By John Ballard
Reading macroeconomics is like watching the Winter Olympics. I'm thinking of all those swift downhill sports like skiing and luge where contestants deliberately allow their bodies to be sped by gravity on downward surfaces with nothing between them and the ice but skies or sleds without brakes. We watch in amazement as they do what normal morals cannot, often at the same time making their achievements look easy.
Edward Hugh is a macro economist, who specializes in growth and productivity theory, demographic processes and their impact on macro performance, and the underlying dynamics of migration flows.
Macroeconomics, like most specialties, is not quick and easy reading. But with a bit of cribbing a non-economist can learn enough to follow the action at least as well as those of us who watch the Winter Olympics on TV. Hugh's most recent commentary at Don't Shoot the Messenger, his blog at Roubini's EconoMonitor, is entitled Last Days of Pompeii? Here are a few terms that may help -- IMF (International Monetary Fund), ECB (European Central Bank), AFSF (European Financial Security Facility), Eurobonds (not the same as individual national bonds) and World Bank, which is not the same as the IMF.
All those blurbs the news people keep putting up about the European debt crisis are more than just background information for trivia buffs. They have real-world consequences for everybody. We don't know when or exactly how but it is logical to expect that one day soon in the not too distant future there will be casualties. As in the Winter Olympics (or an equally exciting auto race or air show in Nevada) we don't know when it might happen or who or how many casualties there may be. But we can be sure that a disaster is gonna happen.
Now clear your head, get something refreshing to drink, and go read the links.