7 December 2019

Simon Johnson

Simon Johnson, a former chief economist of the IMF, is a professor at MIT Sloan, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and co-founder of a leading economics blog, The Baseline Scenario. He is the co-author, with Jonathan G
  • Some of America’s billionaires earn kudos for their philanthropy, but the super-rich tycoons also face accusations of digging deeper moats to protect profits or destroying smaller businesses at every opportunity. Photo: Reuters

    The billionaire problem

    - Dec 2, 2019 9:40am
    Our billionaire problem is getting worse. Any market-oriented economy creates opportunities for new fortunes to be built, including through innovation. More innovation is likely to take place where fewer rules encumber entrepreneurial creativity. Some of this...
  • Libra could become a widely used form of payment – partly because Facebook has over two billion monthly active users, but also because the existing financial system is full of inefficiencies, says the author. Photo: Reuters

    Is the global dollar in jeopardy?

    - Nov 11, 2019 11:24am
    Since the end of World War II, the United States dollar has been at the heart of international finance and trade. Over the decades, and despite the many ups and downs of the global economy, the...
  • US Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination on a pro-reform platform, argues that designing market structures differently will lead to different (and better) outcomes. Photo: AFP

    How to rethink capitalism

    - Oct 2, 2019 12:12pm
    The United States Business Roundtable, an organization of CEOs of large US companies, recently issued a statement that caused quite a stir in some circles. Rather than focusing primarily or exclusively on maximizing shareholder value, America’s...
  • A woman shouts during an anti-Brexit protest in London on Aug 31. Britain has faced some serious crises over the past century, but the current problem is something different altogether. Photo: Reuters

    Brexit, the novel

    - Sep 2, 2019 11:33am
      The best way to think about the United Kingdom’s political predicament and presumed imminent exit from the European Union is to read the Slough House spy novel series by Mick Herron (the sixth installment, Joe...
  • There is a strong case for public investment in research and development when there are sufficiently strong spillover effects – for example, through the creation of new knowledge and techniques. Photo: Xinhua

    Economic growth and the US presidential election

    - Aug 1, 2019 9:53am
    Economic growth in the United States was just 2.5 percent in 2018 and, according to the latest “advance” estimate, may have slowed to only 2.1 percent in the second quarter of 2019. The economy is growing...
  • Automation means labor costs become less important when considering where to build new plants. But a corollary is that such manufacturing will be much less labor intensive than in the past. Photo: Bloomberg

    Build your own talent magnet

    - Jul 2, 2019 10:51am
    Around the world, the creation of good new jobs is increasingly concentrated in some of the largest cities. Innovative people want to work and live in close proximity to one another. This process of talent agglomeration...
  • Prototypes for US President Donald Trump's border wall are seen behind the border fence between Mexico and the United States, in Tijuana, Mexico. Photo: Reuters

    Five lessons from the US government shutdown

    - Feb 1, 2019 9:53am
    Last Friday, a wave of relief spread across the United States. A completely pointless and highly damaging partial government shutdown was over. Unfortunately, what we learned from the episode was extremely worrying about both what is...
  • Despite all the political theater and dramatic rhetoric, Britain’s impending exit from the European Union really does not matter for the world, argues Simon Johnson. Photo: Reuters

    Brexit does not matter

    - Jan 2, 2019 9:44am
    The contours of the nineteenth and early twentieth century were defined in part by a series of consequential British foreign policy and economic decisions. As recently as 2007-2009, British policy affected global outcomes: whereas deregulation of...
  • Starbucks has positioned itself to play a major role in upending not just how payments are made but also the business model of established banks. Photo: AFP

    The First Bank of Starbucks

    - Oct 3, 2018 8:31am
    On August 3, Starbucks made an announcement which, though little noticed at the time, amounts to a potentially massive shift in the organization of finance. How did an international chain of coffee shops position itself to...
  • US President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed “to work together toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods”. Photo: AFP

    Europe’s trade victory in Washington

    - Jul 31, 2018 9:15am
    On July 25, when US President Donald Trump appeared in front of the White House with Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, their joint statement and spoken remarks surprised many. The two sides agreed...
  • Addressing technology issues by means of tighter regulation at the federal level seems premature. Photo: Reuters/AFP

    Should tech companies be more tightly regulated?

    - Apr 4, 2018 9:09am
    In the wake of recent high-profile tech scares, such as a fatality involving an Uber self-driving car and Facebook’s alleged mishandling of users’ personal data, stricter regulation of the industry – along the lines of, say,...
  • US authorities want to prevent a recurrence of what happened in September 2008, when the collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered a cascade effect that nearly destroyed the financial system. Photo: Reuters

    The making of Lehman Brothers II

    - Feb 27, 2018 10:13am
    Last week, with some fanfare, the US Treasury Department released a report on what to do about the Orderly Liquidation Authority. The OLA, created under the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation of 2010, was intended to prevent...
  • Notwithstanding his bragging about deregulation, the total economic impact of Donald Trump's regulatory repeals has been trivial relative to the size of the US economy, critics say. Photo: Reuters

    Trumponomics is failing on growth

    - Feb 1, 2018 10:21am
      US President Donald Trump and his Secretary of the Treasury, Steven Mnuchin, have promised an economic miracle. They argue that when the United States adopts their policies, it will consistently achieve annual economic growth above...
  • House Speaker Paul Ryan says that the tax plan's  estimated output effects appear to be limited in size and possibly negative. Photo: Reuters

    America’s tax-cut Peronists

    - Nov 1, 2017 9:06am
    Name the country. Its leader rails against foreigners, erects various import barriers, and pushes for low interest rates and lots of cheap credit for favored sectors. Government debt is already high, but the would-be strongman in...
  • President Donald Trump is threatening to shut down the government unless Congress provides funding for a wall that he promised would cost US taxpayers nothing Photo: AFP

    The rising price of Trump’s border wall

    - Sep 4, 2017 9:33am
    As a candidate, Donald Trump insisted on one signature issue above all: the United States will build a wall along its border with Mexico, and Mexico will pay for it. Seven months after taking office, however,...
  • French President Emmanuel Macron (right) wants to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel halfway on European integration but everything hinges on the success of French reforms. Photo: Reuters

    A European economic miracle?

    - Jul 3, 2017 4:00pm
    A couple of years ago, the eurozone – about one-sixth of the world economy – appeared to be in serious trouble. Beginning in 2010, an unexpected sovereign debt crisis contributed to and was compounded by serious...
  • The multitude of narrow AI applications that could affect jobs in sectors such as healthcare, education, and construction will take much longer to spread. Photo: Reuters

    Jobs in the age of artificial intelligence

    - May 31, 2017 10:14am
    The world has no shortage of pressing issues. There are 1.6 billion people living in acute poverty; an estimated 780 million adults are illiterate. Serious problems are not confined to the developing world: “deaths of despair,”...
  • Grassroots activism is gaining momentum in congressional districts that would not have seemed competitive just five months ago. Photo: Reuters

    The People vs. Donald Trump

    - May 2, 2017 11:08am
    In American politics, the next election is all that matters. Despite the Republicans’ big win in November 2016, US President Donald Trump’s ability to pass legislation still depends on what congressional Republicans expect to see happen...
  • The key question now is whether Donald Trump will be able to move forward on other items on the Republicans’ economic agenda. Photo: Bloomberg

    Lessons from Trump’s healthcare debacle

    - Apr 3, 2017 4:38pm
    US President Donald Trump’s domestic economic agenda suffered a major setback last week, when the House Republican leadership decided to withdraw their hastily drafted bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare)....
  • Gary Cohn, head of President Donald Trump’s National Economic Council, suggests banks’ capital requirements be reduced in order to boost the economy.Photo: Reuters

    How the next financial disaster will strike

    - Mar 1, 2017 10:25am
    In early 2007, the worst financial crisis in almost 80 years began to unfold, coming to a head 18 months later with the collapse of Lehman Brothers and shock waves felt around the world. Desperate government...