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June 2017

Ten Years Ago in Grasping Reality: June 26-June 28, 2017

Worth highlighting: genuine news that Wall Street had totally lost control of its subprime derivative book; Reagan's diary reveals that his Alzheimer's had made him unfit to do his job relatively early in his first presidential term, Ed Lazear had stopped doing his job as a White House economic advisor and was flattering Richard Cheney, David Broder was pretending to learn for the first time things that everyone had known for six years, and the immortal Fred Malek and "dog-eating Jew-counters for McCain!"

Highlights, and then all, below the fold:

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Should-Read Doruk Cengiz, Arindrajit Dube, Attila Lindner, and Ben Zipperer>: The effect of minimum wages on the total number of jobs: Evidence from the United States using a bunching estimator: "We estimate the total impact of the minimum wage on a ected employment by comparing the excess number of jobs just above the new minimum wage...

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Must-Read: If you told me that the Federal Reserve had a 1.5%/year core PCE chain index inflation target, I would believe you:

Jay C Shambaugh on Twitter More evidence of slowing inflation lately core pce prices up just 0 1 p p in May 12 month change 1 4 down from 1 6 in 12 months prior https t co cnuSyf4ycB

In retrospect (as it was for some of us in prospect), the Federal Reserve's decision in mid-2013 to switch from signaling that it had a bias toward further easing to a bias toward tightening, and that investors should plan to see a major tightening cycle soon, was clearly wrong. And I still see no rationale for sticking with the policy of continuing to signal that the Federal Reserve has a bias toward tightening, and that investors should plan to see a major tightening cycle soon:

Jay C. Shambaugh: On Twitter: Slowing Inflation: "More evidence of slowing inflation lately: core pce prices up just 0.1 p.p. in May. 12 month change 1.4% (down from 1.6% in 12 months prior..."

Must-Read: as Eric Rauchway says, Ezra Klein is now shrill. But Ezra understates the problem. Note that there are now very, very few Republican health-care policy experts releasing their own—truly conservative—plans, or criticizing the current plan for not achieving sensible conservative goals. The radio silence from those who should be doing the heavy lifting on GOP-conservative health policy thinking is near total, and is deafening:

Ezra Klein: It turns out the liberal caricature of conservatism is correct: "It’s depressing. But it’s true: Marc Thiessen, the George W. Bush speechwriter... is aghast at the Senate GOP’s health care bill...

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Equitable Growth: Research on Tap: After Piketty: Tue, Jul 11, 2017 at 5:00 PM

Equitable Growth: Research on Tap: After Piketty: "Join us on July 11 to kick off Equitable Growth’s new Research on Tap conversation series...

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Procrastinating on June 28, 2017

We re All Public Intellectuals Now The National Interest

Over at Equitable Growth: Must- and Should-Reads:

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After Piketty: Capital in the Twenty-First Century, Three Years Later

Harvard Press on Twitter A look at the agenda for economics and inequality After Piketty https t co nmSDXzAoq5 https t co YLsx3TCVst

Introduction to: After Piketty: The Research Program Starting from Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century

Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century is an astonishing, surprise bestseller.

Its enormous mass audience speaks to the urgency with which so many wish to hear about and participate in the political-economic conversation regarding this Second Gilded Age in which we in the Global North now find ourselves enmeshed.1 C21’s English-language translator Art Goldhammer reports (this volume) that there are now 2.2 million copies of the book scattered around the globe in 30 different languages. Those 2.2 million copies cannot and should not but have an impact. They ought to shift the spirit of the age into another, different channel: post-Piketty, the public-intellectual debate over inequality, economic policy, and equitable growth ought to focus differently. We have assembled our authors and edited their papers to highlight what we, at least, believe economists should study After Piketty as they use the book to trigger more of a focus on what is relevant and important.

Link to: After Piketty: The Agenda for Economics and Inequality


Could Bhaskar Sunkara Really Know as Little of the History of the Soviet Union as He Feigns?

Kronstadt rebellion Google Search

I think the answer is "probably". I think he is probably not feigning. I think he probably has no clue of what goes down at the Finland Station.

At the Finland Station, you see, elections are fine only as long as they produce socialist results. When push comes to shove, it is indeed the case at the Finland Station that, as Lenin wrote: "Every direct or indirect attempt to consider the question of the [election] from a formal, legal point of view, within the framework of ordinary bourgeois democracy and disregarding the class struggle and civil war, would be a betrayal..." Sunkar can see this not as the act of "crazed demons", and instead choose—and it is a choice—to see Lenin and company as "well-intentioned people trying to build a better world out of a crisis". But on-the-ground really-existing "ordinary bourgeois democracy" is and always has been of little value to Lenin's flavor of socialists.

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The Eleventh Year in a Row of Federal Reserve Overoptimism About the Strength of the Economy: No Longer Fresh at Project Syndicate

3 Month Treasury Bill Secondary Market Rate FRED St Louis Fed

No Longer Fresh at Project Syndicate The Federal Reserve embarked on its tightening cycle in December 2015, easing its target for the short-term nominal Federal Funds interest rate by 25 basis points—one-quarter of a percentage point. When it did so, the median forecast of the participants in its Open Market Committee's meetings said three things

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Should-Read: Is this for real? I think Erica Grieder fails the Turing test. Guys and gals at The Week: this is no way to build the reputation as a trustworthy information intermediary you need to survive as anything other than a monstrous clickbait and eyeball-glue farm:

The "losers" from ObamaCare are "young invincibles" being charged more for their insurance because of the mandate and the cross-subsidization from young to old (and who will benefit in their turn when they get old), and people who had had cheap low-quality insurance who now have much better and somewhat more costly insurance. The second group are big winners in any sensible actuarial sense. The first group are net winners as well because they will age and they will develop "preexisting conditions".

But even if Grieder's claims about "losers" from ObamaCare weren't fatuous, to complain about ObamaCare because it "raises premiums and deductibles" for some and "left millions... uninsured" while providing enormous net benefits in terms of coverage, treatment, and health and then turn around and endorse BCRA which raises premiums and deductibles even more and leaves an extra 22 million uninsured...

These are the words of a TrumpBot. Not of a reporter:

Erica Grieder: The GOP's 'Better Care' act is better than you think: "While the Affordable Care Act has surely helped millions of Americans...

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Why Are so Many White American Men so Easily Grifted?

Dog Days Classics Halttunen on Confidence Men Painted Women and Borrowed Watches Tropics of Meta

The first thing you need to know is that ZeroHedge is a grift: the idea is to tell gullible people that the elites are hiding the truth from them and that only ZeroHedge dares tell the TRUTH!!—the first words I see on ZeroHedge right now are "Worst Crash In Our Lifetime Coming This Year Or Next". And if you scare your gullible readers enough, you can keep their eyeballs glued to the screen and sell them to advertisers—many of whom will be selling their own grifts to an audience already selected for being easy to grift: Gold. Physical gold. Kept in Singapore. For a small fee, of course. Also ammunition.

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Hoisted from 2007: Me on Tim Burke on Edmund Burke and His... Political "Philosophy"

Comment (2017): I now think the best way to understand Edmund Burke is as advocating not Disraeli's "Whig measures and Tory men" but rather "Whig measures in Tory drapery"...

Edmund Burke the great conservative who foresaw the discontents of our era Telegraph

Hoisted from 2007: [Tim] Burke on [Edmund] Burke's Political Philosophy I see two strands in Burke relevant to Burke's comment here:

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Should-Read: Ben Zipperer and John Schmitt: The “high road” Seattle labor market and the effects of the minimum wage increase: Data limitations and methodological problems bias new analysis of Seattle’s minimum wage increase: "Jardim et al. (2017), looks at the first two stages of a phased-in set of increases that will eventually take the minimum wage in the city to $15.00 per hour...

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Should-Read: David Brooks is wrong, I think, in his claim that the current crop of Republican politicians have no vision of American society. I think they do have a vision.

David Brooks: The G.O.P. Rejects Conservatism: ""There is a structural flaw in modern capitalism... [a] gigantic trend [that] widens inequality, exacerbates social segmentation, fuels distrust and led to Donald Trump...

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Must-Read: gave eight Republican senators as much rope as they wanted...

Nobody wanted to say: "this Reconciliation Bill is imperfect, but it keeps the ball rolling, and after Trump signs it the real bipartisan bargaining will commence..."

Nobody wanted to say: "I will be primaried and may lose if I cannot say: 'We in the senate did our job and passed ObamaCare repeal and I was there pushing when it happened..."

And it appears that nobody had given any thought to how they were going to answer substance questions from reporters. Which, I suppose, tells us a lot about how often anybody other than tries to get senators to answer substance questions:

Tara Golshan, Dylan Scott, and Jeff Stein: We asked 8 Senate Republicans to explain what their health bill is trying to do: "Vox asked GOP senators to explain their hopes for it. Who will benefit from the legislation? What problems is this bill trying to solve?..

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ACA Repeal "Strong Opposition" Letter

Preview of ACA Repeal Strong Opposition Letter

We have sent our letter, and Sarah Kliff is on it!

Sarah Kliff: 6 Nobel Prize–winning economists announce opposition to Senate health bill: "Forty economists, including six Nobel laureates, sent a letter Monday to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) outlining their opposition to the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare...

...“At a time when economic change is making life more difficult for all but the relatively well-to-do, denying people to access health insurance is a giant step in the wrong direction,” the letter reads. “The goal should be to hold down health costs and increase access to affordable, quality health coverage for all. Unfortunately, the Better Care Reconciliation Act threatens reduced coverage and higher costs for those who continue to have it.”

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Procrastinating on June 26, 2017

We re All Public Intellectuals Now The National Interest

Over at Equitable Growth: Must- and Should-Reads:

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Links, etc., for the Week of June 26, 2017


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Worth Noting from Grasping Reality: March 2007

30 things worth noting and highlighting in that month of March 2007. The two highlights of the highlights are:

  • More Journamalism (Time Magazine Edition) Karen Tumulty of Time really wishes she didn't have to spend time listening to candidates talk about health care.... "After three very intense hours (plus) onstage moderating this health care forum, I really needed a massage and a margarita. Not in that order.... I suspected that my colleagues in the press filing center weren't entirely thrilled at spending a Saturday in Las Vegas this way...." Would it be asking too much to have Time replace Tumulty with somebody who actually likes learning about candidates thoughts and plans on health care? Rather than somebody who sounds like she is having a root canal?... 2007-03-25

  • Un-Discourse Situations... What is one to do? You watch a guy--Bob Solow--one of the smartest and most thoughtful people I know, having his intellectual impact neutralized by a guy--Kudlow--who really isn't in the intellectual inquiry business.... To the audience it looks like two cocksure economists who disagree for incomprehensible reasons. And my ten minute share will come too late to try to referee Solow-Kudlow in any fair, balanced, and effective way. It's an un-discourse situation: Kudlow doesn't acknowledge--may not know--the flaws in his chosen statistic. And I can't help wonder what Kudlow would be saying if a Democrat were president. It's an intellectual Gresham's Law in action... What can I do? I can blog about it... 2007-03-11

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Oration on the Dignity of Man

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola: Oration on the Dignity of Man: "Most esteemed Fathers, I have read in the ancient writings of the Arabians that Abdala the Saracen on being asked what, on this stage, so to say, of the world, seemed to him most evocative of wonder, replied that there was nothing to be seen more marvelous than man...

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Weekend Reading: Aristotle: Politics: Property and Wealth

School of Athens

Weekend Reading: Aristotle: Politics: Property and Wealth: "Let us first speak of master and slave, looking to the needs of practical life and also seeking to attain some better theory of their relation than exists at present...

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Weekend Reading: Origin of "'Cry 'Havoc', and Let Slip the Dogs of War!"?

Plutarch: Life of Aratus of Sicyon:

The city of Sicyon, as soon as it had fallen away from its pure Doric form of aristocracy (which was now like a harmony dissolved) and had become a prey to factions and the ambitious schemes of demagogues, was without cease distempered and agitated, and kept changing one tyrant for another.... Abantidas the son of Paseas, attempting to make himself tyrant, slew Cleinias, and, of the friends and kinsmen of Cleinias, banished some and killed others. He tried to kill also the son of Cleinias, Aratus, left fatherless at the age of seven. But in the confusion p7which prevailed about the house the boy made his escape with the fugitives, and wandering about in the city, full of fear and helpless, by chance got unnoticed into the house of a woman who was a sister of Abantidas, but had married Prophantus the brother of Cleinias. Her name was Soso. This woman, who was of a noble nature, and thought it a divine dispensation that the boy had taken refuge with her, hid him in the house, and at night sent him secretly off to Argos.

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Kagans Smackdown/Hoisted from Archives: History as Tragedy: The Peloponnesian War

Preview of Monday Kagans Smackdown Hoisted from the Archives History as Tragedy The Peloponnesian War

Time to hoist this again, and think about it some more, for the very sharp Neville Morley reports from 1600 Pylos & Sphacteria Avenue:

Neville Morley: 1600 Pylos & Sphacteria Avenue: "Here we are again, with a new article on ‘Why everyone in the White House is reading Thucydides’...

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Stalinists Gonna Stalin: Hoisted from 2007: Michael Berube is back, eviscerating Alexander Cockburn and Edward Herman, those notorious stooges-in-search-of-a-Stalin: Michael Berube (2007): How Do I Sleep?: "My position on Iraq four years ago hasn't led me to wonder how much responsibility I have for the war. I opposed the war, and no, I'm not sorry about that.... Perhaps you think this is just sloppy Alex Cockburn making a sloppy mistake...

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Thinking About the Unfortunately Thinkable: Iran—and Bush: Hoisted from the Archives from Ten Years Ago

Hoisted from Ten Years Ago: Thinking About the Unfortunately Thinkable: Iran—and Bush It is widely believed that the ruling regime in Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons.

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Ten Years Ago in Grasping Reality: June 25, 2007

  • Poverty Traps: The High Price of Investment Goods in Poor Countries Tyler Cowen notes the 'relative prices and relative prosperities' literature. It is an updating of Prebisch-Singer: that poor countries have really lousy terms of trade that grow worse over time, and this greatly hinders their development by making it extremely expensive for them to import the high-quality technology-carrying capital goods that they need. See Caselli and Feyrer (2007), Klenow and Hsieh (2006), DeLong (1997), Jones (1994), DeLong and Summers (1991), and problems 4, 5, and 6 from Problem Set 3 of the DeLong-Rosenberg fall 2006 version of Economics 101b...
  • Thinking About the Unfortunately Thinkable: Iran--and Bush The best resolution of the Iranian nuclear problem would be for all powers in the region--India, Pakistan, Iran, and Israel--to do what makes their people safest: for all to give up their nuclear weapons programs. The second best resolution of the Iranian nuclear problem would be for Iran to do what makes its own people safest: for it to give up its nuclear ambitions...
  • Scott Eric Kaufmann Is Procrastinating Again! Strangely enough, he does not seize the Moral High Ground: "Acephalous: BLOGWARS! (An Interactive Humor MUD): 'You are standing near the Moral High Ground. To your South are Theists (or Theorists). To your North are Atheists (or Anti-Theorists). To your East and West are scorched earth, battered egos and hurt feelings.' w 'You see scorched earth, battered egos, hurt feelings and hear the unmistakable whine of the dissertator'..."
  • Gramscian Hegemony in Action Ezra Klein directs us to Larry Bartels, and comments: "And it should go without saying that the more focused politicians are on the preferences of their affluent constituents, the more their legislation will entrench and augment inequality, further erasing the preferences of the poor and middle class from consideration. That said, I would like to remind people that in 2001, we had a terrorist attack, and there's a war going on, and everything is different now, and there's really no time for procedural niceties like listening to the bottom third of the country..."
  • Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Yet Another Washington Post Edition)
  • Poor John Updike. Poor New Yorker. The Great Depression Once Again Oh, this is sad. Really sad. Depressing. And pathetic. It is really too bad that the New Yorker gave Amity Shlaes's book about the Depression, The Forgotten Man to John Updike to review. A competent editor would have chosen a reviewer who knew economics and history. But Updike is lost from the start...
  • Nine Links for 2007-06-26

Procrastinating on June 25, 2017

We re All Public Intellectuals Now The National Interest

Over at Equitable Growth: Must- and Should-Reads:

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Ten Years Ago in Grasping Reality: June 22-24, 2007

Four worth remembering: George Borjas behaving badly in being unable to get the economic theory right in his head; Stuart Taylor, Jr., behaving very badly in his desperate desire to torture somebody; editor Len Downie of the Washington Post behaving very badly indeed; and high finance breaking the ceiling of bad behavior in its valuation of mortgage derivatives:

  • John Succo on Pricing CDO Mortgages John Succo: "Minyanville : Actual prices where traders can really buy and sell is substantially lower than where investors are marking their positions..."
  • Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Yet Another Washington Post Edition) War and Piece: "A veteran newspaper editor friend has some sharp observations about the Post Cheney piece: 'A careful reading of the story of Cheney's coup against a feeble executive reveals that paragraphs 7 through 10 were written and inserted in haste by a powerful editorial hand [Len Downie]. The banging of colliding metaphors in an otherwise carefully written piece is evidence of last-minute interpolations by a bad editor whom no one has the power to rewrite...'"
  • Stuart Taylor, Jr. Is a Psychotic Creep Most people who salivate at the thought of torture and construct "ticking bomb" hypotheticals to make it seem reasonable work a little bit harder than Taylor to keep their hypotheticals from being completely and transparently silly. Not Stuart Taylor, Jr...
  • Ottoviano-Peri and the CEA vs. George Borjas on the Distributional Consequences of Immigration George Borjas... is simply wrong: "capital adjusts fully" means that more future investments are made in high-productivity areas to which migrants move and fewer in low-productivity areas from which migrants came. Returns on savings are thus higher--and because the pre-existing population are savers, they benefit. So do the migrants...

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