The FedEx Economy

I nominate David Leonhardt for a Voxy for his NYTimes article, the FedEx Economy.  Leonhardt opens with a description of how FedEx flies a small fleet of empty planes through the night just waiting for a possible shock that they can rush in to smooth.  Sometimes it’s a shock to demand (an unusually large number of packages) other times it’s a shock to supply (a broken plane), in either case FedEx adjusts quickly to restore it’s economy to normal flow.

Project FedEx’s ability onto thousands of other firms, argues Leonhardt, and you have a much more flexible economy with an interesting new feature, "the micro-recession."

When of them strikes, activity slows for a few weeks, sometimes in just certain sectors, as companies adjust to a dip in demand.  It has happened much more often in the last few years than in earlier expansions, but growth has picked up each time, thanks in part to adjustments that businesses have made…Year to year, the economy is less volatile but in some ways it has become more volatile month to month.      

It’s not clear to me that more flexibility implies more micro-recessions, I’d like to see a model with that feature.  It’s also unclear to me how much credit the Fed should get for avoiding big shocks and how much FedEx should get (i.e. technological change).  Nevertheless, Leonhardt’s article is a big thought piece on the macroeconomy that one rarely sees in a newspaper. 


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