Assorted links

by on January 30, 2012 at 12:23 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Roger Scruton on his farm.

2. Is this what (American) austerity looks like?, and drug tests for legislators.

3. Two-hour Star Wars remix, not for everyone.  For anyone?

4. Think of this as a “poem” about libertarians.  Funny.

5. Why Spain and Portugal are in big trouble.

6. The new Valerie Ramey paper on fiscal stimulus.

Brian January 30, 2012 at 12:55 pm

That American Austerity graph is quite entertaining. Funny, because Krugman can use FRED to show the exact opposite.

in fact, this is from PK op-ed yesterday:

“Which is not to say that all is well with U.S. policy. True, the federal government has avoided all-out austerity. But state and local governments, which must run more or less balanced budgets, have slashed spending and employment as federal aid runs out — and this has been a major drag on the overall economy. Without those spending cuts, we might already have been on the road to self-sustaining growth; as it is, recovery still hangs in the balance.”

here’s the whole piece.

we need an independent “econo-fact” that wins pulitzers, like politifact – as imperfect as it is. MR is usually the closest thing to such a referee.

Merijn KNibbe January 31, 2012 at 3:55 am

There is something like “total expenditure”. We actually estimate this as a matter of routine. Total expenditure is, of course, a nominal variable. Shown in the ‘American Austerity Graph” are nominal expenditures of the government. These have to be compared with other nominal variables. Government expenditure is part of total expenditure. Even when nominal government expenditure increase these expenditures can decrease as part of total expenditure.

Krugman shows ‘real’ variables, i.e. variables deflated with a price index. It’s very well possible that a nominal variable increases while a ‘real’ variable decreases, which seems to be the case in this instance. This isn’t an econo-fact matter, this is a matter of economic statistics (described by Krugman as ‘a peculiar boring kind of science fiction’).

The scientific question, however, is if private expenditure by definition increases when government expenditure decreases. Of course it doesn’t. Sometimes it does (USA post WW II). Sometimes it doesn’t (Greece and Spain, at the moment). But even if it does increase there is, despite economic models which assume a rational, all knowing sector households, no reason why it should increase to the point where everybody has a job. Tellingly, these models do not encompass ‘unemployment’… (read the chief economist of the ECB, Frank Smets, about this).

Claudia January 30, 2012 at 12:56 pm

1) delightful article…my favorite quote in the wine section: “Like every form of knowledge, it should be fully digested to become part of a gracious personality.”

dearieme January 30, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Ol’ Rog Scruton had a farm
And from that farm he chase the fox

dearieme January 30, 2012 at 1:12 pm

They let Iberia into the EU to help cement democracy. Did they let ‘em into the Eurozone to undermine it?

Yancey Ward January 30, 2012 at 1:16 pm

I wish they would remake The Phantom Menace. It would be an improvement.

CBBB January 30, 2012 at 2:30 pm

Maybe they would make it worse

Yancey Ward January 31, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Literally impossible.

JWatts February 1, 2012 at 1:05 am

“Literally impossible.”

Battlefield Earth say’s you are wrong ;)

joshua January 30, 2012 at 1:30 pm

3. My wife and I made it through the whole thing in only two sittings, which was far fewer than I expected. It’s about 40% lazy live-action fluff from untalented Star Wars enthusiasts, about 10% brilliantly clever live-action recreations and spoofs from talented Star Wars enthusiasts, and about 50% clever animations spread across every imaginable kind of animation. Very interesting to see how technology has advanced so much in 35 years that some elements of Star Wars can be almost perfectly reimagined with virtually no budget, while also seeing how some elements still painfully require the scale of a film studio.

Ecksoh Aitchteeaitch January 30, 2012 at 1:30 pm

scruton seems like a huge tool, unsurprising

tkehler January 30, 2012 at 8:55 pm

Why? Because he lives on a farm? Because he has written 20+ books, a novel and an opera? Because he hates modernist architecture? Because he’s written long books on the aesthetics of music? Because he has an Arnoldian view of literary and aesthetic value? Because he dislikes French postmodernist philosophers? Because he helped the Czechoslovak democrats behind the Iron Curtain?

Finally, is he irritating to you because he can buy, and has the discerning palate to enjoy, far better wines than you can?

maguro January 30, 2012 at 10:09 pm

Is he a Man U supporter? That could be it.

tkehler January 30, 2012 at 10:25 pm

I think Scruton has more good sense than that!

Bill Frecci January 30, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Why does Tyler use two spaces between sentences instead of one? Did he learn to type on a typewriter, is it an aesthetic preference, or is there some other reason?

Finch January 30, 2012 at 2:16 pm

People vary in their aesthetic preference. I’m under the impression expert opinion favors one space, but I find two spaces considerably more readable. I think the expert opinion mostly comes down to “With modern typefaces, font designers have already thought about this for you. Respect their preference for little separation between sentences.”

Curt F. January 30, 2012 at 3:18 pm

I also prefer two spaces, even for reading. (You can attribute my preference for typing two spaces between sentences to how I learned to type.) If modern typographers have already thought about this for me, I wish would they do a better job.

Finch January 30, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Here’s an example article expressing disdain for us two-spacers:

Neo January 30, 2012 at 5:59 pm

Maybe traumatic freudian reasons – My boss at my first job would go ape shit if I didn’t use double spaces – my job involves writing long documents. Now I go ape shit if my minions don’t use double spaces. It’s vulgar to use a single space – a clear sign of advanced mental dementia.

Urstoff January 30, 2012 at 7:01 pm

This is a perfect exemplar of a Slate article, and that’s why I haven’t read Slate for years.

Finch January 30, 2012 at 9:13 pm

I think you make an excellent point, Urstoff.

Dan Weber January 30, 2012 at 6:03 pm

I thought web pages shoved all whitespace into a single blank. Is there some CSS setting I missed that makes each space be its own, er, space?

Ryan January 30, 2012 at 4:26 pm

He does not want to be labeled as a French spacer.

mark January 30, 2012 at 2:27 pm

Valerie Ramey writes:
“I find that in most cases private spending falls significantly in response to an increase in government spending. These results imply that the average GDP multiplier lies below unity.”

So do people keep calling it a “multiplier”? A multiplier less than 1 is more accurately called a divisor. Can we start calling it a divisor?

Wonks Anonymous January 30, 2012 at 6:21 pm

If it was a divisor, you would have to take the inverse of the current value. Also, division has problems with zeroes. You are thinking too concretely about what the name suggests rather than abstractly like a mathematician. And economists are all people who wish they were mathematicians/physicists.

Rahul January 31, 2012 at 12:52 am

I think the physicists rather call them a factor or a coefficient. I’ve never heard “multiplier” used in the hard sciences.

maguro January 30, 2012 at 7:47 pm

You can’t multiply by less than 1, really?

CBBB January 30, 2012 at 2:28 pm

#3 Not for ANYONE

doctorpat January 30, 2012 at 10:10 pm

Not for anyone who doesn’t enjoy watching people do something fun.

The Original D January 30, 2012 at 3:26 pm

I wanna know how that austerity chart looks when it includes federal revenues.

GiT January 30, 2012 at 10:42 pm
Noah Smith January 30, 2012 at 4:36 pm



spencer January 30, 2012 at 4:51 pm

On American austerity, how often do you use nominal expenditures to show that real growth and employment are growing?

After all 1949 and 2009 were the only post WW II years when nominal GDP fell.
So are those the only two recessions the US experienced since WW II?

Cliff January 31, 2012 at 12:08 am

Inflation was pretty low, wasn’t it

JETHRO January 30, 2012 at 8:17 pm

One should compare Ramey’s paper with Romer’s speech in which she cites several new papers (by others) that take identification seriously and find multipliers larger than 1.

Merijn KNibbe January 31, 2012 at 3:36 am

I’ve read the Valery Ramey paper. It’s completely consistent (!) with Keynesianism as it was taught to me: when you increase government spending in periods like WWII and the Korean Wat, it crowds out private spending. My teachers made it explicit that the idea of a multiplier larger than one only applied in situations of underconsumption. That’s a core element of Keynesian theory.

One methodological remark: I was very enthousiastic about her graph on labor participation in WWII, GREAT! The about 6% drop in participation rates in 1945/1946 with an only 1 or 2% increase in (extremely low) unemployment lays to rest these rantings about expansionary austerity post WW II, surely when we (what Valery might also consider) take into account that the average number of hourse worked per person also decreased with about 400 a year, or about 15 – 20%, in these years.

Low unemployment despite a massive, massive decrease in government spending post WWII was due to the ‘backward bending supply curve of labor’, a completely market driven phenomenon by the way. And not by the confidence fairy. Though it’s indeed amazing how fast USA companies were able to cranck out huge amounts of refrigerators and the like, which meant that the upward shift in the consumption functioin, caused by pent up savings, increasing consumer credit (yes, already in the forties!) and confidence inspired by new deal institutions did not lead to inflation but to an increase of ‘peace production’. Additional consumer demand and private investements which, after a pause of 16 years, finally started to increase again were however not enough to make up for the decrease of government spending.

But again, Valery, thanks for the graph! Real science!

londenio January 31, 2012 at 4:16 am

Think of the Star Wars crowdsourced movie remix as a kind of translation. The image and sound of the movies are being translated into the language of amateur animation and acting. Some of the scenes have changed (except the timing) while keeping the symbolic elements and well known moments . The individual clips are filled with ingenuity and imagination and the whole product is just genius. For everyone, it isn’t.

David Robinson January 31, 2012 at 9:57 am

“I encrypt my cat photos with three-stage DES”

Every libertarian knows that DES is pretty insecure.

Rob Cafaro January 31, 2012 at 10:16 am

Favorite line from these links, by far:

“Mises wrote a thousand-page book on that. I can’t believe you haven’t read it…” Haha.

Kalim Kassam January 31, 2012 at 10:52 pm

Re #4:

*Shit Ron Paul Supporters Say*

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: