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The results of my survey of economists will be published in mid September. It's going to take longer than I thought to swim through the data and pull out the good stuff. And I have been advised by smart people that this week is a bad one to compete for attention in the news.  I can tell you that I've seen the raw results and there will be surprises.

Let's do a little experiment here. I asked economists to rank issues by how important they are to the economy. I'm asking you the same thing now. In the comments, tell us what you think is the number one issue for the United States from an ECONOMIC perspective.

I'm guessing your answers will be all over the place, and that says a lot about the challenge of democracy. If you don't know which issue is most important to the economy, it's hard to know which candidate would do the best job.

In your view, what is the most important issue for the economy?
 
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Sep 17, 2008
Taxes.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 8, 2008
Stoopid blog software ate my post! Here's a summary: National debt, although annoying, isn't even close to the top economic issue in 2008. Among the top 5 are innovation, regulation (as in "regulation of banks was a good idea in 1931-1938 and would've been a good idea in 2001-2008"), income inequality, energy efficiency, and trade (truly "free" trade would be nice, but the trade we have is far from free or fair).

Anybody who tells you they're going to focus on a single issue in economics is (1) lying or (2) stupid.
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 8, 2008
uoha wrote: "You Got all There man! Now Just Tell The President what to , I mean It , you could o more for this Country then the President we Got! It was noce to read your Posting! Thanks for now!"

You not all there, man. Blah, blah, blah. It was noose to rood yoor poosting! Tanks for cow!
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 8, 2008
You Got all There man!
Now Just Tell The President what to , I mean It , you could o more for this Country then the President we Got!
It was noce to read your Posting! Thanks for now!
 
 
Sep 4, 2008
The amount of money you keep relative to the amount of money you earn is the most important factor to the economy.
 
 
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Sep 4, 2008
Hi Scott,

I think the number one long-term issue facing the country is entitlement spending. Entitlements now account for 55% of the federal budget and thay continue to grow mostly unabated. The bigger the numbers get it seems the harder it is for us to do anything about it (the yoked dog phenomenon?). Additionally, no member of Congress or the President has any real incentive to try to solve the problem as it will cause short-term pain and politicians recognize that our pain is not to their gain, so they avoid even mentioning the problem.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 2, 2008
I only took one course in Economics during my time in college, which I kind of regret. Luckily, my roommate was an econ/business major and I got a lot of information out of him. In my largely un-informed opinion, I believe that free trade is the key to everything. I understand how it might be difficult if you're the poor chump whose job gets shipped overseas, and you may not want to reeducate and get something else, but in the long run, it's better for all the countries involved. The US gets cheaper labor, and Poor Country gets more money. That's why I often find myself cringing when I hear Obama (my candidate of choice) going on and on about NAFTA. Ah well.
 
 
Sep 2, 2008
I'm not sure what the most important issue to the economy is, but one issue that I hope you asked the economists about is the balance of trade. I keep hearing people talk about how our balance of trade is getting worse and worse, and soon all our wealth will be transferred to china. That does seem like a problem. But then I read about how our GDP continues to increase, and that the last time we had a favorable balance of trade is during the Great Depression. So is this something we need to be concerned with?

Also, hopefully the VP selections will convince you that Obama is the better choice. Palin is completely unqualified to be president, and if McCain wins, she very well might be.
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 1, 2008
I can't be bothered to read what all the other knuckleheads are writing, but I would say INFLATION: get some price stability (not by fixing petrol/food prices though) and the rest is relatively easy.

Am SO pleased you have commissioned this survey - it is distressting how little importance people/voters give to the power of free markets and its corollary, free market economics, so hopefully this might enlighten a few moist robots at the very least!
 
 
-1 Rank Up Rank Down
Sep 1, 2008
IMO there are 2 important ways for the US to stimulate the economy:
1 - Green technologies: manufacture and installation of renewable energy and recycling plants will generate jobs for manual labourers. Peak oil is going to screw the states one way or another.
2 - Domestic food production: Food grown in the USA is expensive. That needs to change. There's a lot of fertile land going to waste that is able to provide jobs, increase the export market and hopefully drive down the cost of domestically produced food. Rising oil prices are going to drive the cost of importing food up. As the asian food producers have been struggling in the last couple of years the USA needs to stop being reliant on them.

 
 
Aug 30, 2008
#1 is the price of oil and/or energy
#2 is valuation of the dollar against foreign currencies (particulary the currencies of OPEC nations), which is closely linked to #1.
#3 is deficit spending, as our government spend money like it is growing on trees our debt amasses, and other countries look on the US dollar as if it were funny money (see #2).

As most economists will tell you, everything is dependent on something else.
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 30, 2008
Lack of regulation of the financial industry has led to many problems over the years, dating back to the S&L scandals -- ask John McCain about that, if you don't remember it. More recently, the mortgage industry suffered from lack of regulation.

So regulation of the financial industry is the top issue. A close #2 is expanding health insurance coverage to more Americans and de-coupling it from employment. More people being insured will actually create jobs in health service industries, and de-coupling coverage from employment will increase efficiency, because workers will feel more free to switch to jobs that better suit their skills but don't provide health insurance.
 
 
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 30, 2008
The inability of congress to restrain spending.
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 30, 2008
#1 End the Iraq war. It's not affordable.
#2 Liberalize immigration so companies have access to the talented employees they need.
 
 
Aug 29, 2008
Now that this topic is not being actively updated, in the spirit of Scott Adams, I've taken it upon myself to tally what the "Blogconomists" have to say our most important economic issue is.

In tallying the results, I've found that most Blogconomists (myself included) couldn't follow instructions, and only list a single most important issue, so I assumed that the reason listed first was their most important, but I also counted separately their #2 issue, and again separately any other issue that they mention in their post.

Even so, the you may notice that the numbers don't quite add up. That's because in some cases, I couldn't categorize the answer in a way that others of the same opinion would add weight to. Some Blogconomists seemed to have equal #1 answers, so I gave counted them that way. Others had no opinion of their own, and so were grouped in "CAN'T FOLLOW DIRECTIONS".

In creating the categories, I lumped basic concepts together, even though two posters might be at odds as to what the actual fix to the issue is (example: "The government should spend less"; "The government needs to spend more in the area of _____" both would have fallen in the category of BUDGET DEFICIT / GOV'T SPENDING; or "More Drilling" and "Alternative sources" both would be votes for ENERGY.

Although it was temping to make it a separate category, I put the Iraq War into "GOVERNMENT SPENDING".

The "PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY" category was especially omnibus, including such diverse topics as "Increase personal savings" to "Too much credit card debt".

Some were tough calls to catagorize, and I'm sure others would have done it differently. Feel free.

I've grouped the results, not in straight order of popularity, but by general theme - international issues, national policy, and others.

As of this posting, 190 of us have expressed an opinion. I'll be interested to see how this compares with Scott's result.


The number 1 concern of the Blogconomists - ENERGY
Number 2 - PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
Number 3 - NATIONAL DEBT / BUDGET DEFICIT (tie)


The details are below. If any of you would like to see the raw data, feel free to email me through the link, and I'll email you the spreadsheet with how I classified everyone's opinion.


======== BLOGCONOMIST RESULTS ==============

ENERGY (OIL/GAS PRICE; POLICY)
#1 = 30 ; #2 = 10 ; Honorable mention = 1

FREE TRADE / FREE MARKET
#1 = 6 ; #2 = 1 ; Honorable mention = 1

TRADE DEFICIT
#1 = 7 ; #2 = 1

FOREIGN AID
#1 = 1


DOLLAR VALUATION
#1 = 8 ; #2 = 3 ; Honorable mention = 1

NATIONAL DEBT
#1 = 17 ; #2 = 8 ; Honorable mention = 2

BUDGET DEFICIT / GOV'T SPENDING
#1 = 17 ; #2 = 1 ; Honorable mention = 4

JOB (CREATION / RETENTION)
#1 = 7 ; #2 = 3 ; Honorable mention = 4

TAXES (CHANGE RATE / REFORM)
#1 = 10 ; #2 = 6 ; Honorable mention = 4

SOCIAL SECURITY / ENTITLEMENTS
#1 = 2 ; #2 = 5 ; Honorable mention = 3

HEALTH CARE COSTS
#1 = 5 ; #2 = 2 ; Honorable mention = 4

EDUCATION
#1 = 7 ; #2 = 2 ; Honorable mention = 3

GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS (NONSPECIFIC)
#1 = 10 ; #2 = 2 ; Honorable mention = 4

INFLATION / HIGHER COSTS
#1 = 5 ; #2 = 3 ; Honorable mention = 2

RECESSION / GROWTH
#1 = 2

CREDIT (MORTGAGE) CRISIS / INTEREST RATES
#1 = 6 ; #2 = 2 ; Honorable mention = 1


PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY
#1 = 22 ; #2 = 1 ; Honorable mention = 2

INCOME DISPARITY / REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH
#1 = 2 ; Honorable mention = 1

POPULATION / IMMIGRATION
#1 = 5 ; #2 = 2 ; Honorable mention = 3

INFRASTRUCTURE / PRODUCTIVITY / COMPETITIVENESS
#1 = 4

CAN'T FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS
13
 
 
Aug 29, 2008
I'm with Ross Perot of 1992 on this one: The federal budget deficit is a huge issue. The government's national debt is also a big issue, but the deficit has to be eliminated before the debt can be addressed.

I feel this is an issue because it strains the economy. For one... Trouble getting a loan lately? Well, the U.S. government borrows more than anyone else, and its immense borrowing puts a strain on the amount of debt available to ordinary consumers. There's other reasons, too, but they're not at the tip of my tongue (fingers?) right now.
 
 
Aug 29, 2008
The fact that we've aborted a lot of the people wo were supposed to support us (via Social Security) in our old age.
 
 
Aug 29, 2008
Q: What is the most important issue for the economy?

A: Our national debt of $9.65 trillion (or $31,639.88 for every man, woman, and child in America).
 
 
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Aug 29, 2008
Managing economic friction and information.

I'm a believer in free markets, but I also acknowledge that there are things they do not provide. For example, you can choose among 10,000 different credit cards -- but the terms "can change at any moment for any reason," and you don't know which card is more likely to do it than another, or when. Or, Comcast just announced a bandwidth limit - but do you have an easy alternative? Or, you might lose your job and a new industry might open up - but can you afford to move where it is, or do you ever want to? Prices come down, but do you always know where to go? (you can get eyeglasses for $20 online; a brick and mortar store will charge you hundreds of dollars!) And since you have LIMITED free time, you can't possibly find the best deal when you want or need it.

Until the frictions are smoothed out and information is widely and instantaneously available, THIS is the number one economic issue to address. Make it better and a lot of problems go away for people as they are able to do much better for themselves.

The current Presidential candidates, by the way, are going in the OPPOSITE direction of this: they want to PUNISH success, REWARD failure, LIMIT your options and CONTROL ideas and information.
 
 
Aug 29, 2008
Paying down our future liabilites - social security, national debt, medicare - without adding more to the list (national healthcare) while keeping the economy on a modest growth path (keeping taxes relatively low compared to the rest of the advanced world economies) and continuing to encourage Foreign Direct Investment.
 
 
 
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