Live from the Glaswegian Mists: Ralph Miliband (Pére): "[Miliband pére's] essays are hard-headed, sober, nuanced....:
Live from the Glaswegian Mists: Ken Macleod: Ralph Miliband (Pére): "[Miliband pére's] essays are hard-headed, sober, nuanced....
Arithmetically, the U.S. economy is depressed because residential construction and government purchases are well below previously-expected trend levels...
Note to Self: Rereading Etienne Mantoux: La Paix Calomniée, ou les Conséquences Économiques de M. Keynes. "The Calumniated Peace" of Versailles. OK. So why is the title of the English translation The Carthaginian Peace? Who decided to replace "Caluminiated" with "Carthaginian", and why?
With his fascination Keynes combines another of the serpent's attributes--his disconcerting ability to molt at more or less frequent intervals, leaving his former conceptions behind him like so many old integuments from which the reader, somewhat disconcerted, must extract himself, having previously been at no little trouble to get in.... We are to witness a revolution. At least so one would gather from some of the more enthusiastic reviews, which go so far as to make Keynes (much to his disgust no doubt) the direct successor of Karl Marx. "My undertaking is one that has no equal, that none will ever equal. I would change the basis of society, shift the axis of civilization..." Is that facetious to place Proudhon's ironic boasts beside Keynes' ambitious sureness? Yet their two proposals are not so very unlike, for it is by decline of the rate of interest to zero that the latter would see our economic ills remedied. Curious that the most sharp-tongued economist of our time should come back, by this unexpected route, to the thought of the famous inventor of "credit gratuit"...
Peter T. asks good research questions about the relationship between what people are paying for and what they are getting. Consider that the GDP contribution of Missouri's payday loan industry is the collective interest payments of the borrowers. Consider that in Portland location premiums are for living in nice convenient places, while in Kansas City they are in large part for largely-illusory insulation from regional sociological and public finance problems:
How much of the greater amount of money in Kansas City is just money, as opposed to goods and services? How much is money generated by grifts (payday loans, student debt for courses with no prospect of employment, cancer cures peddled by Republican presidential wannabees...). How hard would it be to map the density of payday lenders in the US? Or to take a chunk of credit card data and work out where the desperate suckers are? How does these and similar indicators correlate to health, income, education? Where do the profits come from, and where do they go? Is anyone doing this?
Must-Read: Nathan Pippenger: Democracy Journal: Arguments: Arthur Brooks and the Desperate Search for a Smarter Conservatism: "President Obama spoke on poverty at Georgetown...
Comment of the Day: Brian Schmidt on "Neoliberalisms", Left and Right: "Brad raises the issue of the strength of the magic wand he's given...
Note to self:
Perhaps I imposed too much of my own preconceptions on Skidelsky. But I had always seen Skidelsky as arguing that Keynes saw:
Cf: Stephen A. Schuker (2014): J.M. Keynes and the Personal Politics of Reparationshttp://www.tandfonline.com/loi/fdps20
John Maynard Keynes: The Economic Consequences of the Peace: "Very few of us realize with conviction the intensely unusual, unstable, complicated, unreliable, temporary nature
Over at Equitable Growth: Kenneth Rogoff: Inequality, Immigration, and Hypocrisy: "Europe’s migration crisis exposes a fundamental flaw, if not towering hypocrisy, in the ongoing debate about economic inequality...
And Kenneth Rogoff fakes right:
Wouldn’t a true progressive support equal opportunity for all people on the planet, rather than just for those of us lucky enough to have been born and raised in rich countries? READ MOAR
J. Bradford DeLong on May 20, 2015 at 03:00 PM in Economics: Growth, Economics: Inequality, Economics: Macro, Moral Responsibility, Philosophy: Moral, Political Economy, Politics, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Streams: Highlighted, Twentieth Century Economic History | Permalink | Comments (16)
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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.
Via Ta-Nehisi Coates: John C. Calhoun: Slavery a Positive Good: "I do not belong... to the school which holds that aggression is to be met by concession...
...Mine is the opposite creed, which teaches that encroachments must be met at the beginning, and that those who act on the opposite principle are prepared to become slaves. In this case, in particular I hold concession or compromise to be fatal. If we concede an inch, concession would follow concession–compromise would follow compromise, until our ranks would be so broken that effectual resistance would be impossible. We must meet the enemy on the frontier, with a fixed determination of maintaining our position at every hazard. Consent to receive these insulting petitions [seeking from the senate a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery], and the next demand will be that they be referred to a committee in order that they may be deliberated and acted upon.
Over at Equitable Growth: I see that over on the Twitter machine Noah Smith is engaging Paul Romer, in an attempt to get Paul to elucidate his "Mathiness" paper. I think Noah Smith misunderstands Paul Romer.
As I see it, Paul Romer believes that George Stigler laid down the methodological principal that one should always assume perfect competition in one's microfoundations, and in so doing Stigler was acting as an ideologue rather than a technocrat, and that this is harmful.
It seems to me that Paul is more right than wrong.
...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.
Matthew Yglesias: "Brookings did a symposium on the 40th anniversary of Arthur Okun's famous book...
John Maynard Keynes (1924): Obituary for Alfred Marshall: "ALFRED MARSHALL was born at Clapham on July 26, 1842...
...the son of William Marshall, a cashier in the Bank of England, by his marriage with Rebecca Oliver. The Marshalls were a clerical family of the West, sprung from William Marshall, incumbent of Saltash, Cornwall, at the end of the seventeenth century. Alfred was the great-great-grandson of the Reverend William Marshall, the half-legendary herculean parson of Devonshire, who, by twisting horseshoes with his hands, frightened local blacksmiths into fearing that they blew their bellows for the devil. His great-grandfather was the Reverend John Marshall, Headmaster of Exeter Grammar School, who married Mary Hawtrey, daughter of the Reverend Charles Hawtrey, Sub-Dean and Canon of Exeter, and aunt of the Provost of Eton.
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
Across the Wide Missouri: Lo: a year and a half ago my Net.Friend Katha Pollitt tweeted the very true:
Twitter is a poisonous well of bad faith and viciousness.— Katha Pollitt (@KathaPollitt) December 22, 2013
And that was when I first heard of Sarah Kendzior.
John Maynard Keynes: Concluding Notes on the Social Philosophy Towards which the General Theory Might Lead: "THE outstanding faults of the economic society in which we live...
...are its failure to provide for full employment and its arbitrary and inequitable distribution of wealth and incomes. The bearing of the foregoing theory on the first of these is obvious. But there are also two important respects in which it is relevant to the second.
Since the end of the nineteenth century significant progress towards the removal of very great disparities of wealth and income has been achieved through the instrument of direct taxation — income tax and surtax and death duties — especially in Great Britain. Many people would wish to see this process carried much further, but they are deterred by two considerations; partly by the fear of making skilful evasions too much worth while and also of diminishing unduly the motive towards risk-taking, but mainly, I think, by the belief that the growth of capital depends upon the strength of the motive towards individual saving and that for a large proportion of this growth we are dependent on the savings of the rich out of their superfluity.
Live from the Tar Sands: Alberta Provincial Election Blogging: The voters of Alberta are less enamored of their traditional conservative political masters, but the voters are not behind the new left-wing NDP provincial government to be led by Rachel Motley.
The seats and votes:
Over at Equitable Growth: I find myself perseverating over the awful macroeconomic policy record of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government of the past five years in Britain, and the unconvincing excuses of those who claim that the austerity policies it implemented were not a disaster--and that the austerity policies it ran on would not have come close to or actually broken the back of the economy.
Leaving to one side the fact that it is ludicrous that a depression that originates in overbuilding in the desert between Los Angeles and Albuquerque and overleverage in New York has a larger impact shock on the UK than on the US: READ MOAR
Phillip Aldrick (2013): "Was Montagu Norman a Nazi sympathiser?" Torygraph http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/bank-of-england/10214541/Was-Montagu-Norman-a-Nazi-sympathiser.html: "Norman was Britain’s first modern central banker and Governor...
...for a remarkable 24 years until 1944, amassing powers at Threadneedle Street that turned what was a cosy City institution into an arm of the state. But he was also an economic dinosaur, whose determination to put Britain back on the gold standard in 1925 destroyed industry and condemned Britain to a more severe recession than necessary. Adam Posen, a former Bank’s rate-setter, has said that when he could not decide which way to vote he would look at the giant portrait of Norman hanging in the Monetary Policy Committee’s meeting room and ask himself ‘What would Montagu do?’. Then do the opposite.
In the Shadow of the Grand Tetons:
...[Alan] Greenspan will address a counter-conference organized by a group called the American Principles Project. The group combines social conservatism — it’s anti-gay-marriage, anti-abortion rights, and pro-‘religious liberty’ — with goldbug economic doctrine. The second half of this agenda may be appealing to Greenspan, a former Ayn Rand intimate — as Paul Samuelson remarked, ‘You can take the boy out of the cult but you can’t take the cult out of the boy.’ But the anti-gay stuff? And helping these people attack his former colleagues? Awesome.
Over at Equitable Growth: From last week:
The "free trade because Adam Smith comparative advantage BAM" stuff has got to stop! http://t.co/c5q1Oxkvf7— Noah Smith (@Noahpinion) April 25, 2015
Over at Equitable Growth: Back in 1959 Arthur Burns, lifelong senior Republican policymaker, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Eisenhower, good friend of and White House Counselor to President Nixon, and Chair of the Federal Reserve from 1970 to 1978 gave the presidential address to the American Economic Association. In it, he concluded that the United States and a lot of choices to make as far as its future economic institutions and economic policies were concerned. And, he said:
These... choices will have to be made by the people of the United States; and economists--far more than any other group--will in the end help to make them...
That's you. "Economists", that is. And I am glad to be here, because I am glad that you are joining us. For we--all of us in America--need you. Arthur Burns was right: you are better-positioned than any other group to help us make the right choices, at the level of the world and of the country as a whole, but also at the level of the state, the city, the business, the school district, the NGO seeking to figure out how to spend its limited resources--whatever. READ MOAR
J. Bradford DeLong on May 04, 2015 at 04:46 PM in Economics: History, Economics: Macro, Political Economy, Streams: Economics, Streams: Equitable Growth, Streams: Highlighted, Streams: The Honest Broker, Streams: Today's Economic History, Twentieth Century Economic History | Permalink | Comments (2)
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Morgan partner Russell C. Leffingwell (1934): "Monty [Norman] says that Hitler and Schacht are the bulwarks of civilization in Germany and the only friends we have. They are fighting the war of our system of society against communism. If they fail, communism will follow in Germany, and anything may follow in Europe."
Ron Chernow (1990): The House of Morgan: "When [Morgan partner Thomas W.] Lamont learned that [Reichsbank President Hjalmar Horace Greeley] Schacht was contemplating selective repudiation in 1934...
Over at Equitable Growth: I have never gotten it straight whether Vladimir Lenin actually did say: "The worse, the better." But Eduardo Porter does!:
The bloated incarceration rates and rock-bottom life expectancy, the unraveling families and the stagnant college graduation rates amount to an existential threat to the nation’s future. That is, perhaps, the best reason for hope. The silver lining in these dismal, if abstract, statistics, is that they portend such a dysfunctional future that our broken political system might finally be forced to come together to prevent it.
Talk about grasping at straws... READ MOAR
Across the Wide Missouri: No, the Laffer curve does not apply to state-level public finances in the United States. Jobs aren’t fleeing Missouri for Kansas. Cutting taxes on the state level does not induce a large enough surge of economic activity via sucking up jobs and businesses from neighboring states to actually raise tax revenues:
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)
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Live From the Laura Ingalls Wilder Farm: Rocky Ridge: Discussion with Senator Blunt. Subject: King v. Burwell.
Me: "A great many people here in Missouri might be unable to afford their health insurance in three months."
Ann Marie: "You need to be on the right side". Sen. Blunt: "That's really up to the judges."
Me: "But you in Congress could fix it in a sentence".
Sen. Blunt: "You are right."
Of course, "You are right" means not "we will do the one sentence fix if necessary" but "I came to Rocky Ridge on a Saturday afternoon to be avuncular, not to justify my rhetorical pose of root-and-branch opposition to something that is at bottom 'RomneyCare'".
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....
...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...
One thing going on is that the major lifestyle and utility improvements of the past generation--really cheap access to communication, information, and entertainment--are overwhelmingly available to pretty much everyone. On the one hand, this means that recent economic growth assessed in terms of individual utility and well-being is much more equal then when assessed in terms of income. On the other hand, it means that access these benefits seems much more like simply the air we breathe then as a marker of class status, or achievement. READ MOAR
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....
Live from the Roasterie: Perhaps the strangest thing about hanging out on the Missouri-Kansas border is the moderate Republicans who come up to one: "Isn't the failure to expand Medicaid insane?" they say
Over at Equitable Growth: Trying to get the issues straight in my mind here...
>firstname.lastname@example.org: Dear Mr. Delong: I hope this note finds you well. In light of recent activity in Congress related to the Trade Promotion Authority legislation, I write to invite you to join an off-the-record conference call with XXXXXX senior staff for an update on the current state of play. The call is scheduled for today, Tuesday, April 21 at 3:45 p.m. ET
Dear Mr. White:
Thank you very much for your invitation. I will try. I will have to move a couple of things--and I am not the most important person involved in them...
But if you want to know where my concerns are, let me start by quoting something that I wrote before http://www.bradford-delong.com/2015/03/the-debate-over-the-trans-pacific-partnership.html: READ MOAR
...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.
On Robert A. Heinlein (1964):
So the banker is the son of a bitch in the deal--Or is he, now? Bankers never handle their own money to any important extent; they are custodians of other people’s money. If the banker thinks that it is a bad deal in the long run [because of discrimination], is it not his solemn duty to his stockholders and his depositors to refuse it? No matter how it offends the “human rights” of purple people eaters? Is he morally justified in hypothecating other people’s money in a deal which he considers risky--whether the risk be on that one piece of paper, or long-term risk for his whole crazy structure of loans and futures and so forth? I say he is not; he is a steward and must behave as one--not as a social reformer. Are you and I entitled to a backseat veto over his judgment? No, it ain’t our money. So far, I think, no argument--You, the banker, and the subdivider are each morally entitled to turn down the purple people eater...
And me on Twitter via Storify:
Over at Equitable Growth: In the Oil Patch, probably yes--lost demand from the failure to expand Medicaid is likely to push them over the edge and into recession. Elsewhere it will be close, but probably not:
...is leaving red states poorer and sicker.... King v. Burwell.... If the Supreme Court rules for the plaintiffs, those states, including Arizona, will lose their subsidies. That would be a disaster for those states. As Sarah Kliff writes: READ MOAR
Thank you for a wonderful talk. A comment, and a question:
The comment: I have long had a bone to pick with Amy Finkelstein and company and their Oregon Medicaid study. They use “significant” in two different ways in their paper. Improvements in blood pressure and in blood sugar levels in their study were not statistically significant. Not a lot of people in the sample had high blood pressure or high blood sugar, and so the drops seen were not big enough to be confident in a statistical sense that they were not just the luck fo the draw. But the drops in blood pressure and in blood sugar levels were in line with what we expect to follow from prescribing first line lisinopril and metphormin to those who need them, and those drops are clinically significant. I’ve been trying to get them to say that the improvements in the physical health indicators they found were clinically but not statistically significant — but without conspicuous success. READ MOAR
Can, in a political-economy sense, central banks be trusted with the full-employment-and-price-stability stabilization-policy mission? Are they not captured, to too great an extent, by the commercial-banking sector that, myopically, favors higher nominal interest rates to directly improve bank cash flows and indirectly dampen inflation and so redistribute wealth to nominal creditors--like banks?
No, they cannot be trusted. Yes, they are captured to too great an extent by the commercial-banking sector. Yes, the commercial banking sector is very myopic in its conventional wisdom.
...to understanding economic and financial processes. The Global Financial Crisis of 2008 and the Great Recession that followed challenged much conventional wisdom and academic orthodoxy with respect both to theory and policy. New economic thinking was needed and that need has been extended and amplified through the succeeding years. But: what constitutes 'new economic thinking?'
...Lean over backwards so you do not fool yourself, and teach your students the discipline correctly from the start, rather than teaching them things at the start you will have to unteach them later.
If you haven't read Bruce Bartlett's complete history of the Laffer Curve, you should. The upshot is that you do not need special circumstances for high tax rates to be capable of inflicting significant damage on the underlying economy. But you do need exceptional circumstances to actually get a free lunch out of the Laffer Curve...
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.
Over at INET: As I wrote in my introductory "Tap... Tap... Tap..." http://beta.ineteconomics.org/ideas-papers/blog/tap-tap-tap-is-this-thing-on-website-relaunch post last week, there are four gaps--between what economists should and do say, say among themselves and are heard to say, are heard to say and what the public sphere concludes, and what the public sphere concludes and actual policies. It is INET's business to focus primarily on the first and second of these gaps. And it is this weblog's place to provide a space for discussion and debate--for new economy thinking--about how to close these gaps.
After one week, how are we doing?