Five challenges facing the American economy in 2014

Reuters

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange January 21, 2014.

Article Highlights

  • The most important priority for the US trade agenda in '14 will be the successful conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

    Tweet This

  • If inflation rises, the Fed will need to tighten and the stock market will fall.

    Tweet This

  • A strong economy relies on a stable housing market, which depends on the preponderance of home loans being low risk.

    Tweet This

As the U.S. economy continues to sputter, American Enterprise Institute economists identify five areas that could heavily affect an American recovery in 2014: trade, the Federal Reserve, housing, taxes and the Internet.

Trade
The most important priority for the U.S. trade agenda in 2014 will be the successful conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, with 11 trading nations in the Asia Pacific.

The imperatives are both economic and diplomatic: the TPP is a central element of President Obama's "pivot" to Asia and it forms the central core of a broader Asia regional economic architecture. Failure to conclude this agreement would have large-scale negative consequences for U.S. leadership in the Asia Pacific region, and risk ceding the game to Beijing. - Claude Barfield

Federal Reserve
The Fed faces extraordinary challenges in 2014. Under the new leadership of Janet Yellen, the Fed's successful management of its pro-stimulus policy is an essential element of economic expansion in 2014. Its aggressive stance aimed at lowering the unemployment rate does not conflict with its two percent inflation target.

If inflation rises, however, the Fed will need to tighten - even if its lower unemployment rate target has not been reached - and the stock market will fall.

If, however, inflation keeps falling, the Fed will need either to buy even more securities and/or commit to a more extended period of zero short term interest rates. Otherwise, persistent disinflation or deflation will boost real interest rates and weaken growth. Either way, the Fed will have a tough 2014. -John H. Makin

Housing
A strong economy relies on a stable housing market, which depends on the preponderance of home loans being low risk. However, the government's control of housing finance promotes risky lending: nearly one-half of home loans guaranteed recently by government agencies - FHA, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac - had down payments of 5 percent or less. Consequently, even a small drop in home prices would leave these borrowers underwater. The Fed's policy of keeping interest rates at historically low levels is driving up house prices faster than rents and incomes.

This makes it difficult for first-time home buyers to purchase a home and creates the risk of another housing bubble. The solutions: increase the market's reliance on private capital, return the FHA to traditional, sustainable lending practices, and allow interest rates to return to market levels. -Edward Pinto and Stephen Oliner

Tax Reform
Over the last 25 years, many countries have lowered their corporate tax rates leaving the United States with the highest rate in the developed world.

This discourages investment here, which holds down productivity and reduces wages. Congress and the President have failed to address this problem. Furthermore, the reforms being considered would barely reduce the tax burden on investment in the United States.

One solution would eliminate the corporate tax and instead tax corporate income fully at the stockholder level. Another approach would allow all investment costs to be immediately deducted rather than written off over years. Either of these reforms would simplify the tax system, encourage investment, and boost wages. -Alan Viard, Aparna Mathur, and Matt Jensen

The Internet
Since being privatized in the mid-1990s, the Internet has operated with minimal government intrusion.
This free-market digital environment is fertile ground for American entrepreneurial spirit. Eight of the top 10 Internet properties - including Facebook, Google and Microsoft - are "Made in the USA," and U.S. firms dominate markets from smart phones to main frames.

Yet less market-oriented governments would have the United Nations as an international Internet regulator. They have gotten a big boost from the NSA spying revelations, which they say demonstrate the need for international oversight. These forces will try again in April at a U.N. meeting in Buenos Aires. Nothing could be worse for the United States. -Jeffrey Eisenach

Claude Barfield, John H. Makin, Edward Pinto, Stephen Oliner, Alan Viard, Aparna Mathur, Matt Jensen and Jeffrey Eisenach specialize in various areas of the economy at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Claude
Barfield
  • Claude Barfield, a former consultant to the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, researches international trade policy (including trade policy in China and East Asia), the World Trade Organization (WTO), intellectual property, and science and technology policy. His many books and publications include Swap: How Trade Works with Philip Levy, a concise introduction to the principles of world economics, and Telecoms and the Huawei conundrum: Chinese foreign direct investment in the United States, an AEI Economic Studies analysis that explores the case of Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei and its commitment to long-term investment in the US.
  • Phone: 2028625879
    Email: cbarfield@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Hao Fu
    Phone: 202-862-5214
    Email: hao.fu@aei.org

 

John H.
Makin
  • John H. Makin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) where he studies the US economy, monetary policy, financial markets, corporate taxation and banking. He also studies and writes frequently about Japanese, Chinese and European economic issues.

    Makin has served as a consultant to the US Treasury Department, the Congressional Budget Office, and the International Monetary Fund. He spent twenty years on Wall Street as the chief economist, and later as a principal of Caxton Associates a trading and investment firm. Earlier, Makin taught economics at various universities including the University of Virginia. He has also been a scholar at the Bank of Japan, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Federal Bank of Chicago, and the National Bureau of Economic Research. A prolific writer, Makin is the author of numerous books and articles on financial, monetary, and fiscal policy. Makin also writes AEI's monthly Economic Outlook which pairs insightful research with current economic topics.

    Makin received his doctorate and master’s degree in economics from University of Chicago, and bachelor’s degree in economics from Trinity College.


    Follow John Makin on Twitter.

  • Phone: 202-862-5828
    Email: jmakin@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Brittany Pineros
    Phone: 202-862-5926
    Email: brittany.pineros@aei.org

 

Aparna
Mathur
  • Aparna Mathur is an economist who writes about taxes and wages. She has been a consultant to the World Bank and has taught economics at the University of Maryland. Her work ranges from research on carbon taxes and the impact of state health insurance mandates on small firms to labor market outcomes. Her research on corporate taxation includes the widely discussed coauthored 2006 "Wages and Taxes" paper, which explored the link between corporate taxes and manufacturing wages.
  • Phone: 202-828-6026
    Email: amathur@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Hao Fu
    Phone: 202-862-5214
    Email: hao.fu@aei.org

 

Alan D.
Viard
  • Alan D. Viard is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he studies federal tax and budget policy.

    Prior to joining AEI, Viard was a senior economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and an assistant professor of economics at Ohio State University. He has also been a visiting scholar at the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Tax Analysis, a senior economist at the White House's Council of Economic Advisers, and a staff economist at the Joint Committee on Taxation of the US Congress. While at AEI, Viard has also taught public finance at Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute. Earlier in his career, Viard spent time in Japan as a visiting scholar at Osaka University’s Institute of Social and Economic Research.

    A prolific writer, Viard is a frequent contributor to AEI’s “On the Margin” column in Tax Notes and was nominated for Tax Notes’s 2009 Tax Person of the Year. He has also testified before Congress, and his work has been featured in a wide range of publications, including Room for Debate in The New York Times, TheAtlantic.com, Bloomberg, NPR’s Planet Money, and The Hill. Viard is the coauthor of “Progressive Consumption Taxation: The X Tax Revisited” (2012) and “The Real Tax Burden: Beyond Dollars and Cents” (2011), and the editor of “Tax Policy Lessons from the 2000s” (2009).

    Viard received his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University and a B.A. in economics from Yale University. He also completed the first year of the J.D. program at the University of Chicago Law School, where he qualified for law review and was awarded the Joseph Henry Beale prize for legal research and writing.
  • Phone: 202-419-5202
    Email: aviard@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Regan Kuchan
    Phone: 202-862-5903
    Email: regan.kuchan@aei.org

 

Edward J.
Pinto
  • American Enterprise Institute (AEI) resident fellow Edward J. Pinto is the codirector of AEI’s International Center on Housing Risk. He is currently researching policy options for rebuilding the US housing finance sector and specializes in the effect of government housing policies on mortgages, foreclosures, and on the availability of affordable housing for working-class families. Pinto writes AEI’s monthly Housing Risk Watch, which has replaced AEI’s FHA Watch. Along with AEI resident scholar Stephen Oliner, Pinto is the creator and developer of the AEI Pinto-Oliner Mortgage Risk, Collateral Risk, and Capital Adequacy Indexes.


    An executive vice president and chief credit officer for Fannie Mae until the late 1980s, Pinto has done groundbreaking research on the role of federal housing policy in the 2008 mortgage and financial crisis. Pinto’s work on the Government Mortgage Complex includes seminal research papers submitted to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission: “Government Housing Policies in the Lead-up to the Financial Crisis” and “Triggers of the Financial Crisis.” In December 2012, he completed a study of 2.4 million Federal Housing Administration (FHA)–insured loans and found that FHA policies have resulted in a high proportion of working-class families losing their homes.

    Pinto has a J.D. from Indiana University Maurer School of Law and a B.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • Phone: 240-423-2848
    Email: edward.pinto@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Emily Rapp
    Phone: 202-419-5212
    Email: emily.rapp@aei.org

 

Matthew H.
Jensen
  • Matthew Jensen is a research associate for economic policy studies. He maintains an active research agenda focused on public finance and taxation, and he coordinates the ongoing development of AEI’s International Tax Database. Jensen has written for The Wall Street Journal, US News, and Tax Notes, among others, and he frequently appears on radio and television. Before joining AEI, he worked for a hedge fund in Minneapolis.


    Follow Matthew Jensen on Twitter.

  • Email: Matt.Jensen@AEI.org

 

Stephen D.
Oliner
  • Stephen D. Oliner is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and a senior fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Ziman Center for Real Estate.

    Oliner joined AEI after spending more than 25 years at the Federal Reserve Board. An economist by training, Oliner held a number of high-level positions at the Fed and was closely involved in the Fed's analysis of the US economy and financial markets. Since leaving the Fed, Oliner has become well known for his analysis of US monetary policy and has maintained an active research agenda that focuses on real estate issues and the US economy’s growth potential.  He is coprincipal developer of the AEI Pinto-Oliner Mortgage Risk, Collateral Risk, and Capital Adequacy Indexes.

    Oliner has a Ph.D. and an M.S. in economics from the University of Wisconsin. He received a B.A. in economics from the University of Virginia.

  • Phone: 202.419.5205
    Email: stephen.oliner@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Emily Rapp
    Phone: 202.419.5212
    Email: emily.rapp@aei.org

 

Jeffrey
Eisenach
  • Jeffrey Eisenach is a visiting scholar at AEI. Eisenach has served in senior positions at the Federal Trade Commission and the Office of Management and Budget. At AEI, he focuses on policies affecting the information technology sector, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Eisenach is also a senior vice president at NERA Economic Consulting and an adjunct professor at the George Mason University School of Law, where he teaches Regulated Industries. He writes on a wide range of issues, including industrial organization, communications policy and the Internet, government regulations, labor economics, and public finance. He has also taught at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute.


    Learn more about Jeffrey Eisenach and AEI's Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy.

  • Phone: 202-448-9029
    Email: jeffrey.eisenach@aei.org

What's new on AEI

image The Census Bureau and Obamacare: Dumb decision? Yes. Conspiracy? No.
image A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
image Give the CBO long-range tools
image The coming collapse of India's communists
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 14
    MON
  • 15
    TUE
  • 16
    WED
  • 17
    THU
  • 18
    FRI
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Calling treason by its name: A conversation with Liam Fox

Join us at AEI as the Right Honorable Liam Fox sits down with Marc Thiessen to discuss and debate whether America’s intelligence agencies have infringed on the personal privacy of US citizens.

Thursday, April 17, 2014 | 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
The curmudgeon's guide to getting ahead

How can young people succeed in workplaces dominated by curmudgeons who are judging their every move? At this AEI book event, bestselling author and social scientist Charles Murray will offer indispensable advice for navigating the workplace, getting ahead, and living a fulfilling life.

Event Registration is Closed
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.