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January 2014

Morning Must-Read: How to Assess the Policies of Britain's Conservative-Social Democratic Coalition: Larry Summers vs. George Osborne in Davos

Larry Elliott: Davos 2014: Larry Summers attacks George Osborne's austerity programme: "Summers... said the chancellor was wrong to blame the eurozone crisis for the weakness of business investment and governments should be spending more on infrastructure....

"I see less need to impose cuts on people who are vulnerable in the US context than the chancellor sees in the European context," Summers said.... "It's several years since the US exceeded its peak GDP before the crisis – that still hasn't happened in the UK."... The chancellor responded to Summers's charge that Britain, unlike the US, had failed to raise national output above its pre-recession levels by saying that the UK had suffered a deeper slump and was more dependent on the financial sector....

Continue reading "Morning Must-Read: How to Assess the Policies of Britain's Conservative-Social Democratic Coalition: Larry Summers vs. George Osborne in Davos" »


Things to Read on the Evening of January 23, 2014

Must-Reads:

  1. Jared Bernstein: Mark Schmitt on Inequality: "Mark Schmitt...[:] '…it’s not that [inequality is] anything less than “the defining challenge of our time”.... Rather, it’s too defining, too large.... too sweeping and cluttered to lead to useful solutions.... 'Also... it’s not the case that any level of economic inequality is problematic. Every economic system distributes.... When someone raises the issue as problematic these days, they’re really saying something about historically high levels... [and] the impact of these levels on something else..."

  2. Justin Wolfers: Twitter / JustinWolfers: Explaining the big new Chetty...: "Explaining the big new Chetty mobility study: 1. No change in odds of moving higher or lower on the economic ladder than your parents. 2. But higher income inequality today means that the rungs of the income ladder are now much further apart than in the past. 3. Consequences of the “birth lottery” are larger now, because low mobility has bigger consequences. 4. Bottom line of mobility study: Kids, more than ever, be careful to choose the right parents."

  3. Menzie Chinn: Econbrowser: Euro and Non-Euro Countries and Fiscal Policy: "Contractionary fiscal policy is... contractionary. There has been some dispute over the robustness of the findin... over the proper time horizon.... Here is the entire sample of advanced countries... cumulative growth rates 2009-13 plotted against cumulative change in the cyclically-adjusted budget balances.... The more contractionary the policy stance, the slower the growth.... It's clear that eurozone countries are a special case, where monetary policy is out of the control of the individual countries; a question is whether countries with their own monetary policy could actually experience an expansionary fiscal contraction.... For the non-euro area group, the regression coefficient is less negative, and is only significant at the 17% marginal significance level.... See this New Palgrave Encyclopedia of Economics chapter for an examination of why one would expect to see relatively large multipliers in the current economic conditions of ZLB and excess capacity."

  4. Paul Krugman: Everything New Is Old Again: "There have been two big revolutions in macro.... The Keynesian revolution... tied to the Great Depression; then the new classical counterrevolution... loosely tied to stagflation in the 1970s.... Keynes offered a way to understand what was happening, and a solution.... Stagflation was predicted by Friedman and Phelps, using models that attempted to derive wage and price-setting behavior from rational choice... the effect... was to give a big boost to 'microfoundations' as a modeling strategy..."

  5. Mark Thoma: Economist's View: Income Mobility: "The topic of the day seems to be the [Chetty et al.] new study on income mobility: [David Leonhardt:] Upward Mobility Has Not Declined; Jared Bernstein: Stable Income Mobility: Not a Muddle At All; Dean Baker: [Did We Need a Landmark Study to Tell Us Mobility Didn't Decrease Between 1990 and 2007?]9http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/beat-the-press/did-we-need-a-landmark-study-to-tell-us-mobility-didnt-decrease-for-people-entering-the-labor-market-between-1990-and-2007); Tyler Cowen: Upward mobility in the United States is not declining as many citizens think; Matthew Yglesias: What If Social Mobility Is Never High Anywhere?; Kevin Drum: Income Mobility in the US is Terrible, But at Least It's Not Getting Worse; Heather Boushey: Here’s to wishing you the best of luck in the birth lottery—you’re going to need it.... My take is similar to Kevin Drum's, who manages to separate the level of mobility (very low) to the rate of change (one study, the latest, says mobility is unchanged).... [And Heather's] response emphasizes the geographic variation--where you are born appears to matter quite a bit."

Continue reading "Things to Read on the Evening of January 23, 2014" »


Evening Must-Read: Mark Thoma: Mobility Roundup

Mark Thoma: Economist's View: Income Mobility: "The topic of the day seems to be the [Chetty et al.] new study on income mobility:

And Mark comments:

My take is similar to Kevin Drum's, who manages to separate the level of mobility (very low) to the rate of change (one study, the latest, says mobility is unchanged).... [And Heather's] response emphasizes the geographic variation--where you are born appears to matter quite a bit.


Evening Must-Read: Paul Krugman: Will University Economics Departments Help Us Understand Business Cycles?

Paul Krugman: Everything New Is Old Again:

There have been two big revolutions in macro.... The Keynesian revolution... tied to the Great Depression; then the new classical counterrevolution... loosely tied to stagflation in the 1970s.... Keynes offered a way to understand what was happening, and a solution.... Stagflation was predicted by Friedman and Phelps, using models that attempted to derive wage and price-setting behavior from rational choice... the effect... was to give a big boost to 'microfoundations' as a modeling strategy.

Continue reading "Evening Must-Read: Paul Krugman: Will University Economics Departments Help Us Understand Business Cycles?" »


Evening Must-Read: Contractionary Fiscal Policy Is Contractionary

Menzie Chinn: Econbrowser: Euro and Non-Euro Countries and Fiscal Policy:

Contractionary fiscal policy is... contractionary. There has been some dispute over the robustness of the findin... over the proper time horizon.... Here is the entire sample of advanced countries... cumulative growth rates 2009-13 plotted against cumulative change in the cyclically-adjusted budget balances.... The more contractionary the policy stance, the slower the growth.... It's clear that eurozone countries are a special case, where monetary policy is out of the control of the individual countries; a question is whether countries with their own monetary policy could actually experience an expansionary fiscal contraction.... For the non-euro area group, the regression coefficient is less negative, and is only significant at the 17% marginal significance level.... See this New Palgrave Encyclopedia of Economics chapter for an examination of why one would expect to see relatively large multipliers in the current economic conditions of ZLB and excess capacity.


What Is Going on with the Income of the Elderly?: Friday Focus (January 24, 2014)

Dean Baker reads Sylvester Schieber and Andrew Biggs:

Dean Baker: The WSJ Says the Elderly Are Rich But We Didn't Know It: "Sylvester Scheiber and Andrew Biggs have good news for us in a Wall Street Journal column....

Scheiber... and Biggs... tell readers that the standard numbers on income for the elderly are way off.... The Census Bureau's Current Population Survey CPS)... misses a large portion of the income of retirees....

For 2008, the CPS reported $5.6 billion in individual IRA income. Retirees themselves reported $111 billion in IRA income to the Internal Revenue Service. The CPS... 2008 households receiving Social Security benefits collected $222 billion in pensions or annuit[ies].... Federal tax filings... show... $457 billion.... The Current Population Survey... ignores at least 60% of the income being delivered to retirees....

Continue reading "What Is Going on with the Income of the Elderly?: Friday Focus (January 24, 2014)" »


The Latest Chetty et al. Piece on Lack of Mobility: Thursday Focus (January 23, 2014)

**Justin Wolfers:** Twitter / JustinWolfers: Explaining the big new Chetty...: "Explaining the big new Chetty mobility study: * No change in odds of moving higher or lower on the economic ladder than your parents. * But higher income inequality today means that the rungs of the income ladder are now much further apart than in the past. * Consequences of the “birth lottery” are larger now, because low mobility has bigger consequences. * Bottom line of mobility study: Kids, more than ever, be careful to choose the right parents.

Continue reading "The Latest Chetty et al. Piece on Lack of Mobility: Thursday Focus (January 23, 2014)" »


Morning Must-Watch: Over at the Tax Policy Center: 50 Years in LBJ's War on Poverty

Tax Policy Center: 50 Years in LBJ's War on Poverty:

8:30 AM – Breakfast

9:00 AM - Introduction by Sarah Rosen Wartell, President, Urban Institute

9:10 AM -10:40 AM – The Tax Code as a Safety Net

  • Rebecca Blank, Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin and former Acting Secretary of Commerce
  • Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President of the American Action Forum and former director of the Congressional Budget Office
  • Chris Howard, Pamela C. Harriman Professor of Government and Public Policy, College of William & Mary
  • Elaine Maag, Senior Research Associate, Tax Policy Center, Urban Institute
  • David Wessel, Director of the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, Brookings Institution (moderator)

10:45 AM - 12:00 PM – Reducing Poverty through Work Incentives and Community Development

  • Ingrid Gould Ellen, Paulette Goddard Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy, NYU ; Co-Director of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy
  • Michael Rich, Associate Professor, Department of Politics, Emory University
  • Brett Theodos, Senior Research Associate, Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, Urban Institute
  • Nancy Pindus, Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, Urban Institute
  • Howard Gleckman, Resident Fellow and TaxVox editor, Tax Policy Center, Urban Institute (moderator)

12:00-1:30 PM – Lunch Speaker - Jason Furman, Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers

Presentations: Rebecca Blank, Ingrid Gould Ellen, Michael Rich, Brett Theodos


Noted for Your Evening Procrastination for January 25, 2014

Over at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog

Plus:

And:

Continue reading "Noted for Your Evening Procrastination for January 25, 2014" »


Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for January 25, 2014

Over at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog

Plus:

And:

Continue reading "Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for January 25, 2014" »


Rick Perlstein: The Long Con: Saturday Reading

Rick Perlstein: The Long Con:

Mitt Romney is a liar. Of course, in some sense, all politicians, even all human beings, are liars. Romney’s lying went so over-the-top extravagant by this summer, though, that the New York Times editorial board did something probably unprecedented in their polite gray precincts: they used the L-word itself. “Mr. Romney’s entire campaign rests on a foundation of short, utterly false sound bites,” they editorialized. He repeats them “so often that millions of Americans believe them to be the truth.” “It is hard to challenge these lies with a well-reasoned-but- overlong speech,” they concluded; and how. Romney’s lying, in fact, was so richly variegated that it can serve as a sort of grammar of mendacity.

Continue reading "Rick Perlstein: The Long Con: Saturday Reading" »


Scott Lemieux on Why Roe vs. Wade Was Rightly Decided: Saturday Reading

Denverite: Roe Anniversary Day: "Scott, if I recall correctly, you’ve done a (very good) post in the past defending Roe on its merits. You might link to it?"

Scott Lemieux (2005): Why Roe Was Right: Foreword: "I promise that the name of this blog will not be changed to 'Scott replies to Matthew Yglesias posts about judicial policy-making', but since I promised (threatened?) a legal defense of Roe v. Wade a couple of months ago before being derailed by grading and the flu, I thought I would use this set of questions as incentive to finally get the thing written.

Before I start my defense of the outcome of Roe as constitutional law, let me deal with the last two points first:

Continue reading "Scott Lemieux on Why Roe vs. Wade Was Rightly Decided: Saturday Reading" »


For the Weekend: LEGO Movie...

The LEGO Movie:

The Lego Movie (2014) - Full Cast & Crew - IMDb:

Directed by Phil Lord, Christopher Miller

Writing Credits Dan Hageman & Kevin Hageman & Phil Lord & Christopher Miller

Cast  

  • Jonah Hill ... Green Lantern (voice)
  • Channing Tatum ... Superman (voice)
  • Alison Brie ... Uni-Kitty (voice)
  • Cobie Smulders ... Wonder Woman (voice)
  • Elizabeth Banks ... Wyldstyle (voice)
  • Chris Pratt ... Emmet (voice)
  • Morgan Freeman ... Vitruvius (voice)
  • Will Ferrell ... President Business (voice)
  • Liam Neeson ... Bad Cop / Good Cop (voice)
  • Nick Offerman ... Craggy (voice)
  • Will Arnett ... Batman (voice)
  • Will Forte ... Abraham Lincoln (voice)
  • Charlie Day ... Spaceman Benny (voice)
  • Jadon Sand ... Finn (voice)...

Ceasefire Oregon Fundraiser: Push Universal Background Checks Across the Line in Oregon

This is the first and it will be the only fundraiser for domestic causes on this weblog. If this weblog has ever been of use or entertainment to you, you owe me, and I am asking for you to pay it forward now and contribute to Ceasefire Oregon: $1, $10, $100, $1000, $10,000, $100,000--whatever it is worth to you.

And let me give the microphone to Gabby Giffords and then to Mike DeLong:

Continue reading "Ceasefire Oregon Fundraiser: Push Universal Background Checks Across the Line in Oregon" »


Over at the Tax Policy Center: The View from The Roasterie LXXXII: January 24, 2014

Tax Policy Center: 50 Years in LBJs War on Poverty:

8:30 AM – Breakfast

9:00 AM - Introduction by Sarah Rosen Wartell, President, Urban Institute

9:10 AM -10:40 AM – The Tax Code as a Safety Net

  • Rebecca Blank, Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin and former Acting Secretary of Commerce
  • Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President of the American Action Forum and former director of the Congressional Budget Office
  • Chris Howard, Pamela C. Harriman Professor of Government and Public Policy, College of William & Mary
  • Elaine Maag, Senior Research Associate, Tax Policy Center, Urban Institute
  • David Wessel, Director of the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, Brookings Institution (moderator)

10:45 AM - 12:00 PM – Reducing Poverty through Work Incentives and Community Development

  • Ingrid Gould Ellen, Paulette Goddard Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy, NYU ; Co-Director of the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy
  • Michael Rich, Associate Professor, Department of Politics, Emory University
  • Brett Theodos, Senior Research Associate, Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, Urban Institute
  • Nancy Pindus, Senior Fellow, Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, Urban Institute
  • Howard Gleckman, Resident Fellow and TaxVox editor, Tax Policy Center, Urban Institute (moderator)

12:00-1:30 PM – Lunch Speaker - Jason Furman, Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers

Presentations: Rebecca Blank, Ingrid Gould Ellen, Michael Rich, Brett Theodos


Massive Resistance Watch: The View from The Roasterie LXXXI: January 23, 2014

Fifty years from now which will play worse in historical memory: the conservative southern Democrats' massive resistance to try to civil rights in the 1950s and the 1960s or the conservative Republicans' massive resistance to their poorer fellow-citizens getting health insurance in the 2010s?

I cannot tell. I do, however, think that history will judge the second as stupider: practically everyone has somebody uninsured or at risk of rapidly becoming uninsured in their extended family, and throwing federal Medicaid and exchange subsidy dollars down the toilet does run a measurable risk--10%? 20%? 50%?--of send the red state economies as a group back into recession over the next two years.

But things aren't all going their way. Sy Mukherjee reports:

Continue reading "Massive Resistance Watch: The View from The Roasterie LXXXI: January 23, 2014" »


Lunchtime Must-Read: Everything by Timothy Jost About the ACA on Health Affairs

Timothy Jost: All posts by Timothy Jost on Health Affairs Blog: The most recent:

On January 15, 2014, the Affordable Care Act won a very important legal victory in Halbig v. Sebelius. Judge Paul Friedman of the District Court for the District of Columbia held that the ACA unambiguously supports an IRS regulation allowing the agency to issue premium tax credits to individuals enrolled through federal, as well as state, exchanges.

This is the first ruling in a series of challenges to the IRS rule brought by individuals and employers in the District of Columbia and Virginia, as well as the attorneys general of Oklahoma and Indiana. The plaintiffs have already reportedly appealed Judge Friedman’s decision, but his reasoning is persuasive, and I expect that not only will his decision be upheld but that the judges in the other cases will follow his reasoning.

Continue reading "Lunchtime Must-Read: Everything by Timothy Jost About the ACA on Health Affairs" »


Things to Read on the Afternoon of January 22, 2014

Must-Reads:

  1. Claudia Goldin: Close the Gender Pay Gap, Change the Way We Work: "The gap increases with age... wage differences are concentrated within occupations.... The earnings gap is most pronounced in occupations such as law that place a premium on the willingness and ability to work long hours, be in the office at specific times, and build face-to-face relationships with co-workers and clients.... Consider the case of women with master degrees in business administration. At 10 to 16 years into their careers, they are typically earning only 55 percent of what men do. Child bearing is a primary reason for the divergence.... The huge value that so many employers place on a standard work schedule affects more than the careers of women. Anyone who, for whatever reason, needs to take time off or work flexible hours gets penalized.... To be sure, some professions may never be able to offer much flexibility.... [But] many professions that once tied people to specific hours are finding ways to reduce the cost of flexibility.... Not everyone stands to gain in a world of greater job flexibility. Some of those willing to sacrifice their lives to work might no longer be able to reap outsize rewards. In the interests of a happier, wealthier and more equitable society, though, that would be a small price to pay."

  2. Washington Post: TwitLonger — When you talk too much for Twitter: "We regret to announce that Ezra Klein, Melissa Bell and Dylan Matthews are leaving The Post for a new venture. All three were instrumental in two of The Post’s most successful digital initiatives, Wonkblog and Know More. We plan to continue building those brands and expanding their reach, and we’ll have some exciting announcements related to them in the coming days..."

  3. Josh Barro: We Need A New Supply Side Economics: "Demand stimulation remains the right goal today, but it's not going to be the right goal forever.... We're going to need a new supply side economics that encourages people to work, invest and innovate.... [This] doesn't mean an agenda of small-bore and meddlesome initiatives designed to promote specific industries, particularly manufacturing, as often described by President Barack Obama.... Invest in smart infrastructure.... Reform means-tested entitlements.... Move the deregulatory agenda down to the state and local level.... Deregulate America's most overrated industry: real estate.... Reform intellectual property--by weakening it.... Improve education, somehow.... Admit more high-skill immigrants.... Make taxes more progressive. This isn't a supply-side reform; in fact, it is likely to discourage investment and economic growth at the margin. But it's the most effective way to offset rising pre-tax income inequality, and a revenue source will be needed to pay for some of the above reform ideas..."

  4. Ryan Avent: Secular stagnation: The second best solution: "Larry Summers has revived discussion in the 'secular stagnation' hypothesis. Income has become concentrated in... groups... with low propensities to [spend]... generat[ing] excess saving.... [One solution] is to raise inflation expectations in order to reduce real... interest rates.... Mr Summers' preferred course of action.... It is a rare rich country that doesn't have a list of infrastructure needs that could justifiably be addressed in the best of times. Pulling those off the shelf and taking them on amid rock-bottom interest rates and weak demand is a no-brainer.... Mr Summers reckons that while fiscal policy is the first best means to address stagnation, using higher inflation to reduce real interest rates and boost private demand is a clear second best.... My sense is that Mr Summers reckons the inflation strategy is not... easy to deploy successfully.... I often return to higher inflation as a strategy because something like Mr Summers' five-year programme of deficit-financed public investment looks politically unachievable to me. Higher inflation, by contrast, is something the technocratic Fed could deliver.... But... central banks don't generally propel economies out of slumps like these without significant political pressure being applied..."

  5. Timothy Jost: All posts by Timothy Jost on Health Affairs Blog: The most recent: "On January 15, 2014, the Affordable Care Act won a very important legal victory in Halbig v. Sebelius. Judge Paul Friedman of the District Court for the District of Columbia held that the ACA unambiguously supports an IRS regulation allowing the agency to issue premium tax credits to individuals enrolled through federal, as well as state, exchanges..."

Continue reading "Things to Read on the Afternoon of January 22, 2014" »


Difficulties of Having Policy Negotiations Today: Outsourced to Kevin Drum and David Weigel

Kevin Drum and David Weigel muse on the difficulties of conducting negotiations about public policy in Washington when the policy ideas proposed by Republican/Conservative intellectuals and politicians have as their principal goal to break the government:

Kevin Drum: Note to GOP: Don't Reveal Your Fiendish Plan to Destroy Obamacare Until the Last Reel: "One of the reasons that insurers aren't too worried about the low signup rate for Obamacare is... they figure things will work out eventually, and in the meantime they're protected... [by] very wonky stuff designed to smooth the transition...

[But]... some bright spark decided that if you called this an "Obamacare bailout"... Republicans could even get it repealed, which in turn would make life so hard for insurers that they'd drop out of Obamacare entirely! Bwa-ha-ha! But their plan isn't going anywhere, and Dave Weigel thinks it's partly because conservatives have acted too much like a stock villain from a James Bond movie....

Continue reading "Difficulties of Having Policy Negotiations Today: Outsourced to Kevin Drum and David Weigel" »


Morning Must-Read: Mark Schmitt and Jared Bernstein on Why Inequality Is a Problem

Jared Bernstein: Mark Schmitt on Inequality:

Mark Schmitt...[:]

…it’s not that [inequality is] anything less than “the defining challenge of our time”.... Rather, it’s too defining, too large.... too sweeping and cluttered to lead to useful solutions....

Also... it’s not the case that any level of economic inequality is problematic. Every economic system distributes.... When someone raises the issue as problematic these days, they’re really saying something about historically high levels... [and] the impact of these levels on something else...

Continue reading "Morning Must-Read: Mark Schmitt and Jared Bernstein on Why Inequality Is a Problem" »


Evening Must-Read: Justin Wolfers Explains the Latest Chetty et al. Piece on Lack of Mobility

Justin Wolfers: Twitter / JustinWolfers: Explaining the big new Chetty...: "Explaining the big new Chetty mobility study:

  1. No change in odds of moving higher or lower on the economic ladder than your parents.

  2. But higher income inequality today means that the rungs of the income ladder are now much further apart than in the past.

  3. Consequences of the “birth lottery” are larger now, because low mobility has bigger consequences.

  4. Bottom line of mobility study: Kids, more than ever, be careful to choose the right parents.


Evening Must-Read: Contractionary Fiscal Policy Is Contractionary

Menzie Chinn: Econbrowser: Euro and Non-Euro Countries and Fiscal Policy:

Contractionary fiscal policy is... contractionary. There has been some dispute over the robustness of the findin... over the proper time horizon.... Here is the entire sample of advanced countries... cumulative growth rates 2009-13 plotted against cumulative change in the cyclically-adjusted budget balances.... The more contractionary the policy stance, the slower the growth.... It's clear that eurozone countries are a special case, where monetary policy is out of the control of the individual countries; a question is whether countries with their own monetary policy could actually experience an expansionary fiscal contraction.... For the non-euro area group, the regression coefficient is less negative, and is only significant at the 17% marginal significance level.... See this New Palgrave Encyclopedia of Economics chapter for an examination of why one would expect to see relatively large multipliers in the current economic conditions of ZLB and excess capacity.


Evening Must-Read: Paul Krugman: Will University Economics Departments Help Us Understand Business Cycles?

Paul Krugman: Everything New Is Old Again:

There have been two big revolutions in macro.... The Keynesian revolution... tied to the Great Depression; then the new classical counterrevolution... loosely tied to stagflation in the 1970s.... Keynes offered a way to understand what was happening, and a solution.... Stagflation was predicted by Friedman and Phelps, using models that attempted to derive wage and price-setting behavior from rational choice... the effect... was to give a big boost to 'microfoundations' as a modeling strategy.

Continue reading "Evening Must-Read: Paul Krugman: Will University Economics Departments Help Us Understand Business Cycles?" »


Evening Must-Read: Mark Thoma: Mobility Roundup

Mark Thoma: Economist's View: Income Mobility: "The topic of the day seems to be the [Chetty et al.] new study on income mobility:

And Mark comments:

My take is similar to Kevin Drum's, who manages to separate the level of mobility (very low) to the rate of change (one study, the latest, says mobility is unchanged).... [And Heather's] response emphasizes the geographic variation--where you are born appears to matter quite a bit.


Things to Read on the Evening of January 23, 2014

Must-Reads:

  1. Jared Bernstein: Mark Schmitt on Inequality: "Mark Schmitt...[:] '…it’s not that [inequality is] anything less than “the defining challenge of our time”.... Rather, it’s too defining, too large.... too sweeping and cluttered to lead to useful solutions.... 'Also... it’s not the case that any level of economic inequality is problematic. Every economic system distributes.... When someone raises the issue as problematic these days, they’re really saying something about historically high levels... [and] the impact of these levels on something else..."

  2. Justin Wolfers: Twitter / JustinWolfers: Explaining the big new Chetty...: "Explaining the big new Chetty mobility study: 1. No change in odds of moving higher or lower on the economic ladder than your parents. 2. But higher income inequality today means that the rungs of the income ladder are now much further apart than in the past. 3. Consequences of the “birth lottery” are larger now, because low mobility has bigger consequences. 4. Bottom line of mobility study: Kids, more than ever, be careful to choose the right parents."

  3. Menzie Chinn: Econbrowser: Euro and Non-Euro Countries and Fiscal Policy: "Contractionary fiscal policy is... contractionary. There has been some dispute over the robustness of the findin... over the proper time horizon.... Here is the entire sample of advanced countries... cumulative growth rates 2009-13 plotted against cumulative change in the cyclically-adjusted budget balances.... The more contractionary the policy stance, the slower the growth.... It's clear that eurozone countries are a special case, where monetary policy is out of the control of the individual countries; a question is whether countries with their own monetary policy could actually experience an expansionary fiscal contraction.... For the non-euro area group, the regression coefficient is less negative, and is only significant at the 17% marginal significance level.... See this New Palgrave Encyclopedia of Economics chapter for an examination of why one would expect to see relatively large multipliers in the current economic conditions of ZLB and excess capacity."

  4. Paul Krugman: Everything New Is Old Again: "There have been two big revolutions in macro.... The Keynesian revolution... tied to the Great Depression; then the new classical counterrevolution... loosely tied to stagflation in the 1970s.... Keynes offered a way to understand what was happening, and a solution.... Stagflation was predicted by Friedman and Phelps, using models that attempted to derive wage and price-setting behavior from rational choice... the effect... was to give a big boost to 'microfoundations' as a modeling strategy..."

  5. Mark Thoma: Economist's View: Income Mobility: "The topic of the day seems to be the [Chetty et al.] new study on income mobility: [David Leonhardt:] Upward Mobility Has Not Declined; Jared Bernstein: Stable Income Mobility: Not a Muddle At All; Dean Baker: [Did We Need a Landmark Study to Tell Us Mobility Didn't Decrease Between 1990 and 2007?]9http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/beat-the-press/did-we-need-a-landmark-study-to-tell-us-mobility-didnt-decrease-for-people-entering-the-labor-market-between-1990-and-2007); Tyler Cowen: Upward mobility in the United States is not declining as many citizens think; Matthew Yglesias: What If Social Mobility Is Never High Anywhere?; Kevin Drum: Income Mobility in the US is Terrible, But at Least It's Not Getting Worse; Heather Boushey: Here’s to wishing you the best of luck in the birth lottery—you’re going to need it.... My take is similar to Kevin Drum's, who manages to separate the level of mobility (very low) to the rate of change (one study, the latest, says mobility is unchanged).... [And Heather's] response emphasizes the geographic variation--where you are born appears to matter quite a bit."

Continue reading "Things to Read on the Evening of January 23, 2014" »


Noted for Your Evening Procrastination on January 23, 2014

Over at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog

Plus:

And:

Continue reading "Noted for Your Evening Procrastination on January 23, 2014" »


Matthew O'Brien: The Age of Niallism: Ferguson and the Post-Fact World: Thursday Idiocy Weblogging: Noted

Matthew O'Brien: The Age of Niallism: Ferguson and the Post-Fact World:

People who believe facts are nothing think you'll fall for anything. Call it Niallism.

This is my last word (well, last words) on Niall Ferguson, whose Newsweek cover story arguing that Obama doesn't deserve a second-term has drawn deserved criticism for its mendacity from Paul Krugman, Andrew Sullivan, Ezra Klein, Noah Smith, my colleagues James Fallows and Ta-Nehisi Coates and myself. The problem isn't Ferguson's conclusion, but how Ferguson reaches his conclusion. He either presents inaccurate facts or presents facts inaccurately. The result is a tendentious mess that just maintains a patina of factuality -- all, of course, so Ferguson can create plausible deniability about his own dishonesty.

Continue reading "Matthew O'Brien: The Age of Niallism: Ferguson and the Post-Fact World: Thursday Idiocy Weblogging: Noted" »


Thursday Idiocy: Neo-Confederacy Watch

As I recall, the big beef at the time people had against against Reconstruction was the "African-Americans can vote" part...

Tim Carney: Bill de Blasio's 'march' to end inequality tramples little guy: "The potential victims of de Blasio... are the small businesses and voluntary associations that make up civil society...

charter schools... [fundamentalist] crisis pregnancy centers... small businesses... [to be forced to] provide paid sick leave... nonprofit conservancies... [that] bankroll... Central Park.... De Blasio’s inauguration set a tone of intolerance for dissent. One speaker painted de Blasio’s win as victory in the Civil War and promised 'a new Reconstruction era'. A century and a half ago, Reconstruction involved disenfranchising the losers and subjecting them to military rule. What would de Blasio’s Reconstruction entail?...

It has never been possible to say that you are against Reconstruction without also saying that you are for Jim Crow. Just saying.


Ross Douthat Fails to Realize: "Just Because I Read It on the Internet Doesn't Mean It's True": Thursday Idiocy

Andrew Gelman: Having daughters makes you more liberal. No, it makes you more conservative. No, it...??:

Sociologists Dalton Conley and Emily Rauscher that reported that respondents to the 1994 General Social Survey who had daughters were more likely to identify with the Republican Party.... Economists Andrew Oswald and Nattavudh Powdthavee published a paper with the exact opposite finding.... I took a look at both papers and can’t immediately see a resolution.... The existence of two published results in the exact opposite direction suggest, at the very least, that any effects are likely to be lower than claimed in the published articles....

Continue reading "Ross Douthat Fails to Realize: "Just Because I Read It on the Internet Doesn't Mean It's True": Thursday Idiocy" »


Thursday idiocy: Three of the Unhinged: The President Is a--CLANG!!

Screenshot 2 2 13 8 25 AM

I read that--in spite of Obama's pursuing centrist or, indeed, slightly right-of-center policies, and abandoning priority after priority he campaigned on in an attempt to build bridges with congressional Republicans--Obama is a divider, is a Marxist, is an anti capitalist:

Victor Davis Hanson: Obama is a divider, and its his fault that the Republicans loathe more than half of America!

The Meaning of the Inaugural Address: [T]he bitter election wars to achieve and maintain a 51–53 percent majority (the noble 99 percent versus the selfish 1 percent, the greens versus the polluters, the young and hip versus the stodgy and uncool, the wisely unarmed versus the redneck assault-weapon owners, women versus the sexists, gays versus the bigots, Latinos versus the nativists, blacks versus the “get over it” spiteful and resentful, the noble public sector versus the “you didn’t build that” profiteers, Colin Powell/Chuck Hagel/reasonable Republicans versus Neanderthal House tea-party zealots), in Nixonian fashion have left a lot of bitter divisions that lie just beneath the surface of a thinning veneer.

David Mamet: Barack Obama is a Marxist huckster who thinks he is in charge of determining what we need!

Rule by bureaucrats and functionaries is an example of the first part of the Marxist equation…. President Obama, in his reelection campaign, referred frequently to the “needs” of himself and his opponent, alleging that each has more money than he “needs.” But where in the Constitution is it written that the Government is in charge of determining “needs”?… It is not the constitutional prerogative of the Government to determine needs…. The Founding Fathers, far from being ideologues, were not even politicians…. [They were] men, in short, who knew something of the world, which is to say, of Human Nature. Their struggle to draft a set of rules… based on the assumption that we… are no damned good -- that we are biddable, easily confused, and that we may easily be motivated by a Politician, which is to say, a huckster, mounting a soapbox and inflaming our passions.

Clive Crook: Barack Obama is a failed anticapitalist and the tool of Nancy Pelosi!

Obama’s Blunder Was in Ceding Political Center to Romney: [Obama] has fought a campaign… playing on class war…. If Obama should lose… it will be because he fought [the election] as a failed progressive…. Washington is still broken… and Obama is no longer even trying to mend it…. Obama could have been a strong centrist, which would have aroused even louder complaints from the Democratic left. Or he could have been a weak progressive, constantly on the retreat. He chose to be the latter. Policy-wise, the result might have been much the same…. Obama the muscular centrist could have taken credit for [his] achievements… in a way that Obama the battered progressive has been unable to…. He would have seemed his own man rather than an instrument of Nancy Pelosi…. [Obama] hardened the anticapitalist line around which his campaign for re-election was forming…. He blew it, and an election he should have won easily will go down to the wire.

And I think: At some level, these people know that Obama is not a divider, not a Marxist, not an anticapitalist. These people dislike Obama, and are searching their minds trying to figure out why they dislike hi and come up with a presentable reason for their dislike.

Do they have enough self-understanding to admit to themselves--in secret, in the darkness, in their hearts--that at bottom the fundamental reason they are so upset is not that Obama is a divider (he isn't), or a Marxist (he isn't), or an anticapitalist (he isn't')? Do they have enough self-understanding to admit to themselves that the fundamental reason they are so upset is that the President is a Negro?

And I'm not going to get into the misogyny here...


Another Example of Our Old Media Professionals Not Understanding the World?

Still thinking about the absolutely remarkable four-day-apart columns a week or so ago by Emma G Keller in the Guardian and her spouse Bill Keller in The New York Times. Linda Holmes has, I think, the best take on what went on:

Linda Holmes: A Few Lessons About Twitter, Cancer And Publishing:

while the personal angles on this story--why would two married people in the same week devote entire columns to debating the same cancer patient's chronicle of her disease?--are the most compelling and important, there is a publishing and media story here, which is that Bill Keller's column, in particular, reflects a misunderstanding of what Twitter is.

Keller's writing about Adams is full of little code words that downplay the significance of her writing, her readers, and her community, undoubtedly unconsciously.

Continue reading "Another Example of Our Old Media Professionals Not Understanding the World?" »


Lunchtime Must-Read: Everything by Timothy Jost About the ACA on Health Affairs

Timothy Jost: All posts by Timothy Jost on Health Affairs Blog: The most recent:

On January 15, 2014, the Affordable Care Act won a very important legal victory in Halbig v. Sebelius. Judge Paul Friedman of the District Court for the District of Columbia held that the ACA unambiguously supports an IRS regulation allowing the agency to issue premium tax credits to individuals enrolled through federal, as well as state, exchanges.

This is the first ruling in a series of challenges to the IRS rule brought by individuals and employers in the District of Columbia and Virginia, as well as the attorneys general of Oklahoma and Indiana. The plaintiffs have already reportedly appealed Judge Friedman’s decision, but his reasoning is persuasive, and I expect that not only will his decision be upheld but that the judges in the other cases will follow his reasoning.

Continue reading "Lunchtime Must-Read: Everything by Timothy Jost About the ACA on Health Affairs" »


Things to Read on the Afternoon of January 22, 2014

Must-Reads:

  1. Claudia Goldin: Close the Gender Pay Gap, Change the Way We Work: "The gap increases with age... wage differences are concentrated within occupations.... The earnings gap is most pronounced in occupations such as law that place a premium on the willingness and ability to work long hours, be in the office at specific times, and build face-to-face relationships with co-workers and clients.... Consider the case of women with master degrees in business administration. At 10 to 16 years into their careers, they are typically earning only 55 percent of what men do. Child bearing is a primary reason for the divergence.... The huge value that so many employers place on a standard work schedule affects more than the careers of women. Anyone who, for whatever reason, needs to take time off or work flexible hours gets penalized.... To be sure, some professions may never be able to offer much flexibility.... [But] many professions that once tied people to specific hours are finding ways to reduce the cost of flexibility.... Not everyone stands to gain in a world of greater job flexibility. Some of those willing to sacrifice their lives to work might no longer be able to reap outsize rewards. In the interests of a happier, wealthier and more equitable society, though, that would be a small price to pay."

  2. Washington Post: TwitLonger — When you talk too much for Twitter: "We regret to announce that Ezra Klein, Melissa Bell and Dylan Matthews are leaving The Post for a new venture. All three were instrumental in two of The Post’s most successful digital initiatives, Wonkblog and Know More. We plan to continue building those brands and expanding their reach, and we’ll have some exciting announcements related to them in the coming days..."

  3. Josh Barro: We Need A New Supply Side Economics: "Demand stimulation remains the right goal today, but it's not going to be the right goal forever.... We're going to need a new supply side economics that encourages people to work, invest and innovate.... [This] doesn't mean an agenda of small-bore and meddlesome initiatives designed to promote specific industries, particularly manufacturing, as often described by President Barack Obama.... Invest in smart infrastructure.... Reform means-tested entitlements.... Move the deregulatory agenda down to the state and local level.... Deregulate America's most overrated industry: real estate.... Reform intellectual property--by weakening it.... Improve education, somehow.... Admit more high-skill immigrants.... Make taxes more progressive. This isn't a supply-side reform; in fact, it is likely to discourage investment and economic growth at the margin. But it's the most effective way to offset rising pre-tax income inequality, and a revenue source will be needed to pay for some of the above reform ideas..."

  4. Ryan Avent: Secular stagnation: The second best solution: "Larry Summers has revived discussion in the 'secular stagnation' hypothesis. Income has become concentrated in... groups... with low propensities to [spend]... generat[ing] excess saving.... [One solution] is to raise inflation expectations in order to reduce real... interest rates.... Mr Summers' preferred course of action.... It is a rare rich country that doesn't have a list of infrastructure needs that could justifiably be addressed in the best of times. Pulling those off the shelf and taking them on amid rock-bottom interest rates and weak demand is a no-brainer.... Mr Summers reckons that while fiscal policy is the first best means to address stagnation, using higher inflation to reduce real interest rates and boost private demand is a clear second best.... My sense is that Mr Summers reckons the inflation strategy is not... easy to deploy successfully.... I often return to higher inflation as a strategy because something like Mr Summers' five-year programme of deficit-financed public investment looks politically unachievable to me. Higher inflation, by contrast, is something the technocratic Fed could deliver.... But... central banks don't generally propel economies out of slumps like these without significant political pressure being applied..."

  5. Timothy Jost: All posts by Timothy Jost on Health Affairs Blog: The most recent: "On January 15, 2014, the Affordable Care Act won a very important legal victory in Halbig v. Sebelius. Judge Paul Friedman of the District Court for the District of Columbia held that the ACA unambiguously supports an IRS regulation allowing the agency to issue premium tax credits to individuals enrolled through federal, as well as state, exchanges..."

Continue reading "Things to Read on the Afternoon of January 22, 2014" »


Difficulties of Having Policy Negotiations Today: Outsourced to Kevin Drum and David Weigel

Kevin Drum and David Weigel muse on the difficulties of conducting negotiations about public policy in Washington when the policy ideas proposed by Republican/Conservative intellectuals and politicians have as their principal goal to break the government:

Kevin Drum: Note to GOP: Don't Reveal Your Fiendish Plan to Destroy Obamacare Until the Last Reel: "One of the reasons that insurers aren't too worried about the low signup rate for Obamacare is... they figure things will work out eventually, and in the meantime they're protected... [by] very wonky stuff designed to smooth the transition...

[But]... some bright spark decided that if you called this an "Obamacare bailout"... Republicans could even get it repealed, which in turn would make life so hard for insurers that they'd drop out of Obamacare entirely! Bwa-ha-ha! But their plan isn't going anywhere, and Dave Weigel thinks it's partly because conservatives have acted too much like a stock villain from a James Bond movie....

Continue reading "Difficulties of Having Policy Negotiations Today: Outsourced to Kevin Drum and David Weigel" »


Noted for Your Afternoon Procrastination for January 22, 2014

Over at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog

Plus:

And:

Continue reading "Noted for Your Afternoon Procrastination for January 22, 2014" »


Inequality for All: UC Berkeley Wheeler Auditorium: 7 PM Wednesday January 22, 2014

Claire Holmes:

Dear campus community,

Please join us at Wheeler Auditorium on Wednesday, Feb. 5, at 7 pm, for a screening of "INEQUALITY FOR ALL," a film by Professor Robert Reich.

Following the screening, a discussion of the film - with Director Jacob Kornbluth and Robert Reich - will be moderated by Henry Brady, dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy.

The event is free to the public, and tickets will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. The box office opens at 6 pm, and the event runs from 7 to 9 pm.


Looking Back on the Limits of Growth: Tuesday Focus (January 21, 2014)

Looking Back on the Limits of Growth: Tuesday Focus (January 21, 2014)##

Looking Back on the Limits of Growth Science Smithsonian

Mark Strauss: Looking Back on The Limits of Growth: "Forty years after the release of the groundbreaking study, were the concerns about overpopulation and the environment correct?...

Continue reading "Looking Back on the Limits of Growth: Tuesday Focus (January 21, 2014)" »


Morning Must-Read: The Washington Post's Ezra Klein-Melissa Bell-Dylan Matthews Departure Memo

Washington Post: TwitLonger — When you talk too much for Twitter:

We regret to announce that Ezra Klein, Melissa Bell and Dylan Matthews are leaving The Post for a new venture.

All three were instrumental in two of The Post’s most successful digital initiatives, Wonkblog and Know More. We plan to continue building those brands and expanding their reach, and we’ll have some exciting announcements related to them in the coming days.

When Ezra joined us in 2009, he was a wunderkind blogger with brash confidence and a burning desire to write a column in the print newspaper. As he leaves us, Ezra is still a brash wunderkind, but now his burning desire has a grander scope: He is looking to start his own news organization, an ambition that befits someone with uncommon gifts of perception and analysis. Ezra’s passion and drive will be missed, but we will take pride in watching him chart out his new venture.

Continue reading "Morning Must-Read: The Washington Post's Ezra Klein-Melissa Bell-Dylan Matthews Departure Memo" »


Afternoon Must-Read: Claudia Goldin: Close the Gender Pay Gap, Change the Way We Work

Claudia Goldin: Close the Gender Pay Gap, Change the Way We Work:

The gap increases with age... wage differences are concentrated within occupations.... The earnings gap is most pronounced in occupations such as law that place a premium on the willingness and ability to work long hours, be in the office at specific times, and build face-to-face relationships with co-workers and clients.... Consider the case of women with master degrees in business administration. At 10 to 16 years into their careers, they are typically earning only 55 percent of what men do. Child bearing is a primary reason for the divergence.... The huge value that so many employers place on a standard work schedule affects more than the careers of women. Anyone who, for whatever reason, needs to take time off or work flexible hours gets penalized.... To be sure, some professions may never be able to offer much flexibility.... [But] many professions that once tied people to specific hours are finding ways to reduce the cost of flexibility.... Not everyone stands to gain in a world of greater job flexibility. Some of those willing to sacrifice their lives to work might no longer be able to reap outsize rewards. In the interests of a happier, wealthier and more equitable society, though, that would be a small price to pay.


Evening Must-Read: Heroes of NoahSmithian Weblogging: Barry Ritholtz

Noah Smith: Heroes of NoahSmithian Weblogging: Barry Ritholtz:

There is a huge amount of financial disinformation and misinformation and just plain bullshit out there in the world. Most financial news is random noise, and some is even worse than that. And there's a good reason... it makes money for the people who put it out there. Thus, it is kind of a wonder that Barry Ritholtz exists at all. Barry Ritholtz... offers lots of free advice on his blog.... Much of his advice is about how you shouldn't trust the finance industry of which he is a part.... And when Barry makes a correct prediction - such as when he nearly perfectly called the bottom after the 2008 stock market crash - he attributes it to luck. That is pretty extraordinary. Along with his partner and fellow blog hero Josh Brown (The Reformed Broker), Barry is helping to bring honesty to financial media... the first popular finance blogger to report extensively on behavioral finance.


Another Example of Our Old Media Professionals Not Understanding the World?

Still thinking about the absolutely remarkable four-day-apart columns a week or so ago by Emma G Keller in the Guardian and her spouse Bill Keller in The New York Times. Linda Holmes has, I think, the best take on what went on:

Linda Holmes: A Few Lessons About Twitter, Cancer And Publishing:

while the personal angles on this story--why would two married people in the same week devote entire columns to debating the same cancer patient's chronicle of her disease?--are the most compelling and important, there is a publishing and media story here, which is that Bill Keller's column, in particular, reflects a misunderstanding of what Twitter is.

Keller's writing about Adams is full of little code words that downplay the significance of her writing, her readers, and her community, undoubtedly unconsciously.

Continue reading "Another Example of Our Old Media Professionals Not Understanding the World?" »


Musings on the "Profession" That Is Academic Labor in the United States Today: The View from La Farine LXXX: January 22, 2014

Looking at the Chronicle of Higher Education at the wave of rage directed against the UC Riverside English Department and then following links, I find worth noting:

Post-Academic in New York: There Is No Academic “Profession”: "Unless you’ve been buried under a draft of your unfinished dissertation for the last few days (or sleeping off your Christmas dinner and various related bouts of drunkenness), you’ve noted the blog/Twitter war that broke out between Rebecca Schuman (@pankisseskafka) and Claire Potter (@tenuredradical).... Schuman justifiably took the UC Riverside English department to task for announcing they would contact applicants to be interviewed for a position in American Literature on January 3, a mere five days before the MLA conference at which such interviews would take place. Potter no likey Schuman’s post. She thought it was too rage-y....

Continue reading "Musings on the "Profession" That Is Academic Labor in the United States Today: The View from La Farine LXXX: January 22, 2014" »


Liveblogging World War II: January 22, 1944

Operation Shingle :: Wikipedia:

At the end of 1943, following the Allied invasion of Italy, Allied forces were bogged down at the Gustav Line, a defensive line across Italy south of the strategic objective of Rome. The terrain of central Italy had proved ideally suited to defense, and Field Marshal Albert Kesselring took full advantage. Operation Shingle was originally conceived by Winston Churchill in December 1943, as he lay recovering from pneumonia in Marrakesh. His concept was to land two divisions at Anzio, bypassing German forces in central Italy, and take Rome, the strategic objective of the current Battle of Rome. By January he had recovered and was badgering his commanders for a plan of attack, accusing them of not wanting to fight but of being interested only in drawing pay and eating rations....

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: January 22, 1944" »