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July 2013

Nate Silver's Plan

Nathan Olivarez-Giles:

Nate Silver and ESPN to reboot as a data-driven news site: Statistician Nate Silver rose to prominence by accurately forecasting the results of the 2008 presidential election as an independent blogger and the 2012 presidency as a writer at The New York Times. But on Friday, Silver moved over to ESPN, and sports is only part of the story. In the next couple months, Silver will be relaunching his website,, as an ESPN backed publication. The new FiveThirtyEight will be a standalone website that uses a data to tell stories and make predictions on sports, politics, economics, culture, science, and technology, ESPN said in a statement. Silver will run the new site as editor-in-chief, overseeing a team of writers and editors.


ESPN took a similar approach back in 2010 when it launched Grantland, a website run by sports writer Bill Simmons that brings a long-form journalism approach to sports and culture. Silver will also serve as an occasional political analyst for ABC News which, like ESPN, is owned by The Walt Disney Company.

A Historical Document: Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal Predicts the Failure of Clintonomics: Tuesday Twenty Years Ago Not on the Internet Weblogging

Brad DeLong : A Historical Document: Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal Predicts the Failure of Clintonomics: July 28, 2007

One evasion in Ken Auletta's piece on the Wall Street Journal stands out: his quoting without comment of Norman Pearlstine's claim that Paul Gigot “was a first-rate reporter...”

Here was my first encounter with Gigot's reporting--in this case, reporting on me, one of the heads of Alicia Munnell's staff at the U.S. Treasury in 1993.

Damned if I know what Paul Gigot is talking about when he says of my boss that: "Alicia Munnell is in denial, even though her staff has calculated that Mr. Feldstein is right." I think "Mr. Feldstein is right" might mean "upper-bracket tax collections fell in fiscal 2001 (because of the recession)," rather than what Gigot wants you to think it means--that "the tax-rate hikes of 1990 discouraged work and put us on the far side of the Laffer curve."

If that's not what Gigot means, he's making s--- up: I was there, I was Alicia Munnell's staff, and I know:

Continue reading "A Historical Document: Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal Predicts the Failure of Clintonomics: Tuesday Twenty Years Ago Not on the Internet Weblogging" »

Charles Stross: "Scenic" for Values of "Best Seen from a Small Plane"

Charlie Stross:

On the subject of driving in mountains ...

A couple of years ago I got an invite to teach at Clarion West, so planned an elaborate west coast trip involving Seattle, then a flight to SF to meet up with Feorag, side-trips elsewhere, then a scenic sleeper train ride up to Portland in time to catch my open-jaw flight home.

Continue reading "Charles Stross: "Scenic" for Values of "Best Seen from a Small Plane"" »

Margaret Sullivan Explains Why Oh Why We Can't Have a Better Press Corps


Margaret Sullivan:

Nate Silver Went Against the Grain for Some at The Times: Why did Nate Silver decide to leave The New York Times and accept an offer from ESPN?… [Silver's] star power was significant. And his ability to drive traffic – especially among young, non-newspaper readers with his FiveThirtyEight blog – was unmatched, and probably will remain so…. I found him a thoroughly decent person, generous with his time and more likely than not to take the high road in personal interactions.

Continue reading "Margaret Sullivan Explains Why Oh Why We Can't Have a Better Press Corps" »

Britain Pays and Pays and Pays Because Nick Clegg Through the Parliament to Osborne-Cameron Rather than Balls-Miliband

Ed Balls:

The lesson from the US: George Osborne has wasted the last three years: Camper-vanning through New England three years ago, I was struck by the worry and fear gripping America. Business leaders and commentators saw that another "global economic hurricane" was brewing. They called loudly for government action to boost growth. Most striking then was the contrast between US anxieties and the complacency of Britain's Conservative-led government. Events since have proved their hubris was woefully misplaced…. Very different policies have resulted in different outcomes…. In the US, the combination of monetary activism and President Obama's fiscal growth plan has helped ward off global threats, strengthened the recovery, and seen a continued fall in the deficit. In Britain, following George Osborne's accelerated tax rises and spending cuts, the economy has flatlined and deficit reduction has stalled, as I feared. The US has grown more than four times faster than the UK since the autumn of 2010 and more than recovered all the output it lost following the global financial crisis, while three years of stagnation in Britain means our economy remains more than 3% below its pre-crisis peak….

Continue reading "Britain Pays and Pays and Pays Because Nick Clegg Through the Parliament to Osborne-Cameron Rather than Balls-Miliband" »

The Successful ACA Implementation Marketplace Bar Is Quite Low...

Adriana Macintyre:

How reasonable is the White House’s marketplace enrollment goal?: There’s been lots of fuss about young adults and Obamacare, from the bro-tastic “rate shock” debate to more recent coverage of White House outreach efforts…. One figure that’s been bandied about is 2.7 million--the alleged magic number of 18-35 year olds required to keep premiums stable in the new marketplaces (the new term for “exchanges”)….

Continue reading "The Successful ACA Implementation Marketplace Bar Is Quite Low..." »

Make Sure To Effectively Brand Your Superfluous Second Kidney, Too! Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?

Scott Lemieux:

Make Sure To Effectively Brand Your Superfluous Second Kidney, Too!: Shorter Verbatim Tom Friedman, a man with a solution to poverty:

There’s more. In a world where, as I’ve argued, average is over [math has been repealed? --ed.] — the skills required for any good job keep rising — a lot of people who might not be able to acquire those skills can still earn a good living now by building their own branded reputations, whether it is to rent their kids’ rooms, their cars or their power tools.

Honestly, it’s not an especially mean Matt Taibbi parody. He wrote that, really. It might not have even been the result of someone daring him to write the worst column on an op-ed page that features Ross Douthat concern-trolling about abortion. (I probably have to write about that too, don’t I?)

Mobility, Equality, Geography

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Matthew Yglesias: Metro area mobility: Where you're born drives how far you go:

It's well known at this point that not only does the United States have an unusually large level of income inequality compared to other rich countries, but we have a low level of intergenerational mobility. Kids whose parents have low incomes, in other words, are very likely to themselves grow up to have low incomes. But the United States is also very large compared to most other rich countries, which raises the question of how uniform that pattern of mobility is.

Continue reading "Mobility, Equality, Geography" »

The Federal Reserve Succession: Noah Smith Watches Tyler Cowen Engage in Hippie-Punching

Via twitter, Noah Smith directs us to Tyler Cowen:

Larry Summers vs. Janet Yellen: Read Paul Krugman, Scott Sumner, Ezra Klein, and others on this.  My thinking is simple.  Public choice considerations constrain a looser monetary policy with either candidate.  Otherwise, it is easier for me to imagine Summers having credibility with a Republican administration, and having a real voice, relative to Yellen.  He simply has more right-wing street cred, keeping in mind that Yellen is a former Professor from Berkeley who has never really taken heat from the left, unlike Summers.  I think that overall the voice of the Fed within government is a clear positive.  The chance of a Republican administration, come the next election, is probably at least forty percent.  Thus I would prefer Summers.

Get me a whip count of twenty Republican senators who would vote to confirm Summers even if McConnell tells them not to, and I would agree with Tyler--but I don't think there is such a whip count, and I don't think Larry would be any better able (or worse able) to work with the current crop of Republican officeholders than Ben has been or than Janet would be.

If the choice is between Summers and Yellen, I own to a slight preference for Larry--but I'm not sure that preference is completely rational. Both are, I think, among the very best candidates.

DJW: Brad DeLong Is the Stupidest Man Alive: Monday DeLong Smackdown Watch Hoisted from Archives from 2004 Weblogging

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DJW: DeLong on Global Warming:

Responding to libertarian blogger Abiola Lapite, Brad DeLong muses on global warming….

I think that, for most global-warming fearers, it is naivete that makes them advocate an immediate program to attempt to freeze global CO2 concentrations as close to current levels as possible…

I can’t entirely endorse this statement, but I can recognize a certain fairness to it. Costs associated with GCC amelioration measures are not something at the forefront of many (but by no means all) environmental advocates of strong and immediate action.

Continue reading "DJW: Brad DeLong Is the Stupidest Man Alive: Monday DeLong Smackdown Watch Hoisted from Archives from 2004 Weblogging" »

Noted for July 22, 2013

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates: Considering the President's Comments on Racial Profiling: "The impact of the highest official in the country directly feeling your pain, because it is his pain, is real. And it is happening now. And it is significant. My earlier criticisms notwithstanding, I think these comments (brought to you by my label-mate Garance Franke-Ruta) by Barack Obama, given his role as president of the United States of America, strike precisely the right note. I could nitpick about a few things, but I think it's more important that people take this in. As far as I know, these are Barack Obama's most extensive comments regarding the impact of racism since he became president. I would like to highlight this: 'You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there's a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it's important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn't go away. There are very few African American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me. There are very few African American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me -- at least before I was a senator. There are very few African Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off. That happens often. And I don't want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it's inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear. The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws -- everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case. I think this this is a very good primer on how it feels to be black and consider your relationship to law enforcement. Or people who think they are law enforcement.' I have had my criticisms of this president and how he talks about race. But given the mass freak-out that met him last year after making a modest point about Trayvon Martin, it must be said that it took political courage for him to double down on the point and then advance it. No president has ever done this before. It does not matter that the competition is limited. The impact of the highest official in the country directly feeling your pain, because it is his pain, is real. And it is happening now. And it is significant."

  • Paul Krugman: The Unredeemable Opaqueness of the Hard-Money Men: "Some economists, like Antonio Fatas, demand to see the model that produces such results. But I really think you need to understand this in terms of backward induction. First comes the answer: government action of any kind to fight a slump is bad. Then the search is on for a story to justify that answer, and it really doesn’t matter if the story is inconsistent with everything else you’ve said. (Surely the financial stability argument should lead one to demand very strong bank regulation, and also a highly activist monetary policy to correct those flighty, unreliable markets with their predictable errors). All in all, we are continuing to learn a lot from this slump, not just about how the economy works, but about how many economists work. Unfortunately, none of the news is good."

Continue reading "Noted for July 22, 2013" »

Linda Sieg: Abe's Ruling Bloc Wins Upper House Election

Linda Sieg:

Abe's Ruling Bloc Wins Upper House Election: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's ruling bloc won a decisive victory in an upper house election on Sunday, cementing his grip on power and setting the stage for Japan's first stable government since the charismatic Junichiro Koizumi left office in 2006. The victory gives the hawkish leader a stronger mandate for his "Abenomics" recipe to revive the economy…

John Paul Stevens: The Court & the Right to Vote: A Dissent

John Paul Stevens: The Court & the Right to Vote: A Dissent:

The Supreme Court, on June 25, 2013, issued its decision in Shelby County v. Holder, invalidating the portion of the 2006 enactment that retained the formula used in the 1965 act to determine which states and political subdivisions must obtain the approval of the Department of Justice, or the US District Court in the District of Columbia, before changes in their election laws may become effective. That formula imposed a “preclearance” requirement on states that had maintained a “test or device” as a prerequisite to voting on November 1, 1964, and had less than a 50 percent voter registration or turnout in the 1964 presidential election…. State election laws that were enacted after 1877 were disastrous for black citizens. Whereas 130,000 blacks had been registered to vote in Louisiana in 1896, only 1,342 were registered to vote in 1904. In Alabama only 2 percent of eligible black adults were registered, and they risked serious reprisals if they attempted to exercise their right to vote. Black disenfranchisement, like segregation, was nearly complete throughout the South for well over sixty years. It was enforced not only by discriminatory laws, but also by official and unofficial uses of violence.

Writing for the five-man majority in Shelby County, the recently decided Supreme Court case challenging the VRA, Chief Justice John Roberts noted that “times have changed” since 1965. The tests and devices that blocked African-American access to the ballot in 1965 have been forbidden nationwide for over forty-eight years; the levels of registration and voting by African-Americans in southern states are now comparable to, or greater than, those of whites. Moreover, the two southern cities, Philadelphia, Mississippi and Selma, Alabama, where the most publicized misconduct by white police officials occurred in 1964 and 1965, now have African-American mayors. In view of the changes that have occurred in the South, the majority concluded that the current enforcement of the preclearance requirement against the few states identified in the statute violates an unwritten rule requiring Congress to treat all of the states as equal sovereigns.

Continue reading "John Paul Stevens: The Court & the Right to Vote: A Dissent" »

Liveblogging World War II: July 21, 1943

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 21, 1943:

SEATTLE, Tuesday—This morning my daughter and her daughter came with me to the U. S. Naval Hospital, where Captain Joel T. Boone is now in command. I had seen this hospital only last spring, but the expansion has been tremendous in these last few months. I saw some of the boys that I had seen before. Three of them were Marines from Guadalcanal. Two of them told me they were ready to go back to duty and they would like to get back with my son, James.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: July 21, 1943" »

Noted for July 21, 2013

  • Steve M.: Where Did They Make David Brooks?: "David Brooks reconsider[s] his position on [Stand Your Ground] laws: 'And I have to say, [Obama's] point on the Stand Your Ground law was actually clarifying for me. I had some sympathy for the laws because as, you know, as Americans, we should be independent, we should be able to defend ourselves, be strong. But the argument he made about, you know, do we really want all sorts of people, do we really want what happened here, people walking around with guns feeling free to shoot off without legal protections, without the normal legal process--now, that's a compelling argument, which he put very well.' Yes, Brooks actually said he'd never quite thought about the possibility of extending Stand Your Ground to 'all sorts of people'. Yes, even those sorts. When you put it that way, Stand Your Ground is kinda scary, hunh, David?"

  • Paul Krugman: Hitting China’s Wall: China is in big trouble…. America, admittedly on the high side, devotes 70 percent of its gross domestic product to consumption; for China, the number is only half that high, while almost half of G.D.P. is invested…. How is that even possible? What keeps consumption so low, and how have the Chinese been able to invest so much without (until now) running into sharply diminishing returns? The answers are the subject of intense controversy. The story that makes the most sense to me… a small modern sector alongside a large traditional sector containing huge amounts of “surplus labor”--underemployed peasants…. First, for a while such countries can invest heavily in new factories, construction, and so on without running into diminishing returns, because they can keep drawing in new labor from the countryside. Second, competition from this reserve army of surplus labor keeps wages low even as the economy grows richer…. Now, however… wages are rising; finally, ordinary Chinese are starting to share in the fruits of growth. But it also means that the Chinese economy is suddenly faced with the need for drastic “rebalancing”…. Investment is now running into sharply diminishing returns and is going to drop drastically no matter what the government does; consumer spending must rise dramatically to take its place. The question is whether this can happen fast enough to avoid a nasty slump. And the answer, increasingly, seems to be no…."

Continue reading "Noted for July 21, 2013" »

Yes, the Republicans of Indiana Are Liars. Why Do You Ask?

Kevin Drum:

Republican War on Obamacare Reaching Absurd New Heights: We all know that Republicans are hellbent on sabotaging Obamacare any way they can. But the lengths they're going to are pretty astonishing. A few weeks ago The Hill reported that some Republican congressional offices, which routinely help constituents navigate the federal government, plan to turn away callers with Obamacare questions….

Continue reading "Yes, the Republicans of Indiana Are Liars. Why Do You Ask?" »

Michael Mann Grinds Forward…

Joe Romm:

DC Court Bluntly Affirms Michael Mann's Right To Proceed In Defamation Lawsuit: DC Superior Court….

There is sufficient evidence presented that is indicative of “actual malice. The CEI Defendants have consistently accused Plaintiff of fraud and inaccurate theories, despite Plaintiff’s work having been investigated several times and found to be proper. The CEI Defendants’ persistence despite the EPA and other investigative bodies’ conclusion that Plaintiff’s work is accurate (or that there is no evidence of data manipulation) is equal to a blatant disregard for the falsity of their statements. Thus, given the evidence presented the Court finds that Plaintiff could prove “actual malice.”…

Continue reading "Michael Mann Grinds Forward…" »

Yes, the Status of Health in the U.S. Is a Disaster. Why Do You Ask?

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Brendan Saloner:

U.S. Health Disadvantage is Not Inevitable: The United States fares worse than virtually every other rich country across a broad set of outcomes--babies in the United States are more likely to die at birth; teenagers are more likely to have unintended pregnancies, to be the victims of homicide, and to die in a car accident; and adults are more likely to experience diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, drug overdoses, and HIV….

Continue reading "Yes, the Status of Health in the U.S. Is a Disaster. Why Do You Ask?" »

Joe Gagnon: Understanding 21st Century Monetary Policy

Joe Gagnon: Understanding 21st Century Monetary Policy:

Monetary policy consists of printing money to buy assets. This is true whether the aim is to lower the federal funds rate, the mortgage rate, or any other rate of return. Fiscal policy consists of selling assets to buy goods, cut taxes, or increase transfers…. Central banks have always held risky assets…. Conducting monetary policy when short-term interest rates are near zero requires central banks to take on more risk, but this is only a difference of degree and not of kind....

Continue reading "Joe Gagnon: Understanding 21st Century Monetary Policy" »

Obamacare Trains Are Running on Time. No Wrecks.

Ezra Klein and Evan Soltas:

Wonkbook: Obamacare trains are running on time. No wrecks.: “President Obama, slipping back into his episodic role as a vigorous campaigner for his new health care act, said Thursday that thanks to the law, more than 8.5 million Americans are getting rebates this summer from their insurance providers. Mr. Obama was joined by families who have benefited from a provision in the law, which requires health insurers to spend at least 80 percent of the revenue from premiums on medical care rather than on administrative costs. Insurers who fail to meet that benchmark must reimburse customers, a process that began in 2012.” Mark Landler in The New York Times….

Continue reading "Obamacare Trains Are Running on Time. No Wrecks." »

Alan Taylor: "The Boom, Not the Slump, Is the Time for Austerity at the Treasury"

Alan Taylor:

When is the time for austerity?: Is… evidence-based macroeconomics possible?… Experimental techniques drawn from medicine have been fruitfully incorporated in other fields of economics. Helpful, for some, since more clarity on fiscal impacts might be welcome, given the uproar over European and UK austerity programs…. In a new paper we exploit a treatment-control design using statistical techniques designed for situations, experimental or otherwise, where underlying allocation [of cases to treatment and control] bias may prevail (Jordà and Taylor 2013). This turns out to be a serious problem here, as in many other macroeconomic contexts where endogenous policy actions epitomise the “insufficient randomisation” problem….

Continue reading "Alan Taylor: "The Boom, Not the Slump, Is the Time for Austerity at the Treasury"" »

Liveblogging World War II: July 20, 1943

Battle of Bairoko:

The battle of Bairoko (20 July 1943) was the second major operation carried out by the Northern Landing Group on New Georgia, and ended in a rare Japanese victory after the poorly coordinated American attack was repulsed.

Colonel Harry Liversedge's Northern Landing Group had landed at Rice Anchorage on 5 July. He had three main objectives. The first was to capture the Japanese coastal guns at Enogai Point. Second was to cut the main trail between Bairoko and Munda and prevent the Japanese from reinforce the troops defending Munda. The third was to capture the barge base at Bairoko.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: July 20, 1943" »

Noted for July 20, 2013

  • David Glasner: Bhide and Phelps v. Reality: "Phelps attached his name to an op-ed in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, co-authored with Bhide, consisting of little more than a sustained, but disjointed, rant…. There are three really serious problems…. First, and most obvious to just about anyone who has not been asleep for the last four years, central-bank purchases have not put the price level on a higher path than it was on before 2008…. Second, Bhide and Phelps completely miss the point of the Metzler paper (“Wealth, Saving and the Rate of Interest”)…. The point of the Metzler paper was to demonstrate that monetary policy, conducted via open-market operations, could in fact alter the real interest rate. Money, on Metzler’s analysis, is not neutral even in the long run…. Finally, Bhide and Phelps mischaracterize Metzler… even after the increase in the price level, the real value of household assets, contrary to what Bhide and Phelps assert, remains greater than before the monetary expansion, because of a reduced real interest rate…. If it seems odd that Bhide and Phelps could so totally misread the classic paper whose authority they invoke, just remember this: in the Alice-in-Wonderland world of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, things aren’t always what they seem."

Continue reading "Noted for July 20, 2013" »

Randy Barnett: Roberts vs. U.S. JayCees Was Wrongly Decided: On the Just and Proper Liberty of the U.S. Jaycees to Discriminate Against Women


Some more Constitution-in-Exile weblogging:

United States Junior Chamber: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The United States Junior Chamber (JCs or more commonly Jaycees) is a leadership training and civic organization for people between the ages of 18 and 41. Areas of emphasis are business development, management skills, individual training, community service, and international connections. The U.S. Junior Chamber is a not-for-profit corporation/organization as described under Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(4).

Established January 21, 1920 to provide opportunities for young men to develop personal and leadership skills through service to others, the Jaycees later expanded to include women after the United States Supreme Court ruled in the 1984 case Roberts v. United States Jaycees that Minnesota could prohibit sex discrimination in private organizations.

Continue reading "Randy Barnett: Roberts vs. U.S. JayCees Was Wrongly Decided: On the Just and Proper Liberty of the U.S. Jaycees to Discriminate Against Women" »

Lysander Spooner, #slatepitch of the 1850s, or Concern Troll of the 1850s? You Be the Judge!

Apropos of Corey Robin's Libertarianism, the Confederacy, and Historical Memory:

What’s striking about this set of observations [by Randy Barnett] is that with some minor exceptions it has been pretty much the historiographical consensus for decades. Indeed, I learned much of it in high school and in my sophomore year at college. Yet Barnett, by his own admission, has only discovered it in recent years.

Jacob T. Levy comments:

I can understand your mistake here, but it’s a mistake. Randy [Barnett] started out in the Lysander Spooner camp (and he was a longtime champion of Spooner’s philosophical as well as historical importance). That abolitionist anarchism has a hard time treating the Union or the Republican Party as morally serious about slavery, but not in the confederatista “Lincoln was a racist too, so there” kind of way. It’s not that he spent time in the “maybe slavery mattered, maybe it didn’t” cloud of ignorance. It’s that he… started to respect the Republican Party’s initial stance as being a genuinely antislavery one rather than only being culpable compromises… 2004 is the latest date one could pick here, as these arguments start to appear in Restoring the Lost Constitution.

In 2004 Randy Barnett was 52, not 15.

Enough said.

And Lysander Spooner was a real piece of work. Lysander Spooner, ranting that defeating the Republican Party in the election of 1860 is job #1:

Continue reading "Lysander Spooner, #slatepitch of the 1850s, or Concern Troll of the 1850s? You Be the Judge!" »

Liveblogging World War II: July 19, 1943

Ernie Pyle:

And those men of the Forty-fifth, the newest division over there, had already fought so well they had drawn the high praise of the commanding general of the corps of which the division was a part. It was those quiet men from the farms, ranches and small towns of Oklahoma who poured through my tent with their wounds. I lay there and listened for what each one would say first.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: July 19, 1943" »

Corey Robin: Libertarianism, the Confederacy, and Historical Memory

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Corey Robin:

Libertarianism, the Confederacy, and Historical Memory: In the last few days libertarians have been debating the neo-Confederate sympathies of some in their movement. I don’t to wade into the discussion. Several voices in that tribe—including Jacob Levy, Jonathan Adler, and Ilya Somin—have been doing an excellent job. (This John Stuart Mill essay, which Somin cites, was an especially welcome reminder to me.) But this post by Randy Barnett caught my eye.

Continue reading "Corey Robin: Libertarianism, the Confederacy, and Historical Memory" »

Noted for July 19, 2013

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates on the execrable Richard Cohen: The Banality of Richard Cohen and Racist Profiling: "An capricious anti-intellectualism, a fanatical imbecility, a willful amnesia, an eternal sunshine upon our spotless minds, is white supremacy's gravest legacy. You would not know from reading Richard Cohen that the idea that blacks are more criminally prone, is older than the crime stats we cite, that it has been cited since America's founding to justify the very kinds of public safety measures Cohen now endorses. Black criminality is more than myth; it is socially engineered prophecy. If you believe a people to be inhuman, you confine them to inhuman quarters and inhuman labor, and subject them to inhuman policy. When they then behave inhumanely to each other, you take it is as proof of your original thesis. The game is rigged. Because it must be."

Continue reading "Noted for July 19, 2013" »

Ben Bernanke's Monetary Policy: And Tim Duy Confuses Me Further...

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Tim Duy:

Economist's View: Fed Watch: Changing the Mix, Not Level, of Accommodation: Brad DeLong says that I confuse him, but nicely places the blame on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. And, truth be told, I have to admit to some confusion, as it it difficult to see how we arrived at this whole tapering debate in the first place. The data simply doesn't lead you to it. So how did the Fed get here?

Continue reading "Ben Bernanke's Monetary Policy: And Tim Duy Confuses Me Further..." »

Ann Marie Marciarille: The Revenge of the Disintermediated

Missouri Governor Nixon has signed into law a Missouri bill requiring that ACA Navigators be licensed by the Missouri Division of Insurance.  I am still wondering: "Licensed as what?" since the infrastructure to license these top level federally funded guides to Missouri's federally operated exchange is not in place.

In politics -- as in the rest of life --  timing is everything.  If no Missouri  state health insurance Navigator licensing infrastructure is in place as of the  date of signing, will emergency state insurance regulations be necessary in order for Navigators to be in place when ACA enrollment opens on October 1st?  If not, who will perform the Navigator function in Missouri? Might we find volunteers in the already licensed but explicitly precluded from the Navigator role by federal law group known as for-profit commercial health insurance brokers?

This could get interesting. I think of these last attempts to derail an ACA insurance counseling system designed to promote direct purchase of health insurance as the revenge of the disintermediated.

Ann Marie Marciarille: Being a Pioneer on the ACO Trail is Not Easy

Now it is official that, after only one year, nine Medicare Pioneer accountable care organizations -- among those who did not produce savings in their first year in the program -- will leave the Pioneer ACO program for the Medicare Shared Savings Progam ACO model. Modern Healthcare reported it, CMS put its own spin on it, and the blogosphere has lit up with speculation.

What can we conclude after one year? 

Very very little about health care finance that we did not already know -- health care provider compensation in the United States is premised  on some very entrenched principles, not the least provider insulation from cost and price among them.  Turns out, these entrenched principles are difficult to change. But even some of the departing Pioneer ACOs slowed health care cost growth somewhat. Slowing it enough to generate savings and enough savings to incite provider appetite for assuming both upside and down-side risk is another, longer term, project.

We might also tentatively conclude that it is easier to change provider behavior on quality than it is on cost.  A number of the departing Pioneer ACOs had significant -- albeit short term-- success in meeting quality benchmarks such as lowering risk-adjusted hospital readmission rates and improving  diabetes care. This is also not unexpected. Health care is likely to grow more expensive before it gets cheaper under the ACA.

Why the rush to try and draw conclusions after one year of Pioneer ACO experience?

We are an impatient people.  This is our virture and our vice. Whitman was correct. We are a resistless restless people.

Let's try not to draw too many firm conclusions too soon from a program just born.

Thursday Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot-Bang-Query-Bang-Query Weblogging #3: Matthew Yglesias Is Tired of Trying to Reason with Conor Friedersdorf

Matthew Yglesias: Schumer civil liberties: Nelson Román and coalition politics.:

Police tactics based on systematic racial discrimination are wrong, NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly seems to have pursued such tactics, and as such I would not be pleased to see him appointed to federal office. So I agree with Conor Friedersdorf that it reflects poorly on Senator Chuck Schumer that he's pushing for Kelly to be Secretary of Homeland Security. And since a big part of Friedersdorf's schtick is overblown accusations of liberal hypocrisy the fact that Schumer has this bad idea becomes "Prominent Democrats Are Now Comfortable With Racial and Ethnic Profiling."

Continue reading "Thursday Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot-Bang-Query-Bang-Query Weblogging #3: Matthew Yglesias Is Tired of Trying to Reason with Conor Friedersdorf" »

Ezra Klein on Janet Yellen, Sexism, and the Federal Reserve Succession

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Ezra Klein: Sexism Clouds the Fed Succession Saga:

The favored parlor game of the political-economic complex right now is guessing who will replace Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve…. Janet Yellen… is by no means a sure thing. One important reason she’s not--and I don’t know another way to say this--is sexism, as evidenced by the seemingly uncoordinated yet disturbingly consistent whispering campaign against her. The message isn’t always delivered in a whisper, of course. In May, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher suggested on CNBC that if Yellen is chosen, the pick will have been “driven by gender.” That’s more of a shouting campaign….

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Understanding the U.S. Economy since the Mid-2000s

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The best way to understand the evolution of the U.S. economy's level of production and employment since the mid-2000s is to look at four key components of spending: exports, business equipment investment, government purchases, and housing. Exports are driven by the exchange rate and foreign demand; equipment investment is driven by businesses' free cash flow, their cost of financing, and their perceived need for new capacity; government purchases are driven by politics; and housing construction is driven by housing prices, by interest rates, and by lending standards.

Scale all four of these by potential GDP, and examine the deviations of these four spending flows from their business-cycle peak values. We then see that the period since the mid-2000s falls into five segments:

  1. Recovery and housing boom;
  2. Rebalancing at full employment;
  3. The crash;
  4. The period of fiscal expansion; and
  5. "Green shoots"

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Congress Is Biggest Roadblock to Economic Recovery

Kevin Drum:

Quote of the Day: Congress Is Biggest Roadblock to Economic Recovery: Preach it, Brother Ben:

The Federal Reserve’s chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, said Wednesday that Congress is the largest obstacle to faster economic growth, and he warned that upcoming decisions about fiscal policy could once again undermine the nation's recovery.… Moreover, he said, Congress could make things worse later this year:

The risks remain that tight federal fiscal policy will restrain economic growth over the next few quarters by more than we currently expect, or that the debate concerning other fiscal policy issues, such as the status of the debt ceiling, will evolve in a way that could hamper the recovery…

Needless to say, Republicans in Congress will pay no attention to the Republican-appointed Fed chairman. These days, they prefer getting their economic policy advice from Glenn Beck and the ghost of Andrew Mellon.

Noted for July 18, 2013

  • Simon Wren-Lewis: Economic History and Krugman’s Crib Sheet: "Here are two seemingly unconnected posts: Paul Krugman’s discussion of how he came to do his path breaking research in international trade and economic geography, and Kevin O’Rourke’s post on why economics needs economic history…. What is so great about formalism, you might ask. The trouble with just talking and writing about the way the world works is that it is quite easy to become confused or to make mistakes. Macro, because it deals with a highly interconnected system, is full of these pitfalls. The example I use with undergrads when they first come to IS/LM is as follows. Cutting taxes may appear to boost the economy, but if it is financed by more government borrowing, to persuade people to lend more will probably push up interest rates. These higher interest rates reduce output, so as a result tax cuts could end up reducing output. Sounds reasonable, but the reasoning is incorrect. The worst that can happen with a tax cut is that people save it all, in which case output does not change, and neither do interest rates. IS/LM shows us that if interest rates rise it is because output has increased. So it is good to be able to express ideas about how the world works in terms of simple models. But creating a new type of model for the first time is not an easy thing to do, which is why you get prizes for this kind of thing…. However there is a real danger that teaching this stuff crowds out all else. I used not to be concerned about this for macro, because I saw the discipline as inherently progressive, where the data would naturally push advances in the right direction…. If that is your view, you are likely to be a little dismissive about things like economic history, economic methodology or the history of economic thought…. I changed my view in the last few years as a result of both the financial crisis and the subsequent domination of austerity policies. Teaching just what can be currently formalised in what now passes as a rigorous manner excludes too much of what is important."

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And: Jim Henley on the "Realism" of Timothy B. Lee: #2 Wednesday Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot-Bang-Query-Bang-Query Weblogging

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

Outsourced to Jim Henley: A Model World:

My first thought on reading Timothy B. Lee’s headline, “That McDonald’s budget people are making fun of isn’t cruel. It’s realistic.,” was that he was presenting a false dichotomy: the budget could easily be both realistic and cruel. But on closer examination, the “realism” disappeared anyway. Of all the many problems with the budget itself and Lee’s account of it, I want to concentrate on what he should have seen because he was literally staring at it, but didn’t…. I know how to recognize a rosy scenario when I see it. Let’s ignore a lot of things we could pick at--like the True Cost of Ownership (TCO) of a car you can buy for loan cash of $7K. Let’s stick to….

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Conor Friedersdorf Carries Yet More Water for Rand Paul: Thursday Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot-Bang-Query-Bang-Query Weblogging

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

Search for " Conor Friedersdorf 'Ron Wyden'" and get 143 hits.

Search for " Conor Friedersdorf 'Rand Paul'" and get 24900 hits.

Does anybody think that what is really important to Conor Friedersdorf is that both Rand Paul and Ron Wyden are indispensable members of the Senate because of their opposition to the 21st Century National Security State?

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Tim Duy Confuses Me...

But I don't think that is his fault: Ben Bernanke appears to have confused him.

Tim Duy:

Bernanke Takes a Dovish Stance: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke traveled to the House today to deliver his final Monetary Report to Congress.  While he reiterated many of his previous comments surrounding quantitative easing and interest rates, Bernanke leaned on the dovish side of the equation… continues to emphasize the distinction between asset purchases and interest rates as well as the data dependent nature of both… leaves me less confident of a September taper. Such uncertainty, I think, is one of his objectives.

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What I Wish That I Had Said on the DeLong-Posen-Rose "Foreign Affairs" Monetary Policy Conference Call

My parts of edited--with typos, wordos, thinkos, and mindos removed:

It's not clear to me why the Federal Open Market Committee is following the strategy it is following right now, indeed, that it has followed for the past six years.

I would have expected Ben Bernanke--student of the Great Depression, the kind of person who in the 1990s would say hat Japan needs much more monetary stimulus--to react to the financial crisis and the subsequent collapse of risk tolerance in financial markets by saying:

The problem right now is that the private sector wants to deleverage, and it cannot deleverage without the government issuing debt--leveraging up. Since the willingness of Congress to issue more debt is limited, the private sector will either be persuaded not to deleverage (a) by long-term interest rates so low as to make deleveraging financially unattractive, or (b) by a persistent depression that makes the private sector so poor as to make deleveraging unaffordable. We don't want the first, (a). It is the job of the Federal Reserve to drive long-term interest rates low enough so that we get the second, (b).

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