Helicopter money part II: politics

Helicopter money (HM) is money printed by the central bank that is given to the people. Figuratively speaking, Mario Draghi1 would fly over the Eurozone and drop new €50 bills out of a helicopter to the population below. In the first part of this series, I explored the possible sources of HM. The current post looks at the political constraints that prevent the ECB from firing up the engines of its helicopters. Continue reading “Helicopter money part II: politics”

My favorite type of model

Scientists build models that capture the essence of some observed phenomenon. The models that I like best are strongly simplified. This in contrast to very complex and non-transparent models that try to replicate every aspect of reality. Good models allow us to gain insight into something we observe by using a limited number of key concepts. I use simple models to be explicit about the underlying assumptions and to be consistent. Continue reading “My favorite type of model”

Quiz: Can you spot the economic errors of Scott Sumner?

I was doing some research for a post about how the Trump presidential candidacy exposes the political biases of economists. But then I came across the blog of Scott Sumner. Professor Sumner has been teaching economics for over 25 years. Mr. Sumner is an advocate for a monetary policy called NGDP targeting. He also hates Donald Trump.

What I found stunning while reading Dr. Sumner’s articles are not his political views, but rather how poor his understanding of financial economics really is. As an exercise, I recommend that you take a look at these three articles. Can you identify his implicit assumptions and outright false claims? Continue reading “Quiz: Can you spot the economic errors of Scott Sumner?”

The annual general meeting of KBC

I had a new KBC experience today, after being a lifelong customer and having worked for 5 years at the bank-insurance group. This time not as a client or as an employee, but as a (co-)owner of the company.  The annual general meeting of shareholders was organized in the company’s Molenbeek1 headquarters this morning. Continue reading “The annual general meeting of KBC”

Does the Islamic State employ classicists?

The recent terror attacks by Islamic State (IS) in Brussels and Paris have shown once more that the terrorists are willing to sacrifice themselves for their cause. After the suicide bombings in Brussels, IS has threatened that more attacks will follow.

By doing this, they are following a strategy that is as old as the hills. Continue reading “Does the Islamic State employ classicists?”

Latinisten onder de terroristen

De recente aanslagen door Islamitische Staat (IS) in Brussel en Parijs hebben nog eens aangetoond dat de terroristen er niet voor terugschrikken zichzelf op te offeren voor hun zaak. Na de zelfmoordaanslagen in Brussel heeft IS gedreigd met nieuwe aanslagen.

Ze volgen hiermee een strategie die zo oud is als de straat. Continue reading “Latinisten onder de terroristen”

Historische analogieën

Historische analogieën zijn nuttig omdat heel weinig politieke, sociale of economische problemen nieuw zijn. Het probleem is dat het gemakkelijk is om een gebeurtenis uit duizenden jaren geschiedenis te kiezen die in je kraam past. Daarom moet je altijd in het achterhoofd houden dat hedendaagse omstandigheden nooit 100% overeenkomen met het verleden. Het is echter interessant dat gelijkaardige verhoudingen en gevoelens tussen individuen en groepen altijd terugkomen. Hierdoor gebruiken mensen dezelfde strategieën1, onafhankelijk van waar en wanneer ze leven, welke taal ze spreken of welke kleren ze dragen. Continue reading “Historische analogieën”

Historical analogies

The reason historical analogies are useful, is because hardly any political, social or economic problem is really new. The problem is that it is easy to cherry-pick some event from thousands of years of recorded history. That is why you always need to keep in mind that no situation will match the past 100%. However, what is interesting is that similar relations and feelings occur time and again between individual humans and groups of people. This leads people to use the same strategies1, no matter what time and place they live in, or what languages they speak or what clothes they wear. Continue reading “Historical analogies”

Trump and the media

Donald Trump is a genius. Don’t be fooled into thinking he is a brainless blowhard. The man is following a very rational strategy.

The entire business empire of Trump is built around his name. For years, he has cultivated the image of a successful rich self-made man who gets things done. His name is on his skyscrapers, and he was the star of the reality TV show The Apprentice.

When Donald Trump announced that he would be running for president of the USA in the summer of 2015, he had a wealth of experience in self-promotion and in using the media to his advantage. Continue reading “Trump and the media”