Department of "Huh?!"
Democracy and Its Vicissitudes in the Nineteenth Century: A Note

Worth Reading for April 13, 2010

  • Hamilton: "So to return to the question posed at the beginning: $87 oil is certainly not helping the recovery. But I would be very surprised if it proves to be the kiss of death."
  • Coates: "The God of History bounds the Confederacy in its own chains. From... secession in Texas... 'in this free government all white men are and of right ought to be entitled to equal civil and political rights; that the servitude of the African race... is mutually beneficial... abundantly authorized and justified by the experience of mankind, and the revealed will of the Almighty Creator... while the destruction of the existing relations between the two races... would bring inevitable calamities upon both and desolation upon the fifteen slave-holding states...' To Virginia... Mississippi... South Carolina... the Vice-President of the Confederacy itself....This is about a lancing shame, about that gaping wound in the soul that comes when confronted with the appalling deeds of our forebears. Lost Causers worship their ancestors, in the manner of the abandoned child who brags that his dead-beat father is actually an astronaut, away on a mission of cosmic importance..."
  • Johnson: "Last Friday, Rush Limbaugh asked why a coal miner union didn’t protect the 29 miners who were killed when Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, WV, exploded.... There’s a simple reason the union didn’t protect the miners: the Upper Big Branch Mine, like nearly all of the mines under Massey CEO Don Blankenship’s control, is non-union. In fact, the United Mine Workers of America (UMW) “tried three times to organize the Upper Big Branch mine, but even with getting nearly 70 percent of workers to sign cards saying they wanted to vote for a union, Blankenship personally met with workers to threaten them with closing down the mine and losing their jobs if they voted for a union.” Blankenship rose in Massey’s ranks by breaking its union mines in the 1980s. Blankenship said then that busting unions is “invaluable” to profits, as non-union companies can “sell coal cheaper and drive union coal out of business.”"
  • Krugman: "I certainly never said anything like [what Sorkin claims I said], and I don’t think Nouriel did either. First of all, I never called for “nationalizing the entire banking system” — I wanted the government to take temporary full ownership of a few weak banks, mainly Citigroup and possibly B of A. I defy Sorkin to find any examples of me calling for a total takeover. And the argument was never that “no matter how much money we threw at the banks, they would eventually topple the system all over again”. Again, where did I say that? The argument was always that if we were going to rescue the banks — and we were — taxpayers should get the potential upside as well as the potential downside. If you want to say that the advocates of nationalization were excessively pessimistic about the prospects for a light-touch bank strategy, fine. But caricaturing their position, making it sound far more extreme than it actually was, is definitely not OK."
  • Salmon: "Patrick Jenkins of the FT has two great articles today following the maneuvering around Basel III. The big-picture story is clear: banks around the world are ganging up to try to weaken and/or delay Basel III’s implementation. Most of the arguments could be made only by banks who have been drinking their own kool-aid for so long that they no longer have any idea what sounds ridiculous and what doesn’t. I hope that the world’s central bankers aren’t going to be swayed"
  • Chinn: "Per capita consumption in September 2009 had not re-attained September 2008 levels. In fact, what's interesting is that only in January 2010 did real per capita consumption re-attain pre-Lehman bankruptcy levels. For sure, they have not, and will not soon, exceed previous peak levels in 2007M11. Is this a consumption disaster? Perhaps it's only part of the necessary rebalancing of the US economy; but I suspect (given the evidence on how consumption moves with current disposable income) that the consumption response was not solely an optimal response to a decline in anticipated permanent income (see discussion of the permanent income hypothesis in this post). I also believe in the absence the ARRA, consumption would have declined even more than it did."
  • Berkeley School of Law Professor John Yoo's writings and conduct rise to the level of intentional professional misconduct and violations of his duties to exercise independent legal judgment and render thorough, objective, and candid legal advice
  • Dani: "industrial policy never went out of fashion. Economists enamored of the neo-liberal Washington Consensus may have written it off, but successful economies have always relied on government policies that promote growth by accelerating structural transformation. China... Its phenomenal manufacturing prowess rests in large part on public assistance to new industries. State-owned enterprises have acted as incubators.... Local-content requirements have spawned productive supplier industries in automotive and electronics products. Generous export incentives.... Chile... often portrayed as a free-market paradise, is another example.... Chilean grapes broke into world markets thanks to publicly financed R&D. Forest products were heavily subsidized by none other than General Augusto Pinochet. And the highly successful salmon industry is the creation of Fundación Chile, a quasi-public venture fund."
  • Charlotte: "if you like your leading men dark and dangerous, you could do worse than Nahadoth, the menacing god-in-chains who might help Yeine, if he doesn’t kill her. He may be the Lord of Darkness, and you have to weigh the sexiness against the likelihood of death, but it’s hard not to fall for a guy who brings a black hole to a knife fight..."
  • Gasparino: "About 25 Wall Street executives... sat down for a private meeting... with... Mitch McConnell... and John Cornyn.... The stated topic of the meeting: The Financial reform bill being sponsored by Senator Chris Dodd.... The Senators explained they can’t just oppose the Dodd bill — they need to come up with a reform plan of their own, as they fight its least free-market components, such as the notion that the government can determine which banks are “too big to fail.”... McConnell, according to a person who was present, said “Barney likes to say ‘Wall Street used to say we have Washington by the (neck), and we’re going to change that.’”... During the meetings, both predicted that the Republicans will likely add at least six senate seats to their current total.... They also said that they have a shot at taking control of the House.... But in order to assure those gains, and add even more, McConnell and Cornyn made it clear they need Wall Street's help..."