Introducing Partha Dasgupta: Economics: A Very Short Introduction

479 Social Capital and Natural Resources Sir Partha Dasgupta YouTube

Introducing Partha Dasgupta: Economics: A Very Short Introduction

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Back in 1800, nearly the entire world lived in dire poverty—what we today see as the dire poverty line of $1.90 a day, a level at which you are spending more than half your income on bare calories and essential nutrients, the minimum of heat and shelter, and the minimum of clothing. Below that line, certainly your health and perhaps your life is impacted: women become too skinny to reliably ovulate, and children become too malnourished to have healthy and effective immune systems. Back in 1800, there were only a few economies where the median household had a standard of living of more than $3 a day: Germany, France, Austria, Denmark, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, the U.K., the U.S., and that was it.

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Donald Trump: That is why we need strong, sound, and steady [pause] leadership, at the United States Federal Reserve. I have nominated Jay to be our next Federal Chairman. [pause] And so important, because he will provide exactly that type of leadership. He's strong. He's committed. He's smart. And, if he is confirmed by the Senate, Jay will put his considerable talents to work, leading our nation's independent central bank. Jay has learned the respect and admiration of his colleagues for his hard work, expertise, and judgment. Based on his record, I am confident Jay has the wisdom and leadership to guide our economy through any challenges that our great economy may face...

Donald Trump: Our Economy is very strong, despite the horrendous lack of vision by Jay Powell and the Fed, but the Democrats are trying to “will” the Economy to be bad for purposes of the 2020 Election. Very Selfish! Our dollar is so strong that it is sadly hurting other parts of the world. The Fed Rate, over a fairly short period of time, should be reduced by at least 100 basis points, with perhaps some quantitative easing as well. If that happened, our Economy would be even better, and the World Economy would be greatly and quickly enhanced-good for everyone!..

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Guido Alfani and Cormac Ó Gráda: The Timing and Causes of Famines in Europe: "Studies of modern famines tend to consider them ‘man-made’, resulting from war or from adverse shocks to food entitlements. This view has increasingly been applied to historical famines, against the earlier Malthusian orthodoxy. We use a novel dataset and temporal scan analysis to identify periods when famines were particularly frequent in Europe, from ca. 1250 to the present. Up to 1710, the main clusters of famines occurred in periods of historically high population density. This relationship disappears after 1710. We analyse in detail the famines in England, France and Italy during 1300–1850, and find strong evidence that before 1710 high population pressure on resources was by far the most frequent remote cause of famines (while the proximate cause was almost invariably meteorological). We conclude, in contrast with the currently prevailing view, that most preindustrial famines were the result of production, not distribution issues. Only after 1710 did man-made famines become prevalent...

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Project Syndicate: Brad DeLong for PS Say More: "Welcome to Say More, a new weekly newsletter that brings Project Syndicate's renowned contributors closer to readers. Each issue invites a selected contributor to expand on topics covered in their commentaries, delve into new ones, and share recommendations, offering readers exclusive insights into the ideas, interests, and personalities of the world's leading thinkers. This week, Project Syndicate catches up with Brad DeLong...

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I missed this too when it came out three years ago: Chris Blattman: Black Lives Matter, Economic History Edition: "Trevon Logan’s Presidential address to the National Economics Association. Partly he calculates the productivity of his sharecropping ancestors relative to slave holding estates a century before (a persistent question in American economic history). But mainly he makes an argument for doing more qualitative interviews, which seems like an obvious point, except that systematic qualitative work is the exception in economic history (as it is in development economics): 'That richer, fuller picture reveals that the work behind the estimates came to define the way that the Logan children viewed racial relations, human capital, savings, investment, and nearly every aspect of their lives..... We also learn that it is impossible to divorce the work from its social environment, an era in which Jim Crow, segregation, and other elements of overt racial oppression were a fact of life...

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Liveblogging: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Death of Penda

Journey To Normandy Scene 1

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (J.A. Giles and J. Ingram trans.): Death of Penda: "A.D. 655. This year Penda was slain at Wingfield, and thirty royal personages with him, some of whom were kings. One of them was Ethelhere, brother of Anna, king of the East-Angles. The Mercians after this became Christians...

...From the beginning of the world had now elapsed five thousand eight hundred and fifty winters, when Peada, the son of Penda, assumed the government of the Mercians. In his time came together himself and Oswy, brother of King Oswald, and said, that they would rear a minster to the glory of Christ, and the honour of St. Peter. And they did so, and gave it the name of Medhamsted; because there is a well there, called Meadswell. And they began the groundwall, and wrought thereon; after which they committed the work to a monk, whose name was Saxulf. He was very much the friend of God, and him also loved all people. He was nobly born in the world, and rich: he is now much richer with Christ.

But King Peada reigned no while; for he was betrayed by his own queen, in Easter-tide. This year Ithamar, Bishop of Rochester, consecrated Deus-dedit to Canterbury, on the twenty-sixth day of March...

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Tim Duy: Paving The Way To Rate Cuts: "The Fed will cut interest rates at least 25bp in September.... The manufacturing sector is weak.... Still... the slowdown in the sector has yet to match that of 2015-16 nor does it even approach something consistent with a recession. I have said this before, but it should be said again: As manufacturing becomes a smaller portion of the economy, we should expect more instances of manufacturing downturns or even manufacturing recessions being separate from the overall business cycle. In contrast, the much larger consumer sector of the economy continues to power forward. Retail sales sustained the rebound from turn-of-the-year weakness and core sales are again growing at a roughly 5% year-over-year rate.... The general continued strength in spending reflects the solid labor market. In my opinion, job losses need to mount before consumer spending will crumble. Low and steady initial unemployment claims indicate that those job losses are not yet on the horizon...

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Ancient Economies: A Malthusian Model: Markdown Notebook

DRAFT: Ancient Economies: A Malthusian Model : The math for complicating the standard Solow Growth Model with (a) a rate of population growth that depends positively on the excess of spending on necessities above "subsistence" and (b) a level of the efficiency-of-labor that depends inversely on population, as a higher population induces resource scarcity that makes labor less productive. For understanding both the long-term apparent stagnation of living standards between the Neolithic and the Industrial Revolutions, and for understanding the rise and fall of ancient civilizations. Question: How should we add on to the Python class for the Solow Growth Model to turn this into a tool for doing problem sets for Econ 101b (and perhaps 135):

https://nbviewer.jupyter.org/github/braddelong/LS2019/blob/master/2019-08-17-Ancient_Economies.ipynb

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A Competitive Market: Python Class/Notebook

DRAFT: A Competitive Market: A Python class for a competitive market equilibrium with linear supply and demand curves—equilibrium price, equilibrium quantity, producer surplus, consumer surplus, total surplus. Looks for input parameters giving the slopes of the demand and supply curves, plus the maximum willingness-to-pay of the most eager demander and the minimum opportunity cost of the most efficient supplier. Now ready to hand over to others for editing, tightening, and additions.

https://nbviewer.jupyter.org/github/braddelong/LS2019/blob/master/2019-08-10_market.ipynb

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Solow Growth Model: Python Class/Notebook

CANDIDATE: Solow Growth Model Derived and modified from Stachurski-Sargent http://quantecon.org. A Python class for simulations using the Solow Growth Model, with additional code for performing simulations with baseline- and alternative-scenario parameter values. Focuses on the capital-output ratio κ as the key state variable, as it is (a) observable, and (b) with constant growth-model parameter values converges exactly (in continuous time at least) as an exponential. Now ready to hand over to others for tightening and additions:

https://nbviewer.jupyter.org/github/braddelong/LS2019/blob/master/2019-08-08-Sargent-Stachurski.ipynb

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Federal Reserve Bank of New York: Nowcasting Report: Aug 16, 2019: : "The New York Fed Staff Nowcast stands at 1.8% for 2019:Q3. News from this week's data releases increased the nowcast for 2019:Q3 by 0.2 percentage point. Positive surprises from building permits and retail sales were only partially offset by negative surprises from industrial production and capacity utilization...

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August 16, 2019: Weekly Forecasting Update

Daily Treasury Yield Curve Rates

There was little news about real GDP last week: The Federal Reserve Bank of New York nowcast continues to stand at 1.8% for 2019:Q3. The real news was:

  • A change from one week ago: The market continues to lower interest rates at the long end of the yield curve.
  • A change from 1 month ago: The Trump trade war picture becomes increasingly confused and irrational.
  • * **A change from 3 months ago: A no-deal Brexit is now not just a possibility, but more likely than not.
  • A change from 6 months ago: The Federal Reserve has—behind the curve—become convinced that it raised interest rates too much in 2018, and is now likely to cut them.
  • A change from 6 months ago: Trump trade-war tensions are higher.

We saw another twenty-five basis points of market easing at the long end of the yield curve: the 10-Year TIPS yield is now negative. The market has now delivered 170 basis points of easing in the 10-year Treasury window since the end of last October, and 140 basis points to the 30-year bond. On the 30-year bond, you would have made a 30% profit if you bought it last October and sold it today, compared to a 3.5% profit on the S&P Composite over the same period. That is a major, major sentiment shift. That means that a number of people short debt with riskier operations than the S&P Composite are about to face margin calls and rollover difficulties. We will shortly see how solvent the market judges them.

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Worthy Reads at Equitable Growth and Elsewhere... August 16, 2018

Worthy Reads at Equitable Growth...

  1. An excellent piece from Marinescu, Dinan, and Hovenkamp: one of our working papers laying out how the analysis of how antitrust policy should be done given that compensated firms face their counter parties not just in the product but in labor markets. I think this is the most important thing I have seen out of our shop here at Equitable Growth this week*Ioana Marinescu, James G. Dinan, and Herbert Hovenkamp*: Anticompetitive mergers in labor markets: "Increased market concentration in labor markets threatens to facilitate coordinated interaction among employers that could lead to lower output and wage suppression in employment markets...

  2. As Michael Kades writes, “the stakes are much higher than an ideological battle or technical adjustments to a legal regime” here. We need to understand how anti-trust practice affects the degree of monopoly in the United States and Hal monopoly effects equitable growth and societal well being. We do not. I think that attempting to understand these two issues is the most important analytic issue for policy relevant economic research in the United States today: Michael Kades: Why market competition matters to equitable growth: "At first glance, competition in the U.S. economy may seem far afield of the topic of equitable growth.... What could antitrust enforcement have to do with maintaining a healthy economy?...

  3. The analysis of rising inequality and its effects in the United States and elsewhere over the past generation has suffered from a relative downplaying of the role of the family and how income gets earned and then transformed Into well-being. Central to this is the rapidly changing economic role of women in the workforce, but that is not all of it. We need more and better analyses of her public policy needs to shift in the context of changing family structure and rising inequality. Elizabeth Jacobs presents some of our thinking about how Equitable Growth is and will be trying to support this effort: Elizabeth Jacobs: Rethinking 20th century policies to support 21st century families: "...As a raft of research illustrates, economic growth is increasingly concentrating at the top...

  4. Our Kate Bahn Reminds us: Kate Bahn: "This needs to be screamed from the rooftops.... We cannot have a substantive conversation about how tight the labor market is without examining demographic disparities..." ands sends us to Equitable Growth alumnus John Schmitt quoting Janelle Jones at: Laura Maggi: Despite Drop in Black Unemployment, Significant Disparities Remain: "The African-American unemployment rate... low—compared to historic numbers. In July, it was 6.6 percent...

  5. Not to put the pressure on or anything, but I expect very good things from our Equitable Growth grant to: Matthew Staiger: Parental Resources And The Career Choices of Young Workers: "With a specific focus on the impact of parental resources on entrepreneurship and job mobility...

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Liveblogging: The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Conversion of the Middle-Angles

Journey To Normandy Scene 1

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (J.A. Giles and J. Ingram trans.): Conversion of the Middle-Angles: "A.D. 652. This year Kenwal fought at Bradford by the Avon. A.D. 653...

...This year, the Middle-Angles under alderman Peada received the right belief.

A.D. 654. This year King Anna was slain, and Botolph began to build that minster at Icanhoe. This year also died Archbishop Honorius, on the thirtieth of September...

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That's a 2.5% reduction in suicides for a 10% rise in two dimensions of the safety net. That seems to me to be large effect: William H. Dow, Anna Godøy, Christopher A. Lowenstein, and Michael Reic: Can Economic Policies Reduce Deaths of Despair?: "Midlife mortality has risen... largely reflect [ing]increased mortality from alcohol poisoning, drug overdose and suicide.... We leverage state variation in policies over time to estimate difference-in-differences models of drug overdose deaths and suicides, using data on cause-specific mortality rates from 1999-2015.... Higher minimum wages and EITCs significantly reduce non-drug suicides.... Increasing both the minimum wage and the EITC by 10 percent would likely prevent a combined total of around 1230 suicides each year...

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I would say that Martin Wolf grossly understates his point here. It is not just that the case for a sane globalism remains strong. Rather, the case for a sane globalism has never been stronger and grows stronger every day. With each passing day, the world needs more and more powerful international public goods in order to remain healthy and sane, and only globalists have a chance of providing them:

Martin Wolf: The Case for Sane Globalism Remains Strong: "We are now close to eliminating extreme human destitution.... The decline in the proportion of humanity living in absolute poverty, to less than 10 per cent, is a huge achievement. I make no excuses for continuing to support policies and programmes, including trade-oriented development, that helped accomplish this. The notion that it may be necessary to thwart the economic rise of non-western countries, in order to cement western domination, is, in my view, an abomination.... The range of public goods we now need has vastly increased, with the complexity of our economies and societies. For the same reason, ever more of those public goods are global.... That is why the victors of the second world war decided to create effective international institutions. They had experienced unbridled national sovereignty. The outcome had been catastrophic. Nothing since then has rendered global co-operation less essential.... [On] the interface between the global and the national... we have gone too far in some areas and done too little in others.... The globalisation of finance has arguably gone too far.... [But] liberal trade has not been a dominant source of rising inequality within countries. Meanwhile, areas where global co-operation has not gone far enough include business taxation and the environment. The final and perhaps most important of all challenges is containing the natural human tendency to scapegoat foreigners for failures of domestic policy and cleavages among domestic interests.... Blaming ills on foreigners may be a successful diversionary tactic. It is also highly destructive. We must think and act globally. We have no alternative...

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Remember: the Trump-McConnell-Ryan tax cut did absolutely nothing to boost investment in America, and thus has no supply-side positive effects on economic growth. And it is another upward jump in inequality: Greg Leiserson: U.S. Inequality and Recent Tax Changes: "Slides from a presentation by Greg Leiserson for a panel 'U.S. Inequality and Recent Tax Changes' hosted by the Society of Government Economists on Tuesday, February 20, 2018. In the presentation, Leiserson argues that the recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will likely increase disparities in economic well-being, after-tax income, and pre-tax income...

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Paul Krugman (2015): Artificial Unintelligence: "In the early stages of the Lesser Depression, those of us who knew a bit about the macroeconomic debates of the 1930s... felt a sense of despair...

...Everywhere you looked, people who imagined themselves sophisticated and possessed of deep understanding were resurrecting 75-year-old fallacies and presenting them as deep insights. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then.... I feel an even deeper sense of despair.... People are still rolling out those same fallacies, even though in the interim those of us who remembered and understood Keynes/Hicks have been right about most things, and those lecturing us have been wrong about everything. So here’s William Cohan in the Times, declaring that the Fed should “show some spine” and raise rates even though there is no sign of accelerating inflation. His reasoning:

The case for raising rates is straightforward: Like any commodity, the price of borrowing money—interest rates—should be determined by supply and demand, not by manipulation by a market behemoth. Essentially, the clever Q.E. program caused a widespread mispricing of risk, deluding investors into underestimating the risk of various financial assets they were buying...

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An absolute must-read, from Leiserson, McGrew, and Kopparam. It is excellent. I would note that it does not get much into the political economy of wealth taxes—that one goal of them is to persuade the wealthy to distribute their wealth, and thus reduce the amount of control over society that they exercise:

Greg Leiserson, Will McGrew, and Raksha Kopparam: Net Worth Taxes: What They Are and How They Work: "New from @equitablegrowth: “Notably, a business does not pay tax on its assets. Instead, shareholders pay tax on the value of the business.... The revenue potential of a net worth tax in the United States is large, even if applied only to the very wealthiest families. The wealthiest 1 percent of families holds $33 trillion in wealth, and the wealthiest 5 percent holds $57 trillion. The burden of a net worth tax would be highly progressive. The wealthiest 1 percent of families holds about 40 percent of all wealth.... Taxes on wealth—including property taxes, net worth taxes, estate taxes, and capital gains taxes, among others—are ubiquitous in the developed countries that make up the... OECD.... Assets have value because of the income (implicit or explicit) they are expected to generate. As such, taxing wealth through a net worth tax and taxing income from wealth through a tax on investment income can achieve similar ends...

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The labor requirements for this kind of farming were already absurdly low. And one swallow does not make a spring. Nevertheless, the age of intelligent tools draws closer:

Ashley Robinson, Lydia Mulvany, and David Stringer: Robots Take the Wheel as Autonomous Farm Machines Hit Fields: "The first fully autonomous farm equipment is becoming commercially available.... Tractors will drive with no farmer in the cab, and specialized equipment will be able to spray, plant, plow and weed cropland. And it’s all happening well before many analysts had predicted thanks to small startups in Canada and Australia.... Saskatchewan’s Dot Technology Corp. has already sold some so-called power platforms for fully mechanized spring planting. In Australia, SwarmFarm Robotics is leasing weed-killing robots that can also do tasks like mow and spread. The companies say their machines are smaller and smarter than the gigantic machinery they aim to replace. Sam Bradford, a farm manager at Arcturus Downs in Australia’s Queensland.... 'The savings on chemicals is huge, but there’s also savings for the environment from using less chemicals and you’re also getting a better result in the end'...

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I confess I do not see how Tesla is going to survive. BYD or some others are going to dominate battery-making. And there will not be that much both valuable and scarce to an automobile besides an efficient battery in the future we are heading for: *Matthew Campbell and Ying Tian: *: BYD, World’s Biggest Electric Car Maker, Looks Nothing Like Tesla: "BYD, which built the battery in your ’90s cellphone, now produces more EVs than anyone—and it wants to sell them to you, soon: On the floor of a cavernous factory in southern China... a sledlike robot scooted into position.... The robot carried a crucial payload: a battery about the size and shape of a double mattress, wrapped in a gray plastic casing. Suddenly, an accordion lift extended upward from the sled and inserted the battery into the car’s undercarriage. Workers in blue jumpsuits and white cotton gloves moved swiftly to the battery’s edges, carrying rivet guns connected by curling red cables to a supply of compressed air. Once the battery was rattled into place, the accordion retracted, sending its robot host scurrying off in search of fresh cargo...

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We do not really know how we would collect and enforce a net-worth tax—but we did not really know how we would collect and enforce a broad income tax either until Milton Friedman came up with payroll withholding. In some ways the administrative burdens of a net-worth tax will be a lot easier since it is designed to catch only the upper tail: Greg Leiserson, Will McGrew, and Raksha Kopparam: Net worth taxes: What they are and how they work - Equitable Growth: "The wealthiest 1 percent of households owns about 40 percent of all wealth.... Taxes on wealth are a natural policy instrument to address wealth inequality and could raise substantial revenue, while shoring up structural weaknesses in the current income tax system...

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Looking Backwards from This Week at 24, 16, 8, 4, 2, 1, 1/2, and 1/4 Years Ago (August 7-August 13, 2019)

stacks and stacks of books

MUST OF THE MUSTS: J. Bradford De Long and Lawrence H. Summers: Equipment Investment and Economic Growth: "We use disaggregated data from the United Nations International Comparison Project and the Penn World Table to examine the association between different components of investment and economic growth over 1960–85. We find that producers’ machinery and equipment has a very strong association with growth: in our cross section of nations each percent of GDP invested in equipment raises GDP growth rate by 1/3 of a percentage point per year. This is a much stronger association than can be found between any of the other components. We interpret this association as revealing that the marginal product of equipment is about 30 percent per year. The cross nation pattern of equipment prices, quantities, and growth is consistent with the belief that countries with rapid growth have favorable supply conditions for machinery and equipment. The pattern is not consistent with the belief that some third factor both pushes up the rate of growth and increases the demand for machinery and equipment...

 

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Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings... (August 15, 2019)

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  1. Wikipedia: Charlie Dent

  2. Duncan Black: Healthy Country: "I really don't see a way forward which isn't 'no deal Brexit' though no deal Brexit isn't a real thing. It just means 'we didn't bother to solve all the problems we have to start solving piece by piece now'...

  3. Appian: The Macedonian Wars: "Flamininus came into conference with Philip a second time at the Malian gulf.... The Greeks asked the Roman Senate to require Philip to remove from their country the three garrisons which he called 'the fetters of Greece': the one at Chalcis, which threatened the Boeotians, the Euboeans, and the Locrians; the one at Corinth, which closed the door of the Peloponnese; and the third at Demetrias, which lay, as it were, in ambush for the Aetolians and the Magnesians. The Senate asked Philip's ambassadors what the king's views were respecting the garrisons. When they answered that they did not know, the Senate said that Flamininus should decide the question and do what he considered just. So the ambassadors took their departure from Rome. Flamininus and Philip, being unable to come to any agreement, resumed hostilities...

  4. Simon Wren-Lewis: There Is No Mandate for No Deal

  5. Wikipedia: Ferghana horse

  6. Visit Faroe Islands

  7. Wikipedia: War of the Heavenly Horses: "The War of the Heavenly Horses or the Han–Dayuan war was a military conflict fought in 104 BC and 102 BC between the Chinese Han dynasty and Dayuan (in Central Asia, around Uzbekistan, east of Persia). The result was Han victory...

  8. Paul Krugman (1987): Adjustment in the World Economy

  9. Fred Hoyle: Ossian's Ride

  10. Wikipedia: Li Bai: "Li Bai, Li Po, Li Bo, Ri Haku have been all used in the West, but are all written with the same characters. His given name, (白), is romanized by variants such as Po, Bo, Bai, Pai. In Hanyu Pinyin, reflecting modern Mandarin Chinese, the main, colloquial equivalent for this character is Bái; Bó is the literary variant and is commonly used...

  11. Squawk Box: Business, Politics, Investors and Traders: "'Squawk Box' is the ultimate 'pre-market' morning news and talk program, where the biggest names in business and politics tell their most important stories. Anchored by Joe Kernen, Becky Quick and Andrew Ross Sorkin, the show brings Wall Street to Main Street. It's a 'must see' for everyone from the professional trader to the casual investor...

  12. Sidewalk Street Food

  13. The Art of the Lingnan School, 嶺南畫派的繪畫藝術

  14. Steve Jobs *(2007): Introducing The iPhone At MacWorld 2007

  15. Michael Pettis: Real Growth in China is Less than Half of Reported Growth

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New York Times reporters, editors, and owners go extra-easy on Trump, Republicans in general, and other right-wingers because they agree with them and want them in power:

Duncan Black: Because We Agree With Them: "A perfect distillation of 'we must obey critics on the Right, and get VERY VERY MAD AT CRITICS ON THE LEFT.' 'In regard to the debate on how to cover race, some staffers inside The Times agreed wholeheartedly with Baquet's approach. "Using that language is a turn off to some readers," one said. "And there are a lot of people that think The Times is too liberal, and when you start throwing words like that around, people will accuse us of editorializing."'... [That] doesn't make any sense. Journalists who say these things aren't scared of conservatives. They agree with them. Left wing criticism makes them mad because they don't agree with left wing critics. It's that simple. They aren't worried that they're 'editorializing' the other way...

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Benito Cereno: The Untold Truth of the Holy Grail: "After settling into Jerusalem, the Templars protected pilgrims on their way in and out of the city. Over time, the group of knights grew to be a powerful military order for the church. Kings from all around Europe gave the knights land and lordships, so they wound up super rich and bought the island of Cyprus. Though they were valiant fighters known for their bravery, the Templars became just as well known for proto-banking skills. They invented paying by check. That may not sound as exciting as hiding messages in Da Vinci paintings, but it was a pretty big achievement. Pilgrims could give the Templars however much money they'd need in the Holy Land. It would be safer with the group of fearsome knights than a bunch of regular folks walking through the desert. So, the Templars would give the pilgrims a promissory note and make sure all the money would be waiting for them when they got there. They moved enough gold that the Templars became the most powerful bankers in the land. Again, this is probably not the kind of thing that would go in a summer blockbuster, but it's one of the few things we know for sure about the Templars...

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