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Liveblogging World War II: May 7, 1943

Noted for May 7, 2013

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  • Bloix: "Modern fertilizer is not guano. It's synthesized from natural gas, using the Haber-Bosch method of nitrogen fixation discovered by Fritz Haber in 1909 and developed into an industrial-scale process by Carl Bosch of BASF in 1913.The Haber-Bosch process and the internal combustion engine (the first commercially viable tractors were built in 1902) are the two developments that ended the iron grip of Malthus. IMHO, BTW, the Haber-Bosch process is the most important scientific development of the twentieth century - more important than flight, the splitting of the atom, radio/TV, or computing. Without Haber-Bosch, long wars like WWI and WWII would have been impossible - the same nitrogen fixation that makes fertilizer also makes TNT. And without it, the fate of most children in the world would still be, as it had been from time immemorial, death from disease brought on by malnutrition."

  • Owen Zidar: Labs of Democracy & Today’s Fiscal Policy Debates: "Economists have increasingly been using regions within the United States as labs of democracy.... UNCERTAINTY: In a study published this month, Atif Mian of Princeton and Amir Sufi of the University of Chicago pointed out that if uncertainty about prospective government regulation and taxes is the primary reason for the sluggish recovery, then states where policy uncertainty is high should tend to have lower job growth. Using state-level data from National Federation of Independent Businesses, however, they found almost no relationship between job growth and the share of small businesses that cite regulation and taxes as their top concern.... FISCAL RELIEF: Gabe Chodorow-Reich of the University of California, Berkeley, and three colleagues used similar methods to investigate whether fiscal relief during the Great Recession increased employment... focused fiscal relief during hard times can effectively stimulate employment.... SPENDING CUTS VS. TAX INCREASES: Many Republicans say that spending cuts from the sequester would have a less damaging effect on the economy than increasing taxes on upper-income earners. But some of my own recent research uses regional variation to show that this belief is at odds with the evidence. I find that modestly sized tax increases on upper-income taxpayers have a negligible to small impact on job creation. These magnitudes are much smaller than those of cutting government spending in hard times, which suggests that using modest upper-income tax increases to offset some required spending cuts would help cushion the impact of the sequester on the labor market."

Paul Krugman: Exchange Rates and Austerity | Mark Blyth: The Austerity Delusion: Why a Bad Idea Won Over the West |