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Thursday, November 17, 2016

This isn’t as crazy it sounds. A lot of macroeconomic predictions still rest on this assumption. It makes the math easier. Packed in the room with Sager are 19 Ph.D. economists from universities and government agencies, taking turns at the lectern. They’ve gathered for the annual conference of the National Tax Association. Infinitely lived agents certainly don’t sound crazy to them.
Sager, an economist for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, speaks in surprisingly plain English. He’s added to that 1998 paper, he says, “by relaxing the assumption that people are infinitely lived.” Economists call this a “life cycle” approach, and it produces a dramatically different result. Rather than hold debt, his life cycle analysis suggests governments should hold savings. For the U.S., that’s a swing on the order of $20 trillion.

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