Steve Hanke of Johns Hopkins and the Cato Institute talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about hyperinflation and the U.S. fiscal situation. Hanke argues that despite the seemingly aggressive policies of the Federal Reserve over the last four years, there is currently little or no risk of serious inflation in the United States. His argument is that broad measures of the money supply lag well below their trend level. While high-powered reserves have indeed expanded dramatically, they have not increased sufficiently to offset reductions in bank money, in part because of requirements imposed by Basel III. So, the overall money supply, broadly defined, has fallen. Hanke does argue that the current fiscal path of the United States poses a serious threat to economic stability. The conversation closes with a discussion of hyperinflation in Iran–its causes and what might eventually happen as a result.
Joshua Rauh, Professor of Finance at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business and a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the unfunded liabilities from state employee pensions. The publicly stated shortfall in revenue relative to promised pensions is about $1 trillion. Rauh estimates the number to be over $4 trillion. Rauh explains why that number is more realistic, how the problem grew in recent years, and how the fiscal situation might be fixed moving forward. He also discusses some of the political and legal choices that we are likely to face going forward as states face strained budgets from promises made in the past to retired workers.
Mike Munger of Duke University talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about the gas shortage following Hurricane Sandy and John Locke’s view of the just price. Drawing on a short, obscure essay of Locke’s titled “Venditio,” Munger explores Locke’s views on markets, prices, and morality.