Kenneth Rogoff Project Syndicate Essay

CAMBRIDGE – US President Donald Trump has boasted that his policies will produce sustained 3-4% growth for many years to come. His prediction flies in the face of the judgment of many professional forecasters, including on Wall Street and at the Federal Reserve, who expect that the US will be lucky to achieve even 2% growth.

But is there any chance that Trump might be right? And if he is, to what extent will his policies be responsible, and will faster growth entail grave long-term costs to the environment and income inequality? The stock market may care only about the growth rate, but most Americans should be very concerned about how growth is achieved.

Trump’s forecast for the United States’ overall economic-growth rate is hardly wild-eyed. A steady stream of economic data suggests that the annual rate has now accelerated to 2.5%, roughly splitting the difference between Trump and the experts. Moreover, employment gains have been robust during the first six months of Trump’s presidency, with more than a million jobs created, and stocks are soaring to new highs, both of which are fueling higher consumption.

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CAMBRIDGE – As US President Donald Trump’s administration throws sharp elbows in trade negotiations and systematically rescinds regulations introduced by President Barack Obama, one casualty is likely to be efforts to fight the global obesity epidemic. Left unchecked, rapidly rising obesity rates could slow or even reverse the dramatic gains in health and life expectancy that much of the world has enjoyed over the past few decades. And by forcing its food culture on countries like Mexico and Canada, the United States is making the problem worse.

One of the paradoxes of modern global capitalism is that whereas more than 800 million people in the world do not have enough to eat, an estimated 700 million people (including 100 million children) are obese. Of course, the two are not necessarily directly related. A considerable proportion of world hunger occurs in countries suffering from domestic strife or severe government dysfunction.

The obesity epidemic, however, has a much broader footprint, affecting advanced economies and most emerging markets. Although there is some connection between obesity and poverty within countries, it is notable that obesity rates in rich countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada are among the world’s highest.

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