The Agenda

Stray Links for 20 July 2010

* Ed Glaeser on the limits of regulation.

* Drake Bennett on cutting out the middleman.

* Raghu Rajan favors more stimulus spending:

The United States probably needs more structural transformation, including improving the quality of its rundown infrastructure, and more investment in improving education and retraining. More crisis spending could have been oriented towards these goals. Unfortunately, there is little appetite now for even sensible additional spending. Instead, the United States will probably stay with easy money as its answer. This will create problems over time, though not just yet. Growth is likely to slow in the second half of this year, but a double dip is still low probability. Recovery will proceed slowly and steadily but President Obama’s plans to make U.S. exports double over the next five years seem to be overly optimistic on current path.

* Randall O’Toole on the productivity of public transit:

The real solution for transit is privatization. Private operators would use smaller buses and would mainly serve the dense inner cities that have low rates of auto ownership. At a broader level, the transit industry offers lessons for anyone who thinks that government can do a better job at providing goods and services than the free market.

O’Toole has raised hackles for understating the extent to which the public sector has favored automobile transportation over alternatives, and that’s fair. But his broader point is an important one: lack of competition has undermined organizational discipline in the public transit space.

* Dane Stengler and Robert Litan wrote a great piece last month on desperate entrepreneurs.

* Barriers to electric cars.

* Erik Brynjolfsson believes that deflation is here, and that we need to take immediate action:

For instance, in the current situation, a $5,000 tax cut or credit for every U.S. household could be financed by the Fed printing money. This would not only stimulate consumption and investment, but it would also counteract the current deflationary pressures. In periods of full employment, such a policy would be justly criticized as inflationary, but in the current situation, a bit of inflation would be welcome. If there are concerns about inflation growing too rapidly, the tax credit could be delivered in monthly installments and ended early if inflation rose above a pre-specified target.

* Lee Bryant on the Big Society.

Reihan Salam — Reihan Salam is executive editor of National Review and a National Review Institute policy fellow.

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