Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nice piece on Mankiw's response to his students on Econospeak

Peter Dorman at EconoSpeak makes some good points about Mankiw’s Reply to the Walk-Out. Long story short: Mankiw is respectful, but wrong on some points and unfortunately right on others. Includes link to Mankiw's op-ed.

Monday, November 7, 2011

This about sums it up

Via DeLong: Matthew Yglesias's Theory of the Obama Administration in 2010: Excessive Reliance on the Second Derivative. Long story short: the Obama administration saw that it's intervention had stopped the employment free-fall of and concluded that it would just turn itself around. Wrong. That was the point at which more help was needed to reverse the damage. I would add that the Obama administration also under-estimated the extent of the damage that was already done when they came into office.

Friday, September 9, 2011

American Jobs Act. sigh.

Well, I commented last night on President Obama's speech to Congress on jobs on WGXC, my local radio station. I thought it worth putting down my thoughts on silicon, since I've already done all the thinking about it.

First of all, I thought that the delivery was one of the better than I've heard from President Obama since he took office. It reminded me more of candidate Obama. Maybe that's because this speech, more than the official announcement that he was running for re-election a while back, was the kick-off to his re-election campaign. He had that whole preacher cadence down, punctuating sections of the speech with the phrase "that's why you should pass this bill now." A nice touch, but one that was clearly not directed at the politicians in front of him, many of whom wouldn't support kibble for kittens if it was an Obama proposal.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Listen to me!

I'll be talking about President Obama's jobs speech tonight right after the speech on WGXC, 90.7FM in Columbia and Greene Counties in New York or streaming on line at wgxc.org. I'll be a guest on the Jazz Disturbance radio show hosted by the irrepressible Cheryl K.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Calculated Risk delivers the goods

And in this case the goods are graphs and data sources. Great list. Super blog!

Correcting CNN is really like shooting fish in a barrel

In an article entitled "People in affluent nations may be more depression-prone", Amanda MacMillan quotes Evelyn Bromet as saying:
Moreover, she adds, the richest countries in the world also tend to have the greatest levels of income inequality, which has been linked to higher rates of depression as well as many other chronic diseases.
I'm not qualified to comment on inequality's links to depression, but as far as the first claim? Right in my wheel-house. Consulting the extremely handy UNDP Data explorer (Go play with that data; hours of fun for the whole family!), I quickly produced the following graph (graphs are cool!):
There is no clear relationship between income and inequality. The United States, for example has high income (GDP per capita, in Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) dollars), but medium inequality (until you narrow the field to 'advanced' countries. So long story short, either the SUNY Stonybrook psychologist or the Health.com reporter got it wrong.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Taibbi stumbles close to the truth

In a blog post on Rolling Stone called "Obama Doesn't Want a Progressive Deficit Deal," (go read the whole thing; it's short, I'll wait) Matt Taibbi is both right and wrong in his summary:

I simply don't believe the Democrats would really be worse off with voters if they committed themselves to putting people back to work, policing Wall Street, throwing their weight behind a real public option in health care, making hedge fund managers pay the same tax rates as ordinary people, ending the pointless wars abroad, etc. That they won't do these things because they're afraid of public criticism, and "responding to pressure," is an increasingly transparent lie. This "Please, Br'er Fox, don't throw me into dat dere briar patch" deal isn't going to work for much longer. Just about everybody knows now that they want to go into that briar patch.

I don't think the Democrats would be worse off with most voters either. Some voters will be demagogued no matter what Obama and Congressional Democrats do or don't do. And then there's racism, of course. But the Democrats haven't retreated from bread and butter issues like job creation because they're afraid of "public criticism." They may well be, of course, but they're even more afraid of losing their lifeblood: campaign contributions from Wall Street and the rest of corporate America. That is why Obama and the Democrats enact policies that are pro-rich and pro-business. This is not rocket science.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Irony, Vibe and Erykah Badu

The Angry Black Woman has an interesting post on Erykah Badu's Vibe cover story. ABW clips a great quote from Badu, which I show in a screencap after the cut, along with Vibe's rephrasing of the quote.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rick Wolff on S&P in the Guardian

A familiar voice in the Guardian on S&P's judgment on US debt. He says there are "two sane responses: laughter and a yawn." My favorite is this paragraph:

The first [reasonable reaction to S&P's announcement] is sheer incredulity. S&P is famous for having issued what Senator Carl Levin (chair of the Senate investigations subcommittee) recently called "inflated credit ratings" prompted by "rampant conflicts of interest" in the US financial industry. Senator Levin named this company a "key cause" of the economic crisis. That is polite-speak for having published misleading information about credit risks and/or having shown monumentally poor judgment in assessing such risks. So, we now should take seriously what this utterly compromised company says? What?!

This nicely summarizes my own first thought when I heard that S&P was issuing a warning on U.S. debt. Please.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

In which I pwn Boing Boing. (?)

This post on my beloved BoingBoing irked me:
Philip Greenspun divided the U.S. 2011 federal budget by 100,000,000 and wrote a little parable:

We have a family that is spending $38,200 per year. The family's income is $21,700 per year. The family adds $16,500 in credit card debt every year in order to pay its bills. After a long and difficult debate among family members, keeping in mind that it was not going to be possible to borrow $16,500 every year forever, the parents and children agreed that a $380/year premium cable subscription could be terminated. So now the family will have to borrow only $16,120 per year.

Understanding Congress's solution to the federal deficit problem.

Oy! This is terrible economics.

Understatement of the day, by Mark Thoma

Republicans aren't Exactly Known for Their Willingness to Cooperate:
The news people are telling me that Obama gave a bad speech -- it made Republicans so mad they'll be uncooperative. "Astute observers" are making the same claim.

And they seem to be serious.

Republicans, of course, would never engage in "aggressive partisan attacks," refuse to play unless they get their way, or use other tactics that might poison the well of cooperation.

I'll say.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Chuck Schumer has a letter for me to send to my Congressperson

Here it is:
As an American, I want my representatives in Congress to avoid a government shutdown. That means finding bipartisan compromise.

But bipartisan compromise will not be found in domestic discretionary spending cuts alone.

We need to scour all parts of the budget that contribute to the deficit, not just the parts of the budget that some of us don't like. We need to reset the budget debate to look at the changes we can make that will have the biggest impact on the deficit.

That means looking at things like military spending, agriculture subsidies, and revenue raisers.

Please, don't shut down our government because the debate over the budget got stuck in a rut. Reset it.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Where to begin?

There's so much interesting stuff in this zero hedge post, that you should just go ahead and read the whole thing. I'll wait.

OK! Well, where to begin. The blurb that got me to read the whole article was this one, quoted from the State Department website (click on 'economic'):

Economic conspiracy theories are often based on the false, but popular, idea that powerful individuals are motivated overwhelmingly by their desire for wealth, rather than the wide variety of human motivations we all experience. (This one-dimensional, cartoonish view of human nature is at the heart of Marxist ideology, which once held hundreds of millions under its sway.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Clash between cops and students at University of Puerto Rico

In my Inbox this morning, from Ian Seda-Irizarry:

Keep track on the twitters: #LuchaUPR.
Since yesterday, Professors have announced a strike in support of the students. Nice. And police presence is being maintained throughout the campus. Some news articles:
Global Voices Online
Huffington Post
Washington Post
Monthly Review

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Need sources for Egyptian revolution?

Al Jazeera English, the Guardian and the NY Times all have live blogs (descending order of quality, IMO). Thanks, Xeni Jardin at BoingBoing!

Google unveiled a plan to allow Egyptians to tweet voicemails: Official Google Blog: Some weekend work that will (hopefully) enable more Egyptians to be heard. If you speak Arabic (all of the messages I listened to were in Arabic), search #egypt on twitter (though that will obviously get you lots more than just the voice tweets from Egypt), or go to speak2tweet.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lord Skidelsky looks beyond capitalism

In a post on Project Syndicate, Robert Skidelsky speculates that capitalism might well have had its day, at least in so far as it has provided a level of well-being at which more stuff isn't making people happier. Capitalism:
. . . inspired the American way of life, where money always talks. The end of capitalism means simply the end of the urge to listen to it. People would start to enjoy what they have, instead of always wanting more. One can imagine a society of private wealth holders, whose main objective is to lead good lives, not to turn their wealth into “capital.”
His argument isn't quite that the forces of production have outgrown the relations of production, but that the forces of production have outgrown the actual needs of people in most places.

Housing still looking for the bottom

Calculated Risk reports a new record low in housing completions last year, predicting new record lows for 5+ units for this year as well. This year might mark the bottom of the housing crash.

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