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March 2016

Live from the Bellagio: Yes, there is something terribly wrong with the Republican Party's base and the establishment that has now spent 25 years feeding it. Why do you ask?

Duncan Black: Eschaton: George Bush Did One Thing Right: "I find it rather disturbing how it's 'controversial' that Obama thinks terrorist attacks mean we shouldn't blame all Muslims...

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Weekend Reading: James Gunn and H.G. Wells on H.G. Wells

James Gunn: H.G. Wells: The Man Who Invented Tomorrow: "In his autobiography (1934)...

...he pointed out what he saw as distinguishing his intentions from those of Conrad and James. They looked upon the novel as a form of art; Wells saw it as a means to an end. He wanted his writing to be appraised 'as a system of ideas'; they wanted ideas to enter, if at all, only as an integral part of the artistic whole. He wanted to write about himself, his reactions to what had happened to him and what had happened and was happening in the world; they wanted the writer kept out of it.

The literary approach, Wells finally decided:

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Must-Read: As I see it, this is essentially the Downsian political science model applied to primaries: in order to win a primary, Republican candidates need to try to hug the center of the distribution of primary voters. But then once they are the candidate of the party, they seek to get as close to the median from the right as possible in order to maximize their chances of winning the general election, or winning reelection. Republican candidates striking a balance between these two will be thus governing to the right of what they promised their (very moderate) winning-margin slice of the electorate, and governing to the left of what they promised their (very partisan) primary supporters. Since you are all but guaranteed to have a general election opponent but may well not have a primary opponent, Republicans in office are under Downsian pressures to make the gap between them and the median general-election voter greater than the gap between them and the median primary voter.

Hence: disappointment

The same argument applies, of course, to Democrats and the left...

From whence asymmetry arises is, I think, a difficult and unsolved problem...

Bruce Bartlett: Republican Presidents Always Disappoint: "Much of the debate in Republican circles for the last several election cycles has been about how Republican presidents always disappoint...

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Procrastinating on March 25, 2016


Over at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog:

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Liveblogging the American Revolution: March 26, 1778: Richard Caswell to Horatio Gates

Richard Caswell: To the Honorable General Richard Gates, Chairman of the Board of War:

North Carolina New Bern, 26th March 1778.


Your favour of the 29th January and 7th February I received only three days ago.

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Liveblogging the Cold War: March 25, 1946 Soviets announce withdrawal from Iran:

In conclusion to an extremely tense situation of the early Cold War, the Soviet Union announces that its troops in Iran will be withdrawn within six weeks. The Iranian crisis was one of the first tests of power between the United States and the Soviet Union in the postwar world.

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Must-Read: The central banks of the North Atlantic seem to be rapidly digging themselves into a hole in which, if there is an adverse demand shock, their only options will be (a) dither, and (b) seize the power to do a degree of fiscal policy via helicopter money by some expedient or other...

Martin Wolf: Helicopter drops might not be far away: "The world economy is slowing, both structurally and cyclically...

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Must-Read: A very worthy endeavor.

However, I feel like a gotta say here that Google Books was the best vehicle for them to realize their dreams.

What is the current state of Google Books, anyway?

Pam Samuelson, Holly van Howling, Tom Leonard, and Carla Hesse: About Us | Authors Alliance: "Authors Alliance promotes authorship for the public good...

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Procrastinating on March 24, 2016


Over at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog:

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Live from the Gehenna the Marxisante left made for itself: John the Lutheran: Pensées sans ordre: "[Eric Hobsbawm:]

Anyone of the Left who was not aware of this grassroots feeling ought seriously to consider his or her capacity to assess politics.

Eric Hobsbawm on the ‘public sentiment [in support of the Falklands War] that could actually be felt.’ Quoted by Robert Tombs, The English and Their History, p.816.

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Liveblogging World War I: March 24, 1916: Submarines Germany agrees to limit its submarine warfare:

Unrestricted submarine warfare was first introduced in World War I in early 1915, when Germany declared the area around the British Isles a war zone, in which all merchant ships, including those from neutral countries, would be attacked by the German navy. A string of German attacks on merchant ships—culminating in the sinking of the British passenger ship Lusitania on May 7, 1915—led President Wilson to put pressure on the Germans to curb their navy. Fearful of antagonizing the Americans, the German government agreed to put restrictions on the submarine policy going forward, incurring the anger and frustration of many naval leaders, including the naval commander in chief, Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, who resigned in March 1916.

On March 24, 1916, soon after Tirpitz’s resignation, a German U-boat submarine attacked the French passenger steamer Sussex, in the English Channel, thinking it was a British ship equipped to lay explosive mines.

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Social Science Knowledge and Public Policy: A View from the Trenches

Social Science Knowledge and Public Policy: A View from the Trenches during the Great Recession Lesser Depression of 2007-????

SSSA Conference :: Las Vegas, NV :: March 24, 2016 4 PM


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Procrastinating on March 23, 2016


Over at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog:

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Liveblogging the Cold War: March 23, 1946: Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt: My Day:

LOS ANGELES, Friday—On the way here, we stopped off in Tucson, but it was a rather short visit, since we did not get there till just before lunch, and left early the next morning. I had lunch with my cousins, Mr. and Mrs. Douglas Robinson, and then went over to the Arizona Inn, which was built by my friend Mrs. King after the last war.

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Concrete Economics: Interview with Institutional Investor

Jen Werner and Brad DeLong: Government Is a Growth Engine: "America ignores history at its peril, warns J. Bradford DeLong... [who] believes the U.S. government has always played a vital role in encouraging growth and supporting entrepreneurial innovation. But in an increasingly ideological environment, lawmakers give regulation short shrift, he fears--with dangerous consequences like excessive financialization and the 2008 market meltdown. In his latest book, Concrete Economics: The Hamilton Approach to Economic Growth and Policy, co-authored with Stephen Cohen... DeLong argues that things can be different... invokes the legacy of founding father Alexander Hamilton...."

Werner: Why have new mechanisms for economic growth been elusive?

DeLong: Well, it;s genuinely hard to think of good ways of organizing large groups of people to coordinate what they do. Markets are a unique sweet spot for a particular set of commodities produced under a particular set of conditions that more or less approximated those that Adam Smith faced. Today it's very different, and the problem of what economic theorists call mechanism design is a very difficult one. Look at the trouble we're having simply trying to arrive at a functioning system, let alone an optimal system, for health insurance.

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A World Off-Balance on Monetary Policy


Over at Equitable Growth: Nouriel Roubini writes:

Nouriel Roubini: "Worries about a hard landing in China... China is more likely to have a bumpy landing than a hard one...

...[but] investors’ concerns have yet to be laid to rest.... Emerging markets are in serious trouble.... The Fed probably erred in exiting its zero-interest-rate policy in December...

And it is not clear how the Federal Reserve can correct what is now widely-recognized as a probable error. READ MOAR

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Hoisted from One Year Ago: Richard Epstein Proves Unintelligible...

Richard Epstein Proves Unintelligible...: I had always thought that Richard Epstein was just pulling the traditional not-very-ethical lawyer's trick of knowingly and falsely claiming that what he hoped would be law in the future had in fact been law in the past.

There is great and weighty precedent for this way of lawyering, after all.

Consider Lord Chief Justice William Draper, 1st Baron Wynford (13 December 1767 – 3 March 1845:

We [would] get rid of a great deal of what is considered law in Westminster Hall, if what Lord Coke says without authority is not law...

Now comes Scott Lemieux to say that I am wrong--that Richard Epstein has in fact drunk his own koolaid:

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Must-Read: Is this plausible? In my experience, when X quotes Y saying that Y and his posse are mustachio-twirling villains, it is usually either:

  1. X is misquoting Y.
  2. Y has had a major change of heart and is trying to shock his posse into recognition that, however well-intentioned they had been, their course of action had been disastrous.

But it is rarely the case that Y and his posse actually were the conscious and malevolent mustachio-twirling villains that Y's quote says they were.

Of course, for Richard Nixon one does have to make exceptions:

German Lopez: [Nixon Official John Ehrlichman: Real Reason for the Drug War Was to Criminalize Black People and Hippies: "A new report by Dan Baum for Harper's Magazine...

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Must-View: Employment-to-Population 25-54: Without nominal wage growth of 4%/year or significantly rising inflation, no way I am going to believe that the U.S. economy is in any sense at "full employment" with an essentially zero output gap right now:

Graph Employment Population Ratio 25 54 years FRED St Louis Fed

Just saying. That is all.

Yes, Expansionary Fiscal Policy in The North Atlantic Would Solve Many of Our Problems. Why Do You Ask?

Graph Employment Population Ratio 25 54 years FRED St Louis Fed

Over at Equitable Growth: The highly-estimable Jared Bernstein has a very nice piece today. It attempts to sum up a great deal about the state of the economy in a very short space with five super-short equations;

  • One is about our current likely-to-be-chronic inequality problems.
  • Two are about our demand-management and maintaining-employment problems.
  • Two more strongly suggest that the solutions to our problems are extraordinarily simple. They say that in our current dithering and paralysis we are frozen out of fear of dangers that simply do not exist. Thus we are leaving very large and very gourmet free lunches on the table.

So, first, let us listen to Jared:

Jared Bernstein: Five Simple Formulas: "Here are five useful, simple... inequalities... READ MOAR

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Hamilton Economic Policy Rap...

These days when you talk about Hamilton
People want you to get your rap on
Infringing Manuel’s intellectual property
Is not where any of us want to be.

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Procrastinating on March 22, 2016


Over at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog:

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Must-Read: Erik Loomis: The TPP: Another Tool to Exploit Women: "The Malaysia reclassification is one of the single worst foreign policy outrages...

....of the Obama administration, really putting the lie to the idea that the TPP is about helping the world’s workers. When you give Malaysia all the benefits up front in exchange for vague promises about reform, you can’t actually expect that reform to happen.

What [Rep. Louise] Slaughter [D-NY] didn’t mention and should have is women working in the sweatshops and how the TPP will contribute to their exploitation through a globalized labor regime that gives corporations the opportunity to sue countries for raising their labor standards while not granting women any legal path to ending the routine unsafe working conditions, sexual assault, forced birth control, low wages, and physical punishment while making clothes or other products for Walmart, Nike, Gap, Target, etc."

Yet Another Monday Smackdown: Josh Barro on How the Rumpublicans Smashed and Burned Their Own Furniture, and Now Complain That They Have Nowhere to Sit

Live from the Rumpublicans' Self-Made Gehenna: Josh Barro: How the GOP 'Establishment' Created Trump: "Here is my suggestion.... If you want to understand how Trump invaded your party...

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Live from Golgotha: You know what happens to the Incarnate Word this Friday the 25th, don't you Josh?:

Josh Marshall**: The Incarnation: "I'm not sure anything better captures the GOP's inability to grasp what's happening to it...

...than the House Freedom Caucus wrestling with how to grapple with the rise of Donald Trump and how to resist his candidacy. Donald Trump is the Freedom Caucus. You might even say, in the beginning was the Freedom Caucus. And then the Freedom Caucus became flesh and walked among us. And his name was Donald Trump...

Monday Smackdown: David Weigel on Stephen Moore's "Club for Growth"

David Weigel: Trump and ‘universal health care': the silver bullet that never connects: "The Club for Growth was the first conservative group to strap on 'Stop Trump' spurs...

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Monday Autosmackdown: Kevin Williamson and David French Leave Nothing for Anyone Else to Do...

Live from La Farine: I think these pieces speak for themselves as illustrations of the extraordinary sewer that is the American right today:

David French: Working-Class Whites Have Moral Responsibilities: "Kevin Williamson kicked up quite the hornet’s nest...

...with his... piece... that strikes directly at the idea that the white working-class (the heart of Trump’s support) is a victim class....

It is immoral because it perpetuates [the] lie... that the white working class... has been victimized by outside forces. It hasn’t. The white middle class may... sing hymns to Trump the destroyer and whisper darkly about ‘globalists’ and--odious, stupid term--‘the Establishment,’ but nobody did this to them. They failed themselves....

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The Rumpublicans’ Dilemma

As I have said before, I think the key to understanding the moral and—I hope—political bankruptcy of the Republican Party lies in its transformation from a party of those who think they will have wealth, and so have something to gain, into a party of those who think they have had wealth of some sort, and so have something to lose. The first party is very friendly to enterprise, progress, growth, change, and creative destruction. The second is quite hostile to them: it is friendly to established property alone.

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Rethinking the Expectations Channel of Monetary Policy


From the "Meeting Report" section of the Fall 2015 Brookings Papers on Economic Activity:

”Fredric Mishkin elaborated on the issues that discussant Adam Posen had raised...

...regarding how demoralizing the outcomes from Japanese monetary policy have been. He had felt more strongly than Posen that expectations were very important and that managing expectations is a key element in good monetary policy. He and his colleagues expected much stronger effects in Japan from the expansion of its monetary policy. Japan’s outcome might demonstrate that raising inflation expectations is much more difficult than lowering them, and moreover this might be true globally.

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