BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2021-04-29 Th
HOISTED FROM THE ARCHIVES: Lessons from the New Deal (2009-03-31)

BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2021-04-30 Fr

Things that went whizzing by that I want to remember...



Free speech advocates who care about the functioning of their community have never thought it appropriate for the free-speech principle to empower chaos monkeys who seek to destroy their society and replace it with something with speech that would be less free:

John MiltonAreopagitica: ‘Yet if all cannot be of one mind—as who looks they should be?—this doubtless is more wholesome, more prudent, and more Christian, that many be tolerated, rather than all compelled. I mean not tolerated popery, and open superstition, which, as it extirpates all religions and civil supremacies, so itself should be extirpate, provided first that all charitable and compassionate means be used to win and regain the weak and the misled: that also which is impious or evil absolutely either against faith or manners no law can possibly permit, that intends not to unlaw itself: but those neighbouring differences, or rather indifferences, are what I speak of, whether in some point of doctrine or of discipline, which, though they may be many, yet need not interrupt THE UNITY OF SPIRIT, if we could but find among us THE BOND OF PEACE…

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Share Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality


John AuthersMarkets Give Powell a Break on Inflation. It May Be Transitory: ‘The latest Federal Open Market Committee meeting still left us with a few more clues on how the Fed intends to navigate through an exceptionally dangerous environment…. Virtually every data release for the last month has suggested a very strong recovery. The Fed wants great improvement in unemployment, which is still running at a 6% rate, compared to 3.5% before the pandemic…. So there are two questions. Do we see any signs of rising prices caused by anything more than a transitory bottleneck? And, are inflation expectations showing signs of settling “materially above 2%”? If there is any clear sign of a possible bottleneck, it is in… industrial metals…. Markets give us nice and precise measures of inflation expectations, via the breakevens between inflation-protected bonds, or TIPS, and conventional fixed-income Treasuries. The prediction this generates for average inflation over the next five years is just under 2.5%…. Ten-year expectations are slightly lower…. The best measure to justify continued lenience is the so-called 5-year, 5-year breakeven…

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Patrick WymanAncient South Asia: ‘If we were to touch down in South Asia at the end of the Younger Dryas and the beginning of the Holocene around 12,000 years ago, however, we wouldn’t have seen many people. Archaeological traces of a human presence are few and far between at the end of the Pleistocene. Much of the region wasn’t particularly welcoming to people at that time; the Deccan Plateau, which makes up much of South Asia, would have been exceptionally arid. That is largely because the monsoon, which brings torrential but life-giving rain every summer, was either much weaker or altogether absent. The rain-fed seasonal rivers that make much of South Asia welcoming to people wouldn’t have flowed, leaving only the river valleys of the Indus and Ganges as particularly viable spots for people to live. As the Pleistocene gave way to the Holocene, the monsoon began to take on something more like its current form. As was the case elsewhere in the world at that time, the number of people living in South Asia dramatically expanded with improving climatic conditions. Many of these new residents were the descendants of long-established hunter-gatherers. Some of them kept foraging; others experimented with new ways of life. But others were new arrivals who set themselves up on the edges of the Indus Valley, bringing with them an agricultural package first developed far to the west in the Fertile Crescent…

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Joseph A. Francis: King Cotton, the Munificent Slavery & (Under)development in the United States, 1789–1865: ‘Slaves were necessary for the country’s cotton boom because cotton was not sufficiently remunerative to attract yeoman farmers. Cotton exports then balanced the imports that the Federal Government taxed to obtain most of its revenues. Those revenues were used to fund westward expansion, both directly through the acquisition and conquest of new territory, and indirectly through the policy of retiring the national debt, which pumped liquidity into the country’s nascent capital markets and bolstered the reputation of American bonds among foreign investors. State government could then borrow to finance the transportation infrastructure that connected the new lands to markets, allowing them to be serrled. Westward expansion tended to weaken slaveholders’ position in Congress because they were excluded from the rapidly growing Midwest. They therefore seceded. The North would not let the South leave the Union, however, because secession threatened to take away the Federal Government’s main source of revenues. As a result, the Civil War began, leading to emancipation. Slavery had thus financed the development of the settler society that would eventually abolish it, while the slaves themselves became an underdeveloped nation within a nation… 

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Aswath DamodaranEquity Risk Premiums (ERP): Determinants, Estimation, and Implications–The 2021 Edition: ‘The equity risk premium is the price of risk in equity markets, and it is not just a key input in estimating costs of equity and capital in both corporate finance and valuation, but it is also a key metric in assessing the overall market. Given its importance, it is surprising how haphazard the estimation of equity risk premiums remains in practice. We begin this paper by looking at the economic determinants of equity risk premiums, including investor risk aversion, information uncertainty and perceptions of macroeconomic risk. In the standard approach to estimating the equity risk premium, historical returns are used, with the difference in annual returns on stocks versus bonds, over a long period, comprising the expected risk premium. We note the limitations of this approach, even in markets like the United States, which have long periods of historical data available, and its complete failure in emerging markets, where the historical data tends to be limited and volatile. We look at two other approaches to estimating equity risk premiums – the survey approach, where investors and managers are asked to assess the risk premium and the implied approach, where a forward-looking estimate of the premium is estimated using either current equity prices or risk premiums in non-equity markets. In the next section, we look at the relationship between the equity risk premium and risk premiums in the bond market (default spreads) and in real estate (cap rates) and how that relationship can be mined to generate expected equity risk premiums. We close the paper by examining why different approaches yield different values for the equity risk premium, and how to choose the “right” number to use in analysis…

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Gary GortonRecent Changes & the Future of the US Financial System: ‘The financial crisis has not been solved because financial crises are inherent in market economics. A financial crisis is always about runs on short-term debt, e.g. in the repo market. The general trend in the past couple decades has been a decline in deposits replaced with other short-term debt instruments like repo contracts…. Stablecoin is essentially unregulated free banking that issues deposits. However, free banking never worked in the past, even in cases whether the government required backing. There needs to be credible backing for Stablecoin as they are now runnable without any entity overseeing them…. The fundamental theorem of bank regulation stipulates that bank regulators can only decide the location of the banking system. Without carrots—or incentives—to keep a bank, they can move, as evidenced by the rise of mortgage and loan origination outside of the banking system given the high costs of staying a bank…

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Anton Troianovski‘We Know How to Defend Our Interests’: Putin’s Emerging Hard Line: ‘KYIV, Ukraine — The world according to President Vladimir V. Putin looks like this: Russia is on the rise while the West is in chaos. The West, spurred on by a new American president who is more anti-Russian than his predecessor, seeks Russia’s—and Mr. Putin’s—destruction. And it is time for Russia, imbued with a moral authority and a thinning supply of patience, to hit back. “They may think that we are like them, but we are different, with a different genetic, cultural and moral code,” Mr. Putin said last month, excoriating the United States. “We know how to defend our interests”…

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James H. Stock & Mark W. WatsonIdentification & Estimation of Dynamic Causal Effects in Macroeconomics Using External Instruments: ‘The increasing use of external sources of as-if randomness to identify the dynamic causal effects of macroeconomic shocks… the time series counterpart of the highly successful strategy in microeconometrics of using external as-if randomness to provide instruments…. This lecture exposits this approach and provides conditions on instruments and control variables under which external instrument methods produce valid inference on dynamic causal effects…. We consider two methods, a one-step instrumental variables regression and a two-step method that entails estimation of a vector autoregression…

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