’ own view of the tariffs. It is hard to believe CoRev knows any farmers based on his incredibly ignorant comments related to crop inventories. Here is a real farmer, based out of Ohio. His name is Christopher Gibbs. He grows soybeans, corn, and raises cattle. I give you a column he wrote in a local Ohio newspaper, and I am also putting a link up of an interview he did on CNN. The purpose of the Youtube/CNN link is to show you that Christopher Gibbs is a real person and a real farmer, not a “coward behind a keyboard”. I suppose since Christopher Gibbs is being interviewed by CNN CoRev will require birth certificate paperwork to prove he is not a Kenyan spy??—or is that just needed if Mr. Gibbs was a black farmer??–i4?t=78

  12. 2slugbaits

    Getting back to the ERP, as I mentioned in a previous post, I didn’t find the CEA’s explanation convincing for going back to 2017:Q4 rather than 2018:Q1 with respect to equipment investment. It’s a real stretch to believe that businesses had firm knowledge in Oct 2017 that an expensing provision would be included in a tax bill that was considered dead up until the very closing days of 2017. This just seems like cherry picking data points.

    Why do some of the charts begin the Trump era with Nov 2016 rather than Feb 2017? Trump wasn’t president until 20 Jan 2017, which is closer to Feb 2017 than it is Nov 2016.

    If you want to demonstrate that nonresidential fixed investment grew at a greater rate beginning 2017:Q1, then why not show rates of growth rather than investment in levels?

    Why are trends in graphs I-1, I-2, I-3 and I-4 calculated based on data beginning in 2009:Q3 but the graphs begin in 2012:Q4 or Nov 2012?

    How was the TJCA (which was enacted in Dec 2017) responsible for the upticks beginning in Nov 2016 as shown on graphs I-1, I-2, I-3 and I-4?

    How many of the new business applications shown in graph I-3 are due to older firms simply reorganizing to take advantage of tax provisions? And how many of those new businesses are publicly traded companies. The decline in publicly traded companies is something that concerns many economists, so the report should at least recognize the issue. If new business applications is important enough to merit its own graph, then it ought to be important to tell us how many of those new businesses are publicly traded.

    Why are wages in graph I-4 reported in nominal terms rather than real terms? And why only goods producing? The report also fails to explain how much of the increase in nominal wages was due to increases in state minimum wages.

    The discussion on occupational licensing seems a distraction. As the ERP itself notes, occupational licensing is primarily a state issue, so why is it in the President’s ERP?

    As to the discussion about rural opportunities, I loved this quote (p 188): Recent policies of the Trump Administration have been particularly beneficial to these rural communities. Tariffs? What tariffs?

    On page 216 we find this: In a recent report, the CEA (2018c) pointed out that waiting times for seniors to see a specialist in the U.S. were shorter than in single-payer countries (figure 4-2). Some argue that this shows that Medicare, and thus its distant cousin “Medicare for All”, works and should be extended to everyone. Furthermore, figure 4-1 shows that non-emergency waiting times for seniors is low in the US relative to other countries. The ERP then tries to argue that this should not be seen as an endorsement of Medicare-for-All. Who are you going to believe, the ERP or that lying figure 4-1. But note that these are waiting times for non-emergency elective surgeries. Do we really care about the wait times for Ivanka’s elective plastic surgery? What are the wait times for those without insurance who sit in emergency rooms requiring emergency treatment? That’s a far more relevant concern than wait times for non-emergency elective surgeries.

    The entirety of Chapter 8 (“Markets versus Socialism”) is an embarrassment and reads like it was written by someone working on a high school project. The good news is that it did discuss inequality, albeit in a sophomoric way. And it also provided a table on gini coefficients (Table 8-6); however, the discussion is very dishonest. For example, this comment: On average, the U.S. Gini coefficient is about 0.1 percentage point higher than the Nordic economies. The effect of this wording is to downplay the significance of a 0.1 percentage point difference. It sounds small, but it’s actually very large. Interestingly, I didn’t find anything in the ERP that explained how the Trump Administration planned on lowering the gini coefficient for the US. The ERP also used 2015 OECD data rather than the most current data.

    1. 2slugbaits

      Clarification of my last comment. The effect of this wording is to downplay the significance of a 0.1 percentage point difference.

      The dishonest part is that the 0.1 difference in gini coefficients between the US and Nordic countries is not a “0.1 percentage point” difference, it’s a 10 percentage point difference. If the US gini coefficient is 0.39 and the Nordic gini is 0.29, then a 0.10 gini coefficient difference represents ten percentage points, not one-tenth of a percentage point. The wording in the ERP makes it sound like there is very little difference between the gini coefficients.

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