Hoisted from Others' Archives: Simon Wren-Lewis reminds us he got it absolutely right three years ago:
Simon Wren-Lewis (2012): Dangerous Voices and Macroeconomic Spin: "Dangerous voices are what the British Prime Minister called those who criticised austerity...
...One of those dangerous voices, Martin Wolf, became shrill in Friday’s FT ($). After noting the observation by Jonathan Portes that public investment could currently be financed very cheaply because UK long term real interest rates are so low, he writes:
it is impossible to believe that the government cannot find investments.... that do not earn more than the real cost of funds. Not only the economy, but the government itself is virtually certain to be better off if it undertook such investments and if it were to do its accounting in a rational way. No sane institution analyses its decisions on the basis of cash flows, annual borrowings and its debt stock. Yet government is the longest-lived agent in the economy. This does not even deserve the label primitive. It is simply ridiculous.
Wisdom: Robert Shiller:
The inference from the unpredictability to the rationality of stock prices is the most remarkable error in the history of economic thought...
Across the Wide Missouri: Ceasefire Oregon: "Congratulations and thank you!!...
...SB 941, Expanded Background Checks, was just signed into law! The Oregon House of Representatives passed SB 941 on May 4. The Oregon Senate passed it last month. And Governor Kate Brown just signed the bill into law!
I must say, if Terry Eagleton wants to make the case and elicit sympathy for the Oxford of his youth as it exists in his imagination, this is not at all the way to go about it:
...flanked by two burly young minders... who for all I knew were carrying Kalashnikovs under their jackets.... The president paused to permit me a few words of fulsome praise. I remarked instead that there seemed to be no critical studies of any kind on his campus. He looked at me bemusedly, as though I had asked him how many Ph.D.’s in pole dancing they awarded each year, and replied rather stiffly 'Your comment will be noted.' He then took a small piece of cutting-edge technology out of his pocket, flicked it open and spoke a few curt words of Korean into it, probably 'Kill him'....
...But the new skeptics of reform are not hacks, and they raise valuable critiques that deserve a hearing, even if they are sometimes vulnerable to romanticism, naïveté, and nostalgia of their own. Besides La Raja and Pildes... Bruce Cain... Jonathan Rauch... and Jason Grumet.... These books and articles vary greatly in tone and depth, ranging from Cain’s cool-eyed analysis of paradoxes in dozens of aspects of political reform at the state and federal level, to Grumet’s nostalgia for the era when handshake agreements were made in adjoining chairs in the Senate barbershop.
A POLICY AGENDA FOR THE KNOWLEDGE ECONOMY
- Policy debate dominated by discussions of ‘reform’
- Policy agenda set in 1980s >* Irrelevant or counterproductive today
- We need a 21st century policy agenda
- Previous reform era provides a way to think about this.
Mario Draghi: ECB: The ECB’s Recent Monetary Policy Measures: Effectiveness and Challenges: "Over the past year the ECB has taken a series of major monetary policy measures...
...culminating in our decision in January this year to expand our asset purchases towards public sector securities. While the aim of these measures is the same as it has always been – maintaining price stability over the medium-term – their form is unprecedented for our central bank. And as such our policy decisions have become more complex in two key ways.
...and his obsession with 'values' and 'meaning' and whatnot, let's all pause to recall that he's a shameless liar and fantasist who doesn't even have the grace to acknowledge it when he's caught. (I mean, in addition to the fact that he has the intelligence of a sea slug and the moral sophistication of a stoat.)
Sasha Issenberg: [Boo-Boos in Paradise(http://www.phillymag.com/articles/booboos-in-paradise/): "I called Brooks to see if I was misreading his work...
In October 2005 I was surprised to see a member of the Bush family--the smart one, Jeb ("John Ellis"--but what a Connecticut Yankee is doing choosing a nickname and thus calling himself after a rebel cavalry general who spent his time in Pennsylvania catching free Blacks to sell as slaves, rather than being Lee's army's eyes, is beyond me)--simply failing to get the point of what his father was saying on the tennis court when George H.W. Bush would threaten to "unleash Chiang":
Lord, Enlighten Thou Our Enemies: Let us start with John Stuart Mill's prayer:
'Lord, enlighten thou our enemies,' prayed nineteenth-century British economist and moral philosopher John Stuarrt MIll: http://olldownload.libertyfund.org/Texts/MillJS0172/Works/Vol10/PDFs/Mill_1277.pdf:
Sharpen their wits, give acuteness to their perceptions, and consecutiveness and clearness to their reasoning powers: we are in danger from their folly, not from their wisdom; their weakness is what fills us with apprehension, not their strength...
Over at Equitable Growth: Suppose, for a moment, you were teaching your college students social theory—but that you were back in 1750.
Who would you want your students to have at hand to read?
We will not do the boring think of confining you to assigning solely authors who had written before 1750. Assume that the appropriate time machine is available. But, equally, we will not do the boring thing of allowing you to assign historical accounts of what in 1750 was then the future. This is an intellectual exercise: we are interested in analytical perspectives on societies and how they work. READ MOAR
And in my tickler file is a note to remember this, from four years ago. Never mind that Niall Ferguson was totally wrong wrong wrong WRONG imbecilic in his claim that "true" consumer price inflation in 2011 was 10%/year. How has his prediction that "the great inflation of the 2010s" was underway (or about to get underway) fared?
May 1, 2011:
...as the line that launched the great inflation of the 2010s.... William Dudley... former chief economist at Goldman Sachs, put it this way: ‘Today you can buy an iPad 2 that costs the same as an iPad 1 that is twice as powerful. You have to look at the prices of all things.’ Quick as a flash came a voice from the audience: ‘I can’t eat an iPad.’ Dudley’s boss, Ben Bernanke, was more tactful.... But... if we’ve avoided rerunning the 1930s only to end up with a repeat of the 1970s, the public will judge him to have failed.
In the immediate aftermath of David Brooks's failure to know that Jean-Paul Sartre's name was not John-Paul, it is time to hoist from Commonweal's archives the most extraordinary David Brooks error ever:
Alma Mater Blogging: Greg Mankiw's desire to move Harvard to someplace better adapted to human life than Massachusetts was triggered by:
Greg Mankiw's Blog: Time for Harvard to Move?: The Wall Street Journal reports one of the most pernicious ideas I have heard of late:
Massachusetts legislators, demonstrating a growing resentment against the wealth of elite universities in tight economic times, are studying a plan to levy a 2.5% annual tax on the portion of college endowments that exceed $1 billion. The effort takes aim at one of the primary economic engines of the state...
An excellent piece by the very sharp and thoughtful Jonathan Chait.
The remarkable thing is that Republican ideologues could, right now, be taking a huge victory lap with the apparent success of ObamaCare. All they had to say was: "this is really RomneyCare." But they didn't.
How much of what he says these days does Michael Tanner believe? My feeling is: relatively little.
...The trouble is that anti-Obamacare dogma sits so deeply at the GOP’s core that any discussion of health care must pay fealty to their belief that the law has failed utterly. The Republican Party in the Obamacare era is a doomsday cult after the world failed to end. Its entire analysis of the issue is built upon a foundation of falsehoods.
There is no point in including entire John Holbo posts in Weekend Reading--Crooked Timber (unlike most of the rest of the online world) is highly unlikely to suffer from linkrot, and those who want to read his posts at their Holbonian length can do so over there. But there is a need for a Shorter John Holbo.
Me? I see five political dimensions as one tries to maneuver through the weeds:
(with none of any of the poles being entirely bad--or entirely good, for that matter). The Nazis thus tended to be: militarist nationalist hierarchical authoritarian communicatarian, except for the Strasser-Roehm bunch who tended to be militarist nationalist egalitarian authoritarian communitarian. (And someone like Jonah Goldberg would tend to be militarist nationalist hierarchical authoritarian individualistic.)
Shorter John Holbo:
J. Bradford DeLong on May 03, 2015 at 11:34 AM in History, Moral Responsibility, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Sorting: DeLong: Academic CV, Streams: Cycle, Streams: Highlighted, Streams: Today's Economic History, Twentieth Century Economic History | Permalink | Comments (3)
| | | |
...on Japan's ongoing "Great Recession," although I have to keep pinching myself to ask if its main thesis can really be true. Is the equilibrium (full-employment) medium-term real interest rate for Japan actually negative, so that unless the Bank of Japan (BOJ) resigns itself to sustained inflation, the zero bound on nominal interest rates will present serious problems? Has the BOJ so thoroughly convinced the public of its anti-inflation credibility that it has lost the power to rekindle inflation now that Japan needs it?
Francis Fukuyama (2006): After Neoconservatism: "How did the neoconservatives end up overreaching to such an extent that they risk undermining their own goals?...
...Four common... threads ran through... [Neoconservative] thought... a concern with democracy, human rights and, more generally, the internal politics of states; a belief that American power can be used for moral purposes; a skepticism about the ability of international law and institutions to solve serious security problems; and finally, a view that ambitious social engineering often leads to unexpected consequences and thereby undermines its own ends.... The skeptical stance toward ambitious social engineering... [was] applied... to domestic policies like affirmative action, busing and welfare.... The belief in the potential moral uses of American power... [called for] American activism... [to] reshape the structure of global politics....
UrsulaV: Puddleglum in Heaven: "@ 119 - 'It's all very well for us,' said Puddleglum gloomily...
...'but what about everyone else, eh? Not exactly sunny skies and eel-pie for them, now, is it?' He gestured vaguely, presumably in the direction of Earth, or the now-defunct Narnia. 'Great crashing train wrecks--whatever a 'train' is, though I'm given to understand it involves a lot of metal and steam and boilers and fantastic speeds and you can't tell me THAT was a good idea, whoever came up with it--and some poor sod's got to go picking through the wreckage, don't they?'
...Look it up. Altruistic punishment is a ‘puzzle’ to the sort of economist who thinks of homo economicus maximizing her utility, and a no-brainer to the [evolutionary] game theorist who understands humans could never have survived if we actually were the kind of creature who succumbed to every prisoners’ dilemma. Altruistic punishment is behavior that imposes costs on third parties with no benefit to the punisher, often even at great cost to the punisher. To the idiot economist, it is a lose/lose situation, such a puzzle. For the record, I’m a fan of the phenomenon. Does that mean I’m a fan of these riots, that I condone the burning of my own hometown? Fuck you and your tendentious entrapment games and Manichean choices, your my-team ‘ridiculing’ of people you can claim support destruction. Altruistic punishment is essential to human affairs but it is hard. It is mixed, it is complicated, it is shades of gray...
Francis Fukuyama (2006): After Neoconservatism: "How did the neoconservatives end up overreaching to such an extent that they risk undermining their own goals?...
He gets himself tangled up in knots because he bends over not just backward but completely upside down to provide a sympathetic view of the Neoconservatist impulse.
I have always had a much more jaundiced view:
...But — you know that’s the kind of statement that is followed by a ‘but’ — I’m having a hard time understanding his demands for a world slowdown. Ken tells us that:
The huge spike in global commodity price inflation is prima facie evidence that the global economy is still growing too fast.
Externalities can be subtle…
Let us move across the bay and 60 miles south from Avicenna to the town of Tall Stick, home of Crony Capitalism University…
The 10,000 students at CCU do two things with their disposable incomes of $5,000/year each:
The utility of each student is:
U = (number of pizzas) + 500(if renting BMW) - (1/20)(number of other students renting BMWs)
This utility function thus has both envy and spite…
Fascism, the more it considers and observes the future and the development of humanity quite apart from political considerations of the moment, believes neither in the possibility nor the utility of perpetual peace. It thus repudiates the doctrine of Pacifism -- born of a renunciation of the struggle and an act of cowardice in the face of sacrifice. War alone brings up to its highest tension all human energy and puts the stamp of nobility upon the peoples who have courage to meet it. All other trials are substitutes, which never really put men into the position where they have to make the great decision -- the alternative of life or death....
I think Corey Robin nails it here. My only objection is that he does not draw the links back to earlier, early twentieth-century attacks on "boring" politics--the "cretinism of parliaments" and similar doctrines:
Greg: What are you doing?
Me: Working on my Salon column.
Greg: What’s it on?
Me: George Packer.
Greg: Low-hanging fruit.
...in which the frothing distrust of people who aren’t just like you is couched in language designed to give the appearance of being reasonable until you squint at it closely, then you’re not going to want to miss this piece by Baen publisher Toni Weisskopf. It’s a really fine example of the form. I recommend you check it out for the full effect, but for those of you who won’t, here’s an encapsulation of the piece:
“Once upon a time all the fractious lands of science fiction fandom were joined together, and worshiped at the altar of Heinlein. But in these fallen times, lo do many refuse to worship Heinlein, preferring instead their false idols and evil ways. What shall we, who continue to attend the Orthodox Church of Heinlein, do with these dirty, dirty people? Perhaps we shall wall ourselves away in His sepulcher, for we are the One True Church, and should not have to sully ourselves with the likes of them. P.S.: Also, their awards don’t mean anything because we don’t get nominated for them very much and maybe we don’t want to be nominated anyway.”
According to the news media, 2014 was the year that the GOP “Establishment” finally pulled Republicans back from the right-wing brink. Pragmatism, it seemed, had finally triumphed over extremism in primary and general election contests that The New York Times called “proxy wars for the overall direction of the Republican Party.” There’s just one problem with this dominant narrative. It’s wrong. The GOP isn’t moving back to the center. The “proxy wars” of 2014 were mainly about tactics and packaging, not moderation.
Looking for something I had written relevant to Ken Rogoff's attempt to explain the current constellation of asset prices, I found it on my weblog for September 2005.
And then I went on the reread the whole month:
The highlight was what I was looking for--the extremely sharp-witted Robert Barro had a very interesting but, I concluded, ultimately unpersuasive paper on "Rare Events and the Equity Premium". The problem is that any rare catastrophe large enough to permanently crash the U.S. stock market almost surely crashes the real returns on Treasury bonds as well--hence cannot explain the ex-ante equity return premium vis-a-vis Treasuries:
I must say I did not know what to make of this a year ago. I know even less what to make of this now:
It’s a flawed analogy. Here’s why.
...there was a constant stream of patients (often with multiple chronic conditions) who were seeing a doctor for the first time in years, because of the ACA coverage expansion. My question would be, who has lost care or access under the ACA? Has anyone been pushed out of care to accommodate these folks? If so, where are they? We have also been turning out more primary care doctors, especially DOs, so the proportional stats comparing today to a decade ago are somewhat misleading: they just as readily suggest we have added enough capacity to withstand all the newly covered. As well, measures of access are notoriously unreliable.... Goodman's complaint seems to boil down to: yes you expanded coverage, but coverage isn't access (we knew that thanks), and high-deductible plans aren't always great coverage (ditto). Sour grapes. And if anything, his points could support the argument the ACA didn't go far enough...
...Rosa Luxemburg, Emma Goldman and Eleanor Marx. The first two survived these debilitating attachments, the third did not. At the age of 43, upon learning that her common law husband of 14 years had secretly married a 22-year-old actress, Eleanor took poison and died. Had her father, Karl Marx, been alive he would have been not only distressed by her death but, I think, dismayed that a daughter of his could not surmount this level of betrayal, for the sake of international socialism if nothing else.
I am sorry. You are going to have to bear with me. The runup to April Fools' Day was not, unfortunately, in and of itself enough to get my desire to troll out of my system...
A set of thoughts provoked by reading my archives and talking to Noah Smith:
Noah Smith points out here in meatspace that the news here in America is not just that we have no socialism but that we have no fascism either.
It should be known that at the beginning of the dynasty, taxation yields a large revenue from small assessments. At the end of the dynasty, taxation yields a small revenue from large assessments.
The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences: Chad Orzel provides the pointer to Helge Kraghe, who writes in Physics Web http://physicsweb.org/articles/world/13/12/8 about how quantum theory existed in the equations of physics half a decade before the human brain of any physicist understood it:
It was 100 years ago when Max Planck published a paper that gave birth to quantum mechanics - or so the story goes.... According to the standard story... quantum theory emerged when it was realized that classical physics predicts an energy distribution for black-body radiation that disagrees violently with that found experimentally. In the late 1890s, so the story continues, the German physicist Wilhelm Wien developed an expression that corresponded reasonably well with experiment - but had no theoretical foundation. When Lord Rayleigh and James Jeans then analysed black-body radiation from the perspective of classical physics, the resulting spectrum differed drastically from both experiment and the Wien law. Faced with this grave anomaly, Max Planck looked for a solution, during the course of which he was forced to introduce the notion of 'energy quanta'. With the quantum hypothesis, a perfect match between theory and experiment was obtained. Voila! Quantum theory was born.
May I say that John Dickerson is a really bad choice to anchor "Face the Nation"?
Why do I think that? Because this is the type of thing John Dickerson writes:
...With only five days left until Election Day, John McCain's campaign aides seem happier than they have been in a while. For the last few days, the campaign has been increasingly buoyed by what it says has been improvement in its internal polling of 14 battleground states. Aides see a tightening race in states that are crucial to their long-shot march to 270 votes and victory.
...by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force....
Norman Cameron: The Thespians at Thermopylae:
The honours that the people give always
Pass to those use-besotted gentlemen
Whose numskull courage is a kind of fear,
A fear of thought and of the oafish mothers
('Or with your shield or on it') in their rear.
Spartans cannot retreat. Why, then, their praise
For going forward should be less than others'.
But we, actors and critics of one play,
Of sober-witted judgement, who could see
So many roads, and chose the Spartan way,
What has the popular report to say
Of us, the Thespians at Thermopylae?
...Titled 'issues with various countries' it noted in passing that basically none of the Bush administration's foreign policy initiatives were working well, and asked Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith to solve all the problems:
Needless to say, none of this got solved.
Given that that was supposed to be the Republicans' first team, I cannot understand why anyone would pull the lever for the Republicans again...
Matthew Yglesias puts his finger on why friends don't let friends trust any of the conclusions of Jeffrey Goldberg:
...Jeffrey Goldberg's reluctance endorsement of the Iran deal is a big PR win for the Obama administration.... You won't hear many complaints....
But part of that arbiter role is that he has to take some swipes at the White House, leading to a ridiculous interpretation of how we got here.... [Goldberg's] central--and incorrect--premise... is that the Iran deal (which is good) is better than no deal... but that a tougher approach could have produced some much better utopian deal had Barack Obama really wanted one:
...came to a parley with the suppliants and their friends, in order to save the town; and prevailed upon some of them to go on board the ships, of which they still manned thirty, against the expected attack. But the Peloponnesians after ravaging the country until midday sailed away, and towards nightfall were informed by beacon signals of the approach of sixty Athenian vessels from Leucas, under the command of Eurymedon, son of Thucles; which had been sent off by the Athenians upon the news of the revolution and of the fleet with Alcidas being about to sail for Corcyra.
...I’ll take questions as long as anybody can endure listening, until they drag me away to wherever else I’m supposed to go.
Department of "Huh?!": Tyler Cowen calls me a semi-pseudo Hayekian:
Assorted links: 5. Brad DeLong, slouching toward recalculation...
But that's not it at all!
The point of my Anatomy of Slow Recovery is to build on Dan Kuehn's use of Steven Horwitz's jigsaw-puzzle metaphor to argue that Hayek and Schumpeter were completely and totally wrong. Monetarist and Keynesian policies to stabilize aggregate demand do not (as they claimed) interfere with structural adjustment. Rather, they are essential if structural adjustment is to proceed.
Tyler Cowen responds: