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Equitable Growth in Conversation: An interview with David Card and Alan Krueger: Hoisted from the Archives

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Hoisted from the Archives from 2016: David Card, Alan Krueger, and Ben Zipperer: Equitable Growth in Conversation: An Interview: Zipperer: "At the beginning of this discussion, a lot of arrows seemed to point back to Orley Ashenfelter. Could you talk about his influence on your work and maybe the field generally?"

Card: Well, for me it’s very strong because he was my thesis adviser and really the reason why I went to Princeton as a grad student. And even as an undergraduate, the two professors who I took courses from that had the most influence on me were students of Orley’s...

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Willmoore Kendall, Harry Jaffa's Crisis of the House Divided, and the Party of Abraham Lincoln: Hoisted from the Archives

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More about the... rather strange... musings of: Geoffrey Kabaservice: Liberals Don't Know Much About Conservative History: "Buckley’s endorsement of Southern segregation was a moral blot on the conservative movement, and he later acknowledged it as his gravest error. But it’s anti-historical to assume that Buckley was little more than a Klansman with a large vocabulary...

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(Early) Monday Joint Mark Helprin/Ross Douthat/Geoffrey Kabaservice Smackdown!

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I find, on Twitter, the smart Geoff Kabaservice being just weird: Geoff Kabaservice: @RuleandRuin: "POLITICO asked me to expand my tweet previous thread about what liberal historians tend to get wrong about conservatism..." So I go read it, and find a list of 1990s "new voices on the neoconservative/neoliberal front like David Frum, Michael Lind, Andrew Sullivan, Francis Fukuyama, John McWhorter, Richard Brookhiser, Mickey Kaus, Michael Kelly, William Kristol and John Podhoretz..."

And I think: Huh! Wait a minute! Neoliberals aren't conservative! And I think: Mickey Kaus and Michael Kelly were mean and deranged. John Podhoretz and Richard Brookhiser were not smart. Andrew Sullivan and John McWhorter always struck me as more... performance art than anything else. William Kristol was a hack back when he smelled power, but now that he does not is a genuinely quirky, interesting thinker. So are David Frum and Michael Lind. And Francis Fukuyama is a genius—but not a conservative. In general, here—as elsewhere—those who are wise and conservative are not honest, those who are honest and conservative are not wise, and those who are wise and honest and thus worth reading rapidly cease to be conservative. It's like Lasalle's Iron Law of Wages. So I think: Geoff, that's two strikes.

And I read Kabaservice to the end, and find "liberal historians should consider subscribing to the Claremont Review of Books or National Affairs". So I surf on over, and start reading—first Mark Helprin on Charlottesville. And then I stop reading: Mark Helprin: Charlottesville One Year Later: "Enter Antifa, the Communist fascisti as invisible to the mainstream media as were Stalin’s and Mao’s genocides, Castro’s executions, and, with special mention to the New York Times, the Holocaust. They came in ranks: shields, helmets, clubs, etc. But unlike the idiots they came to fight, some of whom had firearms, Antifa had the best weapon of all—well-meaning, overprotected Millennials fed upon virtue signaling..."

I stop readin: when what really gets you mad about Charlottesville is not Nazis and the Klan and "very fine people on both sides", but is rather "Antifa... Communist fascisti... invisible to the mainstream media... well-meaning, overprotected Millennials fed upon virtue signaling..." there is something very wrong with you, mentally and morally—and with the editors who publish you. Denunciations of "virtue signaling" are what people who know they are villains start doing when they think they can no longer pretend to be the good guys.

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Hoisted from teh Archives: Joseph Schumpeter on "Liquidationism"

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Today's Economic History: Joseph Schumpeter on "Liquidationism": "Three things strike me while rereading Schumpeter's 1934 "Depressions" (and also his 1927 Explanation of the Business Cycle):

  1. How much smarter Schumpeter is than our modern liquidationists and austerians--he says a great many true things in and amongst the chaff, which is created by his fundamentally mistaken belief that structural adjustment must be triggered by a downturn and a wave of bankruptcies that releases resources into unemployment. How much more fun and useful it would be right now to be debating a Schumpeter right now than the ideologues calling for, say, more austerity for and more unemployment in Greece!

  2. How very strange it is for Schumpeter to be laying out his depressions-cause-structural-change-and-growth theory of business cycles at the very same moment that he is also laying out his entrepreneurs-disrupt-the-circular-flow-and-cause-structural-change-and-growth-theory of enterprise. It is, of course, the second that is correct: Growth comes from entrepreneurs pulling resources into the sectors, enterprises, products, and production methods of the future. It does not come from depressions pushing resources into unemployment. Indeed, as Keynes noted, times of depression and fear of future depression are powerful brakes halting Schumpeterian entrepreneurship: "If effective demand is deficient... the individual enterpriser... is operating with the odds loaded against him. The game of hazard which he plays is furnished with many zeros.... Hitherto the increment of the world’s wealth has fallen short of the aggregate of positive individual savings; and the difference has been made up by the losses of those whose courage and initiative have not been supplemented by exceptional skill or unusual good fortune. But if effective demand is adequate, average skill and average good fortune will be enough..."

  3. How Schumpeter genuinely seems to have no clue at all that the business cycle is a feature of a monetary economy--how very badly indeed he needed to learn, and how he never did learn, what Nick Rowe and company teach today about the effects of monetary stringency on economic coordination.

  4. And, finally, how absolutely bonkers liquidationism and austerianism remain...

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Hoisted from the Archives: What Was Karl Marx's Principal Contribution?

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What Was Karl Marx's Principal Contribution?: It really depends on what you mean by "primary contribution"...

Look: Marx started his adult life with an adolescent oppositional stance, an Enlightenment confidence that he was living in the age of humanity's liberation, and a big chip on his shoulder as a German Jew when all the real action seemed to be going on in the west in France (politics) and in Britain (industry).

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Monday Smackdown/Hoisted: William Saletan Claims That the Real Thing Wrong with the Cheney-Bush-Rice-Rumsfeld Iraq War Was That It Prevented the Much Larger Cheney-Bush-Rice-Rumsfeld rIan War

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Duncan Black: The Stupidest People In The World: "I was going to let this go, but I just can't. Will 'Too Stupid to Tie Shoes' Saletan wrote his little 'How a supergenius like me helped cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people' piece for Slate as a list of 'lessons learned'. All relatively innocuous until you get to the last one...

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The Two-Step of Terrific Triviality: Monday Smackdown/Hoisted from the Archives

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John Holbo: When I hear the word culture… aw, hell with it: "Jonah Goldberg is now grumbling that people are calling him stupid. But... the upshot of Goldberg’s indignant response... would seem to be that Henry was actually too charitable to Goldberg...

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Yes, Republicans Are or Are Pretending to Be Easily Grifted Morons: The Theory of Relativity: Is It Time to "Teach the Controversy"?: Hoisted from Seven Years Ago

Preview of Yes Republicans Are or Are Pretending to Be Easily Grifted Morons The Theory of Relativity Is It

It is now 24 years since my default hypothesis became that that the conservative wing of the Republican Party is composed exclusively of people who have completely disabled their bullshit detectors, and were, as a result, easily-grifted morons. That default hypothesis has served me very well. Only now it is broadened: now all Republicans either have or are pretending to have completely disabled their bullshit detectors, and so now all Republicans are easily-grifted morons:

Hoisted from Seven Years Ago: The Theory of Relativity: Is It Time to "Teach the Controversy" in America's High Schools?: Jason Kuznicki pleads for charity for creationists:

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Orange-Haired Baboons: Some Fairly-Recent Must- and Should-Reads

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  • Just think: if the New York Times had been willing to play ball with Nate Silver, they could have things of this quality—rather than more of their standard politician-celebrity-gossip and "Javanka are going to save us all" that has done so much to empower the Orange-Haired Baboons of the world: Nathaniel Rakich: 538 Election Update: How Our House Forecast Compares With The Experts’ Ratings: "FiveThirtyEight’s forecast is a tad more bullish on Democrats’ chances overall than the three major handicappers...

  • Why are Fox News's victims so easily-grifted with respect to making them scared of liberal universities?: Jacob T. Levy: "I’ve made a lot of arguments in my life to people who didn’t want to hear them. I argued about sodomy laws and Bowers vs Hardwick with my grandmother when I was 15...

  • Michael Tomasky: Hail to the Chief: "It’s worth stepping back here to review quickly the steps by which the Republican Party became this stewpot of sycophants, courtesans, and obscurantists...

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Monday DeLong Smackdown/Hoisted: Greenspanism Looking Pretty Good...

Oy: This was perhaps the biggest thing I got most wrong in 2008. It's not saved by the weasel-words at the end: "If the tide of financial distress sweeps the Fed and the Treasury away--if we find ourselves in a financial-meltdown world where unemployment or inflation kisses 10%--then I will unhappily concede, and say that Greenspanism was a mistake...: Greenspanism Looking Pretty Good...: Martin Wolf is gloomy:

A year of living dangerously for the world: It is now almost a year since the US subprime crisis went global. Many then hoped that the repricing of risk would be no more than a brief interruption.... Such hopes have been disappointed.... So where is the world economy now? And where might it go? Here are some preliminary answers to these questions.

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Ten Years and One Month Ago on Grasping Reality: July 15-17. 2008...

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Brad DeLong was totally, utterly, completely wrong on July 16, 2008. In my defense, I would say that my wrongness was because I did not understand that Bernanke, Geithner, and Paulson were about to abandon Bagehot's Rule for how to deal with a financial crisis. Why did they abandon Bagehot's Rule? None of them has ever given an explanation of their thinking that I can regard as other than transparently false: Greenspanism Looking Pretty Good...: The dot-com bubble and the real-estate bubble were bad news for the investors in Webvan, WorldCom, Countrywide, FNMA, and securitized subprime mortgages. But they were, by and large, good news for the rest of us. And investors are supposed to take care of themselves. Now we are not yet out of the woods. If the tide of financial distress sweeps the Fed and the Treasury away--if we find ourselves in a financial-meltdown world where unemployment or inflation kisses 10%--then I will unhappily concede, and say that Greenspanism was a mistake. But so far the real economy in which people make stuff and other people buy it has been remarkably well insulated from panic at 57th and Park and on Canary Wharf...

Why We Need a Different Opposition Party to Compete with the Democrats (Miscellaneous): The spinmasters for Goldwater, Nixon, and Reagan rooted the Republican Party in three beliefs: 1. the government is not on your side--the government is on the side of the Negroes. 2. tax cuts always raise revenues. 3. the people outside our borders (and the people inside our borders who came from outside our borders) are not our friends. The ramifications of these beliefs have poisoned the entire party. They are the reason that smart well-intentioned Republicans--like George H.W. Bush--turned out to be mediocre presidents; that not-smart but well-intentioned Republicans--like Ronald Reagan (who with the help of his wife and her astrologer partially escaped #3)--turned out to be lousy presidents; and Republicans who were neither smart nor well-meaning--like George W. Bush--has turned out to be either the worst or the second-worst president in American history (depending on what you think of James Buchanan)...

Let Us Now Speak Ill of the Economist of London: I would not have thought that a British publication could write an obituary for Jesse Helms that omits Helms's claim that British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was a communist dupe helping the Russians conquer Central America. Nevertheless, the London Economist does...

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The Battle of Diu: Hoisted from the Archives

Hoisted from the Archives: The Battle of Diu (1509): One of the great might-have-beens in world history concerns the 1509 Battle of Diu. What if it had gone the other way? Or what if Sultans Beyezid II, Selim the Grim, Suleiman the Lawgiver, and Selim the Sot, and Murad III had shifted a small additional part of the military effort they were making in the Balkans and the Mediterranean into the Indian Ocean?...

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Should Kansas's (and Missouri's) Future Be "a Lot More Like Texas"?: Hoisted from the Archives

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Hoisted from them Archives: Should Kansas's (and Missouri's) Future Be "a Lot More Like Texas"?: That is one of Kansas Governor Sam Brownback's constant applause lines—that he wants Kansas to be a lot less like California and a lot more like Texas.And so I was reading Bryan Burrough on Erica Grieder: ‘Big, Hot, Cheap and Right’: What America Can Learn from the Strange Genius of Texas.... Burrough applaud's Erica Grieder's "counter[ing] much of this silliness" that "Texas is corrupt, callous, racist, theocratic, stupid, belligerent, and most of all, dangerous.” The problem is that three paragraphs later Burrough is writing of how:

Texas’s laissez-faire mix of weak government, low taxes and scant regulations is deeply rooted in its 1876 Constitution, which was an attempt to vehemently dismantle an oppressive post-Civil War government of Radical Reconstructionists…

What was most "oppressive" about the Radical Reconstructionists? It was, of course, that they thought African-Americans should vote, and enabled them to do so.

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Ten Years and One Month Ago at Grasping Reality: July 12-14, 2008

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BBC Reality TV?: Andrew Samwick: "A News Program or Reality TV? | Capital Gains and Games: I agree with Stan—this post by Brad DeLong about his appearance opposite Grover Norquist on a BBC 'news' program is a classic.  If Norquist is the BBC's idea of a right-of-center expert on the challenges facing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the implications of those challenges for federal policy, then the BBC does not qualify as a news organization.  And as a result I care as much for its continued existence as I do any other reality TV program, which is not much at all..."

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Hoisted from the Archives: James Scott and Friedrich Hayek

Il Quarto Stato

James Scott and Friedrich Hayek: My review of James Scott (1998), Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed (New Haven: Yale University Press: 0300070160):


I. Introduction

There is a lot that is excellent in James Scott's Seeing Like a State.

On one level, it is an extraordinary well-written and well-argued tour through the various forms of damage that have been done in the twentieth century by centrally-planned social-engineering projects—by what James Scott calls 'high modernism' and the attempt to use high modernist principles and practices to build utopia. As such, every economist who reads it will see it as marking the final stage in the intellectual struggle that the Austrian tradition has long waged against apostles of central planning. Heaven knows that I am no Austrian—I am a liberal Keynesian and a social democrat—but within economics even liberal Keynesian social democrats acknowledge that the Austrians won victory in their intellectual debate with the central planners long ago.

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Herbert Hoover: As Bad to Ally with Stalin and Churchill Against Hitler as to Ally with Hitler Against Stalin and Churchill

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I was reading Herbert Hoover (1964): Freedom Betrayed on the plane, and it is really clear to me why nobody wanted Hoover to publish it during his lifetime and why his heirs buried it for half a century:

I will tell you what I think. I think Hoover does not quite dare say:

When Hitler attacked Stalin in June 1941, the U.S. should have told Britain to cool it—embargoed Britain until and offered it security guarantees when it made peace with Germany—and then the U.S. should have supported Hitler in his war on Communism, by far the worst of the three totalitarianism of Communism, Naziism, and New Dealism. Afterwards, Hitler and his successors would have had their hands full ruling their Eurasian empire, and Naziism would have normalized itself, and Communism would be gone. Too bad about Nazi rule over the French, Belgians, Dutch, Danes, and Norwegians, but that would have been a price well worth paying.

He does not quite dare say it, but he is thinking it, and almost gets there...

Herbert Hoover:

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"Populism" or "Neo-Fascism"?: Rectification of Names Blogging: Hoisted from a Year Ago

Hoisted from a Year Ago: "Populism" or "Neo-Fascism"?: Rectification of Names Blogging: That is neither the post-WWII Latin American nor the pre-WWI North American form of "populism". I do not think we are well served by naming it such. What should we name it instead? There is an obvious candidate, after all...

Il Quarto Stato

The highlight of last week's JEF-APARC Conference at Stanford https://www.jef.or.jp for me was getting to sit next to Frank Fukuyama https://fukuyama.stanford.edu, whom I had never met before.

Frank is a former Deputy Director of Policy planning at the State Department, author of the extremely good books on political order The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution http://amzn.to/2sEt4AI and Political Order and Political Decay: From the Industrial Revolution to the Globalization of Democracy http://amzn.to/2sU0WZP, and a very sharp guy.

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Teddy Roosevelt: "We Have Traveled Far...": How to Look on Our Predecessors with Charity and Justice


“We have traveled far...“ said Teddy Roosevelt, looking back at the Puritans.

And we today, looking back at Teddy Roosevelt, have reason to say the same thing.

We can hope that, were Teddy with us today and were he given an opportunity for sober reflection and consideration, he would agree.

  • We can hope that he would agree that many of his attitudes towards women come out of an ideological and cultural superstructure, erected largely for the benefit of men, built on top of a near-Malthusian biological regime in which the typical woman spent 20 years of her life eating for two.

  • We can hope that he would agree that all of his fears about “race“ and its impact on America in his day have been falsified by the history of America since his.

  • And we can hope that, as far as “improving the breed“ is concerned, Roosevelt today would understand that, even on the narrowest perspective of what maximizes the survival probability of the human species as a breeding population, our genetic diversity is already so low that we cannot afford to further reduce it along almost any dimension—that "eugenics" as he understood it is a big no-no.

And we can welcome the valuable things that Teddy Roosevelt tried to carry forward from his time into ours...

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Hoisted/Smackdown: Yes, Noam Chomsky Is a Liar. Why Do You Ask?

Hoisted/Smackdown: On the NATO Bombing of Yugoslavia...: May 31, 2006: Having made the mistake of having joked about Noam Chomsky and so provoked a Chomskyite troll eruption that was painful to clean out, I believe that I have to make my position clear:

Noam Chomsky is a liar.

For example, Noam Chomsky says:

On the NATO Bombing of Yugoslavia, Noam Chomsky interviewed by Danilo Mandic: Director of Communications [for Clinton Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott], John Norris.... [T]ake a look on John Norris's book and what he says is that the real purpose of the war had nothing to do with concern for Kosovar Albanians. It was because Serbia was not carrying out the required social and economic reforms, meaning it was the last corner of Europe which had not subordinated itself to the US-run neoliberal programs, so therefore it had to be eliminated. That's from the highest level...

John Norris simply does not say what Chomsky says Norris says. "Reform[ing] their economies, mitigat[ing] ethnic tensions, and broaden[ing] civil society" is simply not the same thing as "subordinat[ing] itself to the US-run neoliberal programs". NATO moved against Milosevic because he had proceeded "from mass murder to mass murder", not because Serbia was evidence that economic prosperity was attainable by doing the opposite of what the U.S. recommended

Here's the passage from John Norris (2005), Collision Course: NATO, Russia, and Kosovo (New York: Praeger), that Chomsky is misciting, p. xxii ff.:

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Ten Years Ago on Grasping Reality: July 11, 2008

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EVERY TIME I TRY TO CRAWL OUT, THEY PULL ME BACK IN!: In short, I trot over to the J-School TV studio as part of the sober, sensible, bipartisan consensus, intending to carry water for Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson. And what do I find also on BBC/Newsnight when I get there? I FIND THAT I AM ON WITH GROVER-FRACKING-NORQUIST!! I FIND THAT I AM ON WITH GROVER-FRACKING-NORQUIST!!! WHO HAS THREE POINTS HE WANTS TO MAKE: (1) Barack Obama wants to take your money by raising your taxes and pay it to the Communist Chinese. (2) Oil prices are high today and the economy is in a near recession because of Nancy Pelosi: before Nancy Pelosi became speaker economic growth was fine--and she is responsible for high oil prices too. (3) Economic growth is stalling because congress has not extended the Bush tax cuts. Congress needs to extend the Bush tax cuts, and if it does then that will fix the economy, and if it doesn't then the economy cannot recover. I am not paid enough to deal with this lying bullshit. I am not paid enough to deal with Grover Norquist and his willful stream of defecation into the global information pool...

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Ten Years Ago on Grasping Reality: July 10, 2008

Department of "Huh?" General Motors Bailout Edition: Why oh why can't we have a better press corps? Why oh why do we watch the New York Times in a death spiral? Why does it publish Roger Lowenstein telling us that: "Extravagant Pensions Are Killing General Motors.... G.M. acknowledged in its most recent annual report that from 1993 to 2007 it... has been sending far more money to its retirees than to its owners..." When GM offered the UAW more lavish benefits, it did so in order to induce the UAW to accept less generous wages. The money that GM paid in the 1990s and 2000s to fund pension and retiree health benefits was offset by wages that GM did not have to pay in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Lowenstein appears to want to live in a world in which GM (a) gets a break on its wage costs in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s; and can do so (b) without having to pay any money to fund pensions in the 1990s and 2000s. I don't want to live in Roger Lowenstein's world.

Washington Post Death Spiral Watch: Words fail me: "Gerson: The Immorality of Food Stamps". Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

The Transparent Society: Distributed global surveillance: "Spotted Brad DeLong wearing a "Jedi Masters for Barack Obama" t-shirt..."

Hoisted/Smackdown: FLASH: Clive Crook and Jack Shafer Upset Because People Informing People Are Claiming to Be Journalists


I was performing one of my standard rants last week at lunch: about how—with very honorable but notably rare exceptions—you should view everything you see on a video screen or read in any medium from somebody paid to be a "journalist" through a hermeneutics of grave suspicion: Assume, unless and until demonstrated otherwise, that they are working for, in this order: (1) their sources, (2) their editors, (3) their advertisers, and (4) for you not at all—they simply are not interested in being a trustworthy information intermediary informing you about the world.

I got some pushback. So it is time to hoist this again from 2005. In one short week, pieces crossed my desk from both Jack Shafer and Clive Crook. Both made it very clear that, in their minds, informing people about the world is positively unprofessional for a journalist (that is the point of Shafer's attack on Klein and Yglesias) or simply not a relevant consideration (that is the point of Crook's relative exaltation of Cramer and dissing of Stewart):

FLASH: Monday Smackdown Clive Crook and Jack Shafer Upset Because People Informing People Are Claiming to Be Journalists: Hoisted from 2015: http://www.bradford-delong.com/2015/02/flash-clive-crook-and-jack-shafer-upset-because-john-stewart-and-ezra-klein-pretty-sure-earth-is-not-flat.html "Two things that crossed my desk last week that offend the shape of reality itself, and really do deserve to be smacked down.

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On the Negative Information Revealed by Marvin Goodfriend's "I Don't Teach IS-LM": Smackdown/Hoisted


So Rich Clarida's (who should be a good Fed Vice Chair) and Michelle Bowman's Federal Reserve nominations (whom I do not know) made it out of the Senate Banking Committee 20-5 and 18-7. Marvin Goodfriend—who made it out 13-12—is still hanging fire on the Senate calendar. There is no reason I see to think that Fed Governor is a job he should have: there are much more sensible and reality-based conservative and inflation-hawkish monetary economists out there. One of them would dominate Marvin along every dimension. So it is time to highlight this again:

Hoisted from the Archives: I think it is time to move Marvin Goodfriend over to the "unprofessional" and "should not have a role making monetary policy" side of the ledger. There are much better inflation hawks as far as policy judgment is concerned. And someone with a demonstrated desire to pander to the yahoos—which is the only way I can make this coherent—is not a good candidate for the Board of Governors: On the Negative Information Revealed by Marvin Goodfriend's "I Don't Teach IS-LM": The smart and snarky Sam Bell wants to taunt me into rising to his bait by twittering https://twitter.com/sam_a_bell/status/872116967070732288 a quote from likely Fed nominee Marvin Goodfriend: "I don't teach IS-LM". He succeeds. Here is the quote:

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Ten Years Ago on Grasping Reality: July 9, 2008

Real Fiscal Responsibility: And we are underway: Henry Aaron, Nancy Altman, Kenneth Apfel, James Blum, J. Bradford DeLong, Peter Diamond, Robert Greenstein, James Horney, Richard Kogan, Jack Lew, Marilyn Moon, Van Doorn Ooms, Uwe Reinhardt, Charles Schultze, Robert Solow, and Paul Van de Water: (1) agree that the nation faces large persistent budget deficits that ultimately risk significant damage to the economy, (2) concur that policymakers should begin now to make the tough choices needed to avert such deficits, (3) But the methods set forth in the Brookings/Heritage/Concord "Taking Back Our Fiscal Future" proposal strike us as misguided. Specifically: TBOFF subjects Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid to the threat of automatic cuts while giving a free pass to regressive open-ended tax-loophole and tax-break entitlements... thus departs from the "shared sacrifice" approach... does not focus adequate attention on... rising health care... attempts to restrain public health care spending growth without taking measures to alter the dynamics of the private health care markets... places a large share of the burden of adjustment on the poorer members of American society... relies on automatic cuts... [that] congress has never in the past been willing to actually let... take effect...

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Ten Years Ago on Grasping Reality: July 8, 2008

Preview of Some Fairly Recent Must and Should Reads About Economic Inequality

Perry Bacon, Jr., is a bad human being: Marcus Brauchli Has, I Think, Made a Big Mistake (Washington Post Death Spiral Watch): Former WSJ executive Marcus Brauchli has agreed to take over the Washington Post.... This is, I think, a huge mistake for him and his reputation.... All you have to look at is page A1 of this morning's paper--at the article by Perry Bacon, Jr., who has already written what the Columbia Journalism Review judged the worst article of the 2008 campaign. The headline of the article is: "Candidates Diverge on How to Save Social Security". The echo of Paul Krugman's 2000 joke: "If Bush said that the world was flat, the headline on the news analysis [the next day] would read 'Shape of Earth: Views Differ'" is clear. But nobody at the Washington Post gets the joke. And the substance of the article is as bad as the headline...

Wise: Ben Bernanke Is Right: If we were back in the late nineteenth century, there would be no question--back then, banks were banks. Anything that promised liquidity, borrowed short, and invested long was a bank. And central banks existed to watch over them. It's only in our more legalistic age that we have non-banks that aren't shepherded by the central bank...

Rare among veterans, John McCain is a big fan of 'preemptive war': Jed Lewison on Why America Cannot Afford to Elect John McCain: My line used to be that John McCain was the best possible Republican candidate--he was, after all, the only one not enthusiastically in favor of torture. But Jed Lewison has now convinced me that McCain is worse than I could previously have imagined. How has he done this. By firing up the Wayback Machine and taking us back to 2002 to listen to John McCain on the virtues of preemptive wars...

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Ten Years Ago on Grasping Reality: July 1-7, 2008

  • My belief that DHE had any goals other than to suck up to Republican donors and politicians was wrong: Douglas Holtz-Eakin Burns His Credibility: "Holtz-Eakin said, “Sen. Obama can say what he wants this week… but this is about his record. It reveals what his true values are”—that he voted for something that would raise taxes on low-income voters, Holtz-Eakin claimed.... This is, I think, a bad mistake for Doug Holtz-Eakin. If McCain wins in November, Holtz-Eakin will need credibility with Democratic as well as Republican senators. And if McCain doesn't win in November, Holtz-Eakin will need credibility with Democratic as well as Republican economists...

  • Lehman's Off Balance Sheet Entities News: They disturb Jonathan Weil quite a bit...

  • Jim Hamilton Assumes the Role of Dr. Doom: Time to start sending out more stimulus checks--advances on next April's refund checks...

  • The Singularity Is in Our Past...: Will McLean writes: "A Commonplace Book: Buying Power of 14th Century Money: In the second half of the 14th century, a pound sterling would: Support the lifestyle of a single peasant laborer for half a year, or that of a knight for a week. Or buy: Three changes of clothing for a teenage page (underclothes not included) or Twelve pounds of sugar or A carthorse or Two cows or An inexpensive bible or ten ordinary books or Rent a craftsman’s townhouse for a year or Hire a servant for six months... "Think of a world in which a pound of sugar costs two weeks' wages...

  • Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (John F. Harris Edition): "John F. Harris of the Politico, formerly of the Washington Post, confesses that he doesn't even try to do his job of informing Americans about which politicians would make good presidents and legislators--furthest thing from his mind.... I do wonder how he can look at himself in the mirror in the morning. It is a mystery...

  • Atlantic Monthly Death Spiral Watch: Tim Burke reminds us of what may have been the worst article published by the Atlantic Monthly, ever: "Easily Distracted: Political Notes: I keep flashing back to Mark Bowden’s willingness to be a front man for security functionaries eager to normalize torture. Bowden’s article assured readers that 'harsh interrogation' had reached a point of trust-worthy technocratic professionalism in Israel and now potentially the United States. Don’t worry, he said: professionals only use it when they need to, only against those individuals who have knowledge that our trusted leaders must have. It’s won’t be as if some sweaty thug in a filthy gulag is ripping off fingernails just to intimidate a political dissident, that’s only a danger with unprofessional regimes that torture unnecessarily. I mean, it’s not as if we’d be doing something that an infamous authoritarian regime used extensively against dissidents. Besides, who needs moral capital when you’ve got stealth bombers, right?..."

  • Peter Beinart is weighed down under an enormous karmic burden for acts of intellectual evil in the past: Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Peter Beinart Strikes Again Edition): "It is safe to say that Peter Beinart makes a very serious, thoughtful, argument that has never been made in such detail or with such care: "Balancing Act: The Other Wilsonianism The contrast with the development of modern conservative foreign policy is instructive. When William F. Buckley, James Burnham, and the other founding editors of _National Review+ set out in the 1950s to devise a conservative approach to the Cold War, they did so in the full knowledge that their views were wildly outside the political mainstream. (In fact, Buckley and Burnham did not even live in Washington.) Yet they continued to elaborate and refine them, making few concessions to political necessity, until in 1976 and 1980, when Ronald Reagan brought first the Republican Party, and then the entire country, around to their worldview..." Burnham's and Buckley's foreign policy was "Rollback": a titanic Manichean struggle of total Cold War against a totalitarian adversary that could not be softened or negotiated with or contained—that was Buckley's and Burnham's critique of Harry S Truman, Dean Acheson, George F. Kennan, George Marshall, and the other graduates of what Nixon called "Acheson's Cowardly College of Communist Containment." What was Ronald Reagan's foreign policy?... Once George Shultz, Nancy Reagan, and Nancy Reagan's astrologer had wrested control of the Reagan administration foreign policy apparat from Alexander Haig and Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Reagan (and even more so George H.W. Bush) was squarely in the "Containment"—not the "Rollback"—tradition. To Peter Beinart's claim that Reagan's foreign policy was "Buckley['s and] Burnham['s]... conservative approach to the Cold War," all I can do is laugh and say: "Klaatu Barada Nikto!!" Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

  • Ulysses Simpson "Sam" Grant Blogging: "I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse..."

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IIRC, back when I first read Robert Nozick's Anarchy, State, and Utopia, I thought it was a joke: He spent all this space ranting about how nobody is allowed to make consequentialist arguments, and then makes the consequentialist argument that Lockeian appropriation of pieces of the global commons as private property is fine because it has the consequence of making the world richer? And then there was this: using the Cambridge Rent Control Board to break his contract—his self-actualization as a promise-making autonomous moral being—to extort 30,000 dollars from Eric Segal: Anarchy, State, and Rent Control.

I now think that Anarchy, State, and Utopia was a joke that turned into a grift. Cf.: Robert Bork, who after a lifetime of calling for "tort reform" files a slip-and-fall lawsuit against the Yale Club of Manhattan...

Tim Noah (2007): Has Jonah Goldberg gone soft on Hillary?: Hoisted from the Internet from Eleven Years Ago/Weekend Reading

Timothy Noah (2007): Has Jonah Goldberg gone soft on Hillary?: "Her name's been removed from his forthcoming book's subtitle...

Three months ago, I speculated that Jonah Goldberg's forthcoming book, then titled Liberal Fascism: The Totalitarian Temptation From Mussolini to Hillary Clinton, was the victim of a swift and violent paradigm shift. The 2006 elections and the right's critical drubbing of Dinesh D'Souza's The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11--which proposed a strategic alliance between Muslim theocrats and the American right against the degenerate American left—had rendered conservatism's lunatic fringe suddenly unfashionable. This couldn't, I thought, be good news for a book that portrayed Hillary Clinton as a goose-stepping brownshirt.

One hint that Doubleday might be feeling nervous was that the book's publication date, originally planned for 2005, had been delayed repeatedly, and had just been delayed once more, to Dec. 26, 2007. Goldberg's publisher, Adam Bellow, insisted that the book's delays were attributable entirely to the extreme care being taken to get the history just right, and Goldberg himself, after stating on National Review's online chat-fest "The Corner" that he found me to be "a bore and a fairly nasty and humorless fellow," said the book was delayed only because "it's not done yet." My "assertion that the book's delayed for marketing reasons would be a flat-out lie if it weren't flat-out conjecture," Goldberg thundered.

What Bellow and Goldberg said didn't strike me as necessarily inconsistent with what I'd written. I could well envision that the extreme care to which Bellow referred might include frantic tweaking of tone to make Goldberg sound less like Ann Coulter and more like David Brooks. But whatever the reason for the delay, the marketing plan for Goldberg's book has been altered since I last wrote, and the direction has been away from Coulterism. A book's subtitle is part of a book's marketing, is it not? Ladies and gentlemen, the subtitle has been changed. Gone is The Totalitarian Temptation From Mussolini to Hillary Clinton. Now the subtitle is The Totalitarian Temptation From Hegel to Whole Foods. This is undeniably kinder, gentler, and less political. But it isn't necessarily more truthful.

As liberal blogger Ezra Klein points out, John Mackey, founder and chief executive of Whole Foods, is a libertarian. In a recent speech, Mackey said, "The Left's goal remains either to cripple or to destroy capitalism." That doesn't sound very liberal to me. Perhaps Goldberg has found a way to write around Mackey's inconvenient politics. Or perhaps he'll have to go back to the drawing board. One option might be for Goldberg to change the title to The Road to Serfdom, which is what F.A. Hayek called this book when he published it 50-odd years ago. Goldberg should know, though, that a cartoon version of Hayek's most famous work is already in circulation.

Ten Years Ago on Grasping Reality: June 27-30, 2008

Preview of Procrastinating on November 29 2016

Robin Givhan may well have provided the worst Hillary coverage ever: Heathers...: Robin Givhan.... "Hillary Clinton spoke... smiling that talk-show smile—the one that never wavers. She was dressed all in cobalt blue.... The only people who dress from head to toe in bright blue are more than likely telling you to put your seat tray in the upright and locked position. What would possess a woman seeking the highest office to dress in a manner that only Veruca Salt could love?..."

True then; true now: Capital and Its Complements: The hope was that... net capital outflows from the industrial core would finance much late twentieth and twenty-first century industrialization. But we all know the outcome.... The core–especially the United States–offers a form of protection for capital against unanticipated political disturbances.... Net international capital flows are going the wrong way. [But] there are still substantial gross capital flows outward from the world economy’s core to its periphery. And we can hope that these capital flows will carry with them the institutions and managerial expertise that have made the core so wealthy. Nevertheless, a dispassionate observer might point out that for someone with limited resources and opportunities for policy reform to keep betting double-or-nothing on neo-liberalism is a strategy that has a well-deserved name: “Gambler’s Ruin”.

Greg Ransom was the poster child for how training a knee-jerk right-winger in economics could produce someone whose only fit habitation was Beldlam: Attempted DeLong Smackdown Watch: Origins of Central Banking Edition: Greg's argument that attempts to avoid depression through government financial manipulation must necessarily fail was, to my knowledge, first made comprehensively by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels...

Surprisingly few people seem to remember that Reagan had ideological majorities in both houses of congress always—there were back then a bunch of people who voted with the Democrats to organize their house because they remembered that the Republicans had freed the slaves, but that was all they would vote with the Democrats for: Paul Krugman Misreads the Political Situation, I Think: Reagan had ideological majorities in both houses of congress throughout his presidency--remember the "boll weevils"? Clinton did not even have ideological majorities in his first two years. Yet Reagan's conservative achievements were remarkably limited: (1) A tilting of the tax code to redistribute income to the rich. And it was more than offset, IMHO at least, by his major liberal achievements: (1) To end the Cold War by trusting Gorbachev's good faith--in spite of everything the Republican foreign-policy establishment and the wingnut ideologues could throw in his path to try to stop them. (2) To cement the government's entitlement-spending role as provider of a mind-bobbling amount of primarily middle-class social insurance: Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid as we know them. And then there were Reagan's "achievements" that were simply stupidities...

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Carbon Blogging: Robert J. Samuelson Is Incompetent/The Washington Post Is a Bad Paper: Monday Smackdown/Hoisted

Preview of Carbon Blogging Robert J Samuelson Is Incompetent The Washington Post Is a Bad Paper Monday Smackdown Hoisted

That the Washington Post still gives Robert J. Samuelson a platform is a shameful thing. That it ever gave Robert J. Samuelson a platform is a bad thing: Monday Smackdown/Hoisted: In That Case... Plant the Trees This Afternoon!: Mark Thoma does an evil deed by telling me that somebody should take note of Robert Samuelson. And he's right: somebody should. But why does it have to be me?

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June 26, 2018: Ten Years Ago on Grasping Reality

Hoisted from Comments: J. Thomas on the Ethics of William Greider: "If Greider had told his reporters 'The headline for today's article is "Supplyside Scandal Exposed"' and they were supposed to point out known administration lies as lies and use the word 'scandal' at least 4 times per article... But he didn't. The articles he edited encouraged fools to continue acting like fools. He got the truth straight from Stockman's mouth and he reported the lies instead. Is there something about these events that you don't believe? Is there something about my interpretation that you disagree with? If you agree the events happened, what interpretation leaves Greider a nonhack?"

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June 25, 2008: Ten Years Ago on Grasping Reality

New York Times Death Spiral Watch (Maureen Dowd Edition): Is there any way for somebody writing in good faith to write both these columns in three months?...

Oil and Speculation: Since we don't see either large inventories of tanker cars filled with oil on the sidings or futures prices for oil above spot prices to make storing marginally profitable, he concludes that speculation is not driving oil prices today...

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June 24, 2008: Ten Years Ago on Grasping Reality

*If you think the Washington Post is an embarrassment in the Age of Trump, it was no better a decade ago: *: Washington Post Death Spiral Watch (Lori Montgomery Edition): Lori Montgomery is giving her bosses up through Len Downie and Katherine Weymouth and Donald Graham what they want, clearly—and what they want is not to inform their readers about the budget.... If Len Downie and company truly want to entertain rather than inform, why not have Lori Montgomery write about Hollywood or professional sports? The people in Hollywood are much more aesthetic than politicians or budget experts. Professional sports not only has prettier and much more athletic people but also superbly structured narrative story lines without the awkward ambiguities and loose ends of government and policy. It is a mystery...

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Ten Years Ago at Grasping Reality: June 22, 2008

Higher-Level Languages and Genetic Programming: The Quintessence writes....

Wait...did you say "eldritch?": Comparison of the various chordate genomes reveals that there are very few chordate-specific genes. Specifically, the authors described 239 "chordate gene novelties" out of 22,000 genes in the lancelet. The nature and function of these genes is intensely interesting, and indeed the authors devote a separate report to issues related to this. But think about it: only 1% of the genes in chordates (vertebrates and all their relatives) are "novel" among genes from all other organisms. So if the toolbox isn't all that different between lancelets and lions, despite divergence at least 550 million years ago, then what is different?... The likelihood that changes in regulation of a (mostly) common genetic toolkit is a major factor in evolution of form....

Now that is scary. The DNA genome is best conceptualized not just as machine language for the cell and the organism, not just machine plus assembly language, not just machine plus assembly language plus Fortran, but all of those and overlaid over the whole, controlling everything, the highest-level genetic code for our humanity written in the molecular equivalent of Java.

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Ten Years Ago at Grasping Reality: June 20, 2008

Sam Boyd Is a National Treasure: He reads Slate, so we don't have to poison our minds. And comments on William Saletan:

This is the same logic that people used to justify homeowners who didn't want to rent to minorities. That's just terrible, they clucked, but I wouldn't want to live in a world where the government told people who they could rent to. Well, as it turns out, that world is a lot better than the one it replaced...

It is a good point. Consider: William Saletan on contraception:

William Saletan, 2008: You bring your scrip to the pharmacy, and the guy at the counter says, "Sorry, we don't stock contraceptives." That's annoying and, in my view, stupid. But nobody's walling you in. Your burden consists of finding another pharmacy...

William Saletan on fair housing:

William Saletan, 1958: You go to the open house, and the real estate broker says, "Sorry, we don't sell to Negroes." That's annoying and, in my view, stupid. But nobody's walling you in. Your burden consists of finding another house to buy...

Is there a difference between these two? Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

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Ten Years Ago at Grasping Reality: June 19, 2008

Reported Deaths and Injuries from Meteorite Impact: "As of March 2008, the Near-Earth Asteroid with the highest probability of impact within the next 100 years is 2007 VK184, with a Torino scale of 1..."

Another Absolutely Beautiful Free Place in America...: There are few things finer than sitting outside the garth of Lora the Highly-Eccentric--Vikingsholm on Emerald Bay in Lake Tahoe--reading Guy Gavriel Kay's The Last Light of the Sun...

June 18, 2008: Ten Years Ago at Grasping Reality

Atlantic Monthly Death Spiral Watch (Outsourced to the Poor Man Edition): If the Atlantic Monthly survives the new media hurricane in any form whatsoever, it will be because it maintains and strengthens its reputation as a good filter of information.... The Poor Man explains, slowly and patiently and politely, why publishing Gregg Easterbrook is the road to destruction....

Easterbrook cilps 5 words from page 2 of this report as evidence that the NAS was cautioning against making any policy decisions. Seventy pages later, in a chapter titled “Recommendations”, you find this:

Despite the great uncertainties, greenhouse warming is a potential threat sufficient to justify action now.

Ten pages of immediate policy recommendations follow. Again, this report came out 15 years ago...

Does anybody think Howell Raines ever had any business being a journalist?: Perhaps the Strangest Article I Have Read, Ever (Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?): Howell Raines on Jim Romanesko.... There are, I think, only three "facts" I did not already know--and I don't know much about Jim Romanesko or Poynter:

  1. Poynter pays Jim Romanesko $170K a year.
  2. Jim Romanesko turned down an offer to jump to Brill's Content five years ago.
  3. awker's "readers tend to speak of Romenesko more as a historical figure than a must-read. 'I don’t feel obligated to check it daily since a lot of the news doesn’t directly relate to me,' says a young New York-based reporter at a major newspaper.... 'Romenesko... provides a great top-line summary for a dying industry--an invaluable tool for that master’s thesis 20 years from now on the fall of paper'..."

And, of course, this third is not a "fact." Howell Raines has no magic surveillance machine with which he takes the pulse of what Gawker's readers say. And we all know how worthless is Howell Raines's ability to find one reporter who--anonymously--will serve as a sock puppet and do Howell Raines's bidding by saying that Jim Romanesko is a has-been about to be consumed by the monster he created. It would be something--but not much--if the "young New York-based reporter at a major newspaper" were willing to be named. It would be considerably more if Howell Raines had made some effort to demonstrate that the views of his sock puppet were in any sense representative or influential....

June 17, 2008: Ten Years Ago at Grasping Reality

  • Smackdown Watch: Beauty, Accessibility, Crowding, Expense: Barbara Ehrenreich's basic problem, I think, is that she doesn't like beautiful places that are crowded, especially crowded with the wrong people—recall her dismissal of Maine's beautiful (and accessible! and affordable!) Old Orchard Beach as a "rinky-dink blue-collar resort." But here is Robert Waldmann to perform the smackdown...

  • Journalistic institutions that have less than zero quality control: we are looking at you, Atlantic: The Atlantic Monthly Death Spiral Watch (Gregg Easterbrook Asteroid Devastation Edition)_: Why oh why can't we have a better press corps? The Atlantic Monthly features Gregg Easterbook, who writes: "The Sky Is Falling: The odds that a potentially devastating space rock will hit Earth this century may be as high as one in 10. So why isn’t NASA trying harder to prevent catastrophe?..." If the odds that a devastating space rock will hit the earth in a century are one in ten, then the chances that we have gone... one millennium without a DSR hitting the earth are 0.35... two millennia without a DSR hitting the earth are 0.12... four millennia without a DSR hitting the earth are 0.014... It's possible a devastating space rock hit the earth between eight and four millennia ago and we know nothing about it—but it's not terribly likely. It's very hard for me to believe that a devastating space rock has hit the earth since 3000 BC. We have Tunguska.... If you started out with a 50-50 prior probability that Gregg Easterbrook knows what he is talking about, your posterior probability that the lead of his Atlantic article is better than birdcage liner given no rock since 2000 BC is 0.0138. But we start with a lower probability than that, don't we? Gregg Easterbrook has a history.... If the Atlantic published an article by Gregg Easterbrook every month, we would have to wait 41 years before there was a 50-50 chance that even one of the Easterbrook articles was right...

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June 15, 2008: Ten Years Ago at Grasping Reality

  • Why do people do this? Why clickbait: Jack Balkin Is Wrong: Jack Balkin says that the Bush legal revolution has failed. He is wrong: it has just not yet succeeded. A McCain victory in November and another statist Supreme Court appointee, and that's it for the rights of any whom the president classifies as an outlaw. Balkin acknowledges this at the end. Better he had done so at the beginning...

  • Why do people do this?: Ummm... No!: "Barbara Ehrenreich's Fear of Falling, Blood Rites, and The Hearts of Men are among the finest works of sociology I have every read or ever expect to read. Which is why it is so very hard for me to read things like this—to which the only reaction is "that's simply not true!".... "This Land Is Their Land.... The general rule, which has been in effect since sometime in the 1990s: if a place is truly beautiful, you can't afford to be there..." And the essay has gone totally off the rails. The places she talks about: Sun Valley, Idaho; Drigg dollars for a season; The Hamptons; Cape Cod; Telluride. Yes, Sun Valley, Driggs, Jackson Hole, Key West, The Hamptons, Cape Cod, and Telluride are beautiful. Yes, they are expensive‚ as are Vail, Aspen, Back Bay, the Upper East Side, Santa Monica, Pacific Heights, and La Jolla. But it is a truly impoverished person who thinks that those rich yuppie watering holes are the only truly beautiful places in North America. The place I really want to go back to right now is the spine of the Canadian Rockies from the corner of Moose and Squirrel Streets in Banff to Malign Lake outside of Jasper. But Yosemite is always tugging at my heart. What's your favorite truly beautiful place to go that's cheap? The essay continues. But what's the point?...

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The Last Financial Crisis of the Nineteenth Century: Hoisted from the Grasping Reality Archives from Ten Years Ago

Il Quarto Stato

The slides from my “Macroeconomic Situation and Outlook” talk as it stood ten years ago, in June 2008. The subtitle and the conceit of the talk was that what we were then going through was an eruption into the twenty-first century of the kind of financial crisis that was typical of the pre-Great Depression period.

What did I get right and what did I miss? The main thing I missed was that I misunderstood what Bernanke, Paulson, and Geithner were doing. I thought that they were following the now century and a half-old Bagehot rule from Lombard Street for how to handle a financial crisis:

  1. Lend freely
  2. On collateral that is good in normal tomes
  3. At a penalty rate

Most of the talk is therefore devoted to explaining what the Bagehot Rule is, why it is a good thing, and how it is all likely to work out.

But when Lehman hit the wall in the fall they refused to follow (2) in evaluating its collateral, and so they did not do (1). And they never showed any interest in doing (3). And so here we are...


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Ten Years Ago on Grasping Reality: June 10-14, 2008

Topkapi Palace

Neither Louis Uchitelle or Tom Hamburger would ever tell me whose bidding they were doing in writing hit pieces on Jason Furman, or why they thought this was the way they should be doing their jobs:

  • Louis Uchitelle on Jason Furman: The odd thing is that Jason Furman has a very strong and very wide reputation as an honest broker and as a consensus builder, which is exactly the kind of thing that you want in the job--as long as you think that truth is on your side, and thus that you are more likely than not to win honest, substantive, evidence-based debates. It's not right to say that Jason Furman was closely associated with Robert Rubin without also saying that he was closely associated with Joe Stiglitz...

  • Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Tom Hamburger of the Los Angeles Times Edition): "On June 11, 2008, you wrote: "Obama's selection of Jason Furman as economic advisor is criticized: [Jason Furman] was also quoted in a transcript from a CNBC interview in 2006 as suggesting openness to changes in Social Security that might include private accounts and benefit cuts. The approach he described sounded similar in some ways to that proposed at the time by President Bush."... Jason Furman was not a friend, advocate, or supporter of President Bush's Social Security privatization plan back in 2005, but instead one of its most strident and effective opponents...

  • We Get an Email from Tom Hamburger...: Apropos of the astonishing and false claim in this morning's LA Times that Jason Furman is some sort of a crypto-Bushie with views on Social Security matters "similar" to those Bush proposed in 2005, I write to the reporter involved, Tom Hamburger... He writes back. Mr. Hamburger's bottom line appears to be that his leaving a lot of readers with a false view of Jason Furman's position on Social Security is OK because that was "not the point of this story..."

  • Greg Anrig on Tom Hamburger on Jason Furman: Apropos of LA Times reporter Tom Hamburger's gross mispresentation of Jason Furman, Greg Anrig comments: "It wasn't a matter of 'space'—Hamburger simply got the facts totally wrong. If he had left out his errors about Social Security, he would have had more space. Jason may have been the single most effective wonk in the victory against SS privatization..."

Other things:

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After the Next Nuclear Fire...: Hoisted from 2007

Nuclear explosion Google Search

Hoisted from the Archives: Rather more urgent than I thought it would be 27 months ago: After the Next Nuclear Fire...: In the early 1980s the U.S. NSA—or perhaps it was the Defense Department—loved to play games with Russian air defense. They would send probe planes in from the Pacific to fly over Siberia. And they would watch and listen: Where were the gaps in Russian sensor coverage? How far could U.S. planes penetrate before being spotted? What were Russian command-and-control procedures to intercept intruders? And so on, and so forth.

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June 9, 2008: Ten Years Ago on Grasping Reality

  • Washington Post Death Spiral Watch (Fred Hiatt Edition): Why oh why can't we have a better press corps? Fred Hiatt tells a lot of lies himself as he cherrypicks the Rockefeller report. Duncan Black notes:: "the headline given... is 'Blaming Bush for Iraq Is Too Easy.' And that's true! I also blame Fred Hiatt!" Fred Hiatt would prefer it if we didn't say that Bush and Cheney lied. He says that there is "no question" that Bush and Cheney "spoke with too much certainty" at times—but, he says, that's not lying...

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June 8, 2008: Ten Years Ago on Grasping Reality

  • Making the Case for Globalization: I suspect that we are, right now, seeing the peak of anti-globalization economic agitation in the United States. The fall in the real value of the dollar against European currencies and its coming real value fall against Asian currencies mean that export and import-competing sectors are likely to be expanding their employment rapidly over the next several years. It would be a pity if a look back deranged our policy going forward, especially if it is because trade is perceived to be a problem by politicians even though it has ceased to be perceived as a problem by voters...

  • What Does John McCain Think?: Digby writes: "A reader sent me this link to the Cunningrealist from May 5 and I was surprised by what it contained. Were you aware that John McCain wrote the forward to an edition of The Best And the Brightest? And were you aware that it said this?: 'It was a shameful thing to ask men to suffer and die, to persevere through god-awful afflictions and heartache, to endure the dehumanizing experiences that are unavoidable in combat, for a cause that the country wouldn’t support over time and that our leaders so wrongly believed could be achieved at a smaller cost than our enemy was prepared to make us pay. No other national endeavor requires as much unshakable resolve as war. If the nation and the government lack that resolve, it is criminal to expect men in the field to carry it alone.' Will anyone ask him about this?..."

  • Shut Up and Calculate!: Eliezer Yudkowsky wonders aloud just what the Born probabilities in quantum mechanics are. It is, I think, an object lesson that nobody should try to understand quantum mechanics: it simply cannot be done...