What I have been reading that has arrested me, and made me think. This may be one use I make of my substack as I try to figure out what this platform is useful for. Let me start with things thatwhizzed by, and follow with some long-paragraph chunks that I think are very worth reading,
One Video That Is Very Much Worth Watching:
40 minutes: JaydenX: Shooting and Storming Of The US Capitol In Washington DC
Very Briefly Noted:
Wikipedia: Fascinus <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascinus>
Sarah Levin-Richardson: The Brothel of Pompeii <https://books.google.com/books?id=ZoOWDwAAQBAJ>
Economic History Society: The Long Run <https://ehsthelongrun.net/>
Nico Voigtländer <https://www.anderson.ucla.edu/faculty_pages/nico.v/>
Giuseppe di Lampedusa: The Leopard: ‘Tancredi: If everything is going to stay the same, everything must change…’ <https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/book-lampedusa-leopard.pdf> | Wikipedia: Il Gattopardo <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Leopard>
Seven Paragraphs-Plus for Dinnertime:
Matt Yglesias: Vaccines Are Better than You Think: ‘None of the people in the Pfizer/Moderna treatment groups died or even fell seriously ill and had to be hospitalized…. These days they vaccinate kids against chickenpox, so kids mostly don’t get chicken pox. But even more remarkable, when they do get chickenpox these days it’s a “sick for a few days” kind of thing not “miss weeks of school while suffering in agony.” This is a really big deal with regard to the lower efficacy we are expecting from the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. A vaccine that’s only 70 percent effective at blocking infection would be expected to generate a larger than that reduction in hospitalizations and an even larger reduction in deaths… LINK: <https://www.slowboring.com/p/good-vaccines>
Kyle Orland: Robinhood’s plan to “democratize finance” hit a GameStop-shaped speed bump [Updated] | Ars Technica: ‘Tenev said point blank that “there was no liquidity problem” and that Robinhood’s move was made “pre-emptively and proactively” to “protect the firm and protect customers.” But in the same interview, he said he “know[s] how Clorox and Lysol felt in the pandemic when they were running out of hand sanitizer and supplies,” which suggests that the company didn’t have enough of something (e.g. money) on hand to handle the SEC requirements for the trading influx… LINK: <https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2021/01/robinhoods-plan-to-democratize-finance-hit-a-gamestop-shaped-speed-bump/>
James H. Williams & al.: Carbon‐Neutral Pathways for the United States: ‘Modeling the entire U.S. energy and industrial system… we created multiple pathways to net zero and net negative CO2 emissions by 2050. They met all forecast U.S. energy needs at a net cost of 0.2–1.2% of GDP in 2050, using only commercial or near‐commercial technologies, and requiring no early retirement of existing infrastructure. Pathways with constraints on consumer behavior, land use, biomass use, and technology choices (e.g., no nuclear) met the target but at higher cost. All pathways employed four basic strategies: energy efficiency, decarbonized electricity, electrification, and carbon capture. Least‐cost pathways were based on >80% wind and solar electricity plus thermal generation for reliability….
In the next decade, the actions required in all pathways were similar: expand renewable capacity 3.5 fold, retire coal, maintain existing gas generating capacity, and increase electric vehicle and heat pump sales to >50% of market share. This study provides a playbook for carbon neutrality policy with concrete near‐term priorities… LINK: <https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1029/2020AV000284>
Timothy B. Lee: No, WallStreetBets isn’t robbing Wall Street to help the little guy | Ars Technica: ‘The effort has been so effective in part because its architects have convinced people that it’s not just a pump and dump scheme… a seductive story in which retail investors found a loophole that allows them to make money at the expense of hedge funds…. In reality, most of the gains captured by early GameStop investors will come at the expense of later investors who will be left holding the bag when the stock falls… LINK: <https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/01/the-gamestop-bubble-is-going-to-hurt-a-lot-of-ordinary-investors/>
Noah Smith: About that TFP stagnation…: ‘Wow! If you look only at the durables sector, there was no Great Stagnation at all…. Durables TFP has been growing more strongly post–1993 than it ever did in the post-WW2 boom! Consider this: In the 26 years from ’47 to ’73, durables TFP nearly doubled, but in the 15 years from ’94-’09, durables TFP more than doubled…. Something big did happen to technological progress… not in 1973… but a decade earlier. In the 15 years to 1963, the two sectors progressed pretty much in tandem. But sometime in the early- to mid–60s, they diverged wildly, with nondurables [and services] TFP rising anemically through the late 70s and then basically flatlining until now….
I think we should look at the “Great Stagnation” as a more subtle phenomenon than simply the exhaustion of the “low-hanging fruit” of nature. Our technologies for producing durable goods are improving faster than ever… LINK: <https://noahpinionblog.blogspot.com/2011/04/tfp-and-great-stagnation.html>
Matt Clancy: Maybe There is No Technological Slowdown: ‘Vollrath’s preferred decomposition of the causes of the 1.25% annual slowdown in real GDP per capita growth is: 0.80pp - Declining growth in human capital; 0.20pp - The shift of spending from goods to services; 0.15pp - Declining reallocation of workers and firms; 0.10pp - Declining geographic mobility…. Human capital alone accounts for two-thirds of the slowdown….
This leaves about 0.45pp left over for explanations related to the capital stock and TFP. Indeed, you can see in the graph above that GDP per capita growth drops noticeably in 2007, but TFP growth only drops a bit. Thus, right off the bat, Vollrath argues a slowdown in technological progress explains at most part of one-third of the growth slowdown….
Services involve the purchase of attention from someone: childcare workers, doctors, restaurant servers, and so on. To the extent you are paying for attention from someone, it’s very hard to improve TFP. For these kind of services, TFP growth would entail finding a way to get more minutes of attention out of the same number of workers…. It’s not clear where the extra attention can come from… LINK: <https://mattsclancy.substack.com/p/maybe-there-is-no-technological-slowdown>
Nino Scalia says: The poor should die in the street: Supreme Court (2012–03–27): The Health Care Law & The Individual Mandate: ‘In the health care market, you’re going into the market without the ability to pay for what you get, getting the health care service anyway as a result of the social norms that allow—that—to which we’ve obligated ourselves so that people get health care.’ JUSTICE SCALIA: ’Well, don’t obligate yourself to that. Why—you know?… LINK: https://www.npr.org/2012/03/27/149465820/transcript-supreme-court-the-health-care-law-and-the-individual-mandate