#noted Feed

Jerry Taylor: One (and Only One) Cheer for the Republican “Innovation” Answer to Climate Change: "Restless Republicans are (rightly) uncomfortable about allowing the planet to burn while their party doggedly maintains that nothing is happening. Alas, they’re also uncomfortable about imposing discernible economic costs on anyone, so technological 'innovation' via subsidies for favored low-carbon industries and increases in federal energy R&D has thus far been their policy response of choice.... But the Republican innovation agenda alone is not, in and of itself, a serious policy proposal. It is, perhaps, the prelude to a serious policy proposal.... If Republican rebels are prepared to accept the consensus within the climate science community, they need to... act even more aggressively... deploy zero-carbon energy technology right now.... Simon’s narrative about resource renewal only plays out when we’re dealing with tradable commodities in a free market economy where price signals are accurate and can do their job. And we don’t have those conditions when it comes to the atmosphere...

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From 2016. This paper did not get the attention I believe it deserved:

How higher labor standards affect how firms behave on the ground. This type of work is extremely valuable—indeed, essential to place statistical patterns in proper context—is difficult to do, and so needs to be highlighted more:

T. William Lester: Inside Monopsony: Employer Responses to Higher Labor Standards in the Full-Service Restaurant Industry: "Employer responses to higher labor standards through a qualitative case comparison of the full service restaurant industry.... San Francisco—where employers face the nation’s highest minimum wage, no tip credits, a pay-or-play health care mandate, and paid sick leave requirements—and... North Carolina’s Research Triangle region—where there are no locally-enacted labor standards.... Higher labor standards led to wage compression in San Francisco even while some employers continued to offer greater benefits to reduce turnover. Employers in San Francisco exhibit greater investment in finding better matches and tend to seek higher-skilled, more professional workers, rather than invest in formal in-house training. Finally, higher wage mandates in San Francisco have exacerbated the wage gap between front-of-house and back-of-house occupations—which correlate strongly with existing racial and ethnic divisions. Initial evidence shows that some employers have responded by radically restructuring industry compensation practices by adding service charges and in some cases eliminating tipping...

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The American electorate contains very few libertarians—very few who want a (largely) unregulated markets economy and also a (largely) tolerant society in which flying your personal freak-flag in public is encouraged. Americans are, rather, much more likely to be egalitarian with respect to the distribution of economic wealth and status and socially tolerant; or alternatively hierarchical—seeking a society in which everybody knows their place and toes the line both economically and socially.

And the people who don't fit into those two liberal and conservative baskets? They are, overwhelmingly, believers in a social order that also produces an egalitarian economy—but only for those who toe the social-order line.

This poses problems for those billionaires who would like to become president, but also wish to speak honestly to the electorate:

Paul Krugman: The Empty Quarters of U.S. Politics: "Socially liberal, economically conservative voters... the people Schultz thought he could appeal to; but basically they don’t exist, accounting for only around, yes, 4 percent of the electorate.... The absence of economically liberal, socially conservative politicians... There are plenty of voters who would like that mix, and Trump pretended to be their man; but he wasn’t, and neither is anyone else. Understanding these empty quarters is, I’d argue, the key to understanding U.S. politics. Once upon a time there were racist populists... segregationist Dixiecrats. But this was always unstable. In practice, advocating economic inclusion seems to spill over into advocacy of racial and social inclusion, too.... Meanwhile, the modern Republican Party is all about cutting taxes on the rich and benefits for the poor and the middle class. And Trump, despite his campaign posturing, has turned out to be no different. Hence the failure of our political system to serve socially conservative/racist voters who also want to tax the rich and preserve Social Security. Democrats won’t ratify their racism; Republicans, who have no such compunctions, will—remember, the party establishment solidly backed Roy Moore’s Senate bid—but won’t protect the programs they depend on...

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This is exactly one of the situations the 25th Amendment was designed to handle:

Donald J. Trump: "We have fully signed and documented another very important part of the Immigration and Security deal with Mexico, one that the U.S. has been asking about getting for many years. It will be revealed in the not too distant future and will need a vote by Mexico’s Legislative body!." David Rothschild: "Take a step back: [the] US President is repeatedly, publicly [claiming] that he made a massive international deal with Mexico that everyone in both the Mexican government and our government says does not exist[;] that is (1) disturbing behavior [that is] (2) incredibly damaging [to] US security/economy." Nicole Wallace: Trump appears less capable of sustaining his own thoughts for longer than 4 to 6 seconds. It used to be he couldn’t follow anyone else’s conversation but now it seems he can’t follow his own train of thought...

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And, speaking of totalizing revealed ideologies, the Chinese Communist Party is finding little difficulty in proof-texting its current doctrines out of the scripture that is the collected writings of Marx and Engels. Their point that Donald Trump and Brexit suggest that unequal slow-growth political democracies do not have it right is powerful. And it is hopeful that Xi Jinping and company view gross inequality as a problem to be solved—"the result of an 'early stage of development'"—rather than a reality to be suffered:

Tom Hancock: China’s Selective Version of Marxist Theory Is a Puzzle: "A TV show, Marx Got it Right, and an illustrated edition of his masterpiece Das Kapital aimed at 8- to 14-year-olds.... The Communist party is stepping-up promotion of Marxist thought when it has largely abandoned its core tenet: public ownership of the means of production. About 80 per cent of urban workers are employed by private companies. Levels of wealth inequality are among the highest in the world, making egalitarianism potentially subversive. It is rendered more confusing by a recent crackdown on self-declared Marxist students at elite universities.... Beijing pushes a selective version of Marxism... likes the theory of historical change that helps portray Communist party rule as inevitable.... Marxism means one-party rule... means fixing inequality, the result of an 'early stage of development'... gives US president Donald Trump and Brexit as examples of 'serious problems of capitalist development'...

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Paul Miller: How to Fix the Internet: "What we'll see very clearly in hindsight is that when we published our content on other people's servers, it always went bad. Instagram's algo made us sad. YouTube's algo made us mad. Twitter's algo mad us sad AND mad. Google Photos algo, it turned out, made us easily tracked and controlled by totalitarian governments. Oops! Self-hosting will be the 'difficult' and 'cumbersome' option for a while, but by the year 2025 it will be easier than the centralized services are. Think about it: have you ever tried to upload a YouTube video? There are a ton of options, and the interface is kind of annoying, and it's a many-step process. This is because YouTube has to be designed to be a jack of all uploading trades, master of none. But when self-hosting is mature and common, you'll be able to pay for a highly specific app that streamlines the experience to match your exact needs. If you don't want to pay for a high-end app there will likely be a more general, harder-to-use, free and open source option as well...

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Patricia Crone Meccan Trade: "The conventional account of Meccan trade begs one simple question: what commodity or commodities enabled the inhabitants of so unpromising a site to engage in commerce on so large a scale? That the trading empire grew up in an unexpected place is clear, if not always clearly brought out. There have, of course, been commercial centres in Arabia that developed in areas of comparable barrenness, notably Aden. But Aden and other coastal cities of south Arabia all owed their existence to the sea, as Muqaddasi noted, whereas Mecca was an inland town...

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The Fed now seems to be saying: "We misjudged the situation late last year. We are going to reverse our policy. But not quite yet." And I do not understand the frame of mind in which that is a coherent system of thought. I wish they would explain: Tim Duy: Rate Cut On The Way: "The Fed turned... dovish... basically announcing a July rate cut as clearly as they could without taking out an ad in the Wall Street Journal... increased 'uncertainties'... 'muted inflation pressures'.... The proximity to the lower bound coupled with low inflation was always going to lead the Fed to err on the side of a rate cut. It just took them some time to find their way there.... The dot plot was far more dovish than I anticipated.... Eight participants expecting lower rates.... Forecasts were dovish as well.... Market participants have priced in a 100% change of a rate hike in July. The 2 year treasury yield is also begging the Fed to cut rates.... It would take some spectacular data to call the July cut into question.... It would be exceedingly difficult to pull back on a rate cut now. Nor is there any reason to...

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"Unionization for me, but not for thee"—Jonah Peretti: Alexia Fernández Campbell: BuzzFeed News Walkout: "Managers at the popular news website, which employs more than 200 journalists in the US, have been fighting... about how many employees can join the bargaining unit, according to a statement BuzzFeed News Union shared with Vox.... BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said the union won’t accept a proposal to define which positions would be part of the bargaining unit before recognition, and won’t agree to honor individual contracts while they negotiate a collective bargaining contract.... The company’s offer would recognize 77 journalists in the bargaining unit—far fewer than the union wants...

Jonah Peretti (2001): My Nike Media Adventuren: "As a challenge to Nike, I ordered a pair of shoes customized with the word 'sweatshop' Nike rejected my request... correspondence.... None of Nike’s messages addressed the company’s legendary labor abuses, and their avoidance of the issue created an impression even worse than an admission of guilt. In mid-January I forwarded the whole e-mail correspondence to a dozen friends, and since that time it has raced around the Internet, reaching millions of people...

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Ajay Agrawal, Joshua S. Gans, and Avi Goldfarb: Artificial Intelligence: The Ambiguous Labor Market Impact of Automating Prediction: "Artificial intelligence does not fit easily into existing analyses of the effect of automation on labor markets. The reasons are threefold. First, prediction is always strictly complementary to other tasks—namely decision-related tasks. Those tasks can be existing or newly possible because of better prediction. Second, better prediction improves decisions—whether taken by labor or capital—by enabling more nuanced decisions through the reduction of uncertainty. Finally, it is not yet possible to say whether the net impact on decision tasks—whether existing or new— is likely to favor labor or capital. We have found important examples of both, and there is no obvious reason for a particular bias to emerge. Thus, we caution on drawing broad inferences from the research on factory automation (for example, Acemoglu and Restrepo 2017; Autor and Salomons 2018) in forecasting the net near-term consequences of artificial intelligence for labor markets...

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Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke, Ahmed Rahman, and Alan M. Taylor: Trade, Technology, and the Great Divergence: "Why did per capita income divergence occur so dramatically during the 19th Century, rather than at the outset of the Industrial Revolution? How were some countries able to reverse this trend during the globalization of the late 20th Century?... Endogenous biased technological change and intercontinental trade. An Industrial Revolution begins as a sequence of more unskilled-labor-intensive innovations in both regions. We show that the subsequent co-evolution of trade and directed technologies can create a delayed but inevitable divergence in demographics and living standards—the peripheral region increasingly specializes in production that worsens its terms of trade and spurs even greater fertility increases and educational declines. Allowing for technological diffusion between regions can mitigate and even reverse divergence, spurring a reversal of fortune for peripheral regions...

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Eric Rauchway: "This, by @EliotACohen on the problems with DARKEST HOUR, is right, but one could go much further. I should be the target audience for a movie like DARKEST HOUR. I teach WW2 and I believe that next to Soviet manpower and American machinery, British stubbornness was a key to Allied victory. But this movie presents Churchill as an insecure boor who is nevertheless right about the need to oppose Nazism, and for Britain to defeat Nazism it was necessary only for friends to indulge his boorishness, bolster him in his insecurity, and opponents to yield to his dazzling rhetoric. This is wrong...

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

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  1. Fareed Zakaria: The Self-Destruction of American Power: "One is struck by the ways in which Washington—from an unprecedented position—mishandled its hegemony and abused its power, losing allies and emboldening enemies. And now, under the Trump administration, the United States seems to have lost interest, indeed lost faith, in the ideas and purpose that animated its international presence for three-quarters of a century...

  2. Christina Romer (1994): The End of Economic History?: "Perhaps more than any particular finding or direct implication, the fact that the debate about stabilization and the new data collection efforts are being carried out by a mixture of economic historians and macroeconomists is the most desirable development of all. As with all of the other recent developments in economic history that have been discussed here, the bringing together of researchers with different perspectives has not only stimulated exciting research, it has also meant that the lessons of history have been incorporated into other fields. In this way, the end of economic history has really been just the beginning of better and richer economics...

  3. AlphaChat: Jay Shambaugh on Tools to Fight the Next Recession: "The economist and Brookings Institution senior fellow talks to FT contributor Megan Greene about the fiscal policies that lawmakers could arrange now that would automatically kick in when some of the early signs of a slowdown start to appear...

  4. Ed Nawotka: Daunt Relishes Challenge of Leading B&N: "Daunt said his priority with B&N is not to cut costs, but to find a way to arrest the decline in sales and return the company to growth, much as he did at Waterstones. The key, he said, will be investment.... Above all, Daunt expressed calm about the transition, and advocated for patience...

  5. Charles Petzold (2008): The Annotated Turing: A Guided Tour through Alan Turing's Historic Paper on Computability and the Turing Machine (Indianapolis: John Wiley: 9780470229057) #books

  6. Joanna Ossinger: JPMorgan Shows Where Huge Risks From Fed, G-20 Are Underpriced: "Stocks may correct if Fed isn’t dovish enough: Panigirtzoglou. Cross-asset measures show little volatility risk premium...

  7. Barry Eichengreen, Asmaa El-Ganainy, Rui Esteves, and Kris James Mitchener: Public Debt Through the Ages: "Periods when debt-to-GDP ratios rose explosively as a result of wars, depressions and financial crises also have a long history. Many of these episodes resulted in debt-management problems resolved through debasements and restructurings. Less widely appreciated are successful debt consolidation episodes.... We analyze the economic and political circumstances that made these successful debt consolidation episodes possible...

  8. Josefin Meyer, Carmen M. Reinhart, and Christoph Trebesch: Sovereign Bonds since Waterloo: "220,000 monthly prices of foreign-currency government bonds traded in London and New York between 1815 (the Battle of Waterloo) and 2016, covering 91 countries.... Returns on external sovereign bonds have been sufficiently high to compensate for risk. Real ex-post returns averaged 7% annually across two centuries, including default episodes, major wars, and global crises... an excess return of around 4% above US or UK government bonds... are hard to reconcile with canonical theoretical models and with the degree of credit risk.... Full repudiation is rare; the median haircut is below 50%...

  9. Olivier Blanchard and Takeshi Tashiro: Fiscal Policy Options for Japan

  10. DS100: Principles and Techniques of Data Science #book

  11. Barry Ritholtz: Buy Yourself a F--king Latte: "A Latte a Day Isn’t Going to Ruin Your Retirement. If spending $5 a day on fancy coffee puts your retirement at risk, you’ve got bigger problem...

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A Year Ago on Equitable Growth: Twenty Worthy Reads from Around June 21, 2018

stacks and stacks of books

Worthy Reads at Equitable Growth:

  1. Very nice to see: Equitable Growth: Janet Yellen Joins Equitable Growth Steering Committee: "'There are few economists with the depth of academic and policymaking experience that Janet Yellen possesses', said Heather Boushey, Equitable Growth’s executive director and chief economist. 'She has worked tirelessly, in her research and in her high government positions, to promote strong economic growth that benefits workers and to ensure that the American Dream is within reach for all...'"

  2. Suggestions for what kinds of information we will want to be capturing in twenty years are very welcome: Michael Strain: Equitable Growth in Conversation: "To the extent that you are figuring out ways to update this statistical system to account for the way that we live and work now would be important. But more importantly, to account for the ways that we might live and work 20 years from now, to really have a plan to have statistically valid surveys that capture the information that we want to capture is, I think, a very worthy research program..."

  3. Really surprised that there is no evidence of boom-bust asymmetry here. I am going to have to dig into what reasonable alternatives are and how much power the authors' techniques have against them: Adam M. Guren, Alisdair McKay, Emi Nakamura, and Jon Steinsson: Housing Wealth Effects: The long View: "1) Large housing wealth effects are not new... substantial effects back to the mid 1980s; 2) Housing wealth effects were not particularly large in the 2000s... 3) There is no evidence of a boom-bust asymmetry..."

  4. The "elasticity of substitution" is an emergent property. It has very little to do with "technology" if only because there is not one single technology in the economy. There are lots of different types of machines and lots of ways to use workers and machines to produce things. And "rigid organization" is not quite right either here: Suresh Naidu (2014): Notes from Capital in the 21st Century Panel: "Perhaps a useful analogy is that this is the "Free to Choose" or “Capitalism and Freedom” for our time.... I can’t think of a book that emerged from economics for a mass audience with as much reception since then.... The book doesn't quite take a stand on whether it is brute market forces and a production function with a high elasticity of substitution or instead relatively rigid organization of firms and financial institutions that lies behind the stability of r. I think the production approach is less plausible..."

  5. Sue and Tim worry that the organizational disaggregation produced by this Age of Supply Chains is harming the development of our communities of engineering practice. Annalee Saxenian's Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128 is now 20 years old, and yet somehow I do not think we know as much about this as we should: Susan Helper and Timothy Krueger (2016): Supply Chains and Equitable Growth: "Deregulation, market failures, and corporate policies have led to the rise of supply chains comprised of small, weak firms that innovate less and pay less. These problems in supply chains threaten U.S. competitiveness by undermining innovation, and also contribute to the erosion of U.S. workers’ standard of living. A different kind of outsourcing is possible..."

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Berkeley Economics: Economics CIP Code Update and FAQs | Department of Economics: "(5) What are the practical effects of this change for domestic students? For international students? The reclassification of Economics as a STEM major may enhance research and funding opportunities, job market placement and diversity and growth in the field that can be associated with other STEM majors. For international students, the STEM classification increases accessibility to US job opportunities with an extension of work visas, etc. This was not an available option with our current general economics CIP code.... (6) As an international student, how will this impact my Optional Practical Training (OPT)? OPT is work authorization available to F-1 international students who have been full-time students for at least two consecutive semesters and who plan to seek employment in the United States in their fields of study. On March 11, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a new STEM Final Rule, with effective date May 10, 2016. Eligible students may now apply for a 24 Month STEM Extension up to 90 days prior to the expiration of their OPT Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Our CIP code approval qualifies our degree programs as a STEM related field of study for the Optional Practical Training (OPT) extension for employment of 24 months. For further information about your OPT options, please consult with the Berkeley International Office (BIO)...

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I don't understand what's being asked here: yes, Susan is right; yes, the index-number problem rears its ugly head; yes, there are absolute numbers and there are employment shares; yes, there is manufacturing; yes, there is non-computer manufacturing; yes, there are traditional blue-collar occupations. One reading of Susan is "traditional blue-collar occupations are of special concern, and manufacturing excluding computers is important because computer manufacturing is not really a blue-collar semi-skilled easy-to-unionize source of employment". That characterization of computer manufacturing is increasingly true over time—but it also applies increasingly over time to sunbelt manufacturing as well: Noah Smith: "Research from Susan Houseman of the Upjohn Institute casts doubt on the idea that the U.S. manufacturing sector produces more output than ever before, and on @delong's argument that manufacturing job losses have been mostly due to automation: https://t.co/hRjSIF5TL0...

NAFTA and other trade deals have not gutted American manufacturing period Vox

When Globalization is Public Enemy Number One No Longer Fresh at the Milken Institute Review

3 Month Treasury Bill Secondary Market Rate FRED St Louis Fed

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Adam Kotsko's mode of discourse is well outside my normal wheelhouse, but I do think that this is important. It is generally a mistake in America to think that religious arguments will persuade anyone of anything political or moral. In America, at least, religion tends to act as a righteousness multiplier rather than a set of principles and ideas that can be used for persuasion and to get peoplle to think reflectively:

Adam Kotsko: The Political Theology of Trump: "This brings us to a scriptural parallel that evangelicals themselves have drawn with Trump: Cyrus the Great, the Persian Emperor who allowed Israelite priestly elites to settle back in the Promised Land.... The Prophet Isaiah sings this pagan ruler’s praises, even calling him God’s “anointed”... “Messiah” in Hebrew or “Christ” in Greek—and promising divine assistance in his ongoing conquest.... IT’S THE BIBLICAL VERSION of 'only Nixon can go to China'. Only a pagan ruler who knows nothing of the God of Israel... can restore the righteous remnant to the Promised Land.... The use of an ignorant, pagan ruler makes the divine agency unmistakable from the Israelite perspective. How could it be more clear that God is really controlling events when his purpose is fulfilled without the involvement of any conscious human intention? My mom suggested that something similar was at play on that painful phone call the morning after the election, when she wondered aloud whether the improbable events that made Trump President against the American people’s will spoke of a divine intention.... There is not much that any of us can do to convince evangelical Trump supporters that their anointed one is an antichrist...

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The New York Times decides to mark Father's Day by misogynistic wife-slagging! As I said, moral fault attaches to those who support or work for the New York Times: Ana Mardoll: "Obviously they want rage clicks, but this is such a fascinating misuse of a common phrase. 'More than their fair share"' necessarily implies that someone else is slacking. Since marriages often have only two people in them, that leaves... the wife...

New York Times Opinion: "On Father’s Day, the honor of dads must be defended, says @DouthatNYT. Yes, fathers spend less time doing household chores. But when you add up housework, paid work and childcare, married fathers today are doing even more than their fair share...

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Eric Chyn, Samantha Gold, and Justine S. Hastings: The Returns to Early-Life Interventions for Very Low Birth Weight Children: "Administrative data from Rhode Island... regression discontinuity design... 1,500-gram threshold for Very Low Birth Weight (VLBW) status.... Threshold crossing causes more intense in-hospital care, in line with prior studies. Threshold crossing also causes a 0.34 standard deviation increase in test scores in elementary and middle school, a 17.1 percentage point increase in the probability of college enrollment, and 66,997 decrease in social program expenditures by age 14. We explore potential mechanisms driving these impacts...

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How Lenny Mendonca actually found time to teach this course while coordinating California's economic development plans is beyond me: but he is a very, very high-energy person: Lenny Mendonca: Business and Public Policy Perspectives on US Inequality: "Inequality in the United States–Definition and Facts. Inequality in the United States–Why Do Businesses and MBA Students Care? Housing and Transportation. Place-Based Policies. Race and Inequality. Opportunity and Early Education. Higher Education. Immigration (and Effects on Other American Workers). Low-wage Workers. Tax Policy–The 1%. Work in the Future and Universal Basic Income...

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That the Conservative Party appears to want a no-deal Brexit is as bad and destructive as the Republican Party wanting Donald Trump for president: Martin Wolf: No-Deal Brexit Would Be a Lunacy Wrapped Up in a Stupidity: "AThe cost to Britain’s economy and its standing in the world would be immense.... It will be disruptive. Nobody knows quite how disruptive.... EU co-operation... would be limited.... The jump from being a full EU member to this very different status is sure to be disorderly. This is why standard trade agreements have long transition periods.... The long-run costs of being without any deal with the EU would be substantial.... For such reasons, no deal could not possibly be the end of negotiations, but a shift to new ones from a far weaker position.... The EU knows that no deal would weigh more heavily on the UK.... Leaving the EU without a deal would impair the UK’s credibility as a partner for everybody...

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Uncertainty—fear that Brexit will be badly handled—is "killing investment and market sentiment toward the U.K", says Marcus Ashworth. Therefore, says Marcus Ashworth, let's choose a Prime inister—Boris Johnson—guaranteed to handle Brexit as badly as possible. And Ashworth is one of the smartest, most reasonable, and most coherent of the Brexziteers. And he's an incoherent, unreasonable, and rather dim nutter:

Marcus Ashworth: Boris Johnson Is Underpriced By the Financial Markets: "Sterling could well get a lift if the former Mayor of London becomes prime minister.... The fact that several of the candidates to replace her are seemingly happy to let Britain crash out of the European Union without an agreement (with bookies’ favorite Boris Johnson foremost among them) has spooked foreign exchange traders. But plenty of people would welcome some kind of clarity.... It’s the uncertainty that’s killing investment and market sentiment toward the U.K. The flipside of this is the sense that people just want to get Brexit done...

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Bloomberg: U.K. Tory Prime Minister Candidates Unprepared for Brexit Reality: "Irresponsible tax and spending promises predominated. Implausible approaches to Brexit were aired, along with nonchalant talk of defaulting on public debts. Cocaine proved unexpectedly salient. One thing nearly all the candidates had in common was a refusal to accept the precarious position the next party leader will be in.... A chaotic no-deal exit on Halloween. Alarmingly, most of the candidates have suggested that they’d be okay with that last option. In doing so, they seem to be following May’s playbook of keeping the worst-case scenario on the table for negotiating purposes. If that tactic ever made sense, it’s now doubly wrongheaded. For starters... imposing the most damaging version of a policy that about half the country already despises, and one that Parliament has already explicitly rejected.... If the Tory candidates recognize the urgency of confronting hard truths, they’re showing few signs of it...

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China Digital Space: Grass-Mud Horse: "Mascot of Chinese netizens fighting for free expression, symbolizing defiance of Internet censorship. The grass-mud horse, whose name sounds nearly the same as "f--- your mother" (cào nǐ mā 肏你妈), was originally created to skirt government censorship.... The Communist Party is often described as the 'mother' of the people, so saying 'f--- your mother' also suggests 'f--- the Party'...

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Larry Summers: The Economist Who Helped Me Find My Calling: "Working for [Feldstein], I saw what I had not seen in the classroom: that rigorous and close statistical analysis of data can provide better answers to economic questions, and possibly better lives for millions of people. A doctor can treat a patient. An economist, through research or policy advice, can improve life for a population. Marty was appointed president of the NBER in 1977—a position he held for more than 30 years. The NBER became my professional home and occasionally my literal home as I slept near its computer terminals.... Marty was a magnet for talent.... Marty cared about people’s economic analysis, not their political affiliation. That is why he mentored stars like Jeffrey Sachs and Raj Chetty, who disagreed with him on many questions...

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

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  1. John Holbo: "You, for example, are being slightly rude, asking such questions of religious people!: 'But... it is not usually taken as rude in religious circles to ask of people: Will you be on the left or the right "when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory...'" Oh absolutely. Rude to challenge people about their religious beliefs. Because that's religious liberty. But it's not rude for religious people to challenge non-religious people abut their beliefs. Because that's religious liberty. Purest proof of 'liberty' = 'privilege' here!...

  2. Brian Lyman: 'Where Was the Lord?': On Jefferson Davis' Birthday, 9 Slave Testimonies

  3. When the person driving the car becomes so exercised by the derogeance inflicted upon newlyweds Lord Randolph Spencer-Churchill and Jennie Jerome by their parents' failure to give them the capital sum to purchase a Stately Home in which to entertain that she misses the turnoff to the Jacksonville airport...

  4. Duncan Black: Do You Even Have Friends: "A legitimate joke about conservatives is they occasionally stumble upon a problem that directly impacts them or their family or friends and suddenly become liberals... on only that issue. Learn to generalize...

  5. Doug Jones: Amplifier Lakes: "Paleontologists and paleoanthropologists are busy sorting out what was special about the climate and ecology of Africa, especially East Africa, that contributed to various phases of hominin evolution... particular times when lakes were flickering in and out of existence along the... East African Rift Valley... a rich (sometimes) but also a particularly challenging environment.... Lewis Dartnell’s very recent Origins: How Earth’s History Shaped Human History...

  6. When and why did the brain eater eat the brain of this guy?: Nick Confessore: "'[Does] secular liberalism ha[ve] a kind of stopping point that accepts the continued not just existence but flourishing of conservative religious traditions?' I haven’t yet encountered a liberal answer to this question in the current instance.... Anyone have a recommendation for a piece on the left engaging with that point?" Parker Molloy: "The premise is insane, Nick. There’s not a reasonable rebuttal to it. It’s honestly scary that there are people willing to view the argument as a reasonable position in the first place. We live in a world where it’s legal for a Christian business owner to fire an employee for being gay, but illegal for a gay business owner to fire someone for being Christian...

  7. Charles Jones (1994): "Economic Growth and the Relative Price of Capital," Journal of Monetary Economics 34, pp. 359-82 https://delong.typepad.com/jones94.pdf

  8. John Amato: Donald: Federal Reserve Are 'Not His People' Even Though He Chose 4 Out Of 5: "He apparently forgot that the current Fed panel is one of his creation...

  9. George Orwell (1936): The Road to Wigan Pier

  10. Dan Nexon: Trump Change: Grift and Graft in the New Gilded Age: "Republican concern about many matters – such as the role of congress in overseeing the executive branch and best practices when it comes to securing classified information–extends only so far as partisan political considerations dictates. The same is obviously true of kleptocracy. However, just because the GOP couldn’t care less doesn’t mean that we need to normalize it...

  11. Mark Sullivan: Sign in with Apple Puts Apple’s Privacy Stance to Work: "Sign in with Apple is an impressive, privacy-friendly alternative to one of the main data-harvesting techniques used by its rivals. And Apple isn’t just offering it up as a new option for developers. It will require apps that include sign-in buttons powered by other companies to add its new button as well...

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Why Charles L. Black thought Wechsler, Bickel, and company were mendacious morons: Charles L. Black (1960): The Lawfulness of the Segregation Decisions: "IF the cases outlawing segregation 1 were wrongly decided, then they ought to be overruled... [and] will be overruled, slowly or all at once, openly or silently.... The hugely consequential error cannot stand and does not stand.... There is call for action in the suggestion that the segregation cases cannot be justified... practical and not merely intellectual significance in the question whether these cases were rightly decided. I think they were rightly decided, by overwhelming weight of reason, and I intend here to say why I hold this belief. My liminal difficulty is rhetorical-or, perhaps more accurately, one of fashion. Simplicity is out of fashion, and the basic scheme of reasoning on which these cases can be justified is awkwardly simple.... The equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment... the Negro race... is not to be significantly disadvantaged by the laws of the states.... Segregation is a massive intentional disadvantaging of the Negro race.... That is really all there is to the segregation cases. If both these propositions can be supported by the preponderance of argument, the cases were rightly decided...

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Barry Eichengreen: Unconventional Thinking about Unconventional Monetary Policies by Barry Eichengreen: "Defenders of central-bank independence argue that quantitative easing should have been avoided last time and is best avoided in the future, because it opens the door to political interference with the conduct of monetary policy. But political interference is even likelier if central banks shun QE in the next recession...

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Right-wing grifters gotta grift: Jemima Kelly: The Rick Santorum-Backed Coin for Catholics: "Backing a project that combines his religious fervour with another area of modern-day fanaticism: blockchainism (thanks to Buttcoin and in particular contributor David Gerard for drawing our attention to this)... a company and soon-to-be digital coin (stablecoin, specifically) called Cathio... 'a new payment, remittance and funding platform which provides efficient, secure, and transparent movement of funds within the Catholic world', promising to provide a 'turnkey solution for Catholic organizations to bring their financial transactions into alignment with their beliefs'...

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David S. Jacks, Christopher M. Meissner, and Dennis Novy: Trade Booms, Trade Busts, and Trade Costs: "What has driven trade booms and trade busts in the past and present? We derive a micro-founded measure of trade frictions from leading trade theories and use it to gauge the importance of bilateral trade costs in determining international trade flows. We construct a new balanced sample of bilateral trade flows for 130 country pairs across the Americas, Asia, Europe, and Oceania for the period from 1870 to 2000 and demonstrate an overriding role for declining trade costs in the pre-World War I trade boom. In contrast, for the post-World War II trade boom we identify changes in output as the dominant force. Finally, the entirety of the interwar trade bust is explained by increases in trade costs...

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I wouldn't call it "crashing", but... And it is not just the south: Wisconsin and Kansas joined, and Michigan and Indiana and Ohio are teetering on the edge:

John Cole: The Decline of the South: "...Good piece in the WSJ about the crashing economy in the south":

Sharon Nunn: The South’s Economy Is Falling Behind: ‘All of a Sudden the Money Stops Flowing’: "Since 2009, the South’s convergence has turned to divergence, as the region recorded the country’s slowest growth in output and wages, the lowest labor-force participation rate and the highest unemployment rate.... Low taxes and low wages that attracted factories and blue-collar jobs—have proven inadequate in an expanding economy where the forces of globalization favor cities with concentrations of capital and educated workers. 'Those policies worked before, then they became fundamental constraints on the [South’s] long-term growth', said Richard Florida, an urbanization expert at the University of Toronto.... In part because of its legacy of racial segregation the region has, relative to others, underinvested in human capital.... Against the Northeast...the South’s per capita income peaked at 79.1% of the Northeast’s level, and has since fallen to 71.6%.... Sunbelt cities like Charlotte and Atlanta have attracted both wealthier white-collar workers and retirees....Texas, with its own unique economy... is relatively urban, with five major metro centers... a thriving tech sector and ample reserves of oil and gas....Many economists say the most effective way for the South to regain its momentum would be to invest more in education, which would over time create a more skilled workforce to attract employers. But Mississippi State University economist Alan Barefield notes that is difficult to reconcile with southern states’ historic desire to keep spending and taxes low...

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I'm with "ignorant" rather than "willfully wrong" here, Eric: Eric Rauchway: "Ross Douthat says: 'The crisis of the 1930s ended happily for liberalism because a reactionary imperialist withstood Adolf Hitler and a revolutionary Bolshevik crushed him.' This argument is at best ignorant and incomplete, and at worst willfully wrong. If you... hear any of many edited versions of Churchill's great 'never surrender' speech, you might miss its major point, because often people cut it off after the words 'never surrender'. THAT'S NOT HOW THE SPEECH ENDS. The speech is directed at the administration and the radio audience across the ocean, in the United States... 'even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, THE NEW WORLD, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old'. That speech is a plea for American materiel, inasmuch as much British materiel—'the first-fruits of all that our industry had to give'—was left on the beach at Dunkirk.... The 'reactionary imperialist' needed American aid.... Certain elements didn’t want him to have it... America First... portray[ed] Roosevelt as a warmonger... the Willkie campaign in 1940 followed suit.... The Nazis financed anti-Roosevelt propaganda in the US and even tried to set up a credible left alternative to him in the 1940 election, knowing that of all US politicians, Roosevelt was the worst news for them. Roosevelt, as you know, won reelection anyway—and shortly afterward... announced... lend-lease...

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David French: President Trump & Sohrab Ahmari:The Cruelty Is the Point: "Sohrab Ahmari... made three core points: Politics is 'war and enmity', 'civility and decency are secondary values', and the right should fight the culture war 'with the aim of defeating the enemy and enjoying the spoils in the form of a public square re-ordered to the common good and ultimately the Highest Good'.... People asked, 'But what does that look like. What do you mean when you make the case for enmity and against civility?'... It looks a lot like what Sohrab did to me in his essay and what Trump’s supporters did to me in response. A man committed to 'enmity' and who believes decency is secondary repeatedly misrepresented my approach to politics and my role in critical public controversies... created a fictional version of me.... a signal flare, calling a truly enormous number of committed Trump supporters to spend day after day attacking me in the most vicious of terms, including by spreading many of the same falsehoods in the original piece.... Allow the falsehoods to issue unchallenged, and you can see your reputation... left in tatters.... Respond, and the attackers... thrill to their ability to trouble you enough to trigger an answer... [which] triggers swarms of additional personal attacks often made in steadily darker terms, culminating in zombie elements of the alt-right lurching up to take their shots.... In this brave new political world, personal attacks are indispensable. A discussion of only ideas represents exactly the kind of politics the pugilists now abhor.... But it’s all for the sake of the 'Highest Good', right?...

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Charles Sykes: Donald Trump and the New Cruelty: "The children were not collateral damage of Trump’s policy: They were the entire point. Removing them from their parents was designed to be shocking because their trauma was intended as a deterrent. Under the New Cruelty, the pitiless separation of young children from their mothers was supposed to send a chilling message to anyone foolish enough to seek asylum here... supposed to project strength, or at least the bully’s imitation of strength. Perhaps more than any other trait, it is this that motivates Trump: his need to appear strong and his fear of looking weak. Lewandowski... is a bit player... another of the menagerie of misfit toys... feed[ing] off Trump’s sundry insecurities...

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Nick Kapur: "Grover Cleveland Had One of the The Sketchiest Marriages.: "A bachelor upon entering office in 1883, in 1886 the 49-year-old president married 21-year-old Frances Folsom, who was 28 years his junior.... So far there's a massive age difference, but otherwise it sounds okay. But... It turns out that Grover had known Frances since birth. He was a very close family friend and had actually gifted her family with her first baby carriage...

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I am not sure that it is right to say that advocate of "Mothers' Pensions" believed that "the woman’s sphere was in the home". They certainly believed that women's work was important, and beieved that the first and most dire need for social insurance was to make sure that mothers of children had the resources they needed to raise the next generation. But they—and here I am generalizing from my own family history: my great-grandmother Fonnie and my great-great-grandmother Florence—also recognized that their generations were having four pregnancies on average while their grandmothers had had eight, and that they were assisted in the home by an increasing amount of modern technology in the form of consumer durables. And my mother-in-law Barbara maintains to this day that the thing that most changed her life was the clothes-washing machine. Half the number of pregnancies plus consumer durables meant that a lot of female energy could be—and was—directed outside the home:

Alix Gould-Werth: After Mother’s Day: Changes in Mothers’ Social Programs Over Time: "As Anna Jarvis was crusading to get Mother’s Day a place on the nation’s calendar, her peers—wealthy, white women who shared her progressive, reform-minded impulses—were laying foundation for our modern social safety net. Though most of these women chose to pursue social change rather than traditional family life, as architects of Mothers’ Pensions, they sided firmly with the view that the woman’s sphere was in the home. Mothers’ Pensions—which were passed into law state by state from 1911 to 1920—were targeted at widows and provided cash payments designed to simultaneously keep children out of orphanages and mothers out of the workplace...

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In a way, America in the twenty-first century has hit a trifecta, with respect to proving to everybody else in the world that America is not a good model—that ָָָָָָAmerica now has a dysfunctional government, and behind it a dysfunctional society which appears incapable of reform. The George W. Bush administration's foreign policy demonstrated that America—or, at least, the bipartisan foreign policy establishment to whom America had given the keys—could not assess its own or the global interest in avoiding pointless war. the blocking of policies to guarantee rapid economic recovery under the Obama administration—and the Obama administration's fair to pull the levers it had—demonstrated that Republican elites, at least, had no concerns about getting to full employment and rapid growth if it might somehow redound to the benefit of their political adversaries.

And now the Trump administration has demonstrated that when the chips are down a very large proportion of America simply does not care about freedom or democracy: is very happy putting children in cages, disenfranchising legitimate voters, and appointing stunningly incompetent officials all to own the libs. Hitting this trifecta was self-inflicted.

But until we have a diagnosis and have implemented a cure, Xi Jinping can rightly say to China that we are not a superior model:

Gideon Rachman: Why Donald Trump Is Great News for Xi Jinping: "Trump... likes to create a crisis, let it run a while and then announce that he has solved it... striking an agreement that he self-certifies as 'tremendous'... [but is] superficial and the underlying issues will remain largely unaddressed. This is the model that the Trump administration has followed with North Korea, as well as with Mexico and Canada. And it is the model that is pretty clearly going to emerge in Mr Trump’s 'trade war' with China.... But calling off the trade war will not be the only gift from Mr Trump to Chinese president Xi Jinping. For Mr Trump has already disarmed America in an even more important battle—the battle of ideas.... America’s most potent weapon in its emerging contest for supremacy with China is... its ideas... 'freedom' and 'democracy' are powerful.... Sadly, that has now changed. As a candidate, Mr Trump gave a very ambiguous reply when asked about the Tiananmen massacre of 1989, stating: 'they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength'. As president, he has made it clear that he is an admirer of authoritarian strongmen around the world...

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Duncan Black: Public Accommodation: "Once and not all that long ago I went on a trip with some friends. A lesbian couple. We were going hiking. I am a dumb person so it did not occur to me that checking into a hotel could be problem. It was not a problem! The lovely woman at the checkout desk was a trans woman and she was very happy to see us. But I am dumb and until that moment it did not occur to me that getting a hotel room in Pennsyltucky could be a problem. And the problem isn't that someone might not rent to you. It's not knowing if they will. Not knowing that when you walk into a store if you will be served. It is a concern and holy crap what a concern. Maggie Haberman once told us that Donald Trump was a friend to LGTB. This is why I tell you to cancel your New York Times subscriptions. Donald Trump has turned trans people into unpersons. I am not as dumb as I used to be...

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Moral fault attaches to anybody who pays money to or works for the New York Times. You need to do better. Just saying: Jeet Heer: "They should publish two editions of the New York Times: one made up just of beat sweetener to please Trump & his staff and another that publishes just, you know, the news." Daniel Radosh: These two articles were posted to @nytimes within an hour of each other. Seems like one of them has to be incorrect, right?:

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John Holbo: Twitter Thread: "Let's start at the start. 'Liberty... as formerly understood' under pressure. That is very exact and correct. But consider:... Women's rights resisted because it felt like denial of liberty (men's former liberties). African-Americans: Civil rights, a gross affront to white liberty. Anti-slavery = vicious assault on liberty.... Saying that 'liberty... as it was formerly understood' coming under felt pressure is something that is true of the BEST fights for freedom and rights. It is not a danger sign...

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The bond market thinks a recession is likely. the NBER would now—if it still paid attention to anything but payroll—would be wondering when it should call the peak. But we seem to have decided that a recession is not a recession of economic activity in general from a previous peak but ragther a sudden, sharp, significant, and asymmetric fall in employment. The key would then be found in the hearts and minds of businesses: Are things likely to be bad enough in the future that we need to start shedding labor now? Can we use the excuse of 'hard times' to break our implicit contracts with our workers without incurring heavy costs in terms of reduced worker morale? When the answers two those two questions become 'yes', that is a recession. And we are not yet there—and we have no good models of what would push us there:

Menzie Chinn: Recession Anxieties, June 2019: "Different forward looking models show increasing likelihood of a recession. Most recent readings of key series highlighted by the NBER’s Business Cycle Dating Committee (BCDC) suggest a peak, although the critical indicator—nonfarm payroll employment—continues to rise, albeit slowly...

Recession Anxieties June 2019 Econbrowser

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