#weblogging Feed

Blogging: What to Expect Here...

Preview of REMIND YOURSELF Blogging What to Expect Here

The purpose of this weblog is to be the best possible portal into what I am thinking, what I am reading, what I think about what I am reading, and what other smart people think about what I am reading...

"Bring expertise, bring a willingness to learn, bring good humor, bring a desire to improve the world—and also bring a low tolerance for lies and bullshit..." — Brad DeLong

"I have never subscribed to the notion that someone can unilaterally impose an obligation of confidentiality onto me simply by sending me an unsolicited letter—or an email..." — Patrick Nielsen Hayden

"I can safely say that I have learned more than I ever would have imagined doing this.... I also have a much better sense of how the public views what we do. Every economist should have to sell ideas to the public once in awhile and listen to what they say. There's a lot to learn..." — Mark Thoma

"Tone, engagement, cooperation, taking an interest in what others are saying, how the other commenters are reacting, the overall health of the conversation, and whether you're being a bore..." — Teresa Nielsen Hayden

"With the arrival of Web logging... my invisible college is paradise squared, for an academic at least. Plus, web logging is an excellent procrastination tool.... Plus, every legitimate economist who has worked in government has left swearing to do everything possible to raise the level of debate and to communicate with a mass audience.... Web logging is a promising way to do that..." — Brad DeLong

"Blogs are an outlet for unexpurgated, unreviewed, and occasionally unprofessional musings.... At Chicago, I found that some of my colleagues overestimated the time and effort I put into my blog—which led them to overestimate lost opportunities for scholarship. Other colleagues maintained that they never read blogs—and yet, without fail, they come into my office once every two weeks to talk about a post of mine..." — Daniel Drezner

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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (January 22, 2019)

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  1. Be the Podcast You Want to See in the World!: Arindrajit Dube: "God damn it Brad now Matt Y is on board and I am seriously screwed..." So it looks like we may be doing this for real—once a week, half-hour chunks, starting out as amateur hour only. First topic: thinking about what marginal tax rates on the rich should be. What say you all?...

  2. Three Papers and Four Graphs and Tables: The Top Marginal Tax Rate: If Arindrajit Dube and I do start our Economic Home podcast, I think that each 30 minute segment should concentrate on two or three (or four) papers and two or three (or four) graphs and tables. Our first proposed topic is the top marginal tax rate. Are these the right papers? Are these the right graphs and tables?...

  3. By Popular Deman: What Is “Modern Monetary Theory”?: Nevertheless, if one must choose between MMT on the one hand and the yahoos of either monetary stringency or fiscal austerity on the other, choose MMT. It is closer to being an accurate view. We do seek a circular flow of spending, production, and incomes both high enough to keep us from unnecessary unemployment and also from surprisingly and distressingly high prices and inflation. This is a modest goal. It is not something pushed out of reach by some malign and austere economic or budgetary accounting logic...

  4. On Robert Barro's (2005) "Rare Events and the Equity Premium" and T.A. Rietz's (1988) "The Equity Risk Premium: A Solution": Our habit of using the Lucas-tree model of Lucas (1978), "Asset Prices in an Exchange Economy" as a workhorse has turned out to be a trap...

  5. A Toast: "The Queen Over the water!"…: "The rightful president of the United States warned us before anybody else did...

  6. Dealing with Global Warming Needs a Carbon Tax Starting Now: It would have been smart to do it 26 years ago, when Al Gore was first pushing it—and we got it through the House and fell short by two votes in the Senate: George Akerlof et al.: Economists’ Statement on Carbon Dividends: Bipartisan agreement on how to combat climate change: Global climate change is a serious problem calling for immediate national action. Guided by sound economic principles, we are united in the following policy recommendations...

  7. Comment of the Day: Ronald Brakels: "In Australia we'd just say Lewis CK is an arsehole...

  8. Note to Self: Enjoyed Cherryh and Fancher's Alliance Rising very much, but... I wish I had read something else this past week and had saved this for five years from now, when The Hinder Stars II, III, and... IV? would be out.... If only Jen-and-Ross-Together had been given twice the screen time, 40% rather than 20% of the book, it would have been a wonderful Happy-for-Now romance...

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REMIND YOURSELF: Representation

Keep this near the top of working memory...

  • 180.8 million people are represented by the 49 senators who caucus with the Democrats.
  • 141.7 million people are represented by the 52 51 senators who caucus with the Republicans.
  • 65.9 million people voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton and Tim Kaine to be their president and vice president
  • 63.0 million people voted for Donald Trump and Mike Pence to be their president and vice president.

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Is There Any Reason to Fear Low Interest Rates?

Il Quarto Stato

Paul Krugman tells us: Paul Krugman: @paulkrugman: "The American Economic Association has a new discussion forum set up by Olivier Blanchard. First up is the question of whether low interest rates are leading to excessive risk-taking https://www.aeaweb.org/forum/311/have-low-interest-rates-led-to-excessive-risk-taking..." So I mossed on over and left three comments: one on the forum, one on secular stagnation, and one on whether there is any reason to fear low interest rates:

Is There Any Reason to Fear Low Interest Rates?: Have low interest rates led to excessive risk taking?: I suspect that the right way to make the accurate point that this line of discussion is hunting for is to focus not on the amount of risk but on, rather, who is bearing the risk...

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Back in the 1990s we in the Clinton administration put Breyer on the Supreme Court in the belief that the Court needed somebody who genuinely understood antitrust. But the Republican justices have given him zero deference, even though he knows the issues and they do not. And this is an increasing problem: Fiona Scott Morton: [There is a lot to fix in U.S. antitrust enforcement today(https://equitablegrowth.org/there-is-a-lot-to-fix-in-u-s-antitrust-enforcement-today/): "Last month’s court decision allowing AT&T Inc. to acquire Time Warner Inc. is an example of the inability of our current system of courts and enforcement.... Judge Richard Leon demonstrated a lack of understanding of the markets, the concept of vertical integration, corporate incentives, and the intellectual exercise of forecasting what the unified firm would do... a poor decision...

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Jan Bakker, Stephan Maurer, Jörn-Steffen Pischke, and Ferdinand Rauch: Trade and growth in the Iron Age: "The first millennium BC... the growth effects of one of the first major trade expansions... the systematic crossing of the open sea in the Mediterranean by the Phoenicians. A strong positive relationship between connectedness and archaeological sites suggests a large role for geography and trade in development even at such an early juncture in history...

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Henry Farrell: "There's a history: "behind Tucker Carlson's warning to Fox viewers that 'If you're looking to understand what's actually happening in this country, always assume the opposite of whatever they're telling you on the big news stations.' And it's the history of US conservative media...

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Xeni Jardin: UPDATE: "I faced it with carbs, coffee, hugs, spiritual practice, dogs, and weed." "I don’t know how to face the fact that a serial rapist who showed us his rape face is going to become a Supreme Court Justice today. And then he’s going to become a tool for impunity and harming women, people of color, but really—all of us. He’s going to hurt us...

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Right-wing neoconservative nutboy Eliot Cohen gets this one right, I think. The reasons to get Kavanaugh on SCOTUS were (1) to demonstrate that the Republican Party rewarded being a Tea Party-Unfederalist apparatchik, and so (2) strengthen the Tea Party-Unfederalist social network. Those are not in the interest of anyone not already high up in that social network. Opposed are that (a) Kavanaugh is not near the top of those likely to be most effective as a conservative justice because he is not a first-rank persuasive intellect, (b) Kavanaugh is not near the top of those likely to be most effective as a conservative justice because he is mean and uncollegial, (c) Kavanaugh is not near the top of those likely to be most effective as a conservative justice because he does not have a judicial temperament, (d) Kavanaugh is not near the top of those likely to be most effective as a conservative justice because he too obviously lacks judicial principles, and (e) you take electoral damage from pushing him through. It is a mystery why he has not been withdrawn yet—especially with the July 1 entry on his calendar. Eliot Cohen focuses on (c): Eliot Cohen: The Republican Party Abandons Conservatism: "But if we expect steely resolve from a police officer confronting a knife-wielding assailant... we should expect stoic self-control and calm from a conservative judge, even if his heart is being eaten out.... The conservative virtues remain real virtues, the conservative insights real insights, and the conservative temperament an indispensable internal gyro keeping a country stable and sane...

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Apropos of Wigner has many friends...: Renato Renner: It’s hard to think when someone Hadamards your brain: "Hi Scott: There are currently many who are blogging about our result, so I started to use my little quantum random number generator on my desk: outcome 0 means I don’t react to it, outcome 1 means I write a reply. For your blog the outcome was 1! Now, we are already in a situation that involves superposed agents...

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Diane Coyle: The Long Arc of UK Productivity: "Nick Crafts has a compact book... about the trajectory of the British economy... Forging Aahead, Falling Behind and Fighting Back.... Nick’s somewhat idiosyncratic–but highly plausible–view that the seeds of the country’s post-world war 2 relative decline were sown in the institutions that enabled it to perform so well during the 19th century...

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Judea Pearl: "Confounders, Colliders, and Mediators: As you surely know by now, mistaking a mediator for a confounder is one of the deadliest sins in causal inference and may lead to the most outrageous errors. The latter invites adjustment; the former forbids it..."


Antitrust law and policy is probably the most "relatively autonomous" piece of our whole legal system. The laws as enacted by Congress and signed by the President change rarely and slowly. How those laws are enforced—and how business is then conducted in the shadow of the possibility of resort to the courts for antitrust cases—changes much more radically and substantially. It is a dance of intellectual fashion, some serious benefit-cost analysis, and a great deal of lobbying and lobbying-funded motivated reasoning. My view is that the answers to the three questions Michael Kades suggests the FTC examine are: yes, no, and no, respectively. But it is very good that the FTC is thinking about this: Michael Kades: In re: Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century: "Equitable Growth suggests that the hearings include the following three topics: 1. Is monopoly power prevalent in the U.S. economy?...

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It could have happened this way—a Heisenberg: the GOP's attempts to inoculate Kavanaugh against an accusation that Christine Blasey Ford had decided not to make pubic lead them to leak enough to reporters to convince CBF to come forward: Nicole Belle: Don't Kid Yourself. The GOP KNOWS Kavanaugh Tried To Rape Someone: "Blasey Ford... sends a letter to her representative... Anna Eshoo.... Eshoo passes Blasey Ford's letter on to Dianne Feinstein.... After several back-and-forths, Blasey Ford tells Feinstein's office she does not want to be put through testifying publicly...

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Bayesian odds Brett Kavanaugh has a drinking problem at 70%: Josh Marshall: "Kavanaugh asks Sen Klobuchar multiple times if she's had alcoholic blackouts..." Jeet Heer: @HeerJeet: "For me, this exchange between Kavanaugh and Klobuchar was... I won't say triggering but it really made and impression and resonated...

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Is Any Conclusion Possible Except that Brett Kavanaugh Is a CRAZYPANTS LIAR?

Clowns (ICP)

How do you avoid the conclusion that Brett Kavanaugh is a CRAZYPANTS LIAR?: Brett Kavanaugh: “I may have met her, we did not travel in the same social circle, she was not a friend, not someone I knew...”

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A Baker's Dozen of Fairly-Recent Links

stacks and stacks of books

  1. Björn Richter, Moritz Schularick, and Ilhyock Shim: The Costs of Macroprudential Policy: "Macroprudential measures['] effects on the core objectives of monetary policy to stabilise output and inflation are largely unknown.... The output costs of changes in maximum loan-to-value ratios are rather small.... Such policies successfully reduce household and mortgage credit growth.... Central banks could be in a position to use macroprudential instruments to manage financial booms without interfering with the core objectives of monetary policy in a major way...

  2. Mark Thoma: C.V.

  3. Fandango Restaurant: "Pacific Grove...

  4. Brett Kavanaugh

    • Frank Wilhoit: [The Travesty of liberalism1709279: "Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect
    • Brad DeLong: Why Would Anybody Sane Ever, Ever Choose Brett Kavanaugh Over Amy Barrett?: "Amy Barrett has faith and principles: they do not know what the key issues will be 20 years from now, and they are scared to appoint somebody who may turn out to be like Justices Kennedy and Souter, actually have principles and faith, and so go off the reservation...
    • Stephanie Mencimer: The Many Mysteries of Brett Kavanaugh’s Finances: "Who made the down payment on his house? How did he come up with $92,000 in country club fees?...'"
    • Wikipedia: Amy Barrett
    • Wikipedia: Brett Kavanaugh
    • Neal Katyal: @neal_katyal: "Regardless of where one stands on the Kavanaugh nomination... with his former clerks, his mentoring and guidance is a model for all of us in the legal profession...
    • Paul Krugman: @paulkrugman: "The way law professors rushed to endorse Kavanaugh—who got his career start pursuing conspiracy theories...
    • Stephanie Kirchgaessner and Jessica Glenza: 'No Accident' Brett Kavanaugh's Female Law Clerks 'Looked like Models', Yale professor Told Students: "'I have no reason to believe he was saying, "Send me the pretty ones", but rather that he was reporting back and saying, "I really like so and so", and the way he described them led them to form certain conclusions"...
  5. CIA: Soviet Jokes for the DDCI

  6. Urban Dictionary: UHB: "Comes from the film Metropolitan in a bar scene where two young republicans define themselves as cultured post-modern upper-middle class sophisticates; thus, Urban Haute Bourgeoisie, or UHB. 'That girl won't date UHB, she's strictly prole; dating a frickin' electrician!'...

  7. Sententiae Antiquae: Tell Me Aristotle, Why Do We Have Butts?

  8. Wikipedia: Ken Ribet

  9. Wikipedia: Lisa Goldberg

  10. Beatrice Cherrier: Theory Vs Data, Computerization, Old Wine and New Bottles: Morgenstern and Econometric Society Fellows, 1953: "Morgenstern proposed that candidates be required to 'have done some econometric work in the strictest sense' and be 'in actual contact with data they have explored and exploited for which purpose they may have even developed new methods'...

  11. James Davis Nicoll: Why I Don't Think Lunar Catapults Will Be Useful Weapons Against Targets on Earth: "If the catapults were able to fire stuff at velocities comparable to Earth's escape velocity... the energy content of the incoming rocks is something like 6x10^7 J/kg. For comparison, fission peace enhancement devices are good for about 9x10^12 J/kg, ims, and fusion PED for 8x10^14 J/kg. It still compares well to TNT's 4.6x10^6 J/kg but note we are not talking the five to seven orders of magnitude between atomic and chemical but one order of magnitude...

  12. Ruthanna Emrys and Anne M. Pillsworth: Old Powers Rising: Nadia Bulkin’s “Pro Patria”: "The book Fileppo puts on Joseph’s desk is leatherbound, redolent of the dungeon. The King in Yellow. Sounds like a child’s book, and Joseph immediately hates the thing. Adela, however, would like to read it. Fileppo looks over dark-skinned Adela and remarks that the book hasn’t been translated yet. Grimly she says she doesn’t need it translated. She knows their former conquerors’ tongue...

  13. Center for Effective Global Action


How much of this correlation is causal? And how much is associational? I do not think we really know, in spite of studies of the build-out of broadband in France. The U.S. is a different country. Nevertheless, I for one think that it is long past time to put universal broadband in the same bucket as basic sanitation and rural electrification—as something that is part of the citizens' share of being an American: Delaney Crampton: Why accessibility to broadband matters in reducing economic inequality in the United States: "A strong correlation between household income and in-home connectivity—a pattern that persists across both rural and economically depressed urban communities...

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Cosma Shalizi (2009): Peter Spirtes, Clark Glymour and Richard Scheines, Causation, Prediction and Search: "Re-read as part of preparing for my lecture on casual discovery. I spent much of the winter of 2000 working my way through the first edition, and wound up completely imprinted on its way of thinking about what causal relationships are, how we should reason about them, and how we can find them from empirical evidence... http://www.stat.cmu.edu/~cshalizi/350/lectures/31/lecture-31.pdf...

.... On causation and prediction it now has an equal in Pearl's book (and I admit the latter looks prettier), but on search, that is, on discovering causal structure, there is still no rival. Their key observation is that even though correlation does not imply causation, correlations must have causal explanations. (This idea goes back to Herbert Simon, and Hans Reichenbach [see above] at least.)

So patterns of correlations, among more than just two variables, constrain what causal structures are possible. Sometimes they constrain the causal structure uniquely, in other cases it's only partially identified by the dependencies. And of course there is always the possibility of making a mistake with limited data. But none of this is any different for causal discovery than it is for any other form of statistical inference. The great contribution of this book is showing that causal discovery can be just another learning problem. They have transformed metaphysical misery into ordinary statistical unhappiness...


#shouldread

Arindrajit Dube and friends have a pick-up discussion on how to characterize the impact of employer monopsony power: Arindrajit Dube: @arindube: "I think growing evidence suggets "laissez faire" equilibrium is monopsonistic. So shocks like de-unionization, outsourcing and eroding wage norms can push down pay in ways hard to understand with competitive lab mkts. But the shock may not be increased concentration itself...

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IMHO, this is closely akin to William Julius Wilson's "the declining significance of race"—i.e., the rising significance of class: Robert Manduca: How rising U.S. income inequality exacerbates racial economic disparities: "In 1968... median African American family income was 57 percent of the median white American family income. In 2016, the ratio was 56 percent. The utter lack of progress is striking...

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Duncan Black: Remember When Bill Clinton Ended Welfare As We Know It And Took That Off The Table Forever?: "There's barely anything resembling 'welfare' (aside from rich people welfare) but that doesn't stop them: '(CNN) Republican Rep. Jason Lewis has repeatedly demeaned recipients of welfare and government assistance, calling them "parasites" and "scoundrels," and said the black community had "traded one plantation for another.' Conservative white people believe there's a secret welfare system for black people. You cannot convince them otherwise, no matter what you do..."

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"[All of] his college acquaintances who weren't part of the hard-partying prep school crew though [Kavanaugh] was an incredible ass----. And he was an ass---- when he was working for Ken Starr and an ass---- when he was part of hacking and stealing Democrats' emails in the 2000s. And an ass---- as a judge, e.g. the SeaWorld case that Steve Greenhouse wrote about recently. That's the word David Rothkopf uses, and I think it's the word that all information, even dubious freshman memories, supports..."

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Wigner has many friends, and they can disagree: Daniela Frauchiger and Renato Renner: Quantum Theory Cannot Consistently Describe the Use of Itself. Lidia del Rio: Journal club: Frauchiger-Renner No-Go theorem for Single-World Interpretations of Quantum Theory: "In this talk I will go over the recent paper by Daniela Frauchiger and Renato Renner, "Single-World Interpretations of Quantum Theory Cannot Be Self-Consistent" (arXiv:1604.07422)...

...The paper introduces an extended Wigner's friend thought experiment, which makes use of Hardy's paradox to show that agents will necessarily reach contradictory conclusions-unless they take into account that they themselves may be in a superposition, and that their subjective experience of observing an outcome is not the whole story. Frauchiger and Renner then put this experiment in context within a general framework to analyse physical theories. This leads to a theorem saying that a theory cannot be simultaneously (1) compliant with quantum theory, including at the macroscopic level, (2) single-world, and (3) self-consistent across different agents. In this talk I will (1) describe the experiment and its immediate consequences, (2) quickly review how different interpretations react to it, (3) explain the framework and theorem in more detail...


Scott Aaronson: It’s Hard to Think When Someone Hadamards Your Brain: "So: a bunch of people asked for my reaction to the new Nature Communications paper by Daniela Frauchiger and Renato Renner, provocatively titled 'Quantum Theory Cannot Consistently Describe the Use of Itself'...

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Josh Marshall: @joshtpm: "Even before this came up, Brett Kavanaugh seems to lie a lot. The stuff with the Manny Miranda hacking scandal is what really stood out to me. Aside from denying the central accusations, he’s even more obviously lying about the ‘Renate alumni’ stuff...

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I have been a "China is unlikely to keep its model going for more than another five years—a decade tops" perma-bear since 1988. All I understand is that I do not understand the Chinese economy. I wish I did understand it: Arvind Subramanian and Josh Felman: R.I.P. Chinese Exceptionalism?: "Over the past few decades, China’s growth has appeared to violate certain fundamental laws of economics.... China’s debt keeps on rising.... For any normal country, the build-up of extensive surplus capacity would lead to sharp declines in investment and GDP growth. And that, in turn, would produce financial distress, followed by a crisis if the warning signs were ignored. But China has had a different experience...

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Simon Wren-Lewis: Another Lesson of the GFC Unlearnt: The Consensus Assignment Is Dead: "Martin writes: 'There was broadly shared understanding.... Fiscal and budgetary policy should be set to achieve microeconomic and distributive goals, and the desired share of the state in the economy; while monetary policy should take care of stabilising aggregate demand.'... This is what I call the Consensus Assignment...

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On Kavanaugh, Alexandra Petri is on fire: Alexandra Petri: The Kavanaugh Accusations Are Horseplay, You Say?: "To comment, I have a horse (not that Kavanaugh was even at the party, of course, of course): 'To Whom It May Concern: I am a horse. I know horseplay. This, my friend, is not horseplay. Ask yourself: Was someone frolicking in a beautiful, verdant field? Was a mane billowing in the breeze? Did you feel a stirring of joy in your heart for the first time in months, like a crocus bursting from the winter soil? Was a long tail flapping freely in the breeze? Was it unbelievably majestic? Was Misty of Chincoteague there?...

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Statement from James Roche: "I was Brett Kavanaugh's roommate at Yale University in the Fall of 1983. We shared a two-bedroom unit in the basement of Lawrence Hall on the Old Campus. Despite conditions, Brett and I did not socialize beyond the first few days of freshman year. We talked at night as freshman roommates do and I would see him as he returned from nights out friends. It is from this experience that I concluded that although Brett was normally reserved, he was a notably heavy drinker, even by the standards of the time...

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