John Irons's Blog


Economic News, Data and Analysis

What I’m Reading

Stuff – Books –
I just got a bunch of books for Christamas – here’s what I’m reading now…

Special Interest Politics
by Gene Grossman and Elhana Helpman
Lays out economic theory describing the effects of special interest groups on policy outcomes.
Not for eveyone – it’s pretty dense with mathematical theory – but it does serve as an excellent resource for researchers.

Filed under: Website

Long-run Fiscal Condition of the US

A new report from the CBO shows just how harmful current tax policies have been to the long-run health of the country.

Report.pdf (application/pdf Object)
This Congressional Budget Office report looks at a range of possible paths for federal spending and revenues over the next 50 years and combines them into various hypothetical scenarios. Analysis of those scenarios suggests the following conclusions:
Unless taxation reaches levels that are unprecedented in the United States, current spending policies will probably be financially unsustainable over the next 50 years. An ever-growing burden of federal debt held by the public would have a corrosive and potentially contractionary effect on the economy.
If taxation is restricted to the levels that prevailed
in the past, the growth of entitlement spending will have to be substantially reduced. Restricting the growth of outlays for defense, education, transportation, and other discretionary programs would not be enough to ensure fiscal sustainability.
Likewise, economic growth alone is unlikely to
bring the nation’s long-term fiscal position into
balance. Moreover, issuing ever-larger amounts of debt or dramatically raising tax rates could significantly reduce growth.

Filed under: Economics

Technical Difficulties

Argmax is having some technical difficulties with the news and data pages. My ISP assures me that the problem is being addressed…
I will likely be posting little over the holidays, but will resume before too long…

Filed under: Website

Swarthmore Students

Latest news from my former college, Swarthmore…
The memos can be found through: SCDC statement on hosting of Diebold memos.

In a case that has drawn national attention, Swarthmore student-activists Nelson Pavlosky ’06 and Luke Smith ’06 have reposted on the College’s Web server internal memos from Diebold Inc. that call attention to problems with the company’s electronic voting machines. The Ohio-based company had initially forced the students to remove the memos from the Web, citing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, but Smith and Pavlosky successfully challenged the company through a provision in the copyright law. The memos went back up on the College’s network–with the administration’s blessing–the last week of November. For the full story and a link to media coverage, visit

Filed under: Website

GDP Revision

It looks like the BEA has completed their comprehensive revision to the GDP data…
The “big news” is that 200Q3 GDP growth was a slight negative (-0.5%) rather than a slight positive. Clinton-bashers are claiming this as evidence that the recession started pre-Bush.
However, 2000Q4 GDP growth was revised from 1.1% to 2.1% indicating that Bush inherited a stronger economy than previously thought.
Here are all the details about the revision.

Bureau of Economic Analysis: National Economic Accounts
This page has been temporarily changed to reflect the 2003 Comprehensive Revision of the National Income and Product Accounts (NIPAs). This revision replaces all previously published NIPA estimates. The December 10, 2003 release provided estimates from 1929 through the second quarter of 2003. The estimates for the third quarter of 2003 on the revised basis will be released at 8:30 am on December 23, 2003. The following information is currently available. As additional estimates become available, this page will be updated. Please see the release schedule for additional information.

Filed under: Data

Another Weak Jobs Report

Last month, only 57,000 jobs were created – well below what is needed to employ new entrants into the labor market.
For more see:

Although jobs increased by 57,000 last month, November 2003, the “Jobs and Growth Plan” still fell 249,000 jobs short of the administration’s projection. The administration projected that a total of 1,530,000 jobs would be created in the first five months after the tax cuts took effect. In fact, only 271,000 jobs were created over those five months for a cumulative shortfall of 1,259,000 jobs.

Filed under: Economics, Economy

Welcome WSJ Readers!

It looks like I’m getting a bunch of people from the Wall Street Journal On-Line edition. Unfortunately I don’t have a subscription.
Would someone mind checking out This Link and posting the article in the comments section?

Filed under: Website

Private and Public Debt

OMB Watch – Economy and Jobs Watch: Consumer Debt Increases, Savings Rate Down
While very recent economic news shows some long-overdue strength – gross domestic product grew at an 8.2% annual rate in the third quarter – mounting levels of both public and private debt remain a concern, both for the near future as well for the long-run health of the economy.
In the second quarter of 2003, household debt increased at an 11.5 percent annual rate, the largest increase in 15 years, according to the Federal Reserve. Total household debt is now nearly $9 trillion and has gown by over 50 percent from 5 years ago. Debt service payments have been steadily growing over the past 10 years (see graph).

Filed under: Economics