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Noted for Your Lunchtime Procrastination for August 7, 2014

Over at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog


Must- and Shall-Reads:

  1. Mark Schmitt: Righting the GOP: Rick Perlstein's The Invisible Bridge: "Perlstein’s subject is always political movements and political culture.... [Perlstein] rests too much agency in Reagan, the individual, when the whole point of the Perlstein project is to trace the lines of the conservative counterrevolution, undistracted by the charms and psychodrama of its front men. The book works best when it does exactly that, just as the 1976 Reagan campaign... the movement--in the form of its issues and its direct-mail operations--was more successful than the man.... There is a great book within The Invisible Bridge, but it would be about 500 pages... about the structure and strength of the conservative movement, the continuities between Nixon’s politics and Reagan’s, the failure of liberals and Democrats (and organized labor, whose disintegration during the decade goes mostly unmentioned) to speak to the economic and cultural panic of the decade..."

  2. David Weigel: Rick Perlstein's Critics: The Plagiarism Dead-Enders Alexandra Alter... [said] Sam Tanenhaus... 'Lamenting the lack of primary sources'... 'wrote that Mr. Perlstein had "adopted the methodology of the web aggregator"'. It was a serious accusation, but now that Tanenhaus's review is up, there's very little to it. Tanenhaus['s calling]... the mid-1970s... the moment when right-wingers became 'inverse Marxists' and 'revanchists'. How is this different than Perlstein's argument? Perlstein just lacks Tanenhaus's pompous fatalism.... The 'web aggregator' line looks even worse.... Reading [Tanenhaus], you might assume that Perlstein abandoned the archives to write this book. But Perlstein's online notes refer to findings from Michael Deaver's papers... Reagan's papers... Nixon's papers... half a dozen other primary source archives. Perlstein does use more online sources than his 2001 book. Has anything happened since 2001? Have more sources been placed online? Why, yes, they have.... Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's replacement level gossip columnist, reports... 'the Atlantic magazine said Perlstein has shown in his latest political history that he is less a researcher-historian than a simple "web aggregator" who collects publicly available information and stitches it into a book'..."

  3. Richard Mayhew: Brad Delong Smackdown Watch "Brad Delong... is getting one thing significantly wrong.... Recently, I wrote about AIDS medications and Gresham’s Law applying to health insurance... the first salvo of the 'brainpower health insurance companies devoted to gaming the system' as it is the most obvious target to create policies that are amazingly ugly to people with chronic, expensive conditions.... We’re seeing this with AIDS/HIV patients for two reasons. The first is that this is a population with known high costs that insurers really want to avoid. Secondly, there is a significant network of very effective advocates who are able to identify this as a business strategy of some insurers and scream about it. I would be shocked if other very high cost but very small population diseases are not being 'top-tiered/specialty tier for generics' as a risk avoidance strategies, but I have not heard about them. The policy solution is simple, engage in a regulatory arms race to force insurance companies to compete on providing health coverage and health improvement instead of cherry picking good risk and off-loading bad risk to competitors and/or government programs. This will work in most Blue states and some Red states..."

  4. Perry Link: Evan Osnos: He Exposed Corrupt China Before He Left: "Osnos begins by noticing a bifurcation in popular Western views of China—roughly, a good China of rising material standards and a bad China of repressive government—and he wants to reconcile the two.... When we reach the book’s powerful end it is obvious that he does [understand].... Osnos is able, much to his credit, to take the further step of estimating what [the Chinese] would think if they lived with a free press. His expatriate friends criticize him for paying too much attention to dissidents who are 'famous in New York or Paris [but] unknown to ordinary Chinese citizens'.... The intensity with which they censor a writer like Liu Xiaobo is eloquent evidence of their own judgment that Liu’s ideas would have strong appeal if they were allowed out.... By the end of his book Osnos has moved a considerable distance from China as an amusing place to China as a distressed place. He invites the question of how long the Chinese people are going to put up with their situation.... Osnos relates how a woman with connections near the top of the Party approached his wife, Sarabeth, asking that the Osnos couple relay to Michael Forsythe, then a Bloomberg News reporter who had revealed that the family of China’s president Xi Jinping was worth hundreds of millions of dollars, this message: Forsythe and his family 'can’t stay in China…. Something will happen. It will look like an accident.... He’ll just be found dead'.... I was struck that Osnos is publishing Age of Ambition as he leaves China to go write for The New Yorker from Washington, D.C. Would he have written the same way if he had wanted to stay longer?..."

  5. Barry Ritholtz: Naming the Biggest Losers in America "When we look at the weak sectors... it should be obvious that our national economic wounds are mostly self-inflicted.... During a recession and recovery, spending should rise and the Fed should make credit less expensive. Except in this cycle. Before you start telling me about beliefs and ideology and the deficit, all one needs to do is compare federal spending during the 2001 recession cycle, with a Republican controlling the White House.... The importance of reducing deficits and having a smaller government only applies when the GOP doesn't control the White House.... Block grants to the states could have helped... as they have in past recessions. But they weren’t, for partisan political reasons. The nation is worse off for it. Business equipment investment and other forms of capital expenditures have been jump started with an accelerated depreciation tax allowances in past recessions. For some reason, this was allowed to lapse in 2013. This wasn't very smart.... The biggest drag of all has been the persistent weakness in residential real estate.... As we noted in 'The Best Housing Program You've Never Heard of', there were some attempts to ameliorate this, but they amounted to too little too late.... There is plenty of blame to spread around, but not in equal measures to both parties.... Congress is a national embarrassment. That sentence is one we all have believed at one time or another to be true. But the sentence I never imagined I would ever write is this: Thank goodness for the Federal Reserve."

  6. Robert Farley: The Strategic Problems in Ukraine "Putin does not want to invade Ukraine; if he actively sought this end, he would already have ordered military action.... He wants... to minimize US and European sanctions, and to maximize the size of the buffer zones.... Putin has to contend with... pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine and Russian nationalists in Russia.... Energy sanctions are a two way street.... The military balance, however, strongly favors Russia.... My guess is that we’ll see a short, conventional war of maneuver between Russia and Ukraine, that the Russians will win, but will restrain its activities to Donetsk, Luhansk, and environs. It’s going to be very difficult for the Ukrainian military to restrain itself short of complete victory over the separatists, and the drive for victory will probably spur Russian intervention.  With luck, however, the war will be quick, only moderately destructive, and the political aftermath will be manageable."


And Over Here:

Should Be Aware of:

  1. Scott Lemieux: The conservative legal case against ObamaCare keeps getting nuttier "In the latest legal battle over ObamaCare, sensible observers are having what can only be described as a crazy-pills moment.... In last month's ruling in Halbig v. Burwell.... The Obama administration has asked for an en banc hearing — that is, a hearing before the D.C. Circuit as a whole. The panel's extremely weak opinion has no chance of surviving an en banc hearing if it is granted. And since the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the argument accepted by Halbig, there would be no lower-court split for the Supreme Court to resolve, making it much less likely that the nation's highest court would take the case.... According to White and Adler, this case does not meet the standard of 'exceptional importance' required by Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure for an en banc rehearing. To restate these arguments is to refute them. The panel's holding would throw the American health insurance market into chaos.... The argument is also a monument to bad faith. If the entire D.C. Circuit vacates the Halbig ruling, it is certain that Adler and his colleagues will immediately rediscover the importance of the case, and ask the Supreme Court to review it..."

  2. Takatoshi Ito: We Are All QE-sians Now: "The four major banks (BOJ, FRB, BOE and ECB) have adopted unconventional monetary policy, or broadly-defined quantitative easing (QE), in the last several years. The broadly-defined QE can be classified into comprehensive easing (CE) and pure-QE. The former is aimed at purchasing assets of dysfunctional markets and the latter is aimed at expanding monetary base to stimulate demands. The objective of this paper is three-fold. First, various QE adopted by four central banks are classified into CE and pure-QE. Second, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) is a harbinger for most QE measures in its earlier QE period of 2001-2006. Third, effects of BOJ’s QE measures are empirically investigated with focus on the three possible transmission channels with monthly data since January 1999. The long-term interest rate tends to be lower and the yield curve tends to be flattened when the monetary base expands faster than nominal GDP. The yen vis-à-vis the US dollar tends to depreciate when the Japanese monetary base expands faster than the US monetary base. An impact of monetary base expansion on the inflation expectation is not confirmed. Findings are consistent with a view that QE is effective, by lowering the long-term interest rate and the currency depreciation."