At a recent Mises presentation, American libertarian philosopher and intellectual historian and senior fellow at the Mises Institute Dr. David Gordon listed his top 8 picks for understanding economics. They are (with links to places on the Mises website where they can be downloaded free):

 

How Higher Costs Help the Biggest Companies - Peter G. Klein

Does any business like higher costs? Does any company like increased regulations, whether good or bad, which make it more difficult to operate? Does any company want a government that does this type of thing, and will support such a government?

Yes, in a competitive market, those types of difficulties benefit the biggest companies, who have the resources to do these things easily, and which will make business relatively harder for their smaller business competitors who might even go out of business. It’s in their interest to support governments who promise and execute these types of governmental actions, making it costlier to do business.

Economist Peter G. Klein, speaking at a recent Mises podium, gave some examples of this:

“Walmart can easily afford to design the parking lot in a certain way to make sure there are no steps as you enter the store. It’s easy for Walmart to do, and of course Walmart Corporation has hundreds, maybe thousands, of attorneys and compliance officers and all sorts of folks who specialize in understanding the regulations and making sure the firm is in compliance. Mom and Pop stores don’t have that. They can’t afford to build a ramp instead of stairs. They can’t afford to re-pave their parking lot. They don’t have a lawyer on retainer who can help them decipher the latest requirement of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“So large companies often lobby for more regulation, for stricter government requirements on disclosure and so forth, because they know they can afford it and their smaller, newer rivals cannot afford it.”

 

What's good and what's bad about America right now - Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase

At the recent Aspen summit, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, a company that has seen a massive increase in confidence (and stock value, which has tripled since the recent financial crisis, doubled since Dimon started in his current position) in recent years, commented on what was strong and what was weak in the current America. Here’s a summary.

The good:

  • The economy is booming, with no major potholes
  • Wages increasing
  • People coming back into work force
  • Houses in short supply (a plus for the economy)
  • Credit on financial institutions balance sheets is pristine
  • Companies have plenty of money
  • Tax reform is going to help with retention and reinvestment of capital in America

The bad:

  • Uncompetitive business taxes – this has been fixed, though, he noted
  • Infrastructure is poor – “We put a man on the moon in 8 years. We can’t fix a bridge in 12 years now.”
  • Inner city schools “simply don’t work and we’re relegating generations of minorities and poor kids to poverty.”
  • Litigation system “is becoming increasingly capricious.”
  • Small business formation (small business, middle market, large corporation all effected) is less than it’s ever been in a major American recovery, as a result of “regulation” and “paperwork,” or bureaucracy and sinecure – a form of corruption in the American system to keep jobs for certain people. (Dimon noted that he wasn’t 100% sure of the particulars of this point, but made it clear he considered it something important to look at.)
  • Immigration reform not good enough – “If we had proper immigration reform it would help us grow .2% per year. 300,000 kids get education here and go back home, and then our American universities brag about it like what a good job they’re doing ‘exporting.'”