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Reports of the Petrodollar’s Death Have Been Exaggerated (For Now)

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#Petrodollar #Macro – Good sense from the American Institute for Economic Research’s Peter C. Earle. You may have seen reports circulating of Saudi Arabia abandoning the dollar to sell its oil and the supposedly dire implications this has for US power and the global financial system. “The accounts were rife with inaccuracies,” Earle writes. “The Saudis have transacted in non-dollar currencies for decades, and there has never been a formal treaty, much less with a specified expiration date, governing the loose arrangement that has come to be called the petrodollar system.” However, he goes on to write, “even the fragments of broken mirrors reflect reality, and despite their fundamental errors a significant trend is in evidence: Saudi Arabia is progressively reducing its dependence on the United States.” Read the rest, interesting throughout.

#Education – Few situations better exemplify the proverb about clouds and silver linings than the boom in homeschooling, school choice initiatives, and other innovations in education that was caused by the Covid regime and its school closures. Even the New York Times is forced to take a sympathetic look at a burgeoning and interesting movement: “microschools.”

#Education – Speaking of, fascinating paper from Andrew G. Biggs and John Mantus of AEI. Using data from the OECD’s PISA exam, it looks at the debate between traditional “teacher-oriented” instruction and more progressive “student-oriented” instruction.” Spoiler alert: conservatives are right.

#Infrastructure #Reg – Let’s say you oppose building new cool infrastructure like data centers, nuclear power plants, and so on. Here’s a neat trick: reintroduce an “endangered” species to the area. Now every project is tied up in even more red tape. This is what Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado seems to be doing by reintroducing the wolverine (a vicious animal).

#Tech – The Surgeon General is calling for a smoking packet-style “warning label” on social media platforms. Is there a point to this? If so, we cannot see it.

#Healthcare – Epistemic gatekeepers are scared of the growing trend of home testing. R Street’s Steven Greenhut won’t have it. Decentralizing medical care is good. “Obviously, Google is no replacement for a doctor’s visit. But by the time I saw my doctor and had the requisite lab tests, I was better informed and had developed a series of intelligent questions. The official tests confirmed the $15 test that I purchased. It was no cure-all, but DIY tests were a useful tool in the process.”

#Antitrust – The FTC is filing a complaint against Adobe, maker of popular creative software products like Photoshop and Acrobat, for “hiding fees” and “preventing consumers from easily cancelling software subscriptions.” As annoying as it is to have to fight your way through twelve menus to cancel a subscription, it is hard to see how this is a matter for government regulation. Adobe is a good case for the pro-technology argument against antitrust enforcement: Adobe has historically had something close to a monopoly on software products for its category, but AI-based free and freemium products are threatening to make them irrelevant.

#TaxPolicy – The Tax Foundation, whose user-friendly data sets and fun interactive tools we appreciate very much, has an overview of the new IRS data on individual income taxes, with many pretty charts. The main takeaway is that the US income tax system remains very much progressive.

#Reg – FAI’s Thomas Hochman brings us this very funny and yet very sad environmental red tape story: “The US Forest Service wanted to implement a wildfire prevention plan, so it had to fill out an environmental impact statement. Before they could complete the environmental impact statement, though, half the forest burned down.” Source.

#Reg – It’s a familiar story: as R Street’s Wayne Brough points out, calls for regulation of the fantasy sports industry are coming from the industry itself, aiming to limit competition.

#Economics – Norwegian economist Morten Nyborg Støstad has published a strange, but interesting, article at Vox EU, arguing that “inequality is better understood as an economic externality” because “If inequality increases inefficiency, then even narrowly self-interested individuals are affected by its perpetuation.” The problem is that economic inequality is the product of the actual inequality in ability (however broadly understood or defined) between humans. We highlight this article because it does have one virtue: showing how economic models–all economic models–are built on philosophical assumptions. Better to own these assumptions and make them clear rather than pretend economics is just a neutral “science.”


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