#noted Feed

David Rees: Cormac Ignatieff's "The Road": "Hello everyone! Personal message to all the New Yorkers out there: Did you read Michael Ignatieff’s essay in the the NY Times Magazine? If so, contact me ASAP to let me know you’re OK. I put your flyer up at Grand Central Station, but have heard no response. Myself, I’m just making my way out of the debilitating Level-Five Mind Fog that came from reading the thing.... Ignatieff’s 2005 NY Times Magazine essay justifying the Iraq war... said the reason the American public wanted to invade Iraq was to spread 'The Ultimate Task of Thomas Jefferson’s Dream'. (I am not making a joke. This is for real.) And, he implied, anyone who opposed the invasion of Iraq did so because they hated Thomas Jefferson— and they didn’t believe in the Ultimate Tasks of Dreams!... I was excited when I first saw this new essay: At last, Ignatieff was going to come clean about his super-duper-double-dipper errors. I expected a no-holds barred, personal excoriation. In fact, I assumed the first, last, and only sentence of the essay would be: 'Please, for the love of God, don’t ever listen to me again'. HOWEVER... The first nine-tenths of Ignatieff’s essay... is a collection of vague aphorisms and bong-poster koans. It hums with the comforting murmur of lobotomy.... Below, a smorgasbord of Ignatieff’s musings, with commentary: 'An intellectual’s responsibility for his ideas is to follow their consequences wherever they may lead. A politician’s responsibility is to master those consequences and prevent them from doing harm...' Right off the bat, he’s saying: 'It was right for me to support the Iraq war when I was an academic, because academics live in outer space on Planet Zinfandel, and play with ideas all day. But now, as a politician in a country that opposed the war, I’ll admit I screwed up, because politicians must deign to harness the wild mares of whimsy to the ox-cart of cold, calculated reality'. So, although his judgments were objectively wrong, they were contextually appropriate. Sweet! You’ve been totally 0wn3d by Michael Ignatieff! And so have all those dead Iraqis...

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Nir Kaissar: Don’t Count Out Value Investing Despite Growth’s Spurt: "A decade or more of lagging doesn’t mean the landscape has changed permanently.... A third theory—and the most generous to value—is that the measure of value is broken... While it’s true that P/B ratio has been the worst-performing measure of value over the last 12 years, it’s premature to call it obsolete. No one measure has performed consistently better than others in decades past, so it’s just as likely that P/B ratio’s recent struggles are purely coincidental.... Also, P/B ratio has a long history of strong performance relative to growth stocks following bouts of weak performance, and vice versa, which strongly suggests that its recent underperformance will prove to be cyclical rather than permanent.... Of course, investors can sidestep the value versus growth debate by simply buying the market...

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Normally, when there is a small chance that a form of behavior assisted by particular commodities will produce very destructive results, we impose strict liability, and let those who promote that behavior and sell those commodities sort out the tradeoffs—or we heavily regulate for safety. Firearms is the only car in which we do neither:

Paul Campos: Where Do Lone Wolf Mentally Ill Mass Murders Get Their Ideas About a "Hispanic Invasion"?: "From their Republican President Donald Trump: 'When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best. They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.'... From their Republican U.S senator John Cornyn: 'Texas gained almost nine Hispanic residents for every additional white resident last year.'... From Fox News's Laura Ingraham: 'As the so-called US-bound “caravan” traveling through Mexico continues to swell, some questions arise that the media will not ask. Who is funding these efforts? How has it grown so quickly and what did the Democrats have to offer besides a bunch of cliches and bromides, and of course grandstanding? If you have been watching other networks, you have been treated to sympathetic, overwrought coverage of this invading horde'...

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Future generations are going to have a very difficult time understanding the early twenty-first century Republican Party in America and its relationship to gun and ammunition manufacturers: Frank Wilkinson: El Paso Shooter's Bullets and Gun Culture: "What the El Paso shooter’s hyper-deadly ammunition tells us about gun culture. The hyper-lethality of the bullets is the point.... The 'manifesto' purportedly posted by the shooter accused of last weekend’s mass murder in El Paso, Texas... included a section called 'Gear'.... Along with his AK-47-style semi-automatic rifle, he cites an 8m3 bullet, which appears to have something of a cult following owing to its capacity to expand and fragment inside bodies, causing 'catastrophic wounds'.... It’s a sick soliloquy. But you can find others much like it. An anonymous review at SGammo.com states that the customer’s Russian-made 8m3 'works in all of my ak’s and is devastating in soft tissue'. Bullet talk is as revealing a window on American gun culture as gun talk–maybe more so. Consider this 2011 ammo review at Shooting Illustrated, the 'official journal' of the National Rifle Association.... Americans buy guns designed and marketed as hyper-lethal. They fill their magazines with bullets specifically manufactured to rip human bodies to shreds and make human lives unsavable. In 1993, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York proposed a huge tax increase on the most vicious brands of ammunition, pointing out that, unlike guns, ammunition doesn’t last forever. 'Guns don’t kill people', Moynihan said, 'bullets do'...

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After hanging out with Madeleine Albright last week, I'm going to start calling all of this what it is: neo-fascism: Annalee Newitz (2008): Larry Niven Tells DHS to Spread Organ Harvesting Rumors: "There's a small group of science fiction authors who call themselves SIGMA and offer the U.S. government advice on futuristic scenarios.... One of them—Larry "Ringworld" Niven — offered the Department of Homeland Security some of the creepiest advice we've ever heard about how to handle problems with overcrowding in hospitals... a good way to help hospitals stem financial losses is to spread rumors in Spanish within the Latino community that emergency rooms are killing patients in order to harvest their organs for transplants. 'The problem [of hospitals going broke] is hugely exaggerated by illegal aliens who aren't going to pay for anything anyway', Niven said. 'Do you know how politically incorrect you are?' Pournelle asked. 'I know it may not be possible to use this solution, but it does work', Niven replied.... Other authors in SIGMA include Greg Bear (Darwin's Radio, Eon), Sage Walker (Wild Cards), and Eric Kotani (Between the Stars)...

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

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  • Weekly Forecasting Update: August 2, 2019: "These past two weeks have seen three pieces of real news that have altered the outlook: it is not true to say that little has changed: (1) A large twenty basis-point reduction in ten-year Treasury interest rates. (2) Trump's relaunching and intensification of his trade war. (3) New data pushing down out our estimate of the level of manufacturing production in the third quarter of 2019 by almost a full percentage point. Nevertheless, the United States is not in or even likely to be on the verge of a recession. Germany, however, appears to be in recession... #macro #forecasting #highlighted #2019-08-02

  • A Smart Approach to China-U.S. Relations: "Compared to Holland and Britain when they were global hyperpowers pursuing soft landings, how are we doing? The answer has to be: since January 2017, not well at all... #aspen #globalization #highlighted #oranghairedbaboons #strategy #2019-08-02

  • The Blocked Southern and Midwestern Global Warming Conversation: "Yet in the U.S Midwest the factual conversation drawing of the links between climate change—screw it: global warming—global warming and weather disasters that farmers and workers and bosses and power-brokers in Malawi and Mozambique have, farmers and workers and bosses and power-brokers in Davenport, IO, are unwilling even to begin... #aspen #globalwarming #highlighted #orangehairedbaboons #publicsphere #2019-08-01

  • Immigration and American Politics: "I want to thank XXXXXX XXXXXX. I confess I had thought that if the President started putting migrant children in cage, the immediate reaction would not be that this might well be a clever political move. I do have a sense that for a lot of people who know better on the Republican side, they think there's mileage to be gained by characterizing bedrock American values as if they were foreign and "cosmopolitan" values. And it is very nice to hear XXXXXX pushing back... #aspen #globalization #immigration #orangehairedbaboons #politics #2019-07-31

  • Note to Self: Perhaps Britain's Supersession by America Was Not Inevitable...: A Britain more interested in turning into Britons or Canadians the migrating Jews, Poles, Italians, Romanians, and even Turks who do not happen to be named Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson—who bears Turkish Minister of the Interior Ali Kemal's Y and five other chromosomes, and hence is, by all the rules of conservative patriarchy, a Turk— would have been much stronger throughout the twentieth century. Perhaps it would not be in its current undignified position... #aspen #history #notetoself #strategy #2019-08-04

  • Note to Self: Enormous Possibilities in China...: Peng Dehuai... a poem he wrote in 1958 on an inspection tour of the Great Leap Forward famine: Grain scattered on the ground, potato leaves withered;/Strong young people have left to make steel;/Only children and old women reap the crops;/How can they survive the coming year?/Allow me to raise my voice for the people!... #aspen #bravery #economicgrowth #notetoself #orangehariedbaboons #politicaleconomy #2019-08-04

  • A Year Ago on Equitable Growth: Twenty Worthy Reads On and Off Equitable Growth for August 2, 2018 #noted #hoistedfromthearchives #equitablegrowth #weblogs #2019-08-01

  • Cat Handling: General Considerations: "The cat is faster and has sharper teeth and claws than you do. It has no 'code of ethics' or consideration for its own future. In a fair fight it will win: 1. DON'T FIGHT A CAT 2. USE YOUR BRAIN 3. USE DRUGS #notetoself #singularity #superintelligence #2019-08-04

  • Monday Smackdown: Fafblog: Condi Rice Complains to Customer Service!: Not even Fafblog can deal with the Bush administration at the appropriate level. However, it is trying. Here Fafnir interviews Condi Rice: RICE: "First of all, we don't send prisoners off to be tortured, Fafnir. We just transport prisoners to countries where torture happens to be legal and where they happen to end up getting tortured." FB: "Well that explains everything then! It's all just a wacky misunderstanding, like that episode a Three's Company where Jack sends Janet off to Uzbekistan to get boiled alive by the secret police." RICE: "I'd also like to point out that whenever we send a prisoner to a country that routinely tortures prisoners, that country promises us NOT to torture them." FB: "And then they get tortured anyway!" RICE: "Yes, they do! It's very strange." FB: "Over and over again, every time! That's gotta be so frustrating." RICE: "Oh it is, it is."... #hoistedfromthearchives #moralresponsibility #mondaysmackdown #neofascism #orangehairedbaboons #torture #strategy #2019-08-05

  • Comment of the Day: Erik Lund: "I especially like the argument from 1949 that Israel had to curtail immigration immediately because there wasn't enough work for the newcomers due to the... wait for it... Labour shortage... #commentoftheday #2019-08-04

  • Comment of the Day: Robert Waldmann: "By your logic the USA can be number one in 2119 if we defeat the terrible threat not from the PRC but from the GOP. You might have a point there. If you descendants of Mayflower passengers can assimilate Magyars, you can assimilate anyone... #commentoftheday #2019-08-04

  • Liveblogging: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: From Edwin to Osric #2019-08-01

  • Weekend Reading: Samuel Pepys: Diary: Friday 19 July 1667: "'By God,' says he, 'I think the Devil shits Dutchmen'... #history #strategy #weekendreading #2019-08-02

  • Weekend Reading: Maciej Cegloski (2005): A Rocket To Nowhere: "Meanwhile, while the Shuttle has been up on blocks, a wealth of unmanned probes has been doing exactly the kind of exploration NASA considers so important, except without the encumbrance of big hairless monkeys on board... #weekendreading #2019-08-04


  1. Scott Lemieux: When the Republican Party Was Respectable: "This is exactly right. There’s a direct line to be drawn from William Buckley’s defense of Jim Crow to Reagan’s comments to Shelby County to Trump’s comments about Baltimore. They’re all from influential Republican elites, and all reflect the view that black people are not fit for self-governance. Trump is working well within the Reaganite tradition...

  2. UC Berkeley Events Calendar: Yogendra Yadav: Politics after Modi: Hegemony and Counter-Hegemony: Lecture | August 13 | 12-2 p.m. | Stephens Hall, 10 (ISAS Conf. Room)...

  3. Evelyn Cheng and Shirley Tay: China Social Credit System Still in Testing Phase Amid Trials: "The Chinese government is running up against a self-imposed 2020 deadline to formulate a nationwide social credit plan. The proposed system tries to create a standard for tracking individual actions across Chinese society, and rewarding or punishing accordingly...

  4. Altitude Safety 101: Oxygen Levels at High Altitudes: "Altitude (feet): 0 ft.... Effective Oxygen: 20.9%.... 10,000 ft... 14.3%...

  5. Weijian Shan: Out of the Gobi: My Story of China and America

  6. Henry Farrell: "@ANewmanforward and my article_ on "weaponized interdependence" has just been published by @Journal_IS and is now available ungated-(link: https://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/full/10.1162/isec_a_00351). We are really happy to see it officially published, citable etc...

  7. Maciej Ceglowski: Best Practices for Time Travelers

  8. Hunter Blair: It’s not trickling down: New data provides no evidence that the TCJA is working as its proponents claimed it would: "With the TCJA’s corporate rate cut exacerbating decades of rising income inequality, and little evidence to be working as promised, it’s time for its repeal...

  9. An Outtake from "Slouching Towards Utopia: An Economic History of the Long Twentieth Century": Mass Politics and "Populism":

  10. Timothy L. O'Brien: Trump's Baltimore-Elijah Cummings Racism Is Fine With Republicans: "Trump’s Racism Infests the Republican Party: As his latest foray into bigotry shows, the president is feeling empowered by the lack of opposition from within the GOP...

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I am sorry. This is just bad, and wrong: Joseph S. Nye, Jr.: Speaking Truth to Power: "The Bush administration did not order intelligence officials to lie, nor did they. But political pressure can subtly skew attention... "a big pile of evidence that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, and a smaller pile that he did not. All the incentives were to focus on the big pile."... The presentation of intelligence to (and by) political leaders was also flawed. There was little warning that 'weapons of mass destruction' was a confusing term in the way it lumped together nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.... The 2002 National Intelligence Estimate cited Saddam’s purchase of aluminum tubes as proof that he was reconstituting his nuclear program, but Department of Energy analysts, who had the expertise, disagreed. Unfortunately, their dissent was buried in a footnote that was dropped (along with other caveats and qualifiers) when the executive summary was prepared for Congress.... Political heat melts nuances. The dissent should have been discussed openly in the text. Political leaders cannot be blamed for the analytical failures of intelligence, but they can be held accountable when they go beyond the intelligence and exaggerate to the public what it says. US Vice President Dick Cheney said there was 'no doubt' that Saddam had WMD, and Bush stated flatly that the evidence indicated that Iraq was reconstituting its nuclear programs. Such statements ignored the doubts and caveats that were expressed in the main bodies of the intelligence reports...

Condoleezza Rice said: "[The] aluminum tubes... are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs.... There will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud. How long are we going to wait to deal with what is clearly a gathering threat against the United States, against our allies and against his own region?..." That's not dropping a footnote in an executive summary.

Lumping together nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons was not an unfortunate use of a term that some found confusing. The confusion was the point. Indeed, when Nye writes "Even the United Nations’ chief inspector, the Swedish diplomat Hans Blix, said he thought that Iraq had 'retained prohibited items',” Nye is aggressively weaponizing that "confusion". Blix did not think Iraq had an ongoing nuclear weapons program. Rice, Cheney, Bush, and company wanted everybody to think it did.

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A message for New York Times pundit David Brooks, New York Times op-ed page editor James Bennet, New York Times editor Dean Baquet, to New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzburger, and all who fund and carry water for them: moral fault attaches to you: Scott Lemieux: Today is the Day Marianne Williamson Became President: "Donald Trump has been bad for the country but great for lazy pundits, and perhaps because of this pundits of various stripes have been desperately hyping the candidacy of anti-vaxx grifter Marianne Williamson. The problem for this campaign is that pundits appear to be her only actual constituency.... The only other candidate with net-negative approval ratings is deBlasio. Even Seth Moutlon, for Chrissakes, is above water. The Williamson hype is based on nothing at all. Ordinarily, theater critic pundits showing that they’re not even good at theater criticism is annoying but mostly harmless, but that’s not true here. Hyping Williamson won’t make her the nominee, of course, but it may mean that, say, more people with depression google here and refuse to take appropriate medication. So maybe stop trying to prop up her stillborn candidacy?...

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Scott Alexander: Epistemic Learned Helplessness](https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/06/03/repost-epistemic-learned-helplessness/): "E A friend recently complained about how many people lack the basic skill of believing arguments. That is, if you have a valid argument for something, then you should accept the conclusion.... And I nodded my head, because it sounded reasonable enough, and it wasn’t until a few hours later that I thought about it again and went 'Wait, no, that would be a terrible idea'.... There are people who can argue circles around me. Maybe not on every topic, but on topics where they are experts and have spent their whole lives honing their arguments.... What finally broke me out wasn’t so much the lucidity of the consensus view so much as starting to sample different crackpots. Some were almost as bright and rhetorically gifted as Velikovsky, all presented insurmountable evidence for their theories, and all had mutually exclusive ideas. After all, Noah’s Flood couldn’t have been a cultural memory both of the fall of Atlantis and of a change in the Earth’s orbit, let alone of a lost Ice Age civilization or of megatsunamis from a meteor strike. So given that at least some of those arguments are wrong and all seemed practically proven, I am obviously just gullible.... Given a total lack of independent intellectual steering power and no desire to spend thirty years building an independent knowledge base of Near Eastern history, I choose to just accept the ideas of the prestigious people with professorships in Archaeology, rather than those of the universally reviled crackpots who write books about Venus being a comet. You could consider this a form of epistemic learned helplessness, where I know any attempt to evaluate the arguments is just going to be a bad idea so I don’t even try.... There are still cases where I’ll trust the evidence of my own reason.... For 99% of people, 99% of the time, taking ideas seriously is the wrong strategy. Or, at the very least, it should be the last skill you learn, after you’ve learned every other skill that allows you to know which ideas are or are not correct.... You have to be really smart in order for taking ideas seriously not to be immediately disastrous. You have to be really smart not to have been talked into enough terrible arguments to develop epistemic learned helplessness...

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Heather Boushey directs us to Sarah Miller: "About 15k people died between 2014-2017 as the result of states deciding to not expand Medicaid eligibility through the ACA: Sarah Miller, Sean Altekruse, Norman Johnson, and Laura R. Wherry: Medicaid and Mortality: New Evidence from Linked Survey and Administrative Data: "Changes in mortality for near-elderly adults in states with and without Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansions. We identify adults most likely to benefit using survey information on socioeconomic and citizenship status, and public program participation. We find a 0.13 percentage point decline in annual mortality, a 9.3 percent reduction over the sample mean, associated with Medicaid expansion for this population. The effect is driven by a reduction in disease-related deaths and grows over time. We find no evidence of differential pre-treatment trends in outcomes and no effects among placebo groups...

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We won the Cold War because we realized—most of the time and to the greater extent—that winning it was about changing ourselves so that we became better: it was about us rather than about them. The current crop who wish to wage a Cold War against China do not recognize this:

George Kennan (1947): Sources of Soviet Conduct: "The possibilities for American policy are by no means limited to holding the line and hoping for the best.... It is rather a question of the degree to which the United States can create among the peoples of the world generally the impression of a country which knows what it wants, which is coping successfully with the problem of its internal life and with the responsibilities of a World Power, and which has a spiritual vitality capable of holding its own.... The issue of Soviet-American relations is in essence a test of the overall worth of the United States as a nation among nations. To avoid destruction the United States need only measure up to its own best traditions and prove itself worthy of preservation as a great nation.... The thoughtful observer of Russian-American relations will find no cause for complaint in the Kremlin's challenge to American society. He will rather experience a certain gratitude to a Providence which, by providing the American people with this implacable challenge, has made their entire security as a nation dependent on their pulling themselves together and accepting the responsibilities of moral and political leadership that history plainly intended them to bear...

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If you believe—as so many do—that one important source of the disaster of 2008-10 was that economies had too much potentially-insecure debt, you should be highly concerned today: John Authers and Lauren Leatherby: Financial Crisis: Decade of Deleveraging Debt Didn’t Quite Work Out: "This was the decade of de-leveraging that wasn’t. A decade ago... there was agreement... too much debt had caused the crisis, and so there must be a huge de-leveraging. It has not worked out like that.... Companies, particularly in the U.S., took advantage of the rock-bottom interest rates meant to bail out banks to go on their own borrowing spree. And the world found a new borrower of last resort. Ten years ago, China had been enjoying phenomenal economic growth for two decades, and largely avoided debt to fund it. No more. China’s debt has ballooned, transforming the geography of global debt in the process. It’s now bipolar, revolving around the U.S. and China...

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Mike Fleming: Phil Lord & Christopher Miller Make Universal Film Deal: "Universal Pictures has set in a first-look film production deal with Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, the franchise-launching duo who shared the Best Animated Film Oscar for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and who hatched the Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie franchises. Their films have collectively grossed $3.3 billion.... This is a natural next step for Lord & Miller, which has been expanding its ambitions and recently brought in former Genre Films president Aditya Sood to head film for their Lord Miller banner. This is the first overall movie deal for the duo; they set their TV operations at Sony Pictures Television in an epic-sized five-year deal last April...

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Scott Lemieux: The Wages of Shelby County: "It’s not exactly news that Shelby County v. Holder not only did not have 'legal reasoning' in any meaningful sense but was based on absurd empirical assumptions. But it’s still worth pointing out: 'Using data released by the federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in June, a new Brennan Center analysis has found that between 2016 and 2018, counties with a history of voter discrimination have continued purging people from the rolls at much higher rates than other counties. This phenomenon began after the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, a decision that severely weakened the protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Brennan Center first identified this troubling voter purge trend in a major report released in July 2018.' The holding in Shelby County was that it was literally irrational for Congress to conclude that jurisdictions with a history of vote suppression were more likely to discriminate going forward. As the late Robert Cover once said about Warren Burger, there is no possible reason to have the slightest interest in what any of the five ridiculous hacks responsible for this atrocity have to say about the Constitution except that they have the power of life and death...

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This is a useful service: compiling best-practice examples for how journalists should be covering American politics and culture today is a very worthwhile endeavor:

Dan Froomkin: Seeking Best Practices for Covering Trumpism: "I’m looking for... examples.... The opinion pages of our newspapers feature a fair amount of Trump-related anguish, and some essayists have been particularly eloquent. Here, for instance, is Jamil Smith, writing for Rolling Stone...

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Moral fault attaches to all those who fund or otherwise carry water for the New York Times:

Duncan Black: Garbage Newspaper: "/Saying @RashidaTlaib (D-Detroit) and @IlhanMN (D-Minneapolis) are from the Midwest is like saying @RepLloydDoggett (D-Austin) is from Texas or @repjohnlewis (D-Atlanta) is from the Deep South. C’mon.' JonathanWeisman... Deputy Washington Editor, New York Times. Cancel your f------ subscriptions...

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Why our economic system works as well and is as intelligent as it is is a deep question, in need of much more thought. Michale Jordan thinks it noteworthy that the human brain is not the only system that looks capable of "intelligent behavior". I wonder if the things that have made our economy appear intelligent in the past may disappear in the future:

Michael I. Jordan: Dr. AI or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Economic: "I view the scientific study of the brain as one of the grandest challenges that science has ever undertaken, and the accompanying engineering discipline of ‘human-imitative AI’ as equally grand and worthy.... [But] let us suppose that there is a fledgling Martian computer science industry, and suppose that the Martians look down at Earth to get inspiration for making their current clunky computers more ‘intelligent.’ What do they see that is intelligent, and worth imitating, as they look down at Earth? They will surely take note of human brains and minds.... What else is intelligent on Earth? Perhaps the Martians will notice that in any given city on Earth, most every restaurant has at hand every ingredient it needs for every dish that it offers, day in and day out. They may also realize that, as in the case of neurons and brains, the essential ingredients underlying this capability are local decisions being made by small entities that each possess only a small sliver of the information being processed by the overall system. But, in contrast to brains, the underlying principles or algorithms may be seen to be not quite as mysterious as in the case of neuroscience. And they may also determine that this system is intelligent by any reasonable definition—it is adaptive (it works rain or shine), it is robust, it works at small scale and large scale, and it has been working for thousands of years (with no software updates needed). Moreover, not being anthropocentric creatures, the Martians may be happy to conceive of this system as an ‘entity’—just as much as a collection of neurons is an ‘entity.’ Am I arguing that we should simply bring in microeconomics in place of computer science? And praise markets as the way forward for AI? No, I am instead arguing that we should bring microeconomics in as a first-class citizen into the blend of computer science and statistics that is currently being called ‘AI.’ This blend was hinted at in my discussion piece; let me now elaborate...

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This is brilliant. It has, I think the implication that a lot of people in rich areas are not benefitting from the region's wealth—which is what David Author found in his Ely Lecture: Robert Manduca: National Income Inequality in the United States Contributes to Economic Disparities Between Regions: "In 1980, just 12 percent of Americans lived in metropolitan areas with a mean family income more than 20 percent higher or lower than the national average. By 2013, more than 30 percent did. Today a handful of metros—cities such as San Francisco and Washington, DC—have mean family incomes 40 percent or 50 percent greater than average and more than double the average incomes in many rural areas.... Most previous research has emphasized the role of income sorting.... I show, however, that a much bigger portion of the growing disparities is due to rising income inequality at the national level...

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The interesting fact here is that the U.S.-owned contribution to global value chains is increasingly becoming "stateless": it is not the U.S. that is providing intellectual property services to kick-off the production process, but rather the Cayman Islands. How much international tax arbitrage and evasion is contributing to the polarization of wealth remains unclear to me. But I do find it deeply worrisome:

Mark Thoma sends us to: Brad Setser: Vietnam Looks To Be Winning Trump's Trade War: "Vietnam, like China really doesn’t import very many manufactures from the United States. That’s partially a function of the fact that the value added in Vietnam is often low, and thus Vietnam cannot afford a lot of top of the line U.S. capital goods (yet). But it is also a function of the fact that many of the global value chains that generate large (often offshore) profits for U.S. firms don’t give rise to that much U.S. production these days. There just isn’t much sign that the Asian value chains stretch back to include U.S. factories and workers. Fabless semiconductor firms that design chips likely export their designs to a low tax jurisdiction before they license their designs to an Asian contract manufacturer. The rise in Vietnam's exports hasn't been associated with a commensurate rise in exports from the United States to Vietnam...

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A reminder that eliminating trade barriers and boosting trade through reducing tariffs, reducing quotas, and harmonizing regulations is one of the two things (along with deficit reduction at full employment when interest rates are high) we know how to do to materially and significantly boost prosperity in the medium run. Yes, it has an impact on income distribution. But everything has an impact on income distribution. Focusing your policies for equity on trade restrictions is counterproductive. Yes, Thea Lee, I see you:

Doug Irwin: Does Trade Reform Promote Economic Growth? A Review of Recent Evidence: "The findings from recent research have been remarkably consistent. For developing countries that are behind the technological frontier and have significant import restrictions, there appears to be a measurable economic payoff from more liberal trade policies... economic growth... roughly 1.0–1.5 percentage points higher... cumulated to about 10–20 percent higher income after a decade. The effect is heterogeneous across countries, because countries differ in the extent of their reforms and the context in which reform took place. At a microeconomic level, the gains in industry productivity from reducing tariffs on imported intermediate goods—inputs used to produce final goods—are even more sharply identified. They show up time and again in country after country. Some questions remain about how much of the economic growth following trade reform can be attributed to trade policy changes alone, as other market reforms are sometimes adopted at the same time. Even if the reduction of trade barriers accounts for only a part of the observed increase in growth, however, the cumulative gains from reform appear to be substantial. As Estevadeordal and Taylor (2013, 1689) ask, 'Is there any other single policy prescription of the past twenty years that can be argued to have contributed between 15 percent and 20 percent to developing country income?'...

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I think that this, from Bloomberg, is a misinterpretation of what the Federal Reserve is currently doing. I do not think that it "hinted it may cut again this year". They said that future moves would be data-dependent—which could mean keeping them the same, could mean cutting further, could mean deciding that Eric and Esther are right and raising the rate back: Christopher Condon: Fed Cuts Rates by Quarter Point and Signals Potential for More: "The Federal Reserve reduced interest rates for the first time since the financial crisis and hinted it may cut again this year to insulate the record-long U.S. economic expansion from slowing global growth... voted... to lower the target range for the benchmark rate by a quarter-percentage point to 2%-2.25%.... 'In light of the implications of global developments for the economic outlook as well as muted inflation pressures, the committee decided to lower' rates, the Federal Open Market Committee, led by Jerome Powell, said in a statement following a two-day meeting in Washington.... 'Uncertainties' about the economic outlook remain. Officials also stopped shrinking the Fed’s balance sheet.... Kansas City Fed President Esther George and Boston's Eric Rosengren voted against the cut...

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At a conference I am at, my fellow berkeley professor and former President's Council of Economic Advisor's Chair Laura D. Tyson gave a powerful endorsement and shout-out to this book by my fellow Berkeley professor Barry Eichengreen, as the best survey of the history and prospect of what he calls "populism" and I would call "neo-fascism": Barry Eichengreen: The Populist Temptation: Economic Grievance and Political Reaction in the Modern Era: "Focuses on the global resurgence of populism today and places it in a deep context.... Populists tend to thrive most in the wake of economic downturns, when it is easy to convince the masses of elite malfeasance. Yet while there is more than a grain of truth that bankers, financiers, and 'bought' politicians are responsible for the mess, populists' own solutions tend to be simplistic and economically counterproductive. Moreover, by arguing that the ordinary people are at the mercy of extra-national forces beyond their control—international capital, immigrants, cosmopolitan globalists—populists often degenerate into demagoguery and xenophobia. There is no one solution... [but] there is an obvious place to start: shoring up and improving the welfare state.... America's patchwork welfare state was not well equipped to deal with the economic fallout that attended globalization and the decline of manufacturing in America.... Lucidly explaining both the appeals and dangers of populism across history, this book is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand not just the populist phenomenon, but more generally the lasting political fallout that follows in the wake of major economic crises...

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These numbers on the human costs of the Supreme Court's NFIB vs. Sibelius decision are only about one-quarter of what I had feared: Scott Lemieux: Matters of Life and Death: "15,000 people died in three years because Republican states refused to accept the Medicaid expansion.... And let us not forget that this was all made possible by the intervention of the Supreme Court, based on arguments so weak that, as Joan Biskupic’s new bio finds, John Roberts himself initially rejected them.... 'Regarding the expansion of Medicaid for poor people, all four liberal justices... voted to uphold the program... punctured... arguments that Congress had exceeded ints spending power and its ability to attach conditions.... In the private March 30 conference, Roberts also voted to uphold the Medicaid expansion...

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The claim from Donald Trump's supporters was that the Ryan-McConnell-Trump tax cut would produce faster growth, even though it was inequitable. But that hope appears to have been vain: Dan Drezner: Donald Trump Is Sanctioning the U.S. Economy: "Second-quarter GDP growth was only 2.1 percent... 'far short of the 3 percent target that President Trump has repeatedly promised. Data revisions released Friday wiped away what had been a prized talking point for the White House: G.D.P. grew 2.5 percent for all of 2018, down from the 3 percent previously reported'... [and] a far cry from Larry Kudlow’s 2018 claim that GDP growth would top 4 percent for a few quarters.... Trump has unwittingly sanctioned the U.S. economy... has made himself the uncertainty engine for those interested in investing in the United States. And the effects are starting to be felt. In the second quarter, business investment was -0.6 percent. As in, negative.... Part of the problem is the drying up of foreign direct investment.... How will Trump react to the growth news? It is possible that he will respond in a mature fashion...

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This is my fear: that it is already the case substantial chunks of our current government are illegitimate: Betty Cracker: We’ll Get to “Votes Were Changed” Eventually: "Remember how the reporting on Russian intel’s attempt at US vote-diddling began? On Twitter, Soonergrunt sums it up: 'First it was “they never got into any states'. Then it was 'they got in but couldn’t access voter info'. Then it was 'they saw voter info but couldn’t do anything'. Now it’s 'they could but didn’t do anything' Next it’s...

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Yes, Bret Stephens of the New York Times is too dumb to write. Why do you ask? Steve M.: Bret Stephens Will Write in Colin Powell Next Year: "This is ridiculous. I'll ignore what Stephens says about Afghanistan, which is essentially a call for permanent occupation. On the need to 'innovate our way out of [the] problem' of carbon emissions, every Democrat in the race would agree. And they'd all agree that those meetings with Trump were 'a huge win' for Kim.... 'Democrats did well in last year’s midterms thanks to vote switchers electing moderate candidates like Utah’s Ben McAdams. They did considerably less well with turnout campaigns that failed to elect progressives like Florida’s Andrew Gillum...' Gillum lost by four-tenths of a percentage point. McAdams won by two-tenths of a percentage point. The difference between these outcomes was infinitesimal...

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A Year Ago on Equitable Growth: Twenty Worthy Reads On and Off Equitable Growth for August 2, 2018

stacks and stacks of books

Worthy Reads from Equitable Growth and Its Network:

  1. Anybody looking back at economic history cannot help but note that female physical autonomy and its absence has played an absolutely huge role. Kate Bahn and company are pulling together the evidence that this is not just history—that it still matters a lot in America today: Kate Bahn: Understanding the link between bodily autonomy and economic opportunity across the United States: "All of these connective threads are examined in a forthcoming paper of mine...

  2. Seattle is pursuing (a version of) social democracy in one metropolitan area. In the 2010s we learned from some of our laboratories of democracy (cough, Kansas, Wisconsin) what really not to do. Will Seattle provide a model for what we should do?: Hilary Wething: Seattle: Paid Sick Leave And Workers’ Earnings Dynamics: "Utilize administrative data from Washington state to study the impact of Seattle’s paid sick time ordinance on:...

  3. Let me welcome Will McGrew, who sends us to a very insightful study of government failure and bureaucratic blockage in the New Orleans school system. Since we economists do not have an effective grammar of government failure, there is a tendency (on my part at least) to somewhat overlook it: Will McGrew: "A timely and necessary piece from Haley Correll: quality public schools should be available to all kids in New Orleans, not just those whose parents have the time, information, and resources to navigate the complex application system..."

  4. In my opinion, Arindrajit Dube is one of the best economists around in figuring out what we should control for and why in order to achieve real econometric identification. The contrasting pole is simply to throw in a bunch of controls until you have produced the numbers you want. In my view, we do not teach what should be controlled for and how enough, so people pick it up on the fly. Arindrajit has picked it up, and is a master: Arindrajit Dube: Minimum wages and the distribution of family incomes in the United States: "I find that a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage reduces poverty among the nonelderly population by 2.1 percent and 5.3 percent across the range of specifications in the long run...

  5. Lyndon Johnson said: "You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, 'You are free to compete with all the others,' and still justly believe that you have been completely fair. Thus it is not enough just to open the gates of opportunity. All our citizens must have the ability to walk through those gates.... It is not enough just to open the gates of opportunity. All our citizens must have the ability to walk through those gates.... Equal opportunity is essential, but not enough." However, one of our problems is that that does not seem to be working for even those African-Americans who can and do walk through all of our society's formal and status gates to opportunity: Khaing Zaw, Jhumpa Bhattacharya, Anne Price, Darrick Hamilton, and William Darity, Jr.: A College Degree and Marriage Fail to Yield Significant Wealth Gains for Black Women: "[In] the story of the American Dream... a college education is viewed as a key driver of upward mobility and the primary vehicle to eradicate racial differences...

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

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  • What Is the Federal Reserve Thinking Right Now?: We have no warrant for believing that our models are more knowledgeable right now than the market. And there is pronounced asymmetry here: we can always deal with too-high inflation via tighter money, but it is not obvious what we could do to fix the situation if a negative demand shock were to push the prime-age employment rate down two or four percentage-points. Hence we will validate market expectations and drop our policy rates by 25 basis points at our next meeting. What will follow that... will be data-dependent...

  • Annual Celebration of the John Bell Hood-Max von Gallwitz Society!: Dedicated to celebrating the memory of two field commanders who may well have been the worst in history. Drink a toast to John Bell Hood on the 7/28 anniversary of his defeat at Ezra Church.... And drink a toast as well to Max von Gallwitz—perhaps the only Imperial German commander who could have turned the Somme into a draw!...

  • Weekly Forecasting Update: July 26, 2019: Back in late 2017 the Trump Administration, the Republicans in the Congress, and their tame economists were all claiming that passing the Ryan-McConnell-Trump upper-income tax cut would permanently boost investment in America by as much as the Clinton economic program of the 1990s had done, and would do so much more quickly—Clinton program was phased-in over five years, while Ryan-McConnell-Trump was phased-in immediately and had been affecting investment behavior even before it was passed. It is simply not happening...

  • I Want My Country Back!: We really don’t know the consequences of this degree of income inequality: the distribution of income was never this bad before, and it continues to get worse. We did have, in the thirty years before the New Deal, a whipsaw...

  • Note to Self: Playing with Sargent-Stachurski QuantEcon http://quantecon.org: I have long been annoyed with the standard presentation of the Solow Growth Model because the state variable k—capital per effective worker—is not observable in the real world, while the capital-output ratio κ is. Moreover, the steady-state capital-output ratio has an easy to remember and intuitive description: it is the savings rate divided by the economy's steady-state investment requirements. Capital per effective worker has no such intuitive description. Plus the capital-output ratio exhibits exponential convergence to the steady-state. Capital per effective worker does not...

  • Note to Self: Consider Alasdair Macintyre: In the beginning: boring.... Today: boring.... But in the middle, along the trajectory... what a thinker! what a powerful awareness of the attractiveness of different positions! what deep insights generated by position and opposition...

  • Note to Self: Homer's Odyssey Blogging: "Like Little Birds... They Writhed with Their Feet... But for No Long While...": Is there somebody I should read who has thought deeply and powerfully about these issues?... How do we educate people to read—listen—watch—properly, so that they become their better rather than their worse selves?...

  • Note to Self: A historical question I want answered: What difference did it make for medieval economies—and for the relative prosperity of the Muslim world in the middle ages—that Muhammed was a merchant?...

  • Hoisted from the Archives: Karl Marx, First Real Business Cycle Theorist: Nine years ago: Karl Marx, First Real Business Cycle Theorist: We see the affinity between Karl Marx and the Pain Caucus in his notes on crises in Theories of Surplus Value. Negative supply shocks and missed collective guesses on what the extent of the market will be in the future create overaccumulation and overproduction. Marx is very clear that the monetary crisis theorists—like John Stuart Mill—must be wrong, and that the system cannot run itself without crises. In Marx this is one of the reasons why the system is abominable and must be overthrown. For the Pain Caucus the conclusion is opposite: because the system is good crises must be suffered...

  • Monday Smackdown/Hoisted from the Archives: Four Huge Mistakes in One Short Piece by John Taylor: None of those have panned out as intellectual bets. Yet John Taylor today exhibits no visible curiosity as to why they did not. This strongly suggests to me that none of them were meant seriously in the first place—that it was always disinformation, and never an analytical judgment, and thus subject to revision as knowledge advanced...

  • Monday Smackdown: Every Time I Try to Get Out, They Pull Me Back In... Clive Crook Edition: Duncan Black has been reading the once-thoughtful Clive Crook again: Duncan Black http://www.eschatonblog.com/2017/07/national-humiliation.html: "People is weird.... [Clive Crook:]... 'Suppose a second referendum was called and the result was Remain; suppose the EU said, "Great, glad to have you back."... This cringing submission would raise instinctive euro-skepticism to new extremes and divide the U.K. even more bitterly... a national humiliation... [that] would surpass the Suez Crisis in 1956 and the country's surrender to trade-union militancy in the 1970s—crushing setbacks with far-reaching political consequences. If there were ever a case of "be careful what you wish for," this is it...' This the thinking that leads to pointless catastrophic wars. Let's shoot ourselves in the face just to prove our gun works...

  • Hoisted from the Archives: Looking Backwards from This Week at 24, 16, 8, 4, 2, 1, 1/2, and 1/4 Years Ago (July 24-30, 2019: It is very common to attribute the collapse of Roman Republican institutions and the rise of Imperial dictatorship to a loss of moral virtue on behalf of the Roman electorate—who are supposed to have fallen prey to demagogues and voted for bread-and-circuses as the underlying foundations of liberty collapsed underneath them. That story is not true. Here Sean Elling sends us to Edward Watts on the real story—recently enriched plutocracy breaking political norm after political norm in an attempt to disrupt what had been the normal grievance-redressing operation of the system: Sean Illing: Mortal Republic: Edward Watts on what America can learn from Rome’s collapse...

  • Comment of the Day: Yes, the failure modes of making jam are pretty scary: Graydon on Homer's Odyssey and David Drake's Hammer's Slammers: "I think you're missing the central thing about Drake's writing... which is a vehicle crew...

  • Comment of the Day: Robert Waldmann: "I disagreed with that analysis in 1980. So did Solow...

  • A Year Ago on Equitable Growth: Fifteen Worthy Reads On and Off Equitable Growth for July 26, 2018: TOP MUST REMEMBER: What I call 'Bob Rubin's End-of-Meeting Questions'. Ask them! They really work!: Annie Duke: Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts: "In fact, questioning what you see or hear can get you eaten. For survival-essential skills, type I errors (false positives) were less costly than type II errors (false negatives). In other words, better to be safe than sorry, especially when considering whether to believe that the rustling in the grass is a lion. We didn’t develop a high degree of skepticism when our beliefs were about things we directly experienced, especially when our lives were at stake...

  • Liveblogging: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: A.D. 617: Edwin the Son of Ella: "A daughter was born to Edwin, whose name was Eanfleda. Then promised the king to Paulinus, that he would devote his daughter to God, if he would procure at the hand of God, that he might destroy his enemy, who had sent the assassin to him. He then advanced against the West-Saxons with an army, felled on the spot five kings, and slew many of their men...

  • Liveblogging: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Penda and Edwin: "Archbishop Justus having departed this life on the tenth of November, Honorius was consecrated at Lincoln Archbishop of Canterbury by Paulinus; and Pope Honorius sent him the pall. And he sent an injunction to the Scots, that they should return to the right celebration of Easter...


  1. Charli Carpenter: Summer Vacation in an Age of Concentration Camps, Part 6: "Protest Matters"

  2. Duncan Black: Obummer: "I don't follow Trump's polls. They don't change much. But at best he's no more popular than Obama was, and the press always treated Obama like an unpopular president, not a POLITICAL GENIUS who CONTROLLED THE NARRATIVE...

  3. Scott Lemieux: The Republican War on Rural Voters: "Always remember that ANTI-ELITIST Josh Hawley’s goal is to ensure massive rural hospital closures nationwide by getting Republican hacks in the federal courts to strike down the Affordable Care Act entirely, and marvel that there are actually professional pundits who will swallow his bullshit. The Republican Party is quite literally indifferent to the lives of the white rural voters that are critical to maintaining control of the Senate, White House and Supreme Court...

  4. Andrew Kaczynski: Mike Pence Argued In An Op-Ed That Disney's "Mulan" Was Liberal Propaganda: "'Obviously, this is Walt Disney's attempt to add childhood expectation to the cultural debate over the role of women in the military', Pence wrote. Obviously...

  5. Jay Rosen: PressThink : "What do you want the candidates to be discussing as they compete for votes? Part of a call to action for an alternative direction in election coverage, originated by the newsroom improvement company, Hearken, and the research project that I direct, Membership Puzzle Project...

  6. Brett Terpstra: nvALT

  7. Robert Armstrong: True Patriots Aren’t Afraid to Tell the Truth: "The life of French historian Marc Bloch holds sobering lessons for us today...

  8. Lobsta Truck: Serving Lobster Rolls in California

  9. NBER: Solomon M. Hsiang

  10. Abbott Payson Usher: A History of Mechanical Inventions: Revised Edition: "Updated classic explores importance of technological innovation in cultural and economic history of the West. Water wheels, clocks, printing, machine tools, more. "Without peer." — American Scientist... #books

  11. Sam Lau, Joey Gonzalez, and Deb Nolan: Principles and Techniques of Data Science #books

  12. Martina Baras: Lawyer Larry Klayman Should Get License Suspended, Panel Says: "Committee finds rule violations in client representation.... Klayman should be required to prove his fitness to practice as a condition of reinstatement, the Board on Professional Responsibility’s ad hoc hearing committee recommended July 24.... The case is In re Klayman, D.C. Ct. App., Board Docket No. 17-BD-063, Board on Professional Responsibility recommendation 7/24/19...

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Greatly looking forward to what comes out of this: Equitable Growth: Equitable Growth Announces 2018 Class of Grantees: The impact of Antitrust on Competition: "Fiona Scott Morton (Yale University School of Management) will collect empirical metrics of antitrust enforcement outcomes to create a novel dataset, which she will use to analyze merger effects beyond prices such as employment, and to determine whether mergers in the high-tech sector are motivated by increased efficiencies or by the elimination of competitors...

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William Darity Jr., Darrick Hamilton, Mark Paul, Alan Aja, Anne Price, Antonio Moore, and Caterina Chiopris: What We Get Wrong About Closing the Racial Wealth Gap: "The white household living near the poverty line typically has about 18,000 in wealth, while black households in similar economic straits typically have a median wealth near zero.... The 99th percentile black family is worth a mere $1,574,000 while the 99th percentile white family is worth over 12 million dollars. This means over 870,000 white families have a net worth above 12 million dollars, while, out of the 20 million black families in America, fewer than 380,000 are even worth a single million dollars.... We... contend that a number of ideas frequently touted as 'solutions' will not make headway in reducing black-white wealth disparities... are wholly inadequate to bridge the racial chasm in wealth...

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Andreas Beerli, Jan Ruffner, Michael Siegenthaler, and Giovanni Peri: The Abolition of Immigration Restrictions and the Performance of Firms and Workers: Evidence from Switzerland: "We study a reform that granted European cross-border workers free access to the Swiss labor market.... Regions close to the border were affected more intensely and earlier. The greater availability of cross-border workers increased their employment but also wages and possibly employment of highly educated native workers although the new cross-border workers were also highly educated... the reform increased the size, productivity, innovation performance of some incumbent firms, attracted new firms, and created opportunities for natives to pursue managerial jobs...

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Halving child poverty is attainable, and remarkably cheap: Janet Currie: We Can Cut Child Poverty in the United States in Half in 10 Years: "Means-tested supports and work incentives.... More universal benefits... a combination of work incentives, economic security programs, and social inclusion initiatives.... Expand the Earned Income and Child and Dependent Care tax credits, while adding a $2,000 child allowance to replace the current Child Tax Credit.... 'Work-oriented' programs (the Earned Income and Child and Dependent Care tax credits, an increase in the minimum wage, and a nationwide roll-out of a promising demonstration program called “Work Advance”).... Far too many full-time jobs... without other assistance, leave parents and children in poverty...

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There are lots and lots of business practices that could and should be ruled illegal restrains on trade: Colleen Cunningham, Florian Ederer, and Song Ma: Killer Acquisitions: "This paper argues incumbent firms may acquire innovative targets solely to discontinue the target’s innovation projects and preempt future competition. We call such acquisitions “killer acquisitions.” We develop a parsimonious model illustrating this phenomenon. Using pharmaceutical industry data, we show that acquired drug projects are less likely to be developed when they overlap with the acquirer’s existing product portfolio, especially when the acquirer’s market power is large due to weak competition or distant patent expiration. Conservative estimates indicate about 6% of acquisitions in our sample are killer acquisitions. These acquisitions disproportionately occur just below thresholds for antitrust scrutiny...

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Quinn Slobodian: Perfect Capitalism, Imperfect Humans: Race, Migration and the Limits of Ludwig von Mises’s Globalism: "The Habsburg Empire... was a silent and open partner in the writings of Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises on international order, especially on questions of migration and the management of a polyglot population. After 1918 Mises conceived of robust forms of multinational governance capable of protecting a world of what he called ‘perfect capitalism’ with total global mobility of labour, capital and commodities. Yet, by 1945 he had scaled back his proposals to the effective recreation of the Habsburg Empire.... Mises’s international theory was cleft by a faultline between a normative theory of an open borders world and the empirical reality of a closed borders world, underwritten by what he saw as the stubborn obstacles of human ignorance and racial animus. "How can we expect that the Hindus, the worshipers of the cow, should grasp the theories of Ricardo and of Bentham?" —Ludwig von Mises, 1944...

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Reed Hunt, Brad DeLong, and Joshua Cohen: Neoliberalism and Its Discontents | Commonwealth Club: "MON, SEP 9 / 7:00 PM: Outdoor Art Club, One West Blithedale, Mill Valley, 94941...

...Reed Hundt: Chairman from 1993–1997, Federal Communications Commission; Founder and CEO, Coalition for Green Capital

Brad DeLong: Professor of Economics, UC Berkeley; Former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy Under President Bill Clinton

Joshua Cohen: Editor, Boston Review; Distinguished Senior Fellow, UC Berkeley; Faculty, Apple University

7 p.m. check-in and complimentary light hors d'oeuvres. 7:30–9 p.m. program

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Duncan Black: Lynching Postcards: "The sad truth is a decent chunk of the population is pretty damn cruel. I don't mean indifferent or selfish or merely 'I got mine, f--- you', but actively cruel, taking enjoyment in the suffering of others. Every time someone says or writes 'this is not who we are' as if America is a special angelic country filled with nothing but good and nice people and any deviation from that is just a momentary aberration, I get angry. This is who 'we' are. Not all of us, but enough. Trump's continued significant support is enough proof of that...

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I want more about this. I want to know what I should read in order to understand what cognitive narratologists think. Clearly, Comeuppancer, but what else? Arkady Martine: The Mysterious Discipline of Narratologists: Why We Need Stories to Make Sense: "That is the power of the mysterious discipline of narratologists: it tells us why stories make sense, and why we want them to so very desperately...

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Martin Wolf: States Create Useful Money, but Abuse It: "What then are the problems with MMT?... Suppose holders of money fear that the government is prepared to spend on its high priority items, regardless of how overheated the economy might become... fear that the central bank has also become entirely subject to the government’s whims.... They are then likely to dump money.... The focus of MMT’s proponents on balance sheets and indifference to expectations that drive behaviour are huge errors.... If politicians think they do not need to worry about the possibility of default, only about inflation, their tendency may be to assume output can be driven far higher, and unemployment far lower, than is possible without triggering an upsurge in inflation...

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Sebastian Doerr, José-Luis Peydró, and Hans-Joachim Voth: Failing Banks and Hitler's Path to power: "Polarised politics in the wake of financial crises echo throughout modern history, but evidence of a causal link between economic downturns and populism is limited. This column shows that financial crisis-induced misery boosted far right-wing voting in interwar Germany. In towns and cities where many firms were exposed to failing banks, Nazi votes surged. In particular, places exposed to the one bank led by a Jewish chairman registered particularly strong increases of support–scapegoating Jews was easier with seemingly damning evidence of their negative influence...

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Very nice review of a very good—if very cranky, and very much subject to not-invented-here syndrome—book. I still am unclear about the "three rungs" of Pearl's Ladder, however, largely because I do not think you can talk about causation at all without counterfactuals, except by fooling yourself: Lisa R. Goldberg: Review of Dana Mackenzie and Judea Pearl: The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect: "Pearl’s work on causal inference is often described as 'influential', and it is especially appreciated by computer scientists, but it is not the only approach...

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A Year Ago on Equitable Growth: Fifteen Worthy Reads On and Off Equitable Growth for July 26, 2018

stacks and stacks of books

TOP MUST REMEMBER: What I call 'Bob Rubin's End-of-Meeting Questions'. Ask them! They really work!: Annie Duke: Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don't Have All the Facts: "In fact, questioning what you see or hear can get you eaten. For survival-essential skills, type I errors (false positives) were less costly than type II errors (false negatives). In other words, better to be safe than sorry, especially when considering whether to believe that the rustling in the grass is a lion. We didn’t develop a high degree of skepticism when our beliefs were about things we directly experienced, especially when our lives were at stake...

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Barbara Biasi: School Finance Equalisation Increases Intergenerational Mobility: "Rates of intergenerational mobility vary widely across the US. This column investigates the effects of reducing differences in revenues and expenditures across school districts within each state on students’ intergenerational income mobility, using school finance reforms passed in 20 US states between 1986 and 2004. Equalisation has a large effect on mobility, especially for low-income students. The effect acts through a reduction in the gap in inputs and in college attendance between low-income and high-income districts...

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Another passage from To the Finland Station (pp. 431-2): Edmund Wilson: Leon Trotsky: "We who of recent years have seen the State that Trotsky helped to build in a phase combining the butcheries of the Robespierre Terror with the corruption and reaction of the Directory, and Trotsky himself figuring dramatically in the role of Gracchus Babeuf, may be tempted to endow him with qualities which actually he does not possess and with principles which he has expressly repudiated. We have seen the successor of Lenin undertake a fabulous rewriting of the whole history of the Revolution in order to cancel out Trotsky's part; pursue Trotsky from country to country, persecuting even his children and hounding them to their deaths; and at last, in faked trials and confessions more degrading to the human spirit than the frank fiendishness of Ivan the Terrible, try to pin upon Trotsky the blame of all the mutinies, mistakes and disasters that have harassed his administration—till he has made the world conscious of Trotsky as the accuser of Stalin's own bad conscience, as if the Soviet careerists of the thirties were unable to deny the socialist ideal without trying to annihilate the moral authority of this one homeless and hunted man. It is not Trotsky alone who has created his role: his enemies have given it a reality that no mere self-dramatization could have compassed. And as the fires of the Revolution have died down in the Soviet Union at a time when the systems of thought of the West were already in an advanced state of decadence, he has shown forth like a veritable pharos, rotating a long shaft of light on the seas and the reefs all around...

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A snippet on the history of GPS systems: Carmen Roxana: Dr. Gladys West, The Black Woman Who Invented The GPS, Gets Honored By U.S. Air Force At The Pentagon: "In 1986, West published 'Data Processing System Specifications for the Geosat Satellite Radar Altimeter', a 60-page illustrated guide, which was based off data created from the radio altimeter on the Geosat satellite, which went into orbit on March 12, 1984. She worked at Dahlgren for 42 years and retired in 1998...

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Jim Stock: Global Temperature and Human Activity: "Two co-authors and I conducted an analysis published in 2006 that used cointegration methods to estimate the relationship between total energy impacting the earth (called radiative forcing) and global mean temperature. Radiative forcing is the sum of solar radiative forcing and radiative forcing from greenhouse gases. The figure plots temperature and its predicted value, using the relationship we estimated using data from 1860-1994 (all the data we had at the time, because of data availability lags). Because our data ended in 1994 (denoted by the vertical line in the figure), the past 20 years of data provide a true out-of-sample test of our regression relationship between radiative forcing and temperature. The red dashed line post-1994 is the predicted temperature, using our published regression estimate and post-1994 data on radiative forcing but not using temperature data for that period (the shaded region shows 67 percent confidence interval for the prediction). The figure illustrates that the published regression does a very good job predicting the path of temperature post 1994. For fifteen years starting in 1998, there was a warming 'hiatus', which has been used to argue against warming being linked to ever-increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide. In our model, the hiatus is due to increased emissions of sulfur oxides (which reflects sunlight back into space) from new coal plants in China, and a long lull in the solar cycle. Since then, temperatures have been rising, just as the regression predicts...

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Danny Yagan: Employment Hysteresis from the Great Recession: "This paper uses U.S. local areas as a laboratory to test whether the Great Recession depressed 2015 employment. In full-population longitudinal data, I find that exposure to a 1-percentage-point-larger 2007-2009 local unemployment shock caused working-age individuals to be 0.4 percentage points less likely to be employed at all in 2015, likely via labor force exit. These shocks also increased 2015 income inequality. General human capital decay and persistently low labor demand each rationalize the findings better than lost job-specific rents, lost firm-specific human capital, or reduced migration. Simple extrapolation suggests the recession caused most of the 2007-2015 age-adjusted employment decline...

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