Author Archives: karimfoda

What are areas where economies of scale do not hold up?

My answer on Quora: Economies of scale are not always true for ever-increasing levels of production. Sometimes, a company can get too big and begin to experience diseconomies of scale where the cost of producing an extra unit begins to rise. Economies of Scale Most companies start off with economies of scale, where they get more efficient […]

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What are the different markets in economics?

My answer on Quora: A market is for anything that has someone who wants something and someone who provides it. Or, where a transaction takes place. A stock market is where people buy (want) and sell (provide) stocks. Stocks are bought and sold in different “exchanges”, like the New York Stock Exchange, Nasdaq, or the Bombay Stock […]

Can pessimism on the economy actually help trigger an economic decline?

My post on Quora: More broadly, expectations can play an important role in economic decisions and can sometimes be self-fulling. Economic Decisions and Expectations From the demand side, an economy can be thought of as a series of spending, saving, borrowing and investment decisions by people, companies, investors, national governments, city councils, etc. These decisions can be […]

Why is the employment-to-population ratio still low despite the very low unemployment rate in the U.S.?

My answer on Quora: This is one of the biggest labor market questions and challenges in the U.S. economy. The straight answer is that the labor force participation rate sharply declined for years after the 2008 financial crisis before finally stabilizing in 2016. The real question is why fewer people are participating in the labor force. An […]

Will the world eventually come to an equilibrium where all nations will be developed and everyone will be out of poverty?

My answer on Quora: In the United States, the preamble to the nation’s constitution begins with “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union…” The idea of “a more perfect union” underpins the ultimate goal of the nation as defined from its inception: to become more perfect with every generation, […]

Why is the US dollar still the currency that matters the most globally?

My answer on Quora: Of all the currencies around the world, the US dollar matters the most globally because it is most readily available, most widely accepted in international transactions, and, crucially, the most trusted. If little country A is selling a commodity, for example, to little country Z, that transaction is most likely to […]

What is the benchmark used to measure the effectiveness of monetary policy?

My answer on Quora: There are different indicators one can look at to help assess if the monetary policy of a central bank is effective or not, but such assessments have been getting harder to make. On the surface On the surface, a central bank can be viewed as effective in its monetary policy if […]

What is a better measure of (Workers’) productivity than GDP (PPP) per hour worked?

My answer on Quora: The ideal measure is output or value-add per worker. I say ideal because true output or true value is hard to measure. GDP has been labelled one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century, but it is not well suited for the 21st century. When output is a physical item, like […]

What did John Maynard Keynes get right about economics?

My answer on Quora: Two things: 1) Fiscal Policy Very simply (and very broadly), Keynes established that fiscal policy can play a role in managing aggregate demand. In plain English: government spending (whether it’s increasing or decreasing) can help the economy from getting too hot or too cold. When it is too hot (resources (capital […]

Comment: On the Fed engaging with the public

Gillian Tett of the Financial Times recently posed this question in an opinion piece: “How should the Federal Reserve engage with the public?” Soon after becoming chairman of the Fed, Jerome Powell did something no other Fed chairperson (or perhaps any major central bank governor) has done before. He posted a video where he speaks […]

Competition Challenges in the Digital Economy

From Brookings (with Nirav Patel): Slow productivity growth and rising income inequality have shaped the world economy in a time of rapid technological change. A variety of explanations have emerged to help us understand these related trends, but one overarching theme is the decline in competition. The combination of increasingly concentrated markets, rising market power of large firms, and […]

Africa in the World Cup: Building cohesion through the world’s most-watched sport

From Brookings, Africa in Focus blog (with Mariama Sow): The World Cup, which starts this week, is the most-watched sporting event in the world, having reached more than 3 billion people in 2014. This year, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, and Tunisia will be representing Africa. African teams in the World Cup are rarely predicted to advance beyond the […]

Why do people have such strong political opinions about economic issues? If we knew what works economically, why wouldn’t all people already support that?

My answer on Quora: Two key points stand out to me on this issue. The first is on what we know about the economy. The second is on how we talk about the economy. We do know a lot about the economy, but we don’t always know what the best way forward is. This is […]

Assuming all countries have the same rates, what is the optimal average tariff? Is it 0%, or does a small nominal rate produce better outcomes?

My answer on Quora: I do not believe there is such a thing as a common optimal tariff rate across countries. I also do not believe that a world with zero tariffs will produce better outcomes than having a range of country- and industry-specific tariffs (from zero to above zero). This is because countries differ […]

How does improving basic infrastructure enhance economic growth?

My answer on Quora: Basic infrastructure enhances economic growth in three broad ways: (1) by supporting the production of goods and services, (2) by connecting people to each other and to those goods and services, and (3) by helping people secure basic needs like food, clean water, housing, health care and quality education (a healthy […]

What’s the IMF?

My answer on Quora: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is a multilateral/international institution whose primary purpose is to be a lender of last resort to member governments. If one of its member countries is having a financial, banking or related crisis, or is about to have one, the IMF is there to lend that country’s […]

What is the optimal home ownership rate in the US?

My answer on Quora: I think this question just gave some economist out there an idea for her next paper, because, to my limited knowledge on this literature, there do not seem to be many studies that try to answer this question. There may be a reason for that and that reason could be methodological […]

How is China preparing for the expected rapid aging of its population?

My answer on Quora: At least one way China hopes to address some of the needs of its aging population is by providing households with safe financial assets to invest in. The more options available for households to finance (at least part) of their own retirement, the less pressure on public pensions and the more […]

What is your favorite economic principle?

My answer on Quora: Thinking at the margin! The principle here is that decisions are made when considering one step ahead. What impact will this extra move have on X? Will one more A result in B? What would it mean for my budget (or time) if I buy Y instead of X? This kind […]

What is the difference between human and economic development?

My answer on Quora: When economic development is inclusive, the two can be thought to go hand in hand. This is largely because there is no precise definition of economic development. For example, take the Cambridge Dictionary’s definition: The process in which an economy grows or changes and becomes more advanced, especially when both economic and social […]