Oil prices (along with prices of many other commodities) have fallen dramatically since last summer. Some observers are waiting to see if Saudi Arabia responds with significant cutbacks in production. I say, don’t hold your breath.
For the last 3 years, European Brent has mostly traded in a range of $100-$120 with West Texas intermediate selling at a $5 to $20 discount. But in September Brent started moving below $100 and now stands at $90 a barrel, and the spread over U.S. domestic crude has narrowed. Here I take a look at some of the factors behind these developments.
For academic researchers who are readers of this blog (and I know you’re lurking out there), I wanted to call attention to my new paper on Macroeconomic Regimes and Regime Shifts:
Many economic time series exhibit dramatic breaks associated with events such as economic recessions, financial panics, and currency crises. Such changes in regime may arise from tipping points or other nonlinear dynamics and are core to some of the most important questions in macroeconomics. This chapter surveys the literature on regime changes. Section 1 begins with an interpretation of the move of an economy into and out of recession as an example of a change in regime and introduces some of the basic tools for analyzing such phenomena. Section 2 provides a detailed overview of econometric methods that are appropriate for time series that are subject to changes in regime. Section 3 summarizes the ways in which changes in regime can be incorporated into theoretical economic models and briefly reviews applications in a number of areas of macroeconomics.
A growing number of observers are starting to conclude that we’re never going to see the rebound in growth rates that many people had anticipated as the U.S. recovers from the Great Recession. Here I comment on a new paper in which Northwestern Professor Robert Gordon explains the basis for his pessimism.
As the U.S. economy returns to healthier growth, many of us expected long-term interest rates to return to more normal historical levels. But the general trend has been down since the end of the Great Recession. The 10-year rate did jump back up in the spring of 2013. But during most of this year it has been falling again.
Roger Farmer has taken a new look at an issue concerning the Federal Reserve’s program of large-scale asset purchases (referred to in the popular press as “quantitative easing”) that I’ve been discussing on Econbrowser and in my research with University of Chicago Professor Cynthia Wu for some time.
I saw an interesting statistic in the latest issue of Journal of Economic Perspectives. If you rank North American economics Ph.D. programs in terms of the publishing success of their median student in the first six years after graduating, UCSD comes in second.
Number one? Seems to be Princeton.
The unfunded liabilities of the San Diego County Employees Retirement Association have increased every year for the last five years, reaching $2.45 billion last year, more than quintuple the level in 2008. The calculation of how big the shortfall is assumes that the fund is going to be able to earn a 7.75% return on its investment after subtracting administrative costs. If it earns less than 7.75%, the shortfall will be even bigger. A 10-year Treasury bond currently pays 2.4%, and a typical stock has a dividend yield under 2%. So what do you do if you’re in charge of the system’s $10 billion in assets?
I was interested to take a look at our recent weak economic performance from a longer-term perspective.