In a recent column for The New York Times, economist Paul Krugman wrote about the ongoing effects of the Reagan era in the United States. In the opinion piece, he refers to an article written by fellow economist Austin Frakt, who dove into the increase of U.S. health spending from the 1980s. In most developed countries, Frakt writes, health spending coincides with the increase in life expectancy. However, for the US, things took a turn for the worse since the 1980s. Healthcare spending began soaring beyond that of other advanced nations, but without the same benefits in life expectancy. Krugman uses Frakt’s findings and uses them to paint a broader picture: he looks at inequality (by Gini coefficient), household debt relative to income soaring and party polarisation. Each of these categories worsened since the beginning of the 80s: inequality increased, household debt rose and political parties became more polarised. His hypothesis on how this happened?
“A good guess, surely, is that the whole story is connected with the rise of modern movement conservatism”, Krugman writes, “which brought with it unequalizing economic policies, retreat from antitrust, financial deregulation, and more.” (source)
Last week, the Dutch branch of Rethinking Economics published a study on the build-up of Dutch economics curricula (bachelor’s). Rethinking Economics is an international network of students, academics and professionals whose goal it is to diversify and renew contemporary economic thinking. The major conclusion this study draws is that Dutch economics education is dominated by the study of market mechanisms among rational, utility-maximising actors. This stems from the supremacy of neoclassical economics in Dutch economics education, with 86% of the theory course time assigned to that economic school. None of the other schools of economic thought have more than 4% of course time. Another area the study focuses on, as seen in the figures, is research methods. Rethinking Economics NL criticises the lack of qualitative analysis, and conclude that ‘students are effectively blinded by to all aspects of the economy which cannot be expressed in numbers’. Lastly, another big complaint is that three-quarters of the curriculum is dominated by abstract theory and methods, and not by real world economics. (source)
Last week, a Redditor by the name of allattention made the following animated map, plotting both the GDP growth for the world in the timeline and the yearly GDP change per capita in all the countries. The data shown runs from 1961 until 2016 and was extracted from the World Bank. The GIF shown is only thirteen seconds long, and shows just how destructive the 2009 financial crash was. Moreover, in the full animation, data from the Russia Federation and most of Eastern Europe is only shown from 1994 onwards, since the data brought out from the CCCP was not trusted. The entire animation can be found here.