Looking Backwards from This Week at 24, 16, 8, 4, 2, 1, 1/2, and 1/4 Years Ago (July 24-30, 2019)

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Three Months Ago (April 24-30, 2019):

  • SEDAC: Population Estimation Tools:
     

  • It is very common to attribute the collapse of Roman Republican institutions and the rise of Imperial dictatorship to a loss of moral virtue on behalf of the Roman electorate—who are supposed to have fallen prey to demagogues and voted for bread-and-circuses as the underlying foundations of liberty collapsed underneath them. That story is not true. Here Sean Elling sends us to Edward Watts on the real story—recently enriched plutocracy breaking political norm after political norm in an attempt to disrupt what had been the normal grievance-redressing operation of the system: Sean Illing: Mortal Republic: Edward Watts on what America can learn from Rome’s collapse...

  • Rosa Luxemburg: "Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for the members of one party... is no freedom at all. Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently.... All that is instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this essential characteristic, and its effectiveness vanishes when ‘freedom’ becomes a special privilege...

  • Edmund Wilson (1940): Trotsky, History, and Providence: Weekend Reading: "These statements make no sense whatever unless one substitutes for the words history and dialectic of history the words Providence and God.... There sometimes can turn out to be valuable objects cast away in the garbage-pile of history.... From the point of view of the Stalinist Soviet Union, that is where Trotsky himself is today; and he might well discard his earlier assumption that an isolated individual must needs be 'pitiful' for the conviction of Dr. Stockman in Ibsen's Enemy of the People that 'the strongest man is he who stands most alone'...

  • The Knot of War 1870-1914: An Intake from "Slouching Towards Utopia?: An Economic History of the Long Twentieth Century 1870-2016"

  • Henry Farrell and Bruce Schneier: Information Attacks on Democracies: "Democracies, in contrast, are vulnerable to information attacks that turn common political knowledge into contested political knowledge. If people disagree on the results of an election, or whether a census process is accurate, then democracy suffers. Similarly, if people lose any sense of what the other perspectives in society are, who is real and who is not real, then the debate and argument that democracy thrives on will be degraded. This is what seems to be Russia’s aims in their information campaigns against the U.S.: to weaken our collective trust in the institutions and systems that hold our country together. This is also the situation that writers like Adrien Chen and Peter Pomerantsev describe in today’s Russia, where no one knows which parties or voices are genuine, and which are puppets of the regime, creating general paranoia and despair...

 

Six Months Ago (January 24-30, 2019):

  • Commonwealth Club: Annual Economic Forecast Event (January 25, 2019): Relevant Files

  • Trying to blame poor nonwhite people and social democratic governance for the faults of Wall Street seemed to me several bridges too far back a decade ago. Yet Steve Moore and Larry Kudlow seem to have gained rather than lost influence on the right from their eagerness to do so. They very sharp Barry Ritholtz takes exception: Barry Ritholtz (2016): No, the CRA Did Not Cause the Financial Crisis...

  • Everyone who gets a C in first-semester statistics knows that if your sample is random you do not have to double the number of data points when the population doubles.... Fake and fuzzy math in the service of trying to lowball civilian war deaths is not just stupid. It is evil: Stephen Moore (2006): 655,000 War Dead? A Bogus Study on Iraq Casualties: "I was surprised to read that a study by a group from Johns Hopkins University claims that 655,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the war.... Another study in Kosovo cites the use of 50 cluster points, but this was for a population of just 1.6 million, compared to Iraq's 27 million...

  • Adam Tooze attributes to me the idea that many of the problems of the past decade stem from the fact that we had "the wrong crisis"—and that we then in large part reacted to the crisis we had expected but did not in fact have. But I think this point is more Matt's than mine: Matthew Yglesias (2012): The Crisis We Should Have Had: "The US economy from 2002-2006... someday soon, the capital flows would come to an end... the value of the dollar would crash, restraining inflation would require high interest rates, and the US economy would feature a period of painful restructuring.... Sections of Tyler Cowen’s The Great Stagnation are about the crisis we should have had... Spence’s The Next Convergence... Stiglitz’ recent Vanity Fair article... Mandel’s piece on the myth of American productivity.... I can name others.... An awful lot of the Obama agenda has been about efforts to address the crisis we should have had. That’s why long-term fiscal austerity is important and why there was no “holy crap the economy’s falling apart, let’s forget about comprehensive reform of the health, energy, and education sectors” moment back in 2009...

  • Adrian Wooldridge Is... the Vicar of Bray!: October 27, 2004: "[Bush's] presidency has been momentous—two terms rolled into one, by any decent reckoning... transformed American policy... transformed American conservatism... shifted power dramatically in favor of social conservatives... the radicalism of America's post-Sept. 11 foreign policy... spreading democracy to an area of the world where the Reaganites feared to tread... the greatest Republican party builder since William McKinley..." January 15, 2009: "[Bush] leaves the White House... one of the least popular and most divisive presidents... approval rating... stuck in the 20s... catastrophic collapse in America’s reputation... deep recession.... Bush family name... now so tainted... poisoned by his own ambition... [the] 'timeless fraternity boy' wanted to be a great president... hated anything that was 'small ball'..."

  • Note to Self: A Comment on Development Engineering: With respect to "doing good versus doing well"... From an economist's point of view, the economy is a decentralized societal calculating machine. It... tries, in a utilitarian way, to increase social welfare—which it roughly defines as summing everybody's well-being, with each person's well-being weighted by their lifetime wealth.... 'Doing well' [is] achieved by increasing resources that produce things for which rich people have a serious Jones. Serving the global poor is not going to do that. So making a living serving the poor requires focusing on one of two things: (1) Finding an organization—a government or an NGO—that is willing to some degree to commit resources to bend this market logic of "to those who have, more shall be given". (2) Find some people who have skills and resources and industry that are somehow blocked from the sight of the world market, and figure out a narrow strategic intervention that will makes those resources visible—and hence valuable...

 

A Year Ago (July 24-30, 2018):

 

Two Years Ago (July 24-30, 2017):

  • Public Spheres for the Trump Age: No Longer Fresh at Project Syndicate: A university is a safe space for ideas in which they can be expressed. A space is also a safe space in which ideas can be evaluated and judged—and in which we can change and are strongly encouraged to change out our old ideas for those that rational discussion and debate leads us to judge as better. And a university is also a safe space for scholars to grow and develop. Summers is right to note that "a liberal education that does not cause moments of acute discomfort is a failure." Summers is wrong to fail to note that much student acute discomfort comes from attempts to deny that students belong at the university and from attempts to prematurely close down discussion. And faculty should be encouraged—strongly encouraged—to attend seminars where they think hard about when and how and if they should say things like "meritocracy is a good thing", given who their students are, where they come from, what their preparation is—and, indeed, the origins of the term as a label for something the sociologist who coined the term thought was a bad thing indeed...

  • Monday Smackdown: Every Time I Try to Get Out, They Pull Me Back In... Clive Crook Edition: "So after a pep talk from Noah Smith Saturday night about how it is time to become kinder and gentler—to look for opportunities to praise for being smart people who in the past I have criticized for being really really really dumb—I wake up Monday morning, and I wince because Duncan Black has been reading the once-thoughtful Clive Crook again: "People is weird... 'let's shoot ourselves in the face just to prove our gun works'..." is really four standard deviations kinder and gentler than this deserves...

  • Clueless DeLong Was Clueless About What Was Coming in 2007 and 2008

  • (Early) Monday Smackdown/Hoisted: John Cogan, Tobias Cwik, John Taylor, and Volker Wieland's Reputational Bet on Fiscal Policy Is Due, and They Are Bankrupt...: "Apropos of Simon Johnson's, Charlie Steindel's, and my... distaste... for the 3%/year growth fake forecasts of Cogan, Hubbard, Taylor, and Warsh... Let me say that in Taylor's case, at least, this type of bullshit misrepresentation of what we know and what the evidence says has now been going on for a very long time.... Tuesday afternoon I sat down to reread Romer and Bernstein (2009), which I had read before, and Cogan, Cwik, Taylor, and Wieland (2009), which I had not, and I ran into a problem. On page 2 Cogan et al. write that their Figure 1 shows how Romer and Bernstein think government spending affects the economy along with "exactly the same policy change... in another study... by one of us [John Taylor]... the results are vastly different".... This surprised me. I had talked to Christy. I had talked to Jared. I knew that their intention had been to pull standard models off the shelf and use them. So I dug—and found that Cogan et al.’s claim of “exactly the same policy change” was simply wrong.... My first thought was, “this is embarrassing—none of four coauthors of Cogan actually read Romer-Bernstein. Sloppy.” Then I got to page 5.... Cogan et al. know perfectly well that the policy changes are not “exactly the same.” They just say they are.... The offer that if Cogan, Taylor, and company shape up and recall intellectual standards they can come back into the game is now withdrawn...

 

Four Years Ago (July 24-30, 2015):

  • David Glasner: Milton Friedman’s Cluelessness about the Insane Bank of France: "Friedman was not alone in his cluelessness. F. A. Hayek, with whom, apart from their common belief in the price-specie-flow fallacy, Friedman shared almost no opinions about monetary theory and policy, infamously defended the Bank of France in 1932: 'France did not prevent her monetary circulation from increasing by the very same amount as that of the gold inflow–and this alone is necessary for the gold standard to function...' Thus, like Friedman, Hayek completely ignored the effect that the monumental accumulation of gold by the Bank of France had on the international value of gold. That Friedman accused the Bank of France of violating the ‘gold-standard rules’ while Hayek denied the accusation simply shows, notwithstanding the citations by the Swedish Central Bank of the work that both did on the Great Depression when awarding them their Nobel Memorial Prizes, how far away they both were from an understanding of what was actually going on during that catastrophic period...

  • Depression's Advocates: Back in the darker days of late 2008 and 2009, I had one line in my talks that sometimes got applause, usually got a laugh, and always made people more optimistic. Because the North Atlantic had lived through the 1930s, I would say, this time we will not make the same mistakes policymakers made in the 1930s. This time we will make our own, different—and hopefully lesser—mistakes. I was wrong. The eurozone is making the mistakes of the 1930s once again. And it is on the point of making them in a more brutal, more exaggerated, and more persistent form than they were made back in the 1930s.... I did not see that coming...

 

Eight Years Ago (July 24-30, 2011):

  • The Phasing Out of the 2009 Recovery Act and the Recoveryless Recovery: Had the Recovery Act been continued, our average rate of GDP growth over the past three quarters would have been not 1.3%/year but instead 2.7%/year. I had thought that Christina Romer had gotten a commitment from Obama in 2009 that there would be "no 1937s": no premature phase-out of fiscal stimulus before the recovery was well established...

  • Sixty-Odd Slides

 

Sixteen Years Ago (July 24-30, 2003):

  • Vexilla Regis Prodeunt Inferni: Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Matthew Yglesias pause to watch the Pope and his entourage go by in the great carnival that is the human parade, and their jaws drop in disbelief, and they are moved to fits of rage—or, in Matthew Yglesias's case, to accusations of "shoddy thinking" (which is as close to rage as he gets to rage): Electrolite: "I'm not actually back home yet, but some things leave one too agog not to blog. In this morning's New York Times, here's the Vatican fulminating over the idea of granting gay people the same legal rights as anyone else...

  • Shorting Poindexter: Tom Maguire wonders why it was that proponents of DARPA's Policy Analysis Markets played up the idea of the U.S. government funding trading pits in bioweapons attacks on Israel and assassinations of foreign leaders, rather than talking about forecasting indexes of political stability and economic output...

  • Post-Austrian = Post-Keynesian?: After tormenting Tyler Cowen, Daniel Davies decides that post-Austrian Tyler and post-Keynesian Daniel are really long-lost brothers: "Crooked Timber: Dumb it up, Tyler! : ...Both Tyler and myself are quite a long way outside the mainstream of neoclassical economics. He's basically an Austrian, I'm a Post-Keynesian. And in fact, Tyler's particular brand of 'New' Austrianism is very close to Post-Keynesianism indeed...

  • Divergent Expectations: MSN's Jim Jubak worries about the striking divergence between the (relatively pessimistic) expectations of consumers and the (relatively optimistic) expectations of Wall Street analysts. He seems to come down on the side of consumers: he thinks that the confirming numbers one would expect to see if analysts' forecasts of a strong second-half recovery were coming true are hard to find...

  • How Stupid Does National Review Think We Are?: "This time its Stephen Moore—he who can't count—of the Club for Stagnation.... Does Moore really suppose that his readers are too dumb to remember that the Great Depression was already 3 1/2 years old when Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in March 1933? That the unemployment rate in 1933 was already 25%—its Great Depression nadir?...

  • The Economist on Global Climate Change: The Economist sets out the challenge of global warming, and what we need to start doing about it. Most of the article is smart, but there is a sentence at the end that makes me wonder if the Economist's writers should be allowed to run loose without keepers. When they look at George Bush, Dick Cheney, Tom DeLay, and Bill Frist, do they really believe that there is "hope that today's peacetime politicians may rise to the occasion"—even a glimmer of hope—or are they just being ironic?...

  • The Ugly Chicken Feet of Collectivism: Citizens and others, this month's excursion into political philosophy takes us to the Tug Boat Potemkin, where they are worrying about whether a libertarian can be philosophically consistent and still go out for (Chinese brunch) dim sum...

  • High-Tech Investment: There will be another telecom investment boom, someday...

  • More on DARPA's Policy Analysis Market: I sense a little tension here. If the stakes are too small to create moral hazard, why should experts spend their time and money in the market? Markets are good information-aggregators because they offer those with good information the chance to make a healthy profit. I will be interested to see how well it does—when somebody with a thicker skin than DARPA funds this, that is. I think it will create useful knowledge about information aggregation mechanism...

  • You Do Need a Weatherman: This is probably the last generation for which this is true, but it's still the case that the health of the Indian economy depends on the quality of the monsoon...

  • More Lies, This Time from National Review: Donald Luskin picks up on the Andrew Sullivan chorus: "Paul Krugman's worst nightmare is coming true.... "His hopes for recession seem to be receding." Now everybody who has been reading Paul Krugman knows that he has been spending a substantial chunk of his time pushing for more stimulative economic policies to avoid any return of recession...

  • Costly California Recall Election: I would like the state of California to pay as little interest as possible. However, bond traders—at least those quoted by the New York Times—see the recall election as a bizarre extra source of risk, and they are going to demand higher interest rates from California bonds...

  • Excellent News for Ozone Man: No, the ozone layer is not becoming thicker. But at least it is now becoming thinner at a slower rate...

  • Moral Hazard: DARPA's ideas to research whether derivative markets will produce good forecasts of future politico-military events is an interesting idea in how to aggregate information.... However, there is the... moral hazard problem. I mean, people who offer fire insurance have a moral hazard problem. This might create a much bigger such problem...

  • Things Are Always Worse Than You Think They Are Department: We knew that 1980s CIA Director William Casey was an out-of-control maniac. We did not know that he was providing Pakistan's ISI with support and encouraging them to launch cross-border raids into the Soviet Union to blow up gasoline storage tanks, destroy electric power stations, and attack border guard posts...

  • iPod: The most important thing about the iPod is not that it is portable.... What is it, then? It is that it is concentrated music, essence of music...

  • Blithe Unconcern: DeLong tries and fails to figure out why the Bush Administration makes the economic policy decisions it does...

  • The Return of the Budget Deficit: John F. Irons interprets the return of budget deficits...

  • Anne Applebaum on Ann Coulter: Anne Applebaum on Ann Coulter.... "Whatever side this woman is on, I don't want to be on it...

  • Notes: Some Historical Questions: Some historical questions I want to find the answers to...

  • Needed: Bigger Laptop Batteries...

  • D—-!: Bad news this morning about the U.S. business cycle...

  • 2000 Election County by County: Alas! It's a misleading red-blue map, not the more informative and accurate purple-purple one...

  • A Clever Plan Indeed: Charles Dodgson finds confirmation of his idea that everything stupid the White House does is really part of a very clever plan...

  • Excellent! The County-by-County Purple Map: The industrious Ogged, a prince among truffle-hunting internet pigs, turns up...

  • Mastering the Art of French Cooking: "Jefferson's will directed that Joe Fossett should be give his freedom, effective in July 1827—presumably because he was a favorite slave as well as Sally Hemings's half-nephew. Six months before that... his wife and his children [had been] sold to the highest bidder at the auction of Monticello's 'negroes'. It could have been worse: Edy and their two youngest children were bought by... Joe's brother-in-law.... Two teenaged daughters were also sold to Charlottesville residents... the Fossett family had survived the Monticello auction with only three of the children lost to an unknown fate. And ten years later Joe Fossett, free Negro, having by hard work and various financial maneuvers managed to buy back his wife Edy and the children still living with her... legally emancipated them...

  • Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom: Preamble

  • Reading the Soul of Thomas Jefferson: Across two centuries, E.M. Halliday attempts a close reading of Thomas Jefferson's soul. This kind of thing usually goes very badly. Halliday's reading, however, is remarkably persuasive...

  • Mervyn King Coos Like a Sucking Dove: With its new Governor, Mervyn King, at its head, the Bank of England cuts interest rates...

  • The Wedge Between Output and Employment Growth: Alan Beattie of the Financial Times writes about the productivity-boom generated wedge between output growth and employment growth. I would be surprised if there were any employment growth at all in America over the next year unless real GDP growth exceeds 3.5% per year...

  • False Advertising: Suppose you colored states not by which candidate their electoral votes were cast for, but by who their citizens voted for. Suppose you mixed X% Democratic blue with Y% Republican red. What would it look like? It would look like this...

  • The Long-Term Budget Outlook: Brookings's Bill Gale talks turkey about the long-term fiscal-policy mess George W. Bush and company have gotten us into...

  • Locking the Barn Door: Will this do any good? Will this make Wall Street less willing to play along the next time an Enron appears? I don't know... "WSJ.com - JP Morgan, Citigroup to Pay $255 Million in Enron Case: NEW YORK — JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup agreed Monday to pay a total of $255 million for their roles in Enron's manipulation...

  • Raita: Recipes: Raita. We'll be making a lot of this now that the Ten-Year-Old has decided to be vegetarian...

  • Len Burman et al. on the Alternative Minimum Tax: Of all the things that need to be done to the U.S. tax code, perhaps the most urgent is the need to fix the Alternative Minimum Tax—the AMT. If you needed yet another example of the Bush White House's lack of concern for the substance of policy, its ignorance of the AMT is a good place to look...

  • Imperialism: A User's Manual: Rudyard Kipling writes about how this "colonization" business actually works where the rubber meets the road...

  • Bearers of Bad Tidings: AP's Tom Raum notices an interesting pattern.... "One curious fact stands out. Some who gave President Bush unwelcome information that turned out to be accurate are gone..

  • More Good Business-Cycle News: Well. It's starting to look good—as if we may finally get a healthy recovery, in production at least...

  • Notes: In the Shadow of Malthus...

  • Yes, Virginia, There Is a Law of Large Numbers: All those who believed William Bennett—and disbelieved the law of large numbers—when he claimed he had come out "close to even" in his gambling need to mark their beliefs to market...

  • The Good Things in Life: "Wendell Berry comes out foursquare in favor of the good things in life: short life expectancy, chronic malnutrition, plague, and poverty...

  • Technorati Is Remarkable II: Christopher Lydon makes my enthusiasm for Technorati look like weak tea...

  • Andrew Sullivan = Noam Chomsky: I had an epiphany this evening, an epiphany provoked by reading Andrew Sullivan immediately after reading something smart by the highly intelligent Tom Nichols of the Naval War College. Nichols wrote, appropos of Noam Chomsky: "What many of us find objectionable, however, is Chomsky's fundamental hypocrisy and dishonesty.... Chomsky's writing is meant to mislead and to distort.... He is a practitioner of the Big Lie approach to political debate: if a falsehood is stated baldly and loudly enough, it'll get by.... Here's a gem from the New Mandarins (1967): "Three times in a generation American technology has laid waste a helpless Asian country," that is, Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. This is a statement that is so simplistic and dishonest one can only marvel at Chomsky's audacity in saying it. Imperial Japan, helpless? North Korea, rolling its tanks to the Pusan perimeter and coming within a whisker of conquering the peninsula, helpless? But Chomsky is smart enough to know one thing: if he puts it on the printed page, some less perceptive reader will assume it to be true, and the propaganda will have worked its purpose...

  • Land Reform in Brazil: This may turn into Lula da Silva's biggest problem...

  • Technorati Is Remarkable: David Sifry's Technorati is remarkable!...

  • The Durability of the Social-Insurance State: Peter Lindert thinks hard about just why it is that the high-tax high-benefit social-insurance states of the twentieth century appear to have managed to redistribute income and provide enormous amounts of social services and social insurance without suffering any measurable penalty in terms of their rates of economic growth. He may well be right. It's certainly worth thinking about...

  • Crude Life Expectancy Estimates: For the world for the last 2000 years...

  • The Demographic Transition: The shape of the demographic transition since 1820...

  • Books: Witness: Whittaker Chambers (1952), Witness (New York: Random House: 0895267896)...

  • Smart Matter, Smart Muffins: This morning I found myself staring at something called a "Smart Morning Carrot Muffin." I found myself wondering what offensive-warfare, target-acquisition, and information-processing capabilities it had. Clearly I have been rereading too many Ken MacLeod novels too rapidly...

  • Microsoft Quality Software: Microsoft's Slate is supposed to dump a nicely-formatted text email of its "Today's Papers" column into my email box sometime around 4:00 AM Pacific Time each morning. The email message below appears to have started its odyssey at 2:46 AM PT. But it showed up in my email inbox at 9:15 PM PT—having thus spent 18 1/2 hours in transit...

  • Where's My Stuff?: The future really is here. It's just not evenly distributed yet. This will only be really important to me when each of my books knows what it is. Those are the only things I regularly fail to find...

  • Stephen Roach Talks About the Output Gap...

  • Bernanke Speech on Monetary Policy in a Low Inflation Environment: He sees the Federal Reserve's principal weak point as a possible inability to convince private market participants that the Federal Reserve intends to keep short-term rates as low for as long as it in fact intends to...

  • When Chomskyites Attack!: Ed Herman claims that Chomsky's defense of Nazi sympathizer Robert Faurisson was "solely a defense of the right of free speech and that from beginning to end that was all the struggle was about for Chomsky." PUH-LEEAAZE! Chomsky did not write that Faurisson was a Nazi sympathizer whose right to free speech needed to be defended on Voltairean principles. Chomsky wrote that Faurisson seemed to be "a relatively apolitical liberal" who was being smeared by zionists who—for ideological reasons—did not like his "findings." Herman then repeats the lie by claiming that Faurisson's critics were "unable to provide any credible evidence of anti-Semitism or neo-Naziism." Feh!...

  • Yay! Good Employment News!: The first not-bad news about employment in five months...

  • Notes: Time to Learn About the Asbestos Cluster——: One of the most mammoth of the many failures of our common law-based legal system has been the extraordinary mess created by asbestos litigation...

  • Germany on the Eve of the Great Depression: The second saddest book on my bookshelf was published in 1928, by the British publisher Methuen. The book's title was Republican Germany: An Economic and Political Survey. It was written by two British political scientists: H. Quigley and R.T. Clark. In the introduction the authors wrote that they were fortunate because they had a single, central, powerful theme: the coming-to-maturity of the post-World War I German republic...

 

Twenty-Four Yeares Ago (July 24-30, 1995):


#highlighted #weblogs #hoistedfromthearchives

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