Yet More Historical Climate Blogging
Bending the Curve on Health Spending: The CBO Is Not a Policy Philosopher-King Office II (Please Think About It Peter Orszag and Doug Elmendorf Department)

links for 2009-07-26

  • I blogged recently about an interview with Eugene Fama in which he declared that people engage in careful comparisons of home prices, so the housing market should be more or less efficient. And I cited an old Larry Summers paper that mocked finance theorists as “ketchup economists”, who say that because 2-quart bottles of ketchup cost twice as much as 1-quart bottles, the price of ketchup must be right. But I’ve had a further thought.... Can [Fama] be right?... The Nasdaq lost around $3 trillion in value when it plunged, while Microsoft was worth only around $500 billion at the height of the tech boom. So the “1.4 Microsofts” line is way off. Beyond that, however, Microsoft was one of the stocks that soared during the tech boom, and subsequently fell sharply. So Fama was in effect comparing tech stocks with tech stocks, and declaring that because the comparison looked sort of reasonable, tech stocks were properly priced. In other words, more ketchup.
  • The whole purpose of Mann et al’s 1998 work was to... begin a dialog with other scientists.... The NAS report concluded that while there were issues with the way PCA was used in 1998, the results were confirmed by further work: "The basic conclusion of Mann et al. (1998, 1999) was that the late 20th century warmth in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the last 1,000 years. This conclusion has subsequently been supported by an array of evidence that includes both additional large-scale surface temperature reconstructions and pronounced changes in a variety of local proxy indicators..." In contrast, Professor Muller wrote... "In the end, there was nothing new left in Mann’s papers that the National Academy supported, other than the idea of using principal component analysis..." This is a distortion.... Nature wrote... "[T]he NAS committee more-or-less endorses the work behind the graph. But it criticizes the way that the plot was used..."
  • Either we are about to continue making history—and not in a good way—or current guesses about the medium-term economy are way too pessimistic.
  • With Brad DeLong’s caveats I agree with him that Christopher Caldwell’s FT article on the fiscal fiasco in California is quite good. But I do have one additional doubt. Brad wasn’t happy about “a pointless and unfair slam at Venezuela.” The slam in question was Caldwell’s “The state’s laws are shaped by plebiscites to a degree unmatched outside of Venezuela.” That’s not, however, just pointless. It’s actually wrong. California’s laws are shaped by plebiscites to a degree unmatched outside of Switzerland. And yet Switzerland is about as well-governed as anyplace else you care to name. It seems to me that that is what critics of California-style direct democracy need to grapple with. Swiss political institutions are different from California in a whole bunch of ways. But they both rely heavily on plebiscites. And the results are quite different.
  • I used to think that US Senate Barbara Boxer was an experienced legislator with a solid progressive record on the issues. But then I read this Politico article in which various anonymous people criticize her “abrasive personal style” and “outspoken partisan liberal” demeanor. Big trouble! And then I got to thinking, I recall having read similar critiques of Judge Sonia Sotomayor. And Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate and now as Secretary of State has been subjected to similar criticism. Nancy Pelosi, too. You’ve really got to wonder what the deal is with the Democratic Party that every woman who comes forward into a position of power and influence is a shrill, castrating harridan. I mean, what are Democrats thinking? What poor judgment! Doesn’t everyone know that politics is a business in which the only people who get ahead are soft-spoken sweethearts like Rahm
  • Europeans, sensibly, seem to find to be generally a good thing that the mightiest military power on earth is a basically congenial country with a commitment to similar values. But they don’t like reckless policies of world domination. I wouldn’t necessarily attach any huge significance to it, but it does seem notably that France has really rocketed up the tables and became one of the most pro-American countries on earth.
  • Looks like Yoo cut class on the day his con law professor covered Posse Comitatus Act. Probably had some bun Federalist Society rally to attend. Dear Boalt Hall: When are you going to revoke John Yoo's tenure? Aren't you ashamed to have him on your faculty? Surely there are some deserving wine law professors out there to whom you can award his coveted slot? Maybe they could discuss the finer points of the limits of presidential power over pinot grigio on your sunny deck? Finally, why isn't today's NYT story isn't on your Faculty in the News page?
  • UPDATE: This is either incredibly offensive, or a very unfortunate coincidence...oh, and why is the President of the Cambridge Police Officers Union able to park illegally? Oh, right.
  • Shorter Peggy Noonan: "Gin! Methinks they'll tax gin!"
  • As for social class, however, I am unconvinced by [Douthat's] argument, because Sarah Palin is about as imperfect a test case as one could find. In seeking the second highest office in the land, she garnered uncommonly strident pushback not because she failed to check the Ivy League box, but because she couldn't put a check mark next to any of the boxes that qualifies one for the White House.... Andrew Jackson... fought in the American revolution, heroically commanded forces at the Battle of New Orleans... military governor of Florida... Tennessee constitutional convention, served in the House and in the Senate... the State Supreme Court ... successful businessman. Sarah Palin served a partial term as governor of Alaska, demonstrated policy knowledge on exactly one subject, and excited ththe base. The message to another candidate of similar qualifications should be "don't even think about" [it].... It isn't about social class. It's about everything else.