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Denmark is the "happiest" country in the world

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  • Liberal Democrat
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    Colorado Springs, CO
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    According to the latest United Nations survey, Denmark leads the world in happiness followed by Switzerland. Bernie Sanders often cites Denmark as one of his "role models" that the United States should try to emulate in his democratic revolution. Out of curiosity I took a quick check on what makes the Danes so happy, and note that much of it can be attributed to the country's highly regarded education and health care systems, and its low level of income inequality, largely as a result of a progressive tax system. Denmark also has the highest tax rate in the world with a 48.9% tax-to-GDP ratio. In comparison the United States is at 28.2%.

    The index rankings for happiness in countries are:

    1. Denmark (7.526)

    2. Switzerland (7.509)

    3. Iceland (7.501)

    4. Norway (7.498)

    5. Finland (7.413)

    6. Canada (7.404)

    7. Netherlands (7.339)

    8. New Zealand (7.334)

    9. Australia (7.313)

    10. Sweden (7.291}

    13. United States (7.104)

  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Thanks Schmidt, I pointed that out a long time ago; but you know the answer; we are number one, not number 13, ask Jared.

    I would move back, but The Netherlands is now just about as bad as the US, due to all the "imports" from the warzones. But as you see we also could follow Canada, they aren't that bad either, especially under Trudeau junior.

  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
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    Dallas, TX
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    Hi Schmidt,

    Just to point out, Denmark pegs its currency, the krone, to the Euro. That's a self-imposed financial constraint.

    They also run substantial trade surpluses.

    All of that effectively means that taxes need to be high if gov't spending is to be high, and not because the Denmark gov't needs the funds in order to spend, but to control for inflation and maintain the currency peg.

    High export economies with pegged currencies are notorious for their inflationary bias.

    The situation in the United States is entirely different.

  • Liberal Democrat
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    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Carlitos -- Thanks for your perspective. I hadn't realized that the Danes had pegged their currency to the Euro. I suppose then Germany with a trade surplus would be in the same boat, except they have zero control over the Euro while the Danes could still unpeg their Krone.

    Anyway, here is what Ben Bernanke had to say last year about the German surplus.

    Ben Bernanke, Brookings, April 3, 2015: Germany's trade surplus is a problem

    I would be interested in your thoughts on Bernanke's assessment and solution of the German trade surplus problem. But then for the reverse situation for the USA, shouldn't our currency have depreciated more as a result of our trade deficit, especially with China? Our fiat currency floats...sort of. Or does it really?

    Thoughts?

  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
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    Dallas, TX
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    I don't have audio on my pc so let me address the last part first. It's hard to say where government intervention begins and ends when it comes to exchange rates. No currency truly "floats" on account of the "market." There's all kinds of government intervention that influence exchange rates. That discussion is nebulous.

    But when Central Banks say X will exchange for Y at Z rate or range, that's clearly "fixing" a policy target, and they better have the ammunition to back up their target. It's no problem when the X and the Y are both things that the government issues, such as what cash and deposits exchange for with respect to Treasuries; but when the Y is something the government doesn't issue, the CB needs to hold reserves of Y. The problem is that the supply of Y available to the CB may not be always be sufficient to support the policy target given what's going on in the economy, whereas the supply of X is always available regardless of what is going on in the economy.

    So using China as an example, if the CB or monetary authorities don't want their currency to appreciate against the US dollar on account of the exports to the United States, which make US dollars less valuable in terms of how hard they are to get in China's economy (diminishing marginal returns), the authorities have to offer additional yuan on the market for sale for USD at a price that targets keeping the purchasing power of USD higher in terms of Chinese goods. So China's CB purchases USD and sets it on the sideline to support US consumers. That's called purchasing fx to support your exporters.

    For China, given its stage of development and the vested interests of exporters, it may be easier for the Communist regime to hit its employment targets through the support of export employment than through realignment of their economy towards domestic consumption or more government investment spending. The regime is also weary about what comes into the country and there are vast number of capital controls that restrict what the Chinese can import.

  • Liberal Democrat
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    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Carlitos -- Thanks. Let me ponder this. The Ben Bernanke link is text...no audio.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
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    Dallas, TX
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    Opps. I assumed it was video.

    If Germany wants to export and they can't be told otherwise, that's not a problem for the rest of the world per se.

    That should be their problem, not the rest of the world's.

    It's a problem for Europe, because it means Germany runs a lower government budget deficit, when the Eurozone economy needs higher budget deficits, but the size of individual nation's budget deficits is restricted by Eurozone treaty.

    The Eurozone has a 'design' problem that's always been there and was recognized by the 'designers' back before 1998 when it was introduced. The idea then was that 'crisis' would lead Europe to the final steps needed to fully make a currency union. That hasn't worked. And the consequences are a crime against humanity. The continuing crisis in the southern Eurozone periphery is the result of an exceptionally poor policy response to a man-made issue.

    Eurozone periphery nations need to return to their own national currencies, or the Eurozone needs to create a true federal fiscal union that balances out the Eurozone economy, not Eurozone gov't budgets. Those are the two options to return back to 'normalcy.'

    And it's not like the EZ wasn't made aware of this. Warren Mosler and Pavlina Tcherneva met with many of the designers of the Eurozone back at Bretton Woods in 1996. The MMT story on the Eurozone hasn't changed in 20 years.

  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Carlitos Wrote:

    Opps. I assumed it was video.

    If Germany wants to export and they can't be told otherwise, that's not a problem for the rest of the world per se.

    That should be their problem, not the rest of the world's.

    It's a problem for Europe, because it means Germany runs a lower government budget deficit, when the Eurozone economy needs higher budget deficits, but the size of individual nation's budget deficits is restricted by Eurozone treaty.

    The Eurozone has a 'design' problem that's always been there and was recognized by the 'designers' back before 1998 when it was introduced. The idea then was that 'crisis' would lead Europe to the final steps needed to fully make a currency union. That hasn't worked. And the consequences are a crime against humanity. The continuing crisis in the southern Eurozone periphery is the result of an exceptionally poor policy response to a man-made issue.

    Eurozone periphery nations need to return to their own national currencies, or the Eurozone needs to create a true federal fiscal union that balances out the Eurozone economy, not Eurozone gov't budgets. Those are the two options to return back to 'normalcy.'

    And it's not like the EZ wasn't made aware of this. Warren Mosler and Pavlina Tcherneva met with many of the designers of the Eurozone back at Bretton Woods in 1996. The MMT story on the Eurozone hasn't changed in 20 years.

    Yes Carlitos the Euro zone is indeed a weird mixture related to economy's; a lot of mistakes were made like the Greece, Italian and Spain memberships, which are a burden to the producing countries. And as now as well a huge open "border" problem related to refugees from all over. There are a lot of northern European a well the British, who want out. Brussels has become more of a burden on these counties than helping them. The "Euro" as well the "0" percent interest, put a lot of pressure on the retired people, because lot of pension funds are going broke. So not such rosy picture. I must say the "northern" part like Denmark, Sweden etc. has got there act together, but for the rest it is chaos.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
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    Pensacola, FL
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    How can they put out a happiness report. To start out individual countries supply their own data. Then that data comprises a multitude of divergent data. It doesn't measure degree of happiness. I also do not see how it could be comprehensive. I am particularly interested in poverty, real poverty. My business is on the waterfront and I have a high exposure to the poor and the homeless poor. There is a rather large homeless camp in a nearby railroad yard. I talk at length to the poor and want to learn how they live. I asked one guy if he would take me to that camp so I could see how they live. He said I would probably get hurt if I did that. That makes me wonder what kind of objective data could be from the homeless. Going up the ladder to the group that occupy dwellings on some level here is an anecdote how they live. When they want to get beer several of them will discuss which one has the lesser amount of criminal background that if caught will detain them the least. That person is the designated theif. Then that person goes into a convenient store and grabs a case of beer and runs out the door with it. In the short time this guy worked with me nobody got caught. Apparently getting caught is a non event. But my point is how can there be data about people that live "off the grid". Additionally the data presented has the USA at 13. How can that be reconciled with our national debt and income gap. Rather than happiness I think that indicates a disassociation with reality. Especially when considering Fukushima, climate warming, terrorism, et al.......
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
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    Portland, OR
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    Dutch Wrote: Thanks Schmidt, I pointed that out a long time ago; but you know the answer; we are number one, not number 13, ask Jared.

    I have never once said we were number one in anything. I'm well aware of America's standing when it comes to education, health care, and "happiness" (whatever that means).

    Me disagreeing with you about international politics doesn't mean that I think this country is perfect.

  • Liberal Democrat
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    Colorado Springs, CO
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    Carlitos Wrote:

    I don't have audio on my pc so let me address the last part first. It's hard to say where government intervention begins and ends when it comes to exchange rates. No currency truly "floats" on account of the "market." There's all kinds of government intervention that influence exchange rates. That discussion is nebulous.

    But when Central Banks say X will exchange for Y at Z rate or range, that's clearly "fixing" a policy target, and they better have the ammunition to back up their target. It's no problem when the X and the Y are both things that the government issues, such as what cash and deposits exchange for with respect to Treasuries; but when the Y is something the government doesn't issue, the CB needs to hold reserves of Y. The problem is that the supply of Y available to the CB may not be always be sufficient to support the policy target given what's going on in the economy, whereas the supply of X is always available regardless of what is going on in the economy.

    So using China as an example, if the CB or monetary authorities don't want their currency to appreciate against the US dollar on account of the exports to the United States, which make US dollars less valuable in terms of how hard they are to get in China's economy (diminishing marginal returns), the authorities have to offer additional yuan on the market for sale for USD at a price that targets keeping the purchasing power of USD higher in terms of Chinese goods. So China's CB purchases USD and sets it on the sideline to support US consumers. That's called purchasing fx to support your exporters.

    For China, given its stage of development and the vested interests of exporters, it may be easier for the Communist regime to hit its employment targets through the support of export employment than through realignment of their economy towards domestic consumption or more government investment spending. The regime is also weary about what comes into the country and there are vast number of capital controls that restrict what the Chinese can import.

    Thanks Carlitos -- My interest in the topic is not so much Denmark or China, but rather the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement. As you know, I'm probably the only person on this website who is an advocate for the TPP so I have had to continually defend my views. There are several reasons that opponents have cherry picked as to why Congress should not approve the agreement, but as a whole I still think that the positives outweigh the negatives.

    One of the issues often cited is "currency manipulation". Rather than cover that here in this thread about "happy Denmark" I'll continue in the other thread on the TPP.

  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
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    Dallas, TX
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    Hi Dutch,

    The European Union member nations and Eurozone member nations are different. The EU member nations have unfied laws, the others also have a unified currency. So the Brits and Nordic Europe all have their own currencies while being EU members. The French, Germans, Spanish, Italians, Poles, Greeks, etc. all have the same currency. And no central fiscal authority. It's like if there were no federal government in the United States, but 50 states and the Federal Reserve.

  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
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    Pensacola, FL
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    The Top 20 countries ranked on the 2016 World Happiness Report:

    If you multiply the happiness numbers by 100 you get only a 30 point difference which is rather small. I took what I thought would influence happiness for the 13 happiest countries and posted the sum of the raw data for each country. I used the homicide rate/100k, unemployment rate, percentage with bachelor degrees and debt to gdp:

    1. Denmark. 92.75. 326

    2. Switzerland. 57.97. 209

    3. Iceland. 148.07. 266

    4. Norway. 92.38. 306

    5. Finland. 122. 350

    6. Canada. 147.3. 467

    7. Netherlands. 88.14. 431

    8. New Zealand.125.5. 362

    9. Australia. 82.36. 354

    10. Sweden. 92.57. 346

    11. Israel. 118.4. 475

    12. Austria. 84.4. 367

    13. United States. 173.5I. 748

    The debt to gdp is driving the totals. I'll distribute the columns later to get a more meaningful influence of homicide and unemployment rates.

  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Pensacola, FL
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    The US will still be at the bottom of this list.
  • Independent
    Ft.myers, FL
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    Carlitos Wrote:

    Hi Dutch,

    The European Union member nations and Eurozone member nations are different. The EU member nations have unfied laws, the others also have a unified currency. So the Brits and Nordic Europe all have their own currencies while being EU members. The French, Germans, Spanish, Italians, Poles, Greeks, etc. all have the same currency. And no central fiscal authority. It's like if there were no federal government in the United States, but 50 states and the Federal Reserve.

    Carlitos, yes that is correct, indeed Brussels is a pain in the butt, also awfully slow in making timely decisions; anyway my guess is that the whole thing will far apart eventually. People are really fed up bailing out Greece and others.