Moral Responsibility Feed

Vastly superior to Tom Holland—and vastly, vastly superior to the likes of Niall Ferguson—on the decline and fall of the Roman Republic: Edward J. Watts: Mortal Republic: How Rome Fell into Tyranny "If the early and middle centuries of Rome’s republic show how effective this system could be, the last century of the Roman Republic reveals the tremendous dangers that result when political leaders cynically misuse these consensus-building mechanisms to obstruct a republic’s functions. Like politicians in modern republics, Romans could use vetoes to block votes on laws, they could claim the presence of unfavorable religious conditions to annul votes they disliked, and they could deploy other parliamentary tools to slow down or shut down the political process if it seemed to be moving too quickly toward an outcome they disliked...

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Reading: Homer, Odysseus, Emily Wilson, David Drake: Hoisted from the Archives


Hoisted from the Archives: Homer's Odyssey Blogging: "Like Little Birds... They Writhed with Their Feet... But for No Long While...": Let me riff off of something that crossed my desk.... Emily Wilson's reflections on her translation of the Odyssey, and on the Odyssey itself. There is one passage that always has been, to me at least, horrifyingly freaky in a very bad way. As David Drake—one of my favorite science fiction and fantasy authors—puts it:

Odysseus caps his victory by slowly strangling–the process is described in some detail–the female servants who have been sleeping with Penelope’s suitors. This is only one example (although a pretty striking one) of normal behavior in an Iron Age culture which is unacceptable in a society that I (or anybody I want as a reader) would choose to live in... a hero with the worldview of a death camp guard...


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Saddest of all were Ron McKinnon and Jagdish Bhagwati...

Clowns (ICP)

Ah, yes. There is a distinct asymmetry between economists who are Democrats and economists who are Republicans: Saddest of all were Ron McKinnon and Jagdish Bhagwati...: Paul Krugman: "Thinking about Trump's attempt to bully the Fed, I found myself remembering the open letter by a who's who of conservative economists (plus some 'economists') accusing Ben Bernanke of 'currency debasement'. Four years later, Bloomberg went to ask signatories why they were wrong; none of them—not one—would admit having been wrong..."

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, on November 24, 2010, trying to claim that the letter was not the partisan political attack that it was:

The letter... does not say... anything...that might be genuinely politicizing the Fed.... [T]he issue became “political” the moment that the QE II defenders asserted that it was a political attack. It is disappointing that when presented with a serious critique by academics, think tank analysts, and market participants the immediate response is “it must be a conservative attack on the Fed.” Note that implicitly this also carries the message: “I’d never consider that conservatives have ideas or that I might learn something from them.” So sad...

Immediately pre-undermined by Kevin Hassett the day before:

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The Great American Tax Heist Turns One: No Longer Live at Project Syndicate

Let me hammer this point again: the failure of any of Barro, Bhagwati, Boskin, Calomiris, Cogan, Holtz-Eakin, Hubbard, Lazear, Lindsey, Mankiw, Rosen, Shultz, Taylor, and a hundred-odd others to write about—or even express curiosity about why—their confident predictions of a year ago that the Trump-McConnell-Ryan corporate tax cut would generate a huge investment boom—that silence speaks very loudly about the genre in which they viewed their forecasts back at the time:

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A year ago there were a substantial number of economists who were assuring us that the Trump-McConnell-Ryan corporate tax cut was not just a giveaway to rich stockholders but would provide a sustained and substantial boost to investment in America that would boost productivity by:

And Kevin Hassett and Greg Mankiw told us that these productivity gains would primarily boost wages not profits—because the relevant model was not one in which the tax cut raised after tax profit and interest rates but rather one in which foreigners would flood America with savings, lending to and investing in this country on a large scale to finance the bulk of this surge and investment.

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Jon Schwarz: The 10 Most Awful Articles in the Weekly Standard’s Short Life II: "'What to Do About Iraq' by Robert Kagan and William Kristol, 2002... 'If too many months go by without a decision to move against Saddam, the risks to the United States may increase exponentially.... We know... that Mohamed Atta, the ringleader of September 11, went out of his way to meet with an Iraqi intelligence official a few months before he flew a plane into the World Trade Center.... There is no debate about the facts'...

#shouldread #journamalism #orangehairedbaboons #moralresponsibility

The Democrats’ Deficit Line in the Sand: Hoisted from the Archives

Federal Surplus or Deficit as Percent of Gross Domestic Product FRED St Louis Fed

From ten years ago: J. Bradford DeLong: The Democrats’ Line in the Sand: "A dilemma for Democratic deficit-hawk economists trying to determine what good economic policies would be should Barack Obama become president.... A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and it seems pointless to work to strengthen the Democratic links of the chain of fiscal responsibility when the Republican links are not just weak but absent...

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Fama's Fallacy: Hoisted from Ten Years Ago

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I was profoundly embarrassed by and ashamed of the Swedish Nobel Committee and of being an economist when they awarded the Nobel Prize to Eugene Fama.

You see, the economists who cheerled for the Trump-McConnell-Ryan tax cut and claimed it would rapidly and permanently boost annual investment in America by 800 billion had arguments—bad arguments. The economists who condemned Benanke's quantitative easing and claimed it would soon lead to high inflation and a debased dollar had arguments—bad arguments. I do not think any of them made those bad arguments in good faith: the failure of those in either group to acknowledge that they got a big one wrong and to engage in Bayeisan updating is interesting: that silence speaks volumes.

But Fama and the others who claimed a decade ago that, while private decision to spend more boosted employment and production, public decisions to spend more—fiscal stimulus—not only would not, but could not possibly ever boost employment and production... they had no argument at all.

What do I mean? This. This is why I am embarrassed and ashamed: Hoisted from Ten Years Ago: Fama's Fallacy, Take I: Eugene Fama Rederives the "Treasury View": A Guestpost from Montagu Norman, former Governor of the Bank of England:

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Some Disconnected Thoughts Over the Years About Legal Realism and the Man Whom Judge Posner Calls "Disreputable": Chief Justice John Roberts

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Today: The dirty little secret is that serious legal arguments are those that lawyers pretend to take seriously. If enough Republican hacks decide to pretend that Judge Reed O'Connor is serious, he becomes serious. My forecast? The Fifth Circuit narrowly upholds O'Connor, and then it goes down 8-1 in the Supreme Court—unless one of the Democratic justices dies or retires before the decision is announced, it which case O'Connor is upheld 5-3.

Jack Balkin wants to maintain two positions at once:

  1. "The lesson of Sebelius is that if you give enough very smart lawyers enough time to work on a legal problem, they can come up with creditable arguments for many (but not all) legal positions, even if, when the task started, the position seemed hopeless..."

  2. "I am most certainly not saying that legal argument and legal craft are mere disguises for political ideology or that they have no independent significance. I have been trained as a lawyer and I express opinions about the quality of legal arguments all the time. It is my job to do so. Thus, whether lawyers are willing to support a given claim depends on their perception of the quality of the legal reasoning and the quality of the legal arguments that can be advanced for it..."

But the second means almost nothing if "creditable" arguments can be constructed for nearly everything, and the task of law professors is then to retrospectively justify whatever the judges pick. The first means little if the legal community does have strong standards for what is a strong argument. How to resolve this? By noting that whatever gets five votes on the Supreme Court is retrospectively turned into the strongest arguments. And Supreme Court justices are very good at convincing themselves that what upholds their ideology and partisan position is in fact the best-argued and best-crafted.

Jack Balkin: Texas v. U.S: Off the Wall and On the Wall in the Age of Trump: "The judge's arguments are not even close to being persuasive given existing legal precedents. Does that mean that the position is 'off-the-wall'?... Asking whether a legal claim is 'off-the-wall' is a question of whether it is a reasonable claim, or at least one on which reasonable minds can differ.... But the perceived quality of legal reasoning and legal arguments are not exogenous from social influence...

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The Great American Tax Heist Turns One: Live at Project Syndicate

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Time has passed: a year's worth of water under the bridge. But I have not become less angry at and disappointed with how the Republican economists behaved in what my Project Syndicate editors call the Great American Tax Heist of last December:

Live at Project Syndicate: The Great American Tax Heist Turns One: Last December, Republicans relied on the support of conservative economists who predicted that the party's corporate tax cuts would boost productivity and investment in the United States substantially. The forecasts were wrong, and the silence of those who made them suggests that they knew it all along....

Critics of the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” described it as a cynical handout for wealthy shareholders. But a substantial number of economists came out in support of it.... One prominent group, most of whom served in previous Republican administrations, predicted in The Wall Street Journal that the tax cuts would boost long-run GDP by 3-4%, with an “associated increase” of about 0.4% “in the annual rate of GDP growth” over the next decade. And in an open letter to Congress, a coterie of over 100 economists asserted that “the macroeconomic feedback generated by the [tax cuts]” would be “more than enough to compensate for the static revenue loss,” implying that the bill would be deficit-neutral over time... Read MOAR at Project Syndicate

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Note to Self: Watching Niskanen Center Live Stream: Starting Over: The Center-Right After Trump. People seem to be dividing among four positions:

  1. It is Hillary Clinton's fault for being such a lousy candidate, and Barack Obama's for not squelching Middle Eastern terrorism...
  2. We here on the center-right have lost confidence in our base, and so we need to dissolve the base and elect another...
  3. If only the butterfly's wings had flapped differently, we would not be here...
  4. We are doomed by the Curse of Goldwater and Gingrich that have led to the Southern Captivity of the Republican Party...

Unfortunately, none of these are a plan, or even an ask...

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Hoisted from the Archives from 2004: Mark Kleiman: Avodim Hayyinu l’pharoh b’Mitzrayim

Preview of Hoisted from the Archives from 2004 Mark Kleiman Avodim Hayyinu l pharoh b Mitzrayim

Mark Kleiman: Avodim Hayyinu l’pharoh b’Mitzrayim: "So the Bush Administration is supporting the anti-gay marriage FMA.... And the right-wing media are loudly cheering for Gibson’s Passion, with its blatantly anti-Semitic retelling of the Crucifixion wrapped in a pornography-of-violence package. I wonder whether, now that their own oxen are being gored to right-wing applause, conservative Jews and conservative gays will reflect on the extent to which 'conservatism' as a political practice in American (as opposed to the conservative strand in political thought represented by Burke, Hayek, and Oakeshott) turns out to embody a willingness—and sometimes a gloating eagerness—to stomp on the out-groups...

...The willingness of Jews to stand up for vulnerable non-Jews, which I had always attributed to centuries of being the out-group, turns out on closer examination to be quite deeply rooted in the religion. Last week in the faculty Torah study group at UCLA—which has been fighting its way through Deuteronomy at the rate of about four verses a week for the past decade—we were examining Deut. 24:17-18:

Thou shalt not pervert the justice due to the stranger, or to the fatherless; nor take the widow’s raiment to pledge. But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee thence; therefore I command thee to do this thing.

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Monday Smackdown: Ezra Klein Smacks Down Paul Ryan as a Grifter, and Himself for a Griftee...


Very welcome to see: Remember: Fool me once, shame on you; fool my twice, shame on me: Ezra Klein: Speaker Paul Ryan Retires: His Legacy Is Debt and Disappointment: "Ryan says that debt reduction is one of those things 'I wish we could have gotten done'. Ryan, the man with the single most power over the federal budget in recent years, sounds like a bystander.... To understand the irony and duplicity of that statement, you need to understand Ryan’s career. After the profligacy of the George W. Bush years and the rise of the Tea Party, Ryan rocketed to the top ranks of his party by warning that mounting deficits under President Obama threatened the 'most predictable economic crisis we have ever had in this country'. Absent the fiscal responsibility that would accompany Republican rule, we were facing nothing less than 'the end of the American dream'. Ryan’s reputation was built on the back of his budgets: draconian documents that gutted social spending, privatized Medicare, and showed the Republican Party had embraced the kinds of hard fiscal choices that Bush had sloughed off. And Ryan presented himself as the wonkish apostle of this new GOP...

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It is a surprise to most economists to learn that the outbreak of inflation in the 1970s was not due to central bankers and governments trying to exploit the Phillips curve to run a high-pressure economy. The most important shocks were the oil shocks. The second most important shocks were those that caused the productivity growth slowdown. The third most important shocks were Johnson’s and Nixon‘s unwillingness to listen to their economic advisers, and Martin‘s and Burns’s unwillingness to pull a Volcker. Perhaps it is because it is such a surprise that so few have learned it, and how many forget it immediately after it is pointed out to the. And since the 1970s be strong belief that another 1970s is always and everywhere looking around the corner has been very damaging: and since the 1970s the strong believe that another 1970s is always been everywhere looking around the corner has been very damaging: Paul Krugman (2011): The Demand-Side Temptation: “[Nick] Rowe goes on to suggest that demand-side logic is dangerous... could lead to irresponsible policies. Well, there have been times and places.... But what I think Nick misses is the power of the contrary narrative, of the notion of the government as being like a family that must tighten its belt when the rest of us do, of the evils of printing money (hey, I can’t do that, why can Bernanke?)...

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Hoisted from the Archives (December 20, 2010): Can't Anybody in Obama's Inner Circle Play This Game?

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Hoisted from the Archives: Can't Anybody in Obama's Inner Circle Play This Game?: When people in the White House ask me whether I think Obama's SOTU address should be about tax reform or Social Security reform (i.e., 2/3 Social Security benefit cuts, 1/3 tax increases offered by the administration--and God alone knows what happens after that), I want to say: Why not make the SOTU address about jobs and economic recovery?...

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Margaret Thatcher Against Friedrich von Hayek's Pleas for a Lykourgan Dictatorship in Britain: Hoisted from the Archives

Hoisted: Margaret Thatcher Against Friedrich von Hayek's Pleas for a Lykourgan Dictatorship: "My dear Professor Hayek, Thank you for your letter of 5 February. I was very glad that you were able to attend the dinner so thoughtfully organised by Walter Salomon. It was not only a great pleasure for me, it was, as always, instructive and rewarding to hear your views on the great issues of our time...

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Monday Smackdown Watch: The New York Times and Bret Stephens Continue to Beclown Themselves Bigtime

The New York Times beclouds itself with: Bret Stephens: The Midterm Results Are a Warning to the Democrats: "Stop manning imaginary barricades, and start building real bridges to the other America. This week’s elections were, at most, a very modest rebuke of a president reviled by many of his opponents, this columnist included, as an unprecedented danger to the health of liberal democracy at home and abroad. The American people don’t entirely agree. We might consider listening to them a bit more—and to ourselves somewhat less. A 27-seat swing gave Democrats control of the House.... The Republican gain in the Senate... underscores what a non-wave election this was...

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One interesting thing here is that Jonathan Swift was one of the biggest political liars of his generation—the anti-Whig Breitbart of his day, in some respects: Jonathan Swift (2010): Political Lying: "A political liar... ought to have but a short memory.... The superiority of his genius consists in nothing else but an inexhaustible fund of political lies, which he plentifully distributes every minute he speaks, and by an unparalleled generosity forgets, and consequently contradicts, the next half hour. He never yet considered whether any proposition were true or false, but whether it were convenient for the present minute or company.... You... will find yourself equally deceived whether you believe or not: the only remedy is to suppose, that you have heard some inarticulate sounds, without any meaning at all...

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Monday Smackdown: Hoisted: Cliff Asness Department

**Hoisted from the Archives: 7 days before the fifth anniversary of his appearing as lead signatory of the right-wing Republican "Open Letter to Ben Bernanke—Cliff Asness spent 82 minutes talking to Tyler Cowen. The phrase "Federal Reserve" does not appear in the transcript. The phrase "quantitative easing" does not appear in the transcript. The word "monetary" does not appear in the transcript. The word "debasement" does not appear. Tyler Cowen does not ask questions using any of those words. Cliff Asness does not use any of those words in answering questions.

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Weekend Reading: Hilzoy: Liberating Iraq (from 2007)

Hilzoy: Obsidian Wings: Liberating Iraq: "Peter Beinart has a piece in TNR about why he supported the war: 'For myself, perhaps the most honest reply is this: because Kanan Makiya did. When I first saw Makiya--the Iraqi exile who has devoted his life to chronicling Saddam Hussein's crimes--I recognized the type: gentle, disheveled, distracted, obsessed. He reminded me of the South African exiles who occasionally wandered through my house as a kid. Once, many years ago, I asked one of them how the United States could aid the anti-apartheid struggle. Congress could impose sanctions, he responded. Sure, sure, I said impatiently. But what else? Well, he replied with a chuckle, if the United States were a different country, it would help the African National Congress liberate South Africa by force.' He also writes about why he got it wrong...

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Hoisted from the Archives: Niall Ferguson Is Wrong to Say That He Is Doubly Stupid: Why Did Keynes Write "In the Long Run We Are All Dead"? Weblogging

Thinking how to talk about Schumpeter's "Ricardian Vice" and the extremely peculiar boosting by economists formerly of note and reputation of the Trump corporate tax cut, and so revisiting this


Niall Ferguson:

An Open Letter to the Harvard Community: Last week I said something stupid about John Maynard Keynes.  Asked to comment on Keynes’ famous observation “In the long run we are all dead,” I suggested that Keynes was perhaps indifferent to the long run because he had no children, and that he had no children because he was gay. This was doubly stupid. First, it is obvious that people who do not have children also care about future generations. Second, I had forgotten that Keynes’ wife Lydia miscarried.

Niall is wrong. His suggestion was not doubly stupid. There is more.

Niall speaks of Keynes's "In the long run we are all dead" as if it is a carpe diem argument--a "seize the day" argument, analogous to Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" or Herrick's "To the Virgins"--and Ferguson sees his task as that of explaining why Keynes adopted this be-a-grasshopper-not-an-ant "party like we're gonna die young!" form of economics, or perhaps form of morality.

But that is not it at all.

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The Grand Strategy of the United States of America: From the Archives from 2003

stacks and stacks of books

Hoisted From the Archives from 2003: The Grand Strategy of the United States of America: Archive Entry From Brad DeLong's Webjournal: "The economic policy of the Bush administration has been frightening: The deliberate unbalancing of the long-term finances of the U.S. government in the hope of sharpening the funding crisis of the social-insurance state—with the effect of slowing capital formation and economic growth, and increasing the interest of economic crisis. The backing-away from the Republican Party's historic commitment to free trade. The reversal of Newt Gingrich's proudest achievement: the partial reform of the farm subsidy program.

The security policy of the Bush administration has been more than frightening; it has been terrifying...

... At the moment administration insiders are trying to convince elite reporters that the Bush administration did not deceive outsiders about Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program as much as deceive itself—that the highest levels of the Bush administration proved grossly incompetent at the basics. They did not know how to assess intelligence. Nobody had heard of Machiavelli's 500-year-old warning not to trust exiles: "Such is their extreme desire to return to their homes that they naturally believe many things that are not true, and add many others on purpose; so that, with what they really believe and what they say they believe they fill you with hopes..." Note that this declaration of incompetence is the Bush administration's spin on what happened.

But the most awful and dreadfully terrifying aspect of all has been whenever Bush administration intellectual allies talk about what they see as the motivating theory of the world underlying Bush administration security policy. They call the Clinton Administration naive for believing that international relations is a positive-sum game in which all sides can win. They speak of explicit concern on the part of the United States not just for its absolute but its relative economic power. As the University of Chicago's Dan Drezner puts it, the logic of Bush's National Security Strategy is to "prevent other great powers from rising, in order to ensure the long-term growth of freedom, democracy and prosperity."

But what does "prevent other great powers from rising" mean? What could it possibly mean other than "try to keep China and India desperately poor for as long as possible"—for when China and India close even half the gap in prosperity separating them from the industrial core, their populations alone guarantee that they will be very great powers indeed.

It is certainly not in the interest of world prosperity, or in the interest of China or India, to try to keep them poor. It is not in the national interest of the United States either. The history of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries teaches us that there may well be something uniquely dangerous to world peace and political sanity during the two generations in which a culture is passing from a poor rural agricultural to a rich urban industrial (or post-industrial) economy. Whether the aggressive foreign policy pursued by Wilhelmine Germany, the Leninist and Stalinist agony of Russia, the terrors of Mao, the dictatorships of Mussolini and Franco, or the most monstrous Nazi regime—the twentieth-century transition to industrial society appears to be a very dangerous time both for the citizens of the country in transition and for neighbors and passers-by.

Is it really in the interest of the United States to try to "prevent other great powers from rising" at the cost of lengthening the period of time during which other societies are vulnerable to the devils that afflicted most notably Germany in the twentieth century? Wouldn't the rest of us rather minimize than maximize the time we might be faced with the problem of containing a National Hinduist India, a Wilhelmine China, or a Weimar Russia?

And do the rest of us want the children of China and India to be taught in fifty years that the rich countries at the turn of the twentieth century did all they could to accelerate the growth and increase the prosperity of China and India, or that the rich countries strove to "prevent other great powers from rising"?

It is long past time for a complete change of personnel at all levels of the Bush administration. The world cannot afford to have neoconservatives at high levels of the U.S. government who do not work for global prosperity and peace, but instead for maximum U.S. relative power. Now we do know that there are grownups in the Republican Party—statesmen who work for more rapid economic development, for multilateral cooperation, and for a world in which the United States leads because of its fortunate position rather than dominates because of its military power. They staffed the first Bush administration. Where are they?

#shouldread #security #hoistedfromthearchives

(Late) Monday Smackdown: Why Does Clive Crook Think the EU Has a Duty to Sacrifice the Interests Rights of Its Constituents in Brexit Negotiations?

I did not punish this a year ago because it seemed... intemperate. Now it seems not extreme enough. Perhaps if Clive Crook and his colleagues had dared to say: "The Brexiters are bad people pursuing bad policies. They need to be stopped." Instead he and his ilk talked about how important it was that the U.K . have "a fundamentally new relationship" with the E.U., and that the E.U. should bend over backward to make the Brexiters look as good as possible. Not a good look:


Live from the Orange-Haired Baboon Cage: Across my desk this morning comes this. And it makes me ask: Whatever happened to the sharp, thoughtful, and witty Clive Crook of 2000? Brexiteers lied, and said that Brexit would bring £350 million a week to boost Britain's National Health Service, that Britons would still be able to live in Europe at will while kicking undesirable continentals out, and that Briton would have a hard border with the EU while still having a soft border with the Irish Republic. It was always a grift. Clive Crook now seems to want... what? For the EU to work hard to make Brexit as small a catastrophe as possible? For the EU sacrifice the rights and interests of its citizens to promote the careers of a bunch of neo-fascist nativist grifter politicians in Westminster? Crook seems to think that the EU should be negotiating as if this were an "on what terms will Britain remain in the EU?" deal. But Brexit means Brexit: Clive Crook: The Harder Brexit Gets, the More Necessary It Seems: "The U.K. has been an ill-fitting member of the EU all along...

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Note to Self: Alan Greenspan and the Bush Tax Cut: Was Alan Greenspan in 2001 playing a subtle reputation-enhancing game—anxious to give testimony that the administration and its press lapdogs would spin as a green-light endorsement, but in which economists like me and financiers like Robert Rubin would be unable to find any sentence that was truly objectionable? Perhaps... Perhaps not...

Let's give the mike to Alan Greenspan, p. 220 ff.:

Bob Rubin phoned.... With a big tax cut, said Bob, "the risk is, you lose the fiscal discipline."... "Bob, where in my testimony do you disagree?"

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I don't know why Paul Krugman is tweeting about Marvin Goodfriend's stalled Federal Reserve nomination again, but his main point is worth highlighting: Rand Paul's opposition to Goodfriend is not a bad thing for the country in itself But it is a very bad thing as a sign of the craziness of the Republicans because of the reasons that Rand Paul objects: Paul Krugman: Characteristic: "[Marvin] Goodfriend['s Federal Reserve nomination] is in trouble, not for constantly predicting inflation that never materialized, but because of what he got right: acknowledging that the zero lower bound on interest rates can be a problem...

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Monday Smackdown: What Tobin Harshaw of the New York Times Wants to Be Remembered For: "I Am Not Authorized to Explain Why I Am Not Authorized..."

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Monday Smackdown: What Tobin Harshaw of the New York Times claims he wants to be remembered for. From 2007. No quality control at the New York Times whatsoever. Let us take him at his word, and remember him for this:

Hoisted from 2007: As you may recall, last Friday there was a lot of discussion about revisions to the GISS global warming series of estimated average temperatures in the United States—a revision that changed the hottest year to date in the U.S. from 1998 (which in the old data was 1/100 of a degree hotter than 1934) to 1934 (which in the new data is 2/100 of a degree hotter than 1998) One surprising thing was that the New York Times's Opinionator weblog went way overboard on the story:

Among global warming Cassandras, the fact that 1998 was the “hottest year on record” has always been an article of faith.... James Hansen, the climate scientist who has long accused the Bush administration of trying to “silence” him.... [A] Y2K bug played havoc with some of the numbers.... Michael Ashe... explains.... "The changes are truly astounding. The warmest year on record is now 1934. 1998 (long trumpeted by the media as recordbreaking) moves to second place.... [T]he effect on the U.S. global warming propaganda machine could be huge...

This surprised me: "effect... huge," "havoc," the scare quotes around "silence," "data meltdown," et cetera seemed very out of place for a three-one-hundredths of a degree shift--either complete mendacity or total innumeracy, or both.... The Opinionato... Tobin Harshaw, wh... [had] also served as an enthusiastic stenographer for last Friday's Stupidest Man Alive nominee, Tom Nugent of National Review, who slipped a decimal points and wrote a totally off-the-rails piece... overestimating how much money such a tax might raise by a factor of ten. It seemed that Harshaw had failed to do the slightest amount of quantitative due diligence on either story before he committed fingers to keyboard and thus electrons to the nöosphere.... So I called Toby Harshaw.... It seems to me that he and the New York Times have much bigger problems than simple innumeracy:

Brad DeLong: Good afternoon. I'm Brad DeLong, an economics professor calling from UC Berkeley. I read your Cassandra post about global warming data revisions, and had a couple of questions. Can you help me out?

Tobin Harshaw: Certainly.

Brad DeLong: Did you eyeball the data--either in a graph or a table--before you wrote your "Cassandra" post about GISS global warming data revisions?

Tobin Harshaw: Are you writing something about this?

Brad DeLong: I will be, yes.

Tobin Harshaw: Then no, I cannot speak to you. You will have to speak to our public relations department.

Brad DeLong: Why won't you talk to me?

Tobin Harshaw: Because I am not authorized to speak to the press.

Brad DeLong: Because?

Tobin Harshaw: Because that is our policy. Our policy is that editorial staff are not allowed to speak to the press.

Brad DeLong: Seriously? Why is that your policy?

Tobin Harshaw: I am not authorized.

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John Cole annoys me by directing me to Irwin Stelzer and his claim that under Trump economic growth is "around... 4%". It is not. GDP growth under Trump has been and is widely projected to be roughly 2.7% per year, not "around... 4%". Irwin Stelzer is a liar. Liars are not worth reading. The Weekly Standard needs to step up its game. Badly: Irwin Stelzer: National Debt Under Trump Rises to $21.7 Trillion: "The economy is growing at around a 4 percent rate in response to the tax cuts and to a revival of animal spirits as entrepreneurs and corporate chieftains wake up in the morning wondering not what the government is going to do to them, but what it might do for them...

Big plans for his country. Involving bonesaws. torture. Murder. Dismemberment. Is there any intellectual and moral crime against journalism a New York Times employee can commit that will get him bounced? It appears not: Tom Friedman: Saudi Arabia’s Arab Spring, at Last: "The most significant reform process underway anywhere in the Middle East today is in Saudi Arabia... its own Arab Spring... led from the top down by the country’s 32-year-old crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman.... If it succeeds, it will not only change the character of Saudi Arabia but the tone and tenor of Islam across the globe. Only a fool would predict its success—but only a fool would not root for it...

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