Reasoning and Cogitation—by Individuals, by Social Groups, and by Societies
Niskanen Center Live Stream: Starting Over: The Center-Right After Trump

Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (December 10B, 2018)

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  1. Reasoning—Individual, Social, and Societal: I am all but certain to never teach a course on: Reasoning—Indivdual, Social, and Societal. But if I were to teach such a course, would this be the best reading list? And if not these readings, what would be better replacements?...

  2. Hoisted from the Archives from 2004: Mark Kleiman: Avodim Hayyinu l’pharoh b’Mitzrayim: "Linked to the commandments in Deuteronomy, that phrase comes to mean: 'We were slaves' and therefore must never, never, ever act like slaveowners. That makes sense of the empirical link between Judaism and liberalism. No, there’s no reason to think that the 'liberal' viewpoint on any given policy issue is superior to the “conservative” one. With respect to crime, which is my own study, I’d have to say that the liberal tendency over the past half-century has mostly pointed toward the wrong answers.... But...

  3. Hoisted from the Archives: "How an Economy Can Live Beyond Its Means on Its Wits...": Confront economists' theories of depressions and what (if anything) the government should do about them and you find yourself immediately confronted with what look to be at least seven different theories: Monetarism... Wicksellianism... Minskyism... Austrianism... Vulgar Keynesianism... Hickianism... Post-Keynesianism...

  4. Monday Smackdown: Ezra Klein Smacks Down Paul Ryan as a Grifter, and Himself for a Griftee...: Very welcome to see: Remember: Fool me once, shame on you; fool my twice, shame on me: Ezra Klein: Speaker Paul Ryan Retires: His Legacy Is Debt and Disappointment: "I took Ryan seriously.... I covered the arguments Ryan made, the policies he crafted, and I treated them as if they offered a guide to how Republicans would govern. I listened.... Now, as Ryan prepares to leave Congress, it is clear that his critics were correct and a credulous Washington press corps—including me—that took him at his word was wrong.... Ryan proved himself and his party to be exactly what the critics said: monomaniacally focused on taking health insurance from the poor, cutting taxes for the rich, and spending more on the Pentagon. And he proved that Republicans were willing to betray their promises and, in their embrace of Trump, violate basic decency to achieve those goals...

  5. Blogging: What to Expect Here...: The purpose of this weblog is to be the best possible portal into what I am thinking, what I am reading, what I think about what I am reading, and what other smart people think about what I am reading: "Bring expertise, bring a willingness to learn, bring good humor, bring a desire to improve the world—and also bring a low tolerance for lies and bullshit..." — Brad DeLong...

  6. Monday Smackdown/Hoisted from 2008: Why We Called Donald Luskin "The Stupidest Man Alive": Cargo-Cult economics. Or perhaps "TV economics". Going through motions sorta-kinda like what economists do without understanding why or what the calculations mean...


  1. Kate Bahn: Understanding the Importance of Monopsony Power in the U.S. Labor Market: "In a dynamic monopsony model, so-called search frictions—including imperfect information and other constraints to job mobility... would give employers more power to set wages below competitive levels, while still maintaining a sufficient supply of workers.... Doug Webber tests the hypothesis of widespread dynamic monopsony and whether search frictions appear to maintain low wages across the U.S. labor market in his 2015 paper, 'Firm market power and the earnings distribution'. Webber finds pervasive monopsony across the labor market, with the key finding that less monopsony power would lead to less income inequality...

  2. Elizabeth Jacobs: California’s Paid Family Leave Policy Is Decreasing Nursing Home Use and Saving Medicaid Dollars: "Kanika Arora and... Douglas Wolf provide the first-ever empirical study assessing the impact of paid family and medical leave... utiliz[ing] longitudinal, state-level data to assess whether California’s state paid family and medical leave policy led to a decrease in nursing home utilization. California enacted a comprehensive paid leave policy in 2004, providing access to six weeks of leave for both new parents and family caregivers.... The estimated effect of paid family and medical leave on nursing home utilization in California is a decline of more than 11 percent in the share of the elderly residing in nursing homes...

  3. Like wood fires and nuclear fusion, ideology is a very bad master. But also, like wood fire in nuclear fusion, it is a most excellent servant. Therefore I cannot sign-on for Jerry Taylor‘s decision to abandon “ideology“. The task, I think, is to make ideologies useful by making them self reflective. After all, if a libertarian founder like John Stuart Mill can say that Positive Liberty is essential—that the British working class of his day was "imprisoned" in spite of all their negative liberty by Malthusian poverty, there is ample space for a libertarianism that keeps its good focus on human choice, potential, and opportunity without blinding itself to a great deal of reality: Jerry Taylor: The Alternative to Ideology: "When we launched the Niskanen Center in January 2015, we happily identified ourselves as libertarians... heterodox libertarians... left-libertarianism concerned with social justice (a libertarian perspective that I’ve defended in debates with more orthodox libertarians here and here)...

  4. The website for Zucman, Wier, and Torslav on on missing profits from tax avoidance and tax evasion (yes, I have decided I should spend some time listing paper authors in reverse alphabetical order): Gabriel Zucman: The Missing Profits of Nations: [Working paper][1], June 2018. [Online appendix][2], June 2018. [Presentation slides][3], June 2018...

  5. Antonio Fatás: Europe's fiscal policy doom loop: "The damage done by procyclical fiscal policy in the euro area between 2010 and 2014 is likely to be even larger.... Fiscal policymakers... created a 'doom loop', with unfounded pessimism feeding into policy... the consequences of those policies increasing pessimism... hysteresis, permanently reducing GDP...

  6. Go watch the video: Equitable Growth: Building a New Consensus on #Antitrust Reform

  7. You cannot understand either globalization or international migration without knowing the history. David and Jon know the history very very well: David S. Jacks and John P. Tang: Trade and Immigration, 1870-2010: “global merchandise trade and immigration from 1870 to 2010. We revisit the reasons why these two forces moved largely in parallel in the decades leading up to World War I, collapsed during the interwar period, and then rebounded (but with much more pronounced growth in trade than in immigration)...

  8. Absolutely remarkable: Erik Larson and Christopher Cannon: Madoff’s Victims Are Close to Getting Their $19 Billion Back: "A decade after Bernard Madoff was arrested for running the world’s biggest Ponzi scheme, the bitter fight to recoup investors’ lost billions has astounded experts and victims alike... #finance

  9. I have enormous respect for Ken, but I think he is largely wrong here. In any dystopian or failed state, why would you want to accept RogoffCoin? or DeLongCoin? Or any of the other ICOs coming down the pike. Yes, there is a space for a blockchain-supported anonymous currency. But the currency that will be adopted will be one that has substantial backing from somewhere—either some large organization with real asset and payments that decides it want to use it (a "cameralist" valuation), or a central focal point (which BitCoin might hold). I can see BitCoin being worth a hundred dollars in the long run because having been first mover is a potential focal point. I can't see anything else having value in the long run. It is not "cryptocurrency coins" that are "lottery tickets that pay off in a dystopian future"; it is (maybe) BitCoin. After all, the South Sea Company had detected a true market opportunity—there would be durable demand for standardized Gilts. But, as Ken says, "the private sector may innovate, but in due time the government regulates and appropriates": the profits were reaped not by the South Sea Company or any of its competitors but by the British Treasury. In the meantime, of course, there are Greater Fools for Fools to sell to, and so folly has a chance of looking wise ex post: Kenneth Rogoff: Betting on Dystopia: "The right way to think about cryptocurrency coins is as lottery tickets that pay off in a dystopian future where they are used in rogue and failed states, or perhaps in countries where citizens have already lost all semblance of privacy. That means that cryptocurrencies are not entirely worthless...

  1. Josh Zumbrun: IMF departing chief economist warns on U.S. growth - MarketWatch: "Mr. Obstfeld said Asian and European economic data disappointed in the third quarter. In Japan and Germany, for example, gross domestic product shrunk. The U.S. will likely post stronger growth, but he doesn't expect it to avoid the global downdraft entirely. 'For the rest of the world there seems to be some air coming out of the balloon and that, I think, will come back and also affect the U.S.', he said...

  2. Tim Duy: Unpleasant: "The situation on Wall Street is, well, unpleasant, and it in turn is creating considerable uncertainty about the outlook for monetary policy.... Powell & Co.['s]... outlook is fundamentally hawkish as it describes policy as continuing to tighten even as growth decelerates. Moreover, incoming data remains supportive of that outlook. This isn’t really a problem for rate hikes next year; the data could cut either way by March. It is a bit of a challenge for next week’s meeting as the Fed is loath to appear reactive to markets alone...

  3. Paul Krugman: The Art of the Imaginary Deal: "China is not a good actor in the world economy. It engages in real misbehavior, especially with regard to intellectual property.... So there is a case for toughening our stance on trade. But... in concert with other nations... and... clear objectives. The last person you want to play hardball here is someone who doesn’t grasp the basics of trade policy, who directs his aggressiveness at everyone... and who can’t even give an honest account of what went down in a meeting. Unfortunately, that’s the person who’s now in charge...

  4. Steve Benen: Wisconsin and the 'If Only Those People Weren't Here' Phenomenon: "One of the most powerful officials in Wisconsin’s state government suggested that... certain parts of his home state [should] not count.... After Hillary Clinton won the presidential election’s popular vote.... All Americans count, the argument went, but maybe Americans in California and New York shouldn’t.... Byron York... Obama’s... 'sky-high ratings among African-Americans make some of his positions appear a bit more popular overall than they actually are'...

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