"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister


"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont


"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister


"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Scotland

DeLong tweets
.@cstross (1/2) a vote for “yes” is a vote to abandon the progressives of England to a state where UKIP & Tories command 60% of the vote!” 
.@cstross (2/2) progressive internationalism requires a “no” vote! (Also that Canada agree to its annexation by Merka)…
Ugh Niall Ferguson pushed me towards Yes, but now DeLong has pushed me back towards No.

Obama and education

Want to Fix Obama's Bad Education Policy? Start With These Two New Books: The problem with the Left's embrace of center-Right policies by Richard D. Kahlenberg

What the Chicago mayor's race says about the future of education politics updated by Libby Nelson


economic debate

Influencing the Debate from Outside the Mainstream: Keep it Simple by Dean Baker
Ultimately what killed the Boskin Commission report was the refusal of Richard Gephardt, the leader of the Democrats in the House to go along with the plan.[6] His opposition was key, because Gephardt was the most credible challenger at the time to then Vice-President Al Gore for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2000. There was no better issue that Gephardt could have been given in the Democratic primaries than a cut in Social Security benefits. Gephardt could point to Gore as the person who cut your Social Security benefits, while he was the guy who tried to stop him. 
Without Gephardt’s buy in, Clinton was not about to go forward. It also helped that the stock bubble and faster than projected growth led the deficit to fall much more than had been projected. It is worth noting that in spite of the near unanimity of the leading lights in the economics profession on the existence of a large bias in the CPI, the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not take steps to correct most of the bias identified by the Boskin Commission. The Government Accountability Office surveyed the four surviving members of the Boskin Commission in 2000. (Zvi Grilliches had died the prior year.) In their assessment, more than 0.8 percentage points of the bias they identified in the CPI remained even after BLS had made a series of changes in the index.[7] Yet few economists take account of this bias in their work or in discussions of economics policy.
...
This was a simple way to show the 7.0 percent assumption was nonsense. Either price to earnings ratios would have to rise into the hundreds or it would be necessary to have stories of the whole corporate sector paying out more than their 100 percent of their after-tax profits in dividends. No self-respecting economist wanted to be associated with either of these positions. 
We first posted this challenge on our website, however we were already in the early days of the blogosphere. Many progressive econ bloggers soon picked it up. This led to howls of anguish and outrage by conservatives. Some threw in the towel and acknowledged that it could not be done. Others wanted to change the assumptions so that we had more rapid GDP growth or a shift in income from wages to profits. 
Finally Paul Krugman blasted the test into the national debate with a column in early February.[11] This exposed the fact that the privatizers were essentially just making up numbers. By showing there was no pot of gold in the private accounts, we were able to take the money out of it for typical workers. This drove home the point that there was no real potential for gain with privatization along the lines being proposed, just additional risk. This helped prevent the privatization plan from gaining any momentum. By the spring, most Republican members of Congress were running away from privatization as fast as they could.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Stross on Scotland

Charlie Stross on the Scottish referendum.
In the long term I favour a Europe—indeed, a world—of much smaller states. I don't just favour breaking up the UK; I favour breaking up the United States, India, and China. Break up the Westphalian system. We live today in a world dominated by two types of group entity; the nation-states with defined borders and treaty obligations that emerged after the end of the 30 Years War, and the transnational corporate entities which thrive atop the free trade framework provided by the treaty organizations binding those Westphalian states together.
...
One final note: what about left-internationalism? Isn't nationalism the enemy of the working class? (And to the extent that all of us who aren't in the 0.1% are "working class"—if you have to work to earn a living, you're working class, even if you're a brain surgeon or an accountant—the enemy of all of us?) Well yes: but the kind of nationalism that brought us the Great European War (for the Second World War may best be viewed with the perspective of long-term history as simply a flare-up of the war that began in 1914, after the combatants time out to breed a new generation of cannon-fodder) is pretty much dead. As dead as the Westphalian states that had territorial integrity they could defend, because getting from one to the other still took days or weeks by railway or steam ship, and invading another from the one took days or weeks of marching infantry divisions. Nor is the working "class" still obviously an entity you can point at, with which people share a strong sense of solidarity: where is the solidarity between lawyer and street-sweeper, nursing home care worker and robot designer? Yes, capitalism and the crisis of capitalism is still with us: but the continuing and ongoing recomplication of the world around us makes the traditional movement of masses one of questionable relevance. We need better structures, it's true. But I don't see them emerging from the kind of monolithic, territorially hegemonic state that thinks its place in the world is best secured by building bigger aircraft carriers. Firepower doesn't build external stability, as the past decade in Iraq demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt. We need consensus, and we need a finer granularity of constitutional decision making. Hence smaller nation-states.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Arya Stark talks with Thoros of Myr and Beric Dondarrion

Youtube link, ebedding disabled by request

Scotland and TV



AV Club reviews Outlander: “The Garrison Commander”

AV Club reviews Doctor Who: “Listen”

Capaldi is Scottish.
But “Listen” suggests something even scarier: Lurking underneath that daffy curiosity and sense of adventure that so animated his immediate predecessors is an obsessive need to know everything, to take the unknown and the unknowable and bring it all to heel. As Clara suggests toward the end of this episode, it’s okay for the Doctor to be scared. What’s not okay—and what’s absolutely, captivatingly terrifying in the hands of Capaldi—is that he won’t admit that he’s just afraid for no good reason.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Scotland

Krugman and Wren-Lewis worry about the Euro disaster replicating itself in London.

The radical Left:

"So what, then, are socialist arguments for independence that would meet these requirements? The most obvious is the possibility of breaking up the British imperialist state."
A referendum called while the occupation of Afghanistan was still ongoing, with the Iraqi and Libyan interventions a recent memory, is inseparable from the arguments against these wars and the British state’s subordinate alliance with the American empire. Scottish secession would at the very least make it more difficult for Britain to play this role, if only by reducing its practical importance for the US.
Why Scotland Should Vote Yes by Neil Davidson

I guessed correctly. No Tony Blair poodle. American imperialism isn't great but Chinese or Russian imperialism won't be better and will probably be worse.

Steampunk - The Knick


AV Club reviews The Knick: “They Capture The Heat”


NGDP path level targeting

Level versus Growth Targeting by Scott Sumner
Here’s Lars Christensen:
In fact I am pretty sure that if somebody had told Scott in July 2009 that from now on the Fed will follow a 4% NGDP target starting at the then level of NGDP then Scott would have applauded it. He might have said that he would have preferred a 5% trend rather than a 4% trend, but overall I think Scott would have been very happy to see a 4% NGDP target as official Fed policy. 
Actually I would have been very upset, as indeed I was as soon as I saw what they were doing. I favored a policy of level targeting, which meant returning to the previous trend line. 
Now of course if they had adopted a permanent policy of 4% NGDP targeting, I would have had the satisfaction of knowing that while the policy was inappropriate at the moment, in the long run it would be optimal. Alas, they did not do that. The recent 4% growth in NGDP is not the result of a credible policy regime, and hence won’t be maintained when there is a shock to the economy. 
However I do agree with Lars that the Fed has done much better than the ECB.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

universal basic income

Preferences vs Interests by Chris Dillow

America is running out of jobs. It's time for a universal basic income. by Ryan Cooper



The Replacements

By chance I caught the reunited Replacements playing on Jimmy Fallon's show which was weird.




Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Veronica Mars

Okay, Kristen Bell has gone way up in my book. I saw the Veronica Mars movie on HBO and since then have been watching the TV show. My future dream project is a steampunk The Knick-Outlander mashup about Ada Lovelance, but instead of being exactly like the Outlander heroine she'd be more like the witty, melancholic class warrior of Veronica, a teenage outlook in an adult body. But with computer smarts so a combo Veronica-Cindy "Mac" Macenzie. I'll have to check if that squares with the historical Lovelace.




helicopter drop, Kalecki, and Lenin


To fix the economy, let's print money and mail it to everyone by Dylan Matthews

Interview with Brown political economist Mark Blyth and hedge fund manager Eric Lonergan
Mark Blyth: There was a brilliant piece in 1943 by the Polish economist MichaƂ Kalecki. It was a critique of full employment policy. He said a problem with Keynesian macroeconomics is that if we get away with it, if you have permanently full employment, two things happen. One, job switching becomes costless and employers no longer have the whip hand. There will be a political revolution, employers will find economists who'll say it's unsustainable, and they'd try to overturn it. He wrote that in 1943, and that was basically the neoliberal revolution foretold.
Two, capitalism embodies an ethic that you must earn your crust, and if you create an economy whereby the crust is there without being earned, it's deeply disturbing on some political, ideological, and moral level. The other thing, besides the vested interest of employers in stopping full employment, is the idea that there must just be something wrong with doing this. 
Deep down inside, many people refuse to accept something simple: central banks, in a fiat money system, are just printing. There's no corresponding liability besides the balance sheet convention of listing cash as a liability. There's nothing claimed against anything else like gold. All that matters is the credibility of policy — that the place is reasonably well-run — and that you have the intergenerational ability to tax. If you have both of these things, you're just printing. So instead of printing it, shoving it through the banking system and hoping some of it trickles down after it's blown the stock market up to 15,000, why not just give people the cash?
I agree with Steve that the rich hate inflation not least because it creates uncertainty. (There's also the historical point that the inflationary 70s also saw the nadir of the fortunes of the 1%: this might be just coincidence, but why risk it?) 
This alone creates a bias to tighten. What amplifies this bias is that the rich can tolerate mass unemployment. Nick's parallel with the 1930s is, I think, irrelevant. Back in the 30s, mass unemployment was a threat to the rich because workers could see a plausible alternative to the existing order in communism. Today, by contrast, there are no big feasible alternatives to capitalism and so unemployment is not a political danger - which means it is more tolerable. 
This answers Peter's question: why has the Keynesian coalition vanished from modern politics? It's because it is no longer politically necessary. It was not Keynes who convinced capitalists of the need for full employment but Lenin.
The timeline is a little off. The Soviet Union didn't collapse until the earlier 90s, but basically things turned in the 70s. America destroyed Vietnam in order to save it and Nixon turned the Chinese Communists against the Soviets. Then Reagan and Thatcher came in the 80s as Mitterand's Socialists buckled under pressure from the bond vigilantes.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

12 Years a Slave

Spoiler Alert.

Finally, I saw 12 Years a Slave last night and it was really good. The kidnapped Solomon Northrop finally escapes slavery as he is rescued after getting a letter back to the North describing what happened to him. Then he becomes active in the abolitionist movement. Damn hippy activists.


the rich and unemployment

...
I agree with Steve that the rich hate inflation not least because it creates uncertainty. (There's also the historical point that the inflationary 70s also saw the nadir of the fortunes of the 1%: this might be just coincidence, but why risk it?) 
This alone creates a bias to tighten. What amplifies this bias is that the rich can tolerate mass unemployment. Nick's parallel with the 1930s is, I think, irrelevant. Back in the 30s, mass unemployment was a threat to the rich because workers could see a plausible alternative to the existing order in communism. Today, by contrast, there are no big feasible alternatives to capitalism and so unemployment is not a political danger - which means it is more tolerable. 
This answers Peter's question: why has the Keynesian coalition vanished from modern politics? It's because it is no longer politically necessary. It was not Keynes who convinced capitalists of the need for full employment but Lenin."