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August 2019

Donald Trump: That is why we need strong, sound, and steady [pause] leadership, at the United States Federal Reserve. I have nominated Jay to be our next Federal Chairman. [pause] And so important, because he will provide exactly that type of leadership. He's strong. He's committed. He's smart. And, if he is confirmed by the Senate, Jay will put his considerable talents to work, leading our nation's independent central bank. Jay has learned the respect and admiration of his colleagues for his hard work, expertise, and judgment. Based on his record, I am confident Jay has the wisdom and leadership to guide our economy through any challenges that our great economy may face...

Donald Trump: Our Economy is very strong, despite the horrendous lack of vision by Jay Powell and the Fed, but the Democrats are trying to “will” the Economy to be bad for purposes of the 2020 Election. Very Selfish! Our dollar is so strong that it is sadly hurting other parts of the world. The Fed Rate, over a fairly short period of time, should be reduced by at least 100 basis points, with perhaps some quantitative easing as well. If that happened, our Economy would be even better, and the World Economy would be greatly and quickly enhanced-good for everyone!..

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Introducing Partha Dasgupta: Economics: A Very Short Introduction

479 Social Capital and Natural Resources Sir Partha Dasgupta YouTube

Introducing Partha Dasgupta: Economics: A Very Short Introduction

http://amzn.to/2gR2jH3

Back in 1800, nearly the entire world lived in dire poverty—what we today see as the dire poverty line of $1.90 a day, a level at which you are spending more than half your income on bare calories and essential nutrients, the minimum of heat and shelter, and the minimum of clothing. Below that line, certainly your health and perhaps your life is impacted: women become too skinny to reliably ovulate, and children become too malnourished to have healthy and effective immune systems. Back in 1800, there were only a few economies where the median household had a standard of living of more than $3 a day: Germany, France, Austria, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, the U.K., the U.S., and that was it.

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Guido Alfani and Cormac Ó Gráda: The Timing and Causes of Famines in Europe: "Studies of modern famines tend to consider them ‘man-made’, resulting from war or from adverse shocks to food entitlements. This view has increasingly been applied to historical famines, against the earlier Malthusian orthodoxy. We use a novel dataset and temporal scan analysis to identify periods when famines were particularly frequent in Europe, from ca. 1250 to the present. Up to 1710, the main clusters of famines occurred in periods of historically high population density. This relationship disappears after 1710. We analyse in detail the famines in England, France and Italy during 1300–1850, and find strong evidence that before 1710 high population pressure on resources was by far the most frequent remote cause of famines (while the proximate cause was almost invariably meteorological). We conclude, in contrast with the currently prevailing view, that most preindustrial famines were the result of production, not distribution issues. Only after 1710 did man-made famines become prevalent...

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Project Syndicate: Brad DeLong for PS Say More: "Welcome to Say More, a new weekly newsletter that brings Project Syndicate's renowned contributors closer to readers. Each issue invites a selected contributor to expand on topics covered in their commentaries, delve into new ones, and share recommendations, offering readers exclusive insights into the ideas, interests, and personalities of the world's leading thinkers. This week, Project Syndicate catches up with Brad DeLong...

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I missed this too when it came out three years ago: Chris Blattman: Black Lives Matter, Economic History Edition: "Trevon Logan’s Presidential address to the National Economics Association. Partly he calculates the productivity of his sharecropping ancestors relative to slave holding estates a century before (a persistent question in American economic history). But mainly he makes an argument for doing more qualitative interviews, which seems like an obvious point, except that systematic qualitative work is the exception in economic history (as it is in development economics): 'That richer, fuller picture reveals that the work behind the estimates came to define the way that the Logan children viewed racial relations, human capital, savings, investment, and nearly every aspect of their lives..... We also learn that it is impossible to divorce the work from its social environment, an era in which Jim Crow, segregation, and other elements of overt racial oppression were a fact of life...

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Liveblogging: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Death of Penda

Journey To Normandy Scene 1

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (J.A. Giles and J. Ingram trans.): Death of Penda: "A.D. 655. This year Penda was slain at Wingfield, and thirty royal personages with him, some of whom were kings. One of them was Ethelhere, brother of Anna, king of the East-Angles. The Mercians after this became Christians...

...From the beginning of the world had now elapsed five thousand eight hundred and fifty winters, when Peada, the son of Penda, assumed the government of the Mercians. In his time came together himself and Oswy, brother of King Oswald, and said, that they would rear a minster to the glory of Christ, and the honour of St. Peter. And they did so, and gave it the name of Medhamsted; because there is a well there, called Meadswell. And they began the groundwall, and wrought thereon; after which they committed the work to a monk, whose name was Saxulf. He was very much the friend of God, and him also loved all people. He was nobly born in the world, and rich: he is now much richer with Christ.

But King Peada reigned no while; for he was betrayed by his own queen, in Easter-tide. This year Ithamar, Bishop of Rochester, consecrated Deus-dedit to Canterbury, on the twenty-sixth day of March...

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Tim Duy: Paving The Way To Rate Cuts: "The Fed will cut interest rates at least 25bp in September.... The manufacturing sector is weak.... Still... the slowdown in the sector has yet to match that of 2015-16 nor does it even approach something consistent with a recession. I have said this before, but it should be said again: As manufacturing becomes a smaller portion of the economy, we should expect more instances of manufacturing downturns or even manufacturing recessions being separate from the overall business cycle. In contrast, the much larger consumer sector of the economy continues to power forward. Retail sales sustained the rebound from turn-of-the-year weakness and core sales are again growing at a roughly 5% year-over-year rate.... The general continued strength in spending reflects the solid labor market. In my opinion, job losses need to mount before consumer spending will crumble. Low and steady initial unemployment claims indicate that those job losses are not yet on the horizon...

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Ancient Economies: A Malthusian Model: Markdown Notebook

DRAFT: Ancient Economies: A Malthusian Model : The math for complicating the standard Solow Growth Model with (a) a rate of population growth that depends positively on the excess of spending on necessities above "subsistence" and (b) a level of the efficiency-of-labor that depends inversely on population, as a higher population induces resource scarcity that makes labor less productive. For understanding both the long-term apparent stagnation of living standards between the Neolithic and the Industrial Revolutions, and for understanding the rise and fall of ancient civilizations. Question: How should we add on to the Python class for the Solow Growth Model to turn this into a tool for doing problem sets for Econ 101b (and perhaps 135):

https://nbviewer.jupyter.org/github/braddelong/LS2019/blob/master/2019-08-17-Ancient_Economies.ipynb

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A Competitive Market: Python Class/Notebook

DRAFT: A Competitive Market: A Python class for a competitive market equilibrium with linear supply and demand curves—equilibrium price, equilibrium quantity, producer surplus, consumer surplus, total surplus. Looks for input parameters giving the slopes of the demand and supply curves, plus the maximum willingness-to-pay of the most eager demander and the minimum opportunity cost of the most efficient supplier. Now ready to hand over to others for editing, tightening, and additions.

https://nbviewer.jupyter.org/github/braddelong/LS2019/blob/master/2019-08-10_market.ipynb

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Solow Growth Model: Python Class/Notebook

CANDIDATE: Solow Growth Model Derived and modified from Stachurski-Sargent http://quantecon.org. A Python class for simulations using the Solow Growth Model, with additional code for performing simulations with baseline- and alternative-scenario parameter values. Focuses on the capital-output ratio κ as the key state variable, as it is (a) observable, and (b) with constant growth-model parameter values converges exactly (in continuous time at least) as an exponential. Now ready to hand over to others for tightening and additions:

https://nbviewer.jupyter.org/github/braddelong/LS2019/blob/master/2019-08-08-Sargent-Stachurski.ipynb

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Federal Reserve Bank of New York: Nowcasting Report: Aug 16, 2019: : "The New York Fed Staff Nowcast stands at 1.8% for 2019:Q3. News from this week's data releases increased the nowcast for 2019:Q3 by 0.2 percentage point. Positive surprises from building permits and retail sales were only partially offset by negative surprises from industrial production and capacity utilization...

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August 16, 2019: Weekly Forecasting Update

Daily Treasury Yield Curve Rates

There was little news about real GDP last week: The Federal Reserve Bank of New York nowcast continues to stand at 1.8% for 2019:Q3. The real news was:

  • A change from one week ago: The market continues to lower interest rates at the long end of the yield curve.
  • A change from 1 month ago: The Trump trade war picture becomes increasingly confused and irrational.
  • * **A change from 3 months ago: A no-deal Brexit is now not just a possibility, but more likely than not.
  • A change from 6 months ago: The Federal Reserve has—behind the curve—become convinced that it raised interest rates too much in 2018, and is now likely to cut them.
  • A change from 6 months ago: Trump trade-war tensions are higher.

We saw another twenty-five basis points of market easing at the long end of the yield curve: the 10-Year TIPS yield is now negative. The market has now delivered 170 basis points of easing in the 10-year Treasury window since the end of last October, and 140 basis points to the 30-year bond. On the 30-year bond, you would have made a 30% profit if you bought it last October and sold it today, compared to a 3.5% profit on the S&P Composite over the same period. That is a major, major sentiment shift. That means that a number of people short debt with riskier operations than the S&P Composite are about to face margin calls and rollover difficulties. We will shortly see how solvent the market judges them.

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Worthy Reads at Equitable Growth and Elsewhere... August 16, 2018

Worthy Reads at Equitable Growth...

  1. An excellent piece from Marinescu, Dinan, and Hovenkamp: one of our working papers laying out how the analysis of how antitrust policy should be done given that compensated firms face their counter parties not just in the product but in labor markets. I think this is the most important thing I have seen out of our shop here at Equitable Growth this week*Ioana Marinescu, James G. Dinan, and Herbert Hovenkamp*: Anticompetitive mergers in labor markets: "Increased market concentration in labor markets threatens to facilitate coordinated interaction among employers that could lead to lower output and wage suppression in employment markets...

  2. As Michael Kades writes, “the stakes are much higher than an ideological battle or technical adjustments to a legal regime” here. We need to understand how anti-trust practice affects the degree of monopoly in the United States and Hal monopoly effects equitable growth and societal well being. We do not. I think that attempting to understand these two issues is the most important analytic issue for policy relevant economic research in the United States today: Michael Kades: Why market competition matters to equitable growth: "At first glance, competition in the U.S. economy may seem far afield of the topic of equitable growth.... What could antitrust enforcement have to do with maintaining a healthy economy?...

  3. The analysis of rising inequality and its effects in the United States and elsewhere over the past generation has suffered from a relative downplaying of the role of the family and how income gets earned and then transformed Into well-being. Central to this is the rapidly changing economic role of women in the workforce, but that is not all of it. We need more and better analyses of her public policy needs to shift in the context of changing family structure and rising inequality. Elizabeth Jacobs presents some of our thinking about how Equitable Growth is and will be trying to support this effort: Elizabeth Jacobs: Rethinking 20th century policies to support 21st century families: "...As a raft of research illustrates, economic growth is increasingly concentrating at the top...

  4. Our Kate Bahn Reminds us: Kate Bahn: "This needs to be screamed from the rooftops.... We cannot have a substantive conversation about how tight the labor market is without examining demographic disparities..." ands sends us to Equitable Growth alumnus John Schmitt quoting Janelle Jones at: Laura Maggi: Despite Drop in Black Unemployment, Significant Disparities Remain: "The African-American unemployment rate... low—compared to historic numbers. In July, it was 6.6 percent...

  5. Not to put the pressure on or anything, but I expect very good things from our Equitable Growth grant to: Matthew Staiger: Parental Resources And The Career Choices of Young Workers: "With a specific focus on the impact of parental resources on entrepreneurship and job mobility...

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Liveblogging: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Conversion of the Middle-Angles

Journey To Normandy Scene 1

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (J.A. Giles and J. Ingram trans.): Conversion of the Middle-Angles: "A.D. 652. This year Kenwal fought at Bradford by the Avon. A.D. 653...

...This year, the Middle-Angles under alderman Peada received the right belief.

A.D. 654. This year King Anna was slain, and Botolph began to build that minster at Icanhoe. This year also died Archbishop Honorius, on the thirtieth of September...

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That's a 2.5% reduction in suicides for a 10% rise in two dimensions of the safety net. That seems to me to be large effect: William H. Dow, Anna Godøy, Christopher A. Lowenstein, and Michael Reic: Can Economic Policies Reduce Deaths of Despair?: "Midlife mortality has risen... largely reflect [ing]increased mortality from alcohol poisoning, drug overdose and suicide.... We leverage state variation in policies over time to estimate difference-in-differences models of drug overdose deaths and suicides, using data on cause-specific mortality rates from 1999-2015.... Higher minimum wages and EITCs significantly reduce non-drug suicides.... Increasing both the minimum wage and the EITC by 10 percent would likely prevent a combined total of around 1230 suicides each year...

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I would say that Martin Wolf grossly understates his point here. It is not just that the case for a sane globalism remains strong. Rather, the case for a sane globalism has never been stronger and grows stronger every day. With each passing day, the world needs more and more powerful international public goods in order to remain healthy and sane, and only globalists have a chance of providing them:

Martin Wolf: The Case for Sane Globalism Remains Strong: "We are now close to eliminating extreme human destitution.... The decline in the proportion of humanity living in absolute poverty, to less than 10 per cent, is a huge achievement. I make no excuses for continuing to support policies and programmes, including trade-oriented development, that helped accomplish this. The notion that it may be necessary to thwart the economic rise of non-western countries, in order to cement western domination, is, in my view, an abomination.... The range of public goods we now need has vastly increased, with the complexity of our economies and societies. For the same reason, ever more of those public goods are global.... That is why the victors of the second world war decided to create effective international institutions. They had experienced unbridled national sovereignty. The outcome had been catastrophic. Nothing since then has rendered global co-operation less essential.... [On] the interface between the global and the national... we have gone too far in some areas and done too little in others.... The globalisation of finance has arguably gone too far.... [But] liberal trade has not been a dominant source of rising inequality within countries. Meanwhile, areas where global co-operation has not gone far enough include business taxation and the environment. The final and perhaps most important of all challenges is containing the natural human tendency to scapegoat foreigners for failures of domestic policy and cleavages among domestic interests.... Blaming ills on foreigners may be a successful diversionary tactic. It is also highly destructive. We must think and act globally. We have no alternative...

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Remember: the Trump-McConnell-Ryan tax cut did absolutely nothing to boost investment in America, and thus has no supply-side positive effects on economic growth. And it is another upward jump in inequality: Greg Leiserson: U.S. Inequality and Recent Tax Changes: "Slides from a presentation by Greg Leiserson for a panel 'U.S. Inequality and Recent Tax Changes' hosted by the Society of Government Economists on Tuesday, February 20, 2018. In the presentation, Leiserson argues that the recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will likely increase disparities in economic well-being, after-tax income, and pre-tax income...

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Paul Krugman (2015): Artificial Unintelligence: "In the early stages of the Lesser Depression, those of us who knew a bit about the macroeconomic debates of the 1930s... felt a sense of despair...

...Everywhere you looked, people who imagined themselves sophisticated and possessed of deep understanding were resurrecting 75-year-old fallacies and presenting them as deep insights. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then.... I feel an even deeper sense of despair.... People are still rolling out those same fallacies, even though in the interim those of us who remembered and understood Keynes/Hicks have been right about most things, and those lecturing us have been wrong about everything. So here’s William Cohan in the Times, declaring that the Fed should “show some spine” and raise rates even though there is no sign of accelerating inflation. His reasoning:

The case for raising rates is straightforward: Like any commodity, the price of borrowing money—interest rates—should be determined by supply and demand, not by manipulation by a market behemoth. Essentially, the clever Q.E. program caused a widespread mispricing of risk, deluding investors into underestimating the risk of various financial assets they were buying...

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An absolute must-read, from Leiserson, McGrew, and Kopparam. It is excellent. I would note that it does not get much into the political economy of wealth taxes—that one goal of them is to persuade the wealthy to distribute their wealth, and thus reduce the amount of control over society that they exercise:

Greg Leiserson, Will McGrew, and Raksha Kopparam: Net Worth Taxes: What They Are and How They Work: "New from @equitablegrowth: “Notably, a business does not pay tax on its assets. Instead, shareholders pay tax on the value of the business.... The revenue potential of a net worth tax in the United States is large, even if applied only to the very wealthiest families. The wealthiest 1 percent of families holds $33 trillion in wealth, and the wealthiest 5 percent holds $57 trillion. The burden of a net worth tax would be highly progressive. The wealthiest 1 percent of families holds about 40 percent of all wealth.... Taxes on wealth—including property taxes, net worth taxes, estate taxes, and capital gains taxes, among others—are ubiquitous in the developed countries that make up the... OECD.... Assets have value because of the income (implicit or explicit) they are expected to generate. As such, taxing wealth through a net worth tax and taxing income from wealth through a tax on investment income can achieve similar ends...

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The labor requirements for this kind of farming were already absurdly low. And one swallow does not make a spring. Nevertheless, the age of intelligent tools draws closer:

Ashley Robinson, Lydia Mulvany, and David Stringer: Robots Take the Wheel as Autonomous Farm Machines Hit Fields: "The first fully autonomous farm equipment is becoming commercially available.... Tractors will drive with no farmer in the cab, and specialized equipment will be able to spray, plant, plow and weed cropland. And it’s all happening well before many analysts had predicted thanks to small startups in Canada and Australia.... Saskatchewan’s Dot Technology Corp. has already sold some so-called power platforms for fully mechanized spring planting. In Australia, SwarmFarm Robotics is leasing weed-killing robots that can also do tasks like mow and spread. The companies say their machines are smaller and smarter than the gigantic machinery they aim to replace. Sam Bradford, a farm manager at Arcturus Downs in Australia’s Queensland.... 'The savings on chemicals is huge, but there’s also savings for the environment from using less chemicals and you’re also getting a better result in the end'...

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I confess I do not see how Tesla is going to survive. BYD or some others are going to dominate battery-making. And there will not be that much both valuable and scarce to an automobile besides an efficient battery in the future we are heading for: *Matthew Campbell and Ying Tian: *: BYD, World’s Biggest Electric Car Maker, Looks Nothing Like Tesla: "BYD, which built the battery in your ’90s cellphone, now produces more EVs than anyone—and it wants to sell them to you, soon: On the floor of a cavernous factory in southern China... a sledlike robot scooted into position.... The robot carried a crucial payload: a battery about the size and shape of a double mattress, wrapped in a gray plastic casing. Suddenly, an accordion lift extended upward from the sled and inserted the battery into the car’s undercarriage. Workers in blue jumpsuits and white cotton gloves moved swiftly to the battery’s edges, carrying rivet guns connected by curling red cables to a supply of compressed air. Once the battery was rattled into place, the accordion retracted, sending its robot host scurrying off in search of fresh cargo...

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We do not really know how we would collect and enforce a net-worth tax—but we did not really know how we would collect and enforce a broad income tax either until Milton Friedman came up with payroll withholding. In some ways the administrative burdens of a net-worth tax will be a lot easier since it is designed to catch only the upper tail: Greg Leiserson, Will McGrew, and Raksha Kopparam: Net worth taxes: What they are and how they work - Equitable Growth: "The wealthiest 1 percent of households owns about 40 percent of all wealth.... Taxes on wealth are a natural policy instrument to address wealth inequality and could raise substantial revenue, while shoring up structural weaknesses in the current income tax system...

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Looking Backwards from This Week at 24, 16, 8, 4, 2, 1, 1/2, and 1/4 Years Ago (August 7-August 13, 2019)

stacks and stacks of books

MUST OF THE MUSTS: J. Bradford De Long and Lawrence H. Summers: Equipment Investment and Economic Growth: "We use disaggregated data from the United Nations International Comparison Project and the Penn World Table to examine the association between different components of investment and economic growth over 1960–85. We find that producers’ machinery and equipment has a very strong association with growth: in our cross section of nations each percent of GDP invested in equipment raises GDP growth rate by 1/3 of a percentage point per year. This is a much stronger association than can be found between any of the other components. We interpret this association as revealing that the marginal product of equipment is about 30 percent per year. The cross nation pattern of equipment prices, quantities, and growth is consistent with the belief that countries with rapid growth have favorable supply conditions for machinery and equipment. The pattern is not consistent with the belief that some third factor both pushes up the rate of growth and increases the demand for machinery and equipment...

 

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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (August 15, 2019)

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  1. Wikipedia: Charlie Dent

  2. Duncan Black: Healthy Country: "I really don't see a way forward which isn't 'no deal Brexit' though no deal Brexit isn't a real thing. It just means 'we didn't bother to solve all the problems we have to start solving piece by piece now'...

  3. Appian: The Macedonian Wars: "Flamininus came into conference with Philip a second time at the Malian gulf.... The Greeks asked the Roman Senate to require Philip to remove from their country the three garrisons which he called 'the fetters of Greece': the one at Chalcis, which threatened the Boeotians, the Euboeans, and the Locrians; the one at Corinth, which closed the door of the Peloponnese; and the third at Demetrias, which lay, as it were, in ambush for the Aetolians and the Magnesians. The Senate asked Philip's ambassadors what the king's views were respecting the garrisons. When they answered that they did not know, the Senate said that Flamininus should decide the question and do what he considered just. So the ambassadors took their departure from Rome. Flamininus and Philip, being unable to come to any agreement, resumed hostilities...

  4. Simon Wren-Lewis: There Is No Mandate for No Deal

  5. Wikipedia: Ferghana horse

  6. Visit Faroe Islands

  7. Wikipedia: War of the Heavenly Horses: "The War of the Heavenly Horses or the Han–Dayuan war was a military conflict fought in 104 BC and 102 BC between the Chinese Han dynasty and Dayuan (in Central Asia, around Uzbekistan, east of Persia). The result was Han victory...

  8. Paul Krugman (1987): Adjustment in the World Economy

  9. Fred Hoyle: Ossian's Ride

  10. Wikipedia: Li Bai: "Li Bai, Li Po, Li Bo, Ri Haku have been all used in the West, but are all written with the same characters. His given name, (白), is romanized by variants such as Po, Bo, Bai, Pai. In Hanyu Pinyin, reflecting modern Mandarin Chinese, the main, colloquial equivalent for this character is Bái; Bó is the literary variant and is commonly used...

  11. Squawk Box: Business, Politics, Investors and Traders: "'Squawk Box' is the ultimate 'pre-market' morning news and talk program, where the biggest names in business and politics tell their most important stories. Anchored by Joe Kernen, Becky Quick and Andrew Ross Sorkin, the show brings Wall Street to Main Street. It's a 'must see' for everyone from the professional trader to the casual investor...

  12. Sidewalk Street Food

  13. The Art of the Lingnan School, 嶺南畫派的繪畫藝術

  14. Steve Jobs *(2007): Introducing The iPhone At MacWorld 2007

  15. Michael Pettis: Real Growth in China is Less than Half of Reported Growth

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New York Times reporters, editors, and owners go extra-easy on Trump, Republicans in general, and other right-wingers because they agree with them and want them in power:

Duncan Black: Because We Agree With Them: "A perfect distillation of 'we must obey critics on the Right, and get VERY VERY MAD AT CRITICS ON THE LEFT.' 'In regard to the debate on how to cover race, some staffers inside The Times agreed wholeheartedly with Baquet's approach. "Using that language is a turn off to some readers," one said. "And there are a lot of people that think The Times is too liberal, and when you start throwing words like that around, people will accuse us of editorializing."'... [That] doesn't make any sense. Journalists who say these things aren't scared of conservatives. They agree with them. Left wing criticism makes them mad because they don't agree with left wing critics. It's that simple. They aren't worried that they're 'editorializing' the other way...

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Benito Cereno: The Untold Truth of the Holy Grail: "After settling into Jerusalem, the Templars protected pilgrims on their way in and out of the city. Over time, the group of knights grew to be a powerful military order for the church. Kings from all around Europe gave the knights land and lordships, so they wound up super rich and bought the island of Cyprus. Though they were valiant fighters known for their bravery, the Templars became just as well known for proto-banking skills. They invented paying by check. That may not sound as exciting as hiding messages in Da Vinci paintings, but it was a pretty big achievement. Pilgrims could give the Templars however much money they'd need in the Holy Land. It would be safer with the group of fearsome knights than a bunch of regular folks walking through the desert. So, the Templars would give the pilgrims a promissory note and make sure all the money would be waiting for them when they got there. They moved enough gold that the Templars became the most powerful bankers in the land. Again, this is probably not the kind of thing that would go in a summer blockbuster, but it's one of the few things we know for sure about the Templars...

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Important to today, I think, is that the aliens in Ossian's Ride are refugees: Henry Farrell: Ossian’s Ride: "In 1959 the famous British astronomer Fred Hoyle published his novel, Ossian’s Ride... a future Ireland miraculously transformed into a technological superpower.... Hoyle wasn’t really interested in talking about Ireland.... Instead, he wanted to score points in an internal fight over British identity... responding to the Christian apologist C.S. Lewis, who regularly denounced Hoyle as a secular atheist on radio and had written his own science fiction novel, That Hideous Strength, a decade before. The villain of Lewis’s book was a sinister institute called NICE, which Satanic aliens wanted to impose contraception, lesbianism, secularism and surrealist art on an unsuspecting Britain.... Hoyle riposted with a novel where rational and benevolently ruthless aliens used an organization called ICE to pull the priest-ridden republic next door into the technological age. His satirical portrait of Ireland told British readers that the world was being transformed around them, and that even their most backwards seeming neighbor would outstrip them if they didn’t embrace modernity. The irony of history is that Hoyle’s parody is now the truth...

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I really do not understand this: if it were to be optimal policy to cut by 50 bp in a month, it is certainly optimal policy to cut by 25 bp now and probably optimal policy to cut by 50 bp now: Tim Duy: Another Portion of Yield Heading Toward Inversion: "Neither of the today’s developments–'easing' trade tensions or higher inflation–should prevent the Fed from easing at next month’s meeting. I suspect though that they make it hard for the Fed to justify a 50bp cut in September. If the economy needs a more aggressive Fed response up front to prevent recession, then a lower chance of that outcome... should induce the longer end of the yield curve to flatten further and then invert...

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America’s Superpower Panic: Project Syndicate

America s Superpower Panic by J Bradford DeLong Project Syndicate and America s Superpower Panic Project Syndicate

Project Syndicate: America’s Superpower Panic: History suggests that a global superpower in relative decline should aim for a soft landing, so that it still has a comfortable place in the world once its dominance fades. By contrast, US President Donald Trump's incoherent, confrontational approach toward China could seriously damage America’s long-term interests.

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Liveblogging: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Egelbert

Journey To Normandy Scene 1

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (J.A. Giles and J. Ingram trans.): Egelbert: "A.D. 650. This year Egelbert, from Gaul, after Birinus the Romish bishop, obtained the bishopric of the West-Saxons...

...A.D. 651. This year King Oswin was slain, on the twentieth day of August; and within twelve nights afterwards died Bishop Aidan, on the thirty-first of August...

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Is Plutocracy Really the Biggest Problem?: No Longer Fresh at Project Syndicate

Is Plutocracy Really the Problem by J Bradford DeLong Project Syndicate

Project Syndicate: Is Plutocracy Really the Biggest Problem?: After the 2008 financial crisis, economic policymakers in the United States did enough to avert another Great Depression, but fell far short of what was needed to ensure a strong recovery. Attributing that failure to the malign influence of the plutocracy is tempting, but it misses the root of the problem:

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Another of the long-time right-wing affinity-fraud grifters, S.E. Cupp, decides that it is time to leave the good ship SS. Trump & National Rifle Association: Ed Mazza: Conservative Pundit S.E. Cupp Quits The NRA, Makes Powerful Plea For Gun Control: "The former 'NRA Mom' now says 'we must do something'.... S.E. Cupp.... 'I am so sick and tired of participating in this predictable cycle of politics, where a mass shooting happens, the left calls for new gun laws―some meaningful, some unproductive―the right yells "slippery slope" and hides behind the Constitution....' She said that in the past, she’s defended the NRA and its members and argued against stricter gun laws. But not this time: 'I am no longer an NRA member. Being right no longer feels righteous because in the wake of more mass shootings, acts of senseless violence that sent innocent people running for their lives, leaving children orphaned, loved ones dead on the ground, we must do something about guns'... universal background checks, gun violence restraining orders, raising the minimum age for gun purchases to 21, banning 100-round drums, fixing the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and mental health programs in schools. And she said some people, including domestic abusers and those who make violent threats, 'should never have access to a gun of any kind, period'...

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The Flight to Safety in Asset Markets Has Now Become a Thing in Itself...

Note to Self: The market has now delivered 100 basis points of easing in the ten-year Treasury window since the end of last October. On the 30-year bond, you would have made a 20% profit if you bought it last October and sold it today, compared to a 3.5% profit on the S&P Composite over the same period. That is a major, major sentiment shift. That means that a number of people short debt with riskier operations than the S&P Composite are about to face margin calls and rollover difficulties. We will shortly see how solvent the market judges them.

No, it is not yet August 2007. But it is much closer to August 2007 than I expected to see for another generation:

Daily Treasury Yield Curve Rates

Daily Treasury Real Yield Curve Rates

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Liveblogging: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Death of Oswald

Journey To Normandy Scene 1

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (J.A. Giles and J. Ingram trans.): Death of Oswald: "A.D. 642. This year Oswald, king of the Northumbrians, was slain by Penda, king of the Southumbrians, at Mirfield, on the fifth day of August; and his body was buried at Bardney. His holiness and miracles were afterwards displayed on manifold occasions throughout this island; and his hands remain still uncorrupted at Barnburgh...

...The same year in which Oswald was slain, Oswy his brother succeeded to the government of the Northumbrians, and reigned two less than thirty years. A.D. 643. This year Kenwal succeeded to the kingdom of the West-Saxons, and held it one and thirty winters. This Kenwal ordered the old (20) church at Winchester to be built in the name of St. Peter. He was the son of Cynegils.

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Jacob L. Vigdor: Is Urban Decay Bad? Is Urban Revitalization Bad Too?: "Many observers argue that urban revitalization harms the poor, primarily by raising rents. Others argue that urban decline harms the poor by reducing job opportunities, the quality of local public services, and other neighborhood amenities. While both decay and revitalization can have negative effects if moving costs are sufficiently high, in general the impact of neighborhood change on utility depends on the strength of price responses to neighborhood quality changes. Data from the American Housing Survey are used to estimate a discrete choice model identifying households' willingness-to-pay for neighborhood quality. These willingness-to-pay estimates are then compared to the actual price changes that accompany observed changes in neighborhood quality. The results suggest that price increases associated with revitalization are smaller than most households' willingness to pay for neighborhood improvements. The results imply that, in general, neighborhood revitalization is more favorable than neighborhood decline...

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Walter Scheidel: A Comparative Perspective on the Determinants of the Scale and productivity of Maritime Trade in the Roman Mediterranean: "The scale and productivity of maritime trade is a function of environmental conditions, political processes and economic development that determine demand, and more specifically of trading costs. Trading costs are the sum of transportation costs (comprised of the cost of carriage and the cost of risk, most notably predation), transaction costs and financing costs. Comparative evidence from the medieval and early modern periods shows that the cost of predation (caused by war, privateering, piracy, and tolls) and commercial organization (which profoundly affects transaction and financing costs as well as the cost of carriage) have long been the most important determinants of overall trading costs. This suggests that conditions in the Roman period were unusually favorable for maritime trade. Technological innovation, by contrast, was primarily an endogenous function of broader political and economic developments and should not be viewed as a major factor in the expansion of commerce in this period...

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Jamie Powell: A Delirious Defence of Uber: "What’s the counterargument here? Well, we soon find out: 'In other words, this company isn't losing money. It's the opposite. It's gathering in enormous sums: Gross bookings were up 31% to nearly $16 billion. Revenue was up 14% to $3.2 billion. Riders increased 30% to 99 million. It's difficult to look at those numbers and conclude that Uber is dysfunctional.' But the Business Insider article just told us that it is losing money: 1.6bn in six months.... Revenue growth, in and of itself, is only impressive when combined with positive economics. With an ebitda margin of negative 28.6 per cent last quarter, Uber is still a long way off proving that its business model works sustainably. For completion’s sake, here are the final few paragraphs.... 'Uber did increase its various operational expenses, such as marketing, R&D, and salaries & admin costs. But those are all costs that Uber can control, and cut in the future if need be. For now, the company is investing in its own growth. In other words, this company is still behaving like an "early stage" tech start-up—albeit on a vast scale. This company has a LONG way to go before it tops out. (Think about Facebook when it reached 1 billion people and everyone thought Facebook would slow down.) Investors are idiots for selling their stock right now.' Uber is a decade old global brand whose core business—ride-sharing—is now growing at just 2 per cent. It is also betting heavily that its smaller business lines, such as food delivery and freight, will be a source of future growth. In other words, it’s acting less like a start-up, and more like a legacy tech company scrambling for new growth. Think Oracle, IBM or perhaps even the modern-day Apple. Notice the difference, however. All of these companies have 'cash cow' products which help to keep the buybacks and dividends flowing, as well as funding future bets. Uber on the other hand... Look, there’s something to be said for the hysterical way quarterly results are sometimes reported by the press. After all they often contain a lot of noise and, in isolation, are not that indicative of how a business is really doing. But let’s not pretend Uber’s financials, to date, show a company gathering in cash “'in enormous sums'...

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I still don't understand whether Scaramucci has had a genuine Road-to-Damascus moment or whether he has decided that the wind has shifted, and there is more money to be earned via affinity fraud by being anti-Trump than pro-Trump. In either case, it is information that this is happening:

Anthony Scaramucci: The Mooch Says GOP Needs Someone To Replace Trump On The Ticket: "So you and Alisyn have often asked me that and people say, okay, where's the red line where you break from your support from somebody. Because remember, loyalty is symmetrical. It's not asymmetric. What I said to you last week was, geez, this is really polarizing. this is very divisive. As a supporter of his, I would caution we not go in this. You brought up stochastic terrorism. I brought up how this charged rhetoric coming from the bully pulpit of the presidency could lead to some unintended tragic consequences. All I said was, 'I wish the president would stop doing that.' One scintilla of criticism, you get this sort of backlash. And so for me, it's one step too far with the racial charging of his rhetoric and his twitter feet. and you could say, okay, the only reason you're breaking from him now is that he went after you specifically on Twitter. And I'll accept that. I think that to me was a big turning point because I'm looking at that saying, wait a minute. I'm out here supporting him. The guy fired me two years ago. I have been super loyal to this guy, super loyal to the president's agenda. But there's something wrong with the guy as a leader if he can't take constructive criticism or advice from people that have been super loyal to him...

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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (August 11, 2019)

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  • Reflections 11 Years After the Crash: As long as people were confident that the 500 billion of bad mortgage debt would ultimately land on somebody who could absorb it, the only thing that would make a bad recession was if people anticipated a bad recession. And with no Lehman panic—if Bernanke, Paulson, and Geithner had not caused everybody to say quote what the fuck is going on" by allowing Lehman's bankruptcy uncontrolled and then justifying their actions by claiming that they were forbidden by law to support a too-big-to-fail institution that was insolvent and not just illiquid... Without that, no reason to fear even as bad as the S&L crisis...

  • Weekly Forecasting Update: August 9, 2019: There was essentially no news about real GDP last week: The Federal Reserve Bank of New York nowcast continues to stand at 1.6% for 2019:Q3. We did see another fifteen basis points of market easing at the long end of the yield. Curve: the 10-Year TIPS yield is now 0.09%. And that, of course, makes equity stock market investments a deal. Patrick Chovanec is worth reading...

  • Hoisted from the Archives: A Now-Extended Non-Sokratic Dialogue on Website Design

  • DeLong Smackdown: Why I Was Wrong Over 2006-2010...: Let me say what things I was "expecting," in the sense of anticipating that it was they were both likely enough and serious enough that public policymakers should be paying significant attention to guarding the risks that it would create...

  • Note to Self: We know that big data can find correlations. We thus fear people will then use those correlations to hack our brains for their profit or advantage—and for our loss.... On the other hand... Big Ad Data is not smart enough to figure out: "although this internet identity is associated with this credit card number, the person surfing the web right now is not the person who buys the bras"...

  • Note to Self: et me say that I am 100% behind Roxane Gay here. When Jonathan Weisman was covering economics and monetary policy, he was a "Paul Krugman and Donald Luskin disagree about the shape of the earth: who can tell who is right?" guy. Those of us who talked to him took the incompetence for granted—and more than that: a willful desire to not understand the issues because then he might be unable to properly suck up to the sources he wished to suck up to...

  • Note to Self: Why was Jonathan Weisman's economic policy reporting for the Washington Post so execrable back in the mid-2000s? A person who was, as they say, very, very, very, very, very familiar with the matter: "Jonathan's big problem is that he's not that deep into the issues, and he has no backup. There's nobody that he can go to in that building to tell him 'this was how X was trying to mislead you' or 'this is Y's history' or 'be very careful here: if you get this detail Z wrong, they'll come down on you extremely hard'"...

  • Note to Self: For programming and Python Jupyter Notebook νBs, who are wondering what they are getting themselves into: Programming Dos and Don'ts: A Running List...

  • Looking Backward: From This Week at 24, 20, 16, 12, 8, 4, 2, 1, 1/2, and 1/4 Years Ago (July 31-August 6, 2019): MUST OF THE MUSTS: James M. Buchanan: The "Social" Efficiency of Education: You have to be able to hold in your mind two things at once in order to understand economist James M. Buchanan: (1) He was a total loon: a strong believer in the de Maistrean trinity of Patriarchy, Orthodoxy, Autocracy as necessary for society—essential Noble Lies; a man who in 1970 wanted to shut down America's universities as teachers of evil, and regretted the failure of nerve that made that impossible; a man who saw Martin Luther King Jr. as a teacher of evil—whose response to the Civil Rights movement and its peaceful civil disobedience campaign was not Edmund Burke's "to make us love our country, our country must be lovely", but rather: how dare MLK claim that an African American should be "openly encouraged to use his own conscience"—rather than shutting up and accepting his subservient Jim Crow position in society! (2) A man who saw things that other economists did not and would not have without him...

  • A Year Ago on Equitable Growth: Fifteen Worthy Reads On and Off Equitable Growth for August 9, 2018:

  • Comment of the Day: Graydon: "You get what you reward, and the present mechanism of reward is advertising, fundamentally aligned with increasing people's insecurity so as to increase their likelihood of making a purchase to address that insecurity...

  • Comment of the Day: Cosma Shalizi: ":I have used Google as pretty much my only search engine since it became available.... Google should thus have a very complete idea of what I'm interested in.... I can, with charity, understand 'homemaking and interior decor' (because I'd been researching new window blinds), and 'pet food and supplies' (though my cat had died more than a year before). Everything else was just flat wrong, and often mystifyingly so...

  • Comment of the Day: Doctor Jay: "I'm very much not getting what I want out of social media. I very much AM getting what I want out of internet search...

  • For the Weekend: J.R.R. Tolkien (1925): Light as Leaf on Linden Tree:

  • Liveblogging: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Cynegils: "A.D. 635. This year King Cynegils was baptized by Bishop Birinus at Dorchester; and Oswald, king of the Northumbrians, was his sponsor. A.D. 636. This year King Cwichelm was baptized at Dorchester, and died the same year. Bishop Felix also preached to the East-Angles the belief of Christ...

  • Liveblogging: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Erkenbert: ""A.D. 639. This year Birinus baptized King Cuthred at Dorchester, and received him as his son...


  1. Brian Chappatta: Trump Risks Losing the Fed as a Recession Scapegoat: "The Federal Reserve cut interest rates to account for a 'simmering' trade war. Then the president turned up the heat and put a downturn in play himself. The market signal for a recession is blinking fast and Trump has only himself to blame. The markets have spoken. If they are to be believed, the potential for a U.S. recession has never been greater in the post-crisis era than it is right now. That’s a problem for President Donald Trump because after the events of the past few days, it should be clear that he has effectively forfeited the ability to use the Federal Reserve as a scapegoat for any economic slowdown, an angle he was clearly prepared to play...

  2. Jeremy R. Hammond: The Lies that Led to the Iraq War and the Myth of 'Intelligence Failure'

  3. Jonathan Stein and Tim Dickinson: Lie by Lie: A Timeline of How We Got Into Iraq: "Mushroom clouds, duct tape, Judy Miller, Curveball. Recalling how Americans were sold a bogus case for invasion...

  4. Hubert Horan: Uber’s Path of Destruction: "Uber has disrupted... the idea that competitive consumer and capital markets will maximize overall economic welfare by rewarding companies with superior efficiency.... Uber’s most important innovation has been to produce staggering levels of private wealth without creating any sustainable benefits for consumers, workers, the cities they serve, or anyone else...

  5. Yereth Rosen: Record-Low Sea Ice in July Sets Up Conditions For an Ultra-Low Minimum Extent This Fall: "Sea ice extent in September of 2019 is likely to be among the five lowest minimums recorded...

  6. Patrick Chovanec: U.S. Market and Economic Review—August 2019

  7. Kieran Healy: Frank Oz Muppets and the Big Five Personality Traits

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Comment of the Day: Doctor Jay: "I'm very much not getting what I want out of social media. I very much AM getting what I want out of internet search. The distinction is stark, and few writers bother to make it. In your Facebook stream are ads you didn't ask for and can't get rid of. They enjoy the tacit endorsement of your closest friends and family because of this placement. They aren't based on what you have "liked" and are interested in, they are based on who has paid to put them there. And all this is, as far as I can tell, completely legal. In comparison, the information Google has gleaned about you mostly shows up in banner ads that are placed in such a way that they enjoy no such endorsement, and are easily blocked or otherwise ignored. Often you get ads in response to searches, and usually the ads feature some aspect of what you were looking for. That doesn't seem intrusive to me. YouTube ads for me these days are mostly for things I'm interested in, or it's plausible that I would be interested in, except for a couple of political things that obviously think that a guy with my interests really ought to be interested in right-wing propaganda masquerading as The Truth. I wish more writers would understand and engage with this distinction. There may well be anti-trust issues with Google, but it doesn't have nearly the same corrosive effect on our social trust and credit that Facebook does...

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Kara Swisher: Can anyone tame the next internet?: "which jobs will be impacted? It’s not just factory workers, burger flippers, and long-haul truckers. Highly paid lawyers, skilled doctors (don’t let your daughter be a radiologist), and, yes, even lowly journalists will need to find new lines of work. And those tectonic workplace realignments will only become more profound as the AI becomes inevitably—and exponentially—better. To thrive in this environment will require being in a profession that is creative, where analog interactions are critical—one that cannot be easily made digital. Think art, think the caring professions, think anything in which being human trumps cyborg. And since AI becomes ever smarter, it will make sense to allow it to do more and more as we become ever less so.... We’ll also soon see the effects of radical advances in robotics and automation.... The way we wage war is changing dramatically, but it’s not the killer robots we think of...

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Pascal Michaillat and Emmanuel Saez: How to design a stimulus package | VOX, CEPR Policy Portal: "the size of the stimulus does not follow the bang-for-the-buck logic.... Stimulus spending should be similarly small when multipliers are small and large. The stimulus should only be large for medium multipliers. Relatedly, the threshold value of one for the multiplier plays no role at all.... A well-designed stimulus package should also depend on the usefulness of public expenditure.... When the elasticity of substitution is higher, extra public goods are more valuable, so stimulus spending is more desirable.... We find that the output multiplier is not a robust statistic to use in stimulus discussion. Instead, we should use the ‘unemployment multiplier’...

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Olivier Blanchard and Lawrence H. Summers: Evolution or Revolution: An Afterword: "Since... we wrote... neutral... have likely declined even as the crisis has receded. The notion that low rates largely reflected the after-effects of the financial crisis and would slowly fade away has simply proven wrong.... Fiscal policy has continued to be expansionary in Japan and has turned strongly expansionary in the US and mildly expansionary in Europe.... Inflation has barely reached the Fed’s inflation target.... In the euro area and in Japan, inflation remains below target.... Output is still below potential, at least in the euro area and in Japan.... These facts lead to the inevitable conclusion that fiscal policy will have to play a much bigger role in the future than it has in the past.... For a long time, economists looking at Japan pointed to mistakes in policy and excessive reliance on deficits; it is now clear that the Japanese macroeconomic response was, on net, the right one.... We noted... that both the Depression and the Great Inflation of the 1970s led to dramatic changes in macroeconomic thinking–much more dramatic than have yet occurred in response to the events of the last decade. We think it is increasingly likely that this gap will close in the next few years...

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I agree with Larry Glickman here: Talking your book is never good. And monopsony is not freedom—not even if the monopsonist works for you: Lawrence Glickman: "I have questions about this piece by @tylercowen: https://t.co/UllO6J28my: Why must very wealthy universities 'choose between boosting their academic quality through better training, or paying them higher stipends and teaching wages to ease their immediate financial concerns'? Why is it an inherently zero sum situation? Why can't they do both? You write, 'I would merely note that many of my graduate students come from relatively well-to-do backgrounds and face favorable prospects after they graduate'. First, anecdotes about your grad students is not the best basis for policy making. Second, presumably you do not want to live in a world in which grad school is only feasible for the 'well-to-do'. Third, your students may face 'favorable' job prospects, but there is a huge jobs crisis in the humanities that you may have read about. Grad students may not be 'employees in the traditional sense', but the category of "employees in in the traditional sense" is shrinking. There are many more Whole Foods employees than coal miners. Unions work just as well for the former as the latter...

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Geoffrey Skelley: Why So Many House Republicans Are Retiring, And Why More Could Be On The Way: "Four Republicans who have criticized Trump or... opposed him.... Texas Rep. Will Hurd.... Indiana Rep. Susan Brooks.... Michigan Rep. Paul Mitchell didn't vote to condemn the president over his tweets, [but] he was openly critical of them.... Alabama Rep. Martha Roby hasn't been critical of Trump recently, and has a very pro-Trump voting record overall, she did say she wouldn't vote for him in 2016 after the release of an Access Hollywood video.... She faced [opposition from a write-in candidate][30] in 2016 and had to survive a primary runoff in 2018.... Tough reelection bids... Hurd.... Georgia Rep. Rob Woodall... only held onto his seat after a recount.... Reps. Kenny Marchant and Pete Olson... won reelection in 2018 by fewer than 5 points.... Republican conference rules... do not allow members to lead committees for more than three consecutive terms, unless they get a special waiver (which is rare).... Texas Rep. Mike Conaway and Utah Rep. Rob Bishop, as each was in his third term.... These early retirements don't necessarily signal a wave of future exits. But... don't be shocked if more Republicans decide to exit stage right...

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One very peculiar thing about America is majorities that believe that government doesn't have our back and indeed, shouldn't have our back. This is a very puzzling attitude to see in a democracy: Gillian Tett: Why Japan Isn’t Afraid of Robots: "The social safety net.... 63 per cent of people in Japan think that it is up to the government... to help the population adapt to automation.... In the US, however, only about 30 per cent of the public expect the government to help.... A recipe for anxiety: some of America’s current problems can be traced to the sense of abandonment felt by many workers in deindustrialised regions...

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Arthur Eckstein: Mediterranean Anarchy, Interstate War, and the Rise of Rome: "Tarentine ambitions and strategies... were unrealistic: their resources, large though they were for a city-state, were inadequate for dominion over southern Italy... failure to create a stable hegemonic structure. Tarentum was not powerful enough to impose a hierarchical alliance system upon the Italiotes in the manner of Athens in fifth-century Greece, yet it also failed to create a cooperative and integrative league, such as the Achaeans and Aetolians did in Hellenistic Greece. Nothing in that direction was really attempted.... Thus Tarentum differed from Rome in organizational vision and ability—but it was as militaristic and diplomatically aggressive as Rome.... The citizen army remained strong; the government adapted to the increasing pressure from the Italic highlanders with a reasonable policy of hiring mercenaries... and bringing in famous generals... [and] the last half of the fourth century witnessed the erection of the great statues of Nike and Zeus the Thunderer in the city center. The wide claims of Tarentum show that Rome was not alone in Italy in making such claims—just alone in the capacity to enforce them...

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I am not sure whether what is needed is for economics to "go digital" as for economics to finally recognize what John Maynard Keynes called "the end of laissez-faire". But since he wrote about the end of laissez-faire 94 years ago, I am not holding my breath for a better economics:

Diane Coyle: Why Economics Must Go Digital: "Drug discovery is an information industry, and information is a non-rival public good which the private sector, not surprisingly, is under-supplying.... Yet the idea of nationalizing part of the pharmaceutical industry is outlandish from the perspective of the prevailing economic-policy paradigm.... Should data collection by digital firms be further regulated?.... The standard economic framework of individual choices made independently of one another, with no externalities, and monetary exchange for the transfer of private property, offers no help...

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