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March 2019

I Concede: The Haters and the Trolls and the Botnets of Macedonia Have Rendered Their Verdict, and I Accept It: @Austan_Goolsbee has won, and will represent Neoliberal Economic Academia in the next round of the 2019 Chief Neoliberal Shill Twitter Challenge. Austan Goolsbee will face off against noted ex-academic and San Francisco flaneur @Noahpinion in the semifinals of the meetup region.

Truth be told, it is probably for the best: I would never in a million years have had the ovaries to present Rahm Emmanuel with a dead fish to tell him what I thought of him:

Neoliberal: RAW FISH AND RAHM EMMANUEL PUT @AUSTANGOOLSBEE OVER @DELONG. DID BRAD’S VOX FEATURE SINK HIS CHANCES?…_

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Paul Krugman: America the Cowardly Bully: "This is the way the trade war ends. Not with a bang but with empty bombast. According to multiple news organizations, the U.S. and China are close to a deal that would effectively end trade hostilities. Under the reported deal, America would remove most of the tariffs it imposed last year. China, for its part, would end its retaliatory tariffs, make some changes to its investment and competition policies and direct state enterprises to buy specified amounts of U.S. agricultural and energy products. The Trump administration will, of course, trumpet the deal as a triumph. In reality, however, it’s much ado about nothing much.... It will repeat what we saw on the North American Free Trade Agreement, which Trump denounced as the 'worst trade deal ever made'.” In the end, what Trump negotiated... was very similar to the previous status quo. Trade experts I know, when not referring to it as the Village People agreement, call it 'Nafta 0.8': fundamentally the same as Nafta, but a bit worse...

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An elasticity of taxable income to the after-tax share of 0.2. That seems low, but what do I know? But 85 years was a long time ago: this seems only a data point telling us a little about where the envelope of possibilities lies: Christina D. Romer and David H. Romer (2011): The Effect of Marginal Tax Rates: Evidence from the3 Interwar Era: "This paper uses the interwar period in the United States as a laboratory for investigating the incentive effects of changes in marginal income tax rates. Marginal rates changed frequently and drastically in the 1920s and 1930s, and the changes varied greatly across income groups at the top of the income distribution...

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Cosma Shalizi (2011): Extended Harmony, and Tiger Repellent Drumming: "If you want capitalism, but you find a state that powerful very scary... you have a problem.... You might... decide that such power is perfectly A-OK, so long as it's used for ends you approve of and there's no danger of the people taking over. (Hence Hayek's... viewing Pinochet's reign of terror as less damaging to [what he saw as] liberal values than the British National Health Service.) Or you might try to find ways of taming or domesticating state power, of civilizing it. (I think that has a pretty good track-record, but who knows how long we can keep it up?) What you cannot do, with any intellectual honesty or even hope of getting what you want, is pretend that capitalism can work without a powerful, competent and intrusive state. As Ernest Gellner once wrote, 'Political control of economic life is not the consummation of world history, the fulfilment of destiny, or the imposition of righteousness; it is a painful necessity'...

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Let me say that I am extremely disappointed that Janet Yellen, Marty Feldstein, and Ted Halstead did not insist that this Financial Times story say that, while they believe that their proposal is much stronger than "Green New Deal" proposals, that the "Green New Deal" proposals would be a vast improvement over current policy. Extremely disappointed. Extremely: Leslie Hook: Surge in US Economists’ Support for Carbon Tax to Tackle Emissions: "The chances of passing a carbon and tax and dividend under the current administration are viewed as extremely slim.... 'I’m not expecting progress on this during this administration', said Ms Yellen. 'My hope is that under a future administration... there will be a call and a greater focus on doing something about climate change.... Businesses I think, are able to get behind this because it is preferable for most businesses to have a predictable environment in which there are a set of prices... rather than have government regulations dictating what technologies must be used', Ms Yellen said...

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The social safety net alleviates rural poverty. It does not cause it by creating indolence. The then-Whig and now-Republican idea that the rural poor were idle buggers looking for a handout was overwhelmingly false in early nineteenth-century Britain, and is false in early twenty-first century America today James P. Ziliak: Economic Change and the Social Safety Net: Are Rural Americans Still Behind?: "The U.S. economy has been rocked by major business cycle and secular shocks that differentially affected the fortunes of urban and rural areas... coinciding with... the dramatic growth and transformation of the social safety net.... How the... changes have interacted to at times exacerbate, and other times attenuate, well being across regions and over time is little studied.... The analysis here is descriptive...

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Bespoke subsidies to individual firms plus lack of transparency equals kleptocracy: Nathan M. Jensen and Calvin Thrall: Who’s Afraid of Sunlight? Explaining OppositiontoTo Transparency in Economic Development: "Why do some firms oppose transparency of government programs? In this paper we explore legal challenges to public records requests for deal-specific, company-specific participation in a state economic development incentive program. By examining applications for participation in a major state economic program, the Texas Enterprise Fund, we find that a company is more likely to challenge a formal public records request if it has renegotiated the terms of the award to reduce its job-creation obligations. We interpret this as companies challenging transparency when they have avoided being penalized for non-compliance by engaging in non-public renegotiations. These results provide evidence regarding those conditions that prompt firms to challenge transparency and illustrate some of the limitations of safeguards such as clawbacks (or incentive-recapture provisions) when such reforms aren’t coupled with robust transparency mechanisms...

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Put me down for "nobody has a reliable theory of politics", and make it a true Daily Double, Alex: Cosma Shalizi (2011): Harmony of Means and Ends: "If I tried to back out a theory of politics from the practice of left neo-liberals, it would something like this: what matters most to the interest of voters is the over-all growth of the economy; as it grows, they will become more prosperous, and reward the political party which implemented those policies. They will also be willing to support unobtrusive welfare-state measures, especially if they look like they are run efficiently and go to the truly deserving, because prosperous people feel generous. So the most important thing is 'the economy, stupid', and making sure the voters know who is responsible for good economic times.... It seems oddly naive.... All of this can be boiled down to... 'When you tell us that (1) the important thing is to maximize economic growth, and never mind the distributional consequences because (2) we can always redistribute through progressive taxation and welfare payments, you are assuming a miracle in step 2'.... There are I think two reasonable defenses left neoliberals could make. One is to say that creating or strengthening any forms of countervailing power under modern American conditions would itself take a miracle.... The other would be to deny that anyone has a reliable theory of politics, in this sense, certainly none which could be used as a guide to action, and no hope of developing one; whereas we do know a bit about economics...

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Put me, for one, down as welcoming a sensible technocratic debts-and-deficits debate: Brendan Greeley: Give the Kids Permission to Fool Around: "Several weeks ago Alphaville was forwarded a panicked email from the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.... The subject... 'Be wary of mischaracterisations of Olivier Blanchard's debt report'.... Here's Mr Blanchard, in his own words, talking to Alphachat... 'use it for the right things. If the economy is very weak and monetary policy cannot be used, use it. If there is public investment to be done, the infrastructure is in terrible shape, use it.... It's a tool, it's not a tool you should avoid to use at any price. It's a tool you should use when you need to'.... He wants a 'richer discussion of the costs of debt and of fiscal policy than is currently the case'.... Alphaville believes that the discussion alone is what the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget finds so alarming...

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Kevin Drum: A Neoliberal Says It’s Time for Neoliberals to Pack It In: "My fellow neoliberal shill Brad DeLong has declared that it’s time for us to pass the baton to 'our colleagues on the left'.... There’s less here than meets the eye..... Does DeLong intend to go along in areas where his neoliberal ideas are in conflict with the AOC wing of the Democratic Party? He plainly does not.... DeLong... has simply changed the target of his coalition building...

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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (March 5, 2019)

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  1. Broadway World: Review Roundup: Berkeley Rep's "Metamorphoses"

  2. Scott McGreal: DMT, Aliens, and Reality: "Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a naturally occurring psychedelic drug... striking for the brevity and intensity of its effects. When smoked, for example, hallucinogenic effects begin almost immediately and resolve within 30 minutes.... One of the most remarkable features of the DMT experience is the frequency with which users encounter non-human intelligences, often resembling aliens. Even more remarkably, some users come away from these encounters convinced that these entities are somehow real (Strassman, 2001). The psychological aspects of such experiences have not yet been adequately explored by scientific researchers...

  3. Sean Carroll: Mindscape Podcast

  4. Steering by the Socialist Idols in the Heavens Leads Us to Sail Not Towards but Away from the Shores of Utopia: (Early) Monday Corey Robin Smackdown

  5. Robert Waldmann: MMT: "I am kicking myself for deciding to read the article to find if it is as horrible as he asserts. I think it is...

  6. Tom Nichols: The (New) Screwtape Letters: "A view of our political foibles from a highly placed assistant to Our Father Below...

  7. Samuel Bowles, Alan Kirman, and Rajiv Sethi: Friedrich Hayek and the Market Algorithm

  8. Rage Against the Machine: Testify

  9. Jane Coaston: Jacob Wohl, Explained: "Why a failed teen hedge fund manager showed up at CPAC to hold a press conference on a conspiracy theory...

  10. FSB: Global Monitoring Report on Non-Bank Financial Intermediation 2018 - Financial Stability Board: "The Global Monitoring Report on Non-Bank Financial Intermediation 2018 presents the results of the FSB’s annual monitoring exercise to assess global trends and risks from non-bank financial intermediation. The annual monitoring exercise is part of the FSB’s policy work to enhance the resilience of non-bank financial intermediation. It focuses on those parts of non-bank financial intermediation that perform economic functions which may give rise to bank-like financial stability risks (i.e. the narrow measure of non-bank financial intermediation)...

  11. Irene M. Pepperberg (2002): Cognitive and Communicative Abilities of Grey Parrots

  12. Matthew Yglesias: Allen Weisselberg: House Democrats’ Next Target: "The Trump Organization CFO knows things President Trump would prefer kept secret.

  13. (December 2012): Back When I Feared the Bond-Market Vigilantes: Maundering Old-Timer Reminiscence Weblogging: "There had been an attack—or, rather, not an attack but rather bond-market vigilantes visible on the horizon and gunshots in the air—earlier.... Throughout 1992 there was a 4%-point gap between the 3-Month Treasury rate and the 10-Year Treasury rate. Those of us in the Clinton-administration-to-be read this as market expectations that the uncontrolled federal budget deficit would lead people to expect higher inflation and the Federal Reserve would then feel itself forced to raise short-term interest rates far and fast.... I think we were right then to fear and take steps to ward off the bond-market vigilantes—or perhaps only right to fear and take steps to ward off any Federal Reserve decision that it needed to fear and take steps to deal with bond-market vigilantes. In any event, our policies were right. But that was then, with a 4%-point gap between 10-Yr and 3-Mo Treasury yields. Today we only have a 1.6%-point gap between 10-Yr and 3-Mo Treasury yields. 1.6% < 4%...

  14. Ed Kilgore: A New Role for Democratic Centrists: Helping the Left Win: "Democratic centrists need to accept that the Donkey’s moving in a new direction now; fighting it by demonizing the left just makes the calamitous prospect of a second Trump term more likely. And perhaps a new synthesis of left and center-left thinking on politics and policy can emerge, once the scourge of today’s Republicanism is overcome. It’s a more productive occupation than endlessly relitigating the 2016 election...

  15. Teddy Roosevelt: "We Have Traveled Far...": How to Look on Our Predecessors with Charity and Justice: “We have traveled far...“ said Teddy Roosevelt, looking back at the Puritans. And we today, looking back at Teddy Roosevelt, have reason to say the same thing. We can hope that, were Teddy with us today and were he given an opportunity for sober reflection and consideration, he would agree...

  16. William Hogeland: “The National Review,” Racist Writing, and the Legacy of William F. Buckley, Jr. – William Hogeland: "Writing in 1957, Buckley insisted that whites in the South were 'entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, where they do not prevail numerically'...

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Another group of economists who seem to me to be aiming for the "equitable growth" space: Economists for Inclusive Prosperity: "We believe the tools of mainstream economists not only lend themselves to, but are critical to the development of a policy framework for what we call “inclusive prosperity.” While prosperity is the traditional concern of economists, the “inclusive” modifier demands both that we consider the interest of all people, not simply the average person, and that we consider prosperity broadly, including non-pecuniary sources of well-being, from health to climate change to political rights...

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Laura Tyson and Lenny Mendonca: The Birthplace of America’s New Progressive Era: "At a time of rising inequality, White House tweet storms, and deepening political gridlock in Washington, DC, it is easy to think that the decline of American democracy is inexorable. And yet, as in the early twentieth century, states like California are embracing their constitutional role as laboratories of reform...

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David Leonhardt: Center-Left Self-Criticism: "I recommend a recent Twitter thread by Brad DeLong.... DeLong describes himself as a member of the center-left.... I’ll have more to say on this topic in the future, but I agree with significant portions of DeLong’s argument. Technocratic, centrist policies, like the private health insurance exchanges in Obamacare, are doomed to fail if Republicans treat them the same way that they would treat government expansions—with complete opposition. Government expansions are often more popular with voters, anyway. For more, read DeLong’s interview with Vox’s Zack Beauchamp; Greg Sargent’s take in The Washington Post...

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Abraham Lincoln (1858): Speech at Ottawa, IL: "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position. I have never said anything to the contrary, but I hold that, notwithstanding all this, there is no reason in the world why the negro is not entitled to all the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. [Loud cheers.] I hold that he is as much entitled to these as the white man. I agree with Judge Douglas he is not my equal in many respects-certainly not in color, perhaps not in moral or intellectual endowment. But in the right to eat the bread, without the leave of anybody else, which his own hand earns, he is my equal and the equal of Judge Douglas, and the equal of every living man...

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On MSNBC Right Now... As Always, Much More to Say than I Could...

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2019-04-05 12:30 PM PST: Ali Velshi: MSNBC Live

TALKING POINTS

Greetings:

I bring you greetings from Laura Tyson, whose office I was hanging out here for an hour or so this morning.

The background is a green-screened one:

  • That is not what it looks like here right now.
  • It is a very grey, rainy, foggy day—the latest in more than a month of storms that have come down on us from the north.
  • This is the first time in my life Berkeley has had this early-spring weather pattern
  • Global warming is going to be much more than just the-climate-marches-north-by-three-miles-a-year and we need stronger air conditioners.

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Red Rosa's finest hour: Rosa Luxemburg: Junius: "In the prosaic atmosphere of pale day there sounds a different chorus–the hoarse cries of the vulture and the hyenas of the battlefield. Ten thousand tarpaulins guaranteed up to regulations! A hundred thousand kilos of bacon, cocoa powder, coffee-substitute–c.o.d, immediate delivery! Hand grenades, lathes, cartridge pouches, marriage bureaus for widows of the fallen, leather belts, jobbers for war orders–serious offers only!...

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"Passing the Baton": The Interview

Bernie Sanders news a Clinton era Democrat makes the case for the left Vox

I would say that Zack has it slightly wrong here. There is not one core reason for passing the baton. There are three reasons: a political reason, a policy-implementation reason, and a we've-learned-about-the-world reason:

Here's Zack Beauchamp: Zack Beauchamp: A Clinton-era Centrist Democrat Explains Why It’s Time to Give Democratic Socialists a Chance: “The Baton Rightly Passes To Our Colleagues On Our Left”: "DeLong believes that the time of people like him running the Democratic Party has passed.... It’s not often that someone in this policy debate — or, frankly, any policy debate — suggests that their side should lose. So I reached out to DeLong to dig into the reasons for his position: Why does he believe that neoliberals’ time in the sun has come to an end?...

...The core reason, DeLong argues, is political. The policies he supports depend on a responsible center-right partner to succeed. They’re premised on the understanding that at least a faction of the Republican Party would be willing to support market-friendly ideas like Obamacare or a cap-and-trade system for climate change. This is no longer the case, if it ever were.... The result, he argues, is the nature of the Democratic Party needs to shift. Rather than being a center-left coalition dominated by market-friendly ideas designed to attract conservative support, the energy of the coalition should come from the left and its broad, sweeping ideas. Market-friendly neoliberals, rather than pushing their own ideology, should work to improve ideas on the left. This, he believes, is the most effective and sustainable basis for Democratic politics and policy for the foreseeable future....

Here's me: We are still here, but it is not our time to lead.... Barack Obama rolls into office with Mitt Romney’s health care policy, with John McCain’s climate policy, with Bill Clinton’s tax policy, and George H.W. Bush’s foreign policy. And did George H.W. Bush, did Mitt Romney, did John McCain say a single good word about anything Barack Obama ever did over the course of eight solid years? No, they f---ing did not.... While I would like to be part of a political coalition in the cat seat, able to call for bids from the left and the right about who wants to be part of the governing coalition to actually get things done, that’s simply not possible...

And: Our current bunch of leftists are wonderful people.... They’re social democrats, they’re very strong believers in democracy. They’re very strong believers in fair distribution of wealth. They could use a little more education about what is likely to work and what is not. But they’re people who we’re very, very lucky to have on our side. That’s especially opposed to the people on the other side, who are very, very strange indeed. You listen to [Never Trump conservatives]... about all the people they had been with in meetings, biting their tongues over the past 25 years, and your reaction can only be, “Why didn’t you run away screaming into the night long ago?”...

And: We learned more about the world. I could be confident in 2005 that [recession] stabilization should be the responsibility of the Federal Reserve. That you look at something like laser-eye surgery or rapid technological progress in hearing aids, you can kind of think that keeping a market in the most innovative parts of health care would be a good thing. So something like an insurance-plus-exchange system would be a good thing to have in America as a whole. It’s much harder to believe in those things now. That’s one part of it. The world appears to be more like what lefties thought it was than what I thought it was for the last 10 or 15 years. ..

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#politics #politicaleconomy #moralresponsibility #highlighted #orangehairedbaboons

That the Bernanke Fed responded to hitting the zero lower bound by lowering its inflation target always struck me as not sane. Yet that is what it did. It went from a 2.5%-per-year core PCE chain inflation target to an asymmetric 2%-or-less-per-year core PCE chain inflation target:

Personal Consumption Expenditures Chain type Price Index FRED St Louis Fed

Paul Krugman back in 1999 demonstrated that a flexible-price economy in which Say's Law holds reacts to hitting the zero lower bound on interest rates with an immediate and discontinuous drop in the price level in order to generate the inflation it needs for the zero nominal interest rate to generate the right neutral real interest rate so that full employment can be maintained. A central bank has one major job: to make Say's Law true in practice even though it is false in theory by pushing the real interest rate to the neutral rate.

Thus there are two not-wrong ways to deal with the zero lower bound problem:

  1. Keep your inflation target high enough that you do not hit the zero lower bound.
  2. If you do hit the zero lower bound, immediately do everything you can to push the inflation rate up until the zero nominal interest rate you have generates the neutral rate interest rate you need.

The Federal Reserve did not do either of the two not-wrong things in the early 2010s. The Federal Reserve's forthcoming "fundamental rethink" will not include an acknowledgement that the Bernanke Fed did a wrong thing in the early 2010s. And according to Gavyn Davies it has already taken the possibility of adopting a policy of doing the right thing—doing either of the right things—off the table. This is not good:

Gavyn Davies: Federal Reserve’s Fundamental Rethink About Inflation: "One idea for avoiding the Japanese deflationary trap is simply to raise the existing inflation target... Clarida has specifically ruled this out.... When prices fall below the long-run 2 per cent target during a recession, the Fed would credibly commit to compensating for this error during the subsequent recovery... the short run inflation rate may exceed 2 per cent while the catch-up to the long-term path occurs...

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Information technology does not fit into a market economy very well. Organizations that focus on profit to the exclusion of all other goals have had a hard time staying dominant in technology industries. Perhaps Google has decided that it is time to focus on profit rather than on leading humanity into the information age: Graydon Saunders: I'm Going to Miss Google: "I mean, it'll be awhile, but they've gone and decided to die.... Rumour—highly plausible rumour—has it that the business decision to kill the Inbox app, rather than the Gmail app, comes down to 'Inbox makes it too easy to dodge promo emails'. Google's original business model was 'let's get more people using the Internet'.  That worked, in large part because there was a vast amount of unrealized utility available.  Now, though, it's turning into ';et's glue eyeballs to ads'. Which, well. You can have success, or you can have control. Both is not an option. This is Google deciding that it MUST have control. That'll kill ya...

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Matt Bruenig: What Do Modern Monetary Theorists Think About Inflation?: "Advocates of Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) say that we should understand all government spending as being funded by seignorage.... This then allows them to say things like 'taxes don’t fund spending' and other bumper-sticker type slogans that mostly just confuse people.... This seems like a tedious rhetorical exercise.... Whether taxes are needed to 'fund spending' or 'offset the inflation caused by seignorage' is in the eye of the beholder, but either way of saying it still concedes that taxes are necessary...

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Scott Aaronson: Quantum Computing, Capabilities and Limits: An Interview with Scott Aaronson: "1,000 qubits... an amplitude... [for] every possible setting of all 1,000 bits.... Quantum mechanics has been telling us since the 1920s... to keep track of the state... nature is somehow keeping track of this list of 2 to the 1000 power complex numbers, which is more numbers than can be written in the entire observable universe. But... when you make a measurement you don’t actually see these numbers, you just see a single probabilistic outcome... a random answer. If you just wanted a random answer, well you could have picked one yourself with a lot less trouble? So the entire hope for getting a speed advantage from a quantum computer is to exploit the way that these amplitudes work differently than probabilities. The main thing that amplitudes can do, that probabilities don’t do is that they can interfere with each other...

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Universal Love, Said The Cactus Person

DMT entities Google Search

Weekend Reading*: Scott Alexander: Universal Love, Said The Cactus Person: "'Universal love', said the cactus person. 'Transcendent joy', said the big green bat. 'Right', I said. 'I’m absolutely in favor of both those things. But before we go any further, could you tell me the two prime factors of 1,522,605,027,922,533,360,535,618,378,132,637,429,718,068,114,961,380,688,657,908,494,580,122,96, 258,952,897,654,000,350,692,006,139?' 'Universal love', said the cactus person. 'Transcendent joy', said the big green bat. The sea was made of strontium; the beach was made of rye. Above my head, a watery sun shone in an oily sky. A thousand stars of sertraline whirled round quetiapine moons, and the sand sizzled sharp like cooking oil that hissed and sang and threatened to boil the octahedral dunes...

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Scott Alexander: Meaningful : "'I’m not claiming humans really know what anything means', said the first angel. 'Just that it’s impressive you can get that far by manipulating a purely symbolic mental language made of sense-data-derived thought-forms with no connection to real Angelic3 at all'. 'I guess that is kind of impressive', said the second angel. 'For humans'...

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Eric Loomis: Bush: "Let’s not forget that Bush Sr was part and parcel of the move of the Republican Party to the right. His actions were not as extreme as that of his son or Trump, but they helped pave the way for what is today an undemocratic party flirting with fascism. I don’t find Bush a despicable or contemptuous figure, but there’s a lot unsavory aspects to the man and his policies that need to be remembered as so many liberals long for the Republican Party where Lee Atwater could racebait Bush into the White House...

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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (March 1, 2019)

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Note to Self: Neoliberal: The 2019 Neoliberal Shill Bracket: "The round of 64 polls will be published tomorrow and will remain up for 48 hours. Each round will have its own thread with all the polls in it. There will be a 24 hour cool off period between rounds for tasteful smack talk...


  1. Jeanne Reames: Hephaistion Philalexandros: in Praise of That Guy behind the Throne

  2. Wikipedia: Folie à Deux

  3. David Bandurski: The Dawn of the Little Red Phone | China Media Project

  4. Federal Reserve Bank of New York: Nowcasting Report

  5. Matt O'Brien: The Important Way the 2008 Crisis Was Worse than the Great Depression

  6. Jacob Levy: The Defense of Liberty Can’t Do Without Identity Politics | Democracy for Republicans | Two Hundred Years of the Liberty of the Moderns | Why I Am Not a Moderate

  7. Spencer Strub

  8. Dylan Riley

  9. Anne Case: Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism

  10. The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Science: This 'what if we took this equation seriously?' factor... is... the spookiest thing.... Take the h in Max Planck's equation seriously, and you have the quantum principle—something that was not in Planck's brain when he wrote the equation down. Take seriously the symmetry in Maxwell's equations between the force generated when you move a magnet near a wire and the force and the force generated when you move a wire near a magnet, and you have Special Relativity—something that was not in Maxwell's brain when he wrote down the equation.Take Newton's gravitational force law's equivalence between inertial and gravitational mass seriously and you have General Relativity—something never in Newton's mind. And take the mathematical pathology at r = 2M in the Schwarzchild metric for the space-timemetric around a point mass seriously, and you have event horizons—and black holes...

  11. Sean Carroll (2009): Boltzmann's Universe: "I wanted to emphasize something Dennis says quite explicitly, but (from experience) I know that people tend to jump right past in their enthusiasm: 'Nobody in the field believes that this is the way things really work, however.' The point about Boltzmann’s Brains is not that they are a fascinating prediction of an exciting new picture of the multiverse. On the contrary, the point is that they constitute a reductio ad absurdum that is meant to show the silliness of a certain kind of cosmology...

  12. Charlie Stross (2008): : The Fermi Paradox Revisited; Random Despatches from the Front Line

  13. Theodor W. Adorno and Max Horkheimer (): _[Dialectic of Enlightenment https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1859841546

  14. Dylan Riley: The Third Reich as Rogue Regime Adam Tooze’s "Wages of Destruction"

  15. Olivier Blanchard: Public Debt: Fiscal and Welfare Costs in a Time of Low Interest Rates

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I have to think about this: Yes, distributions have lower tails. but it still seems to me that the absence of clearly visible life out there is powerful evidence that there is a "Great Filter": that one of the parameters (or more than one of the parameters) in the Drake Equation is near zero. Sandberg et al. seem to me to be arguing not so much that the absence of visible life out there is likely even if none of the parameters are near zero, but that our uncertainty is so great that it is not surprising that the universe we live in has one or more parameters near zero even though the average value of each parameter across all universes we might live in is larger: Anders Sandberg, Eric Drexler and Toby Ord (): Dissolving the Fermi Paradox: "The Fermi question is not a paradox, it just looks like one if one is overconfident in how well we know the Drake equation parameters. Doing a distribution model shows that even existing literature allows for a substantial probability of very little life, and a more cautious prior gives a significant probability for rare life. The Fermi observation makes the most uncertain priors move strongly, reinforcing the 'rare life' guess and an early 'Great Filter'...

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Sean Carroll (2009): Remembering the Past is Like Imagining the Future: "The way that the human brain goes about the task of 'remembering the past' is actually very similar to how it goes about 'imagining the future'.... That’s what Daniel Schacter at Harvard and his friends have discovered, by doing functional MRI studies of brains subjected to different kinds of cues.... Pieces of data relevant to any particular memory—times, images, sounds—are stored piecemeal in different parts of the brain. When we want to 'remember' something, another part of the brain assembles these pieces into a (hopefully) coherent picture. It’s like running a new simulation every time you need a memory, and it’s the same thing we do when we try to imagine some event in the future.... Memories can be unreliable... many of us don’t appreciate the extent to which that is true.... False memories—conjured from any number of sources, from gradual embellishment to direct suggestion by others—seem precisely as vivid and real to us as accurate memories do. For a good reason: the brain uses the same tools to construct the memory from the available raw materials. A novel and a history book look the same on the printed page...

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Todd N. Tucker: @toddntucker: "Trump's desperation to get a deal after the collapse of North Korea talks is probably going to mean the US will not get anything meaningful on Chinese economic reforms:

Jenny Leonard: @jendeben: "NEW: U.S. officials are rushing to finalize Trump's China deal even as hawks in his administration want to push Beijing for more concessions. Trump wants a signing summit ASAP. His team has been on the phone with Chinese officials to iron out details:

Jenny Leonard, Andrew Mayeda, and Saleha Mohsin: U.S. Said to Ready Final China Trade Deal as Hawks Urge Caution: "The preparations for a Trump-Xi summit come amid conflicting signals from the Trump administration.... Mnuchin... Kudlow said the countries are on the verge of an 'historic' pact.... Lighthizer told lawmakers that more work needs to be done and said the administration won’t accept a deal that doesn’t include significant 'structural' changes to China’s state-driven economy. He also stressed the need for a enforcement mechanism, allowing the U.S. to take unilateral action if China breaks the rules...

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It is far from clear to me that the risk of a U.S. recession this year is low. The risk that a recession will be called is low. The risk that a recession will start is 30%:Gavyn Davies: Alarm Bells Ring for the Goldilocks World Economy: "Markets seem willing to overlook the continuing slowdown in the advanced economies, which has taken the latest growth rate to only 0.8 per cent.... This is perversely seen as good news because it will reduce the likelihood of further interest rate increases.... The dovish turn in US monetary policy has been confirmed by an unusual volte-face in policy guidance by the Fed leadership in the space of a few weeks.... This phase of the cycle is often described as the Goldilocks zone, in which growth — like the heroine’s porridge in The Story of the Three Bears—is neither too hot nor too cold.... Meanwhile, growth is still high enough to indicate that the risk of outright recession in the next 12 months remains close to zero.... While the US is still clinging to the middle of the Goldilocks zone, the eurozone is flirting with the bottom boundary of its zone. Any further decline in the nowcast would see a large increase in the probability of a European recession this year. With the Japanese nowcast already in negative territory and Asian trade flows headed sharply downwards, the markets may not be able to ignore much further weakness in the world economy...

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Three cheers for Janet Napolitano!: Brian Resnick: University of California Drops Subscriptions to Elsevier, World’s Largest Publisher of Scientific Papers: "The University of California, the largest public academic system in the US, is ending its subscription to Elsevier, the world’s biggest and most influential publisher of academic research.... The University of California doesn’t want scientific knowledge locked up behind paywalls, and thinks the costs of academic publishing have grown out of control. 'I fully support our faculty, staff, and students in breaking down paywalls that hinder the sharing of groundbreaking research', said UC president and former Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. 'This issue does not just impact UC, but also countless scholars, researchers, and scientists across the globe—and we stand with them in their push for full, unfettered access'. The break came, as Stat News reports, after months of failed negotiations between the California university system and the publisher...

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Dylan Riley (2003): Privilege and Property: The Political Foundations of Failed Class Formation in Eighteenth-Century Austrian Lombardy: "Political society is reducible neither to interests in civil society, nor to the state.... The structure of political society matters for group formation.... A political society, in which actors make claims on the state in terms of privileges attached to residence, rather than property ownership, inhibits class formation even when other factors, such as the relations of production, state pressure, and culture, promote it. Where such a political organization is not broken, class formation will not occur even in the presence of strong economic, state-centered, and cultural pressures...

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Yes, the Fed's Target Is Now too High. Why Do You Ask?

Even though the first quarter of 2019 is only two-thirds over, practically all of the private-sector decisions that will determine the level of economic growth from the first quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2019 have already been made. Moreover, because of a statistical quirk 8/9 of the components of the growth rate have already occurred, and we have reasonable data on 2/3 of the components. So the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's forecast that the first-quarter growth rate will be only 0.9% is now a semi-solid thing: you cannot take it to the bank, but you can borrow on it (the last three month-out misses were 0, +0.2, and -0.4 respectively):

Nowcasting Report FEDERAL RESERVE BANK of NEW YORK

It's not a recession. Not quite. But it is clear that even if 2.4% were the right target for the short safe nominal interest rate two months ago, it is not the right target for the short safe nominal interest rate now. The Fed should cut.

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This is wrong. It says Paul Krugman believes things he simply does not believe. Paul Krugman simply does not believe that "you can have any size deficit and still have full employment because the central bank can always establish the 'right size' interest rate to get you there". Not "always": sometimes. There is a point where the IS-Curve intersects the x-axis, and if you are not at full employment by then—if the neutral interest rate is below zero—then conventional monetary policy cannot get to full employment. Thus this response is simply not useful at all: Stephanie Kelton: Paul Krugman’s Four Questions About MMT: "Krugman...[is] asserting that you can have any size deficit and still have full employment because the central bank can always establish the 'right size' interest rate to get you there. I disagree...

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