Assorted links

by on January 12, 2012 at 2:24 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Markets in everything, the culture that is France.

2. Brad DeLong on timing and sequencing.

3. Peter Boettke on Five Books.

4. Website for improving health news reporting, and why different weather predictions?; a systematic paper on this topic would be good.

5. Supply of organ donations seems price elastic.

Matt January 12, 2012 at 2:31 pm

Sadly, we can’t just pin that vodka monstrosity on France. There are adds for marshmallow and also whipped cream flavored vodka on the commuter trains (and so other places, I guess) in Philadelphia for some time now. (I assume those are also imitation marshmallow flavor- they are not pushing that they have genuine marshmallow extract or anything.)

Jon Murphy January 12, 2012 at 4:14 pm

That stuff’s good

Brent R January 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm

I walked into a bar in the afternoon to grab a late lunch, and the bartenders were mixing up experimental concoctions with this stuff and all kinds of other chocolate / vanilla / fruit flavored spirits looking for something special. I can easily see some usefulness there.

I tried some. Not a fan of marshmallow, but the whipped cream was pretty tasty.

Jon Murphy January 12, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Try the birthday cake one. Wicked good. But you gotta be very careful. Wicked easy to get drunk off of it, it’s so good.

Jake January 12, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Sadly Mr. Zimmer hasn’t learned how to use the inter-tubes or he’d find that Smirnoff (the brand of vodka owned and produced by the British company Diageo) is the first hit under “marshmallow vodka”.

Just keep a little handy next time you go camping, vodka smores anyone?

Kevin January 13, 2012 at 12:43 am

Pinnacle has been leading the flavored vodka trend, while Smirnoff follows behind them. They will have exclusive rights to the flavor chemicals in their vodkas for a number of years, so Smirnoff’s versions will not taste the same.

Andrew' January 12, 2012 at 2:45 pm

2. I completely agree with him. Obama needs to shape up.

Praveen January 12, 2012 at 2:53 pm

Yeah, that’s definitely an American product using France as an marketing cue a la Grey Goose.

Kevin January 13, 2012 at 12:40 am

Actually, Pinnacle and Grey Goose vodkas come from the same distillery in France; but yes, it is bottled and sold in the U.S.

RG January 12, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Maybe I’m an idiot, but DeLong and Krugman’s constant insistence that they are positively correct and their demeaning, insulting attitude to anyone who disagrees make them look weak and insecure.

Andrew' January 12, 2012 at 3:14 pm

It’s worse than that. When I’m in the mood for the best Keynesian argument I go read one of them (or others) and what I get is them calling people stupid because those people haven’t read all the Keynesian literature recently. If I wanted to read Cochrane I would, and I did, but only because they linked to it, and I found his essay pretty good.

MP January 13, 2012 at 5:30 am

I find that when Krugman add the “wonkish” tag to his posts, they tend to be pretty good. I may or may not buy the conclusions, but at least they make me think. Or, more to the point, they invite thought as they set aside the attitude.

Tom January 13, 2012 at 8:53 am

Agreed. It’s sign he’s switched the brain on to do his analysis.

Alan Gunn January 12, 2012 at 3:10 pm

4. If a forecast calls for good weather and it turns out bad, lots of people will be unhappy with the forecaster. If the prediction is for bad weather and it turns out good, many people will think they got lucky. So forecasters who care about popularity should err on the side of calling for bad weather. It would be interesting to compare Weather Channel predictions to those made by people working for the airlines and the military, where accuracy should matter more.

boris January 12, 2012 at 3:11 pm

It is Tyler who comes across as the adult in that debate. One sees often this conviction and tendency towards us-vs-them thought in conversation with religious ideologues. Just please continue to stay above the fray despite screeds like this, your audience will appreciate it.

mw January 12, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Perhaps the goal isn’t (and shouldn’t be) to ‘look like an adult,’ but instead to do everything you can, regardless of how shrill, to leverage your influence to help the millions of Americans who are suffering. Perhaps they don’t view maintaining a audience of civilized, hyper educated thinkers as being the most intrinsically valuable use of their limited intellectual authority in public debates.

FYI January 12, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Ok, I will ask the same question I asked a few posts ago: Who are Krugman, DeLong and all the crying babies helping? Do you think these guys are influencing Obama policy? Sure doesn’t look like it! Are they bringing more people to believe on their theories? I really don’t think so.

Rahul January 12, 2012 at 5:49 pm

mw does have a point. Who will the masses listen to? Sedate Tyler or loud Krugman? Krugman has more of a chance to influence voters and hopefully hence policy.

Yancey Ward January 12, 2012 at 7:13 pm

The masses don’t listen to Krugman, DeLong, or Cowen. They also don’t listen to Sumner, Cochrane, or others. The circles influenced are very small, consist of politicians most importantly, and even they don’t really listen too intently. This is probably a good thing.

NAME REDACTED January 12, 2012 at 9:03 pm

Lots of people listen to Krugman. He has done more to raise the status of “naive Keynesianism” than really anyone around.

Ricardo January 12, 2012 at 9:48 pm

To the extent political strategists ever read Krugman, he might gain some traction. In January 2009, Krugman warned that the stimulus was too small to make much of a dent in unemployment and that by pursuing such a stimulus package, Obama was setting himself up for humiliation in which Obama’s opponents would crow in a few years about how stimulus doesn’t work and Obama is just a big-spending liberal, etc.

I’d say Krugman nailed it on that point while Obama’s political advisers really dropped the ball. Maybe that realization will get some people paying more attention.

FYI January 13, 2012 at 6:44 am

Ricardo,
Krugman did cry about the size of the stimulus. He also cried about Obamacare. And the bank bailout. The point is that Krugman so far has influenced very little anything that Obama has done. Mostly because Krugman is way left of Obama but that is not even the point here. The point is that what people hate about krugman is not just the “what” but the “how”. His excuse is that being crass, obnoxious and belligerent is necessary in order to “be heard”. Again I ask: heard by whom?

My take is this krugman being himself. He gave up on the influencing game when he went from economist to pundit. No one likes to admit it but the guy is what he is: just an ass.

Cliff January 12, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Unfortunately, behaving like a child does not help you to leverage your influence

Rahul January 12, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Glenn Beck? Michael Moore?

anon January 12, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Q.E.D.

Cliff January 12, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Are those people considered influential?

Rahul January 13, 2012 at 12:00 am

@Cliff

Glenn Beck: 2,210,000 viewership (2010)
Fahrenheit 9/11: $220 million sales.

Yes, I’d say they were both influential.

tomcollins January 13, 2012 at 6:54 am

Beck and Moore sing to their respective choirs. Influence implies actually changing someone’s mind once in a while.

boris January 13, 2012 at 1:44 am

Emotion defrays logic. Not at all do I doubt the strength of feeling in the child that kicks and screams, less inclined as I am to be persuaded by such a display of behavior, warranted as it might be. No, the goal is not maturity, it is truth, which is difficult enough to grasp in absence of clamorous expression.

Chuck Rudd January 12, 2012 at 4:03 pm

DeLong and Co. make you wonder how it is those to the right-of-center who are viewed in the main as the bullies and malcontents.

mw January 12, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Toxic: equating ad hominem argument-free attacks, with point-by-point logical and historical refutations because the latter happen to sound too aggressive for your sensitive ears.

Cliff January 12, 2012 at 4:19 pm

If only

dan1111 January 13, 2012 at 4:15 am

mw, go and read the DeLong piece again. Here are some of his points:

-He claims that only the left is serious about grappling with the issues and solving the financial crisis.
-He smears the entire right as “a bunch of lazy idealogues…talking !@#$ and trash.”
-He acts as if Tyler’s specific complaint about Krugman into an indictment of the entire left, claims Tyler is “concern-trolling”, and claims Tyler has no right to make this point unless he first advocates the left’s position on the economic crisis.
-He assumes that cowardice is the reason people have changed their position right to health care reform and environmental policy.

These sound like ad hominem argument-free attacks to me.

NAME REDACTED January 12, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Because people on the left /want/ to believe that those on the economic right are evil.

question the question January 13, 2012 at 12:28 am

No, we don’t want to at all. We’re forced to.

From trickle-down economics to the Bush tax cuts for the already disgustingly rich, it’s sort of obvious. If you’re not too busy talking your own book, I mean.

RG January 13, 2012 at 8:02 am

Tax rates for the middle and lower classes are at historic lows, mostly because of the Bush tax cuts. Why is this consistently left out?

Your use of “disgustingly” to describe the rich, is telling.

What we’re all still waiting for is some irrefutable proof that taxing the rich or some stimulus model will all the sudden improve the lot of the poor.

Andre January 13, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Were the Clinton years not proof enough of that?

Ryan January 12, 2012 at 4:30 pm

“It is in determining the volume, not the direction, of actual employment that the existing system has broken down…”

If that’s the case, then helicopter drops will do just fine.

Slocum January 12, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Start by saying things like: Yes, right now it looks like financial markets are telling us that the United States–and Germany, and Japan, and Britain, and other credit-worthy sovereigns–have enormous amounts of unused debt and risk-bearing capacity. Right now there is a strong case for experiments to try to use that capacity to rebalance aggregate demand and supply–through more aggressive unconventional monetary policy, through banking and financial market policy, through fiscal policy. Such policies will run into problems of implementation, of sustainability, of public choice, and of appropriate unwinding strategies that will limit how far we can extend expansionary policies. But right now the position of the Right and the Center–the position that we need immediate contractionary action now before the bond market vigilantes come to kill us all–is simply wrong as a matter of evidence and as a matter of theory.

But the rate at which we borrow right now is not the rate we’ll be carrying and paying off the accumulated debt after it is rolled over and over again. Our rates are bargain basement right now because we’re the least worst of a lot of bad options — it’s crazy to see those rates as a big vote of confidence in our 100-percent-of-GDP-and-rapidly-expanding-without-bound deficit. Looking at those charts of the U.S. debt doesn’t improve my ‘animal spirits’ — does it improve yours? We’re about to go racing past the previous WWII record — but there’s no massive war that’s about to end. After 1945 we had a young population (and an imminent baby boom), minimal entitlement commitments, and economic rivals that had just bombed each other into rubble — none of which apply now. There is just no reason to think we’re going to experience anything like a repeat of the post WWII boom that would enable us to pay down our massive debt.

Government has a hard time spending money wisely and efficiently without all kinds of rent-seeking in normal times, but when the goal is to shovel free borrowed money it out the door as fast as possible to stimulate! stimulate! stimulate! You can forget about it — you’re talking about a once-in-a-lifetime rent-seeking feeding-frenzy.

NAME REDACTED January 12, 2012 at 9:23 pm

exactly! right now is the time to refinance, not the time to load up on more debt.

question the question January 13, 2012 at 12:30 am

Fully agree with that.

anonymous... January 12, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Doughty tag-team lawyer Brad DeLong wades in… concern-trollbusting is not a dinner party!

Ricardo January 12, 2012 at 10:00 pm

Sidney Hook once said, “Before impugning an opponent’s motives, even when they legitimately may be impugned, answer his arguments.”

It seems to me that DeLong answered Cochrane’s argument by quoting from a primary source in the form of Keynes’ writing. He has answered Cochrane’s other arguments before similarly.

Some people here, however, are committing the fallacy of implying that since DeLong said mean things about Cochrane that must mean he has not answered their arguments. On the contrary he has. The critics here continue to insist that since DeLong says mean things about people on the internet that no one will listen to him.

Indeed, everyone is so busy not listening to Krugman and DeLong that their posts get linked to regularly across the blogosphere, spark debates in the comments section here and in many other places, and sometimes Krugman appears as a talking head on national TV.

Jim January 12, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Good point. I am really surprised by Cochrane. . I noticed he has made a “New Year’s Resolution” to not blog about Krugman. No doubt he otherwise would set the record straight

anonymous... January 12, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Being annoying will get you talked about; it won’t get you listened to.

A polarizing and abrasive style won’t persuade your opponents, who will just dig in their heels. Thus you reduce yourself to the role of a propagandist preaching mostly to the already converted, rallying the troops. You usually end up making yourself the focus of attention, rather than your ideas. All these things make you less influential, not more.

Ricardo January 13, 2012 at 12:36 am

Anonymous, I see two dubious propositions buried in your response.

First, I find John Cochrane to be rather obnoxious and condescending. Take, this article, for instance. He says, for instance, “Stimulus has all the telltale signs of bad, crackpot ideas” and if you really believe Keynesian Stimulus, you think Bernie Medoff is a hero. Seriously. He took money from people who were saving it, and gave it to people who were going to consume it. In return he gave the savers worthless promises that look a lot like government debt.”

His piece is also very tendentious in his claim that Keynes is discredited because classical Keynes-Hicks analysis is not taught in graduate programs anymore (do biology Ph.D.s still read Darwin or do physics Ph.D.s still read Newton?) and in his claim that modern Keynesian analysis is not grounded in theory. Falsehoods combined with condescension make for an obnoxious contribution to intellectual discourse. Yet Cochrane certainly gets listened to as I think Krugman and DeLong do as well.

The second problem with your analysis is that it artificially divides dialogue into two sides and supposes that the goal of debate should be to persuade opponents. In the real world, though, most voters are not paying much attention in the first place. One goal of academics should be to get more people to simply pay attention in the first place and I suspect that at least Krugman has done so with his TV appearances, his book and his platform in the NYT in addition to his blog. Even among those who are paying attention, though, many are non-committed and don’t know what to make of the cacophony of debate and the fact that there are credentialed experts on both sides who disagree. The goal is to convince those independent or non-committed people that your views are the correct ones.

One’s success at convincing ideological opponents is a very poor measure of persuasive ability. Indeed, it’s probably an almost impossible hurdle to clear in most cases as ideologues are unlikely to be persuaded by evidence or reason. However, since most people are not ideologues, there is plenty of room for persuasion.

dan1111 January 13, 2012 at 4:18 am

DeLong did answer Cochrane’s arguments. However, he then went on to slam the entire right without argument.

Ricardo January 13, 2012 at 4:48 am

What DeLong says is “One consists of a lot of people trying to grapple with a confused, uncertain, and near-desperate situation (and advocating policies like housing finance reorganization, nominal GDP targeting, expansionary fiscal policy, etc.). The other consists of a bunch of rather lazy ideologues…”

In your other comment and in this one, you seek to interpret this as saying the “lazy ideologues” are “the entire right.” This is clearly false, though. For instance, Scott Sumner, Greg Mankiw, David Frum, and many others either embrace the things DeLong lists or else clearly embrace some version of Keynesianism yet none could be said to be on “the left” and some self-identify as on the right instead. DeLong also invokes arguments from the late Milton Friedman about how we should understand the current situation — that’s certainly not the action of someone seeking to “slam” or “smear” “the entire right.”

dan1111 January 13, 2012 at 5:07 am

It is hard not to see his comments as applying to the entire right. A bit before what I quoted, he said “The sheer depths of the ignorance–the failure to have done and to do their most basic homework–that we have faced from the Right over the past four years has been literally indescribable.” He also rejects Tyler’s call for Krugman to engage the opposite side of the argument, on the basis that the opposite side is unserious and talking garbage. And when he asks Tyler et. al. to “help us wash out the !@#$ and clean up the trash”, what does that look like? They have to declare that “the position of the center and right…is simply wrong.”

I am sure that this post is not the sum total of DeLong’s thinking. Perhaps elsewhere he is more nuanced and generous toward his opponents. However, I was responding to people who claimed that this post is a good argument. I don’t think that is true, and I stand by my description of it.

Ricardo January 13, 2012 at 7:29 am

I just see his description of certain right-wing commentators as “lazy ideologues” as an if-the-shoe-fits-wear-it comment. John Cochrane is presented as an example of such a phenomenon and the first part of the post backs up this description. I read through most of the underlying Cochrane piece and found it largely incoherent and poorly argued.

The real point is that for a debate or discussion to be meaningful, there have to be certain ground rules. It is really not the case that every argument or every person is entitled to equal respect in a debate and people like Cochrane are writing pieces well below the level expected of someone who is a professor at one of the world’s great research universities. It is not wrong to point this out or to point out that Cochrane would be wasting other people’s time if they had to respond to every op-ed of his given his sometimes elementary errors and fallacies.

dan1111 January 13, 2012 at 9:39 am

I 100% agree with the point you are making. I just don’t think DeLong said that.

Seth C January 12, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Marshmallows are barely even known in France. (You might occasionally see “guimauves” at a specialty shop, but not in an ordinary grocery store.) That said, I want to pour this stuff over graham crackers and chocolate, and light it on fire.

The Original Frank January 12, 2012 at 11:26 pm

And I’ve seen chocolate wine in wine shops. Like some macro, really.

Dave Hansen January 12, 2012 at 11:34 pm

2. A major problem with this back and forth about Keynes is that it stems from an unachievable pursuit–namely, attempting to create one, coherent ideology from the life work of a single person. Keynes’ ideas were evolving over his lifespan. I’m fine with theories and approaches being labeled as “Keynesian” or “New Keynesian.” We need names for things. Ideally, the things named after people should reflect an idea propagated by them. But we shouldn’t expect that everything that Keynes ever wrote, said, or did should line up with or be used as evidence for or against the thing that is eventually named after him. It’s silly–and I’m saying that to people on both sides of the Keynesian debate.

And one other observation: Brad really comes off sounding like a jerk. I’m sure he’s a great individual, a fine teacher and mentor. But he needs to take a course or two in online etiquette. Does anyone know if such classes are offered?

Ricardo January 13, 2012 at 1:45 am

Can you point to an example of this phenomenon on the pro-Keynes side? The anti-Keynes side seems to have plenty of this complete with well-poisoning (Keynes’ antisemitic piece he wrote when he was 17 or his sexual predilections), arguments about how Keynes wasn’t really in favor of the things Keynesians argue for today and other irrelevant distractions.

But on the pro-Keynes side, Christina Romer once said she was annoyed at being labeled a Keynesian in the first place because it implies some partisan attachment to the writings of Keynes rather than to the empirical record. As far as I can tell, Romer’s sentiment is common even if it is not voiced as explicitly. To the extent people quote Keynes (or Adam Smith or any other famous economist), they do so because that figure phrased a particular argument in a compelling way or to show that some of the concerns and issues we confront today are also ones that smart people were debating a long time ago and some of their insights are still valuable today. Some economists try to argue in a historical vacuum or with a philistine disregard for the experience of different countries and different times — quoting the classics helps correct this tendency.

Dave Hansen January 13, 2012 at 10:15 am

Isn’t Brad’s long quote from Keynes an example of this? Yes, Cochrane is off by making the blanket statement that Keynes never thought of _______ (fill in the blank). Surely, Keynes thought of these things. He thought of a lot of things and thought about them in more intelligent ways than most economists. So yes, the quote that Brad posted shows that Keynes thought about individual incentives and Cochrane was wrong to say that he didn’t. So maybe Cochrane effed Brad on, but Brad is doing exactly what I am talking about. The quote doesn’t mean that Keynesian theories properly account for individual incentives and the importance of the price mechanism.

Navin Kumar January 13, 2012 at 8:04 am

On a wonkish note, Tyler Cowen (Hat tip) off-the-cuff mentions that this means that the supply of organs is elastic i.e highly responsive to price. Actually, given that the price went up by effectively infinite times what it was (zero) while supply went up by only (!) 64%, it appears that supply is actually pretty inelastic, at least near the base price of zero, in Isreal and without international trade. This is not a bad thing: it means that if we legalize organ donations, the price will have to be quite high in order to clear the market – which means the benefits of legalization are quite substantial for “suppliers”.

Bill Stepp January 13, 2012 at 8:49 am

Krugman forfeited the right to be called an economist when he compared Solyndra to Pets.com.
As for BD, he (following Maynard K) doesn’t understand that G spending is directed toward what politicians and planners want, which is necessarily different from what consumers demand. Rothbard was right when he said that G is really waste C, and I’m not just talking about $600 toilet seats, $16 donuts, bridges to nowhere, and military bases promoting mass murder, international criminal activity, and whatever else the Welfare-Warfare entity @ Washington is cooking up.

Sergey Kurdakov January 14, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Read Boettke with pleasure

really it is only in simple mechanics the chaos can occurs, in economy – everything goes like on rails if only people are free.

Essentially, Mises is great, because he did not bother to read well known fact of his day, that formal logic does not lead to correct conclusions http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924029149701 (public domain book ), thus he invented a wonderful system, which ‘akin geometry’ and based on ‘true full facts’ so it is ‘true’ ( oh wait and what that linked book is about?).

Of cause it is not possible to make decisions without markets even to build pyramids ( again oh wait ) ( btw more in the works like http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.63.9404&rep=rep1&type=pdf )

I could continue, but would stop now. Just made point that the reading was really a pleasure.

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