Tuesday assorted links

by on October 6, 2015 at 11:55 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 ibaien October 6, 2015 at 12:11 pm

#7 may be, pound for pound, one of the most interesting non-sequitur MR links of the year.

2 Cliff October 6, 2015 at 1:23 pm

Bound to end up in a SlateStarCodex link post in the near future

3 Thiago Ribeiro October 6, 2015 at 7:21 pm

If neither here nor on SlateStarCodex, how have I come to it? I read that post two years ago.

4 ibaien October 6, 2015 at 8:17 pm

probably some brazilian blog we all don’t read.

5 Thiago Ribeiro October 6, 2015 at 10:08 pm

It was written in English. Brazilians only write in English when they have to communicate with Barbarians. Among us, we speak Portuguese, “Latium’s last flower”.

6 Deek October 7, 2015 at 5:18 am


7 Fred October 7, 2015 at 3:00 pm

I thought it was an analogy to Keynesian economics. Anyway, it tells a fascinating story about sense making and understanding. It reminds me of a lot of what goes on in the social sciences.

8 Gochujang October 6, 2015 at 12:14 pm

1. Bob Litan leads with a carefully framed copy of Warren’s position, that:

The Obama Administration and Warren point to academic studies claiming to show that broker-sold funds under-perform index funds by about one percent (100 basis points) a year, especially hurting investors with modestly sized accounts (those well under the median account size of about $50,000).

Can that really be just a one percent difference, net all fees? I do see this 2012 data, via Forbes:

Looking at the total plan expenses, including administrative and record-keeping fees, the 401(k) Averages Book found that the average total expense for a small plan in 2012 was 1.46%, with a range between a low of 0.38% and a high of 1.97%. Investment fees continued their downward trend. Small plan average investment expenses declined from 1.38% in 2011 to 1.37% in 2012, and large plan average investment expenses declined from 1.05% to 1.00%.

If Obama and Warren are trying to close off the worst case 1.97% plans, I’d think that’s good, and that Bob’s defense using averages is suspicious.

9 Dan Weber October 6, 2015 at 7:13 pm

Having 1 percentage point worse performance year over year does matter a lot.

10 Gochujang October 6, 2015 at 7:18 pm

As I say, I doubt it is 1% net costs. It is probably 1% + 2% = 3% which in a period of 3% growth might matter a lot.

11 Moreno Klaus October 6, 2015 at 12:16 pm

#4 There is another polemic sentence in the link: “I will not write this because I will be stoned to death immediately. But when it comes to effective government, the French constitution is much better than the American one.”

12 jk October 6, 2015 at 12:37 pm

Hoffman makes some pretty sweeping statements as someone who speaks for 500M+ Europeans for an economy collectively wealthier/larger than the US.

Here’s another less sweeping but more factual statement: It only takes another George W. to start the US on an undefined endstate war (and with many other reasons) and sink the dollar like back in ’07-08. The dollar was the joke of the world, the oil exporting nations were diversifying to the Euro.

Lots of smug confidence as if the US is on some constant glide path.

Americans go to Europe to enjoy life and enjoy not fearing themselves or their kids getting randomly massacred in Elementary schools, Middle Schools, Universities, Churches, movie theaters, other public places etc…Elementary school teachers and kids should have CCWs I assume…American live in America to work and just bowl alone.

And let the ad hominens begin….BTW MR right wingers, I served in the US Army with 2 deployments in A-stan and Iraq.

13 Cliff October 6, 2015 at 1:27 pm

I think you meant Americans go to Europe to spend all their time handwashing their dishes and hanging their clothes on a line to dry because no one in Europe can afford a dishwasher or dryer, and getting mugged and robbed since European violent crime rates are so much higher than in the U.S.

14 Millian October 6, 2015 at 1:57 pm

This is quite good, but too obviously satirical. You should have changed the dishwasher reference to something about crappy VWs instead of man cars.

15 Yet another MR commentator October 6, 2015 at 2:10 pm

Isn’t Tyler deriding the EPA decision as arbitrary and artificial? Is this something the US should be proud off?

Who is the REAL government motor bailout/welfare queen? GM or VW?

16 Cliff October 6, 2015 at 3:24 pm

Sorry, it’s obviously satirical because it’s 100% true and easily verifiable? Is it “satirical” to you that the average person in Europe has a lifestyle similar to or worse than that of the impoverished in the U.S.? Have you ever been to a person’s home in Europe? Did you notice how tiny it is?

17 BDK October 6, 2015 at 5:43 pm

“And when Rusty wore his stenciled beret at the Eiffel Tower, the French girls teased him! Then the Europeans stole my video camera, and later the same thieves knocked over a car rental in Rome, used the video on the camera to advertise their smut (sorry, Ellen) and kidnapped my wife, who I of course saved.”


18 Urso October 7, 2015 at 10:45 am

No, it’s true, but it’s also hilariously prissy, as if washing your own dishes is some unfathomably terrible fate that, standing alone, makes Europe an unlivable hellhole.

19 Cooper October 6, 2015 at 2:04 pm

The random massacres, despite making lots of headlines, just aren’t a large contributor to the US murder rate. There are twice as many people killed by spouses/friends/lovers during arguments as killed during felonies (e.g., drug deals gone wrong).

While it’s certainly true that a high murder rate is very bad. It’s not necessarily the best metric to look at when trying to evaluate the impact of crime.

You’re roughly 4X times more likely to be killed in the US than in France. However, the French are more likely to say they are worried about being the victim of a violent hate crime (38% vs 32%), more likely to say they are worried about being mugged (50% vs 45%), less likely to feel safe walking alone at night (77% vs 82%).

The data suggest that while you might be safer in France. You will feel safer in the US.

Given that the actual odds of being killed are low everywhere, even in Detroit, feeling safe might be more important to your psychological wellbeing than actually being safe.

20 Yet another MR commentator October 6, 2015 at 2:16 pm

Sources? Sample? Who was polled where? France does not equal Europe BTW. How about Louisiana vs. Colorado, you would probably find similar info.

21 Floccina October 6, 2015 at 2:44 pm
22 Yet another MR commentator October 6, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Hate to go down the rabbit hole with this tangent but 274 days with 294 mass shootings (as defined as 4+ victims including the shooter at a time), the US competes or maybe leads the 3rd world (blows away Europe in all senses of that term) in mass shootings in 2015:


23 Cooper October 6, 2015 at 3:36 pm


Mass shootings happen with a disturbing frequency but I don’t feel unsafe because of them because they are still rare.

Burglary, muggings, assault, etc. These happen FAR more frequently and are a much greater source of general discomfort.

Would you rather have a .1% chance of getting mugged and a .004% chance of getting murdered or a .2% chance of getting mugged and a .001% chance of getting murdered?

I can understand why people would feel safer in the former than the latter.

24 Yet another MR commentator October 7, 2015 at 3:32 am

Cooper, the costs of murder tend to be infinite for the individual getting murdered whereas a pickpocket in Rome tends to target dumb tourists with bulging pockets that may lose some IDs and dollars/Euros – pretty avoidable. They could also cancel their credit card in 24 hours with no liability.

As someone noted, the bad areas in the US are generally known and avoided though the bad people are mobile and armed with guns. European similarities to “ghettos” are few and far between, no equivalents to large swaths of the area equivalent to Detroit, NOLA, Compton, Houston, etc… maybe except in parts of the UK or France.

The nature of mass murders or other forms of terrorism is random and unpredictable. These acts can strike anywhere including relatively affluent suburbs which may be quite unsettling for families with children in school and may affect the economy of area also.

So the risks are: 0.1% x 100 Euros = 10 Euros or 0.001% x one’s life (or their children) at any time or any place = ???

Syria or Detroit?:


25 Yet another MR commentator October 7, 2015 at 3:36 am

Also, I question the reporting frequency or validity of the US theft and property crime rates. They maybe be underreported in the US since it may pointless or more costly in terms of time for those in the US ghettos and other places to report something that is uninsured.

26 Urso October 7, 2015 at 10:48 am

Yes, I’m sure many such minor crimes (like pickpocketing) are unreported. But, a, that’s not what we’re discussing, and b, that would be equally true in Europe as well.

27 The Original D October 6, 2015 at 3:03 pm

> spouses/friends/lovers

Not exactly the same, but it seems like a lot of these shooters go after people they have loose ties with, like fellow students and co-workers.

28 Nathan W October 6, 2015 at 3:15 pm

I think an American in America has a pretty good idea of how to steer clear of crime ridden areas (solutions, anyone?), but when on holidays in Europe they will find themselves in tourist areas targeted by pickpockets by day, muggers at night.

29 Millian October 7, 2015 at 6:53 am

Have you ever been to this warzone, Europe?

30 Ricardo October 7, 2015 at 1:02 am

“There are twice as many people killed by spouses/friends/lovers during arguments as killed during felonies (e.g., drug deals gone wrong).”

I don’t think this is a fair claim to make. The FBI has data here: https://www2.fbi.gov/ucr/cius2009/offenses/expanded_information/data/shrtable_10.html

In 2009, 21% of homicides were committed by relatives, romantic partners or friends of the victim. By contrast, acquaintances and neighbors (where investigators determined the relationship between victim and perpetrator was not close enough to be called “friendship”) constitute 22.5% of homicides. Another small fraction are employer-employee homicides and the majority (56%) were committed either by strangers or else are unsolved and so the relationship between victim and killer is unknown.

The problem with making claims about friends/lovers/relatives constituting a large percentage of homicides is that a lot of homicides still go unsolved or arise out of uncertain motives.

31 Bob from Ohio October 6, 2015 at 5:19 pm

EU per capita GDP is 30,240. US per capita GDP is 54,370.

Only tiny Luxembourg, oil rich Norway and Switzerland [not an EU member] are richer than the US. Germany is 15% poorer, for instance.

People go to Europe for the culture, not to avoid imaginary fears either.

32 Yet another MR Commentator October 7, 2015 at 4:31 am

GDP is not the only metric for happiness or quality of life. As was mentioned, murder rates and mass murder rates in the US lead the developed world and compete for the top with the 3rd/developing world.

The GDP “lead” of the US may be nullified with the $5-10k that European nations may “lag” due to these factors.

Americans are always worried about leading, the perception of American leadership, and saving face in next the Middle East social engineering project that is bound to fail. How about lead in other metrics that one should be proud of which European nations tend to surpass the US.

European nations and cities tend to lead America in any other measure of quality of life, things to do, longevity of life, happiness, recreation activities, measures of knowledge on global tests, ability to speak multiple foreign languages, rates of obesity, quality of the food, importance of data protection of the individual, lower rates of violent crime such rape/murder, levels of incarceration..etc.

GDP is an important measure but globalization is making the nations converge. The US may lead $5-10k in GDP but this does not reflect “greatness” – it’s just one metric. That $5-10k “advantage” may be wiped out with Americans proclivity to debt (they do like to buy BMWs, McMansions, and travel to Europe), costs of safety and security or un-transparent extrinsic costs of from the high or perceived high crime, and healthcare costs.

Size of house = happiness? There are smaller towns in Germany and other places in Europe where people have houses that are 2k+ sq ft. You are thinking of dense capital cities. And does a McMansion brings happiness? Pretty superficial in my opinion. That “large” household in the US is made of plywood, probably will be destroyed by termites or some “500 year storm” that happens more often and have an estimated life of 15-20 years whereas a European home tends to be made out of some stone.

A European can catch a low cost flight of $100-200 Euros round trip to any other European or other interesting places such as Turkey over an extended weekend.

I spend my money to go to Lake Lucerne for a couple days and go up Mt. Pilatus for an awesome view and then go to Interlaken to go to Jungfrau. And then next month go to Barcelona over the weekend. Perhaps next month go to a Greek Island and enjoy the great food and sites and non-uptight nudist beaches with actual attractive women. Which is all reasonably affordable if you can get a low cost airline flight and reasonable accommodations which I do if you make $4-8K/month which is well within the average W. European’s lifestyle if they save and prioritize their money.

33 Nathan W October 7, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Based on the ability to avoid annoying and pervasive advertising by pharmaceuticals, 1800 legal clinics and political advertising alone, I think it’s almost worth it to live in the EU compared to US. Add to that the generally friendlier spirit of debate in dicussing issues of the day and higher world awareness in Europe, you’ve pretty much got me. Always nice to be able to enjoy the sense of history that pervades just about every city too. Much better coffee and cheese don’t hurt either. And as you point out, there are a dozen cultures within easy access by overnight train ride or short flight if you ever tire of the local scene.

In short, I agree: GDP is over-rated as a measure of wellbeing.

34 So Much For Subtlety October 6, 2015 at 7:47 pm

Moreno Klaus October 6, 2015 at 12:16 pm

“I will not write this because I will be stoned to death immediately. But when it comes to effective government, the French constitution is much better than the American one.”

So France had a revolution about the same time as the US did. France is up to its fourth Republic. It has had two Empires. A restoration. A constitutional monarchy. A Commune. A brief flirtation with Fascism. And a military coup every sixty years or so. They are coming up to time for their next one.

Effective is an interesting phrase when you consider all the US has had has been two Civil Wars.

35 Art Deco October 6, 2015 at 8:44 pm

The current regime is called the “Fifth Republic”; the Fourth concluded in 1958. The ‘commune’ was a brief rebellion in Paris in 1870-71, not a political regime. There were fascists here and there in Marshal Petain’s cabinet, but the intent and policies of the regime (and the personnel, by and large) were not bar perhaps the formation of the Milice. The last military coup was in 1799. The President of France staged an autogolpe in December 1851 and there were serial abdications and departures in the face of military defeat and street rioting over the period running from 1814 to 1870, but no coups bar that in 1851.

36 Harun October 6, 2015 at 9:52 pm

Autogolpe….golpe…hmmm, that means coup, does it not?

37 Thiago Ribeiro October 6, 2015 at 10:26 pm

“Autogolpe….golpe…hmmm, that means coup, does it not?”
He acknowledged it and said there were no coups bar the 1851 one.
But they also had the 1961 failed putsch and the Oas. The only OAS we have in Brazil steals money, but doesn’t engage in terrorist acts.

38 So Much For Subtlety October 7, 2015 at 5:39 am

Art Deco October 6, 2015 at 8:44 pm

The current regime is called the “Fifth Republic”; the Fourth concluded in 1958.

My mistake. It is so hard to keep up with the latest news from Paris. But “concluded”? Interesting choice of word.

The ‘commune’ was a brief rebellion in Paris in 1870-71, not a political regime.

Well it was both. I don’t know what you mean by political regime here.

There were fascists here and there in Marshal Petain’s cabinet, but the intent and policies of the regime (and the personnel, by and large) were not bar perhaps the formation of the Milice.

The intent and policies of the regime were openly Fascist. I am not sure how you can claim that. How?

The last military coup was in 1799. …. but no coups bar that in 1851.

The Fourth Republic “concluded” in 1958. How did it conclude?


General Massu and other senior generals covertly planned the take-over of Paris with 1,500 paratroopers preparing to take-over airports with the support of French Air Force units.[7] Armored units from Rambouillet prepared to roll into Paris.[8]

On 24 May, French paratroopers from the Algerian corps landed on Corsica, taking the French island in a bloodless action called “Opération Corse”.[7][8] Operation Resurrection would be implemented if de Gaulle was not approved as leader by the French parliament, if de Gaulle asked for military assistance to take power, or to thwart any organized attempt by the French Communist Party to seize power or stall de Gaulle’s return.

Charles de Gaulle, who had retired from politics a decade before, placed himself in the midst of the crisis, calling on the nation to suspend the government and create a new constitutional system. On 29 May 1958, French politicians agreed upon calling on de Gaulle to take over the government as prime minister. The French Army’s willingness to support an overthrow of the constitutional government was a significant development in French politics. With Army support, de Gaulle’s government terminated the Fourth Republic (the last parliament of the Fourth Republic voted for their dissolution) and drew up a new constitution proclaiming the French Fifth Republic in 1958.

Call me naive, but to me, when parachute troopers land with hostile intent, that looks like a coup. The Fourth Republic collapsed in the face of the French military’s illegal use of violence against it.

We could quibble about the establishment of the Second Republic – the monarchy fell when the Army refused to back the King.

39 Art Deco October 7, 2015 at 9:36 am

Well it was both. I don’t know what you mean by political regime here.

Something that extends over more than one municipality for more than a matter of months, so, no it was not.

Call me naive, but to me, when parachute troopers land with hostile intent, that looks like a coup. The Fourth Republic collapsed in the face of the French military’s illegal use of violence against it.

You’re not naive, you’re being willful. Corsica has a population of about 300,000 and is nowhere near any center of power in France. That’s a mutiny, not a coup. France under the 4th Republic changed ministries every six months or so on average and the change of ministries from Pierre Pflimlin’s government to de Gaulle’s was just another ministerial crisis of which there had been a couple dozen since 1945. I would refer you to Alistair Horne’s account of May 1958 in Algiers: the advent of de Gaulle differed from most ministerial crises in that he brought a measure of popular enthusiasm with him even among Algeria’s Arab and Berber populations, which no other parliamentary politician did. He was duly appointed by the President of France and everything his ministry accomplished over the succeeding eight months was done under the rubric of extant institutional architecture. There was no coup.

The intent and policies of the regime were openly Fascist. I am not sure how you can claim that. How?

I did not claim that. You claimed that. My claim is that they were not. Vichy was a generic authoritarian regime whose objects were circumstantially dependent. It derived its personnel from the extant corps parliamentary politicians and professional cadres. Fascism in France during the late 3d Republic was as much an extraparliamentary movement as it was in Britain, and the country’s most prominent fascist (Jacques Doriot) never held a ministerial position. Pierre Pucheu, who was the Interior minister for a time under Vichy, was a fascist. He had no history in electoral politics though; he had been executive secretary of the steel industry association prior to the war.

40 So Much For Subtlety October 7, 2015 at 7:08 pm

Art Deco October 7, 2015 at 9:36 am

Something that extends over more than one municipality for more than a matter of months, so, no it was not.

That seems tailored to exclude the Commune and nothing else. Whatever else we can say, the Commune was another of those really bad French ideas that had worldwide influence.

Corsica has a population of about 300,000 and is nowhere near any center of power in France. That’s a mutiny, not a coup.

A mutiny with the intent of changing the government is pretty much a coup. Especially when it does change the government. They did not just bring in a new Prime Minister. They threw out the existing political structure and got a new constitution. A lot more than another ministerial crisis.

41 Gochujang October 6, 2015 at 12:19 pm

6. I think that “differences” are small compared to similarities in social behavior across the globe. We are attuned to look for small social cues, but this is sometimes misleading.

42 ThomasH October 6, 2015 at 12:29 pm

Economists should remain interested in Europe, especially for cautionary lessons about how to manage monetary and fiscal policy.

43 prognostication October 6, 2015 at 12:35 pm

#5 — Glancing at the northeast is a bit misleading though — the cities are still quite young.

44 RoyL October 6, 2015 at 2:22 pm

Once you get into the future it turns into a map of college towns. Heck just look at North Dakota.

45 Lord Action October 6, 2015 at 2:59 pm

+1 Agreed.

This mostly shows that there’s a lot of pressure to move into the cities for college and the immediate aftermath, and then out of the cities for family, in the Northeast. Get married, have kids, move from Suffolk County to Middlesex County.

I still kind of believe the overall picture – America is basically moving to Texas – but choices in the graphic distort things.

46 Mike October 6, 2015 at 12:48 pm

#1: “The errors and omissions in this column are typical of the errors and omissions in the original study, only a few of which I highlighted in my Huffington Post blog. Whether these errors and omissions are the result of bias or poor scholarship, neither interpretation reflects well on the study’s authors.”

i was surprised to see Barbara Roper in the comments. However, her comments are not.

47 Sunil October 6, 2015 at 12:54 pm

Pandit Kumar Gandharva had tuberculosis before there was a reliable treatment for the disease. He lost his lung capacity as a result. He regained health after cures were found. His singing style has strong short bursts because of limited lung capacity not a a ‘typical’ Hindustani singer, for sure.

48 Don Reba October 6, 2015 at 12:56 pm

No County For Old Men. Oh, wait, all of them are for old men.

49 RoyL October 6, 2015 at 2:29 pm

Well it seems all of the young men have gone to Ft Stockton, somehow that prediction for future West Texas looks very unlikely. Elderly Alpine and young Permian Basin 15 years in the future seems like a sign of bad methodology.

50 rayward October 6, 2015 at 1:00 pm

1. If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Litan’s advice: Leave the financial advisers alone! For the children. Are all financial advisers useless skimmers? No. Do useless skimmers prey on the small, and unsophisticated, investors? Who else are they going to prey on. Skimmers go into the financial sector for the same reason Willie Sutton robbed banks: that’s where the money is. 401(k) plans, as a substitute for pensions, was a great idea, not for the “investor”, but for the financial sector. What’s the small investor likely to do when the market craters and she sees her little nest egg disappearing: sell. What’ the small investor likely to do when the market in Apple stock is soaring and all her friends are getting rich: buy. Litan advises not to sell or buy in those circumstances. For the children. Stop digging.

51 Anon October 6, 2015 at 5:33 pm

I always wonder why you are philosophically opposed to paragraphs. This way the comments sound more wayward.

52 NP October 6, 2015 at 1:06 pm

#5: There is no great stagnation in the elderly-hispanic-mormon community.

53 Axa October 6, 2015 at 1:12 pm

#7: you can’t lose something you haven’t discovered before. This is a nice proof that a good correlation is not enough, falsifiability is needed. Before the discovery of Vitamin C, scurvy cure was just a happy coincidence but you can’t call it science or knowledge.

“It makes you wonder how many incurable ailments of the modern world—depression, autism, hypertension, obesity—will turn out to have equally simple solutions, once we are able to see them in the correct light.” It makes me remember that quote on how there’s nothing new to discover in physics, just more precise measurements. I thought this blind positivism died with people born on the XIX century.

54 albatross October 7, 2015 at 2:50 pm

I don’t know the history very well, but the best instance of something like this I can think of is SAD. Basically, a whole lot of people get seriously depressed if they don’t get enough sunlight, which is fairly easy to do if you move from Texas to Seattle. They can often get a huge improvement in their quality of life by spending an hour or two a day in front of a light box.

55 Todd Kreider@hotmail.com October 6, 2015 at 1:28 pm

And so once again, graphs like #5 raise the question what will a 65 year old look and feel like in 2030 considering the news of compounds like rapamycine and NR (form of vitamin B3) currently being tested in humans?

By 2030, virtual reality will also be in full swing, so why would one possibly extrapolate a county’s population from 2010 to 2030? If you have all these 65 year olds with virtual reality for work in many cases as well as leisure widely used and have the health profile of a 50 year old, then you #5 is meaningless.

One thing I can’t figure out is why social scientists always assume almost no change 20 years out, and it isn’t Tyler G.S. Cowen even if his 2010 errors will prove to be among the most egregious. The vast majority of economists seem to think this way (exempting Joel Myker, of course.)

56 Todd Kreider@hotmail.com October 6, 2015 at 1:29 pm

(I decided to use my full name including the @ mark to emphasize my break from the 20th century…)

57 Jonah October 6, 2015 at 8:08 pm

Agreed. As the plus in “60 plus” stretches out, and the lives of those on the younger side of that spectrum become more like those of 50 years olds from the past, it becomes tough to make this a meaningful comparison across a time series.

58 Nathan W October 6, 2015 at 1:59 pm

6) A point about intelligence and repeating cooperative games – it is possible that the people who score higher on the test of “intelligence” are simply more familiar with game theory, which is taught in all manner of 1st and 2nd year courses (I learned it three times, once in biology, once in political science, and again in economics). Perhaps these people are simply more aware of strategies like “tit for tat”. The exceedingly high “always defect” strategy in the “low intelligence” group just boggles my mind. 50%? Wow. Are they THAT stupid, or just unfamiliar with prisoner’s dilemma? In a one round game, defect might make sense, but in a repeated game, it’s obviously the worst strategy. Methodologically, the solution would be simple. Filter each group with a question “are you familiar with game theory, in particular, the prisoner’s dilemma?”.

7) The cure to scurvy reminds me of the modern day cure for not dying from diarrhea. Just a little bit of salt ions, and almost everyone survives. But it took until well into the 20th century until anyone figured it out. As the article points out, sometimes the solutions to some of the biggest problems around are so simple that we “slap our foreheads” in disbelief at how simple they are.

Thanks to good public education campaigns, young children in Africa who suffer from diarrhea from diverse causes are now generally likely to survive, thanks to a cure that costs about $1. How many more like these are there? Could a simple philosophical fabrication of the mind cure most depression, anxiety, etc., or do we need the full weight of modern pharmaceuticals for this?

59 wwebd October 6, 2015 at 9:41 pm

“Low hanging fruit” is a recurrent topic, I guess, for lots of people. Henry Harpending’s blog alludes to the subject frequently. The best recent US examples are heliobacter research and rolling suitcases. I am not a connoisseur of what the crackpots of the world have been up to lately, but I am familiar with quite a few crackpot theories that sound very plausible as ways to deal with certain unfocused chronic medical conditions (the ones less amenable to the creations of our pharmaceutical geniuses) – drink a half-gallon of water an hour before you would usually wake up then go back to sleep, take a magnesium pill after every cup of coffee, never wear tight underwear for more than an hour or two – the length of a baseball or football game – and never wear the same size belt or bra or socks two days in a row, avoid starches for eight to sixteen hours before enjoying a cigar, paleo diet but with fiber supplements to protect the colon, refuse to spend more than 16 hours a day indoors every day for a year, sleep ten hours a day whether you want to or not, banish electronic devices for days at a time, memorize long fragments of praiseful liturgy (well that is not a crackpot theory); HGH (for pain), N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (to counter the effects of mouse utopia type anxiety), adopt a pair of cats and act as if they are dogs, adopt a pair of dogs and teach them communication skills like eye contact, a few vowels (long Irish “a” – as in Clontarf – and Russian i’ – imagine William Shatner in a 50s adaptation of War and Peace with a Russian accent saying si’ng for me, I’van – are fairly easy, to go with the uber-obvious oo from woof, and guttural vocalizations – the r’s in ruh-roh, and the ch’s in the vintage pronunciation of Colonel with a hint of h after the initial C), and gazes of condescending approval, intense birdwatching or even better intense entomology observations a la Fabre….reading the Bible straight through, paying most attention when the Proverbs roll around, but at a rate of no more than a half hour a day (to avoid connoisseurship) is another non-crackpot idea.

60 Millian October 6, 2015 at 2:00 pm

3. Wow, “economists” (presumably the authors here) must be really shallow. Of course it takes lots of time. Next.

61 Art Deco October 6, 2015 at 3:02 pm

#4 an interview with Stanley Hoffman. He fancies John F. Kennedy was ‘very intelligent’. The impersonal evidence about Kennedy indicates his general intelligence was similar to that of the average pharmacist. That’s plenty intelligent for most of us, but Harvard professors seldom yap about what a brainiac the guy at Walgreen’s is, nor do German civilians have a picture of Sy Gubovitz on their mantlepiece. Hoffmannfancies Edward Kennedy was ‘a good person’, about which Mary Jo Kopechne could not be reached for comment. It pretty much discredits any other random opinions Stanley Hoffman offers.

62 CPS October 6, 2015 at 4:39 pm

#2 To be a bit of a pedant, “Pandit” is the honorific (like “Maestro”) bewtowed on a highly accomplished musician (or a scholar of any sort). I have never heard him referred to as “Pandit Kumar”. That would be like saying “President Barack”!

Even Kumar Gandharva is a stage-name that he was given as a child prodigy. Kumar = young. Gandharva = a type of demigod known for their musical abilities in Indian mythology.

FWIW, the real name of the singer is Shivaputra Siddharamayya Komkalimath, although I only just learned that on Wikipedia 🙂

63 Los Ranchos October 6, 2015 at 4:52 pm

If Litan is shilling for the brokers he is an obvious hack and good riddance to him. There are literally mountains of evidence that they do nothing but cost investors money.

64 Floccina October 6, 2015 at 5:03 pm

#5 I live in Florida and we are already there, and it isn’t pretty. Quite literally.

65 Art Deco October 6, 2015 at 8:49 pm

The total fertility rate for the United States has been at or near replacement level since the war bar for a run of years in the 1970s. Birth cohorts have fluctuated around a set point of about 4 million throughout the post-war period. Fertility is not an acute problem. Those projections derived from improved life expectancy driven by lower old-age mortality. Nothing ugly about that except when people’s bodies outlive their minds.

66 Bob from Ohio October 6, 2015 at 5:08 pm

#4 Ted Kennedy was a “good person”? Sure, if you discount his cheating at Harvard, his long term and repeated womanizing and his role in Mary Jo’s killing, for starters.

Seems like Hoffmann had a low threshold for “good”.

67 Tarrou October 6, 2015 at 7:04 pm

The threshold is “not Republican”.

68 elppa October 6, 2015 at 5:38 pm

3. So economists are uni-dimesnsional?

69 chuck martel October 6, 2015 at 10:11 pm

#6. “How do some countries transcend tribalism to form a civil society ?”

For one thing, tribalism isn’t a phenomenon that’s related to the concept of a country, which implies a nation/state, although a tribe could and has run a country, This means that a tribe can operate a civil society without needing to transcend its tribalism. One obvious example of this is Saudi Arabia, although westerners might object that no civil society is present there, since it’s their habit to consider their own society the base against which all others are measured.

70 dax October 8, 2015 at 4:36 am

” “At this point, I think, Americans who are interested in Europe tend to be historians.”

Which is why this is linked to on an economist’s blog.

Inferiority complex is showing.

71 WkGPKYtemYzLonR October 11, 2015 at 10:02 pm

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