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November 2013

Things to Read for Your Lunchtime Procrastination on November 30, 2013

Over at the WCEG Equitablog:


  1. Evan Soltas: "U1 through U6 don't collapse to one single measure of unemployment... [but] to... two dimensions... the narrow side and... the farther-out reaches of unemployment.... Narrower definitions of unemployment are improving more quickly than wider definitions of unemployment... labor markets are probably looser than the normal measures suggest... underemployment [is] a real, serious concern..."

  2. Jonathan Bernstein: The minimum wage and the post-policy GOP: "When both parties are healthy... popular, high-priority policy preferences of one party are bundled with the popular, high-priority policy preferences of the other. However, what exactly do Republicans have[?]... The Republican policy cupboard is pretty much empty.... It’s not clear that Republicans would accept any deal, given their paranoia about primary challenges based on accepting any kind of accommodation with the Kenyan socialist in the White House... conservatives are rejecting getting some of their priorities passed if it means accepting anything that Democrats want.... This just isn’t how the American political system is supposed to work. There really is an opportunity here for a deal that could enact popular policy ideas from both sides. But thanks to a dysfunctional Republican Party, it’s very hard to see it happening."

  3. Francesco Saraceno: What is Mainstream Economics?: "Paul Krugman and Simon Wren-Lewis have been widely criticized... as defending 'mainstream' economics that spectacularly failed.... Krugman has a point, a very good one, when claiming that standard textbook analysis is (almost) all you need to understand the current crisis.... The point is what we define as 'textbook analysis'. Krugman refers to IS-LM models. But these... disappeared from graduate curricula because supposedly too simplistic, not grounded on optimization, not intertemporal, and so on and so forth.... They were nowhere to be found during my graduate studies at Columbia (certainly not a freshwater school). None of the macro I studied in graduate school (Real Business Cycle models, or their fixed-price variant proposed by New Keynesians)... could give me insight.... The IS-LM model with minor amendments (most notably properly accounting for expectations to deal among other things with liquidity traps) remains a powerful tool to understand current phenomena. The problem is that it is not mainstream at all. What bothers me in Krugman’s post is the word 'standard', not 'textbook analysis'."

  4. Charlie Stross: Trotskyite singularitarians for Monarchism! A political speculation: "The 20th century spanned the collapse of the Monarchical System, the rise and fall of Actually Existing Socialism, a bunch of unpleasant failed experiments in pyramid building using human skulls, and the ascent to supremacy of Neoliberalism and the Washington Consensus. In 2007/08, the system malfunctioned spectacularly: it's clearly unstable and has huge problems, but what's going to replace it?... Neo-reactionaries... are effectively libertarians who have thrown up their hands in disgust.. and the appropriate political solution to the problem is to go back to aristocracy... Geeks for Monarchy.... We have Accelerationism... the notion that rather than halting the onslaught of capital, it is best to exacerbate its processes to bring forth its inner contradictions and thereby hasten its destruction.... Despair is a common reaction to defeat, as is Stockholm syndrome.... Libertarians... assumed [neoliberalism] would bring about the small government/small world goals.... As it becomes clear that the fruits of neoliberalism are instability and corporate parasitism rather than liberty and justice for all--is it unreasonable of them to look to an earlier, superficially simpler settlement?"

  5. Mark Kleiman: Against Symmetry: Republicans-love-being-lied-to Edition: ">Liberals felt sorry for Dan Rather for having used... fabricated documents in reporting on George W. Bush’s derelictions of duty.... But... no liberal blogger--let alone any liberal politician--called Rather a 'hero'.... Contrast Mike Huckabee, who... might actually be President some day. He’s 'shocked' that the 'hero journalist' Lara Logan has been suspended from her job at CBS. It’s simply not the case that the Red Team and the Blue Team are symmetric. Yes, they both act factionally, and both camps include some lunatics. But we don’t let ours run the asylum..."


Barry Ritholtz: "No, David Rosenberg’s Bullishness Was Not 'Purchased for $3M': I was going to write a long point-by-point rebuttal to a Zero Hedge post about David Rosenberg that is factually erroneous, biased, defamatory and just plain wrong; instead, I will offer my correction" | Franklin Fisher: The Stability of General Equilibrium | Franklin Fisher: Disequilibrium Foundations of Equilibrium Economics | Firat Kayakiran & Thomas Biesheuvel: Zeppelins Seen Hauling Caterpillars to Mine Siberia: Commodities | Henry Blodget: Rich People Actually Don't Create The Jobs | The Power Nap Head Pillow | Rudyard Kipling: The Ballad of East and West | Frances Wooley: I have learned one thing at least this year: not to discriminate against apples just because I don't like the colour of their skin |

Liveblogging World War II: November 30, 1943

Farley Mowat on the Sangro River:

One day late in November a friend invited me to accompany him on a visit to Third Brigade, which was then laboriously scrabbling its way northward through the mountains toward the headwaters of the Sangro River, where the Germans had anchored their so-called Bernhard Line. As our jeep bounced over mountain trails, cratered, blown and generally savaged by the demolition experts of First Paratroop Division, we encountered what for me was a new and singularly ugly aspect of war… refugees making their painful way southward. Not before or since have I seen human beings who seemed so pitiable.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: November 30, 1943" »

Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for November 29, 2013

Over at the WCEG Equitablog:


  1. Josh Marshall: A Realist's Take on Obamacare: "Here's why I think the... law will be a success. Much of what I'm going to say below is based on worst case scenarios, most of which I don't think will materialize.... I base this relative optimism on four assumptions. The first is legislative... this law will not undergo substantive changes before January 2017... Obama has complete control over this part of the equation.... This is a cardinal fact. Second and under-appreciated: the major national insurance carriers have heavily bought into the "Obamacare"/exchange model.... Third: By early next year you will have millions of new people enrolled in Medicaid, large numbers of people who have health care covered who couldn't get it at any reasonable price before... and you will have large numbers of people who have care that is better or cheaper and often both.... It's one thing to have millions of uninsured or people boxed out because of pre-existing conditions. But once they have affordable coverage, I don't think you're going to be able to take it back. Fourth... I think Obamacare is good policy.... Now, one response... goes something like this: Sure, most of the uninsured will get covered and people will preexisting will be protected and you won't be able to be dropped if you get sick but it's just going to be an endless PR nightmare and the Dems will be paying for it in 2014 and 2016 and maybe 2018 and it may 'work' but never be popular.... But here is where the question comes to the prism and the standard of success. We didn't pass Health Care Reform for it to reap electoral gains for Democrats (though I think it still will) or to have it be popular.... The aim was to get people covered... reduce the scale of human suffering... tied to your wealth and your luck. By that standard, I think it will be a success and I think there will be no going back. And that's the only standard that matters."

  2. Nicole Huberfeld: Medicaid is expanding faster than you may think: "[The Supreme Court ruling that made the Medicaid expansion a state option] led to constant speculation regarding which states would exercise the ability to opt-in or opt-out of Medicaid.... Though the media have reported that only half of states are participating, of the remaining states categorized as not participating or leaning toward not participating, all but about six are actively debating and planning to expand. The future of Medicaid expansion is not nearly as bleak as the media suggests... beginning to expose an animated set of political choices at both the state and the federal level that feed a dynamic federalism story that has so far evaded the Court’s understanding. The story of the Medicaid expansion is just beginning... but the preliminary enquiry indicates strong prospects..."

  3. Stumbling and Mumbling: Inequality & growth: "Boris Johnson demonstrates a first-class mind--such a mind being one that tell its audience what it wants to hear.... 'Some measure of inequality is essential for the spirit of envy and keeping up with the Joneses that is, like greed, a valuable spur to economic activity.'... 6a00d83451cbef69e2019b01c868db970b pi 976×638 pixels [But] is the inequality we now have conducive to growth or not? Two big things suggest not... GDP growth recently... has been poor even as inequality... has risen... we enjoyed decent growth in the 50s and 60s when inequality was lower than it is now.... Perhaps there are some mechanisms offsetting the ones Mr Johnson mentions.... The urge to keep up with the Joneses doesn't just spur useful work. It might also encourage people to get into debt... over-gearing and a financial crisis.... Inequality can reduce trust.... Inequality might be a symptom of a dysfunctional economic and political system.... Inequality might itself create dysfunctional politics.... Now, I don't say this to claim that inequality is always and everywhere bad for growth. I do so merely to suggest that Mr J was expressing a very partial point of view, and was simplifying horribly. It's a good job he is merely a minor local politician who isn't in charge of anywhere important..."

  4. Jennifer Thompson and Ben McLannahan: Japan inflation data offer fillip to Shinzo Abe: "Japan is on track to win its war on deflation with the latest consumer price inflation figures showing the highest reading since the country slipped into deflation 15 years ago. Core consumer price index inflation, which excludes fresh food but includes energy, hit 0.9 per cent in October, up from 0.7 per cent the previous month and in line with economists’ expectations. Excluding both fresh food and energy, it reached 0.3 per cent, the highest reading since 1998, indicating that rising energy costs alone were not the sole factor in inflationary pressure..."

  5. Ken Houghton: Middle Class Political Economist: Median Wealth Increases, but U.S. Still Stuck at 27th in World: "While the United States has a higher gross domestic product per capita than all but four of the 26 countries ahead of it in median wealth per adult (Qatar, Luxembourg, Singapore, and Norway), the long-term trend of economic policies has clearly hurt the middle class. Inequality is a big part of the explanation here: mean wealth per adult in the U.S. is 6.7 times median wealth per adult, the highest ratio in the top 27. By contrast, in #1 Australia the mean-to-median ratio is only 1.8:1. In fact, this ratio is less than 3:1 for 19 of the 26 countries with higher median wealth per adult..."

  6. Gavyn Davies: Carney fires the first blast from “macro pru”: "Mark Carney’s announcements today about the UK housing market represent the first blast from a major country of a new policy weapon that is increasingly available to the global central banks, a weapon known as macro prudential regulation... an alternative to raising short rates.... The Carney announcement will represent an important restraint on the UK housing market.... The specific action taken today impacts the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS), which will be adjusted in order to redirect lending from the mortgage sector towards small businesses (SMEs).... Mr Carney has simultaneously issued a strong warning that he believes that there are rising risks of over-exuberance developing in the housing market, and has spelled out the possible actions he may take in the future to control the market..."

  7. Erik Zwick and James Mahon: Do Financial Frictions Amplify Fiscal Policy? Evidence from Business Investment Stimulus: "We estimate the causal effect of temporary tax incentives on equipment investment using a difference-in-differences design and policy shifts in accelerated depreciation. Analyzing data for over 120,000 US firms from 1993 to 2010, we present three findings. First, bonus depreciation raised investment by 18.5 percent on average between 2001 and 2004 and 31.2 percent between 2008 and 2010. Second, financially constrained firms respond more than unconstrained firms. And third, firms respond strongly when the policy generates immediate cash flows, but do not respond at all when the policy only benefits them in the future. The results provide an estimate of the discount rate firms apply to future cash flows: constrained firms act as if $1 next year is worth 38 cents today. The estimated discount rate is too high to match the predictions of a frictionless model, nor can it be explained entirely by costly external finance, unless firms also neglect financial constraints binding in the future."


Rob Stavins: The Warsaw Climate Negotiations, and Reason for Cautious Optimism | Ashoka Mody: Europe: Stop trying to muddle through | Star Trek Re-watch: Let That Be Your Last Battlefield | Eric S. Rosengren: Flirting With Money-Market Madness | Sober Look: Brent-WTI spread widens again as the discount shifts to the Gulf for the first time | Nick Rowe: Why inflation will not fall off a bottomless cliff |

Not My Great^(11) Grandfather William Bradford's Thanksgiving: The View from **La Farine** the Roasterie XLIII: November 28, 2013


How much Grand Marnier is it proper to add to the cranberry sauce?

Agreement Between the Settlers at New Plymouth : 1620

IN THE NAME OF GOD, AMEN. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. Having undertaken for the Glory of God, and Advancement of the Christian Faith, and the Honour of our King and Country, a Voyage to plant the first Colony in the northern Parts of Virginia; Do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually, in the Presence of God and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil Body Politick, for our better Ordering and Preservation, and Furtherance of the Ends aforesaid: And by Virtue hereof do enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions, and Officers, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due Submission and Obedience. IN WITNESS whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape-Cod the eleventh of November, in the Reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, Anno Domini; 1620.

Mr. John Carver,
Mr. William Bradford,
Mr Edward Winslow,
Mr. William Brewster,
Isaac Allerton,
Myles Standish,
John Alden,
John Turner,
Francis Eaton,
James Chilton,
John Craxton,
John Billington,
Joses Fletcher,
John Goodman,
Mr. Samuel Fuller,
Mr. Christopher Martin,
Mr. William Mullins,
Mr. William White,
Mr. Richard Warren,
John Howland,
Mr. Steven Hopkins,
Digery Priest,
Thomas Williams,
Gilbert Winslow,
Edmund Margesson,
Peter Brown,
Richard Britteridge,
George Soule,
Edward Tilly,
John Tilly,
Francis Cooke,
Thomas Rogers,
Thomas Tinker,
John Ridgdale,
Edward Fuller,
Richard Clark,
Richard Gardiner,
Mr. John Allerton,
Thomas English,
Edward Doten,
Edward Liester.

Liveblogging World War II: November 28, 1943

Nov 28 1943 Allied Leaders Meet at Tehran Conference NYTimes com

Tehran Conference: Wikipedia:

The Tehran Conference (codenamed Eureka) was a strategy meeting held between Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Winston Churchill from 28 November to 1 December 1943. It was held in the Soviet Embassy in Tehran, Iran and was the first of the World War II conferences held between all of the "Big Three" Allied leaders.... The main outcome of the Tehran Conference was the commitment to the opening of a second front against Nazi Germany by the Western Allies....

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: November 28, 1943" »

Justin Wolfers on Niall Ferguson: No, ShadowStats Statistics Are Not Real Price Indices Thursday Idiocy Weblogging: Noted

Does Eric Posner Know Any U.S. History at All?: Thursday Idiocy Weblogging

The pressure of events may force me to reactivate the "Stupidest Human AliveTM" prize: Donald Luskin's crown is now in serious danger...

Scott Lemieux: I Think You Want to Go With a Different Strawman:

I’ll have a piece going up tomorrow on some really bad defenses of the filibuster tomorrow. Since I didn’t have space for this particular one, let’s turn to Eric Posner, as part of a a defense of the filibuster, makes a very unfortunate argument:

To provide an extreme example, under a pure system of majority rule 51 percent of the population could pass a law that transferred the wealth of 49 percent of the population to the majority. If at the next election, the other side managed to win, it could expropriate the wealth back. The resulting instability, as different groups took turns expropriating each other’s wealth, would impoverish the country over time. If one group never took a turn winning, then the outcome would be inequitable as well as bad for the public at large. If all of this sounds too implausible to be of concern to you, then remember Jim Crow in the South, and the many decades disenfranchised African-Americans spent as electoral losers....

As Posner does go on to concede, the real argument against the filibuster is that the United States already has plenty of countermajoritarian mechanisms, and in most cases therefore the filibuster can’t be defended. But if one is reduced to citing Jim Crow in defense of the filibuster, it’s not nearly as close a question as Posner makes it out to be.

Continue reading "Does Eric Posner Know Any U.S. History at All?: Thursday Idiocy Weblogging" »

Liveblogging World War II: November 27, 1943


Aubrey H. Williams aboard the Rohna in the Mediterranean:

It was pretty crowded and there was quite a bit of milling around. Some were trying to look out the porthole to see what was happening above us. When the bomb hit, a lot of us were knocked off our feet — dust and all sorts of debris and other hard objects were falling from above. Men who had been hit by falling objects were yelling and calling for help. T/Sgt Haedel was struck on the head by a piece of chain or steel cable, inflicting a bad wound on the side by his ear. He was bleeding badly. S/Sgt. Jokel and I tried to stem the bleeding but with little success. He was groaning, and I could tell he was in pain.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: November 27, 1943" »

No, I Do Not Know What Is Going on at Minneapolis Fed Research...

I do think that the monoculture they had developed was unhealthy--it did leave them completely unable to even think about the world post-2007 at all.

You can put me down as suspecting that Mark Thoma is right, but I have no insight:

Stephen Williamson: Problems in the Great White North:

You think I'm going to discuss the mess the Mayor of Toronto [Rob Ford] is making in his city, and the embarrassment faced by those of us who have an attachment to the place? Actually, the problem I'm going to focus on is located in Minneapolis--otherwise known as Toronto On a Bad Day. The Minneapolis fracas has some parallels to the Toronto fracas.... Kocherlakota has declared war on his own research department, and seems intent on destroying the place.... If the greater good is supposed to be better policy, then it seems that many sharp macroeconomists beg to differ. So, what's to be done? Like the Mayor of Toronto, Narayana Kocherlakota seems locked in his own bubble. The Mayor of Toronto doesn't seem good for much of anything. He should do the world a favor, resign, and go live as far away from other human beings as possible. Narayana, though, is indeed good for something.... There are plenty of first rate academic research departments that would be happy to give him a good home. Central banking, however, is not his calling, and he should quit--and do everyone, including himself, a favor.

Continue reading "No, I Do Not Know What Is Going on at Minneapolis Fed Research..." »

I Cannot Find Jacopo **Jacobo** Timmermann on Gabriel Garcia Marquez on Fidel Castro...

Somewhere Jacopo Jacobo Timmerman writes about Gabriel Garcia Marquez writing about Fidel Castro. Marquez is amazed and transfixed as he worshipfully writes about how Castro works so late into the night, telling how many people what they should do in so many different disciplines of life--orthopedics, the baking of bread, and the distribution of beer. Timmermann writes about how only an insane social system would require a single dictator to be the omniscient expert and authority on everything. And Timmermann wonders why it is that Marquez responds to this situation with awe rather than with horror.

Where did I read this? When did I read this? Why can't I find it again? Why is my Google-Fu failing me?

Continue reading "I Cannot Find Jacopo **Jacobo** Timmermann on Gabriel Garcia Marquez on Fidel Castro..." »

Looking Across the Wisconsin-Minnesota State Line: Live from the Roasterie XXXXI: November 26, 2013

Lawrence Jacobs: Right vs. Left in the Midwest:

MINNESOTA and Wisconsin... in 2010... diverged... began a natural experiment.... Wisconsin elected Republicans to majorities in the Legislature and selected a... Republican governor, Scott Walker.... Which side of the experiment--the new right or modern progressivism--has been most effective in increasing jobs and improving business opportunities, not to mention living conditions?... Three years into Mr. Walker’s term, Wisconsin lags behind Minnesota in job creation and economic growth.... Higher taxes and economic growth in Minnesota have attracted a surprisingly broad coalition...

Three years is too short a time to draw any conclusions about state-level economic policies and economic growth. But if the political differences persist, the two states do make a very good matched pair for comparisons: it's not as though one has oil and the other does not, after all.

On a broader scale, there is the possibility of learning a lot about American political economy by comparing the places where the "throw the bums out" effect of the 2010 election was strong enough to, well, throw the bums out and divert the course of governance from its previous pattern, and where the effect was not.

Liveblogging World War II: November 26, 1943

Press Conference with Veterans of the Foreign Intelligence Service:

Moderator: Good day, ladies and gentlemen, friends and comrades. We are glad to welcome you again at the Foreign Intelligence Service press office. Today we are presenting a book by Yuri Lvovich Kuznets entitled "Teheran-43 or Operation Long Jump". The choice of the date for launching the book is not accidental. It is less than two weeks to the memorable date. November 28, 1943 saw the opening of the Teheran conference. And without any exaggeration it was a turning point in the allies' relations....

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: November 26, 1943" »

Robert Skidelsky: "My Account of Keynes's Homosexuality Gave Critics of Keynesian Economics Their Chance…": Ten Years Ago on the Internet Weblogging

Robert Skidelsky;

Confessions of a long-distance biographer: In his obituary of Keynes the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter had written: "He was childless and his philosophy of life was essentially a short-run philosophy." My account of Keynes' homosexuality gave critics of Keynesian economics their chance. William Rees-Mogg argued in The Times in 1983 that Keynes' rejection of moral rules led him to reject the gold standard which provided an "automatic control of monetary inflation". Admirers of Keynesian economics moved, with a kind of reflex action, to insulate the "thought" from the "life"….

Continue reading "Robert Skidelsky: "My Account of Keynes's Homosexuality Gave Critics of Keynesian Economics Their Chance…": Ten Years Ago on the Internet Weblogging" »

Sober Look: Monday Useful Resources Weblogging

Sober Look:

Sober Look is a no-hype financial blog that typically relies on data analysis and primary sources. Posts are intended to be succinct, to the point, with no self-promoting nonsense, and no long-winded opinions. If you are looking for Armageddon predictions or conspiracy theories, you will be thoroughly disappointed. Topics include financial markets, global economy, asset management, risk management, derivatives, regulation, and policy, particularly as it pertains to capital markets.

Questions, suggestions, comments, guest posts, etc. are always appreciated. Public comments may get a public reply from Sober Look that may not always be to the commenter's liking. Rude or inappropriate comments that add little value to the discussion will be removed.

Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for November 25, 2013

  1. Stephanie McCrummen: In rural Kentucky, health-care debate takes back seat as the long-uninsured line up: "On the campaign trail, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was still blasting the new health-care law as unsalvageable. At the White House, President Obama was still apologizing for the botched federal Web site. But in a state where the rollout has gone smoothly, and in a county that is one of the poorest and unhealthiest in the country, Courtney Lively has been busy signing people up: cashiers from the IGA grocery, clerks from the dollar store, workers from the lock factory, call-center agents, laid-off coal miners, KFC cooks, Chinese green-card holders in town to teach Appalachian students.... Now it was the beginning of another day, and a man Lively would list as Client 375 sat across from her in her office at a health clinic next to a Hardee’s.... This is how things are going in Kentucky: As conservatives argued that the new health-care law will wreck the economy, as liberals argued it will save billions, as many Americans raged at losing old health plans and some analysts warned that a disproportionate influx of the sick and the poor could wreck the new health-care model, Lively was telling Noble something he did not expect to hear. 'All right', she said. 'We’ve got you eligible for Medicaid'. Places such as Breathitt County, in the Appalachian foothills of eastern Kentucky, are driving the state’s relatively high enrollment figures, which are helping to drive national enrollment figures..."

  2. Ed Kilgore: Republicans and Health Insurance Exchanges: "Ezra Klein reminds us today in a more comprehensive way than we’ve seen so far that the Republican caterwauling about complex government-run private insurance exchanges and the disruption of existing insurance plans disguises the fact that their own health reform plans involve both.... Exchanges were central to a 2009 plan jointly sponsored by Reps. Paul Ryan and Devin Nunes, and Sens. Tom Coburn and Richard Burr. And they’re also integral to Ryan’s famous Medicare plan.... Every Republican health reform plan, dating back to those proposed by George W. Bush and by 2008 GOP nominee John McCain, focuses heavily on abolishing the current tax subsidy for employer-sponsored insurance, which would very deliberately disrupt existing insurance plans more than fifty Obamacares.... But hey, I guess the Ted Cruz health reform plan, due any day now, will solve all these problems and avoid all these massive acts of hypocrisy."

  3. Iván Werning (2012): Managing a Liquidity Trap: Monetary and Fiscal Policy: "I study monetary and fiscal policy in liquidity trap scenarios, where the zero bound on the nominal interest rate binds. I work with a continuous-time version of the standard New Keynesian model. Without commitment the economy suffers from deflation and depressed output. Surprisingly, both are exacerbated with greater price flexibility. The optimum commits to keeping the interest rate at zero past the liquidity trap. Monetary policy promotes both inflation and an output boom. I show that the prolongation of zero interest rates is related to the latter, not the former. I then turn to fiscal policy and show that, regardless of the value of 'fiscal multipliers', optimal spending increases at the start of the trap. However, it later declines below its natural level. I propose a decomposition of spending according to 'opportunistic' and 'stimulus' motives, where the former is defined as the static, cost-benefit optimum. Opportunistic spending is countercyclical, while stimulus spending may be zero. Finally, I consider a situation where monetary policy is discretionary, but fiscal policy has commitment and show that this increases opportunistic spending and makes stimulus spending positive..."

  4. Joe Blasi et al.: The Citizen's Share: Putting Ownership Back into Democracy: "As a result, surprisingly large numbers of American workers share in some way in their employers’ success. Based on a series of national surveys, the authors reckon that some 47% of full-time workers have one or more forms of capital stake in the firm for which they work, whether from profit-sharing schemes (40%), stock ownership (21%) or stock options (10%). About a tenth of Fortune 500 companies, from Procter & Gamble to Goldman Sachs, have employee shareholdings of 5% or more. Almost a fifth of America’s biggest private firms, including behemoths like Cargill and Mars, have profit-sharing or share-ownership schemes. Some 10m people work for companies with ESOPs."

  5. Matthew O'Brien: The Singular Waste of America's Healthcare System in 1 Remarkable Chart: "The U.S. spends far, far more per person than any other rich country on healthcare. We don't get more for it....
    The Singular Waste of America s Healthcare System in 1 Remarkable Chart Matthew O Brien The Atlantic
    Something has to change. We can't afford our healthcare exceptionalism.

  6. Michelle Goldberg: Right-Wing Author Abandons Cultural Populism, Decries ‘White Trash’: "Charlotte Hays, the conservative writer and director of cultural programs at the anti-feminist Independent Women’s Forum, has a new book out, titled When Did White Trash Become the New Normal? A Southern Lady Asks the Impertinent Question. A broadside against the moral and aesthetic failures of the lower orders, it’s a fascinating work... for what it represents... the right are abandoning the NASCAR-fetishizing Palinesque faux-populism of recent decades for a more overt style of class warfare. A chapter on the foreclosure crisis and crushing student debt, for example, is called 'White Trash Money Management'. 'There are, I thus adduce, two keys to not being White Trash: having a job and paying your bills on time', Hays sniffs.... Hays’s work is saturated with that particular kind of right-wing smugness born of the conviction that one’s willingness to express common prejudices is a sign of free-thinking audacity. What’s interesting is where it’s directed—not at liberals or their sacred cows, but at fat, broke, ordinary Americans..."

  7. David Abrams et al.: Patent Value and Citations: Creative Destruction or Strategic Disruption?: "Prior work suggests that more valuable patents are cited more and this view has become standard in the empirical innovation literature. Using an NPE-derived dataset with patent-specific revenues we find that the relationship of citations to value in fact forms an inverted-U, with fewer citations at the high end of value than in the middle. Since the value of patents is concentrated in those at the high end, this is a challenge to both the empirical literature and the intuition behind it. We attempt to explain this relationship with a simple model of innovation, allowing for both productive and strategic patents. We find evidence of greater use of strategic patents where it would be most expected: among corporations, in fields of rapid development, in more recent patents and where divisional and continuation applications are employed. These findings have important implications for our basic understanding of growth, innovation, and intellectual property policy."

  8. Josh Marshall: Boehner Fails to Fail on Obamacare: "Late last week Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) made a big show of trying but failing to sign up for Obamacare because of the notoriously buggy website. (Actually he appears to have been using the DC exchange site.) He even did a special tweet noting his hopeless situation. Not terribly surprising given the frustrating experiences so many have had. Actually, it turns out he had successfully enrolled and got a call confirming that about an hour after his tweet. But it gets better. According to Scott MacFarlane, a reporter for the local NBC affiliate in Washington, reports that a DC Health Care exchange representative actually tried to contact Boehner by phone during the enrollment process but was put on hold for 35 minutes, after which time the representative finally hung up."

  9. Free Exchange (October 22, 2008): Analysis!: "If you have been paying attention... basically to anyone paying attention to financial markets... you may have heard that there have been some recent problems with interbank lending. In the wake of the Lehman Brothers failure, a number of money market funds broke the buck, and the commercial paper market began to show serious signs of stress. We faced the risk, the experts said, of a breakdown in the markets.... Had we done nothing, to paraphrase Ben Bernanke, we might have woken up one day to find ourselves without an economy. Or so they would have you believe, says Alex Tabarrok! For some time now, he has been pushing the argument that we may face recession, but that the financial crisis never threatened the real economy.... And now he has proof. Three economists [Chari, Christiano, and Kehoe] from the research department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis have produced a working paper purporting to debunk four myths about the financial crisis.... There are a few problems with all of this. First of all, some of the conclusions drawn are simply false... the broader, unwarranted credulity of the authors.... Maybe at some point we'll see some careful research that suggests that the threat the financial crisis posed to the real economy was drastically oversold. This, I'm afraid, isn't it."

  10. The Economist: Post-crisis economics: Keynes’s new heirs: "It is not just students who are dissatisfied with economics. Professional economists can spot easy wins too. Many think economic history should be more widely taught, citing the fact that Ben Bernanke’s Federal Reserve, influenced by his knowledge of the Great Depression and of Japan’s slump in the 1990s, outperformed rich-world peers. It is not merely American financial history that matters, either. Stanley Fischer, governor of Israel’s central bank between 2005 and 2013, says he found economic history (including Walter Bagehot’s famous rule—to provide generous amounts of cash to troubled banks, but to charge them for it) useful in combating the 2008 crisis. This material had long fallen off the syllabus in most universities before the crash. A new group of teachers is now listening. Led by Wendy Carlin, an economist at University College London, they are designing a new university-level curriculum. The project, which aims to launch for the 2014-15 academic year, will change things in a number of ways."

  11. Daniel Davies: If this is “secular stagnation”, I want my old job back: "Here’s my version of the economic history of the pre-crisis years.... Welcome to the world you made guys. These are the consequences of globalization, entirely predictable and in fact predicted (by Dean Baker, among others). The final conclusion is probably the same as if it was a mysterious secular stagnation; fiscal policy. But the need for fiscal policy is such an obviously correct and obvious fact that more or less any economic argument is going to end up there unless it has major logical or accounting errors. But really--there is no need to tell ourselves ghost stories about animal spirits. There’s no puzzle here. We got this outcome because we wanted it..."

Robert Farley: Offshore Engagement: The Right U.S. Strategy for Asia | Ed Kilgore: It's The Fundamentals, Stupid: Elections Aren't Determined By Short-Term 'Game Changes' | James Plunkett and Joao Paulo Pessoa: A Polarising Crisis: The changing shape of the UK and US labour markets from 2008 to 2012 | Harriet Beecher Stowe (1854): Key to Uncle Tom's Cabin: "Poor White Trash" | Paul Krugman: When Thought Experiments Encounter the Unthinking | Iran agrees to curb nuclear activity at Geneva talks | Brian Buetler: Whoops! Obamacare turns out to be great deal personally for Boehner | Robert Waldmann: Secular Stagnation and Fiscal Policy | Fed chair nominee Janet Yellen wins Senate committee backing |

The Coming Medical Care Divide: Timothy Egan on The South's (and Prairie's!) New Lost Cause: Live from the Roasterie XXXX: November 25, 2013

I do keep hearing that the Republican governors of America loathe Chief Justice John Roberts more than anybody else alive. He forced on them a dilemma: either alienate their bases by appearing to enthusiastically endorse implementing ObamaCare via the Medicaid expansion, or alienate their medical-care sectors by refusing to implement the Medicaid expansion and thus leaving a huge number of federal dollars on the sidewalk. They would much rather have not had that choice--have been required by law to implement the Medicaid expansion on pain of losing all Medicaid funds, and so been able to get the money while all the while whining about the infringement of their dignity...

Nevertheless, I would have expected a calculation of the financial fundamentals and simple human charity to have induced more to accept Medicaid expansion by now than in fact have...

Timothy Egan: The South’s New Lost Cause:

What is distressingly similar today is how the South [and the Prairie!] is once again committed to taking a backward path. By refusing to expand health care for the working poor through Medicaid, which is paid for by the federal government under Obamacare, most of the old Confederacy is committed to keeping millions of its own fellow citizens in poverty and poor health. They are dooming themselves, further, as the Left-Behind States. And they are doing it out of spite. Elsewhere, the expansion of Medicaid, the health care program for the poor, has been one of the few success stories of Obamacare. It may be too complicated for the one-dimensional Beltway press. Either that, or it doesn’t fit the narrative of failure.

Continue reading "The Coming Medical Care Divide: Timothy Egan on The South's (and Prairie's!) New Lost Cause: Live from the Roasterie XXXX: November 25, 2013" »

Liveblogging World War II: November 25, 1943


Joseph Goebbels:

The [second] heavy attack equalled the first in intensity. Though at first we thought it might be weaker, this hope was not realized. The damage was quite as extensive as the night before. In character, too, it resembled its predecessor. It was mainly the inner city that was hit and also the working-class suburbs. Unfortunately only about twenty planes were shot down. Our fighters took a hand but arrived too late and meanwhile the anti-aircraft was forbidden to shoot.

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Liveblogging World War II: November 24, 1943

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the award of the VICTORIA CROSS to:-:

Sergeant Thomas Currie Derrick, D.C.M., Australian Military Forces.

For most conspicuous courage, outstanding leadership and devotion to duty during the final assault on Sattelberg in November, 1943.

On 24th November, 1943, a company of an Australian Infantry Battalion was ordered to outflank a strong enemy position sited on a precipitous cliff-face and then to attack a feature 150 yards from the township of Sattelberg. Sergeant Derrick was in command of his platoon of the company. Due to the nature of the country, the only possible approach to the town lay through an open kunai patch situated directly beneath the top of the cliffs. Over a period of two hours many attempts were made by our troops to clamber up the slopes to their objective, but on each occasion the enemy prevented success with intense machine-gun fire and grenades.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: November 24, 1943" »

Noted for Your Lunchtime Procrastination for November 23, 2013

Over at the WCEG Equitablog:


Antony Davison: Stabilized Zapruder film in HD | Alyssa Rosenberg: Right-Wing Columnist John Derbyshire Hasn't Seen '12 Years A Slave,' But He's Sure It's Too Hard On Slavery | Andy Harless: Can Knut Wicksell Beat Up Chuck Norris? | Iván Werning: Managing a Liquidity Trap: Monetary and Fiscal Policy | Killer Martinis: Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or, poverty thoughts | Krugman v Stiglitz on whether rising inequality is what's holding back the recovery | Garance Franke-Ruta: Why Is Maternity Care Such an Issue for Obamacare Opponents? |


  1. Dan Baum reports John Ehrlichman said: When Someone Claims the War on Drugs Is a War on Minorities…: "The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar Left, and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black. But by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did..."

  2. Harold Pollack: This drug could make a huge dent in heroin addiction. So why isn’t it used more?: "This week, the New York Times’ Deborah Sontag published an extensive two-part series, 'Addiction treatment with a dark side', on buprenorphine misuse. The piece is vividly written. It shows the human faces of many drug users. She frankly depicts underground market in buprenorphine, and describes unethical providers.... Like many addiction researchers, I’m uneasy.... The specific facts are well-researched. There’s some beautiful reporting.... Yet the very vividness of the human portraits leaves readers with powerful... misimpressions... that buprenorphine is more widely abused than it actually is, that buprenorphine is more dangerous than it generally is, and that buprenorphine providers are less ethical than they generally are. Sontag cites a statistic that buprenorphine was involved on the order of 42 deaths per year.... That’s a frightening thing, but it matters that these occur in a population that now experiences 19,000 overdose deaths every year..."

  3. Noam Levey: Healthcare industry vested in success of Obamacare: "Insurance companies, doctor groups and hospitals... are committed to the law's success despite persistent tensions with the White House. Many healthcare industry leaders are increasingly frustrated with the Obama administration's clumsy implementation.... Nearly all harbor reservations about parts of the sweeping law. Some played key roles in killing previous Democratic efforts.... But since 2010, they have invested billions.... Few industry leaders want to go back to a system that most had concluded was failing, as costs skyrocketed and the ranks of the uninsured swelled. Nor do they see much that is promising from the law's Republican critics. The GOP has focused on repealing Obamacare, but has devoted less energy to developing a replacement. Healthcare industry officials generally view several GOP proposals, such as limiting coverage for the poor and scuttling new insurance marketplaces created by the law, as more damaging than helpful to the nation's healthcare system..."

  4. Miles Kimball: Even Economists Need Lessons in Quantitative Easing, Bernanke Style: "Feldstein’s argument boils down to saying, 'The Fed has done a lot of QE, but we are still hurting, economically. Therefore, QE has failed'. But here he misunderstands the way QE works. The special nature of QE means that the headline dollar figures for quantitative easing overstate how big a hammer any given program of QE is. Once one adjusts for the optical illusion that the headline dollar figures create for QE, there is no reason to think QE has a different effect than one should have expected. To explain why, let me lay out again the logic of one of the very first posts on my blog.... In that post I responded to Stephen Williamson, who misunderstood QE... in a way similar to Martin Feldstein..."

  5. McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Retail Therapy: Inside the Apple Store: It’s a Trap!: "New York Times... Catherine Rampell... 'Cracking the Apple Trap'. Online... 'Why Apple Wants to Bust Your iPhone', and I am still dumbfounded that it was considered news fit to print.... The piece meanders through pontifications... the author’s aggrieved imagination... the New York Times has stooped to link-baiting, and I fell for it... rather than state... that all batteries... degrade over time, Rampell deliberately writes that 'Apple phone batteries' do so, implying peculiarity and intention. One expects Fox News to lead off thinly veiled editorials posing as economics coverage with phrasing like, 'Some say', or 'Many may believe', but the Gray Lady? Say it ain’t so!... Rampell wrote a follow-up... 'Planned Obsolescence, as Myth or Reality?' Referencing no less than three economists by name and 'a lot of technology experts' not by name, she successfully recycled half of her first piece, which inferred Apple’s evil motives, to arrive at a new conclusion, 'It’s actually very hard to infer a company’s motives'. What a wonderful non-apology. Ironically, it rendered the older article obsolete. Was that planned? That’s pretty f^&%ing meta..."

  6. Timothy Egan: The South’s New Lost Cause: "What is distressingly similar today is how the South is once again committed to taking a backward path. By refusing to expand health care for the working poor through Medicaid... most of the old Confederacy is committed to keeping millions of its own fellow citizens in poverty and poor health... out of spite.... In the states that have embraced... [expansion] almost 500,000 people have signed up for health care in less than two months time... good for business... for state taxpayers... can do much to lessen the collateral damages of poverty.... In Kentucky, which has bravely tried to buck the retrograde tide, Medicaid expansion is projected to create 17,000 jobs.... Beyond Medicaid, the states that have diligently tried to make the private health care exchanges work are putting their regions on a path that will make them far more livable.... And those states aren’t going to turn back the clock... no matter how Republicans try to kill health care reform.... What we could see, 10 years from now, is a Mason-Dixon line of health care... the insured North... where health care coverage was affordable and available... the uninsured South, where health care for the poor would amount to treating charity cases in hospital emergency rooms.... But most of the South is defiant--their own Lost Cause for the 21st century."

  7. Ed Kilgore: The Pure Meanness Litmus Test: "Partly as a byproduct of conservative optimism about rolling back ObamaCare and partly in conjunction with the Republican Governors Association meeting... there’s a lot of buzz right now about Medicaid expansion... a litmus test for conservative orthodoxy.... It’s no coincidence, of course, that one of the governors who did accept the expansion, Chris Christie, is the early MSM/Republican Establishment favorite for putting the Tea Folk back in their place and retaking the White House.... No one is being forced to drop private health insurance to enroll in Medicaid. No one can claim the president “lied” about Medicaid eligibility. The performance or non-performance of isn’t really an issue. The pace at which eligible folks sign up mainly just affects them. And there’s no 'premium shock'.... And that is sort of why the issue makes the perfect ideological litmus test: opposing the expansion can’t be and isn’t being justified as a prudent objection to an unworkable program or as disruptive to the health care status quo... states refusing the Medicaid expansion are doing so on grounds that they don’t want their own citizens to benefit from it. And since opposition has centered in the South, there’s not any real doubt a big motive has been a continuation of that region’s longstanding effort to--choose your verb--(a) reduce dependence on government among, or (b) keep down--those people..."

  8. Felix Salmon: Why guru ETFs beat human gurus: "Wall Street is no place for shrinking violets, but even by New York standards, Jason Ader has some serious chutzpah.... In principle, [he] makes sense. One common criticism of passive investing is that if everybody did it, then there would be no price discovery--and that the more passive investors there are... the easier it becomes to take advantage of them.... But the point at which passive investing becomes self-defeating is a bit like the point at which the gradient of the Laffer curve turns negative... far beyond any state of the world that obtains in real-life.... It’s a simple mathematical truth that activist investing has not outperformed passive investing this year.... Of course, if your dream is to beat the market, then you’re going to have to invest in something other than a passive index fund.... And don’t kid yourself, either, that paying 2-and-20 to anybody is a sensible way to try to achieve your goal. Indeed, there’s an increasing number of relatively low-fee ETFs which aim to replicate the results you’d get from investing with some of the biggest-name investors.... Buying one of these guru ETFs is no sillier than buying a typical actively-managed mutual fund. In fact, it’s probably more sensible, since the discipline of the ETF strategy is baked in to its structure, and it’s harder for an all-too-human manager to make silly mistakes... [and] the fees... will never come anything close to the kind of fees being charged by Jason Ader and his ilk..."

  9. John Aziz: The central banker who changed his mind: "When Narayana Kocherlakota was appointed president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis in 2009, the University of Chicago-educated theoretical economist was best known for his insight that money is a system of memory.... In the year before his appointment, he had signed a CATO Institute petition to protest President Obama's fiscal stimulus program. And after his appointment to the Fed, he was concerned that the central bank was being too accommodative.... But by August 2012 he seemed to have changed his mind, noting that 'increasing policy accommodation might well be appropriate' and voting later that year for the new quantitative easing asset-purchasing program (QE3).... I don't think that Kocherlakota's shift has really been so very dramatic.... Inflation is currently below the Federal Reserve's target, while unemployment is above the target, so the Fed seems 'dovish'.... I think Kocherlakota simply updated his policy prescriptions based on new evidence about the state of the economy and the persistently high rate of unemployment..."

Liveblogging World War II: November 23, 1943

Battle of Tarawa - Wikipedia:

At 0510, one of the 17 supporting aircraft carriers, Liscome Bay, was torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine, with a loss of of 687 of her compliment. She had contributed her share of the air support for the marines, but by the time of her sinking, her loss had no effect on the land battle. However, this loss was more than 30% of the total loss of life on the American side attributed to the Battle of Tarawa.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: November 23, 1943" »

Bayes Rule: It's Not Just a Good Idea--It's the Law!

Andrew Gelman writes: Hidden dangers of noninformative priors:

The simplest example yet, and my new favorite: we assign a flat noninformative prior to a continuous parameter θ. We now observe data, y ~ N(θ,1), and the observation is y=1. This is of course completely consistent with being pure noise, but the posterior probability is 84% that theta>0. I don’t believe that 84%. I think (in general) that it is too high.

But that is--virtually by definition--because you do not believe your flat noninformative prior: you don't think θ is as likely to be 10,000,000 as it is to be -1. And you probably don't think that you know that the variance is 1 with certainty either.

Start with the informative prior that θ ~ N(0,1). Then you pick one y ~ N(θ,1), and find y(1) = 1. Then your posterior is θ ~ N(0.5,0.5), yes? Your y(1) = 1 could have been all noise and θ ≤ 0 could be true, but it probably isn't. And then simply relax your prior...

Noted for Your Lunchtime Procrastination for November 22, 2013

Over at the WCEG Equitablog:


  1. Ashok Rao The Intellectual Evolution of Larry Summers on the Possibility of a Long-Lasting Negative Real Natural Rate of Interest: November 14, 2011, February 11, 2013, and November 8, 2013...

  2. Maryn McKenna: Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future: "A few years ago, I started looking online to fill in chapters of my family history.... My great-uncle Joe.... Through one of the scrapes, an infection set in.... Desperate to save his life, the men from his firehouse lined up to give blood. Nothing worked. He was thirty when he died, in March 1938.... Five years after my great-uncle’s death, penicillin changed medicine forever. Infections that had been death sentences—--from battlefield wounds, industrial accidents, childbirth--suddenly could be cured in a few days.... Lately, though, I read it differently. In Joe’s story, I see what life might become if we did not have antibiotics any more..."

  3. Tim Duy: Desperate to Taper: "The minutes of the October FOMC meeting leave little doubt that the Fed increasingly desires to end the asset purchase program, enough so to contemplate tapering regardless of seeing satisfactory improvement in labor markets.... The discussion of the specifics of the asset purchase program began with: 'During this general discussion... participants reviewed issues specific to the Committee's asset purchase program. They generally expected that the data would prove consistent with the Committee's outlook for ongoing improvement in labor market conditions and would thus warrant trimming the pace of purchases in coming months.' The mythical taper--just a few months away.  And it will always be just a few months away given the broad weakness in the labor chart. Recall the Yellen Charts: NewImage Unless they narrow their focus to only the unemployment rate, the argument to taper is challenged to say the least. It is even more challenged considering inflation indicators. Knowing that the data continuously refuses to cooperate, the Fed explores plan B: 'However, participants also considered scenarios under which it might, at some stage, be appropriate to begin to wind down the program before an unambiguous further improvement in the outlook was apparent..."

  4. Norm Ornstein: Republicans Forced Reid's Hand On The Nuclear Option: "For whatever reason, the Republicans decided to go nuclear first, with this utterly unnecessary violation of their own agreement and open decision to block the president from filling vacancies for his entire term, no matter how well qualified the nominees. It was a set of actions begging for a return nuclear response. McConnell's threat, it seems to me, makes clear the strategy: let Dems take the first step, and we will then bear no blame when we entirely blow up the Senate's rules after we take all the reins of power. That other Republicans like Corker, McCain, Alexander, Murkowski and so on, went along, shows how much the radicals and anti-institutionalists now dominate the Republican Party. Which is sad indeed."

  5. Rachel Pearson: Life and Death in the "Safety Net": "The first patient who called me 'doctor' died a few winters ago.... His belly was swollen, his eyes were yellow and his blood tests were all awry. It hurt when he swallowed and his urine stank.... His disease seemed serious, but... the tests... are beyond our financial reach.... We decided to send him to the emergency room.... There’s a popular myth that the uninsured--in Texas, that’s 25 percent of us--can always get medical care through emergency rooms.... The myth is based on a 1986 federal law called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), which states that hospitals with emergency rooms have to accept and stabilize patients who are in labor or who have an acute medical condition that threatens life or limb. That word 'stabilize' is key: Hospital ERs don’t have to treat you. They just have to patch you up to the point where you’re not actively dying.... My patient went to the ER, but didn’t get treatment.... He’d finally gotten so anemic that he couldn’t catch his breath, and the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), where I am a student, took him in. My friend emailed me the results of his CT scans: There was cancer in his kidney, his liver and his lungs. It must have been spreading over the weeks that he’d been coming into St. Vincent’s.... UTMB sent him to hospice, and he died at home a few months later. I read his obituary in the Galveston County Daily News. The shame has stuck with me through my medical training—not only from my first patient, but from many more..."

  6. Benjamin Wallace-Wells: 50 Years of Conspiracy Theories: "Every good conspiracy theory begins with the pawn.... Consider... Ricky Donnell Ross circa 1980... high-school dropout... part-time [crack] dealer.... Oscar Danilo Blandon.... Within two years, as drug use exploded and he supplied crack to both the Bloods and Crips, Ross became one of the dominant dealers in Los Angeles, moving 100 kilos each week.... Blandon was... a contra, a member of the militias organized and deployed by the CIA to overthrow the left-wing government in Managua. The contras had, it seems, long supplemented the funds Washington sent by helping Colombian traffickers ship cocaine north.... Because of Ross’s pivotal role in the early crack trade in L.A., this episode soon became fuel for perhaps the last great conspiracy of the twentieth century: that the CIA had spread crack throughout America’s inner cities.... The wider the aperture around this theory, the harder its proponents work to implicate Washington, the shakier it seems.... But keep the aperture tighter, around Ross himself, and you see American intelligence officials working comfortably in close proximity to drug traffickers in Central America and a remarkably short chain from powerful figures in American intelligence to this crack dealer in Los Angeles. What is left is a general sense that something is amiss.... If Ross sensed that he had been a pawn for forces he could barely understand, he probably wasn’t wrong. The question was: What forces? That the Ricky Ross story follows a familiar plot, that we know what a pawn is and that we understand the patterns of conspiracy, owes a great deal to the Kennedy assassination, which took place 50 years ago this month and which gave birth to the modern golden age of conspiracy..."

  7. Joseph Cotterill: The Fed and Treasury default: a coda: "At some point in the great collective peyote dream that was last month’s debt ceiling crisis, we asked you to imagine the Fed buying defaulted US Treasuries. Fortunately, the US central bank was thinking about it too: 'Meeting participants saw no legal or operational need in the event of delayed payments on Treasury securities to make changes to the conduct or procedures employed in currently authorized Desk operations, such as open market operations, large-scale asset purchases, or securities lending, or to the operation of the discount window. They also generally agreed that the Federal Reserve would continue to employ prevailing market values of securities in all its transactions and operations, under the usual terms…' That’s from the latest Fed minutes’ account of an unscheduled videoconference held on October 16--ironically, the day John Boehner cracked, leading to a late-night House vote to raise the ceiling. Still, the Fed knows what to do next time."

  8. Jérémie Cohen-Setton: Blogs review: Understanding New-Keynesian models: "A recent tractable formulation of the New-Keynesian liquidity trap by Ivan Werning has helped streamline the model to its essence and has generated important contributions that help clarify its mechanics.... Johannes Wieland writes that New-Keynesian models... robustly make two predictions at the ZLB... demand-side policies are very stimulative and, second, negative supply shocks are expansionary.... Paul Krugman writes the liquidity trap is puts us in a world of topsy-turvy.... Paul Krugman writes that the reason the classic Keynesian multiplier isn’t in NK models is not because it has been disproved, but because such models deliberately give hostages.... Johannes Wieland... writes that a less restrictive Euler equation is needed... if nominal wages are sticky and a large fraction of consumers are hand-to-mouth, then a negative supply shock can be contractionary... negative supply shocks [may] endogenously raise uncertainty.... Johannes Wieland focuses on another mechanism... In the calibrated model with credit frictions, demand-side policies are up to 50% less effective than in a standard new Keynesian model."


Stan Collender: Nuclear Option Increases Chances Of Another Shutdown, Sequestration | Sarah Binder: Boom! What the Senate will be like when the nuclear dust settles | Brad DeLong: Genuinely New Ways of Understanding IS-LM Watch: Karl Smith Is Really Smart and Thoughtful: Wednesday Hoisted from the Archives Weblogging | Jon Schwarz: Wow, 2013 Samantha Power Was Just EXCORIATED by 2003 Samantha Power | Joe Romm: Shell Oil [Internal Accounting] Self-Imposes Carbon Pollution Tax High Enough To Crash Coal, Erase Natural Gas's Value-Added | Kevin Drum: The Media [John Harris, Mike Allen, and Company] Once Again Refuses to Answer Questions From the Media | Scott Lemieux: Three Cheers for Harry Reid and the Nuclear Option |

Jon Gruber, Mitt Romney's Unelected Bureaucrat to Reform Health Care in Massachusetts, Is Not a Happy Camper Today: The View from the Roasterie XXXIX: November 22, 2013

The National Memo Interviews Romneycare/Obamacare Architect Jonathan Gruber:

Aside from the bartender who recorded the notorious “47 percent” video, Jonathan Gruber may have become Mitt Romney’s least favorite person during the 2012 campaign. Gruber damned the former governor of the Bay State with praise that certainly did little to shore up his standing in the Republican base: “He is in many ways the intellectual father of national health reform.”... Recently, Gruber spoke with National Memo executive editor Jason Sattler....

Jason Sattler:  You’re estimating that a few million of the insured are in that so-called “losers” category. And you’ve recently described these people as winning the “genetic lottery” — suggesting they’ve been underpaying in the past?

Jonathan Gruber:  So basically there’s two different issues. One of them is, what does it mean to be a “loser?”… How many people are being asked to find more generous plans than before? That’s probably about six million people.... The other issue is, how many people going to end up paying more than they did before? That’s probably about four million people.... The point is that a lot of people who are healthier have benefited from existing discrimination in the market....

Sattler: Is the refusal of 25 states to expand Medicaid distorting the market?

Gruber: I think in those states, by my own estimates, it’s going to raise premiums by about 15 percent in the exchange because sicker people will be in the exchange. I think it’s really disgusting that these states aren’t providing their poorest residents free insurance [financed] by the federal government. It’s pretty amazing that they can get away with that.

Sattler: What do you think about the right-wing argument that having no insurance at all is better than Medicaid?

Gruber: It’s just incorrect. There’s no credible evidence to support that....

Sattler: What would success for this law look like?

Gruber: We’re looking for several million people to sign up by March 31. And we’re looking for a reasonable mix of not just sick people, but also healthy people joining too...

Sattler: What did the proportions look like in Massachusetts during the first year?

Gruber: The New England Journal of Medicine study [that] I was part of found that the healthiest people tended to wait until the very end. There was a huge spike among the healthy right near the end of the enrollment period...

Liveblogging World War II: November 22, 1943

Medal Citation for Alexander Bonnyman on Tarawa:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Executive Officer of the 2d Battalion Shore Party, 18th Marines, 2d Marine Division, during the assault against enemy Japanese-held Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands, 20-22 November 1943.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: November 22, 1943" »

Why Fort Riley?: The View from the Roasterie XXXVIII: November 21, 2013

OK. I get that in 1853 we want a fort west of the Missouri to protect movement over the Oregon, California, and Santa Fe trails, and that someplace on the Kansas River has reliable water and is thus a good place to locate such a post. But even by 1870 Ft. Riley was largely obsolete: the cavalry fighting the Indian Wars of the 1870s were stationed at places like Ft. Larned and Ft. Hays. I understand that in 1884 Philip Sheridan named Ft. Riley "cavalry headquarters". (But wouldn't Ft. Hood have been better? Closer to Mexico and closer to the Gulf ports where the cavalry might actually be deployed?) And I understand that we didn't disband our horse cavalry until the late 1950s.

Continue reading "Why Fort Riley?: The View from the Roasterie XXXVIII: November 21, 2013" »

Bonus Thursday Idiocy Department: Clive Crook Misreports Larry Summers

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

When Larry Summers said::

Even a great bubble [first in high-tech and then in housing] wasn’t enough to produce any excess of aggregate demand.... Even with artificial stimulus to demand, coming from all this financial imprudence, you wouldn’t see any excess...

He wasn't calling for more bubbles. He was pointing out that an economy that can only attain anything like full employment with stable inflation in a bubble is an economy with something deeply and structurally wrong with it--something that needs to be fixed.

Thus when Clive Crook wrote "No, Larry Summers, We Don’t Need More Bubbles" he was either too dishonest to report straight what Summers meant or too stupid to follow the thread of the speech.

There's a moral responsibility here: either raise your game and don't be stupid, or play your hand honestly.

Liveblogging World War II: November 21, 1943


Robert Sherrod on Tarawa:

0530: The coral flats in front of us present a sad sight at low tide. A half dozen Marines lie exposed, now that the water has receded. They are hunched over, rifles in hand, just as they fell. They are already one-quarter covered by sand that the high tide left. Further out on the flats and to the left I can see at least fifty other bodies. I had thought yesterday, however, that low tide would reveal many more than that. The smell of death, that sweetly sick odor of decaying human flesh, is already oppressive.

Now that it is light, the wounded go walking by, on the beach. Some are supported by corpsmen; others, like this one coming now, walk alone, limping badly, their faces contorted with pain. Some have bloodless faces, some bloody faces, others only pieces of faces. Two corpsmen pass, carrying a Marine on a stretcher who is lying face down. He has a great hole in his side, another smaller hole in his shoulder. This scene, set against the background of the dead on the coral flats, is horrible. It is war. I wish it could be seen by the silken-voiced, radio-announcing pollyannas back home who, by their very inflections, nightly lull the people into a false sense of all-is-well.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: November 21, 1943" »

The California Budget Project: Thursday Undervalued Think-Tank Weblogging

California Budget Project:

OUR MISSION: The California Budget Project engages in independent fiscal and policy analysis and public education with the goal of improving public policies affecting the economic and social well-being of low- and middle-income Californians.

The CBP believes that information can help give voice to those who often go unheard in budget and policy debates. “Knowledge,” as the saying goes, “is power.” Since 1995, the CBP has worked to make the budget more understandable and to shed light on how budget and related policy decisions can affect the lives of low- and middle-income Californians.

Through its published analyses, educational activities, and technical assistance, the CBP is a resource for advocates, community leaders, policymakers, and members of the media. The CBP’s work is widely regarded as timely, reliable, and accessible. CBP staff are frequent speakers at meetings and conferences throughout the state. The CBP also offers an active training program on the state budget, budget process, and fiscal policy issues.

The CBP is a nonprofit organization. Support for the CBP comes from donations from individuals and organizations, subscriptions to our publications, and grants from private foundations.

The CBP is a nonpartisan organization. We neither support nor oppose any political party nor any candidate running for elected office. We focus solely on evaluating public policies and their impact on low- and middle-income Californians.

Core Principles: Four core principles guide the work of the CBP:

  • INDEPENDENCE: The CBP provides fact-based, nonpartisan analyses of state fiscal and tax policies and their implications for all Californians, especially low- and middle-income residents.

  • FAIRNESS AND EQUITY: The CBP’s work is grounded in the fundamental belief that government should work to improve the lives of the people it serves. The CBP maintains a deep commitment to ensuring that public policies and programs respond effectively to the needs and interests of lower-income individuals, families, and communities throughout California.

  • INTEGRITY: The CBP conducts its work with the highest level of intellectual honesty, accuracy, and objectivity in order to effectively inform state fiscal, tax, and other public policies.

  • EMPOWERMENT: The CBP provides accessible, useable, and timely information on state fiscal, tax, and related public policies in order to expand civic engagement in policy debates.

Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for November 21, 2013

Over at the WCEG Equitablog:


  1. Aaron Carroll: A pickle for conservative states refusing the Medicaid expansion: "The ACA covers most Americans making less than 138% of the poverty line through the Medicaid expansion. Because everyone thought the expansion would happen nationwide, they only wrote in subsidies for people making more than 100% of the poverty line.... Now there’s a problem--people making too little in states that refuse the expansion may not get subsidies, and therefore they may not be able to get insurance in the exchanges.... Things are different for legal immigrants.... In order to make sure that all legal residents were covered, the ACA instead provides subsidies for legal immigrants to go get inurance in the exchanges, no matter how little they make. So we’re going to have a potential situation next year where poor non-immigrants will get nothing in states that refuse the Medicaid expansion, but poor immigrants will get subsidies to buy private insurance.... It’s hard to see this playing out well politically..."
  2. David Glasner: The Internal Contradiction of Quantitative Easing: "I can’t help observing... that the two main arguments made by critics... do not exactly coexist harmoniously.... QE is ineffective... dangerous.... The tension might at least have given a moment’s pause.... Nor... does the faux populism of the attack on a rising stock market and... crocodile tears for helpless retirees living off... interest... coexist harmoniously with... the same characters... (e.g., Freedomworks, CATO, the Heritage Foundation, and the Wall Street Journal editorial page) for privatizing social security.... I am also waiting for an explanation of why abused pensioners... can’t cash in the CDs.... In which charter... does one find it written that a perfectly secure real rate of interest of not less than 2% on any debt instrument issued by the US government shall always be guaranteed?"
  3. Robert Skidelsky: Four Fallacies of the Second Great Depression: "One should simply have asked the Swabian housewife.... The government cannot spend money it does not have.... The national debt is deferred taxation.... The national debt is a burden on future generations..."
  4. David Keohane and Izabella Kaminska: Zhou seems a little flustered: "We were going to be slightly snarky in the face of Zhou Xiaochuan, head of the People’s Bank of China... the lack of a timetable and the ambiguity of phrasing making this seem rather similar to what we’ve heard in the past--but then we saw this from Neil Mellor at BoNYM and felt bad: 'However, although a timetable was absent... this announcement constituted the beginnings of a new era for financial markets and no superlative would overstate its significance.' Oops. Mellor may well have a point... rowing back a bit on timetable-snark [does] seem sensible..."
  5. Richard Mayhew: November ObamaCare enrollment pace: "A number of states that use their own systems, including California, are on track.... Pennsylvania (a federal exchange state) seems to be seeing a quadrupling of pace in the first two weeks of November.... This is evidence... people are still willing to look for a good deal on the Exchanges..."


Jonathan Cohn: I Just Lost My Insurance Because of Obamacare. What Do I Do? A step-by-step guide to replacing your health insurance | Michael D. Bauer and Glenn D. Rudebusch: Expectations for Monetary Policy Liftoff | David Dollar et al.: Growth still is good for the poor | Stephanie Paige Ogburn: Missing Data from Arctic One Cause of "Pause" in Temperature Rise | Q4 GDP Tracking: 1.4%/Yr | Martin Wolf: Why the future looks sluggish |

Why Dallas?: Wednesday View from the Roasterie XXXVII: November 20, 2013

Now, west of the Mississippi and east of the Sierra, I understand why most cities are where they are and where their population comes from: Omaha and Albuquerque, Tulsa and Tucson, Salt Lake City and Oklahoma City, Austin and Las Vegas, Kansas City and San Antonio, Denver and St. Louis and Houston. River crossings and railroads, oil and state capitals, etc.

But Dallas? Why Dallas? What are nearly seven million people doing living in Dallas?

Continue reading "Why Dallas?: Wednesday View from the Roasterie XXXVII: November 20, 2013" »

Truly a Dark Age for Economics in the North-Midwest...: Wednesday Hoisted from the Archives Weblogging

The immersion in the River Lethe that time provides is truly a blessed boon. Unfortunately, today we have internet archives. And so I am cursed as I read my archives to be forced to recall things like this from four years ago:

Here we go:

When last we saw the University of Chicago's Eugene Fama, he was mistakenly claiming that the NIPA savings-investment identity had as its consequence that increases in government spending necessarily could not boost employment and production.

It is hard to characterize the level of this mistake. I would like to say freshman-level, but my freshmen don't make it. At least, those who pass with a grade higher than a D do not.

Continue reading "Truly a Dark Age for Economics in the North-Midwest...: Wednesday Hoisted from the Archives Weblogging" »

Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for November 20, 2013

Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for November 20, 2013

Over at the WCEG Equitablog:


  1. Simon Johnson: It’s Fed Versus Moody’s for ‘Most Wrong’ Crown: "Who was more wrong in the run-up to the financial crisis of 2008: the Federal Reserve or Moody’s Investors Service? This isn’t an academic question; both organizations are still hugely relevant to shaping the way we see our financial system and the risks it contains. And both are now apparently underestimating the dangers again. To be fair, the thinking at both places has shifted, but not anywhere close to enough. The reason for this is simple: The incentives that encouraged their misperceptions before 2008 remain in place today..."
  2. Joshua Angrist et al: Semiparametric Estimates of Monetary Policy Effects: String Theory Revisited: "House Committee on Banking and Currency, March 18, 1935: Goldsborough: 'You mean you cannot push a string...' Eccles: 'That is a good way to put it: one cannot push on a strong.... Beyond creating an easy-money situation through reduction of discount rates and through the creation of excess reserves, there is very little if anything the reserve organization can do toward bringing about recovery. I believe that in a condition of great business activity that is developing to a point of credit inflation, monetary action can very effectively curb undue market expansion...'"
  3. cingraham: Ideology and party unity in the House, 1857-2011
  4. Wolfgang Munchau: Why Europe needs to try unconventional policy: "Last week’s dreadful data for the eurozone tell us that a long period of low economic growth and excessively low inflation lies ahead.... What should the European Central Bank do now?... If Mario Draghi, the ECB president, wants to make a real difference, he should contemplate quantitative easing.... QE has the advantage that it is legally beyond reproach... a pure monetary policy operation... cannot be mistaken for an illegal monetisation of sovereign debt.... Would QE work? Once you hit the zero limit on interest rates, QE is the most effective policy instrument.... And if you are worried about the impact of QE on financial stability, you might want to consider the impact of a long depression..."
  5. Daniel Altman: Predicting the Economic Future Through Convergence: China: "So economists re-examined the theory of convergence... countries’ living standards could converge in the long term, but only if they had similar economic foundations... deep factors whose importance was easily perceptible yet hard to quantify.... There are still vast differences between China and these wealthier economies that are likely to hold China back.... Two factors... particularly important... are openness to trade and the ease of starting a business (Aghion and Howitt 2009). China has done much to open its markets since Mao’s death, but it still has a long way to go.... When it comes to opening a business, China ranks even further behind..."
  6. Paul Krugman: The New Keynesian Case for Fiscal Policy: "Much of the academic profession decided more than 30 years ago that... what we needed was an equilibrium model of the business cycle. By the time the utter failure of the equilibrium project became apparent, you had a whole generation of economists who knew that Keynesianism of any form was nonsense based on what they had heard somewhere, so they didn’t read any of the stuff... and were flabbergasted to learn that there was in fact an extensive New Keynesian literature.... So some props to John Cochrane for at least trying to catch up. Unfortunately, he’s still working from the baseline assumption that people like me (and Mike Woodford, whom he really should be reading) must be kind of stupid, and so he can’t be bothered to actually figure out how the models work. At least I think that’s what’s happening.... Cochrane’s latest seems to be driven by a confusion between the effect of fiscal expansion on GDP... and... on consumption.... I won’t try to figure out the roots of this failure of reading comprehension.... This isn’t hard--at least it shouldn’t be for anyone with a graduate training in economics. Just try actually reading what New Keynesians write."
  7. Joe Gagnon (2009): Low Interest Rates May Be Here To Stay: "One of the most striking features of today’s economy is that interest rates... are at 50-year lows.... 'Normal' interest rates are likely to be lower than most people expect.... Investment demand has declined in the advanced economies... slower population growth... the winding down of the productivity 'catch-up'... lower marginal tax rates and declining rates of inflation... the governments of many Asian economies have funneled unprecedented amounts of capital into advanced-country financial markets in an effort to hold their currencies down and maintain export-led growth... commodity exporters, especially oil exporters, saved a high fraction of their revenues.... What are the prospects going forward?... We need to craft a regulatory framework that enables our financial system to operate safely in an environment of low interest rates..."
  8. Mark Thoma: How Economists Can Tame Irrational Exuberance: "Is Shiller correct? Should economists drop the assumption of rational expectations, at least in some instances?... The rationality assumption is reasonable in some cases.... For monetary policy, where the Fed goes out of its way to make its policy rule known, and in financial markets where the participants study the markets as part of their jobs and there are considerable amounts of money on the line, perhaps those conditions are approximated. But does anyone understand what policy rule can be used to anticipate fiscal policy actions (who expected Congress to cut spending in a recession?), and does the typical household sufficiently understand how policy shocks affect the economy?"
  9. Ezra Klein: Elizabeth Warren wants to spend more on Social Security. But she’s not thinking big enough! "She joins a growing movement of Senate Democrats, including Tom Harkin, Mark Begich and Bernie Sanders. 'Social Security is incredibly effective, it is incredibly popular, and the calls for strengthening it are growing louder every day', Warren said.... Washington frets endlessly over the problems that Social Security, which is projected to exhaust its trust funds in the coming decades, might cause the budget. It frets about it so much, in fact, that it completely misses the problems Social Security is uniquely poised to solve for the country. For years, pension experts have spoken of the 'three-legged stool' of retirement savings: Social Security, employer pensions and private savings.... [But] today, Social Security is basically the only leg holding it up..."
  10. Barry Eichengreen: Does the Federal Reserve Care about the Rest of the World?: " Many economists are accustomed to thinking about Federal Reserve policy in terms of the institution's "dual mandate," which refers to price stability and high employment, and in which the exchange rate and other international variables matter only insofar as they influence inflation and the output gap--which is to say, not very much. In fact, this conventional view is heavily shaped by the distinctive and peculiar circumstances of the last three decades.... The Federal Reserve paid significant attention to international considerations in its first two decades, followed by relative inattention... then back to renewed attention to international aspects... in the 1960s, before the recent period of benign neglect.... I argue that in the next few decades, international aspects are likely to play a larger role in Federal Reserve policymaking..."
  11. Noam Levey: Healthcare plan enrollment surges in some states after rocky rollout: "A number of states that use their own systems, including California, are on track to hit enrollment targets for 2014 because of a sharp increase in November, according to state officials. 'What we are seeing is incredible momentum', said Peter Lee, director of Covered California.... California--which enrolled about 31,000 people in health plans last month--nearly doubled that in the first two weeks of this month. Several other states, including Connecticut and Kentucky, are outpacing their enrollment estimates, even as states that depend on the federal website lag far behind. In Minnesota, enrollment in the second half of October ran at triple the rate of the first half, officials said. Washington state is also on track to easily exceed its October enrollment figure, officials said..."
  12. ProGrowthLiberal: EconoSpeak: John Taylor on Monetary Policy and Inflation: "If you were expecting John Taylor to address what Barry Ritholtz noted about that 2010 prediction of inflation, stop holding your breath. Taylor instead tried a rebuttal to the latest from Lawrence Summers.... Taylor of late has been saying that our current mess was created by a deviation from the Taylor rule. Here’s his evidence: 'Inflation was not steady or falling during the easy money period from 2003-2005... [the] Fed’s interest rate was too low... inflation... doubled from 1.7% to 3.4% per year... extraordinary inflation and boom in the housing market.... Finally, the unemployment rate got as low as 4.4% well below the natural rate.'... No one during the Bush Administration... were saying back then that the employment to population ratio had become dangerously high. The 4.4% unemployment rate... was not reached until late 2006. By then we had seen two years of rising short-term interest rates. Now had Taylor and his fellow Bush economic advisors were very concerned about excessive aggregate demand--why did we not seen calls for fiscal restraint back then? If Taylor thinks this is a serious rebuttal to what Summers said, it is no surprise he has yet to acknowledge that 2010 forecast of inflation from QE."

Jared Bernstein: Inequality's Roots: Beyond Technology | Max Chafkin: Udacity's Sebastian Thrun, Godfather Of Free Online Education, Changes Course | Joseph E. Gagnon: Stabilizing Properties of Flexible Exchange Rates: Evidence from the Global Financial Crisis | James Surowiecki: Valuing the Free Digital Economy | Paul Krugman: Bubbles, Regulation, and Secular Stagnation | Jay Inslee, Steve Beshear and Dannel P. Malloy: How we got Obamacare to work | Lincoln's Gettysburg Addresses | Matt Weibe: Markdown has arrived on! | Matt Schiavenza: A Chinese President Consolidates His Power | Mark Thoma sends us to Paul Krugman: The Geezers Are Not Alright | Menzie Chinn: An opinion piece by Sean Fieler in USAToday.... I found the reference to growing inflation of interest. Here are some data of relevance. They indicate low and declining inflation using various measures, CPI, PCE, PPI, core, headline | Marco Nappolini: Secular stagnation and post-scarcity | Joshua Angrist et al: Semiparametric Estimates of Monetary Policy Effects: String Theory Revisited | Mohammed El-Erian: Janet Yellen’s confirmation hearing last week reaffirmed that the Federal Reserve remains risk markets’ best friend--and not by choice but by necessity | Mike Konczal: Given the Myth of Ownership, is the Idea of Redistribution Coherent? | Francis X. Diebold: No Hesitations: The e-Writing Jungle Part 2: The MathML Impasse and the MathJax Solution |

Liveblogging World War II: November 20, 1943


Battle of Tarawa: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The Battle of Tarawa (US code name Operation Galvanic) was a battle in the Pacific Theater of World War II, fought from November 20 to November 23, 1943. It took place at the Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands, located in what is now the nation of Kiribati. Nearly 6,400 Japanese, Koreans, and Americans died in the fighting, mostly on and around the small island of Betio.

The Battle of Tarawa was the first American offensive in the critical central Pacific region. It was also the first time in the war that the United States faced serious Japanese opposition to an amphibious landing. Previous landings met little or no initial resistance, but this time the 4,500 Japanese defenders were well-supplied and well-prepared, and they fought almost to the last man, exacting a heavy toll on the United States Marine Corps. The US had suffered similar casualties in other campaigns, for example over the six months of the Guadalcanal Campaign, but in this case the losses were incurred within the space of 76 hours.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: November 20, 1943" »

"By Not Going to Gettysburg, Obama Forced Ron Fournier to Scrap His Column Attacking Obama for Politicizing Gettysburg": Josh Barro and Ian Millhiser Win the Internet Today!

How to Be a Writer: Hemingway’s Advice to Aspiring Authors: Tuesday View from the Roasterie XXXVI: November 19, 2013

From the annals of Great-Great-Uncle (in-Law) Ernest:

Maria Popova: How to Be a Writer: Hemingway’s Advice to Aspiring Authors | Brain Pickings:

Writing as “Your Correspondent,” abbreviated to “Y.C.,” Hemingway addresses the archetypal aspiring author, nicknamed “Mice,” and offers this characteristically wise-in-a-no-bullshit-way advice on becoming a writer:

MICE: How can a writer train himself?

Y.C.: Watch what happens today. If we get into a fish see exactly what it is that everyone does. If you get a kick out of it while he is jumping remember back until you see exactly what the action was that gave you the emotion. Whether it was the rising of the line from the water and the way it tightened like a fiddle string until drops started from it, or the way he smashed and threw water when he jumped. Remember what the noises were and what was said. Find what gave you the emotion; what the action was that gave you the excitement. Then write it down making it clear so the reader will see it too and have the same feeling that you had. That’s a five finger exercise.

MICE: All right.

Continue reading "How to Be a Writer: Hemingway’s Advice to Aspiring Authors: Tuesday View from the Roasterie XXXVI: November 19, 2013" »

Brad DeLong: No, I Am Not Miss Informed: Tuesday Hoisted from the Archives from November 2011 with Subsequent Reflections: The Puzzle of Bill Galston Weblogging

Back in November 2011, I wrote that Richard Just was not doing a good job as editor of the New Republic: Am I Miss Informed?: American Elections "Department of 'Huh?!'" Department. I was annoyed by his publishing Bill Galston's insistence that:

Of the states that Obama won in 2008, he is certain to lose Indiana, he will be hard-put to reproduce his razor-thin edge in North Carolina, and his chances of prevailing in Florida appear well short of 50-50. Those three states alone accounted for 53 of Obama’s 365 electoral votes in 2008. Given all this, it would political malpractice for the Obama campaign not to go all-out in Ohio. At the same time, they should focus on fortifying the president’s standing in Pennsylvania, a state that traditionally has given Democratic presidential candidates a share of the popular vote about two percentage points higher than their national average.  Winning Pennsylvania is a necessary condition of Democratic victory; winning Ohio is a sufficient condition…

Continue reading "Brad DeLong: No, I Am Not Miss Informed: Tuesday Hoisted from the Archives from November 2011 with Subsequent Reflections: The Puzzle of Bill Galston Weblogging" »

Liveblogging World War II: November 19, 1943


USS Sculpin:

George Brown was sent from his dive control station to assess the damage.

..Upon inspection, I found the after engine room had flooded to such an extent I believed it unwise to attempt to place a bubble in No. 4 Main Ballast Tank, which would have aided the trim considerably. The flow of water forward might short the main motor leads. We decided to bail the water forward to another compartment until we could trim the ship without endangering the main motors.

While a bucket brigade was being run by exhausted men in temperatures well over a hundred degrees, the temporary diving officer broached the ship. However, no one could be blamed for this as the depth gauge was stuck at 170 feet and the pressure gauges around the diving station were all flooded out.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: November 19, 1943" »

Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for November 19, 2013

Over at the WCEG Equitablog:


  1. Annie Lowrey: Caught in a Revolving Door of Unemployment: "A five-year spell of unemployment has slowly scrubbed away nearly every vestige of Ms. Barrington-Ward’s middle-class life. She is a 53-year-old college graduate who worked steadily for three decades. She is now broke and homeless.... She was laid off from an administrative position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2008; she had earned about $50,000 that year. With the recession spurring employers to dump hundreds of thousands of workers a month and the unemployment rate climbing to the double digits, she found that no matter the number of résumés she sent out... he could not find work. 'I’ve been turned down from McDonald’s because I was told I was too articulate', she says. 'I got denied a job scrubbing toilets because I didn’t speak Spanish and turned away from a laundromat because I was "too pretty". I’ve also been told point-blank to my face, "We don’t hire the unemployed". And the two times I got real interest from a prospective employer, the credit check ended it immediately.' For Ms. Barrington-Ward, joblessness itself has become a trap, an impediment to finding a job. Economists see it the same way, concerned that joblessness lasting more than six months is a major factor preventing people from getting rehired, with potentially grave consequences for tens of millions of Americans..."
  2. Paul Krugman: A Permanent Slump?: "The case for... a persistent state in which a depressed economy is the norm, with episodes of full employment few and far between was made forcefully recently... [by] none other than Larry Summers.... And if Mr. Summers is right, everything respectable people have been saying about economic policy is wrong, and will keep being wrong for a long time.... I know that many people just hate this kind of talk. It offends their sense of rightness.... Economics is supposed to be about making hard choices (at other people’s expense, naturally).... But... economic reality is what it is. And what that reality appears to be right now is one in which depression rules will apply for a very long time..."
  3. Thoreau: Vocation of the Elites § Unqualified Offerings: "There’s another side to the problems.... I’m glad that some of our elite class passes through top educational institutions. I could think of worse ways to shape them. The real problem is that there are few routes to sit at the table.  By all means, have some Ivy Leaguers there.  But have those Ivy Leaguers in a wider range of endeavors than just the FIRE sector. Have people who came up through organized labor.  Have people who came up through professions and vocations, through entrepreneurial activity outside the FIRE sector, and through numerous other paths. (But keep the journalists out of the elite class. The last thing we want is journalists who like sitting at fancy dinners with their rich buddies. The proper place for a journalist is digging up dirt outside the banquet hall, while the rich are unaware what they’re up to.) This monoculture, this lack of variety in the paths to the top..."
  4. Jonathan Chait: Obama’s Latest Katrina Threatens Doom Once Again: "The Obamacare rollout debacle has officially reached its Katrina Phase.... The Obamacare rollout is merely Obama’s most recent Katrina, following in the wake of... the Gulf Oil spill, the 2009 swine-flu outbreak, the humanitarian disaster in Haiti, the General Motors bailout, Hurricane Sandy, Syria, and the now-forgotten springtime scandals--which, the New York Times reported in an equally portentous news analysis last May, 'have reinforced fears of an overreaching government while calling into question Mr. Obama’s ability to master his own presidency'. If every one of Obama’s Katrinas were an actual Katrina, America as we know it would long since have ceased to exist and we’d be living in a watery post-apocalyptic hellscape..."
  5. Michael Kimmel: America’s angriest white men: Up close with racism, rage and Southern supremacy: "Many of the younger guys are veterans of the first Gulf War, a war that they came to believe was fought for no moral principles at all, but simply to make America’s oil supply safer and to protect Israel from possible Arab attack. They feel they’ve been used, pawns in a larger political game, serving their country honorably only to be spit out and stepped on when they returned home to slashed veteran benefits, bureaucratic indifference to post-traumatic stress disorder, and general social contempt for having fought in the war in the first place. They believed they were entitled to be hailed as heroes, as had earlier generations of American veterans, not to be scorned as outcasts..."
  6. Charlie Stross: CMAP: "Why do you use Microsoft Word?": "I sometimes fantasize about Markdown taking off everywhere. It's not as if Markdown editors are thin on the ground; it's almost become a de-facto standard on the iPad due to iOS's lack of a rich text library prior to iOS 7. Markdown is expressive enough to write a novel (novels are structurally very simple). It's so lightweight that you can learn the basics in half an hour and print a crib sheet on the side of a coffee mug. There are powerful Markdown editing tools with syntax colourizing and folding and other features... and you can write it using any plain text editor. If we could just get everyone to use it, there are powerful proofing tools out there—it's a plain text based markup language, so the entire panoply of programmer's tools are available. But it ain't gonna happen. Novelists are not only not IT people; they are on average quite old (it's rare to sell a first novel before you turn 30: most working novelists are middle-aged). They are emphatically not early adopters..."
  7. Paul Krugman: What To Do When You're Wrong: "Barry Ritholtz reminds us that we’ve just passed the third anniversary of the debasement-and-inflation letter--the one in which a who’s who of right-wing econopundits warned that quantitative easing would have dire consequences. As Ritholtz notes, they were utterly wrong. Also, rereading the letter now, you have to wonder what kind of economic model they had in mind.... You don’t just want to look at whether people have been wrong; you want to ask how they respond when events don’t go the way they predicted. After all, if you write about current affairs and you’re never wrong, you just aren’t sticking your neck out enough. Stuff happens, and sometimes it’s not the stuff you thought would happen. So what do you do then? Do you claim that you never said what you said? Do you lash out at your critics and play victim? Or do you try to figure out what you got wrong and why, and revise your thinking accordingly?.... So, have any of the signatories to that 2010 letter admitted being wrong and explained why they were wrong? I mean any of them. Not as far as I know. And at that point this becomes more than an intellectual issue. It becomes a test of character."


J. Bradford DeLong and Lawrence H. Summers (1992): Macroeconomic Policy and Long-Run Growth | Nick Hanauer and Eric Beinhocker: Capitalism Redefined | Michael Kimmel: America’s angriest white men: Up close with racism, rage and Southern supremacy | Ann Sinaiko et al.: Enrollment in Medicare Advantage Plans in Miami-Dade County: Evidence of Status Quo Bias? | Yuriy Gorodnichenko and Michael Weber: Are Sticky Prices Costly? | Jay Rosen: Out of the press box and onto the field: I am joining up with the new venture in news that Pierre Omidyar, Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill are creating, along with Liliana Segura, Dan Froomkin, Eric Bates and others who are coming on board to give shape to this thing, which we are calling NewCo until we are ready to release the name | Bryce Covert: Democrats Push For Extending A Lifeline For The Long-Term Unemployed | Daniel McCarthy: Why the Tea Party Can’t Govern | Cosma Shalizi (2010): The Singularity in Our Past Light-Cone | Joseph Cummins: On the Use and Misuse of Child Height-for-Age Z-score in the Demographic and Health Surveys |

Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for November 18, 2013

Over at the WCEG Equitablog:


  1. Paul Krugman: A Permanent Slump?: "The case for... a persistent state in which a depressed economy is the norm, with episodes of full employment few and far between was made forcefully recently... [by] none other than Larry Summers.... And if Mr. Summers is right, everything respectable people have been saying about economic policy is wrong, and will keep being wrong for a long time.... I know that many people just hate this kind of talk. It offends their sense of rightness.... Economics is supposed to be about making hard choices (at other people’s expense, naturally).... But... economic reality is what it is. And what that reality appears to be right now is one in which depression rules will apply for a very long time..."
  2. Daniel Drezner: Why Foreign Affairs Policymakers are More Prejudiced than Economic Policymakers: "Michael Desch and Paul Avey... find that senior foreign affairs policymakers are extremely dubious about the utility of political science scholarship.... They note at the end of their paper that an outstanding question remains: 'why is it that policymakers are relatively tolerant of complex modeling and statistical work in Economics and survey research but not in other areas of political science and international relations?'..."
  3. Matthew Yglesias: Katrina vs. Obamacare: Here's the difference: "1,833 people died during Hurricane Katrina..."
  4. John Cassidy: SIX REASONS THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT ISN’T HURRICANE KATRINA: "In writing about the rollout of the A.C.A., I, too, have used the term 'disaster'.... But Hurricane Katrina? I can easily imagine why Republican politicians are making the comparison.... But does it really stand up? I don’t think so, and here are six reasons why: (1) Obama got out of Air Force One.... (2) Nobody’s been killed.... (3) This time, there is no 'Brownie'.... (4) The war in Iraq is over.... (5) Despite it all, appears to be fixable.... (6) The 'disaster' narrative doesn’t yet represent the final cut: Once the Bush Administration had failed the immediate test of responding to Hurricane Katrina, there wasn’t much it could do to change the story. The victims were dead..."
  5. John dos Passos (1938): U.S.A.: The 42nd Parallel / 1919 / The Big Money "Wars and panics on the stock exchange, machine gun fire and arson, bankruptcies, war loans, starvation, lice, cholera and typhus: good growing weather for the House of Morgan."
  6. Ezra Klein: One senator’s lonely war against climate change: "Every week, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse heads to the floor of the Senate, sets up an easel and some poster board and delivers a speech. He works hard on these speeches. They’re deeply researched and beautifully crafted. He delivers them with passion and fervor--to a mostly empty room. His colleagues figure they have better things to do than listen. But 100 years from now, when our grandchildren look back and try to understand what we were doing while the world burned, these speeches may well be some of the most famed rhetoric of the age. The speeches are on climate change. They range in tone from morally outraged to deeply wonky..."
  7. Thoreau: Vocation of the Elites § Unqualified Offerings: "The ideas in Twilight of the Elites.... We have an ostensibly meritocratic elite class, and they are legitimized in part by their test scores and educations. We therefore tell ourselves that the solution to inequality is through the education system.  We’ll just give everybody a shot... if they’re good enough they’ll 'succeed', and this legitimizes everything. When people notice that inequality persists, the schools can be... scapegoats or saviors, playgrounds for pet projects or distractions from bigger problems. Much of what drives me crazy in education (or, for that matter, much of what might drive anybody else crazy in education) follows from those games..."


David Saha: Revisiting the case for rational expectations | Joseph E. Gagnon: Stabilizing Properties of Flexible Exchange Rates: Evidence from the Global Financial Crisis | Nick Hanauer and Eric Beinhocker: Capitalism Redefined | Michael Kimmel: America’s angriest white men: Up close with racism, rage and Southern supremacy | Picture Of David Cameron Calling For Austerity | How the Victorians Wired the World: The TV Show on Youtube | Mark J. Perry: The era of the textbook cartel and $300 textbooks is ending]( | Neil Irwin: There is only one way to end Europe’s economic woes. Germany needs to buy more stuff | Charles Martyn: The Life of Artemas Ward, the First Commander-in-chief of the American Revolution | Harvard Gazette: This Old House |

Liveblogging World War II, November 18, 1943

Eleanor Roosevelt:

NEW YORK, Wednesday—Yesterday noon I succeeded in going in to the annual Christmas Sale for the benefit of Hope Farm. It is one of the charities in which I have been interested for a long while, since it takes neglected children from New York City up to a farm in our home county of Dutchess. If children have to leave their parents and go to an institution, I think this is one of the most successful I know. I always reserve a few Christmas presents to be bought at their sale, just as I always keep certain things to buy at the Sale for the Blind, which comes a little later on.

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Not Across the Wide Missouri: Artemas Ward: "Amateurs talk strategy; professionals talk logistics" View from the Roasterie **Ward Circle** XXXV: November 18, 2013[1]

Artemas ward Google Search

I was begotten by James Vandevere DeLong and Fonya Usher Lord, who was begotten by Florence Richardson Usher and W.W. Lord--William Walcott or William Ward Lord, I have never been quite certain which. He was begotten by John Anderson Lord and Elinor Lawton Carter, who was begotten by John Carter and Isabel Walcott Ward, who was in turn begotten by Anna Harriet Field and Andrew Henshaw Ward, who was begotten by Elizabeth Denny and Thomas Walter Ward, who was begotten by Sarah Trowbridge and Artemas Ward.

Artemas Ward (1727-1800) is my great-great-great-great-grandfather. Artemas Ward is also a statue in upper northwest Washington DC, in the middle of Ward Circle, at the intersection of Massachusetts and Nebraska Avenues, square by American University and only a mile from the border of DC with Maryland's Montgomery Country. The inscription on the statue reads:

Son of Massachusetts, Graduate of Harvard College, Judge and Legislator, Delegate 1780-1781 to the Continental Congress, Soldier of Three Wars, First Commander of the Patriot Forces

Artemas Ward is the reason that in my family we do not like George Washington all that much.

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Not DeLong Smackdown Watch: Monday Why-Won't-They-Do-Anything-to-Mark-Their-Beliefs-to-Market Weblogging?

Barry Ritholtz has been waiting around for the third anniversary of the publication of this remarkable document:

Barry Ritholtz: 2010 Reminder: QE = Currency Debasement and Inflation:

One of my biggest complaints about the media is the lack of accountability. People say things on TV in print an on radio, and then... Poof!  No consequences. They influence public perception of issues, affect policy debates, drive legislation. This is a perfect example of a stern warning of currency debasement and inflation due to QE. Let me point out this was made 3 years ago today — hence, it has been terribly wrong. I won’t give you advice--but I keep track of who is consistently wrong, whose histrionic forecasts are both silly and wrong. Their future comments are valued accordingly.


Cliff Asness, Michael J. Boskin, Richard X. Bove, Charles W. Calomiris, Jim Chanos, John F. Cogan, Niall Ferguson, Nicole Gelinas, James Grant, Kevin A. Hassett, Roger Hertog, Gregory Hess, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Seth Klarman, William Kristol, David Malpass, Ronald I. McKinnon, Joshua Rosner, Dan Senor, Amity Shlaes, Paul E. Singer, John B. Taylor, Peter J. Wallison, and Geoffrey Wood have considerable explaining to do.

And they have done none of it.

If any of them have made any attempt to mark their beliefs to market, or any attempt to explain why their assessment of the situation in November 2010 was so completely and totally wrong, I have not seen it. Neither has Paul Krugman. Neither have others that I have talked to. And we have all been looking. Hard.

So: Cliff: Did you actually invest your clients' money according to the predictions in that letter? If so, how are you still in business? Have you apologized to your clients for losing their money? If not, have you apologized to America for bullshitting us? How do you think differently about the economy today than you did three years ago? So, Mike: What were you thinking? How has the fact that you were so wrong led you to change your mind? And why haven't you written about how your mind has changed? So, Richard: Are you just a pure bullshit analyst--taking extreme positions in the hopes of getting press and paying clients? Or is there actually a reasoned view of the economy back there somewhere? So: Charlie: Same questions as for Mike. So: Jim: Same questions as for Cliff. So: Niall: WTF did you think you were doing? WTF do you think you are doing?...

Et cetera...

Continue reading "Not DeLong Smackdown Watch: Monday Why-Won't-They-Do-Anything-to-Mark-Their-Beliefs-to-Market Weblogging?" »

Liveblogging World War II: November 17, 1943

World War II Today

World War II Today: Luftwaffe pilot Heinz Knoke:

On 14th October, 13th and 15th November, we are sent into action against formations of heavy bombers over the Rhineland ; but no further successes are won by the Flight. Every time we become involved in dog-tights with the escorting Thunderbolts, Mustangs and Lightnings.

This morning the pilots from three of the fighter and fighter-bomber Wings are drawn up for inspection on parade at Achmer. Reich-Marshal Göring appears in a motorcade of approximately thirty vehicles.

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Grandmothers Raising Grandchildren Basket Sale Charity Fundraiser

Wix com GrG created by biebostrom based on reg top menu 3

Hear now the words of Rabbi Yeshua Ben Yosef:

Use well your talents for some good purpose. The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, and if you use your talents well:

the LORD will say unto you: "Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy LORD."

In honor of the Parable of the Talents, for the 24 hours starting at 6 AM PST November 17, 2013, the DeLong-Marciarille household will match up to $40 per household all donations made online to Grandmothers Raising Grandchildren at:


Grandmothers Raising Grandchildren is 48 Luo grandmothers and great-grandmothers raising their 150 AIDS-orphaned grandchildren and great-grandchildren in Ahero, in western Kenya. It is funded through this one-woman zero-overhead NGO who is our California neighbor Bie Bostrom. She spent two years in Ahero as the oldest Peace Corps volunteer in East Africa. Yes, we are giving of our surplus only. But just because you don't want to give of your substance is no reason to be a #%^%€>¥ and not to give at all:

For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents[1], to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.

After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying:

Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.

His lord said unto him:

Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

He also that had received two talents came and said:

Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.

His lord said unto him:

Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

Then he which had received the one talent came and said:

Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed. And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

His lord answered and said unto him:

Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed. Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents:

For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

It's your choice:

  • Send a little money at zero overhead to AIDS orphans in Kenya, or...

  • Get cast into the outer darkness, where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, and--even worse--where you shall have the company of all the other unprofitable servants...

[1] A talent being a lifetime's earnings for a working-class man.