Best of Enemies
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Random Observations for Students of Economics
For investors in hedge funds, like big pension funds, 2014 was not a lucrative year. But for those who managed their money, the pay was spectacular.
The top 25 hedge fund managers reaped $11.62 billion in compensation in 2014, according to an annual ranking published on Tuesday by Institutional Investor’s Alpha magazine.
That collective payday came even as hedge funds, once high-octane money makers, returned on average low-single digits. In comparison, the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index posted a gain of 13.68 percent last year when reinvested dividends were included....
For investors, 2014 was the sixth consecutive year that hedge funds have fallen short of stock market performance, returning only 3 percent on average.
The starting point of TPP is the contrast between U.S. tariffs and those of our partner countries. Our trade-weighted average applied tariff rate is 1.4 percent and 70 percent of imports already enter our economy duty free. In contrast, on average, our TPP partners report simple average applied tariffs 1.5 percentage points higher than our equivalent rate. In some TPP countries, average tariffs are up to 4 percentage points higher, though this difference masks considerable industry-specific variation; the United States faces tariffs of up to 30 percent on auto exports to Malaysia and 40 percent on agricultural goods to Vietnam. Many TPP countries also have substantially higher non-tariff barriers, particularly in the area of services trade, where the United States maintains a strong comparative advantage. As a result, TPP will disproportionately decrease foreign barriers to U.S. exports....
The most comprehensive estimates of the benefits of TPP are those of Peter Petri, Michael Plummer, and Fan Zhai, who employ an 18-sector, 24-region computable general equilibrium model to simulate policy changes in more than twenty different areas including tariffs, non-tariff barriers, and rules governing foreign direct investment. They find that by 2025, TPP would raise U.S. incomes by 0.4 percent per year, the equivalent of $77 billion in 2007 dollars, although the actual estimate could vary somewhat depending on the details of the agreement and alternative modelling assumptions. The European Union has said that the United States would gain a comparable amount from T-TIP. Some have described these totals as small, but I think I would risk losing my license to offer economic advice if I counseled anyone to leave $77 billion lying on the sidewalk each year.
“A broad liberal arts education is a key pathway to success in the 21st-century economy,” says Lawrence Katz, a labor economist at Harvard. Katz says that the economic return to pure technical skills has flattened, and the highest return now goes to those who combine soft skills — excellence at communicating and working with people — with technical skills.
“So I think a humanities major who also did a lot of computer science, economics, psychology, or other sciences can be quite valuable and have great career flexibility,” Katz said. “But you need both, in my view, to maximize your potential. And an economics major or computer science major or biology or engineering or physics major who takes serious courses in the humanities and history also will be a much more valuable scientist, financial professional, economist, or entrepreneur.”