Previous month:
September 2014
Next month:
November 2014

October 2014

A Dialogue on Secular Stagnation: The Honest Broker for the Week of November 7, 2014

###Secular Stagnation###

Princeps Cogitationis: If I am going to hold down my consulting and speech-making jobs, I need to understand what Larry Summers is talking about here:

Larry Summers: What to do about secular stagnation?

But it is too long! 3000 words! Help! What can I do?

Oeconomicarus: But I thought you read 300 books a year?

Princeps Cogitationis: I read the last chapter of 300 books a year. Then I read three short reviews of each. And then I opine fearlessly. Working through a difficult 3000-word argument and assessing it is not a good use of my time. READ MOAR

Continue reading "A Dialogue on Secular Stagnation: The Honest Broker for the Week of November 7, 2014" »

Lunchtime Must-Read: Matt O'Brien: This Is Why the Economy Has Fallen and It Can’t Get Up

This is why the economy has fallen and it can t get up The Washington Post

Matt O'Brien: This is why the economy has fallen and it can’t get up: "The chart... shows how much more pessimistic the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has become about the economy, revising its estimate of potential economic down in each of the last seven years.... This is scary stuff.... If it's right, it means that the Great Recession has made us permanently poorer.... But why hasn't this big crash been followed by a big comeback? Well, like everything else in economics, it comes down to two things: supply and demand. Larry Summers, who put this chart together, points out that the economy has needed lower and lower interest rates just to get enough investment to create jobs for everyone who wants one.... Not only that, but this 'secular stagnation' could turn deficient demand into deficient supply, too. It's what economists call hysteresis, and the idea is that a long slump can hurt the economy's productive capacity.... The economy can't recover on its own, and if it doesn't soon it might never be able to. We need more inflation, more infrastructure spending, and less tut-tutting about the deficit that... isn't an urgent problem...."

Lunchtime Must-Read: Linda Greenhouse: The Roberts Court’s “Greatest Threat to Public Confidence”

Linda Greenhouse: The Roberts Court’s “Greatest Threat to Public Confidence”: "Late on a Friday night earlier this month...

...the Supreme Court voted in another case from Texas to permit the state’s voter ID law, the strictest in the country, to take effect... prevent as many as 600,000 Texans, 4.5 percent of all those registered, from voting next month. The impact, Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos found, would fall disproportionately on black and Latino Texans. She ruled that the law violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.... The six justices who let the stay remain in effect didn’t bother to explain themselves beyond the word ‘denied.’

That left it to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and two others, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, to explain in dissent what was wrong with that outcome.... ‘The greatest threat to public confidence in elections in this case,’ Justice Ginsburg said, ‘is the prospect of enforcing a purposefully discriminatory law, one that likely imposes an unconstitutional poll tax and risks denying the right to vote to hundreds of thousands of eligible voters.’ A law, in other words, that in the full glare of publicity and on the verge of a highly polarized election, threatens destruction to the social fabric in the most dangerous way, by shutting thousands of citizens out of the democratic process of choosing their leaders.

‘There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders,’ Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for the court in April of this year. His subject then was the right to spend money in politics, not the right to vote. If people conclude that the current Supreme Court majority cares more about the first than the second--surely a logical inference--the court will have entered a dangerous place. And so--as a conservative justice once realized in another context--will the country.

Morning Must-Read: Paul Krugman: Apologizing to Japan

Paul Krugman: Apologizing to Japan: "For almost two decades, Japan has been held up as a cautionary tale...

an object lesson on how not to run an advanced economy.... Western economists were scathing in their criticisms.... I was one of those critics; Ben Bernanke... was another. And these days, I often find myself thinking that we ought to apologize.... Our economic analysis... look[s] more relevant than ever now that much of the West has fallen into a prolonged slump very similar to Japan’s experience.... In the 1990s, we assumed that if the United States or Western Europe found themselves facing anything like Japan’s problems, we would respond much more effectively than the Japanese had. But we didn’t, even though we had Japan’s experience to guide us....

Start with government spending. Everyone knows that in the early 1990s Japan tried to boost its economy with a surge in public investment; it’s less well-known that public investment fell rapidly after 1996 even as the government raised taxes, undermining progress toward recovery. This was a big mistake, but it pales by comparison with Europe’s hugely destructive austerity policies, or the collapse in infrastructure spending in the United States after 2010.... Or consider monetary policy. The Bank of Japan, Japan’s equivalent of the Federal Reserve, has received a lot of criticism.... That criticism is fair, but Japan’s central bank never did anything as wrongheaded as the European Central Bank’s decision to raise rates in 2011.... And even that mistake is trivial compared with the awesomely wrongheaded behavior of the Riksbank....

As for why the West has done even worse than Japan, I suspect that it’s about the deep divisions within our societies. In America, conservatives[']... general hostility to... a government that does anything to help Those People. In Europe... the German public is intensely hostile to anything that could be called a bailout of southern Europe.... Japan used to be a cautionary tale, but... [now] it almost looks like a role model...

Morning Must-Read: Jacob Schlesinger: The Kuroda Bazooka Round Two

Jacob Schlesinger: The Kuroda Bazooka, Round Two: "Faced with fresh evidence that his bold campaign... end deflation was losing steam, Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda Friday fired off a fresh round of ammunition from his famed money-spewing bazooka, shocking markets with a big increase in the central bank’s stimulus program. The impact was immediate, with the Nikkei Stock Average soaring more than 4% and the yen dropping sharply to a near-seven-year low against the dollar.... In sharp contrast to Mr. Kuroda’s first major easing announcement in April 2013, shortly after he took office, the central bank’s policy board was deeply split. Last year, he managed to get a 9-0 vote in favor of a policy that broke sharply with his more cautious predecessor. This time, the board voted 5 to 4.... Earlier in the day, the government had announced that the most closely watched gauge of inflation had fallen to 1% in September, having decelerated sharply from the 1.5% peak in April. That’s well below Mr. Kuroda’s 2% target, and showed the limited impact of the stimulus program to date....

Behind the surprise may also lie a broader strategy of economic policy coordination with the government. Before the BOJ announcement, Japanese stocks were up sharply in anticipation of an announcement planned for later in the day that the giant government pension fund would reallocate its portfolio.... And, looming for Mr. Abe is a decision on whether or not to go forward with a plan to raise the sales tax next year to 10% from the current 8%. It was the boost earlier this year... that slowed Japan’s economy and seemed to derail Mr. Kuroda’s earlier success in battling deflation. Mr. Kuroda has been a staunch and public advocate that Japan needs to go forward with the tax hike in order to curb its mammoth sovereign debt. Friday’s move, by providing at least a short-term dose of growth, will likely make it easier for Mr. Abe to take that step.


Jamie Chisholm: Wall St eyes record after BoJ boost: "A surprise fresh burst of stimulus by the Bank of Japan has electrified global markets...

...pushing Wall Street to a record and Tokyo stocks to a seven-year peak, battering the yen while boosting the US dollar, and hammering gold to its cheapest in more than four years.... The yen is slumping 2.6 per cent versus the buck to Y112.04, its weakest since January 2008.... The Nikkei 225 jumped 4.8 per cent to its best level since early November 2007.... In New York, the S&P 500 is up 19 points to 2,013, leaving it on course to close a volatile month at a new record. The FTSE Eurofirst 300 is climbing 1.6 per cent after both Shanghai and Hong Kong added 1.2 per cent. 'So much for the end of QE! The Bank of Japan’s announcement today that is stepping up its asset purchases is a timely reminder that not everyone has to follow the Fed', said Julian Jessop, chief global economist at Capital Economics. The impact of the BoJ move is rippling through other asset classes. The most notable victim is gold... [which] does not like a strong buck... $1,163 an ounce, a four-year low.


Joshua Brown: When one door closes…: "This week the Fed ended QE...

...and the stock market has exploded to the upside. The one thing the policy bears may not have counted on was that someone else would cover the Fed’s back as it walked away. That someone else is the Bank of Japan, which shocked the markets this morning with an $80 trillion yen QE program that aims to triple the amount of Japanese equity ETFs and REITs it is buying on the open market. In addition, there is continued talk that the ECB will follow the Fed and the BoJ’s lead with a QE program of its own before too long. I can’t tell you what these programs will do for the economies of these countries or for the wages and spending of their constituent workers. But it’s pretty clear what happens to their stock markets.... While QE is over for now in the US, it is just getting warmed up around the developing world in many respects...

Liveblogging the American Revolution: October 31, 1776: George III Hanover

George III Hanover: His Majesty’s Most Gracious Speech to Both Houses of Parliament on Thursday, October 31, 1776: "

My Lords, and Gentlemen,

Nothing could have afforded Me so much satisfaction as to have been able to inform you, at the opening of this session, that the troubles, which have so long distracted my colonies in North America, were at an end; and that My unhappy people, recovered from their delusion, had delivered themselves from the oppression of their leaders, and returned to their duty. But so daring and desperate is the spirit of those leaders, whose object has always been dominion and power, that they have now openly renounced all allegiance to the crown, and all political connection with this country. They have rejected, with circumstances of indignity and insult, the means of conciliation held out to them under the authority of our commission: and have presumed to set up their rebellious confederacies for independent states. If their treason be suffered to take root, much mischief must grow from it, to the safety of my loyal colonies, to the commerce of my Kingdoms, and indeed to the present system of all Europe. One great advantage, however, will be derived from the object of the rebels being openly avowed, and clearly understood. We shall have unanimity at home, founded in the general conviction of the justice and necessity of our measures.

Continue reading "Liveblogging the American Revolution: October 31, 1776: George III Hanover" »

Lunchtime Must-Read: Cardiff Garcia: Affordable Housing and the Legit Big-City Whinge

Cardiff Garcia: Affordable Housing and the Legit Big-City Whinge: "When city-dwellers moan about their high cost of living...

...they often elicit the unsympathetic retort that they should shut up and praise the ghost of Jane Jacobs for the cultural vibrancy of their neighborhoods, the lucrative jobs, and the artisanal pizza: 'Living in a great city is a consumption good, you whinging ninnies — you SHOULD have to pay for it! Why do you think you’re entitled to live wherever you want?' Hey, fair enough. But there’s a difference between grumblings about $5 cinnamon macchiatos and the more useful outrage about meaningful troubles that can be solved — a difference between #firstworldproblems and the healthier expression of annoyed patriotism towards one’s habitat: 'I like living here and want to keep living here, which is why the problems I complain about aren’t enough to push me out. I’d rather stick around and see the problems solved. But those problems suck, so let’s start doing something about them.' To complain that rents, for instance, could and should be lower isn’t always a sign of yuppie entitlement. Nor is it mutually exclusive with appreciating the wonderful aspects of city life. Sometimes the gripe really is legitimate...

Noted for Your Afternoon Procrastination for October 30, 2014

Screenshot 10 3 14 6 17 PMOver at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog


Must- and Shall-Reads:

And Over Here:

Continue reading "Noted for Your Afternoon Procrastination for October 30, 2014" »

Lunchtime Must-Read: Simon Wren-Lewis: In Praise of Macroeconomists (or at Least One of Them)

Simon Wren-Lewis: In Praise of Macroeconomists (or at Least One of Them): "One of the architects of that macroeconomic mainstream is Lars Svensson...

...key papers... maths and rational expectations... member of Sweden’s equivalent of the Monetary Policy Committee from 2007 to 2013.... Svensson... argued that there was still plenty of slack in the economy, and raising rates would be deflationary, so that inflation would fall well below the central bank’s target of 2%. By the end of 2012 inflation had indeed fallen to zero, and since then monthly inflation has more often been negative than positive. It was -0.4% in September. This week the Swedish central bank lowered their interest rate to zero.... Deviating from what mainstream macroeconomists in general advocate (and what one in particular recommended) has proved a costly mistake. (Svensson estimates it has cost 60,000 jobs.)... I am certainly not claiming that mainstream macroeconomics is without fault, as regular readers will know (e.g.) However it is important to recognise the achievements of macroeconomics as well as its faults. If we fail to do that, then central banks can start doing foolish things, with large costs in terms of the welfare of its country’s citizens...

The Federal Reserve Retires to Its Tent...

A very interesting piece by Tim Duy on the recently-concluded Federal Reserve FOMC meeting. The precis: the Federal Reserve does not view itself as moving to tighten policy, but rather as moving to a policy that is still extraordinarily stimulative--especially considering the level of the unemployment rate.

If the unemployment rate were the only piece of information we had available, I would understand the FOMC's position. But I see 2%/year wage growth. I see a prime-age employment-to-population ratio that is still extremely low, I see Japan where Abenomics hangs in the balance and a Eurozone where a triple dip is a 50-50 chance, I see the continued failure of the Obama Administration to fill Governor slots and the resulting rightward bias of the FOMC voices...

Either the FOMC consensus or I am greatly misreading the current macroeconomic situation. It may well be me. But I do not think so...

Tim Duy: FOMC Recap: "To the extent there were any surprises, they were on the hawkish side....

The Fed dismissed the decline in market-based inflation expectations. They clearly believe financial markets over-reacted to the decline in oil prices, and that that decline would ultimately prove to be a one-time price shock rather than the beginning of a sustained disinflationary process. This is why we watch core-inflation. And note that the Fed sent a pretty big signal... they do not hold market-based measures of inflation expectations as the Holy Grail. Especially with unemployment below 6%, pay more attention to survey-based measures. And recognize they will discount even those if they feel they are unduly affected by energy prices....

I have trouble imagining a scenario in which the Fed is content to watch unemployment fall below 5.5% without at least beginning the rate hike cycle. Remember that they think that even as they increase rates, they believe that policy will continue to be accommodative. In other words, they do not fear raising rates as necessarily a tightening of policy. They will view it as a necessary adjustment in financial accommodation in response to a decline in labor market slack. Hence the line:

The Committee currently anticipates that, even after employment and inflation are near mandate-consistent levels, economic conditions may, for some time, warrant keeping the target federal funds rate below levels the Committee views as normal in the longer run...

Over at Equitable Growth: Robert Waldmann: Extra Thursday DeLong QE/Risk Smackdown

Over at Equitable Growth:

Robert Waldmann: Extra Thursday DeLong Smackdown: "The fact that the economy seems desperately in need of looser monetary policy...

...after massive QE tends to suggest that QE just doesn't work. In 2010 it was possible to argue that massive purchases of long term treasuries would have an effect similar to reductions in the Federal Funds rate. Now not so much. READ MOAR

Continue reading "Over at Equitable Growth: Robert Waldmann: Extra Thursday DeLong QE/Risk Smackdown" »

Morning Must-Read: Matt O'Brien: Why the Fed Is Giving Up too Soon on the Economy

As I see it, Federal Reserve policy right now is reasonable only if the unemployment rate is taken as a sufficient statistic for the state of the labor market. And it seems to me the odds are 4-1 against that being true...

Matt O'Brien: Why the Fed is giving up too soon on the economy: "Two years and $1.7 trillion later...

...the Fed's latest round of bond-buying, or QE3, is officially over. What did it get us?... The best answer is what it didn't get us: a recession in 2013.... 'Fiscal cliff', 'sequester', and 'debt ceiling' might be hazy memories from a time when [the Republican House] Congress[ional Caucus] was doing its most to sabotage the recovery, so here's a refresher.... There's been an awful lot of austerity the last few years. Enough that the economy should have slowed down quite a bit.... But that's not what happened.... QE... is the Fed's way of printing its money where its mouth is when it says rates will stay low for a long time. That's why, as economist Michael Woodford argued, QE works better when it's used with forward guidance that makes the Fed's promises about future policy more explicit. The question, then, is what message the Fed is sending now...

Liveblogging World War II: October 30, 2014: The Ruins of Warsaw

From World War II Today: Wladyslaw Szpilman: The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945:

I was alone: alone not just in a single building or even a single part of a city, but alone in a whole city that only two months ago had had a population of a million and a half and was one of the richer cities of Europe. It now consisted of the chimneys of burnt-out buildings pointing to the sky, and whatever walls the bombing had spared: a city of rubble and ashes under which the centuries-old culture of my people and the bodies of hundreds of thousands of murdered victims lay buried, rotting in the warmth of these late autumn days and filling the air with a dreadful stench.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: October 30, 2014: The Ruins of Warsaw" »

Interesting Things I Shoulda Written About When They Were Published, But Didn't: David Frum Pleads for Mercy for the Reformicons...

David Frum: Don't Knock the Reform Conservatives: "Sam Tanenhaus profiled a group of self-described "reform conservatives"... respectful praise. The art director went even further: The magazine photographed 11 of the profiled people in an 18th-century hall, crumpled papers at their feet, an homage to J.L.G. Ferris’s well-known painting of the drafting of the Declaration of Independence...

But... but... but... of the 11 people only six--Levin (mentioned in 19 paragraphs), R. Ponnuru (10), A. Ponnuru (4), Strain (2), Wehner (2), and O'Beirne (1)--are mentioned by Tanenhaus at all in the article. It's not a profile of a group, of an intellectual movement. Frum wishes it were--I wish it were. But it isn't.

Frum continues:

Continue reading "Interesting Things I Shoulda Written About When They Were Published, But Didn't: David Frum Pleads for Mercy for the Reformicons..." »

Anyone Still Supporting Mitch McConnell for Senate Has No Shame at All: Live from teh Roasterie

Screenshot 10 29 14 5 18 PM

Mitch McConnell: Study shows Kentucky among national leaders in lowering uninsured rate because of Affordable Care Act: "As you know, Medicaid existed before Obamacare...

...The state operated Medicaid before Obamacare. The state can continue to operate Medicaid after Obamacare. There were online health insurance marketplaces before Obamacare. There are several non-Obamacare insurance sales websites now that are not part of Obamacare. There can be online insurance sales without Obamacare. Obamacare did not create the ability to buy insurance online—people have been doing that for years. Obamacare did not create Medicaid. Medicaid has been available for nearly (50) years...

Of course, repealing ObamaCare would immediately shrink Kentucky Medicaid enrollment by nearly half a million, and quadruple online-insurance costs for those Kentuckians receiving subsidies...

As I have said and will continue to say: there is something wrong with anyone who publicly supports today's Republican Party without having an immediate, practical plan for utterly transforming it root-and-branch into something else.

And as I have said and will continue to say: there is something very wrong with anyone who votes for the candidates of today's Republican Party.

Over at Equitable Growth: Suppose--Counterfactual World--That the U.S. Had Avoided Large-Scale QE since the Start of 2010...

Graph 10 Year Breakeven Inflation Rate FRED St Louis FedOver at Equitable Growth: ...and that the employment, inflation, and future breakeven outcomes realized in that counterfactual world had been those seen in our world.

Is there any question that in that counterfactual world the FOMC would right now be actively and aggressively on the point of a massive QE program--that the only questions would be "how much" and "how quickly"?

Today, with the ending of QE, we live in that counterfactual world--with three differences:


Continue reading "Over at Equitable Growth: Suppose--Counterfactual World--That the U.S. Had Avoided Large-Scale QE since the Start of 2010..." »

Over at Project Syndicate: Material Well-Being in America since 1979

Material Well-Being in America since 1979

J. Bradford DeLong

Over at Project Syndicate: Over at Project Syndicate:

The story goes: since 1979, the peak of the last business cycle before the inauguration of Ronald Reagan, economic growth in America has been overwhelmingly a rich-only phenomenon. America's poor and the middle class, it is often said, have at best only trivially higher inflation-adjusted real wages, incomes, and living standards send their predecessors who occupy the same slots in the income distribution back in 1979. While real GDP per capita in America has grown from $29 thousand per year to $50 thousand per year in 2009-value prices--total growth of 72%, or 1.6% per year--all or almost all of this growth has gone to those who now occupy the rich slots in the American income distribution.

How true is this, really? The answer appears to be: true--with perhaps a very few caveats, but important caveats:


Continue reading "Over at Project Syndicate: Material Well-Being in America since 1979" »

Lunchtime Must Read: Jonathan Chait: Yellen Mentions Inequality; Right Scandalized

Jonathan Chait: Yellen Mentions Inequality; Right Scandalized: "Even the American Enterprise Institute’s Michael Strain...

...a moderate, wrote that Yellen is now ‘in danger of becoming a partisan hack.’... The parties don’t merely disagree about the merits of inequality, they disagree about the merits of even acknowledging it.... Remember Mitt Romney conceding that inequality should only be discussed in ‘quiet rooms’?... Merely by stating facts about inequality in public, even without taking a stand on it, Yellen has placed herself on one side of a partisan divide. It's like saying 'Jehovah.'

What Strain does not mention is that Yellen is hardly alone among Federal Reserve chairs.... Hardly a week went by without Greenspan interjecting himself into the political debate. And Greenspan, a former follower of Ayn Rand with staunchly conservative views, had none of Yellen’s careful reserve.... Is the new rule here that, starting now, the Federal Reserve chair has to stay completely out of partisan politics? Or is the rule that they need to stay out of politics unless they’re conservative?

Lunchtime Must-Read: Jon Hilsenrath: Fed Critics Have Been Wrong.... Time to Declare the Debate Over

Jon Hilsenrath: Fed Critics Have Been Wrong About QE’s Most Ill Effect: "In an open letter to former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in 2010...

...a group of prominent academics and hedge fund managers urged the central bank to stop its bond purchases known as quantitative easing.... With the Fed set to end its bond-purchase program today, it is clear those warnings were wrong.... The critics also argued the QE programs distort financial markets. It is hard to prove or disprove that point. Stock market price-to-earnings ratios look stretched by some measures, but not so stretched by others. Junk bond and leveraged loan issuance has taken off, but corporate balance sheets relatively healthy.... But it is easy to see what didn’t happen. Inflation hasn’t taken off and there has been no currency debasement. Perhaps it will happen someday, but the Fed has been experimenting with QE since 2009 and it clearly hasn’t happened yet. At some point, you need to declare the debate over...

Lunchtime Must-Read: Jordan Weissman: Don’t Let Anyone Blame Single Mothers for Economic Inequality

Jordan Weissman: Don’t Let Anyone Blame Single Mothers for Economic Inequality: "Conservatives... aren't... comfy discussing...

...skyrocketing CEO pay and Wall Street lucre.... They are, however, extremely at home talking about... single mothers.... In that vein, the American Enterprise Institute has released a new report.... I’m... skeptical... turn[ing] the inequality debate toward single mothers and absent fathers.... As Timothy Noah wrote in Slate years ago, the biggest changes in American family structure took place in the '70s and '80s, and they help explain why, for instance, the ratio between the 90th percentile of earners and 10th percentile is higher than it was 30 years ago. But the shift away from two-parent households doesn't really factor into the concentration of wealth among the 1 percent. And the rise of the 1 percent, and the 0.1 percent for that matter, is the real story when it comes to how income inequality is evolving today...

Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for October 29, 2014

Screenshot 10 3 14 6 17 PMOver at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog


Must- and Shall-Reads:

Continue reading "Noted for Your Morning Procrastination for October 29, 2014" »

Over at Equitable Growth: Obamacare Implementation Overview: Wednesday Focus for October 29, 2014

Over at Equitable Growth: David Leonhardt's Upshot is doing some very nice data-visualization work:

Kevin Quealy and Margot Sanger-Katz: Obamacare: Who Was Helped Most?:

Obamacare Who Was Helped Most NYTimes com


Continue reading "Over at Equitable Growth: Obamacare Implementation Overview: Wednesday Focus for October 29, 2014" »

Liveblogging World War II: October 29, 1944: Pacific Search and Rescue

Daniel S. Geiser: Story from the Typhoon:

The three of us jumped into the Pacific Ocean, holding on to a two-man life raft while Japanese ships followed the slowly moving OS2N Kingfisher. We hoped!

Thirteen hours earlier, 29 October 1944, the USS Iowa was on rescue duty. Carrier based planes from a Task Force of the Third Fleet were attacking the Manila Bay Area in the Philippines. The V-Division crew had prepared Iowa's two planes for catapulting which were to be flown with empty back seats minus parachutes to increase space. Ensign Ace Riggins, assigned to the Division two months before, was standing by to pilot one of the aircraft while I was checking Iowa's position relative to the Manila area and monitoring any information concerning downed aircraft. About 1500 we were informed by the carrier USS Hancock, code name Bingo Base, that two of her men were in a life-raft about ten miles East of Luzon. Their SB2C Scout Bomber had been shot down over the island and friendly fighters were now flying over head to protect them from enemy planes in the area. We were informed by Bingo Base that two of her F6F Hellcats would fly protection for the floatplanes if we would undertake the mission.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: October 29, 1944: Pacific Search and Rescue" »

John Michaud in the New Yorker on Walter Miller's "Canticle for Liebowitz": Wednesday Book Reviews/Live from Crows Coffee

Jon Michaud: A Science-Fiction Classic Still Smolders: "The abbey at Monte Cassino... atop a rocky hill...

...eighty miles south of Rome... founded in 529 by St. Benedict of Nursia.... Generations of scribes labored in the abbey’s library to copy texts and preserve artifacts.... From November, 1943, to May, 1944, the hill on which the abbey stood was at the center of one of the largest and bloodiest battles of the Second World War. Monte Cassino was a crucial part of the Gustav Line... ‘fortress strength.’... The Allied command, believing that the Germans were using the abbey as a garrison and ammunition dump, made the controversial decision to bomb Monte Cassino. On February 15, 1944, American B-17s, B-25s, and B-26s dropped more than four hundred tons of explosives on the monastery....

Continue reading "John Michaud in the New Yorker on Walter Miller's "Canticle for Liebowitz": Wednesday Book Reviews/Live from Crows Coffee" »

Over at Equitable Growth: At This Point in Time, a (Larger) National Debt Would Indeed Be a National Blessing: (Late) Tuesday Focus for October 28, 2014

Over at Equitable Growth:

Graph Federal Debt Held by the Public FRED St Louis Fed

There are two questions that must be answered in the process of figuring out weather having the government borrow money and spend is a good idea:

  1. What is the money being used for?

  2. How expensive is the money to borrow?

Back in the Reagan-Bush I years--the steep run-up in the debt-to-annual GDP ratio in the 1980s and the first third of the 1990s:

  1. The money was used to rapidly build up the U.S. military to counter the Soviet Union's overwhelming might--an overwhelming might that existed only in the fantasies of the neoconservatives who ran the "Team B" exercise initiated at the CIA by George H.W. Bush.

  2. The money was used for tax cuts for the rich in the hope that increasingly incentivizing entrepreneurship would accelerate economic growth above the pace of the 1970s--a vain hope indeed.

  3. The real interest rate at which the U.S. government could borrow was relatively high--between 3.5%/year and 8.5%/year, and averaging 5.5%/year in the 1980s. Plus there was the fear that as the debt-to-annual-GDP ratio rose further without any strategy for ultimately amortizing the debt, the real interest rate would rise higher. Plus there was the fear that the real interest paid on the debt understated the cost to the taxpayer of carrying it because a high debt would create expectations that inflation would rise--expectations that would require unemployment semi-permanently above the NAIRU to avoid another inflationary spiral.


Continue reading "Over at Equitable Growth: At This Point in Time, a (Larger) National Debt Would Indeed Be a National Blessing: (Late) Tuesday Focus for October 28, 2014" »

Afternoon Must-Read: Fast FT: Lars Svensson: 1, Sadomonetarists 0

Fast FT: Lars Svensson: 1, Sadomonetarists: 0: "Lars Svensson quit Sweden's Riksbank in a huff last year...

...frustrated by the central bank's insistence on raising rates despite the deflationary dangers. His former employer has just tacitly admitted that the economist was right. The Riksbank earlier this morning cut its benchmark interest rate to an unprecedented zero per cent, and markedly moved out its forecast for when it will lift rates again until mid-2016, in an attempt to ease the deflationary forces gripping the Swedish economy. The Riksbank should arguably have listened more closely to its former deputy governor sooner...

Morning Must-Read: Richard Mayhew: Getting Dropped Hurts

Richard Mayhew: Getting Dropped Hurts: "Back in 2008, there was an excellent study on the cost of losing health insurance...

...and then regaining it for people with chronic conditions.... $240 per member per month for Medicaid members in the mid-2000s is a massive number.... I am speculating that a decent chunk of the cost growth slowdown and differential for Expansion states compared to non-Expansion states is a more streamlined set of care.... In 2013, a person who made a few dollars too many, or had been on a program for a month too long would be dropped from Legacy Medicaid, and previously manageable conditions could become unmanaged. In 2014 in expansion states, that person would be dropped from Legacy Medicaid and instantly re-enrolled into Federally funded Expansion Medicaid. The only difference they would see in most expansion states was a different ID card in the mail three weeks later...

Of All the Many Dorky Things About the Kansas Republican Party, the Dorkiest Is the Pretense that Brownback's Economic Strategy Worked: Live from Teh Roasterie

Luke Brinker: The Wall Street Journal’s shameless dishonesty: What its defense of Kansas’ tax cuts says about the right’s real agenda: "Eight days before Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback may lose re-election...

...thanks to the disastrous consequences of his deep tax cuts, the Wall Street Journal has published an apologia for Brownback.... You know you’re in for a real doozy when Allysia Finley, a member of the Journal’s editorial board and the piece’s author, begins by comparing Brownback’s tax cuts with the 19th-century struggle against slavery. “During the 1850s,” Finley writes “Kansas turned into a battleground for a proxy war between abolitionists and slavery supporters. Today, Kansas has become the flash point in another national debate, this one over government’s role in promoting growth.” Well then. Unlike Brownback, whose theory is that his policies will soon start working )any day now!) but the liberal media is determined to create the impression that they’ve already failed, Finley assures us that Kansas’ tax cuts are working right now...

Continue reading "Of All the Many Dorky Things About the Kansas Republican Party, the Dorkiest Is the Pretense that Brownback's Economic Strategy Worked: Live from Teh Roasterie" »

Liveblogging the American Revolution: The Battle of White Plains: October 28, 1776

Wikipedia: Battle of White Plains:

Howe remained at Scarsdale until the morning of October 28, when his forces marched toward White Plains, with British troops on the right under General Henry Clinton, and primarily Hessian troops on the left under General von Heister. While Washington was inspecting the terrain to determine where it was best to station his troops, messengers alerted him that the British were advancing. Returning to his headquarters, he ordered the 2nd Connecticut Regiment under Joseph Spencer out to slow the British advance, and sent Haslet and the 1st Delaware Regiment, along with Alexander McDougall's brigade (Rudolphus Ritzema's 3rd New York Regiment, Charles Webb's 19th Continental Regiment, William Smallwood's 1st Maryland Regiment, and the 1st New York Regiment and 2nd New York Regiments) to reinforce Chatterton Hill.

Continue reading "Liveblogging the American Revolution: The Battle of White Plains: October 28, 1776" »

Material Prosperity since 1980: Hoisted from the Archives from Two Years Ago

Median Material Prosperity since 1980: In the past couple of months I have gone pretty much every place I ever went between when I was 15 in 1975 and when I was 25 in 1985. Every place--every place--looks a lot better, richer, a lot busier now than it looked then. How can this be if it really is the case that media and living standards of stagnated since the early 1970s? They are not all 1% or even 10% places, not now and especially not then.

Continue reading "Material Prosperity since 1980: Hoisted from the Archives from Two Years Ago" »

Yes, the State-Level Benefits of the Medicaid Expansion Are Very Large. Why Do You Ask?: Afternoon Comment

An interesting catch by CBPP from KHN:

Jesse Cross-Call: State Medicaid Spending Growing Slower in Expansion States Than Others: "States that have expanded Medicaid... expect their share of Medicaid spending to grow more slowly this year than states that have not expanded... 4.4% this year, compared to 6.8% among non-expansion states...

That is $6 billion in 2014 alone. If it is permanent--capitalize it at 4%--that is $150 billion more that the non-expanding states have lost. That is serious money. And there is more, because:

States expanding Medicaid also typically cited net state budget savings beyond Medicaid.  States reported that expanded coverage through Medicaid could allow for reductions in state spending for services such as mental health, correctional health, state-funded programs for the uninsured and uncompensated care.

Why? It really does look like trying to get your health-insurance system in shape by greatly curbing the number of uninsured makes places where you can save money without harming quality of care very obvious.


The uninsured rate among non-elderly adults has fallen by 38 percent in expansion states but only by 9 percent in non-expansion states, an Urban Institute survey found.  The fact that the federal government picks up the entire cost of newly eligible individuals under the expansion allows states to expand coverage while limiting their costs...

Afternoon Must-Read: David Hendry: Climate change: Lessons for Our Future from the Distant Past

David Hendry: Climate change: Lessons for Our Future from the Distant Past: "Climate change has been the main driver of mass extinctions...

...over the last 500 million years... provides a stark warning. Human activity is producing greenhouse gases, and as a consequence global temperatures and ocean heat content are rising. Such trends raise the risk of tipping points. Economic analysis offers a number of ideas, but a key problem is that distributions of climate variables can shift, invalidating stationarity-based analyses, and making action to avoid possible future shifts especially urgent...

Noted for Your Afternoon Procrastination for October 27, 2014

Screenshot 10 3 14 6 17 PMOver at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog


Must- and Shall-Reads:

And Over Here:

Continue reading "Noted for Your Afternoon Procrastination for October 27, 2014" »

Liveblogging World War II: October 27, 1944: Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt: My Day: October 27, 1944:

On Tuesday evening I attended the rally at the Hotel Willard sponsored by the District of Columbia Democratic Central Committee and the Servicemen's Wives to Re-elect Roosevelt. An original song, dedicated to the President, was sung, and I received an armful of red roses which was one of the most beautiful I have seen in a long time.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World War II: October 27, 1944: Eleanor Roosevelt" »

James O’Keefe Looks For Voter Fraud In Colorado, Finds Nothing. Again: Across the Wide Missouri

Wonkette tracks the ravings of James O'Keefe so the rest of us do not have to:

Beth Ethier: James O’Keefe Looks For Voter Fraud In Colorado, Finds Nothing. Again: "Ever since we heard the news that James O’Keefe had launched a voter fraud scavenger hunt in Colorado, we’ve been eagerly waiting... we’re sure you have, Wonketteers, for his latest video to drop. Now that we’ve had a chance to see the highlight reel of O’Keefe’s Rocky Mountain Mustache Caper,  purporting to show Democratic Sen. Mark Udall’s ‘advocates’ standing by while an army of fraudulent voters gear up to steal the election, we have to say we’re a little disappointed. We are sure our dear readers will be shocked to learn that the actual product of O’Keefe’s investigation, despite being edited to O’Keefe’s maximum advantage, lacks any evidence of voter fraud and instead appears to show O’Keefe talking about all the crimes he can’t wait to commit, along with a couple of specific instances of stupidity by people who have no power over the electoral process and who consistently show an alarming lack of motivation to engage in fraud themselves. Before heading into the wilds of Boulder, O’Keefe sits for a Very Serious Interview with Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler, a frustrated voter suppressionist who worried at a recent voter suppression luncheon hosted by the Heritage Foundation.... Having failed in their attempts to get staff at Colorado Democratic field offices and campaign events to endorse plans to Fraud The Vote, O’Keefe’s crew apparently started moving down the ladder of political relevance until arriving at the office of Work for Progress, a hiring firm that fills low-level positions for environmental campaigns....

[O'Keefe] says Hicks is ‘approving my proposition to falsify ballots.’... O’Keefe doesn’t show that part on video. And no, he won’t release the raw unedited footage because....

Project Veritas Action does not release raw or unedited tapes or reporters’ notes of investigations....

Rep. Salazar’s office sent us this message expressing his gratitude to James O’Keefe for revealing the un-American fraud-enabler running his campaign:

Right wing operatives who seemed hell bent on committing voter fraud tried to rope my campaign manager Nicole into their scheme, and failed. Nicole did nothing wrong and simply referred them to the Adams County Clerk and Recorder’s office so they could have their questions answered. I believe this stunt actually proves that our new elections law is airtight, as they never once showed anyone actually committing voter fraud in any way, shape, or form. In fact, the only thing that this video showed was Mr. O’Keefe’s multiple attempts to commit voter fraud himself, and I hope he’s held accountable for this misguided and ridiculous stunt.

We’re not sure that James actually committed any crimes here (though that mustache is probably a misdemeanor offense in some jurisdictions), but he and his friends are standing closer to illegality than anyone else who appears in this video...

And we do remember what the California Attorney General says:

Continue reading "James O’Keefe Looks For Voter Fraud In Colorado, Finds Nothing. Again: Across the Wide Missouri" »

Could We Please Have Better New York Times Columnists?: Historical Lack-of-Literacy Edition

Could we please have better New York Times columnists?

Ross Douthat: The Pope and the Precipice: "On communion for the remarried...

...the stakes are not debatable at all. The Catholic Church was willing to lose the kingdom of England, and by extension the entire English-speaking world, over the principle that when a first marriage is valid a second is adulterous, a position rooted in the specific words of Jesus of Nazareth. To change on that issue, no matter how it was couched, would not be development; it would be contradiction and reversal...

One boggles.

Continue reading "Could We Please Have Better New York Times Columnists?: Historical Lack-of-Literacy Edition" »

Morning Must-Read: Carter Price: Miscalculating the Wealth of the Rich Reveals Unintended Biases

Carter Price had a nice piece a couple of months ago that it is worth highlighting:

Carter Price: Miscalculating the Wealth of the Rich Reveals Unintended Biases: "In an ambitious effort...

...Philip Armour... Richard Burkhauser... and Jeff Larrimore... estimate... trends in inequality based on... Haig-Simons... income... consumption plus change in net wealth... [and] claim inequality has not been rising over time.... [Unfortunately] their methodological choices bias the results to downplay relative income growth at the top.... >The Haig-Simons measure introduces substantial volatility as well based on changes in the market valuation of assets.... Mark Zuckerberg... [was] one of the poorest people in the world in 2012 because his net worth fell by $4.2 billion.... Haig-Simons... factor[s] out volatility in realized capital [gains]... but... introduces... volatility in the valuation of capital holdings.... Inflation in housing prices during the 2000s... show[s] up as a rising Haig-Simons income... [but] much of this valuation was a bubble.... The authors... include near-cash benefits... a single national housing index... the Dow Jones Industrial Average... for all types of stock income... limitations on details of high-income households.... Each of these methodological choices will artificially bias their estimates toward a lower valuation of income growth at the top of the distribution...

Monday Dianne Furchgott-Roth, MIchael Strain, and James Pethokoukis Inequality-of-Opportunity Smackdown

Every time I try to get out, they pull me back in. This Monday internet space is supposed to be for:

  1. Self-improvement, correcting errors that I have made and raising to the front of consciousness smart alternatives to my views that my previous visualization of the Cosmic All had not given proper weight; and

  2. In the process, maybe giving the spotlight to smart people who are not widely enough read.

But things keep happening.

Today we have Dianne Furchgott-Roth and James Pethokoukis, Dianne Furchgott-Roth, and Michael Strain. They really do have to decide to what degree they are going to try to maintain a toehold in the reality-based community, or simply give themselves over to total 100% hackdom:

Continue reading "Monday Dianne Furchgott-Roth, MIchael Strain, and James Pethokoukis Inequality-of-Opportunity Smackdown" »

Liveblogging the Cuban Missile Crisis: Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State: Hoisted from the Non-Internet of 52 Years Ago

Avalon Project: Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State:

Dear Mr. President:

I have received your letter of October 25.(1) From your letter, I got the feeling that you have some understanding of the situation which has developed and a sense of responsibility. I value this.

Now we have already publicly exchanged our evaluations of the events around Cuba and each of us has set forth his explanation and his understanding of these events. Consequently, I would think that, apparently, a continuation of an exchange of opinions at such a distance, even in the form of secret letters, will hardly add anything to that which one side has already said to the other.

Continue reading "Liveblogging the Cuban Missile Crisis: Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State: Hoisted from the Non-Internet of 52 Years Ago" »

Afternoon Must-Read: Nick Bunker: Piketty, Rognlie, Karabarbounis and Neiman, and the Elasticity of Substitution | LARS P. SYLL

Nick Bunker: Piketty and the Elasticity of Substitution: "A particularly technical and effective critique of Piketty is from Matt Rognlie....

...Loukas Karabarbounis and Brent Neiman... show that the gross labor share and the net labor share move in the same direction when the shift is caused by a technological shock... point out that the gross and net elasticities are on the same side of 1.... Rognlie’s point about these two elasticities being lower than 1 doesn’t hold up if capital is gaining due to a new technology that makes capital cheaper...

Afternoon Must-Read: Carter Price: Why Should Policymakers Care About Economic Inequality?

If you did not see this when it came whizzing by, go take a look:

Carter Price: Why Should Policymakers Care About Economic Inequality?: "It was long assumed [not just that] economic growth led to less economic inequality...

...but also that any economic policy efforts to alleviate inequality would necessarily slow economic growth. These views, however, were formed in an era before there was sufficient data to truly test this view.... In an early survey... Roland Benabou at Princeton University in 1996 found that the vast majority of studies said high and rising inequality harmed economic growth.... Sarah Voitchovsky... find[s]... substantial disagreement about the relationship between inequality and growth.... Recent work by... Andrew Berg, Jonathan Ostry, and Charalombos Tsangaridis... Roy van der Weide... and Branko Milanovic of the City University of New York have robustly found a negative relationship between economic inequality for developed countries and within the United States.... Other studies find that a highly skewed distribution of income and wealth depresses consumption... leading to unsustainably excessive borrowing..."

Afternoon Must-Read: Jon Cunliffe: Bankers Earn Too Much, Reducing Returns to Investors

Paul Hannon: BOE’s Cunliffe Says Bankers Earn Too Much, Reducing Returns to Investors: "Mr. Cunliffe... noted that bankers continue to be paid very highly...

...relative to the returns they generate for shareholders. ‘Another driver of low returns on assets and equity is the fact that banks’ pay bill has not adjusted to the smaller returns banks are now earning,’ he said. ‘Put simply, shareholders have gone from getting 60 cents for every dollar in pay for staff to getting 25 cents per dollar.... But, given lower levels of leverage, it is unlikely that we will see, or want to see again, the returns on equity that we saw before the crisis. In the new world, pay bills may well have further to adjust.’

Over at Equitable Growth: Very Rough: Exploding Wealth Inequality and Its Rent-Seeking Society Consequences: (Early) Monday Focus for October 27, 2014

Over at Equitable Growth:

Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman: Exploding wealth inequality in the United States: "The share of total income earned by the top 1%...

...less than 10% in the late 1970s but now exceeds 20%.... A large portion of this increase is due to an upsurge in the labor incomes earned by senior company executives and successful entrepreneurs. But... did wealth inequality rise as well?... The answer is a definitive yes.... We use comprehensive data on capital income—such as dividends, interest, rents, and business profits—that is reported on individual income tax returns since 1913. We then capitalize this income so that it matches the amount of wealth recorded in the Federal Reserve’s Flow of Funds.... In this way we obtain annual estimates of U.S. wealth inequality stretching back a century. Wealth inequality, it turns out, has followed a spectacular U-shape evolution over the past 100 years.... How can we explain the growing disparity in American wealth? The answer is that the combination of higher income inequality alongside a growing disparity in the ability to save for most Americans is fueling the explosion in wealth inequality. For the bottom 90 percent of families, real wage gains (after factoring in inflation) were very limited over the past three decades, but for their counterparts in the top 1 percent real wages grew fast. In addition, the saving rate of middle class and lower class families collapsed over the same period while it remained substantial at the top.... If income inequality stays high and if the saving rate of the bottom 90 percent of families remains low then wealth disparity will keep increasing. Ten or twenty years from now, all the gains in wealth democratization achieved during the New Deal and the post-war decades could be lost.... There are a number of specific policy reforms needed to rebuild middle class wealth.... Prudent financial regulation to rein in predatory lending, incentives to help people save... steps to boost the wages of the bottom 90 percent of workers are needed.... One final reform also needs to be on the policymaking agenda: the collection of better data on wealth...


Continue reading "Over at Equitable Growth: Very Rough: Exploding Wealth Inequality and Its Rent-Seeking Society Consequences: (Early) Monday Focus for October 27, 2014" »

Scott Lemieux on Doug Henwood's Assumption of the Late-Stage Christopher Hitchens Role...

Scott Lemieux: In Fairness, There Was Nothing About Drug Running at the Mena Airport: "I am not particularly thrilled about the prospect of a noncompetitive Democratic primary...

...with Hillary Clinton as the presumptive nominee.  An article that explained why and how a candidate could be preferable would be useful.  Alas, Doug Henwood’s Harper‘s cover story is not that article.  Some of the problems are conveyed even in the intro that isn’t behind the paywall:

Continue reading "Scott Lemieux on Doug Henwood's Assumption of the Late-Stage Christopher Hitchens Role..." »

Weekend Should-Read: Jesse Singal Comments on #GamerGate

Jesse Singal: jsingal comments on "Another poorly-researched hit-piece, from the Boston Globe": "Uh huh. That's why at this very moment three of the top six posts on KIA--the subreddit I was explicitly instructed to visit if I wanted to see the real GamerGate...

...are about Wu and Sarkeesian (oh, I'm sorry, LW1 and LW3 [or is Wu 2? I can't keep track]) and social-justice warriors.

So, to recap:

Me: I don't think this is really about corruption as much as it's about discomfort with feminism. After all, a lot of the heat seems to be aimed at small female devs/commentators of a feminist bent.

GamerGaters on Twitter: Not true! So unfair! Go to KIA!

[Goes to KIA. Suspicions appear to be mostly confirmed.]

Continue reading "Weekend Should-Read: Jesse Singal Comments on #GamerGate" »

Battle of Westport 150th Year Anniversary: Live from Swope Park


THE BATTLE OF WESTPORT: 150th Anniversary Exhibition& Reenactment October 23-26, 2014 :: 􏰀6601 Swope Parkway, Kansas City, MO 64132

9 million people living in the Confederacy: 5 million white, 4 million Black.

1.2 million adult white males in the Confederacy. 900,000 served. 75,000 died in battle. 75,000 died of wounds and infections. 150,000 died of disease in camp. 200,000 maimed. 200,000 deserted. 200,000 still with the Stars and Bars at the end.

21 million people living in states that remained loyal to the Union. 2.3 million served--1.9 million white, 400,000 Black (including Blacks from the Confederate states). 90,000 died in battle. 90,000 died of wounds and infections. 180,000 died of disease in camp. 200,000 maimed.

Mobilizing for a total industrial war is a b*tch when (a) your rich have been investing by buying slaves rather than building factories, and (b) nearly half of your population is more likely than not to turn any guns they get against you...

Missouri sent about 140,000 men to the Union, and about 60,000 to the Confederacy...

Over at Equitable Growth: Is There Really a Profits-Investment Disconnect?: (Late) Friday Focus for October 24, 2014

Over at Equitable Growth: I think Paul Krugman gets one wrong--or, at least, I need more convincing before I think he gets this one right, in spite of the extraordinary empirical success of my rules (1) and (2):

The Profits Investment Disconnect NYTimes com

Paul Krugman: The Profits-Investment Disconnect: "Profits are very high... why are companies concluding that they should return cash to stockholders rather than use it to expand their businesses? After all, we normally think of high profits as a signal: a profitable business is one people should be trying to get into. But right now we see a combination of high profits and sluggish investment. What’s going on? One possibility, I guess, is that business are holding back because Obama is looking at them funny. But more seriously, this kind of divergence — in which high profits don’t signal high returns to investment — is what you’d expect if a lot of those profits reflect monopoly power rather than returns on capital. More on this in a while.


Continue reading "Over at Equitable Growth: Is There Really a Profits-Investment Disconnect?: (Late) Friday Focus for October 24, 2014" »