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Historical Nonfarm Unemployment Statistics

Historical Nonfarm Unemployment Statistics: An updated graph that Claudia Goldin had me make two and a half decades ago. The nonfarm unemployment rate since 1869:

2016 04 05 Historical Nonfarm Unemployment Estimates numbers

Then it was 1890-1990, now it is 1869-2015, thanks to:

  • J.R. Vernon (1994): http://delong.typepad.com/1-s2.0-0164070494900086-main.pdf
  • C.D. Romer (1986): http://delong.typepad.com/spurious-volatility.pdf
  • BLS (2015): http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/surveymost?ln

with spreadsheet at: http://tinyurl.com/dl20160405

The assumption–debateable–is that “unemployment” is not a farm thing–that in the rural south or in the midwest or on the prairie you can always find a place of some sort as a hired hand, and that “unemployment” is a town- and city-based nonfarm phenomenon.

I confess I do not understand how anyone can look at this series and think that calculating stable and unchanging autocorrelations and innovation variances is a reasonable first-cut thing to do.

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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (May 21, 2019)

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Robo-Apocalypse? Not in Your Lifetime: Live at Project Syndicate

Robo Apocalypse Not in Your Lifetime by J Bradford DeLong Project Syndicate

Live at Project Syndicate: Robo-Apocalypse? Not in Your Lifetime: "Will the imminent “rise of the robots” threaten all future human employment? The most thoughtful discussion of that question can be found in MIT economist David H. Autor’s 2015 paper, “Why Are There Still so Many Jobs?”, which considers the problem in the context of Polanyi’s Paradox. Given that “we can know more than we can tell,” the twentieth-century philosopher Michael Polanyi observed, we shouldn’t assume that technology can replicate the function of human knowledge itself. Just because a computer can know everything there is to know about a car doesn’t mean it can drive it. This distinction between tacit knowledge and information bears directly on the question of what humans will be doing to produce economic value in the future... Read MOAR at Project Syndicate

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"Neoliberalisms", Left and Right: Hoisted from the Archives

stacks and stacks of books

Hoisted from the Archives: From 2015: _"Neoliberalisms", Left and Right: Today's best piece I have read on the internet is by the extremely sharp John Quiggin: The Last Gasp of (US) [Left-]Neoliberalism: "US neoliberalism is... closer to Blair’s Third Way than to Thatcher....

...[US] neoliberalism maintained and even extended ‘social liberalism’, in the US sense of support for equal marriage, reproductive choice and so on. In economic terms, its central claim was that the goals of the New Deal... could best be pursued through market-friendly policies that would earn the support of the financial sector.... [The] signature issues for US neoliberals were free trade, cuts in ‘entitlement’ spending, and school reform... a ‘grand bargain’, in which Republicans would accept minimal increases in taxation in return for the abandonment of most of the Democratic program. The Clinton administration was explicitly neoliberal.... And, while Obama’s 2008 election campaign was masterfully ambiguous, his first Administration neoliberal through and through.... But developments since then, including the global financial crisis, the failure of school reform and increasing awareness of entrenched inequality have destroyed the appeal of neoliberalism...

I think that John Quiggin is largely correct—if you correct "abandonment" to "reconfiguration".

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The ε-Stigler and the Other Components of Stigler: On George Stigler's 1962 Denunciation of the "Insolence" of Demonstrating Negroes, and Other Topics

School of Athens

Twitter Thread: Daniel Kuehn wrote: "We say something intelligent and on-point about Buchanan or Friedman or Tullock or Stigler and then we try to extrapolate a history of conservatism from it. Generally we're not equipped to do that (I'm certainly not), and should be wary of it. Wary doesn’t mean don’t cross-pollinate. I think the interaction between the two communities is great. Just something to be aware of..."

Let's take the George Stigler vector and project it onto a complete intellectual basis made up of the unit vectors ε, σ, π, β, γ:

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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (May 19, 2019)

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  1. Yes, Some People at the Ludwig von Mises Institute Think Churchill Was a War Criminal for Not Making Peace with Hitler in May 1940. Why Do You Ask?

  2. Ernst H. Kantorowicz: The Fundamental Issue: Documents and Marginal Notes on the University of California Loyalty Oath

  3. Robin Harris: The Bastards Say, Welcome: "The most famous computer ad that never ran was created for Data General.... After IBM announced the Series/1.... DG marketing came up with a rough draft of a 2-page ad: 'They Say IBM’s Entry Into Minicomputers Will Legitimize The Market. The Bastards Say, Welcome'...

  4. Muriel Dal-Pont Legrand and Harald Hagemann: Business Cycles in Juglar and Schumpeter􏰀: "One important difference is that for Schumpeter the classical business cycle is driven by technological innovations of medium size, whereas for Juglar the cause for an overheated boom is speculation fuelled by easy credit...

  5. Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus: Life of Tiberius Gracchus

  6. DS100: Principles and Techniques of Data Science

  7. Erik Wade: St. Bride's Day Massacre : "We had to kill the Vikings, because they bathed and brushed their hair and our wives couldn't resist such sophistication" is a HELL of a take by medieval English chroniclers: 'One thirteenth-century chronicle attributed a slaughter of Danes by Anglo-Saxons in 1002 to the former's irresistibility to the latter's spouses: "The Danes made themselves too acceptable to English women by their elegant manners and their care of their person. They combed their hair daily, according to the custom of their country, and took a bath every Saturday, and even changed their clothes frequently, and improved the beauty of their bodies with many such trifles, by which means they undermined the chastity of wives...

  8. Sam Lau, Joey Gonzalez, and Deb Nolan: Principles and Techniques of Data Science

  9. Lyall Taylor: The LT3000 Blog: Uber, Delusion, and Ride-Hailing's Structural Economic Inefficiency: "NYC and Silicon Valley based investors forget that the majority of the world doesn't live in these areas.... Every time I go back to New Zealand to spend time with my parents [I see] that private vehicle ownership isn't going to cease any time soon. Commuting with one's own car is cheap, reliable, fast, and comfortable. Why wait around for an expensive Uber when you can just whip yourself down the road to the local store or restaurant in 5 minutes, and park for free outside on the road or in designated parking areas outside?...

  10. AlphaChat: Kimberly Clausing Makes the Case for Open Economies

  11. Lumen Learning: The Bank War

  12. James A.Kahn and Robert W.Rich: _Trend Productivity Growth: "Through 2019Q1... with probability 0.93 productivity remains in a low-growth (1.33% annual rate) regime.... Productivity growth in 2019Q1 in the nonfarm business sector was 3.6% (annual rate), the highest rate in more than four years...

  13. I missed this when it came out three years ago: Melany De La Cruz-Viesca, Zhenxiang Chen, Paul M. Ong, Darrick Hamilton, and William A. Darity Jr.: The Color of Wealth in Los Angeles

  14. The full text is online. Go read it!: Heather Boushey, Ryan Nunn, and Jay Shambaugh: Recession Ready: Fiscal Policies to Stabilize the American Economy

  15. George A. Akerlof et al.: Exhibit A: "George A. Akerlof, Professor Susan Dynarski... and Professor Janet L. Yellen... regularly use and teach statistical analytical methods.... Amici have a wide range of views about the appropriateness of using race as a factor in college admissions. However, they share the view that Dr. Card is one of the most outstanding and respected scholars in the field of econometrics and applied economics, that his statistical analyses in this case were methodologically sound, and that the criticisms of his modeling approach in the Brief of Economists as Amici Curiae in Support of Plaintiff, Dkt. 450 ('Plaintiff’s Amici Br.'), are not based on sound statistical principles or practices...

  16. Jacob T. Levy: "Somehow this article never asks whether... maybe our experience with a president whose qualifications were 'playing a rich person on TV' and 'shouting on twitter' has some important lessons...

  17. Boing-Boing: Nebula Awards: "The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Screenplay by Phil Lord and Rodney Rothman)...

  18. Leah McElrath: @leahmcelrath: "//begin sarcasm font// It’s absolutely totally okay to have no idea how many children our government has stolen from their parents. Just business as usual. //end sarcasm font// This is what we’re accepting now...

  19. Michael Bennet: Why We Need a Public Health Insurance Option: "I Got Lucky With My Cancer Treatment, But Many Americans Go Bankrupt. That's Why We Need a Public Option...

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May 17, 2019: Weekly Forecasting Update

Industrial Production Index FRED St Louis FedManufacturers New Orders Nondefense Capital Goods Excluding Aircraft FRED St Louis Fed

The right response to almost all economic data releases is: Nothing has changed—your view of the economic forecast today is different from what it was last week, last month, or three months ago in only minor ways.

Federal Reserve Bank of New York: Nowcasting Report: May 17, 2019: "The New York Fed Staff Nowcast stands at 1.8% for 2019:Q2. News from this week's data releases decreased the nowcast for 2019:Q2 by 0.4 percentage point. Negative surprises from industrial production and capacity utilization data largely offset positive surprises from housing and regional survey data...

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"Attempts to Make Sense Out of Right Wing Austrian Economics Can Never Amount to Anything"—rootless_e: Hoisted From the Archives

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rootless_e is correct: Ludwig von Miese is not: Hoisted from the Archives: Quote of the Day: November 12, 2011: "Attempts to carry out economic reforms from the monetary side can never amount to anything but an artificial stimulation of economic activity by an expansion of the circulation, and this, as must constantly be emphasized, must necessarily lead to crisis and depression. Recurring economic crises are nothing but the consequence of attempts, despite all the teachings of experience and all the warnings of the economists, to stimulate economic activity by means of additional credit"—Ludwig von Mises, The Theory of Money and Credit...

"Attempts to make sense out of right wing Austrian economics can never amount to anything."—rootless_e...

"Fictitious" Wealth and Ludwig von Mises: Nevertheless, like a moth to a flame—or like a dog to vomit, or like a dog to something worse—I find myself under a mysterious but inexorable and irresistible compulsion to waste what would otherwise be productive work time trying to make some kind of sense of it—to at least understand wherein lies the error, and how somebody trying very hard to understand the economy (never mind that he is a big fan of the political leadership of Benito Mussolini) can go so pathetically wrong. It is, of course, not the case that every expansion of the circulation is an "artificial" (and unnatural) "stimulation of economic activity" that must "necessarily lead to crisis and depression". So why does Ludwig von Mises think that it must? Here is my current guess as to where von Mises is coming from:

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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (May 16, 2019)

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  • Yes, Societal Well-Being Depends on a Very Strong Distributional Bias Along the Lines of "To Each According to Their Need". Why Do You Ask?

  • PREVIEW: Economic Growth in Historical Perspective: U.C. Berkeley: Spring 2020

  • Note to Self: F--- you, @jack: "Quite stunning that you have developed such potentially useful tool, @jack, and yet have managed to make yourself so thoroughly my enemy, isn't it?...

  • Note to Self: Are all the cool kids still writing weekly email newsletters? If not, why no longer? If so, why?...

  • Twitter Thread: On Thomas Jefferson's Declaration: The problem with it rhetorically (which is only a very small part of the problem with it morally) is that it requires an extra paragraph: "He tempted us, and we fell, and now we are in a horrible spot. And now he is trying to make their and our situation worse by sparking a servile insurrection, with all its bloody and terrible consequences, upon these shores". But I do not know if he could say that paragraph, even to himself in his heart. And certainly the Constitutional Convention would not say it...

  • Twitter Thread: On Peng Dehaui: "In 1970 Peng was formally tried and sentenced to life imprisonment, and he died in prison in 1974...

  • Twitter Thread: On James Buchanan: "If you are hanging with Mt. Pelerin, with its Lykourgan moments and its "the merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live on eternally" and "by the slogan that 'it is not your fault' that the demagoguery of unlimited democracy, assisted by a scientistic psychology has come to the support of those who claim a share in the wealth of our society without submitting to the discipline to which it is due", either you dissent strongly and sharply or... we read between the lines...

  • Comment of the Day: John Howard Brown: "Most white males don't experience their lives as privileged. If anything, they feel less privileged than their fathers.... Too bad that so many 'Baby Boomers' got scared by the inflation monster in the 1970s...

  • Comment of the Day: Howard: "Graduated high school in Allentown, PA in 1970.... White males like me who didn't go to college expected to find life-long work and reasonable pay at Bethlehem Steel, Mack Truck, or the Western Electric Plant. All those jobs are long, long gone...

  • Comment of the Day: Robert Waldmann: "Why promise inflation after the recession rather than produce inflation now when monetary policy isn't at the zero lower bound? Is it really likely that people could be convinced that the Fed will accept inflation over 2% some years after then next time we are in the liquidity trap when it demonstrates that it won't accept it right now? They should walk the walk, not just pre-commit to possibly talking the talk at some time in the indefinite future. Still progress...

  • Weekend Reading: Joseph Schumpeter (1927): The Explanation of the Business Cycle

  • Weekend Reading: Raymond Aron (1955): Nations and Ideologies

  • Weekend Reading: Samuel Brittan (1980): Hayek, the New Right, and the Crisis of Social Democracy


  1. Martin Wolf: How the Long Debt Cycle Might End: "Start then with inflationary fire. Much of what is going on right now recalls the early 1970s: an amoral US president (then Richard Nixon) determined to achieve re-election, pressured the Federal Reserve chairman (then Arthur Burns) to deliver an economic boom. He also launched a trade war, via devaluation and protection. A decade of global disorder ensued. This sounds rather familiar, does it not?...

  2. Charlotte Ahlin: The 'Game Of Thrones' Survival Odds For The 5 Characters Who George R. R. Martin Said Would Make It To The End: "TV Bran stands a pretty good chance of surviving.... Survival chances: 9.5/10. No one cares enough to kill him anymore.... Good luck to anyone foolish enough to try and kill Arya Freaking Stark.... Survival chances: 7/10. 'Not today'.... TV Tyrion... will probably survive to be the power behind whoever ends up on the throne... but a Tyrion death scene would give us one hell of a gut punch in the series finale. Survival chances: 6/10. Leave our boy alone, Bronn!... TV Dany... yikes. Her babies are dropping like (dragon)flies.... Survival chances: 3/10. Dracarys.... TV Jon is everyone's top pick for Special King Boy.... But... honorable Stark men don't fare all too well down south.... Survival chances: 8/10. It's his game to lose...

  3. Barry Ritholtz: Index Funds Don’t Hurt Consumers, But Monopolies Do - Bloomberg: "Critics of passive investing blame the wrong thing for higher prices in some industries...

  4. Minxin Pei: Is Trump’s Trade War with China a Civilizational Conflict?: "Recent remarks by a senior Trump administration official suggest that the United States' current approach to China is dangerously misconceived. The rise of China under a one-party dictatorship should be met with a united front in defense of the liberal order, not talk of a clash of Caucasian and non-Caucasian civilizations...

  5. University of Wisconsin Oshkosh: Marianne Johnson: "Dr. Johnson's research focuses on the history of public economics and public choice, particularly as related to public goods and public policy decision-making. She currently serves on the editorial boards of the Journal for the History of Economic Thought and Oeconomica. Dr. Johnson recently finished a five year term as co-editor for Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology. Dr. Johnson is the secretary for the History of Economics Society and former president of the Wisconsin Economics Association...

  6. Christopher Monroe: Quantum Computing Is a Marathon Not a Sprint

  7. Josh Brown: The Book That Changed My Life: "The 20th anniversary of Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth.... Nick Murray has taught thousands of financial advisors about the inherent dignity of our careers...

  8. Golden Gate National Recreation Area (U.S. National Park Service): Fort Baker: "Fort Baker, the 9th and final 'Post-to-Park' conversion in the Golden Gate National Parks, is a 335 acre former 1905 U.S. Army post located immediately north of the Golden Gate Bridge. This hidden gem of a site consists of over 25 historic army buildings clustered around a main parade ground, a sheltered harbor protected by a jetty, a number of historic gun emplacements, and trails and forested areas climbing gently up from San Francisco Bay...

  9. Cavallo Point Resort: The Luxury Hotel at the Golden Gate

  10. Ludwig von Mises: Dictatorships and Double Standards: "Fascism and similar movements aiming at the establishment of dictatorships are full of the best intentions and that their intervention has, for the moment, saved European civilization. The merit that Fascism has thereby won for itself will live on eternally in history...

  11. Ludwig von Mises: The First Lesson About Conservative Thinkers Is That They All Rot in One Generation or Less...: "The socialists are coming with a plan to equalize gender relationships–and by making the wife an equal of the husband it is only a matter of time until the worker seeks to be the equal of the boss, and with sex itself freely shared among consenting equals how can we even maintain the idea of 'private property'?...

  12. Ludwig von Mises: The First Lesson About Conservative Thinkers Is That They All Rot in One Generation or Less...: "The pseudo-democratic movement endeavours... to make the strong equal to the weak, the talented to the untalented, and the healthy to the sick.... The radical wing of the women’s movement seeks to make women the equal of men…. But the difference between sexual character and sexual destiny can no more be decreed away than other inequalities of mankind...

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Yes, Societal Well-Being Depends on a Very Strong Distributional Bias Along the Lines of "To Each According to Their Need". Why Do You Ask?

Il Quarto Stato

At least half of our wealth comes from the ideas and investments of those who are now dead. And as we grow richer, that proportion grows as well. None of the living have any just exclusive claim on any portion of this cornucopian storehouse of technologies. The dead have no just claim on it either: respect for their legacy does not entail honoring their wishes as to its use, if that honoring upsets the principle of equal opportunity. Thus the most bedrock moral-philosophical principal is that more than half of our wealth is held in common for the human community to distribute as it decides is good.

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PREVIEW: Economic Growth in Historical Perspective: U.C. Berkeley: Spring 2020

After hearing Ellora Derenoncourt rave about being a TA for Melissa Dell and her Econ 142: The History of Economic Growth, I have decided to go full parasite and stand up my own version of the course for the spring of 2020 here at U.C. Berkeley. Tell me what you think! Here are my notes so far:


Course to be at: Teaching Economics: https://delong.typepad.com/teaching_economics/econ-135.html


Econ 135: Economic Growth in Historical Perspective

This course examines the idea and reality of economic growth in historical perspective, beginning with the divergence between human ancestors and other primates and continuing through with forecasts for the 21st century and beyond. Topics covered include human speciation, language, and sociability; the discovery of agriculture and the domestication of animals; the origins and maintenance of gross inequality; Malthusian economies; the commercial and industrial revolutions; modern economic growth; international prosperity differentials; OECD convergence and East Asian miracles; the political economy of growth and stagnation; and the stubborn persistence of poverty.

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Note to Self: F--- you, @jack. Twitter keeps—somehow—reversing my view from "Latest Tweets" to your algorithmic "Home", showing me first tweets I am likely to engage in. But tweets I am likely to engage in are not the tweets I want to see. You are hacking my brain, @jack—and not in a good way.

Thus you have made yourself my enemy: Things that advertise on Twitter I will not buy. Opportunities for me to cheaply degrade your reputation and reduce your wealth I will gladly take advantage of.

Quite stunning that you have developed such potentially useful tool, @jack, and yet have managed to make yourself so thoroughly my enemy, isn't it? One might say it requires a close-to-unique talent...

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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (May 10, 2019)

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  1. Robert Kuttner: Karl Polanyi Explains It All

  2. Wikipedia: Friedrich von Hayek: "In August 1926, Hayek married Helen Berta Maria von Fritsch (1901–1960), a secretary at the civil service office where Hayek worked, on the rebound upon hearing of his cousin's marriage. They had two children together. Upon the close of World War II, Hayek restarted a relationship with his cousin, who had married since they first met, but kept it secret until 1948. Hayek and Fritsch divorced in July 1950 and he married his cousin Helene Bitterlich (1900–1996) just a few weeks later after moving to Arkansas to take advantage of permissive divorce laws. His wife and children were offered settlement and compensation for accepting a divorce. The divorce caused some scandal at LSE where certain academics refused to have anything to do with Hayek.] In a 1978 interview to explain his actions, Hayek stated that he was unhappy in his first marriage and as his wife would not grant him a divorce he had to enforce it. He rarely visited his children after the divorce...

  3. Peter Kafka: Disney says its over $400 million Vice investment is now worthless - Vox: "A now-familiar story: Investors say they overvalued a high-flying digital publisher...

  4. Amrita Chakrabarti Myers: The Erasure and Resurrection of Julia Chinn: "The main house at Johnson’s Blue Spring Farm is gone.... On the right-hand side... stands an antebellum-era building... so overgrown with weeds, grasses, and brush that it is barely visible... but it looks sturdier than the Choctaw Academy school building. It is believed to have been one of the slave cottages or a kitchen building at Blue Spring.... On the other hand, just a few miles away, thousands of visitors annually stream through the impeccably maintained gardens and halls of Ashland, the home of Henry Clay.... The contrast between the two sites couldn’t be any starker. And the difference has everything to do with race. Make no mistake: Richard’s decision to live publicly with Julia and their children, Imogene and Adaline, and Henry’s decision to hide his black 'mistresses' in the slave quarters and sell their offspring downriver to New Orleans, played enormous roles in how the two men are remembered today...

  5. Michael Staub: The Mismeasure of Minds: "Seeking to wipe away forever the fake science of The Bell Curve.... The book’s analysis refuses to die, animated by already existing racial resentment in U.S. politics and culture and helping to fuel more in its turn...

  6. Samuel Brittan (1980): Hayek, the New Right, and the Crisis of Social Democracy

  7. Robert Waldmann Has an Interpretation of Karl Marx that Is New to Me...: I tend to read Marx as a Christian heretic--as writing in an eschatological mode in which the time when "labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly" is exactly as real and near to him as the expectation of Paul of Tarsus that someday soon: "we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord..." (1 Thess. 4:17). Robert disagrees, and hears a sneer whenever Marx says "come the Millennium" that I cannot...

  8. Hayek and the "Shut Up and Be Grateful You Were Even Born!" Argument: I ran into a passage that makes me wonder whether Hayek in his inner core believed that democracy had any value—even any institutional value—at all.... "Egalitarianism is of course not a majority view but a product of the necessity under unlimited democracy to solicit the support even of the worst.… It is by the slogan that 'it is not your fault' that the demagoguery of unlimited democracy, assisted by a scientistic psychology, has come to the support of those who claim a share in the wealth of our society without submitting to the discipline to which it is due. It is not by conceding 'a right to equal concern and respect’ to those who break the code that civilization is maintained…" Now it is certainly true that of the trio "Prosperity, Liberty, Democracy," Hayek puts prosperity first and liberty second—or, rather, that freedom of contract needs to be more closely safeguarded than freedom of speech, for if there is freedom of contract then freedom of speech will quickly reappear, but if there is no freedom of contract than freedom of speech will not long survive. But the passage above makes me wonder whether democracy has any place in Hayek's hierarchy of good things at all...

  9. Hansard: Army Council and General Dyer(8 July 1920)

  10. H. Clay and Richard L. Troutman: The Emancipation of Slaves by Henry Clay

  11. Mark Thoma: Economist's View: Links (5/8/19): "Competitive Edge: Principles and presumptions for U.S. vertical merger enforcement policy: Antitrust and competition issues are receiving renewed interest, and for good reason. So far, the discussion has occurred at a high level of generality. To address important specific antitrust enforcement and competition issues, the Washington Center for Equitable Growth has launched this blog, which we call “Competitive Edge”...

  12. Joakim Book: Mr. Darcy’s Ten Thousand a Year

  13. Susie Madrak: Rep. Escobar: 'We Have A President Who Has Created An Addiction To Hate': "I'll tell you, that clip, when I saw it last night, it made me very, very sad, very sad for our country, that we are at such a moral rock bottom," Rep. Escobar said...

  14. Nancy LeTourneau: Why Is Trump So Afraid of Mueller?: "The fact that the Commander in Chief is describing an investigation conducted by his own administration as “treasonous” ranks right up there with some of the worst. Why would Trump be so afraid of what Mueller has to say, especially when he claims that the special counsel’s report totally vindicated him? It could be because Mueller has earned a tremendous amount of political capital by conducting himself as the consummate professional surrounded by a sea of angry lunatics otherwise known as the Trump administration...

  15. Paul Mason: Reading Arendt Is Not Enough: "Arendt’s descriptions of the dynamics of totalitarian movements hold good—... [but] her explanations for them do not.... If Trump has triggered a crisis of progressive thought, it is in particular a crisis for the cult of Hannah Arendt. The United States of America was her last and enduring hope: the only political institution on earth that was supposed to be immune to totalitarianism, nationalism, and imperialism...

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Modern Assembly Line

Note to Self: Comment on Richard Baldwin: The Globotics Upheaval: Globalization, Robotics, and the Future of Work: Start from the observation the the human brain is a massively-parallel supercomputer that fits inside a breadbox and draws 50 watts of power.

For 6,000 years, since the domestication of the horse, human backs, human thighs, and human fingers have becoming less powerful as sources of economic value, as animals and machines have increasingly competed with and substituted for them. Up until recently, however, every domesticated animal every machine had required a microprocessor. And the highly-productive decentralized societal division of labor of enormous extent created huge and increasing amounts of need for white-collar information processing: the accounting, control, transmission of information, and purveyance of misinformation jobs that are most of what people like us here do. Thus while human backs and thighs and fingers became less powerful as sources of economic value as time passed, human brains become more valuable. But now we have robots which contain their own microprocessors, and software 'bots that handle huge amounts of the white-collar information processing. So the job-creating aspects of technological creative destruction are now open to question

From this standpoint, we can worry along either of two dimensions:

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Where Frank Fukuyama Went Wrong; or, Zombie Fascism!!

Economics Identity and the Democratic Recession YouTube

Brad DeLong: Council on Foreign Relations: The Future of Democracy Symposium: Session Two: Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession: this political moment—Louis Napoleon mobilized these kinds of sentiments to overthrow the French Second Republic and establish himself as emperor. Francis Fukuyama wrote an excellent article about how really-existing-socialism—public ownership of the means of production, hopefully leading someday to the free society of associated producers—had crashed and burned, and that the only big idea left about how to organize society was that of liberal market democracy. But Fukuyama made a key mistake: there had been a third challenge. That is the basally-Roman idea thateach of us is individually a stick, very weak, but if we can unite ourselves in a big bundle of sticks and if we can tie ourselves together in leather thongs, we then become a powerful force that, in the hands of our strong leaders, could bruise our enemies.

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May 10, 2019: Weekly Forecasting Update: Little Change

Real final sales to domestic purchasers FRED St Louis Fed

Real Final Sales of Domestic Product FRED St Louis Fed

Real Gross Domestic Product FRED St Louis Fed

Real Final Sales to Private Domestic Purchasers FRED St Louis Fed

Federal Reserve Bank of New York: Nowcasting Report: "The New York Fed Staff Nowcast stands at 2.2% for 2019:Q2. News from the JOLTS, CPI, PPI, and international trade releases left the nowcast for 2019:Q2 broadly unchanged...

Key Points:

The right response to almost all economic data releases is: Nothing has changed—your view of the economic forecast today is different from what it was last week, last month, or three months ago in only minor ways.

What has changed in the past week is: The falling-apart of Trump's trade negotiating strategy with China will harm Americans and may disrupt value chains, but the effects are unlikely to be clearly visible in the data flow.

It is still the case that U.S. potential economic growth continues to be around 2%/year, that inflation is unthreatening, and tha trhe donomy is closing in but not yet at full employment.

Continue reading "May 10, 2019: Weekly Forecasting Update: Little Change" »


Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (May 6, 2019)

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  1. Britannica.com: Fasces

  2. George Orwell* (1937): The Road to Wigan Pier

  3. This Time It Is Not Different: Walter Bagehot and the Persistent Concerns of Financial Macroeconomics: Origins of Central Banking: E.M. Forster's Great Aunt Marianne

  4. Peter Temin (1990): _Soviet and Nazi Economic Planning in the 1930s

  5. Hans-Peter Ullmann: Organization of War Economies

  6. EMB Numbers: Why are Red and Purple "Next to Each Other"?: "I make colored paint by starting with white and adding varying amounts of pigments from my three buckets, CMY. To see 'purple' I add pigment only from the magenta bucket.... I add cyan to magenta to get blue. I add yellow to magenta to get red. Therefore, it makes sense for red and blue to be adjacent on opposite sides of magenta...

  7. Adolf Hitler (1941): Top 10 Quotes from World War II: "You only have to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down...

  8. Online Etymology Dictionary: Nazi

  9. John Maynard Keynes (1936): The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money: Concluding Notes on the Social Philosophy Towards Which the General Theory Might Lead: "If effective demand is deficient, not only is the public scandal of wasted resources intolerable, but the individual enterpriser who seeks to bring these resources into action is operating with the odds loaded against him. The game of hazard which he plays is furnished with many zeros, so that the players as a whole will lose if they have the energy and hope to deal all the cards. Hitherto the increment of the world’s wealth has fallen short of the aggregate of positive individual savings; and the difference has been made up by the losses of those whose courage and initiative have not been supplemented by exceptional skill or unusual good fortune. But if effective demand is adequate, average skill and average good fortune will be enough...

  10. John Maynard Keynes (1936): The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money: Concluding Notes on the Social Philosophy Towards Which the General Theory Might Lead: "Whilst, therefore, the enlargement of the functions of government, involved in the task of adjusting to one another the propensity to consume and the inducement to invest, would seem to a nineteenth-century publicist or to a contemporary American financier to be a terrific encroachment on individualism. I defend it, on the contrary, both as the only practicable means of avoiding the destruction of existing economic forms in their entirety and as the condition of the successful functioning of individual initiative...

  11. John Maynard Keynes (1936): The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money: Concluding Notes on the Social Philosophy Towards Which the General Theory Might Lead: "The result of filling in the gaps in the classical theory is not to dispose of the ‘Manchester System’, but to indicate the nature of the environment which the free play of economic forces requires... There will still remain a wide field for the exercise of private initiative and responsibility. Within this field the traditional advantages of individualism will still hold good.... These advantages are... partly advantages of efficiency... decentralisation and of the play of self-interest.... Above all, individualism, if it can be purged of its defects and its abuses, is the best safeguard of personal liberty in the sense that, compared with any other system, it greatly widens the field for the exercise of personal choice. It is also the best safeguard of the variety of life, which emerges precisely from this extended field of personal choice, and the loss of which is the greatest of all the losses of the homogeneous or totalitarian state. For this variety preserves the traditions which embody the most secure and successful choices of former generations; it colours the present with the diversification of its fancy; and, being the handmaid of experiment as well as of tradition and of fancy, it is the most powerful instrument to better the future...

  12. Jacob Viner (1937): Mr. Keynes on the Causes of Unemployment: "In a world organizedin accordance with Keynes' specifications there would be a constant race between the printing press and the business agents of the trade unions, with the problem of unemployment largely solved if the printing press could maintain a constant lead and if only volume of employment, irrespective of quality, is considered important...

  13. J.R. Vernon: Unemployment Rates in Postbellum America: 1869-1899

  14. Julia Carrie Wong: 'I See Any Dinosaur, I Buy It': At Home with the Embattled Owner of the Flintstone House: "Florence Fang’s colorful home is a landmark for many in California’s Bay Area. But the town of Hillsborough is suing her, declaring the property a ‘public nuisance’...

Continue reading "Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (May 6, 2019)" »


Killing My Darlings: A "Great Depression Recovery" Outtake from "Slouching Towards Utopia?: An Economic History of the Long Twentieth Century, 1870-2016"

No, Brad: The "Great Depression Recovery" chapter needs to be 7000 words, not 30,000. I am willing to torment editors by shipping them 10000 words, but not more:


World war i Google Search

13.1: Recovery Outside the United States

The rule to memorize about recovery from the Great Depression is: the sooner countries went off the gold standard, the better; and the less that gold standard habits of orthodoxy fettered countries thereafter, the better. The Scandinavian countries bailed first, and did best. Japan and Britain abandoned the gold standard in 1931, but Japan embraced expansionary policies more thoroughly. The U.S. and Germany abandoned the gold standard in 1933, but Hitler had a clearer view that Nazi persistence and success required putting people to work than FDR did with the try-everything-expediency of his New Deal. France stuck it out on the gold standard until 1937, and did worst of all.

Continue reading "Killing My Darlings: A "Great Depression Recovery" Outtake from "Slouching Towards Utopia?: An Economic History of the Long Twentieth Century, 1870-2016"" »


The Great Depression: An Intake from "Slouching Towards Utopia?: An Economic History of the Long Twentieth Century 1870-2016"

This is the current draft of chapter 10 of Slouching Towards Utopia?. I am, again, of several minds with respect to it. I think it says what really needs to be said. I am not sure it says it in the right length. And I am not sure that I have successfully assembled the puzzle pieces in the right way...

So tell me what you think of it:


The road to Wigan Pier 75 years on Books The Guardian

X. The Great Depression

https://www.icloud.com/pages/0mzIvbURq0n3I0Ct0e3aCZbEw

George Orwell (1937): The Road to Wigan Pier:

Presently the train hove in sight. With a wild yell a hundred men dashed down the slope to catch her as she rounded the bend. Even at the bend the train was making twenty miles an hour. The men hurled themselves upon it, caught hold of the rings at the rear of the trucks and hoisted themselves up by way of the bumpers, five or ten of them on each truck. The driver took no notice. He drove up to the top of the slag-heap, uncoupled the trucks, and ran the engine back to the pit, presently returning with a fresh string of trucks. There was the same wild rush of ragged figures as before. In the end only about fifty men had failed to get on to either train.

We walked up to the top of the slag-heap. The men were shovelling the dirt out of the trucks, while down below their wives and children were kneeling, swiftly scrabbling with their hands in the damp dirt and picking out lumps of coal the size of an egg or smaller. You would see a woman pounce on a tiny fragment of stuff, wipe it on her apron, scrutinize it to make sure it was coal, and pop it jealously into her sack.

 

10.1: Understanding the Business Cycle

10.1.1: Say’s Law

When market economies emerged, there was great worry that things would not necessarily fit together: Might not the farmers be unable to sell the crops they grew to the artisans because the artisans could not sell the products they made to the merchants who would be unable to make money carrying artisans products to the farmers because the farmers would not purchase anything? Back at the beginning of economics it was Jean-Baptiste Say who wrote that such an idea of a “general glut”—of economy-wide “overproduction” and consequent mass unemployment—was incoherent. Nobody, Say argued, would ever produce anything for sale unless they expected to use the money they earned in order to buy something else. Thus, “by a metaphysical necessity”, as subsequent-generation economist John Stuart Mill outlined Say’s argument in 1829, there can be no imbalance between the aggregate value of planned production-for-sale, the aggregate value of planned sales, and the aggregate value of planned purchases. This is “Say’s Law”.

Continue reading "The Great Depression: An Intake from "Slouching Towards Utopia?: An Economic History of the Long Twentieth Century 1870-2016"" »


Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (May 3, 2019)

6a00e551f080038834022ad3b05124200d


  1. John Maynard Keynes (1919): The Economic Consequences of the Peace

  2. Jérémie Cohen-Setton, Egor Gornostay, and Colombe Ladreit:: The Aggregate Effects of Budget Stimulus: Evidence From the Large Fiscal Expansions Database: "Large, persistent, and positive effects of fiscal stimulus on GDP with a decrease in net exports that only partly offsets the increase in private domestic demand.... suggestive evidence that fiscal policy is more effective in a slump than in a boom...

  3. Noah Smith: Why Macroeconomist Emi Nakamura Deserves John Bates Clark Medal - Bloomberg: "The John Clark Bates Medal almost never goes to a macroeconomist. Emi Nakamura is a worthy exception...

  4. Greg Ip: For Lower-Paid Workers, the Robot Overlords Have Arrived: "Software and algorithms are used to screen, hire, assign and now terminate workers...

  5. Jessica M. Goldstein: Behind the Scenes with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Before Anyone Knew Her Name: "Rachel Lears' documentary 'Knock Down the House' captures a political phenom on the rise—and three other women running for office for the first time...

  6. Jason Kottke: Grace Hopper Explains a Nanosecond: "In this short clip from 1983, legendary computer scientist Grace Hopper uses a short length of wire to explain what a nanosecond is...

  7. Steve M.: The Rot In The Republican Party Started Long Before Fox 'News' And Trump: "Sorry James Comey, but William Barr didn't need to spend time with Donald Trump to become who he is now...

  8. byu/cil3x: MacBook Pro Keyboard Failures: Why Apples dust excuse is bullshit! [Teardown + Explanations] : apple: "What the actual cause is, honestly I don't know. My suspicion is that the metal dome experiences metal fatigue and slowly begin to lose connection, or that that little U-shaped cutout in the centre of the dome weakens and starts to easily bounce when pressed, making contact 2+ times.... Always have AppleCare, even if paying extra to cover a flaw that should be properly dealt with is morally questionable and a shitty thing to do...

  9. John Maynard Keynes: Obituary for Alfred Marshall: "Economics does not seem to require any specialised gifts of an unusually high order.... An easy subject, at which very few excel!...

  10. Forrest Capie: Money and Business Cycles in Britain, 1870–1913

  11. Joseph Schumpeter (1927): The Explanation of the Business Cycle

  12. Matthew Yglesias (2011): Demand Denialism: "Frédéric Bastiat... his 'What Is Seen And What Is Not Seen', which I’ve seen a lot of people cite as the foundation for their opposition to stimulus policies. It’s an extremely insightful essay, but I think the correct way to understand it is as precisely laying down the theoretical conditions in which stimulative policies do work...

  13. Deficit Denialism: Frederic Bastiat Actually Favored Expansionary Fiscal Policy in Recessions Edition: It has always seemed to me that very, very, very few of the people who cite Frederic Bastiat have actually read him. Most have not even read all of "What Is Seen and Unseen". For example: "There is an article in the Constitution which states: 'Society assists and encourages the development of labor.... through the establishment by the state, the departments, and the municipalities, of appropriate public works to employ idle hands'. As a temporary measure in a time of crisis… this intervention… could have good effects... as insurance. It… takes labor and wages from ordinary times and doles them out, at a loss it is true, in difficult times...

  14. Why Can't More People Actually Read Frederic Bastiat?: John Holbo's jaw drops as he reads Alex Tabarrok praise the carried interest rule.... Indeed, Alex Tabarrok does crawl out on a limb and applaud all tax loopholes as islands of freedom on the road to serfdom.... I would say that, in a democracy, one pays a progressive share of one's income to fund the many useful and convenient services and actions the government undertakes.... Methinks Frederic Bastiat would have agreed with me: "Often, nearly always if you will, the government official renders an equivalent service to John Goodfellow. In this case there is... only an exchange.... I say this: If you wish to create a government office, prove its usefulness."... Frederic Bastiat. I wonder how many people really read him these days?...

  15. Karl Marx (1857): The Bank Act of 1844 and the Monetary Crisis in England

  16. This Time It Is Not Different: Walter Bagehot and the Persistent Concerns of Financial Macroeconomics: Origins of Central Banking: E.M. Forster's Great Aunt Marianne

Continue reading "Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (May 3, 2019)" »


May 3, 2019: Weekly Forecasting Update: Little Change

Today: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Employment Situation Summary: "Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 263,000 in April, and the unemployment rate declined to 3.6 percent.... Notable job gains... in professional and business services, construction, health care, and social assistance..." Note that all of the decline in the unemployment rate is a shift of workers from "unemployed" to "out of the labor force", which now stands 800,000 lower than it did in December. The unemployment rate is broken as an indicator of the business-cycle state of the labor market.

Today: Federal Reserve Bank of New York: Staff Nowcast: "May 03, 2019: The New York Fed Staff Nowcast stands at 2.1% for 2019:Q..." In the past week, good news about employment and personal consumption largely offset by bad news about manufacturing.

 

Key Points:

The right response to almost all economic data releases is: Nothing has changed—your view of the economic forecast today is different from what it was last week, last month, or three months ago in only minor ways. Specifically, it is still the case that:

  • U.S. potential economic growth continues to be around 2%/year.
  • There are still no signs the U.S. has entered that phase of the recovery in which inflation is accelerating.
  • Thus there are till no signs that the U.S. has gone beyond or is even at "full employment".
  • There are still no signs of interest rate normalization: secular stagnation continues to reign.
  • Printing money (and bonds) to increase the global supply of safe assets and using the proceeds to buy useful stuff continues to look like good business cycle-management policy.
  • The unemployment rate is broken as an indicator of the business-cycle store of the labor market.
  • The Trump-McConnell-Ryan tax cut:
    • To the extent that it was supposed to boost the American economy by boosting the supply side through increased investment in America, has been a complete failure.
    • To the extent that it was supposed to make America more unequal, has succeeded.
    • Delivered a substantial short-erm demand-side fiscal stimulus to growth that has now ebbed.
      • (A 3.2%/year rate of growth of final sales to domestic purchasers over the seven quarters starting in January 2017, pushing the level of Gross National Income up by 2.1% from this demand-side stimulus.)

  • A change from 3 months ago: The Federal Reserve's abandonment of its focus on policies that are likely to keep PCE chain inflation at 2%/year or lower does not mean that it is preparing to do anything to avoid or moderate the next recession.
  • A change from 1 month ago: The U.S. grew at 3.2%/year in the first quarter of 2019—1.6%-points higher than had been nowcast—but the growth number you want to put in your head in assessing the strength of the economy is the 1.6%/year number that had been nowcast.
  • A change from 1 week ago: The disjunction between household- and establishment-survey views of the labor market continues to grow: since December seasonally-adjusted establishment payrolls have grown by an average of 210000 a month, while the CPS reports that the seasonally-adjusted number of workers with jobs has fallen by 80000 a month.

Table A 1 Employment status of the civilian population by sex and age

All Employees Total Nonfarm Payrolls FRED St Louis Fed

Continue reading "May 3, 2019: Weekly Forecasting Update: Little Change" »


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

6a00e551f080038834022ad3b05124200d

  1. Lindsey Graham: CNN New Day: “You Know How You Make America Great Again? Tell Donald Trump To Go To Hell”:n "Trump’s a Race-Baiting, Xenophobic, Religious Bigot. He Doesn’t Represent My Party. He Doesn’t Represent The Values That the Men And Women Who Wear the Uniform are Fighting For...

  2. Ben Thompson: Microsoft, Slack, Zoom, and the SaaS Opportunity: "For all of the disruption that the enterprise market has faced thanks to the rise of software-as-a-service (Saas), Microsoft was remarkably well-placed to take advantage of this new paradigm, if only they could get out of their own way...

  3. Charlie Stross: [Social Architecture and the House of Tomorrow(http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2019/04/architecture-and-the-house-of-.html): "The bedroom, wardrobe, bathroom, and some type of food storage/preparation area, aren't going away. Other spaces will also be around, and social/spatial insulation will be in demand. At the high end, the elite (whoever they are) will try to ape the living arrangements of previous century's elites, as a status signal if nothing else. What else is conceivable? What am I missing that should be as obvious as the multimodal shipping container in 1950, or photovoltaic panels on house rooftops in 1990?...

  4. Students who come to a country to study are one of the most important elements of any country's soft power: they should be encouraged and cosseted. They become its friends. And God knows the Britain that Cameron and May have made will need lots of friends: Financial Times: British Universities and the Brexit Dimension: "Britain’s universities are a rare export success for its services-driven economy.... As well as the monetary benefits the UK gains soft power and ties of affection with future business leaders, technocrats and politicians. Whatever happens, Britain will need these friends...

  5. Neil Turok: The Astonishing Simplicity of Everything

  6. Amrita Chakrabarti Myers: The Erasure and Resurrection of Julia Chinn, U.S. Vice President Richard M. Johnson’s Black Wife

  7. David Mills: The Vice President and the Mulatto: "Race, sex and politics in 19th-Century America.... Brenda Gene Gordon, a 67-year-old white woman in Chandler, Ariz.... How on earth could Brenda Gordon not have known that her great-great-great-grandfather was Vice President Richard M. Johnson? Wasn’t this fact passed proudly from generation to generation inside her family? No, it was not.... Julia Chinn... was, by law, a Negro. And in Johnson’s time (not to mention since), this was scandalous. 'I grew up never hearing the names Richard M. Johnson (even in Kentucky history classes) or Julia Chinn', Mrs. Gordon wrote to me during a recent email exchange...

  8. Henry R. Robinson: An Affecting Scene in Kentucky

  9. Abigail Adams: Letter to John Adams, 31 March - 5 April 1776

  10. Wikipedia: Otto Bauer

  11. I would suggests to Senator Rick Scott—indeed, I would suggest to all the Republican senatorså—that this is sufficient reason to vote against Stephen Moore, unless this is the face the REpublican Party wants to put forward to minority voters for the next two generations: Margaret Hoover: Firing Line: "Stephen Moore explains his 2016 joke about Donald Trump moving into the White House and kicking 'a black family out of public housing'. Moore says, 'That is a joke I always made', adding he didn’t mean it 'like a black person' lived there. 'I shouldn’t have said it', he says...

  12. Ella Nilsen: Infrastructure: Trump and Democrats’ maybe-doomed meeting on infrastructure, explained - Vox: "2 trillion in the nation’s roads, bridges, and rural broadband, according to Democratic leaders.... Democrats are thrilled with that number; Republicans likely won’t be. Trump himself admitted his plan 'may not be typically Republican', according to the source...

  13. Emily Stewart: How Occupy Wall Street Animated Bernie Sanders, AOC, and the Left: "Occupy Wall Street was seen as a failure when it ended in 2011. But it’s helped transform the American left...

  14. Nisha Gopalan: China's Bay Area Plan Has Holes, Concerns for Hong Kong: "The plan gives scant detail on how Hong Kong and Macau will be integrated without eroding their special status.... Late Monday, the official Xinhua News Agency released details of the State Council’s Greater Bay Area plan—a project to knit together Hong Kong and Macau with nine mainland cities into a global innovation hub to rival California’s Silicon Valley. The trouble is, there’s little new on how authorities plan to make this grand vision into a reality...

  15. The Hoarse Whisperer: "The last time Barr engineered a cover-up, people didn’t have cellphones, e-mail or the internet. He’s the caveman of coverups. No wonder he’s so bad at it...

  16. Katherine Eriksson, Katheryn Russ, Jay C. Shambaugh, and Minfei Xu: Trade Shocks and the Shifting Landscape of U.S. Manufacturing

Continue reading "Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (May 1, 2019)" »


Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (April 28, 2019)

6a00e551f080038834022ad3b05124200d


  1. Adam Schiff: The Barr S---show: "Russians were engaged in a systemic effort to interfere in our election; the Trump campaign welcomed it, embraced it, built it into their plan, made full use of it, lied about it, covered it up, and then obstructed the investigation into it...

  2. Alan Rappeport: Stung by Trump’s Trade Wars, Wisconsin’s Milk Farmers Face Extinction: "The Voelker dairy farm in Wisconsin sold off most of its cows this year as economic and technological forces, including President Trump’s trade war, take a toll on the dairy industry.... The flagship industry in a pivotal swing state faces an economic crisis.

  3. Paul Krugman: The Great Republican Abdication: "The modern G.O.P. is perfectly willing to sell out America if that’s what it takes to get tax cuts for the wealthy...

  4. Abigail Disney: "Let me very clear. I like Bob Iger. I do NOT speak for my family but only for myself. Other than owning shares (not that many) I have no more say in what happens there than anyone else. But by any objective measure a pay ratio over a thousand is insane...

  5. Emma Newburger: Steve Schwarzman: Raise Minimum Wage, Eliminate Taxes for Teachers: "Blackstone CEO and Chairman Steve Schwarzman outlines a 'Marshall Plan' for the middle class to address increasing income inequality in America. The billionaire private equity titan and supporter of President Donald Trump pointed to three main pillars of the plan: a higher minimum wage, more resources for technical training programs in schools and the elimination of taxes for teachers. 'What we have is less an issue of income inequality than income insufficiency for the bottom 50% of the society', he says...

  6. Ray Dalio: Why and How Capitalism Needs to Be Reformed)

  7. Bloomberg: Quadriga’s Downfall Began When Founder Abruptly Fired All The Exchange’s ‘Law And Order’ Folks, Former Lawyer Says: "Christine Duhaime says Gerald Cotten decided one day in 2016 he no longer wanted the crypto exchange to be a listed company...

  8. Dan Margolies and Celia Llopis-Jepsen: Kansas Supreme Court Rules State Constitution Protects Right To Abortion

  9. Wikipedia: More Cowbell

  10. Walter Laquer: On Thomas Mann's "Reflections on a Non-Political Man: "The war was totally justified, a genuine popular cause... Germany had been driven into the war by its envious adversaries. But it was also a necessity ('fate'), for the prewar world had been deeply corrupt, not worth preserving. War was a tremendous creative event, it brought about national unity and moral elevation. These basic ideas (of the early war years) were coupled with violent attacks against the decadent West: against France which had a democratic civilization but no culture; against the British who wanted to re-educate Germany using Gurkhas and Hottentots...

  11. Gwern: Spaced Repetition

  12. Branko Milanovic: Shadows and Lights of Globalization: "Today’s globalization and its effects, positive and negative, as in many ways a mirror-replay  of the first globalization that took place from the mid-19th century to the First World War...

  13. Michael Nielsen: Augmenting Long-Term Memory

  14. Wikipedia: Ian Richardson

Continue reading "Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (April 28, 2019)" »


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

World war i Google Search

This is chapter 7 of Slouching Towards Utopia?. I am of several minds with respect to it. I think it says what really needs to be said. I think it says it all in a remarkably short space—or it says it all to me. But it seems, to me, very different in tone from both the rest of the book I have written and from how this stuff is usually presented...

So tell me what you think of it:


VII. The Knot of War, 1914-1920

Nikita Sergeyevitch Khrushchev to John F. Kennedy (1962):

We and you ought not now to pull on the ends of the rope in which you have tied the knot of war, because the more the two of us pull, the tighter that knot will be tied. And a moment may come when that knot will be tied so tight that even he who tied it will not have the strength to untie it, and then it will be necessary to cut that knot, and what that would mean is not for me to explain to you, because you yourself understand perfectly of what terrible forces our countries dispose…

Two chapters ago we shifted our focus from economics to political economy: we needed to look not just at technology, production, organization, and exchange, but also at how people governing themselves and others tried to regulate the economy to preserve or produce a good society, or a society good for them. One chapter ago we shifted our focus to imperial politics: we needed to look not just at how peoples and their elites governed themselves, but how they governed others. Each of these two shifts brought us away from processes and factors that seem almost inevitable—in which the actions of individuals mostly cancel out, and if an opportunity was not seized by one person at one date it would have been seized by another soon after. Each of these two moved us closer to that part of history where individual actions matter: where individuals and their luck can divert history for good, either because of their place in the society or because of the waves of belief and expectations that they set in motion. And so the history became less a flowering of long-planted seeds and more choice and chance.

This chapter takes a further step in that direction: into politico-military affairs, where choice and chance is dominant. This fits awkwardly into an economic history. But it is necessary. For we cannot understand what the world was like in 1918 without looking at World War I. The world in 1914 had been a growing, substantially peaceful, prosperous—with problems, but prosperous—world, in which it was not irrational to be optimistic about human civilization. The world, especially Europe, in the ashes after World War I was different.

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


Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (April 26, 2019)

6a00e551f080038834022ad3b05124200d

  • April 26, 2019: Weekly Forecasting Update: The right response to almost all economic data releases is: Nothing has changed—your view of the economic forecast today is different from what it was last week, last month, or three months ago in only minor ways. Specifically, it is still the case that...

  • For the Weekend: Jessie J: Domino


  1. I would note that when Twitter blocks a Republican politician for being a Nazi, it is not making a mistake: the point of the tweet it blocks is to tiptoe up to the edge of Nazihood while still maintaining a smidgeon of implausible deniability. But algorithms are not good at detecting those speech markers meant to preserve implausible deniability: Joseph Cox and Jason Koebler: [Why Won’t Twitter Treat White Supremacy Like ISIS? Because It Would Mean Banning Some Republican Politicians Too(https://motherboard.vice.com/enus/article/a3xgq5/why-wont-twitter-treat-white-supremacy-like-isis-because-it-would-mean-banning-some-republican-politicians-too)_: "A Twitter employee who works on machine learning believes that a proactive, algorithmic solution to white supremacy would also catch Republican politicians...

  2. Vox Staff: 5 Years Of Vox, Explained by Our Staff

  3. Lauren Williams: Vox Turns 5: "Since its launch in 2014, Vox has gone through countless changes. One thing has stayed the same... a pristine clarity of purpose that’s translated across beats, platforms, and mediums. We explain. We give the context. We go deep. We put our audience first. On Vox’s fifth anniversary, this clarity of purpose is the throughline of our best work...

  4. Ariel Kalil, Catherine E. Born, James Kunz, and Pamela J. Caudill: Life Stressors, Social Support, and Depressive Symptoms Among First-Time Welfare Recipients

  5. Ashley Jardina: White Identity Politics Is About More than Racism: "We can’t mask the fact that we’re also talking about the protection and preservation of whites in the United States at the expense of racial and ethnic minorities.... I make this really crisp distinction between white identity and white racial prejudice.... There are a lot of white people who do have this sense of solidarity but who wouldn’t score particularly high on any social science measure of racial prejudice. For these whites, it’s about protecting their in-group and showing some sense of favoritism.... Most... would absolutely reject any association with white supremacist organizations, and yet in some instances, they do hold a lot of the same beliefs as some of these groups...

  6. Dao Nguyen: Cultural Cartography: "The people doing the something, reading or watching—what are they thinking?... What if, instead of tagging what articles or videos are about, what if we asked: How is it helping our users do a real job in their lives? Last year, we started a project to formally categorize our content in this way. We called it, 'cultural cartography'. It formalized an informal practice that we’ve had for a really long time: don’t just think about the subject matter; think also about, and in fact, primarily about, the job that your content is doing for the reader or the viewer...

Continue reading "Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (April 26, 2019)" »


April 26, 2019: Weekly Forecasting Update

Today: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis: Gross Domestic Product Release: "Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased 3.2 percent in the first quarter of 2019, according to the “advance” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the fourth quarter of 2018, real GDP increased 2.2 percent...

 

Key Points:

The right response to almost all economic data releases is: Nothing has changed—your view of the economic forecast today is different from what it was last week, last month, or three months ago in only minor ways. Specifically, it is still the case that:

  • The Trump-McConnell-Ryan tax cut, to the extent that it was supposed to boost the American economy by boosting the supply side through increased investment in America, has been a complete failure.
  • The Trump-McConnell-Ryan tax cut, to the extent that it was supposed to make America more unequal, has succeeded.
  • The Trump-McConnell-Ryan tax cut delivered a substantial short-erm demand-side fiscal stimulus to growth that has now ebbed.
    • (A 3.2%/year rate of growth of final sales to domestic purchasers over the seven quarters starting in January 2017, pushing the level of Gross National Income up by 2.1% from this demand-side stimulus.)
  • U.S. potential economic growth continues to be around 2%/year.
  • There are still no signs the U.S. has entered that phase of the recovery in which inflation is accelerating.
  • There are still no signs of interest rate normalization: secular stagnation continues to reign.
  • There are still no signs the the U.S. is at "overfull employment" in any meaningful sense.

  • A change from 3 months ago: The Federal Reserve is now supporting the recovery rather than focusing on policies that are likely to keep PCE chain inflation at 2%/year or lower.
  • A change from 1 month ago: The Federal Reserve's abandonment of its focus on policies that are likely to keep PCE chain inflation at 2%/year or lower does not mean that it is preparing to do anything to avoid or moderate the next recession.
  • A change from 1 week ago: The U.S. grew at 3.2%/year in the first quarter of 2019—1.6%-points higher than had been nowcast.
    • But the growth number you want to put in your head in assessing the strength of the economy is the 1.6%/year number that had been nowcast.
    • The U.S. grew faster than had been nowcast by borrowing 1%-point of growth from the future via what is likely to turn out to be noise in net exports—thus a borrowing highly likely to be reversed.
    • The U.S. grew faster than had been nowcast by investing heavily in inventories, which contributed 0.6%-point of growth.
      • This inventory investment may or may not be reversed: it may be a reaction to the economic and political-economic uncertainty created by Trump-as-chaos-monkey, and a resulting unwillingness of companies to run their value chains as lean as they used to.
      • If so, then while this inventory investment raises measured growth, it actually reflects a subtraction from American economic welfare.

Https www bea gov system files 2019 04 gdp1q19 adv pdf

Continue reading "April 26, 2019: Weekly Forecasting Update" »


Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (April 23, 2019)

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  1. Brandi Neal: Illustrator Tyler Feder's ‘Work-From-Home Fashions’ Cartoon Is Relatable AF: "I work from home and it's been about a month since I've done any laundry that's included pants with zippers. It's a relief to know I'm not the only one. Illustrator Tyler Feder gets it, and she created these work-from-home looks that are way too relatable...

  2. David Anderson: Oklahoma Medicaid Expansion Is on the Ballot: "Oklahoma activists are going the same route as Utah, Idaho and Nebraska activists successfully used in the 2018 election cycle: They are trying to get enough signatures to get Medicaid expansion on the ballot...

  3. Ron White (2010): You Can't Fix Stupid

  4. Pavithra Mohan: Who is actually middle class?: "It might not feel that way, but you might actually be upper middle class...

  5. Keith Whittington: Reckoning with the Mueller Report, Volume One: "That only one of Trump’s campaign managers found himself imprisoned in the aftermath of the election or that Donald Trump’s son-in-law thought it was a 'waste of time' when a meeting failed to deliver the promised incriminating Russian government files is no cause for celebration...

  6. Ben Thompson: Uber Questions Follow-up, Luminary Launches, Luminary’s Broken Rung: "I do feel bad that yesterday’s Weekly Article, Uber Questions, was so late; in this case, the article itself got at why: I spent hours upon hours trying to craft a narrative around the numbers I could pull from Uber’s S-1, before finally realizing I was wasting my time. There was going to be no water from that stone. So that ended up being my point: there simply wasn’t anything in the S-1...

  7. Wikipedia: 5 Nanometer: "In early 2018, TSMC announced production of a 5 nm node by 2020 on its new Fab 18. In October 2018, TSMC disclosed plans to start risk production of 5 nm devices by April 2019...

  8. Wikipedia: Mississippi State Penitentiary: "Mississippi State Penitentiary (MSP), also known as Parchman Farm, is a prison farm, the oldest prison, and the only maximum security prison for men in the state of Mississippi...

  9. Oliver Miller: 50 Quotes From The Movie Aliens, Ranked In Order Of Awesomeness

Continue reading "Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (April 23, 2019)" »


Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (April 21-2, 2019)

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  • Across the Wide Missouri: Is tonight the Game of Thrones episode when Tony Stark shows up? Asking for a friend...

  1. Jeffrey Adam Sachs: The “Campus Free Speech Crisis” Ended Last Year: "The evidence for a chilling effect... is sketchy at best. By contrast, the evidence for a heating effect is quite robust. Many students explain that the only reason they choose to invite controversial speakers to campus is to challenge or provoke their classmates.... Turning Point USA and Young America’s Foundation proudly tout the ability of their speakers to 'trigger' liberal students. In fact, generating student outrage, even to the point of being deplatformed, has become such a badge of honor that some speakers are fabricating deplatforming incidents where none exist...

  2. Wikipedia: Evolution of Nervous Systems

  3. Wikipedia: Apple A12

  4. Joanna Stern: This Was Supposed to Be a Samsung Galaxy Fold Video Review: "Whatever You Do, Don't Peel The Screen.... WSJ's Joanna Stern had big plans to review Samsung's first foldable phone. Then other Samsung phone screens started breaking and she accidentally began to peel off the screen protector that's not really a screen protector. Here's her non-review...

  5. Dietrich Vollrath: Fully Grown: Why a Stagnant Economy Is a Sign of Success https://books.google.com/books?isbn=022666600X

Continue reading "Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (April 21-2, 2019)" »


Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (April 21, 2019)

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  1. Hakeem Jeffries: "House Dems remain focused on lowering healthcare costs. We also have a constitutional responsibility to check and balance Individual-1. We will fully investigate the culture of corruption at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave...

  2. Dan Witters: U.S. Uninsured Rate Rises to Four-Year High

  3. Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein: 15 Months of Fresh Hell Inside Facebook: "Scandals. Backstabbing. Resignations. Record profits. Time Bombs. In early 2018, Mark Zuckerberg set out to fix Facebook. Here's how that turned out.... Zuckerberg plausibly declared that he knew nothing about Definers. Sandberg, less plausibly, did the same. Numerous people inside the company were convinced that she entirely understood what Definers did, though she strongly maintains that she did not. Meanwhile, Schrage, who had announced his resignation but never actually left, decided to take the fall. He declared that the Definers project was his fault; it was his communications department that had hired the firm, he said. But several Facebook employees who spoke with WIRED believe that Schrage’s assumption of responsibility was just a way to gain favor with Sandberg. Inside Facebook, people were furious at Sandberg, believing she had asked them to dissemble on her behalf with her Definers denials. Sandberg, like everyone, is human...

  4. Rob Price: Facebook Says It 'Unintentionally Uploaded' 1.5 Million People's Email Contacts without Their Consent: "If you entered your email password, a message popped up saying it was 'importing' your contacts without asking for permission first. Facebook has now revealed to Business Insider that it "unintentionally" grabbed 1.5 million users' data, and is now deleting it...

  5. Steven T. Dennis: Mitt Romney Mueller Report Reaction: 'Sickened' by Trump: "Senator cites ‘the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty’.... 'I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest offices of the land, including the President'...

  6. Coming on Friday: BEA: News Release Schedule: "Gross Domestic Product, 1st quarter 2019 (advance estimate)...

  7. Matt Strassler: A Non-Expert’s Guide to a Black Hole’s Silhouette

  8. Matt Strassler: The Black Hole `Photo’: Seeing More Clearly

  9. Andy Matuschak and Michael Nielsen: Quantum Computing for the Very Curious |

  10. Andy Matuschak and Michael Nielsen: How the Quantum Search Algorithm Works: "This essay is an example of what Andy Matuschak and I have dubbed a mnemonic medium–it’s like a regular essay, but incorporates new user interface elements intended to make it almost effortless for you to remember the content of the essay...

  11. Pauline Grosjean

Continue reading "Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (April 21, 2019)" »


"Unexpected Convergers" since World War II

What countries outside of those already-rich Anglo-Saxon settler colonies and the North Atlantic economies have "converged" or are "converging". What are the "unexpected converters:? These:

 

High-Income Non-North Atlantic Convergers: Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan:

Singapore US

South Korea US

Japan US

 

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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (April 18, 2019)

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  • Note to Self: Is it really INBOX ZERO if one has snoozed 365 messages? Asking for a friend...

  • Comment of the Day: Tracy Lightcap: "Well, it had to happen sooner or later. Someone would resurrect Enoch Powell. Just to remind folks what people thought when he was still around: http://www.private-eye.co.uk/covers/cover-182. Yep. An unrepentant racist and a constant figure of fun for everyone with a head on their shoulders and anything resembling civic virtue...

  • Comment of the Day: Once again RJW is the first... and, I fear, perhaps the only... person on the internet to understand me: Robert Waldmann: Fascism: "'weapon-or-strong' should be 'weapon-our-strong'. Also great hyphenated fascism there. But then I read the Scruton quote. Ugh. Please don't do that again...

  • Comment of the Day: Robert Waldmann: "The problem, as you note, is that, when they are right, MMTers have a whole lot of company.... They may have contributed something... but you provide no evidence that they have...


  1. Legal Eagle: Real Lawyer Reacts to My Cousin Vinny

  2. Wikipedia: Michael Perelman

  3. William Shakespeare: Richard III

Continue reading "Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (April 18, 2019)" »


Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (April 12, 2019)

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  1. Peter Diamond (1965): National Debt in a Neoclassical Growth Model

  2. Barack Obama: 2010 State of the Union

  3. 2 Thessalonians 3:10: "For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat...

  4. 1 Corinthians 11:5: "But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels...

  5. Acts 4:34: "Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need...

  6. 1 Enoch 7: "It happened after the sons of men had multiplied in those days, that daughters were born to them, elegant and beautiful. And when the angels, (3) the sons of heaven, beheld them, they became enamoured of them, saying to each other, Come, let us select for ourselves wives from the progeny of men, and let us beget children.... Then their leader Samyaza said to them; I fear that you may perhaps be indisposed to the performance of this enterprise; And that I alone shall suffer for so grievous a crime. But they answered him and said; We all swear; And bind ourselves by mutual execrations, that we will not change our intention, but execute our projected undertaking.... Then they took wives, each choosing for himself; whom they began to approach, and with whom they cohabited; teaching them sorcery, incantations, and the dividing of roots and trees. And the women conceiving brought forth giants, Whose stature was each three hundred cubits. These devoured all which the labor of men produced; until it became impossible to feed them; When they turned themselves against men, in order to devour them; And began to injure birds, beasts, reptiles, and fishes, to eat their flesh one after another, and to drink their blood...

  7. Kevin Hartnett: Mathematicians Discover the Perfect Way to Multiply: "By chopping up large numbers into smaller ones, researchers have rewritten a fundamental mathematical speed limit...

  8. Joe Light: The Tax Law’s Big Winner Is the Millionaire CEO: "Cutting the top marginal rate was always going to help the wealthy the most...

  9. Gene Birz: Stale Economic News, Media and the Stock Market: "I find statistically and economically significant relationship between stale news stories on unemployment and next week’s S&P 500 returns. This effect is then completely reversed during the following week. These findings show that investors are affected by salient information and support the hypothesis that investors overreact to stale macroeconomic news reported in newspapers...

  10. Angela Lashbrook: The Next Wellness Trend Should Be Google Spreadsheets: "How focused planning—and color-coded rows and columns—can make stress melt away...

  11. David Murphy: Lock Down Your Social Media Data With the PlusPrivacy Chrome Extension

  12. Talia Lavin: I wrote up a guide to what to do if you’re targeted by the right-wing smear machine. (Remember that your relative importance doesn’t matter AT ALL; they love crushing the defenseless even more.)...

  13. John Lovett: "See but ending the Skywalker saga gives us the movie we all want: PORGS vs. EWOKS: DAWN OF JUSTICE...

Continue reading "Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (April 12, 2019)" »


What Are Our Plans?

Signing of the Constitution by Louis S Glanzman Teaching American History

The Council on Foreign Relations asked me to come be on a panel on a small conference they were running on the "democratic recession". They were even willing to spring for a JetBlue mint-class lie-flat bed-seat on a nonstop. So I went Video here. Transcript here.

But is there—or, rather, in what sense is there—a "democratic recession"?

I think you need to separate out three different meanings of democracy:

  1. Alexis de Tocqueville’s democracy: social democracy—where everybody can stand on their own two feet and look everyone else in the eye, rather than lowering their gaze and tugging their forelock.

  2. John Judis’s thing: public-square democracy—where everybody can stand up, pick up a megaphone, speak, and actually be heard.

  3. Real, political democracy—where the material and ideal interests of the people are properly represented and aggregated in the formation of the decisions that we collectively make as we govern our own destinies.

The first two—social inclusion, and the ability to speak and feel that you have been heard—are important and are valid. But they are not the Big Enchilada.

Continue reading "What Are Our Plans?" »


CFR Future of Democracy Symposium: Session Two: Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession: Transcript and Link to Video

Council on Foreign Relations: The Future of Democracy Symposium: Session Two: Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession


Transcript

Continue reading " CFR Future of Democracy Symposium: Session Two: Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession: Transcript and Link to Video" »


Dotting i's and Crossing t's with Respect to Olivier Blanchard's "Secular Stagnation" Fiscal-Policy-in-an-Era-of-Low-Interest-Rates AEA Presidential Address

Il Quarto Stato

Consider the semi-canonical Diamond (1965) overlapping-generations model, with a wedge between the safe government-bond interest and the risky profit rate driven by risk aversion. Blanchard (2018) shows that the effects of increased debt have two effects that:

  • raise (lower) reprentative-agent utility,
    • evaluated after the resolution of uncertainties when the agent is young:
  • a direct-transfer effect that holds when the safe government-bond rate is lower (higher) than the economy's growth rate, and
  • a factor-price effect that holds when the risky average profit rate is lower (higher) than the economy's growth rate.

Robert Waldmann has convinced me that this second factor-price effect can be neutralized by a balanced-budget profit tax-funded wage subsidy.

Hence in the semi-canonical Diamond (1965) overlapping-generations model the economy is dynamically-inefficient—can be made better off by reducing its productive capital stock and introducing sustainable pay-as-you-go transfer schemes—whenever the safe government-bond rate is less than the economy's growth rate, no matter what the level of the expected profit rate:

Continue reading "Dotting i's and Crossing t's with Respect to Olivier Blanchard's "Secular Stagnation" Fiscal-Policy-in-an-Era-of-Low-Interest-Rates AEA Presidential Address" »


Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (April 10, 2019)

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  1. Does Inbox Zero count if one has snozzed 245 emails? Asking for a friend...

  2. No, I do not understand Netflix's valuation. And I do not understand what it was doing in "FAANG" in the first place. I suspect it was just Jim Cramer looking for a cute acronym, which is a hell of a way to run an porftfolio-assessment business: Tara Lachapelle: Netflix Valuation Tested by Disney, AT&T, Apple Apps: "Disney, AT&T and Apple are coming, and this time they are really bringing the heat...

  3. Sarah Halzack: Amazon Risks Missing Out on $35 Billion Click-and-Collect Market: "Big-box retailers are leading in click-and-collect services such as grocery pickup, and the gap may only widen...

  4. Command-Tab Plus: Application and Window Switching Done Right: "Hold Command and press Tab to display the active applications and then use the Tab key to cycle through your open apps...

  5. Olivier Blanchard: Public Debt and Low Interest Rates: "Seminar 237/281: 291 Departmental Seminar.... April 10 | 4-6 p.m. | 648 Evans Hall...

  6. Jeff Weintraub: Afterthoughts on the Communist Manifesto

  7. Max Nisen: Walgreens Earnings: Retail Apocalypse Now Threatens Drug Stores: "Prescription medications aren't as profitable as they used to be, leaving chains like Walgreens more exposed to industry headwinds...

  8. Ceteris Numquam Paribus: "This blog is for young economists, who want advice on how to proceed on their chosen path. Every week or so I'll bring you a short interview with an economist, giving suggestions on what to read, what to learn, and how to become an economist...

  9. Scott Lemieux: Our Green Lantern: "It’s getting hard to avoid the conclusion that Bernie is actually high on his own “our revolution will force Republican senators to vote for my agenda” supply...

  10. Joshua M. Brown: Is Economic Inequality a “National Emergency”?

  11. Robert Waldmann (2016): Dynamic Inefficiency

  12. CPPC: Senate Finance Committee Examines How PBMs Cause Higher Drug Prices: "Senator Wyden told the CEOs that 'you see there are not a lot of Democrats or Republicans holding rallies for spread pricing. Spread pricing is a rip off, plain and simple.' He asked them: if Congress proposes to ban spread pricing, will they support it? Three of the CEOs said yes they would, and the other two said they would remain neutral. For the first time, the Senate Finance Committee investigated PBMs and how they promote higher drug costs...

  13. Gramercy Park Hotel

  14. L'Express

  15. Sheisha Kulkarni

  16. John Le Carre: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Novel) | Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Miniseries) | Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Film)

  17. Wikipedia: Ian Richardson

  18. Wikipedia: Colin Firth

Continue reading "Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (April 10, 2019)" »


Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession: Talking Points

Event: Tu 2019-04-09 10-11am CFR: 58 E. 68th St., New York, NY:

Untitled 7 pages

The Data

  • 1970s a bad decade for real incomes—oil shocks, environmental cleanup, baby boom entry into the labor market
  • End of 1970s sees shift to "neoliberalism" to fix the "excesses of social democracy"
  • Since 1980: males and those with low education have seen their expectations of what their lives would be like bitterly disappointed
    • Male high school graduates down by 17%
    • Males with advanced degrees up by 25%
    • Whites have not been disappointed more economically—what William Juilius Wilson called the "declining significance of race"
      • Save, perhaps, for Black women with BAs...
    • Sociological disappointment in addition?
    • Within-household economic disappointment?
    • Other aspects of the economic besides income?
      • Occupation and occupational stability
      • Employment stability

Continue reading "Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession: Talking Points" »


Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (April 6, 2019)

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  • Comment of the Day: John Howard Brown: "Property rights are always conditional on the allocation of social power! When the power of the Laird of a Scots clan depended on the number of clansmen who could wield pike and claymore...

  1. Wikipedia: Late Antique Little Ice Age

  2. Mark Bergen: YouTube Executives Ignored Warnings, Let Toxic Videos Run Rampant

  3. R. Leeson et al.: [, Hayek: A Collaborative Biography]: Influences from Mises to Bartley | The Hayekian Religion | The Chicago School of Economics

  4. C. E. Cubitt: A Life of Friedrich August von Hayek https://books.google.com/books?isbn=0755202430

  5. Wikipedia: Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick

  6. Wikipedia: Tywin Lannister

  7. Wikipedia: John Mair

  8. Steve Knott: Battle of Gettysburg: Why J.E.B. Stuart Ends Up in Carlisle

  9. Wikipedia: Wilhelm Voigt: "The Captain of Köpenick, which shifts the focus from the event at Köpenick itself to the prelude.... The pitiful catch-22 situation of Voigt trying to earn his living honourably in Berlin: 'No residence address-no job. No job-no residence (rented room). No residence-no passport. No passport-getting ousted...

  10. Wikipedia: Walter Nicolai

  11. Adam Gopnik: How the South Won the Civil War | The New Yorker: "Now we think that the aftermath—the confrontation not of blue and gray but of white and black, and the reimposition of apartheid through terror—is what has left the deepest mark on American history. Instead of arguing about whether the war could have turned out any other way, we argue about whether the postwar could have turned out any other way...

  12. John Van Reenen: "Why @michaelgove is unfit to hold any public office:: When Justice minister he accused me and fellow academics (including some whose relations were in the Holocaust) of being "Nazi Scientists" for saying #Brexit would be costly...

  13. Matthew Townsend and Eric Martin: Who Is Winning Trump's Trade War with China? So Far, It's Mexico: "America’s imports from Mexico surge the most in seven years as Trump’s policies shift supply chains...

  14. Potch: There should be a hotline you can call where you can safely pronounce words you've only ever read out loud for the first time, and they say 'oh sweetie' and kindly explain how it's pronounced..." vagrantcow: "Google pronunciation is a thing. 2019 is on the phone, for you...

  15. Tom Joseph: The question why Mueller didn't recommend whether Trump should face Obstruction charges is baffling people. Punting the decision to HJC doesn't make sense either. The answer may be simple—Mueller knows Trump has dementia, which makes T's intent, responsibity & charges an unknown...

  16. Brian Krassenstein: "BREAKING: "Motel 6 will pay $12 million to settle a lawsuit by the Washington state attorney general over the lodging chain's practice of handing over guest lists to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents...

Continue reading "Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (April 6, 2019)" »


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

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  1. Charlotte Edwardes: Sam Gyimah: I’m Still a Tory—It’s the Party I Joined That’s Changed: "He’s faced repeated deselections and a no-confidence vote—but Sam Gyimah won’t give up. Here, the MP talks about being ‘thrown to the wolves’ and how toxic Brexiteer infighting is threatening to tear the Conservatives apart...

  2. Brooke Masters: Want to Write a Piece for the Financial Times Opinion Page?: "Think about our readers.... Write what you know.... Write clearly and accessibly.... Use specific examples.... Be pithy and sharp...

  3. Paige Harden: "Pietro is being generous, when in fact I’m just trying to articulate something that’s been percolating for awhile... Let’s take genetics AND egalitarianism seriously. Begin there, and see where it takes us...

  4. Bart Demandt: China Car Sales Analysis January & February 2019: "The market for domestic passenger car sales in China continues its decline in 2019 with 8 consecutive months of declines from July 2018 to February 2019. With two months of double digit declines in January (-16,7%) and February (-17,6%), the market doesn’t seem able to recover soon...

  5. FOLD: What is FOLD?

  6. Read Irin Carmon at New York Magazine on how Baron, Wallsten, and Barr handled the pieces of her story about CBS honcho Jeff Fager's internal defense of Charlie Rose http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/04/what-was-the-washington-post-afraid-of.html. After reading it, if you read it as I read it, you will conclude that newspaper managers as easily bullied as Baron, Wallsten, and Barr are not useful in their current. I wrote so to Jeff Bezos. If you wind up agreeing with me, I urge you to write Bezos as well...

  7. Steve Moore: “I’m kind of new to this game, frankly, so I’m going to be on a steep learning curve myself about how the Fed operates...

  8. James LaPorta: Top Marine General Let Emails Leak Amid Border Funding Fight so Service Families Would Not Be Forgotten: Sources: "When asked why Neller would allow internal memorandums to leak to press outlets, one Defense Department source expressed bluntly, 'Because he didn’t want the Marines and families at Camp Lejeune [in North Carolina] to get f---ed.' Six months after Hurricane Florence first made landfall at Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina, roughly an hour southwest of Camp Lejeune, the base is still waiting on funding for repairs...

  9. Friedrich A. von Hayek: Hayek the Ethnic Bigot and the Perils of the Ad Hominem Fallacy: "I have no racial prejudices in general—but there were certain types, and conspicuous among them the Near Eastern populations, which I still dislike because they are fundamentally dishonest... a type which, in my childhood in Austria, was described as Levantine, typical of the people of the eastern Mediterranean.... I have a profound dislike for the typical Indian students at the London School of Economics, which I admit are all one type—Bengali moneylender sons. They are to me a detestable type, I admit, but not with any racial feeling. I have found a little of the same amongst the Egyptians—basically a lack of honesty in them...

  10. Matthew Buckley: "Back when America wasn’t a fascist ethnostate, this statement alone would have been grounds for impeachment. But that was when we were a nation of laws: Aaron Rupar: TRUMP threatens to close border with Mexico as soon as this weekend, then rants about immigration during Oval Office meeting with NATO secretary general: "What we have to do is Congress has to meet quickly & make a deal... to be honest with you, we have to get rid of judges...

Continue reading "Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (April 5, 2019)" »


Collecting Talking Points...

San Francisco from Abovee Berkeley

Is it worth while to try to collect all of the "talking points" I have prepared over the years?


Talking Points:

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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (April 3, 2019)

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  1. Glory M. Liu: Research

  2. Wikipedia: Cara cara Navel Orange

  3. Glory M. Liu: Rethinking the “Chicago Smith” Problem: Adam Smith and the Chicago School, 1929–1980

  4. Paul Krugman (2013): The Neo-Paleo-Keynesian Counter-Counter-Counterrevolution

  5. Burnt Oranges with Rosemary

  6. Andrew M. Childs et al. (2002): Exponential Algorithmic Speedup by Quantum Walk: "We construct an oracular (i.e., black box) problem that can be solved exponentially faster on a quantum computer than on a classical computer.... We show how to implement the quantum walk efficiently in our oracular setting...

  7. Caffe Luxxe

  8. Barry Ritholtz: Math, Money, and Making a Difference: "MIT alumnus James Simons is a mathematician and founder of the highly quantitative investment firm Renaissance Technologies where he served as CEO for over 30 years before becoming board chair...

  9. Lucas Kwan Peterson: For Cramped New York, an Expanding Dining Scene: "In the city that never sleeps, as they say, the marquees of Times Square nearly make one forget the concrete dystopia of what is seemingly an unlivable urban wasteland. Surrounded by rats, black trash bags and graffiti-tagged storefronts on Broadway Street, New York’s primary thoroughfare, I wondered aloud if I would be able to find a decent meal in what was surely a culinary heart of darkness. In Los Angeles, we’re spoiled by the breadth and quality of our dining options...

  10. Mike Idsin: The Educational Admissions Scandal Widens Dramatically: "Wealthy parents would approach a person affiliated with a national organization, technically incorporated as a nonprofit, known by the initials NAR.... The individual would then provide a list of other people in the communities in question who, for a payment often topping 1 million, would permit the family to modify their mailing address in such a way that guaranteed entry into the exclusive schools. The details of the mailing-address system are complex and relate to systems often criticized by advocates, where complex laws dictate a precise and convoluted geographic zone where this address-modification scheme is permissible. The family would in most cases have to physically live in the location 'sold' by the counterparty, who would use the money to flee the jurisdiction.... A significant commission, often 5-6% of the payment, would go to the NAR agent(s)...

  11. Facebook defines "some passwords" = 600000000 passwords: Pedro Canahuati: Keeping Passwords Secure: "As part of a routine security review in January, we found that some user passwords were being stored in a readable format within our internal data storage systems...

  12. Noah Smith: Trump's Industrial Rebirth Is a Dead End: "There's no future in the U.S. for old-line manufacturers that dominated the mid-20th century economy...

  13. 2016: Monday Smackdown: Debating Societies, Talking Points, and Choosing Our Governors

  14. 2013 Monday Smackdown: No, Amity Shlaes Has No Idea What She Is Talking About. Why Do You Ask?: WTF!?!?!?!? Weblogging: Galbraith's claim that Coolidge did not know—i.e., did not know enough to feel he could challenge Mellon's talking points—and did not care—i.e., thought the US headed for disaster but did not bother to learn enough to think he had an informed enough view to challenge Mellon--seems to me to hit the nail on the head. Certainly Herbert Hoover thought so...

  15. 2006: Avadim Hayinu l'Pharaoh b'Mitzrayim: For a 'normal' California teenager like George Allen was once to sign up with the Confederacy is weird and creepy. For a half-Jewish California teenager to sign up with the Confederacy...

  16. 2009: Paul Krugman Urges Greg Mankiw to Pay More Attention to Quality Control: To me, the thing to note about the economists-the Mankiws, the Lucases, the Beckers, the Barros, and all the rest-who have pledged allegiance to the Republican Party this year is how much they have stopped thinking like economists.... I still remember being convinced by Rick Ericson when I had just turned 18 that thinking like an economist required that one always pay attention to three key principles: market equilibrium, individuals responding to incentives, cost-benefit tradeoffs.... I thought that Chicago-School economists believed in these principles too...

  17. 2005: Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Idiots? (Social Security Edition): It is a clown show,... The administration's Social Security gurus shove Bush out there with talking points saying that passing the Bush plan is essential because if we don't the Social Security trust fund balance will hit zero in 2041, and big benefit cuts will then be necessary—and then they roll out a plan in which the Social Security trust fund balance hits zero in 2030...

  18. 2008: Every Time I Try to Crawl Out, They Pull Me Back in!: Called on forty minutes' notice, I trot over to the J-School studio to be a talking head on BBC/Newsnight about Fannie and Freddie. I have my talking points ready: The chance that American taxpayers will actually lose any money if Ben Bernanke and Henry Paulson decide that Fannie and Freddie need government support is very low.... Nevertheless, there is now a risk that Fannie and Freddie will need some form of government support in the next month.... And what do I find also on BBC/Newsnight when I get there? I FIND THAT I AM ON WITH GROVER-FRACKING-NORQUIST!! I FIND THAT I AM ON WITH GROVER-FRACKING-NORQUIST!!! WHO HAS THREE POINTS HE WANTS TO MAKE: Barack Obama wants to take your money by raising your taxes and pay it to the Communist Chinese. Oil prices are high today and the economy is in a near recession because of Nancy Pelosi.... Economic growth is stalling because congress has not extended the Bush tax cuts.... I am not paid enough to deal with this lying bullshit...

  19. Wikipedia: Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick

  20. Olivia Nuzzi: Trump Aides Fear He Is Overselling His ‘Exoneration’: "'There will be plenty of unfavorable things about the president in the full report, which we think will eventually come out, so let’s not go overboard saying there’s no wrongdoing. Let’s move on', one senior White House official told me...

  21. Mark Bergen: YouTube Executives Ignored Warnings, Let Toxic Videos Run Rampant: "Proposals to change recommendations and curb conspiracies were sacrificed for engagement, staff say...

  22. Aaron Rupar: On Twitter: "TRUMP during NRCC speech: 'If you have a windmill anywhere near your house, congratulations, your house just went down 75 percent in value. And they say the noise causes cancer. You tell me that one, okay? Rerrrr rerrrr!'...

Continue reading "Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (April 3, 2019)" »


Greenspan and Wooldridge Argue the American Love and Embrace of Capitalism Is the Key...

Il Quarto Stato

The world as a whole is much richer than it was three centuries ago. Back then, at the end of the long era since the invention of agriculture, the typical human lived on two dollars a day, had a life expectancy at birth of 25, and was protein deprived in utero. Mothers worldwide no longer run a one-in-six chance of dying in childbed. Literacy in no longer a rare accomplishment. Less than one in six humans worldwide live like all of our pre-industrial ancestors—and even those less-than-one-in-six likely have some access to the village smartphone.

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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (March 31, 2019)

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  • Hoisted from the Archives: What I Wrote in Advance of the FOMC's September 2018 Meeting: "What a difference six months makes! And now the Fed really wishes it had not raised interest rates in the second half of 2018 and yet is unwilling to move them now back to the summer-of-2018 level. Why they are unwilling I do not know...

  1. Wikipedia: The Old Man & the Gun

  2. Stephen King (2014): Joyland https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1781168490

  3. A close encounter of the fourth kind: A Valentines Day gift gone horribly wrong, a Komodo Dragon, and Sharon Stone’s husband’s toes https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Editor-stable-after-attack-by-Komodo-dragon-2911601.php

  4. Australian cork hat/Monty Python: https://www.evernote.com/l/AAEEa4uqACJLEYfDQosMH6ib2nx5-sYDbycB/image.png http://www.montypython.net/scripts/bruceskit.php

  5. Lindsay Ellis finds a disaffected dwarf in New Zealand https://youtu.be/Qi7t_g5QObs?t=1285

  6. Wikipedia: Alasdair MacIntyre: "1970. Herbert Marcuse: An Exposition and a Polemic.... 1971. Against the Self-Images of the Age: Essays on Ideology and Philosophy.... 1981... After Virtue...

  7. Douglas 'Skoryy' Hayden: On Twitter: "I'm here for Jacobin's 'Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better' special edition... Matthew Yglesias: On Twitter: "The joke is that after the revolution instead of building a better society they’re going to start killing their enemies and then each other?... Jacob T. Levy: On Twitter: "Bookmarking this for the next time someone says 'nuh-uh, it only refers to Haiti and therefore has nothing to do with the French Jacobins'... XLProfessor: On Twitter: "Seriously? All the revolutionaries were killed with this thing and some soldier made himself emperor...

  8. [John Holbo: On Twitter: "It's weirder than a Jekyll-Hyde sort of split. It isn't strange that 'good' people have a 'bad' side. But it's strange that a genuinely broad-minded mentality can be trapped inside a narrow-minded mentality without one or the other utterly cancelling...

  9. Douglas Preston: The Day the Dinosaurs Died: "More than 99.9999 per cent of all living organisms on Earth died, and the carbon cycle came to a halt.... Earth itself became toxic... ten trillion tons of sulfur compounds... combined with water to form sulfuric acid, which then fell as an acid rain that may have been potent enough to strip the leaves from any surviving plants and to leach the nutrients from the soil. Today, the layer of debris, ash, and soot deposited by the asteroid strike is preserved in the Earth’s sediment as a stripe of black about the thickness of a notebook. This is called the KT boundary, because it marks the dividing line between the Cretaceous period and the Tertiary period...

  10. David Glasner: Arthur Burns and How Things Fell Apart in the 1970s: "Thus, in 1973, even without an oil shock in late 1973 used by Burns as an excuse with which to deflect the blame for rising inflation from himself to uncontrollable external forces, Burns’s monetary policy was inexorably on track to raise inflation to 7%...

  11. Thor Berger and Per Engzell: Immigration, Inequality and Intergenerational Mobility in the US: "There are striking regional variations in economic opportunity across the US. This column proposes a historical explanation for this, showing that local levels of income equality and intergenerational mobility in the US resemble those of the European countries that current inhabitants trace their origins from. The findings point to the persistence of differences in local culture, norms, and institutions...

  12. Charles Gaba: Three-Legged Stool: The Motion Picture

  13. Timothy Garton Ash: On Twitter: "Remember the Brexit battle bus £350m a week for the NHS? Brexit has already cost us £360m a week...

  14. Angry Staff Officer: On Twitter: "For Confederate Heritage Month, here's Virginia-native General Winfield Scott, senior officer in the US Army at the outset of the Civil War, whose strategy eventually won the war and who kept his oath to his country...

  15. Miles Kimball: In Honor of Alan Krueger

  16. Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederacy: On Twitter: "The Declaration of Independence was fundamentally wrong.... The Confederate States are founded upon exactly the opposite ideas. Its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and moral condition...

  17. Cassandra Khaw: On Twitter: "A routine reminder that we do not have flying cars, but we have the means to access all of the world's knowledge with a few clicks of a keyboard, communicate with people thousands of miles away in an instant, and are working on artificial burger meat. Also, the world is going to end catastrophically very soon as a result of climate change and capitalism, but a cyberpunk present wouldn't be complete without impending doom...

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Hoisted from the Archives: What I Wrote in Advance of the FOMC's September 2018 Meeting

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What a difference six months makes! And now the Fed really wishes it had not raised interest rates in the second half of 2018 and yet is unwilling to move them now back to the summer-of-2018 level. Why they are unwilling I do not know:


Hoisted from the Archives: Next week the Federal Open Market Committee—the principal policymaking body of the United States's Federal Reserve system—is overwhelmingly likely to raise the benchmark interest rate it controls, the Federal Funds rate that governs short-term safe nominal bonds, by one quarter of a percentage point from the range of 1.75-2% per year to the range of 2-2.25% per year. That would make it a little more expensive to borrow and spend and a little more attractive to cut spending and save. Thus there would be a little less spending in the economy, and so a few fewer jobs. Economic growth would be a little slower. The economy would be a little less resilient in the face of adverse shocks to resources or confidence that might generate a recession. These are all minuses—small minuses from a 25 basis point increase in the Federal Funds rate, but minuses.

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I Said "Pass the Baton" to Those Further Left than I, Not "Bend the Knee"

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Last night at dinner at Iyesare, Noah Smith admonished me for not making it clear that I said "pass the baton" to those further left, not "bend the knee". So here I make that clear, and repost:

Carville-Hunt "Two Old White Guys" Podcast:

Al Hunt: Brad, your critique is brilliant.... Your solution that worries me. Turn it over to the left, and then try to make their proposals slightly more palatable. I don't see how that becomes in any fashion a winning coalition, legislatively or politically.

Brad DeLong: I said: pass the baton, right? I said: pass the baton.

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Why Isn't the Federal Reserve Buying Recession Insurance?: No Longer Fresh at Project Syndicate

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No Longer Fresh at Project Syndicate: The Fed Should Buy Recession Insurance: The next global downturn may well not be yet at hand: odds that the North Atlantic as a whole will be in recession in a year are now down to about one-fourth. German growth may well be positive this quarter. China might be rebounding this quarter. The U.S. is definitely slowing to 1% growth or so this quarter, but it is not yet clear that this slowdown will be more than a blip.

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