Previous month:
July 2015
Next month:
September 2015

August 2015

Trekonomics Teaser Clip: The Vulcans Are Not Coming...

Manu Saadia, the author of the forthcoming book, Trekonomics, discusses the economic theories behind the creation of the Star Trek with J. Bradford DeLong, professor of Economics at UC Berkeley and former Deputy Assistant Secretary at the US Treasury. Inkshares' Adam Gomolin is the moderator:

The Vulcans are not coming...:


NewImage

Live from Heirloom Hearth and Bakery: The Kansas Republican Party's omerta is holding in at least one dimension: nobody is admitting whether they understood the magnitude by which Brownback and his acolytes were conning the legislature, or whether they are themselves among the victims of the con.

The good citizens and politicians of Johnson County, KS are holding themselves harmless in this ongoing public-finance disaster via social democracy in one county. The net effect thus appears to be a substantial redistribution of wealth to Johnson County (and to the rich of Wichita) via income-tax cuts and away from the rest of Kansas, with the redistributional leak being about 2/3: the value of the extra private income to Overland Park looks to me to be about 1/3 the harm done by cutting back public services that have a very high benefit-cost ratio elsewhere in Kansas.

In the long-run this may be bad even for Johnson County's upper middle class. Spring and Cerner have global reach in their sales--and they employ 45,000 people in Greater Kansas City via exports, and so enable some 600,000 people to live relatively well for the southwestern Midwest in Greater Kansas City. But to support Greater Kansas City's 2,000,000 requires another 100,000 export jobs as well, half of them to the mixed Missouri terrain to the east and half of them to the Kansas prairie to the west.

And if the Kansas prairies lose the skills and the population to themselves make a good living, the money to pay for trips to Nebraska Furniture Mart, procedures at KU Med, and Chiefs tickets will vanish:

David Atkins: Sam Brownback’s Kansas Disaster is Getting Even Worse: "Reasonable people can come to different moral value judgments...

Continue reading "" »


NewImage

Jackson Hole 2015 Weblogging: Must-Read: I think that Paul Krugman's jump from the first to the second paragraph I quote below is wrong--or at least much too hasty: Reason is not that Cunning. Robert Lucas is no more of a right-wing nut than Milton Friedman and George Stigler--indeed, Lucas probably never was, as Gene Smolensky characterized Milton and George, "in love with Barry Goldwater". But for Uncle Milton, maintenance of a stable, predictable path for nominal GDP by means of a "neutral" monetary policy was not just Job Number One but Job Number Only--and for Uncle Milton, whatever policy maintains a stable, predictable path for nominal GDP was by definition a "neutral" monetary policy.

But more on this anon, after I return from Jackson Hole..

Paul Krugman: Fairy Tales: "Mike Konczal, channeling Kalecki, pointed out...

Continue reading "" »


Must-Re-Read: Yes, you do need to reread this. And I do still find myself disturbed by a division in the ranks of those of us economists who I think have some idea of what the elephant in the room us. Some of us--Rogoff, Krugman, Blanchard, me--think our deep macro economic problems could be largely solved by the adoption and successful maintenance of a 4%/year inflation target in the North Atlantic. Others--Summers, Bernanke--do not. They appear to think that a strongly negative natural real safe rate of interest (there's at mouthful!) will cause sigificant problems even if 4%/year inflation allows a demand-stabilizing central to successfully do its job without hitting the zero lower bound.

My failure to comprehend why they think this disturbs me, for I would have said that my mental model of Bernanke thought is very good. And I would have said that the sub-Turing evocation of Summers that I am currently running on my wetware is world-class:

Paul Krugman (2013): Secular Stagnation, Coalmines, Bubbles, and Larry Summers: "I’m pretty annoyed with Larry Summers right now...

Continue reading "" »


**Comment of the Day: The Idler made a very good catch, that I forgot to note at the time. Any proposed reconciliations are welcome:

The Idler (2014): Clive Crook: "Clive Crook today:

Clive Crook (2014): The Most Important Book Ever Is All Wrong!** Piketty's terror at rising inequality...

...is an important data point for the reader. It has perhaps influenced his judgment and his tendentious reading of his own evidence...

Clive Crook back before the election of Barack Obama:

Clive Crook (2006): First Principles: September 2006: The Height of Inequality:: "America’s productivity gains have gone to giant salaries for just a few...

...This is quite disturbing.... Perhaps the CEOs’ appetites can be curbed. Maybe the superstars will find that their audiences cannot widen without limit. And perhaps, if both those things happen, productivity growth will again raise incomes broadly, as it once did, and as it is supposed to. If not, how much longer before the dwarves get restless?...

Continue reading "" »


Donald Trump and Right-Wing Anti-Politics Parties Through the Poiltical-Economy Lense of National Medicarism

Over at Equitable Growth: There have long been many who fear immigration--or people who look and speak differently--and who fear social change--or social difference--while not loving a market economy that leaves them without security and vulnerable to falling into poverty because of incomprehensible decisions made by bankers thousands of miles away. There has long been an argument about whether this mode of thought is primarily the foundation of the republican virtue tradition (cf. Edmund S. Morgan: American Slavery, American Freedom); primarily a con game run by the rich against the non-rich (cf. Franz Neumann: Behemoth; William Freehling: The Road to Disunion); or primarily simply a somewhat-confused but not insane set of political doctrines that was taken over by Hitler and has thus lost legitimate modes of expression since the end of World War II.

Whatever it is, this is Trumpism. And, since 1945, as Matthew Yglesias writes: READ MOAR

Continue reading "Donald Trump and Right-Wing Anti-Politics Parties Through the Poiltical-Economy Lense of National Medicarism" »


Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for August 25, 2015

Screenshot 10 3 14 6 17 PM

Must- and Should-Reads:

Over at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog

Plus:

And Over Here:

Continue reading "Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for August 25, 2015" »


Live from the Roasterie: Ezra Klein doesn't think he has figured out proper length in the age of the internet, and he doesn't think that he has figured out persistence--how to give people the glimpses into the stock of past work that they would want to have, if they knew what they want:

Ezra Klein: "The switch from print to digital changed three things...

Continue reading "" »


Monday Scott Walker Self-Smackdown: I-Am-a-Total-Clown-Edition

NewImage

Is this the stupidest thing a Republican presidential candidate has yet said this election cycle? If not, what is?

Katherine Krueger: Walker Calls On Obama To Cancel Chinese President's Trip Amid Market Woes: "In a statement released late Monday...

Continue reading "Monday Scott Walker Self-Smackdown: I-Am-a-Total-Clown-Edition" »


**Must-Read: What did Alan Greenspan do in 1987 when the stock market suddenly dropped by 25%? He reduced short-term safe nominal interest rates by 200 basis points.

Graph 3 Month Treasury Bill Secondary Market Rate FRED St Louis Fed

What is the equivalent policy to produce that same amount of monetary easing today, should it become appropriate--as it will, should global stock markets drop by 25%?

Paul Krugman: Rate Hike Fever: "Larry Summers argues that a Fed rate hike would be a big mistake...

Continue reading "" »


None of Concerns About Inflation, Employment, Financial Stability, or Inequality Justify Raising Interest Rates Over the Next Year or So...

NewImage

Jackson Hole 2015 Weblogging: Over at Equitable Growth: Lawrence Summers: The Fed looks set to make a dangerous mistake: "The Federal Reserve’s September meeting [might] see US interest rates go up... and...

...barring major unforeseen developments... will... be increased by the end of the year.... The Fed has been careful to avoid outright commitments. But... raising rates in the near future would be a serious error...

Summers says, correctly, that raising rates would threaten the Fed's ability to attain its 2%/year inflation target: READ MOAR

Continue reading "None of Concerns About Inflation, Employment, Financial Stability, or Inequality Justify Raising Interest Rates Over the Next Year or So..." »


NewImage

Jackson Hole 2015 Weblogging: Must-Read: Let me note, in agreement with Summers, that, all four times in the past forty years that the Federal Reserve has embarked on a significant tightening cycle, the tightening has revealed significant and dangerous previously-underappreciated financial vulnerabilities.

Given the widespread perception several years ago--and as my friend Larry Summers's chief internet apologist during the public discussion of whether Barack Obama should nominate him or Janet Yellen to chair the Fed, I know how widespread this perception was--that Larry Summers was more conservative than Janet Yellen, why she now appears much less averse to raising interest rates than he is is something that I find very interesting to note...

Lawrence Summers: The Fed Looks Set to Make a Dangerous Mistake: "The Federal Reserve’s September meeting [might] see US interest rates go up...

Continue reading "" »


Comment of the Day: Erik Lund: Musings on Thomas Malthus, the Hellenistic Age, the Loyal-Spirit Great Kings of Iran 550-330 BCE, and Other Topics: The Honest Broker for the Week of August 17, 2015: "It seems more likely that human populations expanding into pristine ecological/economic niches...

...have a doubling time of 75 years than 25. The 25 year doubling time in Malthus is based on a misunderstanding of the American experience as pure endogenous population increase rather than the ethnogenesis of existing Western Hemisphere populations as 'Americans,' beginning witn the Halfway Covenant and the burning of Jamestown statehouse, and ending when the scalp poles turned into Liiberty Trees.

Continue reading "" »


Links for the Week of August 17, 2015

Sanzio 01 The School of Athens Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

Links:

Continue reading "Links for the Week of August 17, 2015" »


Monday Smackdown: Time to Shut the New York Times Down. immediately. For Good.

NewImage

Stick the fork in. It is done.

I mean, the total lack of both self-awareness and of any idea of what she looks like from outside on the part of the columnist, plus the total cluelessness both of the editorial staff that is supposed to be giving her feedback and of the reportorial staff that does not even whimper in protest about what their prose shares its pages with...

What more can I say?

Steve M.: Maureen Dowd: Fred Trump's Son Will Save Us From an America Controlled by "Entitled Families": "Maureen Dowd today, in her latest Donald Trump puff piece:

He’s tapped into a hunger among those who want to believe that America is not a shrinking, stumbling power passed like a pepper mill between two entitled families.

Yes, the son of real estate millionaire Fred Trump is, according to Dowd, the champion of ordinary Americans in the battle to wrest control of the Republic from 'entitled families.'

Continue reading "Monday Smackdown: Time to Shut the New York Times Down. immediately. For Good." »


George R.R. Martin Wins Science Fiction's Hugo Awards for All Time...

Live from the Roasterie: Well played, GRRM, well played. I'll excuse this diversion of your time and energy from finishing Game of Thrones. This diversion, and only this once...

Amy Wallace: Who Won Science Fiction's Hugo Awards, and Why It Matters: "Laura J. Mixon, who won for Best Fan Writer, gave by far the most stirring speech...

...Her winning blog post had meticulously described the venomous behavior of a female, left-leaning troll (an Internet troll, not a troll-troll). “There’s room for all of us here,” Mixon said. “But there’s no middle ground between ‘We belong here’ and ‘No you don’t.’ I believe we must find non-toxic ways to discuss our conflicting points of view.” In closing, Mixon, who is white, added, “I stand with people from marginalized groups who seek simply to be seen as fully human. Black lives matter.”...

Continue reading "George R.R. Martin Wins Science Fiction's Hugo Awards for All Time..." »


Must-Read: I remember back in 1993 Alan Blinder saying at Clinton administration meetings that it was very important to look at the government's capital account as a whole--that if we did not work hard to educate people to know that cutting government capital spending was not a net debt-reducing measure in any real sense, we would someday be sorry.

He was right. We didn't. We are.

Sorry, Alan:

Stan Collender: Paul Krugman Is Wrong: "Krugman doesn’t get to the real problem...

Continue reading "" »


Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for August 23, 2015

Screenshot 10 3 14 6 17 PM

Must- and Should-Reads:

Over at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog

Plus:

And Over Here:

Continue reading "Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for August 23, 2015" »


Weekend Reading: Darayavush the Great: Behishtun Inscription

NewImage

Wikipedia: Behistun Inscription: "I am Darayavush, the great king...

...king of kings, the king of Pârsa, the king of countries, the son of Vishtashpa, the grandson of Arshama, the Haxamanishya.

King Darayavush says: My father is Vishtashpa; the father of Vishtashpa was Arshama; the father of Arshama was Ariyâramna ; the father of Ariyâramna was Tishpish; the father of Tishpish was Haxamanish.

Continue reading "Weekend Reading: Darayavush the Great: Behishtun Inscription" »


Weekend Reading: Kurush the Great: Cylinder Inscription

Preview of Weekend Reading The Kurush Cylinder

The Kurush Cylinder, 539 BCE:

When ??? Marduk, king of the whole of heaven and earth, the ??? who, in his ??? lays waste his ??? wide-ranging[?] in wisdom, ...... who oversees the world's regions....

He put his first-born, an un-noble man, in charge of the country and constructed false temples in Ur and other cities. He instituted improper rites and brought the daily religious offerings to a halt within the sanctuaries. He no longer feared Marduk, supreme God. He caused evil acts within the city every day, burdened the people without relief thereby bringing ruin.

Continue reading "Weekend Reading: Kurush the Great: Cylinder Inscription" »


Weekend Reading: Diana Kimball: A Decent Digital Commonplace Book System

Diana Kimball: A Decent Digital Commonplace Book System: "For as long as I can remember, I’ve been looking for a sustainable commonplace book system...

My ideal system would be:

  1. Broad. Because I read online articles and ebooks in equal measure, an ideal system would address both.
  2. Effortless. If I highlight a passage anywhere, I want it to be stashed automatically. Any system that requires manual transcription or entry is a system that won’t last long.
  3. Discrete. For maximum recombinability, I want each highlight to be stored individually, with a reference back to the larger work.
  4. Associative. I want highlights to resurface in my life opportunistically.
  5. Durable. Platforms come and go, but I want my highlights to last forever.

Continue reading "Weekend Reading: Diana Kimball: A Decent Digital Commonplace Book System" »


Live from Bullwinkle Plaza:

Robert Costa and David Weigel: Trump’s Audacious Southern spectacle Is Part of His Strategy: "Cheryl Burns, 60, was on a road trip from California...

...when she heard that Trump would be in Alabama. She turned her car around and got in line, warning people of what happened to states when liberals took them over.

‘There is no more California,’ Burns said:

It’s now international, lawless territory. Everything is up for grabs. Illegal aliens are murdering people there. People are being raped. Trump isn’t lying about anything--the rest of the country just hasn’t found out yet.’


The Strange Story of Robert Lucas's "Support" for Obama's 2009 Recovery Act

The Strange Story of Robert Lucas's "Support" for Obama's 2009 Recovery Act (with tweets): A twitter dialogue with--well, monologue at--smart young whippersnapper Marshall Steinbaum:

Continue reading "The Strange Story of Robert Lucas's "Support" for Obama's 2009 Recovery Act" »


Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for August 21, 2015

Screenshot 10 3 14 6 17 PM

Must- and Should-Reads:

Over at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog

Plus:

And Over Here:

Continue reading "Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for August 21, 2015" »


Liveblogging the Cold War: August 21, 1945: Harry K. Daghlian, Jr.

NewImage

Wikipedia: Harry K. Daghlian, Jr.: "Haroutune Krikor Daghlian, Jr... accidentally irradiated himself on August 21, 1945...

...during a critical mass experiment at the remote Omega Site facility at the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, resulting in his death 25 days later.... He accidentally dropped a tungsten carbide brick onto a 6.2 kg plutonium-gallium alloy bomb core. This core, subsequently nicknamed the 'demon core', also caused the death of another physicist, Louis Slotin, in an accident the following year, before it was used in the Operation Crossroads... tests....

Continue reading "Liveblogging the Cold War: August 21, 1945: Harry K. Daghlian, Jr." »


Quotes Fans Winnie The Pooh And Piglet Quotes About Love

Comment of the Day: Cosma Shalizi: Comment on Guest Post: Mad Max: "As I may have mentioned here before...

...I remember reading, many years ago on Usenet, a fragment which either began or ended with the line:

'We've got a green light on the launch codes... Turn the key, Piglet, turn the key!' snarled Pooh.

and thinking it had immense possibilities...


Trekonomics Teaser Clip: The Prime Directive...

Manu Saadia, the author of the forthcoming book, Trekonomics, discusses the economic theories behind the creation of the Star Trek with J. Bradford DeLong, professor of Economics at UC Berkeley and former Deputy Assistant Secretary at the US Treasury. Inkshares' Adam Gomolin is the moderator:

The prime directive...:


Must-Read: Me? I'm happy talking about cavalry tactics with Austerlitz--even to people who have it wrong. But I'm overwhelmingly annoyed with people who use their fake and false knowledge about cavalry tactics at Austerlitz to criticize those who are actually applying stuff they know to make better economic policy and to make the world a better place. If all you know about is cavalry tactics at Austerlitz, sit down and be quiet. And if cavalry tactics at Austerlitz is all you know but you don't know that is all you know, get a clue...

Robert Solow (1984): Conversations with Economists: "Suppose someone sits down where you are sitting right now...

Continue reading "" »


Musings on Thomas Malthus, the Hellenistic Age, the Loyal-Spirit Great Kings of Iran 550-330 BCE, and Other Topics: The Honest Broker for the Week of August 17, 2015

Today's Economic History: Paul Krugman muses:

Paul Krugman: SPQR And All That: "Adrian Goldsworthy’s The Fall of Carthage...

...All pre-industrial societies, I thought, were Malthusian... at the edge of subsistence... [with] a small elite, 5 or 10 percent... liv[ing] on resources extorted.... This model still seems to me to be pretty good for the Roman Empire. But, at least as Goldsworthy describes it, the Roman Republic at the time of the Punic Wars was something very different... social solidarity... loyal allies... strong commitment from a large fraction of the population... military manpower... durability.... Are there any other examples in history like this? And how did they do it?

Continue reading "Musings on Thomas Malthus, the Hellenistic Age, the Loyal-Spirit Great Kings of Iran 550-330 BCE, and Other Topics: The Honest Broker for the Week of August 17, 2015" »


NewImage

Jackson Hole 2015 Weblogging: Comment of the Day: Charles Steindel: How Well-Structured Is Our Federal Reserve, Anyway?: "Forget about 2% vs. 4% as a target...

...Fed speak (including the accidentally released longer-term staff forecasts)is clearly viewing 2% as a ceiling! So the Fed isn't even committed to the 2% as a centered target. At some point this influences behavior, and leads to the subpar macro performance (and just loads up more risks of a situation that would require further rounds of unconventional policy). I just can't understand it other than primitive "slippery slope" arguments having a disproportionate impact.


Note to Self: On the Tracks of the "Confidence Fairy"...

Note to Self: On the Tracks of the "Confidence Fairy"...

Today's Economic History: Over at Equitable Growth The phrase "confidence fairy" does not appear in Google Ngrams. However, "business confidence" does:

Google Ngram Viewer

The first modern use of "confidence fairy" I can find in google is Paul Krugman's, on July 1, 2010:

With google reporting the second person to mention it as Joe Stiglitz in October:

Among the approximately 18,400 mentions of the phrase, google (anonymized) reports the most salient pieces of the conversation thereby started are: READ MOAR

Continue reading "Note to Self: On the Tracks of the "Confidence Fairy"..." »


Hoisted from Others' Archives: People Forget Just How Awful the Old New Republic Was How Much of the Time

I confess that I am still annoyed at the strange persistence of the narrative of decline around the Gabriel Snyder New Republic. People forget just how awful the Old New Republic was how much of the time. Here, to remind us, is Heather Hurlburt from 2012:

Heather Hurlburt: Leon Wieseltier Thinks You Can Never Have Enough War : "I haven’t read Rachel Maddow’s new book, Drift...

...Unlike The New Republic's Leon Wieseltier, I am not a book critic. I am a national security professional.  This means that--also unlike Wieseltier--I spend my days immersed in the thinking and writing of defense experts and policymakers--in the U.S. government, in the military, in other nations, in the non-governmental sector.

Continue reading "Hoisted from Others' Archives: People Forget Just How Awful the Old New Republic Was How Much of the Time" »


But For Wales?...

Over at Equitable Growth:

I would say that Ramesh Ponnuru needs to decide whether he is going to be part of a reality-based technocratic conversation about the future of our social-insurance system, or a booster of individual politicians who evanescently catch his current fancy.

But that choice has already been made, hasn't it?

Kevin Drum:

Kevin Drum: A Conversation About Scott Walker's Health Care Plan: "A Conversation About Scott Walker's Health Care PlanRamesh Ponnuru thinks I got Scott Walker's health care plan wrong...

...I complained that Walker's plan would cost a lot but he doesn't tell us how he's going to pay for it without raising taxes. Ponnuru:

Walker says he is going to reform the tax break for employer-provided plans and get savings out of Medicaid....There’s no reason to doubt that some such mix could be made to work. READ MOAR

Continue reading "But For Wales?..." »


Must-Read: Alan Beattie: Despotic Rulers Who Display Their Muscle to Turn Back Time: "Adopting inconvenient time zones for symbolic reasons begins to look like insecurity...

...After the Communist takeover in China in 1949, Mao Zedong imposed Beijing time nationwide. China now has one timezone covering latitudes where Russia has five.... [Today] introducing a new zone might look like a concession to the repressed discontents in the western region of Xinjiang.... Similarly, India combined several imperial time zones into one after... 1947, and then underlined the point by setting it an awkward five and a half hours ahead of London time. This wastes electricity, and farmers in Assam in India’s far east have to use an informal ‘tea garden time’.... Hugo Chávez set Venezuela’s clocks back half an hour in 2007, putting them out of kilter with its neighbours, for no apparent reason but cussedness. The most entertaining example is Spain, [which is] in the same zone as Poland... the legacy of the deep cunning of Francisco Franco.... Realising the symbolic importance to fascism of uniformity in everything, he made the magnificently pointless gesture of adopting Berlin time. (A reminder: Hitler committed suicide as his Reich imploded in 1945; Franco died peacefully in office 30 years later.)


How Well-Structured Is Our Federal Reserve, Anyway?

NewImage

Jackson Hole 2015 Weblogging: Over at Equitable Growth: The highly-estimable Tim Duy is doing what he does best once again: worrying about the Federal Reserve's conduct of monetary policy:

Tim Duy: Some Thoughts On Productivity And The Fed: "Yellen is leaning in the direction of taking the productivity numbers at face value...

...and seeing low wage growth as consistent with the view that the productivity slowdown is real.... The unobserved component approach suggests that productivity growth decelerated to an annualized pace of just 0.82 percent by the second quarter of this year... [in line with] Fed staff estimates of potential GDP growth range from roughly 1.6 to 1.8 percent through 2020.... Yellen might think back to the 1990’s, when a surprise rise in productivity growth temporarily lowered the natural rate of unemployment... [and] reverse that logic now and think that the arguments for tighter policy are stronger.... READ MOAR

Continue reading "How Well-Structured Is Our Federal Reserve, Anyway?" »