Assorted links

by on January 22, 2013 at 11:28 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. Russ Roberts speaks with Kevin Kelly.

2. Fuchsia Dunlop has a blog.

3. There is no great stagnation (moisturizing jeans).

4. Scott Sumner explains his views on price inflation.  And here is Arnold Kling on the Greek Phillips Curve.

5. More on whether there is a new Icelandic housing bubble.

6. Goodhart, Baker, and Ashworth on nominal gdp targeting.

7. Error, retraction, second thoughts, translation mistake or what, George Church issues a further statement.

Ray Lopez January 22, 2013 at 11:43 am

@1 – R. Roberts should have written transcripts so we don’t have to sit through his interviews
@2 – Who is this person? They eat ‘hairy crabs’ nuff said
@3 – Just once TC should quit talking his book and mention GRAPHENE. Not mentioned once in this blog (aside from 2x by me)
@4 – Oh gawd. The problem with this guys is what is the ‘natural’ structural rate of unemployment. If you assume a certain number then any policy prescription makes sense. E.g., “I recommend a recent article by Marga Peeter and Ard den Reijer. I may be confused about what I am reading, but it appears to me that the Phillips Curve in Greece shifted adversely over a period of a decade. To put this another way, the natural rate of unemployment in Greece may be quite high.” (the latter author, while the former author may disagree)
@5 – On 1 January 2012 the population of Iceland was 319,575. Any questions? It’s like seeking how Alaska is governed and trying to extrapolate to the USA. Wait–somebody did that, I think a Republican Party vice presidential candidate
@6 – see #4 above. same same
@7 – this blog was responsible for some of those internet rumors.
I just answered all of TC’s points. Ball is back in his court…

Michael January 22, 2013 at 2:42 pm

@@1 – Pretty presumptuous to ask that Roberts should also write up transcripts of his podcasts–he’s nice enough to record them and make them available free of charge already…But, lo! He has provided transcripts! You just need to put in the effort to scroll down on the link already provided to you.

Rich Berger January 22, 2013 at 3:16 pm

So let me guess: none of your comments were high quality taken alone, but you thought you would make it up with quantity.

Regarding 1., I thank (and have thanked) Russ for doing these interviews. I have listened to about a dozen over the last couple of years and have really enjoyed them, even if I disagreed with the subject’s viewpoint.

Ray Lopez January 22, 2013 at 4:37 pm

Thanks for the insult. I don’t mind Roberts content, but his delivery was awful last I heard him–in 2009. Maybe he’s gotten better but it was so bad I actually emailed him to tell him not to hem and haw so much. Maybe he’s gotten better and hats off to him. As for doing it for free, well that’s what state funded academics generally do. It’s good publicity, and there’s something called “publish or perish” in that field.

DocMerlin January 22, 2013 at 7:59 pm

There are transcripts. Just scroll down.

dan1111 January 22, 2013 at 11:54 am

#7 – What he appears to be objecting to is the claim that he actually planned on making neanderthals. Did anyone actually think that? The quotes in the previous post merely suggested that he thinks it might be a good idea.

Mark Thorson January 22, 2013 at 12:48 pm

There is a good business model for it. Neanderthals probably could assemble iPhones, and there wouldn’t be the sort of blowback Apple is receiving from working conditions at Foxconn.

JWatts January 22, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Creating Wooly Mammoths would seem to be far easier than cloning Neanderthals. And Wooly Mammoth steaks would probably be far tastier than Neanderthal steaks.

On the other hand, there’s probably a market for both Mammoth and Neanderthal steaks.

BC January 22, 2013 at 7:18 pm

As much as we might like to slam the tenure system for how it protects professors in economic terms, I think here is one example of why tenure is necessary in terms of academic freedom. One could easily imagine how sensationalized misquotes, or fear of having one’s comments sensationalized, might cause professors to shy away from saying anything controversial in public. I take no position on Church’s cloning comments, but I do want him to comment freely without considering whether those comments might or might not embarrass Harvard. We don’t want to turn professors into PR or Communications managers.

Tenure also provides Harvard with something akin to plausible deniability. If a backlash were to develop against a professor’s controversial comments, the Harvard administration could claim that they have no ability to fire the professor, thus removing the need to debate internally whether they want to offer up the professor as a sacrificial lamb to quelch to controversy. One could argue that this mechanism would not be necessary if the administration had backbone, but why unnecessarily limit the pool of qualified administrators to only those with backbones?

Brian Donohue January 22, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Off topic, but I’m a budget monomaniac these days. 2013 or bust! This article contains more simple wisdom than all the abstruse economic blathering I’ve read over the past month on the subject put together:

http://money.cnn.com/2013/01/22/news/economy/debt-ceiling-poker/index.html?iid=Lead

Andrew' January 22, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Nice, although as I’ve said before he’s wrong about the ‘welcher’ label. If people actually voted to commit themselves rather than others…he’d still be wrong probably public choice and agency problems being what they are…but he’d be closer. Promises weren’t made to seniors (they were made in part by seniors to themselves- they are allowed to vote) that they’d be paid even if the government couldn’t afford it. The courts have ruled you have no right to SS.

Andrew' January 22, 2013 at 12:22 pm

It’s also funny how somehow we promised all these people the moon but didn’t promise taxpayers anything. Just sayin’.

Andrew' January 22, 2013 at 1:35 pm

Or that you can’t actually make a legitimate promise to pay if you have to borrow to do it. Sure, due to historic oddities we have low interest rates, but certainly not because we can only honor promises by borrowing.

Rich Berger January 22, 2013 at 3:43 pm

He ignores the MSM, which has consistently beaten the Republicans over the head while ignoring the budget idiocy of Obama and Harry Reid. I guess the MSM would be a “railbird” in his taxonomy.

bob January 22, 2013 at 12:55 pm

I really don’t understand what’s so objectionable about cloning Neanderthals.

Travis Allison January 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm

That Goodhart et al article on NGDP level targeting is just terrible. Scott Sumner has addressed every one of their objections.

Derek January 22, 2013 at 3:45 pm

In his response he goes on at length how unreliable various measures of inflation are. For Greece. Then somehow inflation plus GDP will work.

I still fail to see how a mechanism taking inputs at least 6 months old with a response 12-18 months in the future can work. His description of the feed response in 2008 is fine in retrospect, but in real time? In economic times where these measures would ostensibly do the most good it is more like driving faster looking in the rear view mirror. A neat trick when you are 19 and feel invincible.

Is there any empirical evidence where inflation targeting has lifted a mature economy out of a structural downturn?

DocMerlin January 22, 2013 at 8:00 pm

“Is there any empirical evidence where inflation targeting has lifted a mature economy out of a structural downturn?”

No. the central bank can’t fix problems that aren’t caused by bad central bank policy.

derek January 22, 2013 at 10:05 pm

They seem to have trouble fixing what they have caused as well.

Wonks Anonymous January 23, 2013 at 10:15 am

NGPDP is not measured by adding GDP plus inflation. GDP is measured by taking NGDP and adjusting by the GDP deflator.

Funny that you complain about “looking in the rear view mirror” since that has long been Sumner’s complaint about the Taylor-rule and other backward-looking targets. Sumner wants to have NGDP futures, though Lars Svennson’s idea of just making an internal forecast would still be an improvement to the status quo.

“Is there any empirical evidence where inflation targeting has lifted a mature economy out of a structural downturn?”
Who is to say whether a downturn is “structural”? However, Australia has avoided recession for decades while maintaining a 4% inflation rate.

mark January 22, 2013 at 3:05 pm

Haven’t been on the site in a while so forgive me if this is redundant of some prior post but some may find interesting this detailed look by CNBC at the wages being earned in porn. Pretty much everything in the article surprised me. I had no idea leading porn stars were in the top 1%.
http://www.cnbc.com/id/100385730

Sean January 23, 2013 at 3:37 pm

On the subject of Greek inflation, note that they have had at least four increases in the value added tax spaced out over the past few years (http://livingingreece.gr/2010/07/01/vat-fpa-taxes-greece/), that some of these have been very large (13% to 23% for some items) and that VAT feeds into official measures of inflation (this is also one of the reasons UK inflation has held up over the past few years: VAT rose by 5%).

So it’s possible that prices without taxes are actually falling, but I can’t seem to find English-language data to confirm.

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