…quick economics notes…

…for the curious… or do-it-yourselfers sceptical of news reporting on economics…

Regarding economic data. For a quick glance at summary data on the economies of the world, Trading Economics is a nice blog site. Of course, for more official data one would go to sources like the World Bank or the IMF or CEPAL or EuroStat. One well known tidbit, in comparing economies real GDP per capita is usually preferable to just real GDP.

On policy and poverty alleviation. A nice discussion on policy to alleviate poverty comes from Mark Thoma (of the blog, economistsview) with his, What’s the best way to help the poor? The lead paragraph is more than sufficient incentive to read on, especially on the approach used in the US.

There has been a recent debate among economists about whether the minimum wage and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) are “complements” or “substitutes.” That question might seem arcane, but the answer is important in figuring how to help poor families while also boosting the economy.

Still on poverty alleviation. In some emerging economies one policy implemented to encourage education, good parenting, and life and work skills attainment has been the ‘conditional cash transfers’ programme, one aspect of which has been the cash incentive to ensure children receive a solid education along with meals, while the parents, especially single mothers, can receive training to acquire skills to be sufficiently self-sufficient in the labour market. Where applied, this has had some measure of success in Latin America and the Caribbean.

At the applied level. For interpreting statistical results of research, James Hamilton over at his econbrowser blog provides a cautionary note, On R-squared and economic prediction. This is one of the first lessons taught and one of the first forgotten. Model specification, its estimation and the expected signs of coefficients go along with the satisfaction of other statistical criteria, e.g., standard error, serial correlation.