#orangehairedbaboons Feed

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

stacks and stacks of books

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

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

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

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

School of Athens

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

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

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Chris Cook: Defeated by Brexit: Forgetting Our History: Weekend Reading

Weekend Reading: Chris Cook: Defeated by Brexit: Forgetting Our History: "The Brexit negotiations are not really about the UK and 27 other countries. They are about Britain’s long and troubled relationship with Ireland. And while Dublin was prepared for that, it took London completely by surprise.... During the 2016 referendum campaign, John Major and Tony Blair, the former British prime ministers, tried to alert voters to inherent tensions between leaving the EU and preserving the UK’s relationship with Ireland. Their warnings were dismissed as fear-mongering. Ireland attracted almost no attention, but it would be the central pivot on which Brexit would turn. None of this was clear on the morning after the referendum. But nothing was. The prime minister, David Cameron, was preparing to announce his resignation. The people had voted against EU membership, but not for anything to replace it. For new leadership the government would have to wait for the Conservatives to choose a new leader...

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Adam Tooze: Democracy and Its Discontents: Weekend Reading

Il Quarto Stato

Weekend Reading: Adam Tooze is correct when he writes that "across the American political spectrum, if there is agreement on anything, it is on the need for a firmer line against China". The bombs-and-bullets people, the geopolitics people, and the blame-somebody-else people are all agreed. The U.S. needs to do something to strengthen its relative position, and that means it needs to start doing something to China.

But that would be going about it the wrong way. Thinking that the right way to do something is to do something to China is a very bad way to think. The U.S. could still forge a 21st century condominium with China. But all those necessary and needed pieces of action require that the U.S. look and act inwardly, not outwardly:

Adam Tooze: Democracy and Its Discontents: Runciman: "Rather than raging against the dying of the light, Runciman['s How Democracy Ends], like Spengler and Kojève, invites us to adopt a stance of disillusioned realism. If we can see the decline of democratic polities all around us and can diagnose the multiple causes of their eventual demise, that does not excuse us from the responsibility to make them work until the bitter end...

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Adam Tooze: Democracy and Its Discontents: Weekend Reading

Il Quarto Stato

Weekend Reading: Adam Tooze: Democracy and Its Discontent: Levitsky and Ziblatt: "Levitsky and Ziblatt['s How Democracies Die has]... a sobering message: 'American democracy is not as exceptional as we sometimes believe. There’s nothing in our Constitution or our culture to immunize us against democratic breakdown'.... The restoration of democratic norms requires building a new consensus. Levitsky and Ziblatt cite the example of Chile.... Augusto Pinochet... was overcome by a new culture of bipartisan cooperation in the so-called Democratic Concertation. In the US today, the problem lies first and foremost with the GOP. It has repeatedly behaved like an anti-systemic party that does not consider itself bound by common democratic norms... Levitsky and Ziblatt point to... Konrad Adenauer’s CDU.... But what relevance does it have to American politics? Can one seriously imagine anyone in the GOP taking lessons from Angela Merkel and her counterparts?... Levitsky and Ziblatt are strikingly naive when it comes to power...

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

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

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

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

Economics Identity and the Democratic Recession YouTube

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

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It Was Political Decisions, Not Trade or even Technology, That Done It...

Economics Identity and the Democratic Recession YouTube

Note to Self: From Council on Foreign Relations: The Future of Democracy Symposium: Session Two: Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession: Over 2001—2008 the furniture workers who had lost their jobs because of NAFTA and the China shock were getting new and better jobs in construction, building up Raleigh and Durham. Few unhappy about the economic transformation of the Carolinas until late 2008. Then, all of a sudden, it turned out that a great many securities rated AAA by Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s in fact had no business being sold to anyone at any price at all; the Democrats did not prioritize a return to full employment; and the Republicans prioritized a non-return to full employment in the hope of weakening a Democratic president. Economic anxiety producing racial cleavage, yes. But it was political decisions, not trade or even technology that done it.

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If You Were Right, John, Then Massachusetts Politics Would Have Turned This Strange Weird Trumpist Flavor Back in the 1950S

Economics Identity and the Democratic Recession YouTube

Note to Self: From Council on Foreign Relations: The Future of Democracy Symposium: Session Two: Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession: Look at me: Harvard Ph.D., Harvard B.A., Harvard B.A ancestors back to 1686 or whenever, Sidwell Friends School, and before that Cal Tech nursery school. But my wife grew up—first generation in her family to go to college—in a Portuguese neighborhood of Fall River, where everyone’s parents and grandparents worked in the textile mills. The textile mills of Fall River were stripped by Greensboro, North Carolina. They took the jobs away from the Portuguese millworker immigrants of Fall River. They stole that identity.

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Writing Bulls--- for the WSJ Op-Ed Page as a Career Strategy: The Nine Unprofessional Republican Economists

The extra quarter's worth of data from the new BEA NIPA release raises this, once again, to the top of the pile: Note the contrast between the path of investment, on the one hand, implicit in the growth forecast of the effects of the Trump-Ryan-McConnell tax cut that Robert J. Barro, Michael J. Boskin, John Cogan, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Glenn Hubbard, Lawrence B. Lindsey, Harvey S. Rosen, George P. Shultz and John. B. Taylor, and, on the other hand, reality:

Real Gross Private Domestic Investment Real Potential Gross Domestic Product 1 06 FRED St Louis Fed

If you are even 10% in the explain-the-world business—if you are even 1% in the explain-the-world business—such a sharp disjunction between what you had predicted and the outcome calls forth curiosity, interest, and explanations of why you think you went wrong and what your future research projects will be to figure it out.

Only if you are 100% in the I-am-engaging-in-vice-signalling-by-writing-bulls----to-please-my-political-masters business are you left doing <crickets> in response to such a very sharp disjunction between your predictions and reality.

Yet as I listen to each and very one of the Nine Unprofessional Republican Economists, all that I hear is: <crickets>...

Come to think of it, none of the nine has dared to see that Steve Moore is unqualified to serve on the Federal Reserve, either—and two of the nine, Taylor and Lindsey, are, I am assured, in his corner...

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So Far, Only Three Professional Republicans Are Willing to Say that Stephen Moore Is Not Qualified to Be a Fed Governor

Clowns (ICP)

So far, only three professional Republicans are willing to say that Stephen Moore is not qualified to be a fed governor. A lot are saying it in private. But only three are saying it in public. They are:

  • Greg Mankiw
  • Ross Douthat
  • Steve Moore

#economicsgonewrong #orangehairedbaboons

Yes, Of Course Larry Kudlow Is For QE Now and Was Against It When Obama Was President. Why Would You Think Otherwise?

Clowns (ICP)

A question: Benedict Trump: @ProtectronArmy: "I wonder if Kudlow was pro or con QE when Obama was President...

I answer: He was against QE when Obama was President. Why would you think otherwise?:

Brad DeLong: @delong: Kudlow was against QE under Obama: The zero-interest-rate target will unfortunately remain in place much longer—until unemployment goes to 6.5 percent or less. Given rising tax and regulatory threats from Washington, and the job-stopping Obamacare regulations and mandates, unemployment may be sticky on the downside. But the big news is that the Fed may stop growing its balance sheet sooner than most market people expect. As someone who is totally uncomfortable with the Fed’s $4 trillion balance sheet and reserve-creation process, I welcome

Larry Kudlow (2013): https://t.co/U85MOHlB73: The zero-interest-rate target will unfortunately remain in place much longer—until unemployment goes to 6.5 percent or less. Given rising tax and regulatory threats from Washington, and the job-stopping Obamacare regulations and mandates, unemployment may be sticky on the downside. But the big news is that the Fed may stop growing its balance sheet sooner than most market people expect. As someone who is totally uncomfortable with the Fed’s $4 trillion balance sheet and reserve-creation process, I welcome the news. The central bank is listening to its critics, both inside and out...

They have no morals and no shame.

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A Perfect Post for April Fools' Day: Larry Lindsey and John Taylor, and Now Kevin Hassett Editio

Clowns (ICP)

Larry Lindsey and John Taylor: "PLEASE APPOINT US TO SOMETHING!! WE ARE LOYAL!!!! WE ARE NPOSTLTE PEOPLE!!!!!! PLEASE!!!!!!!!"

At some level, this is hilarious: HA HA HA!!!

Greg Mankiw has said the obvious: that Stephen Moore is not qualified to be a Fed Governor. Kevin Hassett—Kevin Hassett!—appears to are frantically trying to organize internal opposition to the nomination of a grotesquely-unqualified governor who admits he is grotesquely-unqualified. Kevin:

As the process moves forward, if Steve ends up being the nominee, he'll have good explanations for his positions. You're right that he's gone through his career being a pundit and having really interesting things to a whole range of topics, but as a nominee you have to be more careful about every little word that he says. I'm sure that he's going to be pulling back his op-eds and preparing for confirmation, should that [nomination in fact] arise..."

And so John Taylor and Larry Lindsey decide that now is the time for them to demonstrate that they are NO PLATE OF SHIT TOO LARGE TO EAT people, as far as a Republican White House is concerned. note that they do this even though they may well in so doing alienate Banking-Committee Republican senators with likely long future tenures who this it kinda important that the Fed be, you know, a functional institution. Or are all the Repubilcan senators on the Banking Committee NPOSTLTE people too?

David Patten: Trump Fed Nominee Stephen Moore Targeted by Liberal Resistance: "Moore's roster of big-name advocates include... Bush economic adviser Larry Lindsey... two-time runner-up to serve as Fed Chairman John Taylor...

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Modern Dan Drezner Is Much Better...

Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers All Items Less Food and Energy FRED St Louis Fed

Dan Drezner: The Worst Piece Of Conventional Wisdom You Will Read This Year: "OK, so, a few things.... Stagflation in the 1970s was caused primarily by an inward shift of the aggregate supply curve due to a surge in commodity prices, particularly energy. Some central banks responded with accommodating monetary policies that accelerated inflation even further. Fiscal policy was an innocent bystander to this whole shebang. So I honestly don’t know what the hell Kinsley is talking about...

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

Pass the baton olympics Google Search

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

Carville-Hunt "Two Old White Guys" Podcast:

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

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

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Professional Republicans, Not Professional Economists: How Low can They Go?

How to Be an Unprofessional Republican Economist in Four Easy StepsAmong the professional Republicans, Ross Douthat joins Greg Mankiw in opposition to Steve Moore. So far, they are the only two I have seen—and Greg Mankiw is the only economist:

Ross Douthat: Why are people up in arms over Steve Moore for the Fed?: "The consensus in conservative academic think tank land is that Moore is an enormous hack, and this was true long before his Trump boosterism. Trump wants to nominate him because he's against Fed tightening, which is probably correct policy, but Moore pretty clearly is only taking that view because it's Trump's view and he likes Trump...

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The Fed Board Unmoored: Live at Project Syndicate

Prob6mo 2j5oc8g 1080x600

Live at Project Syndicate: The Fed Board Unmoored: "In December 2015, the right-wing commentator Stephen Moore, US President Donald Trump’s pick to fill a vacancy on the US Federal Reserve Board of Governors, savagely attacked then-Fed Chair Janet Yellen and her predecessor, Ben Bernanke, for maintaining loose monetary policies in the years following the 'Great Recession'.... On December 26, 2018, he savagely attacked Yellen’s successor, Jerome Powell, for raising interest rates to unwind the very approach that he had condemned three years earlier. 'If you cut engine power too far on a jetliner', he warned, 'it will stall and drop out of the sky'. Moore complained that after having 'risen by 382 points on hopes that the Fed would listen to Trump and stop cutting power', the Dow Jones Industrial Average had “plunged by 895 points” on the news of another interest-rate hike. This, he concluded, was evidence that 'the Fed’s monetary policy has come unhinged'...

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Note to Self: There are few enough things in the world or concerning the state of the (non-House) federal government to be thankful for these days. But one i that, despite his enormous deficits and unfitness for the office of president, Donald Trump is not a chickenhawk:

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Mark Bauerlein (2006): On Michael Bérubé: Weekend Reading

Clowns (ICP)

I wonder if Mark Bauerlein has become a Trumpist? Yes indeedee, he has—not anti-anti-Trump, but the Full Monty: "President Trump is the only one who can stop the left now": Mark Bauerlein (2006): On Michael Bérubé: "An assigned essay topic that was claimed by a conservative student to be anti-American, a claim rightly judged by Bérubé a silly exaggeration. Still, the tendentiousness of the question is plain. Here is the final sentence: 'Analyze the U.S. constitution (original document), and show how its formulation excluded [the] majority of the people living in America at that time, and how it was dominated by America’s elite interest'...

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Weekend Reading: Raphael Hogarth: 'No Deal' Actually Means Total Supplication...

Dumpster fire Google Search

Weekend Reading: Raphael Hogarth: "Some MPs Talk about 'No Deal' as a Great Liberation. 'No Deal' Actually Means Total Supplication, Handing Huge Control over the UK to the European Commission.Read the government’s technical notices on no deal, and you will find that an awful lot of sectors will need a decision from Brussels to keep trading...

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An Antiplatonic Twitter Dialogue on What the Wish to "Preserve a Cultural Centrism" Actually Means

As Noah Smith says: "Please stop I give up you can have all my money":

School of Athens

Noah Smith: 🐇: Write another post! I'd be interested to know how you think Obama abandoned the cultural centrist ground, specifically.

#MMT: Moral Money Tao: @samvega: "Obama abandoned the cultural centrist ground" by moving ever further right to appease Republican leaders. Who doesn't know this?

Brad DeLong: 🖖🏻: Obama abandoned the "cultural centrist" ground because he decided to be a Black person, unlike Clinton, who decided to be a white person. See?

Noah Smith: 🐇: But his race did not change AFAIK. What did change? Did he start acting more culturally "black" in his second term? I detected no change.

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Lying Liar Kevin Hassett Lies Again...

Unnamed

I have here a transcript from a week or so ago of Kevin Hassett on Fox Business telling transparent lies. Seriously: why does he bother? What does he gain? Is it really the case that AEI will have him back after things like this? WILL banks like JPM Chase will pay him to speak to conferences?

If so, they have really really really really bad judgment:

7:38:49 BARTIROMO: The Atlanta Federal Reserve on Friday issued its GDP forecast for the first quarter, it’s three-tenths of a percent. What was your reaction to this? I know that this changes a lot, by the way...

7:38:59 HASSETT: Sure it does, yeah...

7:39:00 BARTIROMO: You’ll probably revise it umpteen times, but 0.3%, obviously not great for the first quarter...

7:39:05 HASSETT: Right, well there are two things going on. The first is that we started the quarter out with a 300,000 jobs number, north of 300,000. And most of the time when you do that, you end up with a 3% quarter. And so we’re gonna get jobs again this week, and if we get another really big number, and I think we’ll have a lot of confidence that something as low as three-tenths isn’t gonna happen. But there is this weird pattern in the data all the way back to 2010, that the first quarter tends to be about 1% below the average for the year. So if we think as we do at the White House that we’re gonna have about a 3% year, then right now, if you wanted me to put a number on the table, I’d say it’s probably gonna be about a 2% first quarter.

7:39:38 BARTIROMO: Okay, so is that largely because of the shutdown, or what happened in the first quarter...

7:39:41 HASSETT: No, it’s because of the seasonality thing, they don’t seasonally adjust the data correctly in Q1, it’s a weird technical thing. And you know, we could go to the blackboard, I know you’d love it, but your viewers would probably never get me invited back again...

These are lies.

2019 03 08 First Quarter GDP Seasonals numbers

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"Passing the Baton": The Interview

Bernie Sanders news a Clinton era Democrat makes the case for the left Vox

I would say that Zack has it slightly wrong here. There is not one core reason for passing the baton. There are three reasons: a political reason, a policy-implementation reason, and a we've-learned-about-the-world reason:

Here's Zack Beauchamp: Zack Beauchamp: A Clinton-era Centrist Democrat Explains Why It’s Time to Give Democratic Socialists a Chance: “The Baton Rightly Passes To Our Colleagues On Our Left”: "DeLong believes that the time of people like him running the Democratic Party has passed.... It’s not often that someone in this policy debate — or, frankly, any policy debate — suggests that their side should lose. So I reached out to DeLong to dig into the reasons for his position: Why does he believe that neoliberals’ time in the sun has come to an end?...

...The core reason, DeLong argues, is political. The policies he supports depend on a responsible center-right partner to succeed. They’re premised on the understanding that at least a faction of the Republican Party would be willing to support market-friendly ideas like Obamacare or a cap-and-trade system for climate change. This is no longer the case, if it ever were.... The result, he argues, is the nature of the Democratic Party needs to shift. Rather than being a center-left coalition dominated by market-friendly ideas designed to attract conservative support, the energy of the coalition should come from the left and its broad, sweeping ideas. Market-friendly neoliberals, rather than pushing their own ideology, should work to improve ideas on the left. This, he believes, is the most effective and sustainable basis for Democratic politics and policy for the foreseeable future....

Here's me: We are still here, but it is not our time to lead.... Barack Obama rolls into office with Mitt Romney’s health care policy, with John McCain’s climate policy, with Bill Clinton’s tax policy, and George H.W. Bush’s foreign policy. And did George H.W. Bush, did Mitt Romney, did John McCain say a single good word about anything Barack Obama ever did over the course of eight solid years? No, they f---ing did not.... While I would like to be part of a political coalition in the cat seat, able to call for bids from the left and the right about who wants to be part of the governing coalition to actually get things done, that’s simply not possible...

And: Our current bunch of leftists are wonderful people.... They’re social democrats, they’re very strong believers in democracy. They’re very strong believers in fair distribution of wealth. They could use a little more education about what is likely to work and what is not. But they’re people who we’re very, very lucky to have on our side. That’s especially opposed to the people on the other side, who are very, very strange indeed. You listen to [Never Trump conservatives]... about all the people they had been with in meetings, biting their tongues over the past 25 years, and your reaction can only be, “Why didn’t you run away screaming into the night long ago?”...

And: We learned more about the world. I could be confident in 2005 that [recession] stabilization should be the responsibility of the Federal Reserve. That you look at something like laser-eye surgery or rapid technological progress in hearing aids, you can kind of think that keeping a market in the most innovative parts of health care would be a good thing. So something like an insurance-plus-exchange system would be a good thing to have in America as a whole. It’s much harder to believe in those things now. That’s one part of it. The world appears to be more like what lefties thought it was than what I thought it was for the last 10 or 15 years. ..

Read MOAR


#politics #politicaleconomy #moralresponsibility #highlighted #orangehairedbaboons

Real Gross Domestic Product FRED St Louis Fed

Note to Self: Current forecast for 2018QIV GDP growth: 2.0%. Current forecast for 2019Q1 GDP growth: 1.5%. All of these people are now very, very quiet:

  • Robert J. Barro, Michael J. Boskin, John Cogan, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Glenn Hubbard, Lawrence B. Lindsey, Harvey S. Rosen, George P. Shultz and John. B. Taylor: How Tax Reform Will Lift the Economy: "A conventional approach to economic modeling suggests that such an increase in the capital stock would **raise the level of GDP in the long run by just over 4%. If achieved over a decade, the associated increase in the annual rate of GDP growth would be about 0.4% per year...

  • Robert Barro (endorsed by Mike Boskin): How US Corporate-Tax Reform Will Boost Growth: "Gauging the effects of the tax-law changes on the costs (referred to as user costs) that businesses attach to investment in equipment and structures. Then I estimate long-run responses of the capital-labor ratio to the changes in user costs.... If we thought of C-corporations as corresponding to the whole economy, the changes in capital-labor ratios would imply a rise in long-run real per capita GDP by about 8.4%.... I made a rough downward adjustment of the long-run level effect from 8.4% to 7%...

  • James C. Miller III, Douglas Holtz-Eakin... Barry W. Poulson... Charles W. Calomiris... Donald Luskin... 95 others: Pass tax reform and watch the economy roar: "A twenty percent statutory rate on a permanent basis would, per the Council of Economic Advisers, help produce a GDP boost 'by between 3 and 5 percent'.... It is critical to consider that $1 trillion in new revenue for the federal government can be generated by four-tenths of a percentage in GDP growth. Sophisticated economic models show the macroeconomic feedback generated by the TCJA will exceed that amount—more than enough to compensate for the static revenue loss...

  • Susan Collins: Twitter: "On @MeetThePress today said that she had talked to [Holtz-]Eakin, Lindsay and Hubbard and they believed that the supply side stimulus would produce an increase on government revenue. This is problem when other side alleged serious people are really hacks.

Continue reading " " »


The learned and much-worth-listening-to Eric Alterman has darkened my day. I do, however, think it is time for everyone whose career was boosted by making the Faustian bargain of catering to Marty Peretz's bigotries, prejudices, and envies to exit the public sphere, quietly. Perhaps I should make an exception for Peter Beinart, who has done some atonement: Martin Peretz (2007): Tyran-a-Soros: "GEORGE SOROS LUNCHED with some reporters on Saturday at Davos. He talked about spending $600 million on civil society projects during the 1990s, then trying to cut back to $300 million, and how this year it will be between $450 and $500 million. His new projects aim, in Floyd Norris’s words, to promote a 'common European foreign policy' (read: an anti-American foreign policy) and also to study the integration (or so he thinks) of Muslims in eleven European cities...

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Please Help Me Out Here!

The Charge of the Brexit Brigade: “Forward, the Brexit Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
Someone had blundered.

Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

White papers to right of them,
Pollsters to left of them,
Presslords in front of them
Volleyed and thundered...

Continue reading "Please Help Me Out Here!" »


It Is Saturday Morning, and Joe Weisenthal Is Trying to Start a... Symposium... on Twitter

It is Saturday morning, and Joe Weisenthal is trying to start a... symposium... on Twitter.

Make mine Professor Cornelius Ampleforth’s navy-strength bathtub gin:

Joe Weisenthal: @TheStalwart: "Should I do a tweetstorm on what I think mainstream Keynesians like @paulkrugman @Nouriel and @ObsoleteDogma get wrong about Bitcoin?... I think most Keynesian types see Bitcoin as a horribly inefficient medium of exchange, whose loudest advocates include many scammers, charlatans, misanthropes, and Austrian economics adherents. And tbh, this is basically all true. But...

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This Is Nuts. When's the Crash?

The highly-estimable FT Alphaville has long had a series: This is nuts. When's the crash?. That is my reaction to learning that Hoover Institution senior fellows are now crypto...

It is not at all clear to me whether they are grifters or griftees here...

I had known about John Taylor, but had thought that was a strange one-off. And now Niall Ferguson. Is anybody even pretending to have a business model other than pup-and-dump? I think the only appropriate response is here:

Background:

Continue reading "This Is Nuts. When's the Crash?" »


A Rant on Trump, Trade, and China...

Clowns (ICP)

I'm still trying to come to terms with my Commonwealth Club event with Steve Moore last month. As therapy, I took some of my less-than-coherent ravings and tried to turn then into proper rant:


Steve, what you are saying is simply delusional.

You keep saying that Xi needs to deal. Why? Because, you say, Trump is deadly serious on China an sod will not back down.

Do remember that Trump declared victory on reforming NAFTA, "the worst trade deal in the history of the world", with small adjustments on autoparts rules-of-origin. Small adjustment on auto parts were enough to transform NAFTA, in Trump's mind, from the worst trade deal in the history of the world into something he is now very proud of. Xi has to be thinking that he should deal with Trump the same way that Mexico did—hang tough, provide a few symbolic concessions only, and Trump will cave. then things will go go back to business-as-usual.

What is there in the situation that would keep that from being the obvious strategy for Xi to follow?

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Dani Rodrik joins those who believe that Donald Trump and his administration have too little competence and too childish an understanding of the world to do substantial persistent damage to equitable growth. I would like to believe him, but I worry that Italy under Berlusconi may be a relevant case that is a counterexample. As I see it, Berlusconi's kleptocratic and chaos-monkey nature robbed Italy of a decade of economic growth. Trump can definitely do the same Dani Rodrik: Trump’s Trade Game: "Though Trump’s unilateralism and mercantilism are bad... one should not exaggerate.... If other countries do not overreact–and, so far, they have not–the consequences for world trade will remain manageable.... The shift in global demand from goods to (less tradable) services; the increased skill-intensity of manufacturing... automation... reshoring... China’s transition... to domestic-demand-led growth... are likely to have a larger impact on trade than Trump’s bluster ever could...

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Commonwealth Club: Annual Economic Forecast Event (January 25, 2019): Relevant Files

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Commonwealth Club: Annual Economic Forecast

Short-Run Economic Forecast: The Economic Forecast: Commonwealth Club Non-Public Event Opening Statement

Talking Points and Snippets from Commonwealth Club January 25, 2019 Forecast Event

General Talking Points: Commonwealth Club Talking Points (January 25, 2019): Forecasting and Steve Moore Edition

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I think that this does not get what is going on, exactly. It's the Gingrich Rule and the Trump Rule. The Gingrich Rule is this: if the president of your party is not a success and not perceived to be a success, you might well lose your congressional seat at the next election. Those who follow the Gingrich Rule thus have one focus when the presidency is held by the opposite party: make the president look like a failure—and to hell with the well-being of the country. And those who follow the Gingrich Rule thus have one focus when the presidency is held by your own party: make the president look like a success—and to hell with the well-being of the country. But what if—as is the case with Trump—nothing you do can make him look like a success? Well, you might still squeak through if your voter base has a heavy partisan advantage as long as the party loyalists support you. And that means you have to at least appear to support the president, and make sure that the president never gets mad enough at you to make you a target. Want to understand Republican legislators right now? It's these two rules: (1) Try to make Trump look like a success. (2) Try not to make Trump mad at you. This is, however, not fear of Trump—it's fear of the voters you need in your corner next November—fear that the moderates will conclude that you are a loser because Trump looks like a loser, and fear that the base will conclude that you are a loser because you are not loyal enough to Trump. Actually, I would be surprised if we did not have a lot of Republican Senators refusing to run in 2020: it's much better for your future lobbying career to retire than to lose. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia), Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Steve Daines (R-Montana), Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Cory Gardner (R-Colorado), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi), James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Jon Kyl (R-Arizona), Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), David Perdue (R-GA), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota), Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), take note: A.B. Stoddard: Trump's Loyal Senate Republicans: "Republican officeholders would rather cross the voters than cross Trump, even as the bottom is falling out on the numbers.... John Cornyn... up for re-election next year... complained about the damage being done by the shutdown, saying that it’s 'Outrageous that federal prosecutors at Department of Justice and investigators at FBI, who we depend on to enforce the law are missing paychecks because of shutdown'. Yet after years of expressing scepticism about the efficacy of a border wall, he tells the Washington Post that he now won’t vote for a bill to reopen government without wall funding because, he said, 'the president won’t sign it'.... McConnell... could put spending bills that have passed the House... up for a vote on the Senate floor. But since the bills might pass, embarrassing Trump and risking a presidential veto, he won’t. What’s driving this partisan unity is not ideological solidarity, but fear.... When Murkowski was asked by the Post if she believed her GOP colleagues were afraid of the president she replied, 'I think some are, absolutely'...

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Bad actors acting badly. A century ago the authors and distributors of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion has theological and political motives—they saw their lies as buttressing what they saw as the essential institutions of orthodoxy and autocracy—rather than just seeking to make a buck. Which is worse?: Hannes Grassegger: The Plot Against George Soros: "The Unbelievable Story Of The Plot Against George Soros: How [the] two Jewish American political consultants [Arthur Finkelstein and George Eli Birnbaum] helped create the world’s largest anti-Semitic conspiracy theory...

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My read is that (1) Putin has something on Trump that Trump regards as either highly embarrassing or fatal (although what it could be is at this stage hard to imagine: what could embarrass Trump? what could lead McDonnell and company to stop defending Trump?); (2) Putin has said that he will keep quiet as long as Trump is "agreeable"; (3) Putin has left it up to Trump to define what "agreeable" is; (4) Trump is neither sophisticated nor wise as he attempts to do Putin's bidding: Edward Luce: The Unpalatable Truth About Trump’s Embrace of the Russian Bear: "Otherwise cautious former CIA directors, senior retired generals and other seasoned operatives talk of Russian kompromat as the best explanation for Mr Trump’s actions.... That judgment has hardened in the past three weeks. On top of the FBI’s inquiry are reports that Mr Trump has repeatedly tried to withdraw the US from Nato.... All of which presents the US public with a horribly binary choice. On the one hand, Mr Trump claims... [he] is the victim of a vast leftwing conspiracy... [and] the FBI and other branches of government had betrayed their oaths by working for one political faction. On the other hand... America’s commander-in-chief is working for a foreign adversary. Either account would break all historic precedent. The question is which of the two is less unlikely...

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Note to Self: The Heritage Foundation, the Club for Growth, and Stephen Moore Have No Principles Whatsoever. Why Do You Ask?: Now that Stephen Moore has signed up with Donald Trump, he is opposed to the Trans Pacific Partnership.... On Trish Regan's show with him, he made four points about TPP: 1. The agreement is long, and has lots of pages in it. 2. The agreement does not commit the Asians to stop copying our intellectual property. 3. The agreement does allow the U.S. to impose retaliatory penalties on other signatories if they do copy our intellectual property, but they will copy anyway. 4. The agreement is unlike NAFTA, which is a good thing. But... short months ago...

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Hoisted from the Archives: The Kansas Republican Governance Experiment. Or Is That "Governance 'Experiment'"? Or Is That "'Governance' Experiment"?: Nothing like this was seen before.... It is only under Brownback that it has been down, down, down, down. You can argue how much of it is hostility to immigrants and strangers. How much of it is the profoundly un-Christian cast of a "Christian" government, and how much of it is the collapse of public services. But it has been effective. My friend Dan Davies says that the best proof that there is a skill and art of management comes from the fact that nobody doubts that there is such a thing as gross mismanagement. Similarly, the best proof that there is such a thing as good technocratic government leading to shared prosperity and equitable growth is... Brownback, and his acolytes and supporters, in Kansas:

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Everyone who gets a C in first-semester statistics knows that if your sample is random you do not have to double the number of data points when the population doubles. You do not have to increase the number of data points at all. And in the interest of trying to lowball civilian war deaths. Fake and fuzzy math in the service of trying to loball civilian war deaths is not just stupid. It is evil: Stephen Moore (2006): 655,000 War Dead? A Bogus Study on Iraq Casualties: "I was surprised to read that a study by a group from Johns Hopkins University claims that 655,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the war.... The key to the validity of cluster sampling is to use enough cluster points.... Curious about the kind of people who would have the chutzpah to claim to a national audience that this kind of research was methodologically sound.... Another study in Kosovo cites the use of 50 cluster points, but this was for a population of just 1.6 million, compared to Iraq's 27 million...

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Hoisted from the Archives from 2016: Ben White: "Ben White: Morning Money: "Larry Kudlow and Steve Moore... [were] confident he and Kudlow could help nudge Trump away from his protectionist trade policies.... Moore noted that Trump has largely stopped talking about big tariffs on Chinese goods. Kudlow added: 'I think Mr. Trump does not want to see a wall of tariffs. He's actually pushed that rhetoric aside in recent months'...

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Hoisted from the Archives from 2010: If You Did Not Think UCLA Law Professor Steve Bainbridge Had Lost His Mind—or Perhaps Had No Mind to Lose—You Do Now...: I genuinely thought this was a joke when I first saw it. But, no, people who deal with him every week have persuaded me UCLA law professor Steve Bainbridge really does think Paris Hilton is the tenth worst American of all time. The misogyny is strong in this one: "20 Worst American... Aldrich Ames... John Wilkes Booth... James Buchanan... Aaron Burr... Robert Byrd... Jefferson Davis... Louis Farrakhan... Nathan Bedford Forrest... Rutherford B. Hayes... Paris Hilton...

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Hoisted from the Archives from 2005: Kevin Drum: The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page Is More of a Joke than Ever: "Stephen Moore's maiden outing as a member of the WSJ editorial board.... Moore's sermon today is about the wonders of supply side economics.... 'President Ronald Reagan chopped the highest personal income tax rate from the confiscatory 70% rate that he inherited when he entered office to 28% when he left office and the resulting economic burst caused federal tax receipts to almost precisely double.'... Tax revenue doubled!... First, we should adjust for inflation.... Population increased... tax revenue was $2,283 per person in 1980 and $2,694 per person in 1990. That's not double. It's an increase of 18%... a lot of that is due to consistent tax increases throughout the 1980s.... We can play this game with any decade.... Adjusting for inflation and population growth... 70s produced an increase... of 25%. The Clinton 90s produced... 40%.... Reagan produced the slowest growth in... any decade since World War II. That's a real supply side triumph. Welcome to the Journal, Steve. You guys deserve each other...

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Greg Mankiw: The Bad Economics Behind Trump's Policies: "Moore and Laffer... learned the importance of flattering the boss... Trump is a 'gifted orator' who is always 'dressed immaculately'. He is 'shrewd',” 'open-minded', 'no-nonsense', and 'bigger than life'.... The book quotes Trump as claiming... his tax plan... would not increase the budget deficit because it would raise growth rates to 'three, or four, five, or even six percent'. The authors offer no credible evidence that the tax changes passed will lead to such high growth.... The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the Trump tax cuts will increase growth rates by 0.2 percentage points per year over the first five years [and then give all of that back in the next five years]... a long way from the one- to four-percentage-point boost that the president and his associates have bragged of, and that Moore and Laffer quote without explanation, caveat, or apology...

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Why do people do this? Because it gets you invited back on to CNN. Why does it get you invited back on to CNN? That remains a mystery to me, and to others: Brad Reed: Trump-Loving Economist Caught Red-Handed 'Making Up Numbers' by Ann Guest: "Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell busted Trump-loving economist Stephen Moore on Friday when he falsely claimed that we are seeing vast 'deflation' in the United States economy thanks to interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.... 'Wait, wait, wait!' interjected Rampell. 'There is no deflation!' 'Yeah there is', Moore replied. 'No there is not', she shot back. 'Look at the Consumer Price Index!'... Rampell then nailed Moore for his false warnings during the Obama presidency that it was unwise for the Fed to keep interest rates low because it would lead to hyperinflation—despite the fact that the economy at the time was deeply depressed and much more in need of easy money...

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My view has always been that (a) too many big lies were told by pro-"Leave the EU" advocates and that (b) too large a proportion of the pro-"Leave the EU" advocates were shady grifters sure that they would lose but who were maneuvering for political advantage—they wanted to denounce the Establishment for failing to give everybody a pet unicorn, rather than to actually take power and run a unicorn-breeding stable. My view has been that the British press committed grave malpractice in hiding (a) and (b) from the electorate. My view has been that the best way to deal with this shambles is (c) for the press to come clean and (d) hold an informed revote—and that politicians opposed to a revote given the illegitimacy of the "Leave" mandate are shady grifters, etc. The argument against a revote is that it will split the country. But the country is split already. Better to have a split more-prosperous country with a government with a genuine mandate for its policies than a split less-prosperous country with a government with a fake mandate. Martion Wolf agrees with me: Martin Wolf: The Risks of a Second Brexit Referendum Must Now Be Run: "Another vote will be divisive —but what is happening is already splitting the country.... I can say what should happen. The answer is a second referendum.... I do not take that view with enthusiasm...

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Zack Beauchamp: Brexit Vote: Theresa May’s Defeat Reveals the Lies Behind Brexit: "UK Prime Minister Theresa May spent months negotiating a deal with the European Union on the terms of Brexit.... The UK Parliament voted to reject the deal by a resounding 432-202 margin.... May’s tenure in office... was premised on the lie that she could work out a Brexit deal palatable to all sides. Now, in the clarifying light of this vote’s failure, it’s time to be honest.... Either the UK exits the EU without a deal by the March 29 deadline, which virtually every expert agrees would result in economic catastrophe, or else the country pulls back from the brink and decides to remain in the EU. These options aren’t what the Brexiteers promise, but it’s difficult to envision any other ones after the failure of May’s deal...

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