...having arrived here late at night on a flight from Beijing. It was a pleasant shock to wake this morning to see double-decker buses driving on the left-hand side of the road so far from home.
I came to Beijing for the launch of Bloomberg's Chinese-language service and to sit on a panel to discuss China's role in the new world order. The throng of Chinese tourists at the Forbidden City somehow made it more real to us that China is a country of 1.3 billion people. The highlight of the trip so far was a visit to the Great Wall - something I have always wanted to do. The most comprehensive archaeological survey has recently concluded that the entire Great Wall, with all of its branches, stretches for 5,500 miles. We didn't walk all of it.
The 101st [Airborne Division] left Camp Mourmelon on the afternoon of 18 December, with the order of march the division artillery, division trains, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), 506th PIR, 502nd PIR, and 327th Glider Infantry. Much of the convoy was conducted at night in drizzle and sleet, using headlights despite threat of air attack to speed the movement, and at one point the combined column stretched from Bouillon, Belgium, back to Reims.
The 101st Airborne was originally supposed to go to Werbomont on the northern shoulder but was rerouted to Bastogne, located 107 mi (172 km) away on a 1,463 ft (446 m) high plateau, while the 82nd Airborne, because it was able to leave sooner, went to Werbomont to block the critical advance of Kampfgruppe Peiper. The 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion—in reserve 60 mi (97 km) to the north—was ordered to Bastogne to provide anti-tank support to the armor-less 101st Airborne on the 18th and arrived late the next evening. The first elements of the 501st PIR entered the division assembly area 4 mi (6.4 km) west of Bastogne shortly after midnight of 19 December, and by 09:00 the entire division had arrived.
Alan Blinder believes that the "mainstream" is his brand of economics--MIT-Princeton-Berkeley. That economics is, in my view, very sensible about both market failure and government failure, and somewhat sensible (we here at Berkeley being most so) about long-run intellectual strategy. We also have--as the past ten years have taught us--remarkably little influence on policy, either macroprudential or macroeconomic, considering how smart and right we are.
Quick FOMC Recap:
"In normal times the Federal Reserve moves slowly and methodically...
...Policymakers were apparently concerned that removal of 'considerable time' by itself would prove to be disruptive. Instead, they opted to both remove it and retain it: 'Based on its current assessment, the Committee judges that it can be patient.... The Committee sees this guidance as consistent with its previous statement that it likely will be appropriate to maintain the 0 to 1/4 percent target range for the federal funds rate for a considerable time following the end of its asset purchase program in October....'
If you thought they would drop 'considerable time,' they did. If you thought they would retain 'considerable time,' they did. Everyone's a winner.... The April meeting is still on the table [for a rate increase], although I still suspect that is too early.
Yellen... dismissed falling market-based inflation expectations as reflecting inflation 'compensation' rather than expectations... dismissed the disinflationary impulse from oil... indicated that inflation did not need to return to target prior to raising rates, only that the Fed needed to be confident it would continue to trend toward target... unconcerned about the risk of contagion either via Russia or high yield energy debt.... The Federal Reserve... have their eyes set firmly on June... see the accelerating economy and combine that with, as Yellen mentioned, the long lags of monetary policy....
Believe it or not, the Fed is seriously looking at mid-2015 to begin the normalization process. And there is no guarantee that it will be a predictable series of modest rate hikes. As much as you think of the possibility that the hike is delayed, think also of the possibility of 1994.
Rather far, I must say, from "to secure these rights governments are instituted..."
Oliver Wendell Holmes:
We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens [i.e., young healthy men] for their lives [in war via the draft]. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence...
...of health law critics and the business community, employers are not dropping coverage en masse and steering workers into the federally subsidized plans on the new Obamacare exchanges. In advance of the mandate finally kicking in, many are already increasing the number of employees offered coverage to ensure compliance. ‘The economic reality has changed,’ said Paul Fronstin, a senior associate at the Employee Benefit Resource Institute. Unemployment’s below 6 percent, down from the double-digit days in which the mandate was first debated. ‘Employers are remembering why they offered benefits in the first place--to compete for workers.’
The mandate is the Affordable Care Act’s last big piece of coverage expansion to be put into place. The Obama administration twice delayed it in the face of furious lobbying by the business community and repeated votes by the House to kill it.... ‘As we’ve gone along, I think there are other factors that have come into play – employee morale, retention of managers,’ said Michelle Neblett, director of labor and workforce policy for the National Restaurant Association. ‘I don’t hear people talking about dropping coverage, I hear about people figuring out how to afford to offer coverage.’...
St. Vith lay approximately twelve miles behind the front lines on 16 December. This was an average Belgian town, with a population of a little over 2,000 and sufficient billets to house a division headquarters. It was important, however, as the knot which tied the roads running around the Schnee Eifel barrier to the net which fanned out toward the north, south, and west. Six paved or macadam roads entered St. Vith. None of these were considered by the German planners to be major military trunk lines, although in the late summer of 1944 work had been started to recondition the road running east from St. Vith to Stadtkyll as a branch of the main military system, because normally the Schnee Eifel range served as a breakwater diverting heavy highway traffic so that it passed to the north or south of St. Vith. (See Map III.)
...whose assumptions are known to be false[?]... Economists feel that they learn a great deal from such exercises.... Economists often analyze models that are 'theoretical cases', which help understand economic problems by drawing analogies between the model and the problem.... Models... data, experimental results, and other sources of knowledge... all provide cases to which a given problem can be compared. We offer complexity arguments that explain why case-based reasoning may sometimes be the method of choice and why economists prefer simple cases...