Stafford: Quentin’s Zoom Webinar Checklist—Noted

Quentin Stafford: Quentin’s Zoom Webinar Checklist

  • [Consider] Webinar mode... a paid add-on,... [with] an Eventbrite-style registration system, polls, Q&A chat windows, post-call surveys, the ability to livestream to YouTube, etc.
  • Make sure your camera is around eye-level or higher. Laptop users, I’m looking at you!...
  • Make sure there’s more light in front of you than there is behind you.
  • Use ethernet rather than wifi if you possibly can.
  • Use a decent microphone....
  • Avoid distracting (or boring) backgrounds.
  • Don’t use virtual backgrounds or automatic blurring.
  • Mute yourself when your microphone isn’t needed....
  • Have at least one trial session!... You, any speakers, and one or two other helpers. You want everyone to know what it’s like to be a panelist, and what it’s like to be an attendee. Things you’ll want to find out:
  • Can attendees take part in the chat?
  • If so, will that distract the speaker?
  • If, instead, you’re using the Q&A window, who sees what and when?
  • Have one of your test attendees submit questions and answer them privately, publicly, or reject them. What do they see?
  • Suppose you want to allow an attendee to say something using audio, how do you do it?
  • How much of this will the speaker be able to see when they’re sharing their Powerpoint presentation?
  • If they have a video embedded in their presentation, will everyone hear its audio?
  • You need more than just two of you to try this kind of thing out.
  • Don’t hold your trial session just before the event!
  • If your speakers are going to be sharing their screen, test that out in advance with every speaker.
  • Giving the talk, running the meeting, and collating questions are three jobs and ideally need three people.
  • You will get lots of last-minute requests for the meeting link, no matter how many times you’ve sent it out beforehand. Have it to hand at all times.
  • reate a TinyURL link to it in case you have to text it to someone at short notice.
  • Consider disaster scenarios.
  • Make yourself a checklist.
  • Are you recording this? Have you notified everyone? Will you make it available afterwards?
  • Do you want attendees to be able to use the chat? Turn it off if not.
  • Do you want attendees to be able to use/see the Q&A window? Set appropriately.
  • Have you enabled screen-sharing for participants? That’s an option on the host’s screen-sharing menu.
  • Tell the panel: turn off your phone, turn off notifications on your desktop and quit all other apps, make sure your family and dog know you’re not to be disturbed.
  • Make contingency plans so you aren’t distracted if your doorbell rings?
  • Tell the attendees: whether you’re recording the meeting, whether the video will be available, where the video will be available, whether you’re using Zoom’s ‘Raise Hand’ feature, and how you’re handling Q&A.
  • Have a backup plan for what to do if something suddenly goes badly wrong?
  • ‘Spotlight’ the current speaker’s video.
  • ‘Spotlighting’ the speaker’s video is a good safety measure to stop unexpected switches when somebody’s dog barks in the background after you forgot to mute them!
  • Think about how you are going to finish the meeting professionally. Consider the final words you want to be ringing in hundreds of people’s ears as they depart.
  • Beware the still-live microphones and cameras.
  • Stick around afterwards for a while
.#noted #2020-07-09

Scott: Coronavirus Cases Are Rising, But Covid-19 Deaths Are Falling. What’s Going On?—Noted

Dylan Scott: Coronavirus Cases Are Rising, But Covid-19 Deaths Are Falling. What’s Going On? ‘If deaths are not increasing along with cases, then why can’t we keep reopening?... I posed that very question to more than a dozen public health experts. All of them cautioned against complacency: This many cases mean many more deaths are probably in our future. And even if deaths don’t increase to the same levels seen in April and May, there are still some very serious possible health consequences if you contract Covid-19. The novel coronavirus, SARS-Cov-2, is a maddeningly slow-moving pathogen—until it’s not. The sinking death rates reflect the state of the pandemic a month or more ago, experts say, when the original hot spots had been contained and other states had only just begun to open up restaurants and other businesses… .#coronavirus #noted #publichealth #2020-07-09

Black: Bedbug Stephens, the New York Times, & the Anti-Mask Brigade—Noted

Bedbug stephens

Duncan Black: Eschaton: The Anti-Mask Brigade ‘I got the play a couple of months ago. Sure it was gross and cynical—these are, charitably, gross and cynical people—but it made sense. The evil libs had a problem in big cities like New York and were trying to impose their Stalinist precautions on the rest of the country, mostly to make Dear Leader look bad. Even New York Times columnist Bedbug Stephens agreed! But now cases are booming elsewhere and they're in their own bases trying to murder their base…

.#coronavirus #moralresponsibility #noted #orangehairedbaboons #publichealth #2020-07-09

A Grand Narrative Catechism: The Global Economic History of the Long 20th Century, 1870-2016


What does DeLong see as the proper temporal boundaries of the “Long 20th Century”?
The Long 20th Century began around 1870, when the triple emergence of globalization, the industrial research lab, and the modern corporation in the context of the market economy set the world on the path that pulled it out of the dire poverty that was humanity’s lot in all centuries before; and when America took the steps that made it the place where much of the action was—“the furnace where the future is forged”, to quote Russian Revolutionary Leon Trotsky. The Long Twentieth Century ended in 2016, with the sharp shock of the near-return of Great Depression-era macroeconomic conditions, with the failure of the anemic economic recovery from the Great Recession that started in 2008 to bring a restoration of the post-1870 normal pace of productivity growth; and with the election of Donald Trump, an American president hostile to global leadership, to global cooperation, and to the very ideas that America was open to immigrants.

.#berkeley #econ115 #economichistory #highlighted #slouchingtowardsutopia #tceh #teaching #teachingeconomics #teachinghistory #2020-07-08
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Holbo: 'This Maxim Is Patently, Grossly Inadequate for Governing a Blog Comment Box... Let Alone... Public Reason & a Public Sphere'—Noted

John Holbo: '[The Harpers letter says:] "The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away. We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other" Some thoughts on 2nd-best solutions: This maxim is patently, grossly inadequate for governing a blog comment box... let alone a social media platform, let alone Public Reason and a Public Sphere. Ideally, we would live in a world in which this would be an ideal rule to follow. Ideally, the world contains no trolls, bots, bad faith actors—or few enough they can be dealt with retail not wholesale in the Marketplace of Ideas. In a world in which everyone were exchanging more or less in open-faced good faith, this rule would be good. In our actual world, however, it is not good. No, not really, sadly. Hence a dilemma. Insisting on the rule might seem to pull us towards that better world. Be the ideal discourse change you want to see! On the other hand—here is 2nd best wisdom—there is no guarantee that things fit for the best of all possible worlds also best suit ours...

...If you set this high bar and then—predictably—fail to clear it (you block people on Twitter rather than debating them ad nauseum, even though they are obviously trolls) you open yourself up to criticism of hypocrisy. Maybe things go backwards as a result. But there isn't really an obvious, simple 2nd best rule for our 2nd best world. It's easy-and therefore very proper!-to point out cases in which people and things and ideas have been 'cancelled' when they clearly should have been tolerated/debated. Not easy to articulate a stable norm about this, even a rule-of-thumb. One of the main obstacles is the discourse ethics of partisanship. Partisanship is not bad faith, but partisanship is, to some degree, a thing that should be damped in debate. The whole point of arguing is to consider changing your mind, via trying to change others' minds. So, ideally, partisans should-not disarm, that isn't it-but observe exacting dueling protocols when entering the debate arena. But this is hard to articulate and enforce.

Here's another problem. Nazis are bad. In a politically liberal world in which there are only a few Nazis, you can argue with them. It's like a vaccine. You are inoculating the discourse by injecting it with small amounts of moribund evil, to build antibodies. Unfortunately, it is a fallacy that, if vaccines are good, virulent diseases must be good, too. R's whine that they get called 'evil', but they support a President who tweets out 'White Power' and they are, no kidding, working to dismantle or hobble democracy. Why are leftists 'cancelling' right-wing ideas? Because the center of gravity of conservative thinking in the Republican party has lurched rightward. The R party really is laying its bets on securing minority white rule by manipulation of anti-democratic levers of power.

This is within the 'rules of the game', because the game was to some degree designed to be anti-democratic. But it is not something they are arguing for openly and honestly. It's not clear it's a good idea arguing with them as-if they were good faith actors about this. Future historians will debate 'cancel culture in the 2020's'. I hope they will be sensible enough rightly to identify as its main, root cause: breaches of norms of commitment to liberalism and democracy by the American right. 'Unless and until conservatism crawls out of its deplorable basket there isn't much realistic prospect of normalizing its tenets as non-deplorable, in discourse terms.' It is not reasonable to ask the left to pretend things stand otherwise than they do.

Another nexus of dispute is things like trans rights. I don't want to get into the whole JK Rowling thing. On the one hand, people ought to be more open to more perspectives on these things. Life is mysterious and strange and needs many perspectives on it. On the other hand, it isn't really reasonable to ask people to open themselves up to—to render themselves incapable of having reasonable discussions in the face of—bad faith attacks. I believe Rowling is arguing in good faith, even if I don't agree with what she is saying. But the pressure to 'cancel' that sort of thing does not seem to me to be due, primarily, to intolerance on the left. Rather, the problem is that MOST arguments and arguers on Rowling's side (but not her) are in bad faith. So it's hard to debate Rowling in good faith without polluting the discourse, absolutely, by letting a lot of bad faith sewage seep in.

If you want a world in which a good faith argument is possible between Rowling and her critics (which I do!) work to bring about a world in which there is less bad-faith arguing from the right on trans rights. Let me be very specific about that. The bad faith arguments all have the same form. They are what I call 'downstream worries' arguments. If 'trans rights are human rights' we have pronoun trouble, or need new norms for bathrooms or women's sports or in womens' shelters. Or philosophical ideas about the metaphysics of gender will be problematized. All this is true and some of it may get bumpy. But there's really no point arguing about it without a high baseline of initial acceptance of trans rights. If trans rights are human rights, how are we going to run sports/use pronouns? But the bad faith arguers are not willing to debate the antecedent honestly. They have a sense they'll lose, and they are right. So they fuss about bathrooms to pollute discourse with issues that can only be reasonably discussed after we accept something they don't, but aren't willing to argue about honestly. There is no reason to put up with the debate being rendered nonsensical.

It's fine to 'cancel' those who monkey wrench liberal discourse, rather than engage in honest debate. Unfortunately, that means those who are adjacent to bad faith actors, but in good faith, get cancelled-by-association. That's unfortunate but hard to rule out, with a rule. So I can't agree with the letter of the letter, although I do wholeheartedly agree with the spirit of the letter. So, in spirit, I sign the letter. In the best of all possible worlds. But not, like, with the letters of my name in a 2nd best world. (Is that right?)...

.#cognition #noted #publicsphere #2020-07-07

Popehat: The Problem of the Preferred First Speaker—Noted

So now Jennifer Finney Boylan self-cancels for signing the Harpers letter, and Emily van Der Werff says that Matt Yglesias's signing it makes her feel "less safe" at—thus putting Vox Media's Human Resources Department on notice that other employees may be creating an environment unsafe for her.

And she promptly gets cancelled, massively, by a mob at least partly directed by Jesse Singal, in spite of Matt Yglesias's pleas that people leave Emily alone

My first reaction to the letter was "in the world of Trump, of COVID-19, of global warming, of the murder of George Floyd, of the clearing of Lafayette Park of peaceful protesters with tear gas so the President accompanied by the CJCS can walk through—this is the type of action in the public sphere you think you should take? What's wrong with you?" But my second reaction is turning into: "Well played, John R. MacArthur, well played!":

Popehat: ‘I like and respect many of these people[who signed "A Letter on Justice and Open Debate"]. But I continue to struggle with the concept. The distinction between “silencing” and more/responsive/critical speech eludes me. I see instead the problem of the preferred first speaker. “The problem of the preferred first speaker” is the tendency to impose norms of civility, openness, productiveness, and dialogue-encouraging on a RESPONSE to expression that we do not impose on the expression itself. On the other hand, some of the reactions to this seem absolutely devoted to making its point. Ugh. No seriously, now I wonder if the letter was crafted to make its point not in its text but through the anticipated reactions. Good Lord above people. I mean if that was their intent—to illustrate their proposition through anticipated reactions—I have to compliment them on their craft, even if I don't agree with them entirely.

Jennifer Finney Boylan: I did not know who else had signed that letter. I thought I was endorsing a well meaning, if vague, message against internet shaming. I did know Chomsky, Steinem, and Atwood were in, and I thought, good company.

Also, "public shaming and ostracism" are free speech and association, and I guarantee you that you support them—you just disagree with me about when they should be used. Be suspicious of free speech philosophies that require you to refrain from speaking to promote speech…

.#noted #publicsphere #2020-07-07

De Tocqueville: "Property... a... badge of fraternity. The wealthy... elder... but all... members of one family..."—Noted

Alexis de Tocqueville: Recollections. ‘The steward of my estate, himself half a peasant, describing what was taking place in the country immediately after the 24th of February [1848], wrote: "People here say that if Louis-Philippe has been sent away, it is a good thing, and that he deserved it...." This was to them the whole moral of the play. But when they heard tell of the disorder reigning in Paris, of the new taxes to be imposed, and of the general state of war that was to be feared... and when, in particular, they learnt that the principle of property was being attacked, they did not fail to perceive that there was something more.... I was at once struck by a spectacle that both astonished and charmed me.... In the country all the landed proprietors, whatever their origin, antecedents, education or means, had come together, and seemed to form but one class: all former political hatred and rivalry of caste or fortune had disappeared from view. There was no more jealousy or pride displayed between the peasant and the squire, the nobleman and the commoner; instead, I found mutual confidence, reciprocal friendliness, and regard. Property had become, with all those who owned it, a sort of badge of fraternity. The wealthy were the elder, the less endowed the younger brothers; but all considered themselves members of one family, having the same interest in defending the common inheritance. As the French Revolution had infinitely increased the number of land-owners, the whole population seemed to belong to that vast[116] family. I had never seen anything like it, nor had anyone in France within the memory of man... .#equitablegrowth #history #noted #politicaleconomy #politics #2020-07-07

Scalzi: Five Things: July 7, 2020—Noted

John Scalzi: Five Things: July 7, 2020 ‘Donald Trump a father-damaged sociopath: Or so suggests niece Mary Trump in her new book.... My own very quick take.... Honestly at this point if you don’t know Donald Trump is a terrible person, it’s because you’ve decided you don’t want to know.... Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro tests positive for coronavirus: Which, well, good, since he’s pretty much the only major world leader further into denial about the virus than our own president.... I wouldn’t feel entirely put out if the virus kicked his ass... a lot. Him coming out... with minimal effect... would probably be even worse... since he really does seem like the “see, it wasn’t so bad, f--- you for thinking otherwise” sort.... This wouldn’t have any upside for that country’s citizens. Lin-Manuel Miranda with a healthy response to Hamilton criticisms.... “I had a lot to cover and two and a half hours to cover it all, choices were made, criticize away,” which is a) a very sensible way of dealing with criticism, b) easy to say when the art in question has garnered one Tonys and Pulitzers and literally millions of dollars.... Also, bluntly, criticism means the work is still alive in culture. That’s not chopped liver for an artist… .#noted #2020-07-07

Citino: Death of the Wehrmacht—Noted

Robert Citino: Death of the Wehrmacht: 'Tobruk was just the latest example, but all the German campaigns of this [early 1942] period were essentially similar. In Kerch, Kharkov, Gazala, Tobruk, and Sevastopol, the Wehrmacht had won five of the most decisive victories in its entire history. It was an amazing run that represented a climax for the German way of war as it had developed since the 1600s. It had taken nearly 600,000 prisoners in that stretch, its own casualties had been low—almost nonexistent if we exclude Sevastopol. It had fought each of these battles from a position of numerical inferiority. If the highest military accomplishment is the ability to "fight outnumbered and win," the Wehrmacht seemed to have the market cornered by 1942...

...It achieved this enviable record of triumph by conducting its operations in the time-honored Prusso-German tradition. All were carefully prepared, highly aggressive, and centered around an operational-level maneuver designed to get onto the opponent's flank and rear with a significant portion of the available force. From that point on, the intent was always the same: to kessel most or all of the enemy's main body, subject it to concentric attack in the classic style, and destroy it. The breakthrough against the carefully chosen left wing of the Soviet line at Kerch; the maneuver at Kharkov, finding the deep left flank of the Soviet position and driving it in relentlessly; Rommel's drive into the British rear at Gazala, landing a first-round blow from which the enemy never recovered; the Afrika Korps's drive far to the east of Tobruk, followed by the sudden turnabout; Manstein's nighttime crossing of Severnaya Bay, bypassing the still unbroken Soviet defensive line in front of Sevastopol: again and again in this period, it was the surprising operational-level maneuver that delivered a shock to the adversary and brought victory even against unfavorable numerical odds.

None of this was new. Tanks and aircraft had given it a more modern sheen, but the essence was historical. It was an operational approach that had been burned into the German officer corps since Frederick the Great. As one German officer wrote in July 1942:

When we think of the decisive sources of strength that make up the concept of German soldiering, not the last among them is tradition. The military fabric of our day is not the result of a single deed. It has formed it- self organically by a difficult, centuries-long process.

Here is the authentic voice of the German officer corps, one that had emerged from an old and traditional historical matrix:

Tradition is bound up with memory of all the warlike events that have played themselves out on all the battlefields of the centuries. Leuthen and Kunersdorf, Jena and Auerstadt, Leipzig and Waterloo, Koniggratz and Sedan, Tannenberg and Gorlice-Tarnow: all the victories and battles that German soldiers have sealed with their blood arise before our eyes...

In other words, the great victories at Kerch and Kharkov, Gazala and Tobruk did not emerge from nowhere. They were instead part of a tradition, and they owed as much to the legacy of Frederick the Great and Moltke as they did to the genius of a Manstein, Kleist, or Rommel.

The decisive nature of these triumphs notwithstanding, they had been mere preliminaries to the upcoming main event. As spring yielded to the high summer of 1942, the Wehrmacht would return once again to the grand offensive. Operation Blue would take the army to many places that it had never dreamed of before: to the industrial city of Stalingrad on the Volga River, to the oil fields of Maikop in the Caucasus Mountain region, to forbiddingly remote places like the Kuban and the Taman and the Kalmuk—and, for the first time, to a place that was truly terra incognita to officers and men of the Wehrmacht alike: an annihilating defeat in a campaign of maneuver...

.#noted #2020-07-09

"The Market Was Made for Man, Not Man for the Market": Time to Ramp Up Direct Cash Payments

Lord of the sabbath

The need for large redirections of financial flows to avoid large increase in poverty during this coronavirus plague is large. The need for substantial top-ups to spending flows in view of the large jump in savings rates triggered by the arrival of coronavirus is large. The U.S. government continues to be able to borrow at unbelievable terms—terms so unbelievable that, when the accounting is done correctly, a larger national debt is not a drag on the funds the government has available for its other missions but rather a source of current cash flow.

(Why? Because in real population-adjusted terms, people are not charging the government interest on its debt but are instead paying the government to keep their money safe, but that is a discussion for another time.)

Moreover, a plan to have the government top off spending flows by whatever large amount is necessary to immediately return to full employment is moderately conservative, and the only effective way to give American businesses their proper chance to adjust and survive the coronavirus plague. It is, as John Maynard Keynes wrote back in 1936:

moderately conservative... [to] enlarge... the functions of government... [to include] the task of adjusting to one another the propensity to consume and the inducement to invest.... [It is] the condition of the successful functioning of individual [entrepreneurial] initiative. For if effective demand is deficient, not only is the public scandal of wasted resources intolerable, but the individual enterpriser who seeks to bring these resources into action is operating with the odds loaded against him. The game of hazard which he plays is furnished with many zeros, so that the players as a whole will lose if they have the energy and hope to deal all the cards.... [Success then requires] courage and initiative... supplemented by exceptional skill or unusual good fortune. But if effective demand is adequate, average skill and average good fortune will be enough... [thus] preserving [both] efficiency and freedom...

Our financial flows and property orders are a societal accounting system to guide and manage our collective societal division of labor. If dotting the i's and crossing the t's in this societal accounting system produces mass unemployment, the right response is to adjust it to produce full employment and then reconcile the accounting entries, not to watch employment fall and then sit around with our thumbs up our butts wondering what to do.

After all, the market was made for man, not man for the market—wasn't it?:


Olugbenga Ajilore,​ Mark Blyth,​ J. Bradford DeLong,​ Susan Dynarski,​ Jason Furman,​ Indivar Dutta-Gupta,​ Teresa Ghilarducci,​ Robert Gordon, ​Samuel Hammond, Darrick Hamilton,​ Damon Jones, ​Elaine Maag, Ioana Marinescu,​ Manuel Pastor,​ Robert Pollin,​ Claudia Sahm, & al.: Open Letter from economists on Automatic Triggers for Cash Stimulus Payments We urge policymakers to use all the tools at their disposal to avoid further preventable harm to people and the economy, including​ ​recurring direct stimulus payments, lasting until the economy recovers. The widespread uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic and recession calls for a multifaceted response​ ​that includes automatic, ongoing programs and policies including more direct cash payments to families; extended and enhanced unemployment benefits; substantial aid to state and local governments; stronger SNAP benefits; robust child care funding and more. These programs and policies will hasten the economic recovery far more effectively if they stay in place until economic conditions warrant their phaseout. ​Direct cash payments are an essential tool that will boost economic security, drive consumer spending, hasten the recovery, and promote certainty at all levels of government and the economy–for as long as necessary…

Continue reading ""The Market Was Made for Man, Not Man for the Market": Time to Ramp Up Direct Cash Payments" »

Carroll: Boltzmann's Anthropic Brain—Noted

Sean Carroll: Boltzmann's Anthropic Brain ‘The process of "remembering" involves establishing correlations that inevitably increase the entropy, so the direction of time that we remember [and therefore label "the past"] is always... lower-entropy.... The real puzzle is... why are conditions at one end of time so dramatically different from those at the other? If we do not assume temporal asymmetry a priori, it is impossible in principle to answer this question by suggesting why a certain initial condition is "natural"—without temporal asymmetry, the same condition would be equally natural at late times...

...On the one hand, Boltzmann's fluctuations of entropy around equilibrium allow for the existence of dynamical regions, where the entropy is (just by chance) in the midst of evolving to or from a low-entropy minimum. And we could certainly live in one of those regions.... oltzmann's goal is perfectly reasonable: to describe a history of the universe on ultra-large scales that is on the one hand perfectly natural and not finely-tuned, and on the other features patches that look just like what we see. But, having taken a bite of the apple, we have no choice but to swallow....

The most basic problem has been colorfully labeled "Boltzmann's Brain" by Albrecht and Sorbo. Remember that the low-entropy fluctuations we are talking about are incredibly rare, and the lower the entropy goes, the rarer they are.... If we are explaining our low-entropy universe by appealing to the anthropic criterion that it must be possible for intelligent life to exist, quite a strong prediction follows: we should find ourselves in the minimum possible entropy fluctuation consistent with life's existence. And that minimum fluctuation would be "Boltzmann's Brain."

Out of the background thermal equilibrium, a fluctuation randomly appears that collects some degrees of freedom into the form of a conscious brain, with just enough sensory apparatus to look around and say "Hey! I exist!", before dissolving back into the equilibrated ooze. You might object that such a fluctuation is very rare, and indeed it is. But... the momentary decrease in entropy required to produce such a brain is fantastically less than that required to make our whole universe....

This is the general thrust of argument with which many anthropic claims run into trouble. Our observed universe has something like a hundred billion galaxies with something like a hundred billion stars each. That's an extremely expansive and profligate universe, if its features are constrained solely by the demand that we exist.... Anthropic arguments would be more persuasive if our universe was minimally constructed to allow for our existence; e.g. if the vacuum energy were small enough to allow for a single galaxy to arise out of a really rare density fluctuation. Instead we have a hundred billion such galaxies, not to count all of those outside our Hubble radius....

But, returning to Boltzmann, it gets worse, in an interesting and profound way.... Assuming that we got to this macrostate via some fluctuation out of thermal equilibrium, what kind of trajectory is likely to have gotten us here?... If we ask "What kind of early universe tends to naturally evolve into what we see?", the answer is the ordinary smooth and low-entropy Big Bang. But here we are asking "What do most of the states that could possibly evolve into our current universe look like?", and the answer there is a chaotic high-entropy mess. Of course, nobody in their right minds believes that we really did pop out of a chaotic mess into a finely-tuned state with false memories about the Big Bang....

Price's conclusion from all this (pdf) is that we should take seriously the Gold universe, in which there is a low-entropy future collapsing state that mirrors our low-entropy Big Bang in the past. It's an uncomfortable answer, as nobody knows any reason why there should be low-entropy boundary conditions in both the past and the future, which would involve an absurd amount of fine-tuning of our particular microstate at every instant of time. (Not to mention that the universe shows no sign of wanting to recollapse)....

Explaining the difference in entropy between the past and future is at least as fundamental, if not more so, as explaining the horizon and flatness problems with which cosmologists are so enamored. If we're going to presume to talk sensibly and scientifically about the entire history of the universe, we have to take Boltzmann's legacy seriously…

.#noted #2020-07-06

Howes: Observing the Occident—Noted

Anton Howes: Observing the Occident ‘As for Europe’s Indian observers, one of the earliest full accounts is that of Mirza Shaikh Ictisam al-Din, sent to Britain by the Mughal emperor in the late 1760s.... Britain was already gaining a reputation for wealth and invention.... Ictisam al-Din noted that the poor French people he saw at Nantes and at Calais rarely wore any leather boots or shoes. They went in either wooden clogs or barefoot. As for the English, however, they were clearly better-fed, and he rarely saw any of them without shoes or boots... the wealth disparity was already obvious.... Ictisam al-Din had a chance to see a lot of Britain. He visited Scotland, perceiving that “the towns are daily augmenting and there is also an increment in the wealth”. It was a region on the make… .#noted #2020-07-06

Mitrovitch—America Remains Poised for Greatness—Noted with a "WTF!?!?"

WTF?!?! This seems simply bonkers to me. In 1920, a century ago, Britain did not have "intrinsic strength... [that] enabled it to retain dominance". In 1920, a century ago, Britain was in the middle of its extraordinarily rapid relative decline from 1900-1940 that took it from being the world's only global hyper power in 1900 to at best fourth in potential strength—well behind Germany, the United States, and the Soviet Union—in 1900. . Get the history right, Greg!: Gregory Mitrovich: Beware Declinism: America Remains Poised for Greatness ‘There can be no doubting that America’s international standing has been undermined by ill-considered wars and the deadly failures of Trump’s pandemic response. However, the intrinsic strength of the United States will, like that of Britain a century ago, enable America to retain its dominance. Like Britain, it will require a far more dramatic series of shocks than what it has recently experienced for Washington to lose its central position in the international system… .#noted #2020-07-06

Blanchard: Reopening the Economy—Noted

Olivier Blanchard: Reopening the Economy 'Where we are depends on whether you're in Europe or not and where in Europe you are. But there are, I think, commonalities.... The stop was a policy decision based on very good health policy reasons. So the worst was at the beginning. From then on, it just goes up. The question is: at what speed? There I see three phases:

  1. In the very short run you end lockdown and allow firms to start again, even if not at full speed.... You are then going to make up part of the fall.... My sense is in most european countries where the virus is more or less under control you can make up about two-thirds of the fall. In the U.S. where things are not so good and people are... scared... then it could be that we only make up half....

  2. In the period between the end of this first one and the vaccine—the time when... we can stop physical distancing, restaurants can go back to the normal way they do business, people take planes without thinking too hard, and so on—recovery is going to be much slower because many sectors are still going to be affected... in a fairly strong way.... This would be a very tough period for a large number of firms and a large number of workers....

  3. Then the vaccine comes, hopefully sometime next year, and then we have... the long-run changes and reallocations. We don't have a good sense of whether... it is going to be the type of relocation we always see, or something much worse... structural unemployment for quite a while....

I am worried that people are going to see the numbers in the short run and think "Oh! Things are just fine."... Yes, for a while we're going to go up fairly fast.... IN the short run things are going to go better than people fear.... And in the medium run things might go worse than people hope.... I am slightly worried about optimism leading people and maybe governments not to do the right thing.... It starts like a "V" but very quickly it turns into something much more horizontal.... If we are not careful the horizontal portion could be long and bad....

In retrospect... with information we now have... maybe the lockdown was too strong. Maybe there was a way of doing it with slightly less economic cost. Now that's not a criticism of what was done because the precautionary principle is obvious... But it may be that it turned out to be more costly—economically, psychologically, and maybe politically—than we anticipated....

One thing that does seem possible in the long run is that machines don't get the virus, making robotization and all such trends accelerating even more....

We're facing two types of shocks looking forward: (1) shocks due to the presence of a virus at some fairly high level of intensity, [and] these will likely go away when the vaccine is here (think of restaurants)... (2) the hysteretic effects... when we've learned to do things differently... learned about different risks—telecommuting and all its implications is the quintessential example...

.#coronavirus #macro #noted #publichealth #2020-07-05

Scalzi: Back Into Quarantine—Noted

John Scalzi: Back Into Quarantine ‘We could have managed this thing—like nearly every other country has—if we had political leadership that wasn’t inept and happy to use the greatest public health crisis in decades as political leverage for… well, who knows? Most of the areas being hit hardest now—places like Florida, Arizona, and Texas—are deep red states; there is no political advantage to be had by having them hit by infection and death and economic uncertainty four months before a national election...

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What Is Going on in AZ, FL, SC, TX?—Note to Self; Coronavirus

Note to Self: Would someone please tell me how to translate (a) testing frequency and (b) share of tests that are positive into total true caseloads? If you test at random, you divide confirmed cases by testing frequency to get true cases. If you target your tests perfectly, then true cases are confirmed cases. But where in the middle are we today?

COVID Tracking Project ‘Arizona, Florida, and South Carolina remain the three states with the most troubling data:

2020 07 04 covid states troubling data

.#coronavirus #notetoself #publichealth #2020-07-05

Holbo: TransPrincess of Mars—Noted

John Holbo: _ 'I'm retooling my science fiction and philosophy syllabus_ and looking for fun examples of classic sf short stories, preferably by 'major' writers (but I'm flexible), that are gender-themed but weirdly boldly-go yet not-go-there about it. Examples are easy to come by. It's harder to find non-examples. Namely, interesting SF that is about gender yet doesn't boldly re-imagine it. (Why would you bother?) But, equally, most classic SF now seems almost comically conventional about gender roles, in retrospect. I'm going to start in 1915, with "Herland" and "Princess of Mars". A feminist utopia. A nostalgic tale of a Confederate former officer, living his best life on Mars. Dejah Thoris is an egg-laying alien. Of course, she's also one hot chick. If it's ok for a dude to have sex with an egg-laying alien, it's a bit hard to see why certain other stuff wouldn't also be ok. Obviously Edgar Rice Burroughs doesn't go there. (That's not the nostalgic fantasy here.)...

So you are saying that APoM is a bold statement that the essence of identity as a woman transcends biological reproductive organs? HeliumWomen are women?

John Holbo: 'You have certainly guessed my riddle! But I hadn't worked out the slogan yet. "HeliumWomen are women!" That is awesome! But, yeah: you frame it one way and 'sex organs don't matter', only gender roles matter, seems like the natural conservative default…

.#noted #sciencefiction #2020-07-05

Racism & the University of Chicago's Stigler Center—Twitter

Twitter: Two great economics papers on COVID-19! However, the series is being conducted under the auspices of the University of Chicago's Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State, which puts itself forward as:

The Stigler Center aims to promote and disseminate research on regulatory capture, crony capitalism, and the various distortions that special interest groups impose on capitalism…

A naive alien coming to this world from outer space, a “stranger to human nature” as Adam Smith put it, might suppose that chief among those “various distortions” imposed by “special interest groups” is the long and sorry tale of American slavery-Jim Crow-disenfranchisement-massive resistance to integration-scared police shooting and not-scared police beating up people. Yet such a naive alien would be wrong.

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Negishi Prices & Social Welfare—Twitter

Twitter: _I remember back in the... spring of 1981, I think it was I asked my professor, William Thomson, visiting from Rochester, roughly this: "The utilitarian social welfare function is Ω = U(1) + U(2) + U(3)... The competitive market economy maximizes a market social welfare function Ωm = ω(1)U(1) + ω(2)U(2) + ω(3)U(3)..., where the ω(i)s are Negishi weights that are increasing functions of your lifetime wealth W(i)—indeed, if lifetime utility is log wealth, then ω(i)=W(i).

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Adam Smith Got There 250 Years Ago: "The Real Recompence of Labour..."—Twitter

Twitter: Adam Smith got there 250 years ago: "The real recompence of labour, the real quantity of the necessaries and conveniencies of… 'The real recompence of labour, the real quantity of the necessaries and conveniencies of life which it can procure to the labourer, has, during the course of the present century, increased perhaps in a still greater proportion than its money price. Not only grain has become somewhat cheaper, but many other things, from which the industrious poor derive an agreeable and wholesome variety of food, have become a great deal cheaper. Potatoes, for example, do not at present, through the greater part of the kingdom, cost half the price which they used to do thirty or forty years ago. The same thing may be said of turnips, carrots, cabbages; things which were formerly never raised but by the spade, but which are now commonly raised by the plough...

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Douglas & Jones: What to the Slave Is the 4th of July?—For the Weekend

Frederick Douglas & James Earl Jones: “What to the Slave Is the 4th of July?”

Fredrick douglas

'Mr. President, Friends and Fellow Citizens: He who could address this audience without a quailing sensation, has stronger nerves than I have. I do not remember ever to have appeared as a speaker before any assembly more shrinkingly, nor with greater distrust of my ability, than I do this day. A feeling has crept over me, quite unfavorable to the exercise of my limited powers of speech. The task before me is one which requires much previous thought and study for its proper performance. I know that apologies of this sort are generally considered flat and unmeaning. I trust, however, that mine will not be so considered. Should I seem at ease, my appearance would much misrepresent me. The little experience I have had in addressing public meetings, in country schoolhouses, avails me nothing on the present occasion...

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Note to Self: Columbus's Ships' Crews

Note to Self: 'Between 86 to 89 men accompanied Christopher Columbus on his first voyage. There were 20 on the Niña, 26 on the Pinta, and 41 on the Santa María. After the Santa María sank, 39 men were left to establish a fort, La Navidad (the Santa María sank on Christmas eve), in the village of the Taino cacique Guancanagari... .#notetoself #2020-07-03

Worthy Reads from July 4, 2019

Worthy Reads from Equitable Growth:

  1. Heather Boushey: How Can We Better Measure Growth...

  2. The Equitable Growth twitter account informs me that Oregon is leading not just on YIMBYism but also on FAML: Equitable Growth: "Congratulation to Oregon for passing one of the most comprehensive paid family and medical leave policies in the nation. To learn more about the implications of paid family leave on American families and employers, check out our factsheet:

  3. Walking the walk: Heather Boushey: "We believe that having a staff union at Equitable Growth will make us a stronger organization and look forward to working with union members...

  4. While there has been a lot of noise about the changing short-run economic outlook over the past year, in actuality very little has changed: the U.S. economy continues to grow slightly above its trend rate of 2% per year or so, with no outbreak of inflation, and with a roughly one-in-five chance of seeing a recession begin within the year: June 28, 2019: Weekly Forecasting Update: It is still the case that: [1] he Trump-McConnell-Ryan tax cut has been a complete failure at boosting the American economy through increased investment in America.... [2] U.S. potential economic growth continues to be around 2%/year. [3] There are still no signs the U.S. has entered that phase of the recovery in which inflation is accelerating...

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Wolf: What Trade Wars Tell Us—Noted

The highly esteemed Martin Wolf reviews an excellent book by Klein and Pettis. And yet what Klein and Pettis have to tell us is old news: it was first reported by John Hobson, in one of the very first few years that began with the digits “19“. Hobson's point in those long ago days was that Victorian capitalist plutocrats liked to save in assets they thought were secure, rather than risk their wealth in enterprise. They had already made their piles, and their principal fear was that they might lose them and hence lose their position. Somebody else in society must therefore take on the job of nurturing and spending on enterprise and investment at the appropriate scale: the Gilded Age plutocracy simply will not do it consistently.

It is true that investments and expenditures can be highly negative sum for society, if they take the form of colonial imperialism or militaristic arms races. They can be somewhat negative sum, if they take the form of trade war tariffs and quotas and investments promoted as a part of monopoly inducing inappropriate industrial policy. They can be positive sum for society, if they take the form of social welfare, social insurance, and suitable industrial policy.

But a more comprehensive look reveals that political parties that find a way to make such expenditures tend to survive and retain power, and those that do not do not. And those societies that do, thrive:

Martin Wolf: What Trade Wars Tell Us ‘Trade Wars Are Class Wars... [by] Matthew Klein and Michael Pettis argues that what has been happening to trade and finance can only be understood in the context of domestic pathologies... severe global imbalances, unsustainable debt and monstrous financial crises.... The foundation of this excellent book is the theory of “underconsumption”, proposed by the British analyst John Hobson in 1902...

...“For decades,” note the authors, “real borrowing costs have been below long-term forecasts of real economic growth and remain around zero.” This combination of extraordinarily low real interest rates with weak global demand and low inflation is a prime symptom of underconsumption or, in modern parlance, “a savings glut”... income has been shifted to wealthy people who do not spend what they earn....

The book’s core is the analysis of the history of China, Germany and the US over the past three decades.... The role of the US as supplier of the world’s safest and most liquid assets is vital. We are trying to run a global economy with a national money. It has long been known that this is problematic. It has not become any less so.... The beginning of any sensible policy is clear analysis. The imbalances that caused the eurozone crisis, the debt explosions in the US and peripheral Europe, and again in post-financial-crisis China go back to two fundamental failures: the distribution of income away from the bulk of the population towards wealthy elites and the unique global role of the dollar. The obvious solution to the first failure is to distribute income to people who will spend it....

In the eurozone, this will probably require the creation of a central fiscal authority with capacity to redistribute resources. In Germany, it will require higher government spending on investment and welfare. In China, it will require the reform of property rights, improved rights for migrants to urban areas, a better social safety net, the ability of workers to organise and a shift of taxes on to the rich.... If we do not recognise and respond to these challenges, we may find ourselves persistently mired in the world of imbalances and trade wars. This is not a good place to be. We should escape…

.#noted #2020-07-03

Zeballos-Roig (2020-05-05): White House Adviser Devised Model Showing Covid-19 Deaths Hitting 0 in 10 Days—Noted

Perhaps the most extraordinary thing I have seen this week came from Trump economist Tomas Philipson, with his claim that Trump’s economic analysis instincts are “on par with many Nobel economists I have worked with at Chicago”>. It is certainly the case that I do not have much of a regard for Phillipson's economic intuition: he seems to me to have made a career of advocating for a “freedom to try alternative therapies“ on the part of the sick that is overwhelmingly, in practice, a freedom for bad actors to steal from the sick by lying to them in order to hold out false hopes. (I must, however, admit that even I did not anticipate seeing Philipson waving to us from a prominent place on the hydroxychloroquine train.) But Philipson and his praise of Trump’s economic instincts is not the least competent thing Trump administration economists have done this spring. That prize goes to Kevin Hassett:

Joseph Zeballos-Roig (2020-05-05): White House Adviser Devised Model Showing Covid-19 Deaths Hitting 0 in 10 Days ‘The White House is relying on a model prepared by a controversial White House economic advisor that shows coronavirus deaths dropping to zero by May 15 to help guide their decision-making.... The White House is reportedly relying on a "cubic model" prepared by controversial White House economic advisor Kevin Hassett that shows coronavirus deaths plunging to zero by May 15 to help guide their economic decision-making during the pandemic.... The "cubic model" from Hassett clashes with the assessment of public health experts who say the virus will continue infecting people and swell the US death toll for the foreseeable future.... Other critics argued that an economist with an unreliable track record on issues within his own realm of expertise shouldn't wade into public health matters... #coronavirus #economicsgonewrong #moralresponsibility #noted #orangehairedbaboons #publichealth #2020-07-03

Kottke: da Vinci’s The Last Supper—Noted

Jason Kottke: See Intricate Details in Leonardo da Vinci’s 'The Last Supper' in a New Gigapixel Image ‘The Royal Academy of Arts and Google teamed up on a high-resolution scan of a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper painted by his students. Even though the top part of the original is not depicted, this copy is said to be “the most accurate record of the original” and since the actual mural by Leonardo is in poor shape, this copy is perhaps the best way to see what Leonardo intended. "This version was made around the same time as Leonardo made his original. It’s oil paint on canvas, whereas Leonardo’s was painted in tempera and oil on a dry wall—an unusual use of materials—so his has flaked and deteriorated badly. It probably didn’t help that Napoleon used the room where the original hung as a stable during his invasion of Milan." A zoomable version is available here

.#noted #2020-07-01

Why Were University of Chicago Professional Economists Republicans So Stupid About Coronavirus?

I look at the Trump professional economists Republicans—Kevin Hassett, Tomas Philipson, Casey Mulligan, & co.—and I really do wonder: Why were they so incompetent? Why did they get so strongly behind the "epidemiologists have it wrong", the "reopen the economy"—originally by Easter—and the "this will burn itself out quickly"—deaths down near zero by mid-May—pushes? At least now Philipson and Hassett appear to be silent—although Mulligan is still out there, claiming that the depression is the result of government lockdowns alone, which he values at "15,000 dollars per household per quarter" not counting "intrinsic costs of forgone civil liberties".

By the end of January we knew that this coronavirus was (a) highly infectious, (b) transmitted by the presymptomatic, (c) something against which no human had immunity, (d) a disease with a normal-behavior herd-immunity point likely to be more than 50% of the population, and (e) a disease that killed—with treatment—about 1% of the infected. Those facts made it obvious that keeping it from killing 30 million people worldwide would bet a very difficult task, and that adding up mortality and morbidity costs valued at three million or so per death meant that the stakes we were playing for to avoid a worst-case three million dead epidemic amounted to ten trillion dollars, compared to which the 350 billion cost of a one-month complete non-essential business lockdown that reduced national income by 20% was relatively small change.

And, indeed, the rest of the global north—even Britain—with the exception of Sweden has bit the bullet, taken the lockdown hit, now has the virus (temporarily) on the run, and can move to test-and-trace and social distancing to stomp the virus. We and Sweden have not. We have thus become pariah nations, as far as coronavirus is concerned.

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Tomas Philipson: Such a Maroon—Note to Self

Dunning-Krueger to the max: Shorter Tomas Philipson: It's great that Trump is taking hydroxychloroquine, & encouraging others to suck up the supply away from lupus patients for whom it works. It's great that Trump refuses to wear a mask!: Tomas Philipson (2020-05-20): 'There's nothing new about @POTUS using healthcare, in consultation with a physician, that hasn't undergone government approved randomized trials. Most healthcare spending is on services/procedures lacking such evidence. And the majority of cancer drugs are prescribed without it. Patients and doctors, based on trade-offs between effectiveness, side-effects, and prices, often correctly disagree with one-size-fits-all blind randomized trials, which have many problems. This is one reason why @POTUS signed Right to Try to let patients—not bureaucrats—decide. Indeed, the same people who argue POTUS should wear a mask to guard against COVID, for which there is no randomized evidence yet and blinding would be difficult, are the same people who argue that such evidence is crucial for COVID Rx use… .#economicsgonewrong #moralresponsibility #noted #notetoself #orangehairedbaboons #2020-06-30

Was the Great Recession More Damaging Than the Great Depression?

Brad DeLong: Was the Great Recession More Damaging Than the Great Depression?: Your parents’—more likely your grandparents’—Great Depression opened with the then-biggest-ever stock market crash, continued with the largest-ever sustained decline in GDP, and ended with a near-decade of subnormal production and employment. Yet 11 years after the 1929 crash, national income per worker was 10 percent above its 1929 level. The next year, 12 years after, it was 28 percent above its 1929 level. The economy had fully recovered. And then came the boom of World War II, followed by the “thirty glorious years” of post-World War II prosperity. The Great Depression was a nightmare. But the economy then woke up—and it was not haunted thereafter. Our “Great Recession” opened in 2007 with what appeared to be a containable financial crisis. The economy subsequently danced on a knife-edge of instability for a year. Then came the crash — in stock market values, employment and GDP. The experience of the Great Depression, however, gave policymakers the knowledge and running room to keep our depression-in-the-making an order of magnitude less severe than the Great Depression. That’s all true. But it’s not the whole story. The Great Recession has cast a very large shadow on America’s future prosperity. We are still haunted by it... Read MOAR at Project Syndicate

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78 Years Ago Today: The Nazi "Operation Blue" Commences...

Remind Me Again: Friedrich Paulus The Nazis planned to push four armies forward and only four armies forward in the summer and fall of 1942—Sixth, Seventeenth, First Panzer, and Fourth Panzer. One can understand why an army personnel office would choose Hermann Hoth as commander of Fourth Panzer Army and von Kleist as commander of First Panzer Army. But Richard Ruoff as commander of the Seventeenth Army? And Friedrich Paulus as commander of the Sixth Army? What was there in their previous careers to mark them as the right people for army command in Southern Russia in the summer and fall of 1942?

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John Bell Hood Blames Everybody Else for His Failure to Win the Battle of Spring Hill—Weekend Reading

The anti-Patton. Maybe he was a good regimental or brigade commander. Maybe. But no appreciation for the frictions of war in attempting complicated simultaneous actions, and no appreciation for the power of the defense and the rifle: John Bell Hood: Advance & Retreat: Personal Experiences in the United States and Confederate States Armies 'I dispatched a messenger to General Cheatham to lose no time in gaining possession of the pike at Spring Hill. It was reported back that he was about to do so.... I became somewhat uneasy, and again ordered an officer to go to General Cheatham.... I entrusted another officer with the same message... finally requested the Governor of Tennessee, Isham G. Harris, to hasten forward and impress upon Cheatham the importance of action without delay...

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Siegele: Can Technology Plan Economies & Destroy Democracy—Noted

There was much talk two decades ago about how the high-tech information age economy would be an attention economy, in which convincing people to focus their attention on commodities and activities would be truly though. What people did not talk about but should have was that the information age was bringing an information overload attention polity as well: there in order to rift the public and the political system, you needed not cogent arguments and policies but rather to flood zone and distract with irrelevancies. The others – the Chinese communist party, for one – look at the north Atlantic‘s public sphere and conclude John Milton and Jon Stewart Mill's praise of free speech was definitely miss guided. Those of us who do still believe in free speech need to figure out answers:

Ludwig Siegele: Can Technology Plan Economies & Destroy Democracy? ‘Democracy, [Farrell & Shalizi] argued, has a “capacity unmatched…in solving complex problems”. To understand why this may be, consider the informational challenges faced by centralised or authoritarian regimes. They lack what Mr Shalizi calls a “feedback channel”. Just as markets generate information about what people want, so does open discussion. In autocracies, citizens have no interest in openly discussing problems or experimenting with solutions, lest they end up in jail or worse. As a result, an unelected government has a limited capacity to understand what is going on in its polity—and thus tends to make bad decisions. Dictators maintain extensive security apparatuses not just to repress the people but to understand them; they serve as the feedback channel through which dictators get the information which they need to govern. Such measures are not just an affront to human rights. They are politically destabilising. The head of an effective security service can easily become either a rival for the top spot or a self-censoring information block, neither of which bodes well for the boss.... Despite its advantages, both in terms of economic growth and problem solving, 21st-century free-market liberal democracy has not enjoyed quite the apotheosis that some expected at the beginning of the 1990s. The setbacks to democratic norms at the level of the state have been well documented. The persistence of planning goes unnoticed because it is so familiar: it is the way that companies are run.... “Internally, firms are planned economies no different to the Soviet Union: hierarchical, undemocratic planned economies,” write Leigh Phillips and Michal Rozworski, two leftist activists, in “The People’s Republic of Walmart” (2019), a highly readable romp through the history and possible futures of planning.... The Chinese Communist Party shows every sign of wanting... not the democratisation of planning, but the sort of planning that permits democracy to be minimised.... When it comes to eroding an existing democracy, rather than shoring up a dictatorship, there are somewhat similar technologies on offer. Some are destructive. Social media, driven as its commercial interests are by the desire to “go viral”, offers ways to inject the equivalent of computer viruses into the public’s political information processing, degrading and distorting its output through misinformation, emotional incontinence and cognitive sabotage...

.#noteed #2020-06-28

Mathai & DeLong: Artists Paint Hundreds of Social Justice Murals Across the Bay Area—Noted

Raj Mathai & Jonathan DeLong: Artists Paint Hundreds of Social Justice Murals Across the Bay Area ‘We’re now seeing hundreds of murals across the Bay Area. Color, creativity and social justice. But who’s organizing all of this? spoke to one of them—Jonathan DeLong from Oakland.…

.#noted #2020-06-28

Goolsbee: Cases Back on the Rise Ominous—Noted

Somewhat paradoxically, the coronavirus plague turns out not to be a huge supply shock to the American economy. Yes, a great many activities become essentially impossible as too costly—but for the overwhelming majority, they have close substitutes that use essentially the same factors of production in the same proportions: take-out and grocery stores rather than sit-down restaurants; shopping online and delivery by truck rather than shopping in person. And those that do not have close substitutes in terms of contemporaneous substitution have close substitutes in terms of intertemporal substitution.

Thus lockdowns had little effect on the overall level of economic activity—it was the rise in savings, and the failure of the government to take steps to ensure that rise in planned savings was absorbed by greater planned private investment and government investment and consumption. And this strongly suggests that anything that boosts caseloads will, be further raising planned savings, further depress the economy. It makes this week one hell of a moment to have a large, loud indoor gathering in of all places Arizona, I tell you:

Austan Goolsbee: 'The results from March-May suggest that the fact that cases are back on the rise is very ominous not just for public health but for the economy. If people get scared again, a lot of activity may start to tank.... Short version: they don't do much. Of the 60% drop in consumer activity, only 7 came from shutdown orders. Fear of the virus is the main thing. The collapse of economic activity in 2020 from COVID-19 has been immense.... We have consumer visits to 2.3m businesses in 110 industries through the crisis. We tracked down the county level shutdown orders and can compare across borders in the same metro area where the policy differs.... Evidence of fear as the driver: 1) more covid deaths in your county drive down economic activity signif[icantly] even including metro-week dummies, 2) people heavily shift visits away from larger/busier stores to smaller/less busy ones in the same industry (and especially if lots of local deaths). We have data up to late May and include some states ending their shutdown orders. The increase in economic activity is just as modest coming out as it was going in. Policy itself isn't the driver. But there is one way policy matters: diversion from one kind of business to another. We have essential/non-essential definition in each place. Non-essential business collapses. Essential business soars. Restaurant/bar orders cause massive hit there but an equally big increase to grocery and food stores.... If people get scared again, a lot of activity may start to tank... #coronavirus #depression #macro #noted #publichealth #2020-06-27

Stokes: Unpacking the Logic Behind “Slow Testing"—Noted

Jon Stokes: Unpacking the Logic Behind “Slow the Testing Down, Please” ‘A lot has been made of the President’s claim that we should “slow the testing down,” a claim that he doubled down on in subsequent remarks to reporters. Most commentators state that he’s under the mistaken impression that if we just don’t look at the problem, it’ll go away. But I follow a bunch of virus skeptics.... I think I understand the reasoning behind the president’s remark.... There is an actual school of thought behind this.... I want to unpack all this... because it’s important... to understand... [the] virus skeptics... [and the] story they’re telling themselves and anyone who’ll listen, and that this story is driving the US response to the virus at the highest levels.... The story the virus skeptics are currently telling goes something like this: "The outbreak actually peaked in March, and at far higher numbers than we know about. The cases were probably in the millions, and were undercounted... because the virus is very mild... unless you’re very old or otherwise compromised.... The number of uncounted cases has been dropping dramatically as the outbreak fizzles, and you can see this in the ongoing drop in deaths.... Therefore, the rise in detected cases is simply because we’re doing a bunch of track-and-trace and testing, which is leading us to uncover all these previously undetected cases that were out there. So the bottom line... is that if we weren’t sending “hotspot hunters” (a real term I’ve come across) to do contact tracing and find all the remaining pockets of infections, we wouldn’t be seeing these alarming rises in case counts. By this logic, this “phantom” rise in apparent cases (remember, really we’re just finding more old cases that are mild) is giving rise to media hysteria and economic devastation.... At this point, goes the reasoning, the economic damage from the “fake” rise in cases is far worse than any damage from the very mild virus, so we need to just quit testing.... To be clear, the above is still head-in-the-sand-ism, but it reflects a sophisticated head-in-the-sand-ism that’s being earnestly promoted by a crowd that includes some prominent medical professionals in the US and abroad. The government of Sweden, for instance.... What's happened in Sweden is crystal clear, as it has happened out in the open: the Swedes thought & said the virus was very weak & already quite widespread, and that assumption was the basis of their strategy & projections. It turns out they were wrong .#coronavirus #noted #orangehairedbaboons #publichealth #2020-06-26

Capos—Remember When Bret Stephens Said COVID Was Just a NYC Problem?—Noted

Paul Campos: Remember when Bret Stephens Told Us That Covid Was Just a NYC Problem? ‘[Bret Stephens (2020-04-24):] "Much of America has dwindling sympathy with the idea of prolonging lockdown conditions.... The curves are flattening; hospital systems haven’t come close to being overwhelmed; Americans have adapted to new etiquettes of social distancing. Many of the worst Covid outbreaks outside New York... have specific causes that can be addressed without population-wide lockdowns. Yet Americans are being told they must still play by New York rules—with all the hardships they entail—despite having neither New York’s living conditions nor New York’s health outcomes. This is bad medicine, misguided public policy, and horrible politics." Remember when firing James Bennet was the worst persecution of free speech since that thing that happened at a college somewhere? The claim was that the New York Times wasn’t willing to publish conservative voices on its op-ed page, and that just proved that Political Correctness Has Gone Too Far. James Bennet hired this guy, and he’s still there… .#noted #moralresponsibility #orangehairedbaboons #2020-06-26

Respect Mah Authoritah—Noted

Edge of the American West: Respect Mah Authoritah ‘Serious question: are there good reasons why an individual’s background or cultural positioning should provide that person more authority in a political argument? I ask, because as I read the incredibly predictable debates about the nightmare unfolding in Gaza, I keep seeing people say things like, “Well, I’m a Jew, and I think what Israel is doing is wrong/immoral.” The implicit points apparently are: 1) “My Jewishness should insulate me from charges of anti-Semitism. So don’t go there.” And 2) “My Jewishness provides me with a window, through which the goyim can’t possibly see, into this intractable problem.” I’m slightly sympathetic to the former point. Maybe.... The latter argument, though, leaves me shaking my head. I’m not entirely sure it’s wrong. But I don’t like its implications at all. And if it’s valid, I’d like someone to explain why.... I don’t feel like linking to Marty Peretz, professional asshat, or the incensed commenters weighing in on the Gaza incursion in various corners of the blogosphere. Sorry. I’m both a bit flummoxed by the whole thing and also, as this post notes, more focused here on the broader question of argumentation...

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Hernandez & al.: Catching Covid-19—Noted

Daniela Hernandez & c.: How Exactly Do You Catch Covid-19? There Is a Growing Consensus ‘It’s not common to contract Covid-19 from a contaminated surface.... Fleeting encounters with people outdoors are unlikely to spread the coronavirus.... The major culprit is close-up, person-to-person interactions for extended periods. Crowded events, poorly ventilated areas and places where people are talking loudly—or singing, in one famous case—maximize the risk.... Reopening... to protect public health... includes tactics like installing plexiglass barriers, requiring people to wear masks in stores and other venues, using good ventilation systems and keeping windows open when possible.... Better protections for nursing-home residents and multigenerational families living in crowded conditions, they said.... Stressing physical distancing and masks, and reducing the number of gatherings in enclosed spaces. “We should not be thinking of a lockdown, but of ways to increase physical distance,” said Tom Frieden, chief executive of Resolve to Save Lives, a nonprofit public-health initiative.... The group’s reopening recommendations include widespread testing, contact tracing and isolation of people who are infected or exposed.…

.#coronavirus #noted #publichealth #2020-06-26

MOAR on Kissinger & Pinochet—Noted

And news on the relationship between Pinochet and Kissinger: Cable Ties Kissinger to Chile Controversy 'the U.S. State Department became concerned that Condor included plans for political assassination around the world. The State Department drafted a plan to deliver a stern message to the three governments not to engage in such murders. In the Sept. 16, 1976 cable, the topic of one paragraph is listed as "Operation Condor," preceded by the words "(KISSINGER, HENRY A.) SUBJECT: ACTIONS TAKEN." The cable states that "secretary declined to approve message to Montevideo" Uruguay "and has instructed that no further action be taken on this matter." "The Sept. 16 cable is the missing piece of the historical puzzle on Kissinger's role in the action, and inaction, of the U.S. government after learning of Condor assassination plots," Peter Kornbluh, the National Security Archive's senior analyst on Chile, said Saturday. Kornbluh is the author of "The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability." Jessica LePorin, a spokeswoman for Kissinger, says that the former secretary of state dealt many years ago with questions concerning the cancellation of the warnings to the South American governments and had no further comment on the matter.... William D. Rogers, Kissinger's former assistant secretary of state, said Kissinger "had nothing to do with" a Sept. 20, 1976 cable instructing that the warnings to Chile, Argentina and Uruguay be canceled. Rogers died in 2007... .#noted #2020-06-25

Simon Wren-Lewis: "Social Consumption" & COVID-19—Noted

The bottom line appears to be that ending “lockdowns” will not produce rapid economic recovery. People have increased their savings substantially—are planning to do next year, after the plague has passed, things that they can reasonably postpone to next year. Such an increase in savings requires an increase in planned investment spending (or in government public consumption spending) to maintain macroeconomic balance. But that maintenance of macroeconomic balance is not being greased by government action to make sure that that investment spending appears. And government consumption spending is not growing but shrinking as a new wave of austerity kicks in. But what about ending the lockdowns? Doesn’t that help? Probably not. Ending the lockdowns gets more people sick—which further raises savings. And the lockdowns themselves did not so much decrease spending as shift spending from nonessential (restaurants) to essential (grocery stores and take-out) spending categories:

Simon Wren-Lewis: Locking Down Too Late but Ending Lockdown Too Early ‘All this is important... because it means that the number of new infections is declining very slowly, which in turn means that most people will not return to previous patterns of ‘social consumption’. That in turn means that there cannot be a complete recovery. We do not know at what level of daily infections people will be happy to resume social consumption, but it is bound to be well below 17,000. The difference between R=0.8 and R=0.9 in getting to that much lower number of infections is measured in months, as is the difference between R=0.9 and R=0.95. We are relaxing lockdown at much higher levels for daily new infections compared to Italy, France and Germany. Relaxing the lockdown might (I stress might) be justified if there was a tried and tested alternative mechanism to suppress R. That mechanism does exist: a well functioning and comprehensive track, trace and isolate (TTI) infrastructure.... It seems clear that many/most of the scientists advising the government also think lockdown is ending too quickly. The alert level remains at 4, despite Johnson/Cummings’ wishes. As Rafael Behr put it, “Johnson's relationship with science has gone the way of most of his relationships.” Yet this divergence does not seem to worry him and those around him at all, which is a bit odd for a government that kept claiming they were following the science. I should resist the temptation to suggest that all this is obvious. When I modeled the economic impact of a pandemic I was surprised at how much of aggregate consumption was social. It isn’t just pubs, restaurants and tourism, but large parts of recreation, culture and transport. These sectors make up over a third of consumption. Even the demand for clothing may decline if there are no parties to go to. The pandemic creates a huge demand shock even without any lockdown measures like school closures. That is why many better-off households have been saving much more during the pandemic.... There is no trade-off between public health and the economy: better public health (less COVID-19 infections) is the sure way to a substantial recovery. The idea that we have to lift the lockdown for the sake of the economy is the new austerity.... Could we get a similar recovery by some other means, such as a large fiscal stimulus? The short answer is no. Because social consumption is such a large proportion of the total, you would need a ridiculously large increase in spending in other sectors even to come close to substituting for that loss. The only reason why you would contemplate not doing the first best option, getting infections down, is because your ideology is screwing your common sense. Which is a pretty good description of how this government has dealt with this pandemic so far… .#noted #2020-06-25

Andy Matuschak: Narrated Explorables: Three Mental Models 'Today our former colleagues Ben Eater and Grant Sanderson published Visualizing quaternions, an exciting addition to a hazy new medium. It combines video-like narrative explanation, interactive representations, and game-like challenge prompts. At first, it feels like watching a YouTube video that uses great visualizations to explain something… but then you realize that you can interrupt the speaker to manipulate with the representation, and they intermittently prompt you to do so with some challenge. How should we design such systems? What are their prospects? I’ll explore a few ideas here. I know of no common name for this medium, so I’ll call these narrated explorables... .#noted #2020-06-25

Newitz: A Better Internet Is Waiting for Us—Noted

Let me not think about our current problems and dysfunctions for a moment and instead cast our eyes forward to the task of how to build something closer to Utopia over the next decade, after this mess wins its way to its likely very sorry end. The thoughtful Annalee Newitz is worth listening to as we face the task of constructing a better functioning public sphere. We can certainly do it. But it almost surely cannot be built on the backs of advertising supported social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Company will probably have to die and be replaced by subscription and by public services:

Annalee Newitz: A Better Internet Is Waiting for Us 'My quest to imagine a different reality: Social media is broken. It has poisoned the way we communicate with each other and undermined the democratic process. Many of us just want to get away from it, but we can’t imagine a world without it. Though we talk about reforming and regulating it, “fixing” it, those of us who grew up on the internet know there’s no such thing as a social network that lasts forever. Facebook and Twitter are slowly imploding. And before they’re finally dead, we need to think about what the future will be like after social media so we can prepare for what comes next.... What will replace social media the way the internet replaced television, transforming our entire culture?... Erika Hall’s design firm Mule.... “I absolutely believe that you can design interfaces that create more safe spaces to interact, in the same way we know how to design streets that are safer,” she said. But today, she told me, the issue isn’t technical. It has to do with the way business is being done in Silicon Valley.... [John] Scalzi... imagines a new wave of digital media companies that will serve the generations of people who have grown up online (soon, that will be most people) and already know that digital information can’t be trusted. They will care about who is giving them the news, where it comes from, and why it’s believable. “They will not be internet optimists in the way that the current generation of tech billionaires wants,” he said with a laugh.... There isn’t a decent real-world analogue for social media, and that makes it difficult for users to understand where public information is coming from, and where their personal information is going. It doesn’t have to be that way.... Public life has been irrevocably changed by social media; now it’s time for something else. We need to stop handing off responsibility for maintaining public space to corporations and algorithms—and give it back to human beings. We may need to slow down, but we’ve created democracies out of chaos before. We can do it again... #cognition #democracy #noted #politicaleconomy #publicsphere #2020-06-25

Worthy Reads for June 20, 2019

Worthy Reads from Equitable Growth:

  1. Relationships between user and supplier firms were never arms-length. But while the assumption that they were may have been a minor error three generations ago, it is a major error today. We need more people like Susan Helper thinking about the consequences of the information and technology flows generated in today's value-chain economy. Such flows are a very important piece of our community of engineering practice: Susan Helper: Building High-Road Supply Networks in the United States: "A different kind of outsourcing is possible—'high-road' supply networks that benefit firms, workers, and consumers... collaboration between management and workers and along the length of the supply chain, sharing of skills and ideas, new and innovative processes, and, ultimately, better products that can deliver higher profits to firms and higher wages to workers. Firms could take a key step by themselves, since it could improve profits. Collaboration among firms along a supply chain can lead to greater productivity and innovation. Lead firms can raise the capabilities of supplier firms and their workers such that even routine operations can benefit from collaboration for continuous improvement...

  2. This is exactly the kind of work we at Equitable Growth want to see carried out by exactly the kind of young people we ought to be financing. Very well done: Ellora Derenoncourt and Claire Montialoux: Minimum Wages and Racial Inequality: "The earnings difference between black and white workers fell dramatically in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This paper shows that the extension of the minimum wage played a critical role in this decline. The 1966 Fair Labor Standards Act extended federal minimum wage coverage to agriculture, restaurants, nursing homes, and other services which were previously uncovered and where nearly a third of black workers were employed...

  3. Inequality leads to leverage. Leverage leads to instability. Instability leads to depression: Heather Boushey: A New Economic Paradigm: "We should let go of the workhorse macroeconomic models.... [that] have all but ignored inequality in their thinking... [making the] 'implicit, if not explicit, assumption... that inequality doesn’t matter much when gauging the macroeconomic outlook'.... [In] the long-term picture or consider[ing] the potential for the system to spin out of control... higher inequality increases the likelihood of instability...

  4. I am trying to think through what the issues we should be talking about when we talk about "manufacturing jobs" really are. I am not having a great deal of success: Resonse to Noah Smith: Yes, Susan [Houseman] is right; yes, the index-number problem rears its ugly head; yes, there are absolute numbers and there are employment shares; yes, there is manufacturing; yes, there is non-computer manufacturing; yes, there are traditional blue-collar occupations. One reading of Susan is "traditional blue-collar occupations are of special concern, and manufacturing excluding computers is important because computer manufacturing is not really a blue-collar semi-skilled easy-to-unionize source of employment". That characterization of computer manufacturing is increasingly true over time—but it also applies increasingly over time to sunbelt manufacturing as well...


Worthy Reads from Elsewhere:

  1. The Fed now seems to be saying: "We misjudged the situation late last year. We are going to reverse our policy. But not quite yet." And I do not understand the frame of mind in which that is a coherent system of thought. I wish they would explain: Tim Duy: Rate Cut On The Way: "The Fed turned... dovish... basically announcing a July rate cut.... The proximity to the lower bound coupled with low inflation was always going to lead the Fed to err on the side of a rate cut. It just took them some time to find their way there.... It would be exceedingly difficult to pull back on a rate cut now. Nor is there any reason to...

  2. The evidence for the position that minimum wage increase can often be an effective policy for equitable growth continues to pile up: Péter Harasztosi and Attila Lindner: Who Pays for the Minimum Wage?: "A large and persistent minimum wage increase in Hungary.... Employment elasticities are negative but small even four years after the reform... 75 percent of the minimum wage increase was paid by consumers and 25 percent by firm owners; that firms responded to the minimum wage by substituting labor with capital; and that dis-employment effects were greater in industries where passing the wage costs to consumers is more difficult...

  3. I am with David Autor here: individual tasks that are components of jobs will be automated, but human thought and judgment will continue to be able to add value throughout the economy. There is, however, nothing to require that a world of abundant capital and sophisticated computers will be a world in which the income distribution will be relatively equal: David Autor: Polanyi’s Paradox: Will It Be Overcome?: "Jobs are made up of many tasks.... Understanding the interaction between technology and employment requires thinking about... how human labor can often complement new technology.... The tasks that have proved most vexing to automate are those demanding flexibility, judgment, and common sense—skills that we understand only tacitly. I referred to this constraint above as Polanyi’s paradox.... Is Polanyi’s Paradox soon to be at least mostly overcome, in the sense that the vast majority of tasks will soon be automated? My reading of the evidence suggests otherwise...

  4. In very important dimensions, Europe is handling the coming of the Second Gilded Age significantly better than we are handling it here in America: Thomas Blanchet, Lucas Chancel, and Amory Gethin: Forty Years of Inequality in Europe: "Despite the growing importance of inequalities in policy debates, it is still difficult to compare inequality levels across European countries and to tell how European growth has been shared across income groups. This column draws on new evidence combining surveys, tax data, and national accounts to document a rise in income inequality in most European countries between 1980 and 2017. It finds that income disparities on the old continent have increased less than in the US and shows that this is essentially due to ‘predistribution’ policies...

  5. One very peculiar thing about America is majorities that believe that government doesn't have our back and indeed, shouldn't have our back. This is a very puzzling attitude to see in a democracy: Gillian Tett: Why Japan Isn’t Afraid of Robots: "The social safety net.... 63 per cent of people in Japan think that it is up to the government... to help the population adapt to automation.... In the US, however, only about 30 per cent of the public expect the government to help.... A recipe for anxiety: some of America’s current problems can be traced to the sense of abandonment felt by many workers in deindustrialised regions...

  6. Anybody who has spent any time looking at the data knows that it is in the boom, not in the depression, that the work of sectoral readjustment is done. Indeed, that work cannot be done in the depression. In the depression nothing is profitable. So how could entrepreneurs possibly judge then what will be profitable when the depression is past? They must wait for the boom to see: Robert Heilbroner (1996): The Embarrassment of Economics: "Schumpeter arrived in his famous riding habit and great cloak, of which he divested himself in a grand gesture. He greeted us in a typically Schumpeterian way: 'Gentlemen, a depression is for capitalism like a good, cold douche'. The remark shocked us...

  7. Judea Pearl and Dana Mackenzie: Simpson's Paradox: "Any claim to resolve a paradox... should explain why people find the paradox surprising or unbelievable.... When the paradox does occur, and we have to make a choice between two plausible yet contradictory statements, it should tell us which statement is correct.... A paradox... should entail a conflict between two deeply held convictions...

  8. When "Prince of Whales: suddenly shows up in my timeline, only one thing can possibly be gong on: Darth: "😹 u know it wasn’t even a typo: he really thinks it is prince of whales:

.#noted #weblogs #2019-06-20

Note to Self: Pre-Kameron Hurley Uses of the Phrase "Women, Cattle, & Slaves"

Hurley wc s

Note to Self: Pre-Kameron Hurley uses of the phrase "women, cattle, & slaves":

Alexina Mackay Harrison: The Story of the Life of Mackay of Uganda: Pioneer Missionary
Dwayne Woods: Bringing Geography Back In: Civilizations, Wealth, and Poverty
David Robinson: Sources of the African Past
Jeffrey Herbst: States and Power in Africa: Comparative Lessons in Authority and Control
Alison Jolly: Lords and Lemurs: Mad Scientists, Kings with Spears, and the Survival of Diversity in Madagascar

& Kameron Hurley (2013): 'We Have Always Fought': Challenging the 'Women, Cattle and Slaves' Narrative

.#books #economichistory #inequality #notetoself #2020-06-25

Roser: Is the World Making Progress Against the Pandemic?—Noted

I confess that I really wish that Max Roser & company would do more than just color-code the confirmed case data by frequency of testing. What we really want are estimates of true ‘rona plague cases, inferred from testing frequencies and confirmed cases. My own guess—but I am not an epidemiologist—is that the United States is still missing two out of three new ‘rona cases, and that our true nationwide case replication rate R here in the United States, after shrinking to 0.85 per week in mid-May, is now back up at 1.00 and is about to start growing again, as Georgia, Florida, Arizona, Texas, and southern California shift from being hot spots to being inferno spots.

It is, I must say, one hell of a time to have a big revival-style campaign event in Arizona.

But other people could do a better job at guessing at the answers to these questions than I can, and I wish they would:

Max Roser & al.: Is the World Making Progress Against the Pandemic? We Built the Chart to Answer This Question ‘Data on the number of confirmed cases only becomes meaningful when it can be interpreted in light of how much a country tests. This is what the chart shows.... Trajectories show the daily number of cases. The goal is for every line to bend towards zero. And line color gives an indication of the quality of a country’s data at each point in time. If a country finds a case for every few tests they perform the line is shown in shades of red. Here it is likely that the unknown number of cases is high.... The darker shades of blue mean that a country does many tests for each case it finds.... The goal is that a country tests widely in relation to its outbreak, shown by the line color turning into dark shades of blue.... Two very different groups of countries.... Slovakia, Thailand, New Zealand, South Korea, and Germany... monitored the outbreak well... were able to bend the curve and bring down the number of confirmed cases.... These are not the only countries, that achieved this; you can add for example Austria, Iceland, Slovenia, Tunisia... Latvia... similar trajectories.... Brazil, Mexico, the United States, UK, Sweden, India, Pakistan, South Africa, and Nigeria... test little... report unfortunately still very high daily case counts… #coronavirus #noted #publichealth #2020-06-25

Kottke: Vietnam, Population 95 Million, Has Recorded 0 Deaths from Covid-19—Noted

I am sure that they missed some deaths, or that the ruling party regards reporting zero deaths as a boasting point to be maintained. But it looks as though as long as they can maintain their 14-day quarantine requirement on those entering the country, the Vietnamese have this plague licked, and life can return to normal. They, and New Zealand, and Mauritius and company, may well get out of this thing with the least economic damage:

Jason Kottke: Vietnam, Population 95 Million, Has Recorded 0 Deaths from Covid-19 ‘Vietnam, a nation of 95 million people that borders China, has recorded only 334 total infections and 0 deaths... currently on a 61-day streak without a single community transmission.... They acted early and aggressively.... From the BBC: "Vietnam enacted measures other countries would take months to move on, bringing in travel restrictions, closely monitoring and eventually closing the border with China and increasing health checks at borders and other vulnerable places. Schools were closed for the Lunar New Year holiday at the end of January and remained closed until mid-May. A vast and labour intensive contact tracing operation got under way. 'This is a country that has dealt with a lot of outbreaks in the past', says Prof Thwaites.... By mid-March, Vietnam was sending everyone who entered the country-and anyone within the country who’d had contact with a confirmed case—to quarantine centres for 14 days. Costs were mostly covered by the government, though accommodation was not necessarily luxurious...." Forced bussing to quarantine centers in the US, could you even imagine? Better that hundreds of thousands of people die, I guess. The Vietnamese health system also implemented aggressive contact tracing… .#coronavirus #noted #publichealth #2020-06-25

Münchau: Merkel’s Successor Must Confront Germany’s Decline—Noted

Since 1945 and since 1995 Germany’s economic growth trajectory has been the most successful and impressive in the entire global north. But, with respect to individual people, there is a rule that the richest are not the wisest and smartest, but rather those who have overleveraged, underdiversified, and been very very lucky. The judgment of the richest of the superrich is, in fact, on average rather poor, and always at least tinged with Dunning-Krueger monomania that the universe has not yet called to account. Is the same true of countries? The very sharp Wolfgang Münchau fears that it is—that Germany’s economic success has led it to a place in which its institutions are in fact poorly built to manage the future, producing a “misdirected focus on fiscal surpluses” and a lack of focus on the need for innovation:

Wolfgang Münchau: Merkel’s Successor Must Confront Germany’s Decline ‘The Merkel years... as the moment when Germany lost its technological edge through a misdirected focus on fiscal surpluses and lack of innovation.... Germany’s medium-sized industrial companies… are still grappling with digitalisation. The country has not made the necessary investments in mobile telecommunications.... The car industry was unprepared for the shift to electric…. Merkel’s spontaneous decision to switch off nuclear power stations has made Germany more reliant on fossil fuels, putting the country on course to miss Paris climate targets...

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