Archive for January, 2014

On the Differing Policy Prescriptions of Economists

January 28, 2014 2 comments

To a person who is not a professional economist, it can seem difficult to understand why economists can have such disparate views on economic policy issues.  Part of the explanation for these apparent differences in professional opinion is that some economists are willing to sweep aside the implications of economic theory when theory leads to policy conclusions that the economist dislikes. A recent newspaper article (War on the Poor) illustrates this behavior by some economists.

Alan S. Blinder is a distinguished economist at Princeton University who specializes in macroeconomics. He has produced a substantial body of influential research in his academic career. He also served as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. He recently published an article discussing what he called a “war” on the poor being waged by the government. This is provocative stuff and he lists a number of policy issues which he believes are illustrative of this so-called war. Here is a revealing quote from this article. Read more…


Stop-and-Frisk and the New York City Murder Rate

January 9, 2014 Leave a comment

New York City just elected a new mayor who has expressed skepticism about the Stop-and-Frisk policy of the New York City Police Department. There has been some press reporting of this situation and I thought it might be instructive to gather some data just to see what the data might reveal about the Stop-and Frisk policy.

One of the truly amazing innovations brought by the internet to economists with empirical interests is how easy it is to gather data. After a one minute Google search, I found the FBI web site ( providing data on U.S. crime rates. Their data collection program, Uniform Crime Reports, contains data on crime rates by city among other things and so I downloaded murder rate statistics for New York City.

One last piece of data was needed for our analysis and that is the date when Stop-and-Frisk was started. Another great innovation, Wikipedia, provides the answer. An article there states that the program started under Mayor David Dinkins during the 1990-1993 time period. With this last piece of data, we can now see what the data might reveal about the effectiveness of the Stop-and-Frisk program. Read more…

Economics One

A blog by John B. Taylor

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One economist's views on economic policy.

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