Afternoon Must-Read: Daniel Kuehn: Yes, Acemoglu and Robinson's Piketty Review Is Strange
"A Committee of Eight, About Three of Whom Were Aware That What They Were Supporting Was Completely Insupportable": Hoisted from the Internet from Ten Years Ago: Another Keeper from Daniel Davies:

Noted for Your Afternoon Procrastination for August 27, 2014

Over at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog


Must- and Shall-Reads:


  1. Greg Sargent: GOP’s Obamacare repeal follies continue: "One of the most amusing subplots of the 2014 elections has been the endless and frequently comic struggles of GOP Senate candidates to articulate their position on Medicaid.... Iowa Senate candidate Joni Ernst... says people on Medicaid should should be allowed to keep it.... And yet she proudly touted her vote against Iowa’s Medicaid expansion and continues to be a gung-ho advocate for repealing Obamacare, which would roll back funding for the expansion.... Ernst’s repeal stance would mean all those people lose their coverage. Does she no longer think that should happen?.... Tom Cotton in Arkansas once again refused to say this week whether his repeal stance means he would roll back his state’s version of the Medicaid expansion.... Terri Lynn Land in Michigan has also refused to clarify her position on this.... Commentators are not telling the full story of how the politics of Obamacare are really playing out.... At this point [candidates] are largely attacking the word 'Obamacare' while reassuring swing voters they support its general goals, without saying how they would accomplish those goals..."

  2. David Kotok: Deflation Fears: "1. United States 10-Year Treasury Yield, 2.4% 2. Germany 10-Yield Bund Yield, under 1%. 3. Japanese 10-Year JGB Yield, under 0.5%. 4. France 10-Year Government Bond Yield, 1.3%. 5. Canada 10-Year Government Bond Yield, 2%. 6. United Kingdom 10-Year Government Bond Yield, 2.5%. 7. Mexico 10-Year Government Bond Yield, 3.2%. 8. Italy 10-Year Government Bond Yield, 2.4%..."

  3. Jonathan Chait: Dreamers Have Destroyed GOP Immigration Strategy: "After the 2012 election, Marco Rubio tried to craft himself as the leader of a pro-immigration-reform Republican Party. That effort has capsized, pulling Rubio’s standing with conservatives down along with it. Now Rubio is refashioning himself as the leader of a restrictionist Republican Party.... The newest iteration of Rubio is the opposite of the figure he and party leaders envisioned last year. The transformation ought to terrify them.... Of course, the 2016 campaign has hardly begun.... The trouble for Republicans is that the political theater created by the Dreamers is not going to stop. They can try their best to control officially sanctioned media debates, but the Dreamers are staging debates without permission, endlessly highlighting the cruelty of the Republican stance. It is a strategy for which the Republicans so far have no answer. The symbolic denouement of Rubio’s immigration debacle may well be an angry old man brandishing his cane at young Dreamers.

  4. Matthew Klein: This time is different, long-term unemployment edition: "Jae Song and Till von Wachter... the impact of the most recent recession on long-term unemployment was not actually that unusual given the number of jobs lost at the outset. The paper also presents some encouraging evidence that many of those who appear to have given up hope of finding a job could rejoin the labour force if the economy keeps expanding, as well as sobering demonstrations of the permanent costs of being laid off.... Long-term non-employment in the immediate aftermath of the Great Recession was not much worse than it was in the early 1980s for most cohorts, with the notable exception of young men.... As the paper puts it: 'There is no evidence that the rate of exit from long term nonemployment has slowed during the Great Recession compared to the patterns in all episodes since the 1990s.' But this is not all good news... 'five to ten years after the Great Recession the employment population ratio would be predicted to be 1 to 2 percentage points lower than it was before the recession.'..."

  5. Jay Rosen: Features and details of the personal franchise model in digital journalism, with 11 ex. Grantland, Bill Simmons, ESPN. Five thirty eight, Nate Silver, ESPN. xoJane, Jane Pratt, Say Media. GigaOm, Om Malik, independent. Talking Points Memo, Josh Marshall, independent. Daily Dish, Andrew Sullivan, independent., Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher, independent. Tech Dirt, Mike Masnick, independent. Project X, Ezra Klein, Vox Media. The Information, Jessica Lessin, independent"

  6. Daniel Kuehn: Yes, Acemoglu and Robinson's review of Piketty is very strange: "I just happened to get to one of the parts in Piketty that Acemoglu and Robinson quote to show that Piketty doesn't think institutions matter (from page 365): 'The fundamental inequality r > g can explain the very high level of capital inequality observed in the nineteenth century, and thus in a sense the failure of the French revolution.... The formal nature of the regime was of little moment compared with the inequality r > g.' So what is in that ellipses? [Piketty] explains that the revolution didn't change the course of inequality (relative to monarchical Britain) because the new institutions that were established were much closer to Britain than popular perception in France at the time suggested! It was NOT a big change in institutions, which was why the French revolution did not shift the parameters.... Immediately after this he goes on to discuss changes in institutions in the 20th century that WERE substantial enough to impact inequality.... In other words, the real point of this section is that institutions matter a lot.... And not only did A&R get that wrong--they deliberately removed the portion of the quote where he made the point.... All of the explanations for the empirical changes in the distribution over time are either (1) institutions, or (2) shocks.... Apparently it's not just Acemoglu and Robinson that missed this memo.... Piketty without institutions in the capital share of income section could probably survive. Piketty without institutions in the inequality section of the book simply wouldn't exist any more.... This is like saying Milton Friedman wasn't all that concerned with money!"

  7. John Cole: Bitter Irony: "Here’s the facebook page of Charles Vacca, the range instructor who was killed by a 9 year old with an UZI that we mentioned earlier. Here are some of the pictures he posted to Facebook..."

And Over Here:

Should Be Aware of:


  1. Jonathan Chait: Paul Ryan’s 6 Favorite Books List Has Huge Omission "Paul Ryan has tried... to downplay his love of Ayn Rand and... Atlas Shrugged... the volume that Ryan once handed out to all his staffers, listed as one of his three most frequently reread books of any kind and cited as the entire reason he got into public service, no longer makes the top six list of books on politics and economics.... More interesting... are the final two books Ryan does name.... Wealth and Poverty is a weird, rambly, mostly unoriginal recitation of free-market homilies.... The Way the World Works is a novel argument that the entire history of the world can be explained by changes of tax rates... a work of genuine derangement on the same intellectual level as the sorts of unpublishable hand-scrawled diatribes that I used to scan through when I sorted the mail as a magazine intern.... Eventually Wanniski started defending the likes of Louis Farrakhan and Slobodan Milosevic, denying Saddam Hussein had gassed the Kurds, and so on, which made his oddity more obvious to the lay audience. Gilder is actually even less hinged than Wanniski, and has held forth on various views from a belief that ESP is real to insisting 'there is no such thing a reasonably intelligent feminist'..."

  2. Christopher Cotton et al.: Affirmative Action and Human Capital Investment: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment "The empirical literature on Affirmative Action (AA) in college admissions tends to ignore the effects admissions policies have on incentives of students to invest developing pre-college human capital. We explore the incentive effects of AA using a field experiment that creates a microcosm of the college admissions market. Our experimental design is based on the asymmetric, multi-object, all-pay auction framework in Bodoh-Creed and Hickman (2014). We pay 5th through 8th grade students based on their performance on a national mathematics exam relative to other competitor students, and observe the use of a study website as students prepare for the exam. An AA treatment favors "disadvantaged" students by reserving prizes for lower grade students who on average have less mathematics training and practice. We find that the AA policy significantly increases both average time investment and subsequent math achievement scores for disadvantaged students. At the same time, we find no evidence that it weakens average human capital investment incentives for advantaged students. We also find strong evidence that AA can narrow achievement gaps while promoting greater equality of market outcomes."

  3. Daniel S. Hamermesh et al.: Does Labor Legislation Benefit Workers? Well-Being after an Hours Reduction: "Are workers in modern economies working “too hard”—would they be better off if an equilibrium with fewer work hours were achieved? We examine changes in life satisfaction of Japanese and Koreans over a period when hours of work were cut exogenously because employers suddenly faced an overtime penalty that had become effective with fewer weekly hours per worker. Using repeated cross sections we show that life satisfaction in both countries may have increased relatively among those workers most likely to have been affected by the legislation. The same finding is produced using Korean longitudinal data. In a household model estimated over the Korean cross-section data we find some weak evidence that a reduction in the husband’s work hours increased his wife’s well-being. Overall these results are consistent with the claim that legislated reductions in work hours can increase workers’ happiness."