#orangehairedbaboons Feed

Things that have not aged well at al. From 2017: Letter in Support of the Nomination of Kevin Hassett to be Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers https://medium.com/@hassett.economists.letter/letter-in-support-of-the-nomination-of-kevin-hassett-to-be-chairman-of-the-council-of-economic-78c483f9821b: ‘Dr. Hassett has a record of serious scholarship on a wide range of topics, including tax policy, business investment, and energy. He has engaged on an even wider range of topics in the public policy debate and in his work at the Federal Reserve and as a consultant to the Department of the Treasury during the Administrations of President George H.W. Bush and President William J. Clinton. In addition, we appreciate that Dr. Hassett has consistently made an effort to reach out to a wide range of people from across the ideological spectrum both to promote economic dialogue and to collaborate on research and public policy proposals. For all of these reasons we believe that Dr. Hassett would be an excellent choice for Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and urge the Committee to move as expeditiously as possible to ensure that the Administration has the benefit of his economic advice...

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The Hoover Institute's Richard Epstein Is an Intellectual Fraudster, Pure and Simple...

Clowns (ICP)

A good liar needs to have a good memory. Richard Epstein has a bad memory. Richard Epstein is a bad liar https://mobile.twitter.com/JohnPMacke/status/1251716101819584513.

On Mar 16 he forecast https://www.hoover.org/research/coronavirus-pandemic that the U.S. would see about 500 deaths from coronavirus.

He then on Mar 23 wrote https://www.hoover.org/research/coronavirus-overreaction that that 500 estimate was low, and that he now had a revised forecast of 2,500.

Today the March 16 article—still datestamped March 16—has been silently changed. Why? To make it appear that on Mar 16 he forecast not 500, and not 2500, but 5000 U.S. deaths.

Today the Mar 16 article contains a "Correction & Addendum as of March 24"—the datestamp Mar 24 of which is false—that states that he had intended on Mar 16 to forecast 50,000 U.S. deaths: "my original erroneous estimate of 5,000 dead in the US is a number ten times smaller than I intended to state..."

The Mar 24 datestamp is false because the "Correction & Addendum as of March 24" has itself been silently revised: the "Correction & Addendum as of March 24" originally read: "That estimate is ten times greater than the 500 number I erroneously put in the initial draft of the essay...

Could this be funnier?

Confused? Epstein is now claiming that he originally intended on Mar 16 to forecast 50,000 U.S. dead but "erroneously" put 5,000 in his "initial draft".

  • In actual fact, his original Mar 16 forecast was 500.

  • In actual fact, on Mar 23 Epstein stated that his initial calculations had been in error, and that a better forecast was "2000-2500".

  • In actual fact, on Mar 24, Epstein added his "Correction & Addendum" raising his better forecast to 5,000, and acknowledging that that 5,000 forecast was a tenfold increase over his initial 500 forecast.

  • In actual fact, sometime between Mar 24 and today, Apr 21, Epstein silently revised his Mar 16 article—keeping the Mar 16 datestamp—so that it falsely appears that its forecast was not 500 but 5000.

  • In actual fact, sometime between Mar 24 and today, Apr 21, Epstein silently revised his Mar 24 "Correction & Addendum" to his Mar 16 article so that it now falsely claims that his original estimate was not 500 but 5000.

  • In actual fact, sometime between Mar 24 and today, Apr 21, Epstein silently revised his Mar 24 "Correction & Addendum" to his Mar 16 article to add the—previously never made, and so I conclude entirely false—claim that he on Mar 16 had "intended" to forecast 50,000 U.S. deaths from coronavirus.

I am with Paul Campos here: This is intellectual fraud, pure and simple.

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Note to Self: Why Do We Know So Little About Coronavirus?

Note to Self: If the mortality rate on true cases is 1% and if it takes two weeks from testing to death then, as the U.S. tested and confirmed cases in March, the U.S. 4/5 of the way through March was catching only one in fifteen cases:


That would suggest that currently something like 10 million people in America have or had the disease, and that some 500,000 a day are getting it.

If the share of deaths among those whom the virus brushes past close enough that they develop at least temporary immunity—which is the number we really wish we knew—is not 1% but 0.3%, than those csae numbers are 30 million, and 1.5 million a day...

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The United States Has Been Treading Water on Coronavirus since Early April

Other countries have managed to get R[0] well below 1—have begun substantially shrinking the daily number of new cases.

The United States has not:


Our current level of social distancing and lockdown appears to be producing about 30,000 new confirmed cases a day. We are no longer—and have not for two weeks been—ramping up and utilitizing our testing capabilities. On our current trajectory we look to be incurring about 2000 reported coronavirus deaths a day.


Our medical system is handling the current run of cases. But it would be nice to get the number of cases down and the number of tests up so that we could begin implementing test-and-trace. But that requires a lot more tests—which are not there. And that required more effective social distancing to get R[0] substantially below one—which is not there, certainly not at a nationwide level.

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Cases and Deaths from Coronavirus Doubling Every Three Days Is Very Bad News Indeed

I confess I am positively unmanned by the every-three-days doubling of reported cases and deaths here in the United States. I had thought that we would see true cases doubling every seven days. And back when reported cases started doubling every three days, I was encouraged, because I thought it meant that we were catching up on testing, and so getting closer to detecting the bulk of the symptomatic cases.

But now it looks like that was wrong: reported cases were doubling every three days because true cases were doubling every three days—that is what deaths tell us was happening to true cases up until three weeks ago. The lack of case curve-bending makes me think that testing is not improving. It makes me think that reported cases are doubling every three days because true cases are doubling every three days.

That means that the Trump administration has only 40% as much time to get its ass in gear as I thought it did.

And that means the chances it will are very very low indeed:


I must confess it had never occurred to me back when China shut down Wuhan that we would simply not test everyone who presented with symptoms—and then backtrace their contacts. It is really looking now as though China—even with its authoritarian blindness fumbling of the intitial response (see Zeynep Tufekci: https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2020/02/coronavirus-and-blindness-authoritarianism/606922/ is going to be studied in the future as a positive model of public health in the 21st century, while the Trump Administration’s reaction—currently on track as the worst in the world in handling coronavirus <https://www.evernote.com/l/AAFzPq9AJoFHFr_nrTPi1QyseD8WSAe0y00B/image.png>—will be studied in the future as a negative example: Brad DeLong: The Trump Administration’s Epic COVID-19 Failure https://www.bradford-delong.com/2020/03/the-trump-administrations-epic-covid-19-failure-project-syndicate.html: 'As officials at the US Centers for Disease Control and other public-health bodies surely must have recognized, asymptomatic transmission means that the standard method of quarantining symptomatic travelers when they cross national (or provincial) borders is insufficient. It also means that we have known for almost two months that we were playing a long game against the virus. With its spread more or less inevitable, the primary task was always to reduce the pace of community transmission as much as possible, so that health-care systems would not be overwhelmed before a vaccine could be developed, tested, and deployed. In the long game against a contagious virus, how to mitigate transmission is no secret. In Singapore, which has largely contained the outbreak within its borders, all travelers from abroad have been required to self-quarantine for 14 days, regardless of whether they have symptoms. In Japan, South Korea, and other countries, testing for COVID-19 has been conducted on a massive scale. These are the measures that responsible governments take. You test as many people as you can, and when you locate areas of community transmission, you lock them down. At the same time, you build a database of all those who have already developed immunity and thus may safely resume their normal routine...

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Yet Another Rant on Coronavirus & Trump


Could "reopening America for business" on Easter backfire? Oh, yes it could. Oh, it definitely could backfire: BIGTIME.

The experience so far is that, in a society not undertaking social distancing, coronavirus cases double in a little less than five days—grow 100-fold in a month. If, say, the virus has been largely suppressed and only 10000 in the U.S. have it Easter week, then after the u.S. is opened up 1 million will have it on May 15, and then 100 million on June 15, at which point the epidemic will have pretty much run its course. But from May 1 to June 15 hospitals will have been overwhelmed. The likely death rate will have been not 1% but 6%. 5 million additional Americans will have died.

In return we will have produced an extra $1 trillion of stuff.

That's a tradeoff of $200K per life, which is not a good tradeoff to aim at making.

And, while it could be better, it could be much worse...

The right way to do it is to lockdown while we test, test, test, test, test:

  • Test a random-sample panel of 10000 Americans weekly to get a handle on the progress of the disease.
  • Test everyone for antibodies.
  • Let those who have had the disease and so are no immune go back to work—after testing to make sure that they are immune.
    • Indeed, draft those who have recovered to be hospital orderlies and nurses.
  • Make decisions based on knowledge of where the epidemic is in the community, and tune quarantine, social distancing, and shutdown measures to those appropriate given where the epidemic is.

But we do not know where the epidemic is.

And because we are not testing on a sufficient scale, we will not know when and if the virus is truly on the run until a month after the peak, when deaths start dropping. And even then we will not know how much the virus is on the run.

And removing social distancing before the virus is thoroughly on the run means that the virus comes roaring back.

Once the virus is thoroughly on the run, then normal public health measures can handle it:

  • Test, test, test.
  • Test patients presenting with symptoms.
  • Trace and test their contacts. Do what Japan and Singapore did—close to the epicenter in Wuhan, yet still with true caseloads lower than one in ten thousand.
  • Test those crossing borders, symptomatic or not.
  • Test those moving from city to city via air.
  • Test a random sample on the interstates, to see how much virus is leaking from place to place that way.
  • Test a random sample of the population to see whether and how much the disease was established, and then test another one.

Wherever community transmission becomes reestablished, apply the Wuhan lockdown for at least three weeks, so the caseload could be diminished enough so that contact tracing could be resumed.

Build up a database of those who tested positive and are presumably now immune so that they can be on the frontlines of treatment and contact with those possibly newly infected, and reopen the economy by putting them in the jobs that have high human contact and thus high virus transmission rates.

Jim Stock at Harvard has lots of good ideas and has thought a lot about how to do the Hunker Down. He is actually the person I would be asking how to do this—very smart, and has thought hard over the past month about it.

My view, however, is that right now we are scr--ed AF.

It is the end of March. The United States has tested only 500,000 people. There is no nationwide random sample time series. An awful lot of symptomatic people were not tested, and were instead sent back into the community. By the metric of the speed of growth of reported cases since the establishment of the virus dated to the hundredth first-reported case, the U.S. has performed worst of any country: worse than Italy, worse than Spain, worse (we think) than Iran. The 105,000 cases reported as of the evening of Fr Mar 27 are just the tip of the iceberg. From 1700 currently reported deaths so far in the United States, we might guess that there were between 60 and 170 thousand cases active at the start of March, which have grown to between 600 thousand and 2.5 million new cases, with perhaps the same number coming in the next week.

But we really do not know where we are.

We have not imposed the Wuhan lockdown.

If we had imposed the Wuhan lockdown, then three weeks after the lockdown had been imposed, the Hunker Down could start to be relaxed. Then, if we had enough testing capacity, we could start to relax knowing how much and where we could do so without the virus roaring back. Public health could then do its normal job: testing a random sample, testing all those symptomatic, tracing contacts, quarantining, and so keeping the spread slow enough that the health care system is not overwhelmed and that the bulk of the cases come next year or the year after or even later, by which time our virologists will have worked miracles.

But Trump, Mnuchin, Kudlow, & co. appear to want to draw to an inside straight and make the existential bet that transmission will melt away with the coming of spring and the warming up of the country. It might. 10%.

I have not found any economist who will say in private that that is not a very bad idea from a cost-benefit risk point of view.

And then, in two months, we are going to want to restart all the businesses that were functioning as of March 15. Nobody should go bankrupt as a result of anything that happened between March 15 and May 15 this year. That should be the proper goal of economic policy: to create a moment of Jubilee in the middle of this spring.

How would I do it, if I were running economic policy? Medical tests, treatment, tests, food, utilities, plus everything we can do that does not require human-to-human contact within six feet—that should be the extent of our economy for the next three weeks. All else should be shut down. And then, in a month, everyone should go to the job they had on March 15. And if the financing isn't there to run your business on May 15—if you are bankrupt?

That is what the Jubilee is for: the government assumes your debts.

But what if people are worried about the now-higher government debt? That is good reason to impose a highly-progressive tax on income and wealth both to reassure investors that the long-term finances of the government are sound, and to recoup some of the unearned increment that will be captured over the next month by those who turn the lockdown into a source of financial advantage.

That is what the U.S. should do. That is not what the U.S. will do. For one thing, we do not have and are not making enough tests.

With respect to the "China" questions:

  • The U.S. has passed China in reported number of cases.
  • In two weeks, the U.S. is going to pass China in reported coronavirus deaths.
  • Unless China loses (or has already lost control of the virus and is suppressing the news), for the next 50 years China's rulers will say:
    • Our society handled this much better than yours did.
    • Look to us rather than the U.S. for models and as your partners.
  • The U.S. has lost all global leverage over China—unless they are suppressing very bad virus news, and I see only a 10% chance that they are.
  • When the U.S. economy reopens, U.S.-China negotiations are likely to take the form of us saying "please allow us to buy your stuff on whatever terms you offer".

Continue reading "Yet Another Rant on Coronavirus & Trump" »

The Trump Administration’s Epic COVID-19 Failure: Project Syndicate


Project Syndicate: The Trump Administration’s Epic COVID-19 Failure https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/trump-covid19-testing-failure-by-j-bradford-delong-2020-03: 'Whereas many other countries afflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic have pursued mass testing, quarantines, and other measures to reduce community transmission, the Trump administration has simply dithered. Although America could still shut down for a month to overcome the crisis, the sad truth is that it won't. BERKELEY—Even to US President Donald Trump’s most ardent critics, his administration’s disastrous response to the COVID-19 pandemic has come as a surprise. Who would have guessed that Trump and his cronies would be so incompetent that merely testing for the disease would become a major bottleneck?

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It Looks as Though Very Evil People Named Kudlow, Laffer, and Moore Have Been Telling a Very Stupid President Very Misleading Things

The odds are that some very evil people—I am looking at you, Steve Moore; I am looking at you, Larry Kudlow; I am looking at you, Art Laffer—have been telling a very stupid president very misleading things:

Donald Trump https://twitter.com/AaronBlake/status/1242941041143156736: days-behind-new-york-2020-03-25
"[Some states] have virtually no problem or a very small problem..." "We don't have to test an entire state in the Middle West, or wherever they may be..." "A lot of those states could go back right now, and they probably will..."

The only states whose populations are less than 50% urban are Maine, Vermont, West Virginia, and Mississippi. For every case of coronavirus we see, there are likely more than 20 we do not currently see.

West Virginia's five largest cities—Charleston 47,215, Huntington 46,048, Morgantown 30,955, Parkersburg 29,675, Wheeling 26,771—might make it the only state in which they are still free from self-sustaining community transmission.

But probably not.

Probably there are about 200 cases in each of those cities, now spreading. And probably Kentucky, West Virginia, and Puerto Rico are the only states in which coronavirus is more than 15 days behind its pace and prevalence in New York. (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Virginia I see as most likely much closer to New York in time—they just have not been testing.)


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The Trump Administration Has Made America #1: Worst in the World at Coronavirus Response

The trajectory of cases since the 100th reported case is now "ahead" of all other counries. The Trump administration truly has made America #1!


Donald Trump: Coronavirus Statements https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/03/12/trump-coronavirus-timeline/:

Jan. 22: “We have it totally under control.”

Jan. 24: “It will all work out well.”

Jan. 29: “We have the best experts anywhere in the world, and they are on top of it 24/7!”

Jan. 30: “We think we have it very well under control. We have very little problem in this country at this moment—five. And those people are all recuperating successfully."

Feb. 2: “Well, we pretty much shut it down coming in from China."

Feb. 10: “I think the virus is going to be—it’s going to be fine.”

Feb. 14: “We have a very small number of people in the country, right now, with it. It’s like around 12. Many of them are getting better. Some are fully recovered already. So we’re in very good shape.”

Feb. 19: “I think it’s going to work out fine. I think when we get into April, in the warmer weather, that has a very negative effect on that and that type of a virus. So let’s see what happens, but I think it’s going to work out fine.”

Feb. 24: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.… Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

Feb. 25: “You may ask about the coronavirus, which is very well under control in our country. We have very few people with it, and the people that have it are... We’re doing a great job.”

Feb. 26: “Because of all we’ve done, the risk to the American people remains very low.… When you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero. That’s a pretty good job we’ve done."

Feb. 26: "We’re ready for it. It is what it is. We’re ready for it. We’re really prepared."

Feb. 27: “Only a very small number in U.S., and China numbers look to be going down. All countries working well together!”

Feb. 28: “I think it’s really going well. We did something very fortunate: we closed up to certain areas of the world very, very early—far earlier than we were supposed to. I took a lot of heat for doing it. It turned out to be the right move, and we only have 15 people and they are getting better, and hopefully they’re all better. There’s one who is quite sick, but maybe he’s gonna be fine."

Feb. 28: “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”

Feb. 29: “We’re the number-one travel destination anywhere in the world, yet we have far fewer cases of the disease than even countries with much less travel or a much smaller population.”

March 4: “Some people will have this at a very light level and won’t even go to a doctor or hospital, and they’ll get better. There are many people like that.”

March 5: “With approximately 100,000 CoronaVirus cases worldwide, and 3,280 deaths, the United States, because of quick action on closing our borders, has, as of now, only 129 cases (40 Americans brought in) and 11 deaths.”

March 6: “Calm. You have to be calm. It’ll go away.”

March 7: “It came out of China, and we heard about it. And made a good move: We closed it down; we stopped it. Otherwise—the head of CDC said last night that you would have thousands of more problems if we didn’t shut it down very early. That was a very early shutdown, which is something we got right."

March 9: “The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant."

March 9: “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”

March 10: “As you know, it’s about 600 cases, it’s about 26 deaths, within our country. And had we not acted quickly, that number would have been substantially more.”

March 10: “We’re prepared, and we’re doing a great job with it. And it will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away.”

March 11: “I think we’re going to get through it very well.”

March 12: “The United States, because of what I did and what the administration did with China, we have 32 deaths at this point… when you look at the kind of numbers that you’re seeing coming out of other countries, it’s pretty amazing when you think of it.”

March 13: “[FDA] will bring, additionally, 1.4 million tests on board next week and 5 million within a month. I doubt we’ll need anywhere near that.”

March 14: “We’re using the full power of the federal government to defeat the virus, and that’s what we’ve been doing.”

March 15: “This is a very contagious virus. It’s incredible. But it’s something that we have tremendous control over”...

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The United States Is Now Second Worst in Terms of Coronavirus Response

If we take as our metric the pattern of increase in the number of reported cases since the 100th reported case, the United States is now second worst in the world, behind only China. So that is bad. On the other hand, China now appears to have the coronavirus on the run. We think. It appears. So we could still manage this thing—with governmental competence:


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Shelton the Charlatan: Project Syndicate

In 1994 Milton Friedman wrote about Judy Shelton: "In a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece (July 15)... Judy Shelton started her concluding paragraph: “Until the U.S. begins standing up once more for stable exchange rates as the starting point for free trade...” It would be hard to pack more error into so few words.... A system of pegged exchange rates, such as the original IMF system or the European Monetary System, is an enemy to free trade. It is no accident that the 1992 collapse of the EMS coincided with the agreement to remove controls on the movement of capital..." https://miltonfriedman.hoover.org/friedman_images/Collections/2016c21/NR_09_12_1994.pdf. To turn monetary policy away from internal balance toward preventing exchange rate movements that market fundamentals wanted to see occur was, in Friedman's view, the road toward disaster. It was simply wrong. And it could be held together only if economies moved from free trade back toward managed trade—and so beggared not just their neighbors but themselves.

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Once again, playing my position requires not playing my position, and stating that Bill Barr does not speak like an official of the American government should. He is a civil servant, not an uncivil master: Scott Lemieux: Those Who Want Equal Protection of the Laws Give Unquestioned Deference to the Authoritiesy http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2019/12/those-who-want-equal-protection-of-the-laws-give-unquestioned-deference-to-the-authorities: 'Trump Family Capo Bill Barr expresses his view of the appropriate relationship between law enforcement and the citizenry.... "Today, American people have to focus on... the sacrifice and the service that is given by our law enforcement officers.... They have to start showing, more than they do, the respect and support that law enforcement deserves.... If communities don’t give that support and respect, they might find themselves without the police protection they need.” I dunno, I’m beginning to think that making a mobbed-up authoritarian President of the United States was bad...

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Benjamin Wittes: The Collapse of the President’s Defense: Weekend Reading

Benjamin Wittes: The Collapse of the President’s Defense https://www.lawfareblog.com/collapse-presidents-defense: 'President Trump’s substantive defense against the ongoing impeachment inquiry has crumbled entirely—not just eroded or weakened, but been flattened like a sandcastle hit with a large wave. It was never a strong defense. After all, Trump himself released the smoking gun early in L’Affaire Ukrainienne when the White House published its memo of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. That document erased any question as to whether Trump had asked a foreign head of state to “investigate”—a euphemism for digging up dirt on—his political opponents. There was no longer any doubt that he had asked a foreign country to violate the civil liberties of American citizens by way of interfering in the coming presidential campaign. That much we have known for certain for weeks. The clarity of the evidence did not stop the president’s allies from trying to fashion some semblance of defense. But the past few days of damaging testimony have stripped away the remaining fig leaves. There was no quid pro quo, we were told—except that it’s now clear that there was one. If there was a quid pro quo, we were told, it was the good kind of quid pro quo that happens all the time in foreign relations—except that, we now learn, it wasn’t that kind at all but the very corrupt kind instead. The Ukrainians didn’t even know that the president was holding up their military aid, we were told—except that, it turns out, they did know. And, the president said, it was all about anti-corruption. This was the most Orwellian inversion; describing such a corrupt demand as a request for an investigation of corruption is a bit like describing a speakeasy as an alcoholism treatment facility. As this tawdy fact pattern has become increasingly exposed, the only defense that remains to the president is that it does not amount to an impeachment-worthy offense—an argument difficult to square with either the history of impeachment or its purpose in our constitutional system...

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Note to Self: Council on Foreign Relations: Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession: Session Two: It’s not clear to me thatanyone who thought they had a lot of political influence twenty years ago now thinks they have more save, possibly, for Sheldon Adelson and our strange modern analog of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick: Rupert the Kingmaker. But even Rupert...

Look: the basic business model of Fox News is there are many people in America whose view of the world was not being validated by any of the major news networks. This was a market opportunity. Rupert Murdoch pursued this market opportunity. The form in which Roger Ailes and his successors pursued it took the form of scaring the piss out of old people, so their eyeballs would stay glued to the screen so they could be sold fake diabetes cures and overpriced gold funds.

But it is not at all clear to me that Rupert the Kingmaker thinks he’s in control now. There are other people willing to play the same game. Fox News tried to go in against Trump a little bit in 2016, and yet very quickly reversed course. I would like someone to tell me why: what did they see that made them not just get in bed with Trump but tie themselves spread-eagled to the mattress? David From once said: "We thought Fox News worked for us, but then we learned we worked for Fox News." Who, now, does Fox News think it must work for—or lose its audience and its profits?

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Income and Wealth Distribution, or, Watching Professional Republicans Sell Their Souls Back in 1992: Hoisted from the Archives

Inbox 31 brad delong gmail com Gmail

I have long wanted an undergraduate to write a senior thesis about this episode. I have never found one to advise to do so:

Hoisted from the Archives: The income distribution came on to the stage that is America's public sphere between February 14 and December 12, 1992. And the rhetoric of "X% of gains in per capita income over years Y-Z went to the top W%-iles of the income distribution" became a one in American political-economic discourse over that time period as well. Over those ten months then-New York Times economics reporter Sylvia Nasar wrote eight stories about income inequality in America. All of them were pitched at a high substantive and intellectual level—they would have fit into the New York Times's later Upshot (which has recently refocused at a less analytically-substantive level as concerned with "politics, policy, and everyday life"). This was, needless to say, very unusual for the New York Times.

Sylvia's first story addressed the peculiar fact that the "80's Boom", as Reagan Republicans and the New York Times called it, had seen the poverty rate not diminish but rise. Sylvia attributed that rise to union-busting, and a growing disparity between high- and low-wage jobs springing from a decline in relative manufacturing employment and possibly from boosted high-wage white-collar productivity from computerization. Her second story, on March 5, took a turn. Instead of continuing to investigate the causes of rising poverty and wage stagnation in a decade of supposed boom, it focused on "who had reaped the gains" from "the prosperity of the last decade and a half". It highlighted the "Krugman calculation". It began:

Populist politicians, economists and ordinary citizens have long suspected that the rich have been getting richer. What is making people sit up now is recent evidence that the richest 1 percent of American families appears to have reaped most of the gains from the prosperity of the last decade and a half. An outsized 60 percent of the growth in the average after-tax income of all American families between 1977 and 1989—and an even heftier three-fourths of the gain in average pretax income—went to the wealthiest 660,000 families, each of which had an annual income of at least $310,000 a year...

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Weekend Reading: Monica Potts: In the Land of Self-Defeat

Opinion In the Land of Self Defeat The New York Times

Weekend Reading: I saw this in Kansas City, of all places—where, IIRC, one firm dropped out of funding the Chamber of Commerce because it was going on roadshows outside trying to attract jobs to the region. It thought more mployers might force it to pay higher wages: Monica Potts: In the Land of Self-Defeat https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/04/opinion/sunday/trump-arkansas.html: "What a fight over the local library in my hometown in rural Arkansas taught me about my neighbors’ go-it-alone mythology—and Donald Trump’s unbeatable appeal.... I returned to Van Buren County at the end of 2017 after 20 years.... I’ve realized that it is true that people here think life here has taken a turn for the worse. What’s also true, though, is that many here seem determined to get rid of the last institutions trying to help them, to keep people with educations out, and to retreat from community life and concentrate on taking care of themselves and their own families. It’s an attitude that is against taxes, immigrants and government, but also against helping your neighbor.... I realized this after a fight over, of all things, our local library.... The library board wanted to increase the pay it could offer a new head librarian, who would be combining her new job with an older one, to 25 an hour.... The library has historically provided a variety of services for this community. It has offered summer reading camps for children and services like high-speed internet, sewing classes and academic help. I grew up going to the library and visited it often when I returned. It was always busy. I thought people would be supportive. Instead, they started a fight.... The first comment came from Amie Hamilton, who reiterated her point when I interviewed her several months later. 'If you want to make 25 an hour, please go to a city that can afford it', she wrote. 'We the people are not here to pay your excessive salaries through taxation or in any other way'. There was general agreement among the Facebook commenters that no one in the area was paid that much... and the people who do actually earn incomes that are similar—teachers and many county officials—largely remained quiet.... When a few of us, including me, pointed out that the candidate for the library job had a master’s degree, more people commented on the uselessness of education. 'Call me narrow-minded but I’ve never understood why a librarian needs a four-year degree', someone wrote. 'We were taught Dewey decimal system in grade school. Never sounded like anything too tough'.... The library fight was, itself, a fight over the future of rural America, what it meant to choose to live in a county like mine, what my neighbors were willing to do for one another, what they were willing to sacrifice to foster a sense of community here. The answer was, for the most part, not very much...

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Podcast: Trump's Impact on the Economy

Cotto/Gottfried: What Happens to America's Economy If Trump Is Reelected? Brad DeLong Explains https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZZEI4jRqEo&feature=youtu.be: "Donald Trump... if he manages to secure a second term, what would four more years of his presidency mean for America's economy? Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury Brad DeLong, who now is an economics professor at UC Berkeley, addresses this hugely important question¸—and much more—on 'Cotto/Gottfried.'... See more episodes here: https://wtcgcottogottfried.blogspot.com/. San Francisco Review of Books main page: http://www.sanfranciscoreviewofbooks.com...

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For the Weekend: The New Colossus

Statue of liberty Google Search

Emma Lazarus: The New Colossus: "Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"...

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Hoisted from the Archives: From 2007: Your One-Stop Shop for All Your 70th Anniversary Leftist Sectarian Polemic Blogging Needs

stacks and stacks of books

Hoisted from the Archives: From 2007: Your One-Stop Shop for All Your 70th Anniversary Leftist Sectarian Polemic Blogging Needs https://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2007/03/your_onestop_sh.html: In anticipation of the 70th anniversary of the bloody Stalinist suppression of the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista in the Barcelona May Days, we are--thanks to Jacob Levy--proud to bring you the latest in sectarian Marxist polemics blogging. First, we have Eric Hobsbawm declaring that George Orwell was a Traitor to Humanity by telling the truth about what he saw in Spain:

Eric Hobsbawm: "Writers supported [the Republican cause in] Spain... Hemingway, Malraux, Bernanos and virtually all the notable contemporary young British poets-Auden, Spender, Day Lewis, MacNeice did. Spain was the experience that was central to their lives between 1936 and 1939.... Polemics about the civil war [within the Left]... have never ceased since 1939. This was not so while the war was still continuing, although such incidents as the banning of the dissident Marxist Poum party and the murder of its leader Andrés Nin caused some international protest. Plainly a number of foreign volunteers... were shocked by... the behaviour of the Russians and much else...

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Hoisted from the Archives: John Holbo (2010): If Those Women Were Really Oppressed, Someone Would Have Tended to Have Freed Them by Then

stacks and stacks of books

John Holbo (2010): If Those Women Were Really Oppressed, Someone Would Have Tended to Have Freed Them by Then http://crookedtimber.org/2010/04/13/if-those-women/: "Having made one non-libertarian-related post, I can now say, with a good conscience, that Bryan Caplan has responded to his critics. It is a wonder to behold.... A lot of the trouble here obviously rotates around the issue of systematic social oppression. Caplan barrels straight through like so: 'there’s a fundamental human right to non-violently pressure and refuse to associate with others'.... Caplan doesn’t notice that, even if he’s right about this fundamental human right, he’s no longer even defending the proposition that women were more free in the 1880’s, never mind successfully defending it. He’s defending the proposition that there is a fundamental right, which can be exercised, systematically, to make women much less free, that was better protected in the 1880’s. So if women value this libertarian right more than freedom, they might rationally prefer that sort of society. But even so, they should hardly regard themselves as more free, for enjoying this right. Rather, they should regard themselves as (rationally) sacrificing liberty, a lesser value, for love of libertarianism, a higher value and separate jar of pickles altogether...

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Hoisted from the Archives: Why Everybody Should Be Short Louis Althusser and His Intellectual Children

stacks and stacks of books

Hoisted from the Archives: Why Everybody Should Be Short Louis Althusser and His Intellectual Children https://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2007/06/why_everybody_s.html: William Lazonick (1982), "Discussion of Resnick and Wolff, Feiner, Jensen, and Weiss," +Journal of Economic History_, 42:1 (March), pp. 83-85 http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0022-0507%28198203%2942%3A1%3C83%3ADORAWF%3E2.0.CO%3B2-G: "I find the title of this session—'Marxist Approaches to Economic History'—to be inappropriate.... First, what we have heard here are not "approaches" but one approach repeated four times.... Second... the approach presented here... relates not to economic history... not even an approach to the actual study of social history.... It is philosophical thinking about how one might develop an analytical framework for studying feudalism, capitalism, and so on...

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2019 09 18 08 4645 Scanner Pro pdf

Telling lies about what the law has been in the past in the hope of persuading people that this is how the law should be in the future: this is a very strange mode of rhetoric indeed...

I suppose we owe this to Sir Edward Coke: "I am afraid we should get rid of a great deal of what is considered law in Westminster hall, if what Lord Coke says without authority is not law..."—William Best (1824).

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I used to push back against those who said that, with Trump administration immigration policy, the cruelty is the point. I can no longer do so. In Guatemala, Maria Isabel Bueso would die quickly for lack of cutting-edge treatments:

Farida Jhabvala Romero: Feds to Reconsider Case of Bay Area Woman Getting Lifesaving Treatment Who Faces Deportation: "Maria Isabel Bueso has overcome many challenges as a result of the debilitating genetic disease she was born with that eventually left her confined to a wheelchair, breathing through a device and reliant upon weekly treatments to survive. She trained to become a dance teacher and now is an instructor, and she graduated summa cum laude from California State University, East Bay—where she set up a scholarship fund for students with disabilities. She also advocates for people with her disease and other rare illnesses, traveling to Washington, D.C., to lobby for medical research. Now, Bueso is fighting for her life once more. Immigration authorities previously told her and her family to leave the U.S. by mid-September—or face deportation to her home country of Guatemala...

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Jess Phillips: House of Commons: ""Tonight I will vote against a general election just like I will vote against pretty much anything the current PM put in front of me.... I have no faith in literally anything the prime minister says. There is no distance that I could trust him.... The PM is playing some bully boy game, of some bully boy public school that I probably won't understand. [Tory MP shouting] Sorry, would the hon gentleman like to make an intervention? Crack on.... Yesterday I watched Conservative colleagues begging him to tell them what he wanted... to give them a deal to vote for. This is some game that three men in No. 10 have come up with to try to game the system so that they win.... Personally I will not vote for any election that falls before October 31st..... "It's just a shame that quite a lot of the people who are sat in front of me who know that what happened over the last two days is wrong are too cowardly to actually say in here, in public, what they're all saying in the tea rooms. "You've all crowed and given sympathy to me about the problems that we have in the Labour Party and you have just sat by silently as your colleagues were marched out.... "We shouldn't go on conference recess. We shouldn't be proroguing parliament. We are currently in a national crisis. This is not a game. This is not some toy we can play with.... I'm meant to believe the PM is really doing this because he has a vision for the people in this country? He has a vision that comes to him every night and it is his own face..."

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In the modern world, it is not tariff reduction but regulatory harmonization that is required for grasping increased benefits from the world division of labor. We need to work to level up rather than level down or level stupid, but we need to work to level the regulatory landscape. The Brexit hope is for a free-trade zone with the United States but also with "national sovereignty" over regulatory matters. That is just not how it works:

N. Piers Ludlow: Did We Ever Really Understand How the EU Works?: "Michael Gove... referred... to a free trade zone... from Iceland to Turkey of which Britain would, he was confident, still be part... irrespective of the outcome of the referendum. But this focus on tariffs was quaintly anachronistic, because ever since the 1980s the main target of European liberalisation efforts has... been... non-tariff barriers... regulatory convergence...

John Cochrane Prostitutes Himself to Republican Politicians Department: Monday Smackdown/Hoisted from 2015

Clowns (ICP)

Noah Smith: John Cochrane Smackdown: "John writes: 'My surprise in reading Noah is that he provided no alternative numbers. If you don't think Free Market Nirvana will have 4% growth, at least for a decade as we remove all the level inefficiencies, how much do you think it will produce, and how solid is that evidence?...' I don't really feel I need to produce an alternative to a number that was made up as a political talking point. Why 4 percent? Why not 5? Why not 8? Why not 782 percent? Where do we get the number for how good we can expect Free Market Nirvana to be? Is it from the sum of point estimates from a bunch of different meta-analyses of research on various free-market policies? No. It was something Jeb Bush tossed out in a conference call because it was 'a nice round number', after James Glassman had suggested '3 or 3.5'. You want me to give you an alternative number, using the same rigorous methodology? Sure, how about 3.1. Wait, no. 3.3. There we go. 3.3 sounds good. Rolls off the tongue..."

I must say, Cochrane here reminds me of one of my most favorite quotes from tank economist Paul M. Sweezy:

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Who Are the Tankies, and Why Do They Fight for Dystopia?

Il Quarto Stato

Note to Self: And, of course, the curious thing is that when the chips are down it is the authoritarianism rather than the aolition of private property that is the key: Urban Dictionary: Tankie: "The term derives from the fact that the divisions within the communist movement first arose when the Soviet Union sent tanks into communist Hungary in 1956, to crush an attempt to establish an alternative version of communism which was not embraced by the Russians. Most communists outside the eastern bloc opposed this action and criticised the Soviet Union. The 'tankies' were those who said 'send the tanks in'. The epithet has stuck because tankies also supported 'sending the tanks in' in cases such as Czechoslovakia 1968, Afghanistan 1979, Bosnia and Kosovo/a (in the case of the Serbian state)...

German classical liberal Max Weber... saw that [really existing] socialism could become nothing but a synonym for bureaucratic despotism. For:  

History shows that wherever bureaucracy gained the upper hand, as in China, Egypt, it did not disappear. A progressive elimination of private capitalism is theoretically conceivable. What would be the practical result? The destruction of the [dehumanizing] steel frame of modern industrial work? No! Simply that also the top management of the socialized enterprises would become bureaucratic. There is even less freedom, since every power struggle with a state bureaucracy is hopeless.

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I Want My Country Back!

Note to Self: I Want My Country Back!: It is a really strange situation. It has a lot of "if he were nots":

  • If he were not president, Trump’s family would already have moved for a guardianship ad litem...

  • If he were not so authoritarian, we would be profoundly sad that someone—hate him, love him, simply be amused by him—has been such an entertaining celebrity...

  • And if he were not so deranged, we would be in the streets demanding the constitutional order be observed and wondering just what we should do when someone begins taking him seriously and literally when he says that the Washington Post and Catherine Rampell are the enemies of the people, when he says what we really need to do is get rid of the judges, when he says we should let the guys in the mirrored sunglasses in the security agencies do their thing.

It is not an America I ever thought that I would live in, I must say...

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What Is This "White" You Speak of, Kemosabe?: Hoisted from the Archives

Lone ranger and tonto Google Search

Hoisted from the Archives: _What Is This "White" You Speak of, Kemosabe?: One way to look at Nixon's 'Silent Majority' strategy was that it involved the redefinition of lots of people as 'white'—people who wouldn't have been 'white' even thirty years before, back when they were seen as not-quite-real-American ethnic immigrants living in ghettos and serving the corrupt Democratic political machines against which the Republicans fought—probably entangled in organized crime, too.

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Important to today, I think, is that the aliens in Ossian's Ride are refugees: Henry Farrell: Ossian’s Ride: "In 1959 the famous British astronomer Fred Hoyle published his novel, Ossian’s Ride... a future Ireland miraculously transformed into a technological superpower.... Hoyle wasn’t really interested in talking about Ireland.... Instead, he wanted to score points in an internal fight over British identity... responding to the Christian apologist C.S. Lewis, who regularly denounced Hoyle as a secular atheist on radio and had written his own science fiction novel, That Hideous Strength, a decade before. The villain of Lewis’s book was a sinister institute called NICE, which Satanic aliens wanted to impose contraception, lesbianism, secularism and surrealist art on an unsuspecting Britain.... Hoyle riposted with a novel where rational and benevolently ruthless aliens used an organization called ICE to pull the priest-ridden republic next door into the technological age. His satirical portrait of Ireland told British readers that the world was being transformed around them, and that even their most backwards seeming neighbor would outstrip them if they didn’t embrace modernity. The irony of history is that Hoyle’s parody is now the truth...

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America’s Superpower Panic: Project Syndicate

America s Superpower Panic by J Bradford DeLong Project Syndicate and America s Superpower Panic Project Syndicate

Project Syndicate: America’s Superpower Panic: History suggests that a global superpower in relative decline should aim for a soft landing, so that it still has a comfortable place in the world once its dominance fades. By contrast, US President Donald Trump's incoherent, confrontational approach toward China could seriously damage America’s long-term interests.

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Note to Self: Why was Jonathan Weisman's economic policy reporting for the Washington Post so execrable back in the mid-2000s? A person who was, as they say, very, very, very, very, very familiar with the matter:

Jonathan's big problem is that he's not that deep into the issues, and he has no backup. There's nobody that he can go to in that building to tell him 'this was how X was trying to mislead you' or 'this is Y's history' or 'be very careful here: if you get this detail Z wrong, they'll come down on you extremely hard'...

In retrospect, I think we can conclude that it was not that Weisman was mismanaged by the Washington Post editorial staff: I'm happy to believe that there was gross mismanagement, but gross mismanagement does not lead one to contrast the view of Paul Krugman with that of Donald Luskin or of a White House aide who does not dare give his name and say "economists furiously debate". That is someone who has made a deliberate decision to make their career by being a complaisant mouthpiece for insider anonymous sources

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Note to Self: Let me say that I am 100% behind Roxane Gay here. When Jonathan Weisman was covering economics and monetary policy, he was a "Paul Krugman and Donald Luskin disagree about the shape of the earth: who can tell who is right?" guy. Those of us who talked to him took the incompetence for granted—and more than that: a willful desire to not understand the issues because then he might be unable to properly suck up to the sources he wished to suck up too.

Given that history, my mind is closed on the incompetence question. And I'm happy to listen on the racism one:

Roxane Gay: "Guys, Jonathan Weisman emailed me to say he thinks I owe him an 'enormous apology'. The audacity and entitlement of white men is fucking incredible. I am legitimately shocked. Like. What? He also emailed my assistant. WTF? And he also emailed Harper Collins. Uhh, @nytimes, get your boy...

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Very interesting to see: usually—always IIRC, with the possible exception of Alan Greenspan's use by the Bush administration in 2001 to support their tax cut—Fed Chairs and ex-Fed Chairs try as hard as they can to avoid choosing a partisan side. It appears that they have, as a group, decided that that is no longer possible: Clair Jones: Former Fed chairs gang up on Trump : "Every living former US Federal Reserve chair has ganged up on US President Donald Trump in an op-ed with the Wall Street Journal.... 'When the current chair's four-year term ends, the president will have the opportunity to reappoint him or choose someone new. That nomination will have to be ratified by the Senate. We hope that when that decision is made, the choice will be based on the prospective nominee's competence and integrity, not on political allegiance or activism. It is critical to preserve the Federal Reserve's ability to make decisions based on the best interests of the nation, not the interests of a small group of politicians....' The Journal article is diplomatic, eloquent and reflective. Everything that Trump isn’t, then. The trouble is, in an era of short attention spans and pick-A-side politics where the Fed chair finds himself regularly called out on Twitter, relying on things like evidence, or a coherent argument, might not cut it.... Earlier this year, when addressing Trump’s threat to replace Powell, former Fed vice-chair Stan Fischer put it bluntly. If the US President used his re-election in 2020 to choose a Fed chair with views close to his own, there was a chance of the US becoming 'a Third World country'. Stark and not exactly politically correct. If they are to retain their independence, though, the world’s central bankers might need a bit more of Fischer’s zing...

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HOLY TOLEDO, BATMAN!!: This could end tomorrow, simply, easily, if Pence would invoke or McConnell call for the invocation of Amendment XXV: Betty Cracker: Holy Toledo: "This is just…well, watch for yourselves if you didn’t see it live:

VoteVets: Donald Trump cares so little about mass shootings that he says it happened in the wrong city ("Toledo"). What's worse, he seemingly read it off the teleprompter, meaning the entire White House didn't care enough to get it right, either....

Fellow citizens, we either kick the Republicans out of power at every level, or their insanity will engulf this country completely. We’re more than half way there right now. It really is as simple as that...

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Monday Smackdown: Fafblog: Condi Rice Complains to Customer Service!

Monday Smackdown/Hoisted from the Archives: We Miss 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.

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Enormous Possibilities in China...


Note to Self: There are immense possibilities in China.

On the screen earlier today we saw Chinese military politician Peng Dehuai, who did command the army that inflicted the greatest defeat on an American army ever in the retreat from the Yalu River. But during the years of the Great Leap Forward he was the Chinese politician who did most to serve the people. And we are desperately short of his like in both Beijing and Washington, both of which are facing very different but, I think, equally grave crises of governance. Sp here is 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!

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A Smart Approach to China-U.S. Relations


Consider a country that is the global superpower.

Its military is best-of-breed. Its reach extends from Japan to the West Indies to the Indian Ocean, and beyond. Its industries of the most productive in the world. It Is predominate in world trade. It dominates global finance.

But, when this global superpower looks to the west, across the sea, it sees a rising power—a confident nation with a larger population, hungry for wealth, hungry for preeminence, seeing itself as possessing a manifest destiny to supersede the old superpower. And, unless something goes horribly wrong with the rising power to the west, its rise is indeed all but inevitable.

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The Blocked Southern and Midwestern Global Warming Conversation

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I find myself thinking about XXXXXX and her points about experiential, personal narrative hooks, and about XXXXXX today and XXXXXX yesterday on effects on the United States.

As I said yesterday, the U.S. climate is, on average, marching north by 4 miles a year. And it is becoming more variable: thermodynamics tells us that a system with more energy will over time occupy more configuration states, and in the U.S. midwest the extra configuration states are predominantly hotter, wetter configuration states: rather than hot dry air moving northeast from the deserts, hot wet air is moving northwest from the Gulf of Mexico. Witness this year's floods in the Mississippi, Missouri, and Arkansas watersheds. 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.

I made a pitch to the XXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXXX about five years ago that the highest and best use of their money was to start documenting the links between global warming and four state-area agriculture. No traction at all: collecting facts was viewed as, in some way, dangerous. I keep thinking about how in a lot of America the public sphere of factual discussion and debate is profoundly broken. I can think of nothing to do other than keep trying to roll the boulder up the hill, and keep saying to myself: "we must imagine Sisyphus happy". And I look across the table at XXXXXX XXXXXX and I ask him for help.

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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.

In fact, I really do not understand XXXXXX XXXXXX's claim that the President has "put the Democrats in a box" on immigration. As I read the Gallup Poll, by 64% to 35% Americans want immigration continued at the same level or increased. 37% want the level decreased. The President wants the level of immigration decreased—illegal immigration and legal immigration alike, and we certainly shouldn't have any judges whose parents were born in Mexico. Trump is on the side of the late Sam Huntington—who liked to rant about how the immigration of Cubans had ruined Miami, and "would the last American leaving please remember to bring the flag."

How is abandoning the 64% position for a 35% position putting your opponents in a box?

New High in U S Say Immigration Most Important Problem

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I Want My Country Back!

Mussolini rally Google Search

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

First, we saw the rise of the progressive movement. Lots of people, even people for whom America was then doing very, very well, begin to say: "Wait a minute, this can’t go on. There’s something fundamentally wrong!"

Thus you had Teddy Roosevelt attacking the "malefactors of great wealth". You had Andrew Carnegie saying "he who dies rich, dies disgraced"—and that, in fact, if you leave anything at all to your children, you should be ashamed of yourself.

But then we had the whipsaw.

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Monday Smackdown/Hoisted from the Archives: Four Huge Mistakes in One Short Piece by John Taylor


Hoisted from the Archives: Four huge mistakes in this here by John Taylor:

  1. That the low-interest rate economy of 2004-2007 was in an inflationary boom, rather than an economy that barely managed to reach any definition of "full employment" even though supercharged boy three things—low interest rates, expansionary fiscal policy, plus a huge irrationally-exuberant asset-price bubble.

  2. That low interest rates since 2007 represent a discretionary choice by central banks, rather than reflecting the fact that any central bank wanting to avoid permanent depression must accommodate itself to the low level fo the Wicksellian neutral interest rate.

  3. That as of 2017 interest rates were about to normalize.

$. That the Republican policy package of regulatory rollback and tax cuts for the rich would provide a large boost to investment spending and, through that channel, productivity growth.

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:

John Taylor (March 2017): Sluggish Future: Policy Is The Problem: "Secular stagnation... raises inconsistencies and doubts. Low policy interest rates set by monetary authorities... before the financial crisis were associated with a boom characterized by rising inflation and declining unemployment—not by the slack economic conditions and high unemployment of secular stagnation. The evidence runs contrary to the view that the equilibrium real interest rate—that is, the real rate of return required to keep the economy’s output equal to potential output—was low prior to the crisis. And the fact that central banks have chosen low policy rates since the crisis casts doubt on the notion that the equilibrium real interest rate just happened to be low. Indeed, in recent months, long-term interest rates have increased with expectations of normalization of monetary policy.... The United States needs another dose of structural reform—including regulatory, tax, budget, and monetary—to provide incentives to increase capital investment and bring new ideas into practice.... There is hope for yet another convincing swing in the policy-performance cycle to add to the empirical database...

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Monday Smackdown: Every Time I Try to Get Out, They Pull Me Back In... Clive Crook Edition

Stop or I Shoot Myself TV Tropes

Hoisted from Two Years Ago: I must say, afgter two years I think Duncan Black was much too kind here. My remarks at the time: Monday Smackdown: Every Time I Try to Get Out, They Pull Me Back In... Clive Crook Edition_: So after a pep talk from Noah Smith Saturday night about how it is time to become kinder and gentler—to look for opportunities to praise for being smart people who in the past I have criticized for being really really really dumb—I wake up Monday morning, and I wince because 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...

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Monday Smackdown: Batshit Insane American Nat-Cs Department: Intellectual Leading Light Samuel P. Huntington


Apropos of our National Conservatives—our Nat-Cs—here in America today. It is worth remembering how batshit insane is right-wing "class of civilizations" urberguru Samuel Hintington. Witness his firm belief that immigrants from Cuba have ruined Miami: "Anglos had three choices... [i] accept their subordinate and outsider position... [ii] assimilate into the Hispanic community—“acculturation in reverse”... [iii] they could leave Miami, and between 1983 and 1993, about 140,000 did just that, their exodus reflected in a popular bumper sticker: 'Will the last American to leave Miami, please bring the flag'...

Samuel P. Huntington: The Hispanic Challenge: "The persistent inflow of Hispanic immigrants threatens to divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, and two languages. Unlike past immigrant groups, Mexicans and other Latinos have not assimilated into mainstream U.S. culture, forming instead their own political and linguistic enclaves—from Los Angeles to Miami—and rejecting the Anglo-Protestant values that built the American dream. The United States ignores this challenge at its peril.... Miami is the most Hispanic large city in the 50 U.S. states. Over the course of 30 years, Spanish speakers—overwhelmingly Cuban—established their dominance in virtually every aspect of the city’s life, fundamentally changing its ethnic composition, culture, politics, and language. The Hispanization of Miami is without precedent in the history of U.S. cities...

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