Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has gathered significant bipartisan support for the Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2015, his proposal for more audits of the Fed. I’ve been trying to understand why any sensible person would think this is a good idea.
Many people are finally coming to a realization that should have been evident long ago: Greece’s debts are not going to be repaid. And as discussion turns to who might be next, it seems a good time to revisit the question of whether the United States could some day find itself in similar trouble. I am substantially more optimistic about this than I was a couple of years ago, and here is why.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis announced yesterday that U.S. real GDP grew at a 2.6% annual rate in the third quarter. Even factoring in the dismal start to the year, that leaves full-year GDP growth during 2014 at 2.4% (the best annual performance since 2010) and growth at an annual rate of 4% over the last 9 months.
In December I provided some simple calculations of the extent to which a slowdown in the growth of global oil demand may have contributed to the spectacular drop in oil prices since last summer, and I updated those estimates two weeks ago. Some of you have suggested that as conditions keep changing, perhaps I should update those calculations every week. Thanks to the always-helpful Ironman at Political Calculations, I can now go that a step better, and provide eager Econbrowser readers a quick tool they can use to update these calculations on their own on a daily basis, if your heart so desires.
The Swiss National Bank stunned markets on Thursday with an abrupt decision to abandon its commitment since 2011 to hold the Swiss franc at 1.20 francs/euro, as a result of which the franc appreciated almost 20% within the space of a few minutes.
The price of oil passed another milestone last week, falling below $50 a barrel, a level that I had not expected to see again in my lifetime.
The spectacular drop in oil prices means that inflation is going to fall even further below the Fed’s 2% target. Does that raise any new risks for the economy? I say no, and here’s why.
West Texas Intermediate sold for $105 a barrel at the start of July, but ended last week at $58. The most important factor has been surging U.S. production. But another reason oil prices have slid so much is weakness in demand for the product, which may be related to a slowdown of overall world economic growth. Here I comment on the importance of that second factor.