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Noel Maurer
Interests: My current research asks whether foreign governments or international institutions can improve economic governance. Is it possible to alter a country’s property rights system from the outside? This research has two prongs. The first is a historical work, tentatively entitled Imperial Experiments: Intervention, Economic Growth, and Property Rights, which tests various hypotheses about the success and failure of American attempts to improve economic governance outside the United States and protect the property rights of U.S. investors before World War II. The second is a series of contemporary case studies about attempts to alter nations’ internal economic governance from the outside: bilateral investment treaties, investor protection clauses in trade agreements, conditional loans, the “mortgaging” of export revenues, vulture funds, and military intervention. I also watch a lot of baseball, enjoy very bad music, and do a lot of travelling. The travel tends to be either in total luxury, or to places where I need to wear body armor and live in constant fear of, well, death.
Recent Activity
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Some of you may have heard of the ridiculous error in the Trump budget. The error, in fact, is so ridiculous that you may have some trouble following the explanations. Matt Yglesias and Larry Summers, for example, managed to confuse... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at The Power and the Money
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So here I am in Uruguay! Getting here was a bit more involved than I had hoped. My Copa flight gave me 45 minutes to change planes in Panama City, but thunderstorms delayed our departure from Dulles for about that... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at The Power and the Money
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California just costed the proposed Medicare-for-all system. It came to about $400 billion. $200 billion would come from existing federal spending. The remainder could be financed by a 15% payroll tax (or something else). Of that $200 billion, $150 billion... Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at The Power and the Money
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The Mexican peso began falling well before Donald Trump came on the scene. Opinion varies on Trump’s responsibility for the fall between April and November 2016 (Kevin Drum and Boz make good cases that he did not) but his administration... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2017 at The Power and the Money
Normally, President Trump displays this weirdly constrained body language, with his torso rigid and his arms making stiff chopping motions. Well, maybe I shouldn’t say “weird.” Just weird for a native New Yorker, certainly for a white guy from the... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2017 at The Power and the Money
President Trump fired James Comey today. Comey did engage in malpractice over the Clinton investigation and he did misrepresent what was on the Weiner laptop to Congress. But we all know that is not why he was fired. So as... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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The Fraser Institute publishes an annual list of the most and least risky jurisdictions for mining investments. The index combines political and geologic attributes: New Jersey is a great place to invest, but there are not a whole lot of... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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In our last installment we reported that, to our surprise, the blue market was still functioning in Argentina! Reader J.H. provided the likely explanation: once created, the market stuck around as a convenient way to avoid taxes. The Fernández administration... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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When Jerry Brown was governor of California the last time around, he received the moniker “Governor Moonbeam,” in part because he proposed that the state start its own space program back in 1978. Now he’s back, with regulations that would... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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It’s tempting to dump on Trinidad for undergoing a resource boom that failed (AFAWK) to lift median incomes by any substantive amount. Nor did that boom go into an impressive increase in public infrastructure. In fact, most of what you... Continue reading
Posted May 7, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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The New York Times recently published an interesting article with a weird headline: “As Markets Spring Up, Leader’s Grip on North Korea Slackens.” Apparently somebody noticed that the substance of the article showed no such slackening of the leader’s grip... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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What little was left of Venezuelan democracy died when the Supreme Tribunal usurped legislative authority back in March, even if it later reversed parts of its decision. But the Maduro regime keeps insulting what remains of democracy in Venezuela. On... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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I wrote this on April 4th and then forgot about it. I am now exhuming it for those who are interested. Short version of recent Venezuelan events: The Supreme Tribunal, packed with regime loyalists, invalidates every legislative action. For reasons... Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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In the last post, I presented evidence that Trinidad’s recent boom had no impact on median household incomes. To be clear, that data is highly inconclusive. Without the time to process the raw data, we have no way of knowing... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Trinidad experienced a massive boom between 2000 and 2008. That boom was reflected in government revenues. And you could smell the optimism when I first started travelling here around 2007. So what happened? We know that government revenues soared, as... Continue reading
Posted Apr 28, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Border apprehensions in March 2017 fell a lot compared to March 2016. This is taken as evidence that Trumpian enforcement is scaring off potential migrants. But as Kevin Drum pointed out, March apprehensions have been falling for a very long... Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Front page headline in the Sunday T&T Newsday? “Easter backpay for 16,000 health workers: $636M blessing.” Short version: 16,000 government employees are going to receive US$5,923 per person in unpaid salaries. This in a country where average annual government expenditure... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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I am finishing Chris Hayes’ A Colony in a Nation. It’s quite good, but the parts that really resonated were his descriptions of growing up in the New York City in the 1980s and 1990s. It turns out he grew... Continue reading
Posted Apr 18, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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More Trini posts coming. But right now, behold the failure of the Calexit nonsense. And as California resident (but not native, as he will angrily point out) Will Baird (hat tip!) pointed out, you cannot help but relish the way... Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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There is nothing remotely unusual about going back to Trinidad! But for reasons that have nothing to do with this blog, I noticed that I stopped travel blogging around 2012. Which is too bad, since I made some fascinating work-related... Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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Florida is a bizarre state. Not only is it different in extreme from the rest of the country; different parts of Florida are different in the extreme from each other. It just should not work. But somehow it does. Every... Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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In a future post I may recount the recent strange power grab in the Bolivarian Republic. The latest twist has been banning Henrique Capriles from running for office for the next 15 years. Right now, I want to flag a... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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OK, time for me to vent. President Obama did wrong by suspending the wet-foot Cuba policy. The United States and the Cuban Republic have a special relationship. Seriously, we do. Our histories have been intertwined more than any random pair... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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A long time ago, I had a debate with my friend (and sometimes co-blogger) Doug Muir about Puerto Rico. Was it really that much better off as a territory of the United States? He mentioned that Costa Rica was not... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2017 at The Power and the Money
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There is a long debate over colonialism, particularly the late-19th-century variant. Most of the literature focuses on long-term effects. So it often loses sight of a simple question: did imperial institutions function basically the same as capitalist institutions in non-colonized... Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2017 at The Power and the Money