What Does Jeff Sachs Think That He Is Doing?
Department of "HUH?!?!?!": I Really Do Not Understand Jeff Sachs These Days: Mark Thoma Tries to Explain Weblogging

Noted for March 11, 2013

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  • Sheryl Sandberg: Anna Holmes: Maybe You Should Read the Book: The Sheryl Sandberg Backlash | Katha Pollitt: Who's Afraid of Sheryl Sandberg? | Rebecca Traistor: Sheryl Sandberg's 'Lean In' offers a feminist view from the top

  • Paul Krugman: The Market Speaks: "What the [repeated] bad predictions [from economists, politicians, and lobbyists] tell us is that we are, in effect, dealing with priests who demand human sacrifices to appease their angry gods — but who actually have no insight whatsoever into what those gods actually want, and are simply projecting their own preferences onto the alleged mind of the market."

  • Peter Dorman: Sinnlos, Part II: "Just when you thought it might be possible to have a rational discussion about the Eurozone situation that included mainstream German opinion, along comes Hans-Werner Sinn… to prove that you can’t…. They begin by announcing, 'There is a large body of literature on global imbalances. To date, however, little attention has been paid to the imbalances within the EU or the Eurozone…' Yes, why stoop to read Paul Krugman, George Soros, Martin Wolf or any of the thousands of less prominent writers on this topic, who have been fixated on these imbalances from the moment peripheral bond spreads exploded?  This keeps our thinking pure. But let’s not get distracted.  Their real point is that they have discovered something new and significant: there are large trade imbalances within Europe, augmented by capital flight!  Who could have imagined?"

  • Luc Eyraud and Anke Weber: The Challenge of Debt Reduction during Fiscal Consolidation: "Studies suggest that fiscal multipliers are currently high in many advanced economies. One important implication is that fiscal tightening could raise the debt ratio in the short term, as fiscal gains are partly wiped out by the decline in output. Although this effect is not long-lasting and debt eventually declines, it could be an issue if financial markets focus on the short-term behavior of the debt ratio, or if country authorities engage in repeated rounds of tightening in an effort to get the debt ratio to converge to the official target. We discuss whether these problems could be addressed by setting and monitoring debt targets in cyclically-adjusted terms."

  • Cosma Shalizi: James Beniger, The Control Revolution: Technological and Economic Origins of the Information Society: "This is not a speculation or a vague schema but a very detailed history of the rise of technologies and techniques of communication and information-processing, and their use for controlling social and economic processes, prefaced by a general discussion of these subjects and their importance for history. His thesis is that modern information technologies, and with them the 'information society', began to take shape in the 1830s with the introduction of railroads, and really took off after 1880 with full industrialization. Because machine industry involves huge, fast flows of goods, it cannot be managed without a high level of information technology…. Beniger puts the modern synthesis (not his phrase) of industry and information in the period 1880-1920…. The advent of computers was obviously very important, but they didn't usher in the information society, because we already were one (which, I suspect, is why they were able to spread so quickly --- Beniger does not, alas, discuss computerization in detail)."

  • Ezra Klein: Revenge of the sources: "The journalist also writes, of course, but anybody can write. Or, if not anybody, then certainly too many people for comfort. But few can get their calls returned by key congressmen, top academics, important CEOs or even, absent the legitimacy of a media organization people have heard of, a factory worker sitting at home on a Tuesday night. That is the powerful advantage that the journalist has over her audience: She’s got sources and they don’t. If the transaction between the journalist and the audience is that the journalist has the time, talent, and access to clearly communicate the ideas of newsmakers and experts, what then is the transaction between the journalist and those newsmakers and experts? After all, the journalist, and her institution, are profiting, hopefully handsomely, off their contribution to the enterprise. It’s not going too far to say that the whole business would collapse without their participation. Journalists without sources are, well, mere writers."

John Gordon: The American corporation and the centrally planned economies of the soviet empire | J. Bradford DeLong: The corporation as a command economy | Hal Varian: The value of the internet now and in the future | Mark Thoma: The problem of deeply irresponsible fiscal policy is not confined to Europe | David Blanchflower and Adam Posen: The Prime Minister speech on the economy asserted the incredible in defense of the indefensible |

On March 10, 2013: