Hoover fellow Russell Roberts is using rap music to make the dismal science far less dismal. By Charles Lindsey.
The Hoover Institution hosted the Board of Overseers’ Summer Meeting on July 12–14, 2011.
On Tuesday evening, Hoover fellows discussed topics relating to defense, global issues, entitlements, and the state of the economy. Victor Davis Hanson and Bruce Thornton’s speech was titled “America Abroad: Appeasement or Deterrence?” David Brady and John Cogan’s presentation was titled “Entitlements, Debt and Electoral Politics: How Did We Get Where We Are–and Where Do We Go from Here?” In their speech titled “The Road Ahead for the Fed: Two Years Later,” John Taylor and Kevin Warsh discussed the state of the economy today.
This essay discusses the inflation of the 1970s and the disinflations of the 1980s and 1990s. It provides historical and intellectual history perspectives on these events. It argues that the consensus view of economists on inflation and its costs has changed more than on any other subject in the past thirty years. As late as 1980, many economists argued that the cost of inflation was low and that the cost of disinflation so great that it was better to live with 10 or 12 percent inflation than bear the temporarily higher unemployment and lost output that would accompany a disinflation.
Fortunately, Federal Reserve Board chairmen Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan engineered two rounds of disinflation, first from 12.0 percent to 4.5 percent and then to 2.5 percent. Although there were costs--a severe recession in 1981–82 and a not-so-soft landing in 1990–91--the low and relatively stable inflation of the 1980s and 1990s has been a major factor in a long boom in the United States, two long expansions interrupted by a short, mild recession. And economists' thinking about the costs and consequences of high inflation has shifted to the view that stable low inflation, like the lowest possible tax rates and minimum necessary regulation, is a fundamental pillar of maximizing sustained long-run growth.