Thursday assorted links

by on October 5, 2017 at 12:42 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 PD October 5, 2017 at 12:57 pm

Re. 5: Thomas Hardy wrote a poem about these contests in the 19th cent, “The Blinded Bird”

So zestfully canst thou sing?
And all this indignity,
With God’s consent, on thee!
Blinded ere yet a-wing
By the red-hot needle thou,
I stand and wonder how
So zestfully thou canst sing!

Resenting not such wrong,
Thy grievous pain forgot,
Eternal dark thy lot,
Groping thy whole life long;
After that stab of fire;
Enjailed in pitiless wire;
Resenting not such wrong!

Who hath charity? This bird.
Who suffereth long and is kind,
Is not provoked, though blind
And alive ensepulchred?
Who hopeth, endureth all things?
Who thinketh no evil, but sings?
Who is divine? This bird.

2 PD October 5, 2017 at 1:00 pm

5. no lineation, sorry
The Blinded Bird

So zestfully canst thou sing?

And all this indignity,

With God’s consent, on thee!

Blinded ere yet a-wing

By the red-hot needle thou,

I stand and wonder how

So zestfully thou canst sing!

Resenting not such wrong,

Thy grievous pain forgot,

Eternal dark thy lot,

Groping thy whole life long;

After that stab of fire;

Enjailed in pitiless wire;

Resenting not such wrong!

Who hath charity? This bird.

Who suffereth long and is kind,

Is not provoked, though blind

And alive ensepulchred?

Who hopeth, endureth all things?

Who thinketh no evil, but sings?

Who is divine? This bird.

3 EverExtruder October 5, 2017 at 1:11 pm

#2 Rich philanthropist calls our other wealthy philanthropists in one of the most philanthropic cities for not supporting his pet “most important institution” project. If I were one of the other philanthropists I would tell Mr. Geffen, “And where were you when I was supporting X last year. Get bent.”

#3 It is unrealistic to expect undergraduates to think. FIFY.

4 Hopaulius October 5, 2017 at 5:25 pm

$500M to host an 18th-19th century cover band? No.

5 EverExtruder October 5, 2017 at 5:50 pm

Excuse me Mr. Geffen….The Upper Crust are a very important institution…our kind of institution as a matter of fact. Get on my level sir!

6 Roy LC October 5, 2017 at 8:16 pm

Particularly one names after him.

7 Sigivald October 5, 2017 at 1:13 pm

As always, “Wu-Tang clan ain’t nothin’ to f*ck with”, I guess?

8 The Other Jim October 5, 2017 at 1:15 pm

Degenerate “music”.

9 Anon October 5, 2017 at 1:15 pm

4. Softbank is a major investor in India too, into Flipkart and Ola, the current #1 Ride App.

10 Anon October 5, 2017 at 1:17 pm
11 msgkings October 5, 2017 at 1:17 pm

#6: crypto-coin bubble alert. This is exactly the kind of stuff that started popping up in 1999 in tech, and we all know what happened soon after.

Bitcoin, Ethereum, and maybe 1 or 2 others will survive, the others will be as the “dotcom” stocks (remember those?)

12 ChrisA October 6, 2017 at 1:13 am

Could be an indication of 1999, but also could be an indication of 1990 like behaviour. A lot of money could be made on stocks in that period. This is the problem of “bubbles”, timing is important as well as identification. As Keynes said, the stock market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent. Best thing is to ignore bubble signs and keep investing in a dollar cost averaging way I find. Of course, another thing to bear in mind is that even a purchase of the S&P500 at the height of the “bubble” in 1999 is making a profit now.

13 rayward October 5, 2017 at 1:20 pm

3. McCloskey: “Bower, like me, is a believing economist. It is like being a believing Christian”. Am I to understand that economics is a religion, that it is founded on what one believes rather than what one knows? Does McCloskey have any self-awareness?

14 Napolean Symphony October 5, 2017 at 1:41 pm

Ibn Khaldun introduced the concept now popularly known as the Laffer Curve, that increases in tax rates initially increase tax revenues, but eventually the increases in tax rates cause a decrease in tax revenues. This occurs as too high a tax rate discourages producers in the economy

15 MOFO October 5, 2017 at 3:07 pm

Too bad its not called the “Khaldun curve”, then disbelieving that it exists would be racist.

16 Karl Smith October 5, 2017 at 7:08 pm

Some people believe they know things. I never was so sure about that.

17 Larry Siegel October 6, 2017 at 6:28 am

It was the D-Mac of a quarter century ago. We all mature.

18 FYI October 5, 2017 at 1:21 pm

#1: I have to admit that I haven’t read the full study but is anyone really surprise with the findings? Of course slavery contributes to inequality. The fact that it is only 20% is the only surprise for me. I think the more interesting part of this is to try to figure out how modern society is not able to overcome this. Is it because of failed public education? Sure, but is it all? Is it lack of cheap credit? Infrastructure in the favelas?

19 mulp October 5, 2017 at 1:38 pm

Given slaves made up 60% of the population is the primary slave States, it’s hard to account for the claim inequality was only 20% greater due to slavery. That can only be true is you argue slavery from birth is beneficial to the slave.

20 FYI October 5, 2017 at 1:47 pm

Good point… I would not phrase it as “slavery from birth is beneficial” but instead I would say that some people were able to overcome it. Question here is how? Why another 20% were not able to?

21 cthulhu October 5, 2017 at 4:11 pm

Turn it around…why do we expect that current outcomes across the population would be significantly different if there had been no slavery in the first place?

22 FYI October 5, 2017 at 6:17 pm

Also a good point. I guess that is why we keep focusing on correlations and not causations. Impossible to know the root of something that is simply the way it is.

23 mpowell October 5, 2017 at 5:08 pm

But I don’t even understand what the paper is trying to prove. It’s not like you had a bunch of people living in the region and some of them were put in slavery for a time and others weren’t, then everybody was freed at some point and treated more or less equally afterwards. That would tell you something about slavery specifically. Instead, you had a bunch of people imported as slaves, who were later freed but still mistreated for decades/centuries. How can you distinguish the impact of slavery long ago from simple discrimination in the more recent past?

24 Chip October 5, 2017 at 6:06 pm

We’re probably overcoming it quite quickly, compared with the past. Slavery was very common in Europe up until about 1000AD, when the church started to stamp it out (though Britain’s Domesday Book shows about 10% of the population were still slaves almost 100 years later).

And consider the poor folk of southeastern Europe, who were bought and sold so regularly that even today they’re called Slavs.

Even after outright slavery started to wane it mostly transitioned to serfdom, which is really a subtler form of slavery, and there were still European serfs in the early 1900s.

Are people still suffering the effect of slavery today? Doubtful. In the modern world, just one or two generations of adhering to certain cultural habits like learning, hard work and nuclear families can erase all historical hardships. Literally billions of people in India and China are proving this every day.

25 JonFraz October 6, 2017 at 1:22 pm

Major historical traumas can create a long-lasting cultural warp. Consider Russia (one of those Slavic slave sources for about a millennia). The nation retains a certain strong xenophobia and defensiveness that I don’t expect to dissipate any time soon.

26 Glenn Mercer October 5, 2017 at 1:21 pm

4. Three points:

I especially liked, towards the very end of this lengthy presentation, “Think till our brains crush.” Why, yes indeed!

In the future everyone on Earth will be grinning like an idiot, 24/7, and focusing most of their day on shaking hands, or waving their hands.

Black & white = sad, color = happy.

27 CD October 5, 2017 at 2:53 pm

Yup. And downloading 3 gazillion songs. Under what conditions is it rational ro make something that long and that vacuous, or to sit through it? Is sitting through it a way to demonstrate fealty, so that the longer and the more vacuous, the better?

28 Paul October 5, 2017 at 1:27 pm

3. It would have made a great blog post. If blogs had existed then.

29 David Wright October 5, 2017 at 3:05 pm

Agreed. I love Hal Varian’s mathy textbooks, by the way; they are what turned me on to economics. But, true to McCloesky’s observations, it was just lovely math for me at the time; I don’t really think like an economist until I got older.

30 mulp October 5, 2017 at 1:33 pm

“Does the new hall really need to cost $500 million or maybe more? What exactly has gone wrong here?”

Yeah, creating $500 million in good middle class jobs is obviously a bad thing!

The problem is the destruction of the economy by the 13th Amendment! Slavery cuts labor costs, and that creates lots more jobs!

31 ABV October 5, 2017 at 1:46 pm

#4 The Son guy that runs SoftBank is a big elaborate and fanciful thinker do it makes sense.

But of course since 2010 their biggest success has been investing in Alibaba. Everything else has been performing poorly or overshadowed by that investment. And he recently fired his heir apparent, so much for the next generation!

32 rayward October 5, 2017 at 2:03 pm

6. “When I use a word,” Donald Trump Sr. said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less. And that includes wiped out. Which is two words not one.”

“When I use a word, Donald Trump Jr. said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean–neither more nor less. And that includes a number or percentage, such as sixty percent. Which is two words not one.”

33 TMC October 5, 2017 at 5:13 pm

Leftist rule #2. Projection

34 misanthropist October 5, 2017 at 2:22 pm

2. Imagine what a $500 million philanthropy campaign could do for the city’s homelessness crisis? I think this would be a great topic for the resident econ bloggers to take on. Misallocation of philanthropic donations is a serious issue in a society with as much wealth inequality as ours.

35 Moo cow October 5, 2017 at 3:32 pm

#2. When they say “let private charity do it” this is actually what private charity is these days.

36 FE October 5, 2017 at 5:12 pm

It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that these zillion-dollar renovations are just pyramid building. (With the innovation that Geffen was expecting other zillionaires to pick up 80% of the tab for a hall renamed for him.) Check out this article from the LA Times music critic from when the Geffen gift was originally annouced. The gist is, if New York is getting a zillion dollar renovation, then LA needs one too. The concept of value for money is not even mentioned.

37 Potato October 5, 2017 at 5:31 pm

We can call it a Geffen good.

God loves irony.

38 misanthropist October 5, 2017 at 5:46 pm

Maybe Geffen would get more satisfaction by commissioning a sculptor to produce a 50 foot tall monument in the shape of his penis? I bet it would cost less too.

39 A clockwork orange October 5, 2017 at 6:53 pm

Before the sculptor there was the wearer, the scalpel fell on his ankle, and he bent down and ruffled his pantaloons and so trousers were rolled up and the wearer entered the chamber.

40 Roy LC October 5, 2017 at 8:33 pm

It is expensive because it was horribly designed in the first place, it started out an acoustic disaster and everything done since is just mitigation. Lincoln Center is both ugly and genuinely bad at much of its function. 500 million would be much better spent on tearing the whole thing down and building something better.

41 brad October 5, 2017 at 7:52 pm

> Imagine what a $500 million philanthropy campaign could do for the city’s homelessness crisis?

It could house about half to two thirds of them for one year. Or permanently house around 10% of them.

42 The Lunatic October 5, 2017 at 10:47 pm

Imagine what a $500 million philanthropy campaign could do for the city’s homelessness crisis?

Well, let’s see.

Since Mayor de Blasio took office in 2014, NYC has increased its spending on homelessness issues by $600 million per year.

So, how much effect has that had on what you’re calling a crisis? Because that’s about the same level of effect you could expect from another $500 million a year.

The effect of a one-time $500 million would be rather less.

43 JWatts October 5, 2017 at 2:40 pm

Genocide of indigenous peoples in Brazil

“Over eighty indigenous tribes were destroyed between 1900 and 1957, and the overall indigenous population declined by over eighty percent, from over one million to around two hundred thousand.”

44 A Truth Seeker October 5, 2017 at 2:55 pm

It is exaggeration. Brazil pioneered the protection to indigenous peoples. Brazilian Army officer Rondon was nominated for the Nobel Prize of Peace ten times for his steughle in defense of Brazilian Indians. Compare and contrast with America’s “the only good Indian is a dead Indian” motto. Brazilian Indians have granted rights to reservations bigger than European countries!! I can assure you Brazilian Indians are extremely well-treated.

45 msgkings October 5, 2017 at 2:57 pm

You are definitely still seeking Truth, because you are far from having found it.

46 A Truth Seeker October 5, 2017 at 3:01 pm

I have found Truth and I am seeking ever more Truths.

47 JWatts October 5, 2017 at 3:12 pm

A Truth Seeker claims: “I can assure you Brazilian Indians are extremely well-treated.”

Reality replies: “between 1900 and 1957 the overall indigenous population declined by over eighty percent, ”

Extremely well-treated is an odd description for killing off 80% of the native population.

48 A Truth Seeker October 5, 2017 at 4:02 pm

Most of it has to do with assimilation in the mainstream population. We have nothing in Brazilian history like your one-drop laws.

49 JWatts October 5, 2017 at 5:38 pm

“Most of it has to do with assimilation in the mainstream population. ”

You seem to be in complete denial here.

“In the 1940s the state and the Indian Protection Service (IPS) forcibly relocated the Aikanã, Kanôc, Kwazá and Salamái tribes to work on rubber plantations. During the journey many of the indigenous peoples starved to death, those who survived the journey were placed in an IPS settlement called Posto Ricardo Franco. These actions resulted in the near extinction of the Kanôc tribe.

The ethnocide of the Yanomami has been well documented, there are an estimated nine thousand currently living in Brazil in the Upper Orinoco drainage and a further fifteen thousand in Venezuela.[14] The NGO Survival International has reported that throughout the 1980s up to forty thousand gold prospectors entered Yanomami territory bringing diseases the Yanomami had no immunity to, the prospectors shot and destroyed entire villages, and Survival International estimates that up to twenty per cent of the people were dead within seven years.”

50 A Truth Seeker October 5, 2017 at 6:27 pm

The Fascist Regime of Doctor Vargas (1937-1945) does not count. Many kinds of Brazilians were, then, drafted in slave camps to produce raw materials for the American war effort. I do not recall Americans complaining back then, quite the opposite: they demanded ever more stuff.

In the 1950s, the SPI was revamped and overhauked to become more effective at protecting the Indians’ natural rights.

51 A Truth Seeker October 5, 2017 at 3:00 pm

It is a lie!! The Federative Republic of Brazil is the successor state of the Empire of Brazil, which was the successor state of the United Kingdom of Brazil and Portugal, which was the successor state of the Kingdom of Portugal, which is the successor state of the Ibeiran Union, which was the successor state of Holy Roman Empire, which is the successor state of the Roman Empire.

Separatism, in Brazil, is only defended by racist bandits. Most of the population wants to keep the Federation. Our Union forever, it is never at a loss, down with the traitors and up with the stars!!

52 Art Deco October 5, 2017 at 3:30 pm

Cock up the ass.

53 cliff arroyo October 5, 2017 at 3:55 pm

Successor state of renegade losers, more like it.

Free the South! Return the rest to sovreign Bolivian rule!

“Separatism, in Brazil, is only defended by racist bandits.”

More like “opposed only by racist bandits” intolerant!

54 A Truth Seeker October 5, 2017 at 4:07 pm

Brazil was never a part of Bolivia. Acre was a part of Bolivia that asked to join Brazil’s Union. Brazil is its own nation and is a legitimate country recognized by the international community.

55 msgkings October 5, 2017 at 4:39 pm

Isn’t Spain recognized by the international community? Japan and China and Russia too.

56 A Truth Seeker October 5, 2017 at 4:49 pm

It is completly different. Japan and Red China are roguenstates acontrolled by mad bandits bent on world conquest. Spain, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Israel and Hungary are artificial states with no legetimcy whatsoever.

57 msgkings October 5, 2017 at 5:13 pm

But Brazil is both a rogue state controlled by mad bandits and an artificial state with no legitimacy. Everyone knows this, and all of the world’s leading scholars agree. Some Brazilians don’t, but none of them are leading scholars.

58 A Truth Seeker October 5, 2017 at 5:33 pm

Many Brazilians are leading scholars. Brazilians invented the abreugrafia, the airplane, the walkman, the call identifier and the typewriter. Brazil discovered the pion.

Brazil is a legitimate nation with thousands of years of history and is recognized by the international community.

President Temer is one of the most importsnt world leaders, he was invited to open the latest United Nations’ General Assembly’s speeches. He is a self-made man who became a multimillionaire rhanks to business acumen and legal mind. He is a poet, intellectual and professor. He was a lawgiver and used to be vice president. He has introduced the most radical economic reforms since Mr. Gorbachev’s famous perestroika.

59 msgkings October 5, 2017 at 5:39 pm

Oh my goodness so many lies. I bet you are now going to tell us the US invasion and conquest of Brazil in 1891 never happened. Sad.

60 A Truth Seeker October 5, 2017 at 5:41 pm

It never happened! Brazil has never been defeated in war! In 1891, Brazil defeated the anti-Republican 189 Navy’s uprising led by reaitor Custódio de Mello.

61 embarassed October 5, 2017 at 5:43 pm

Seriously Thiago, it’s a bit much. This obsession with lineage in particular is comical. Succession all the way back to the Roman Empire? Please. Are you really so oblivious about how you come across? It’s either a really self-conscious gimmick/joke account played to perfection, or, as I’m starting to believe, you’re actually just delusional. It’s embarrassing to read this stuff. You just have to find some excuse, some apology, for any bad behavior at all and your justification is what? A fine imperial lineage? Yeah, that’s something to be proud of. Being the standard bearer of thousands of years of tyranny and brutality. Honestly, what’s wrong with you?

62 A Truth Seeker October 5, 2017 at 6:34 pm

Brazil’s emperors were heirs to the finest imperial families from Europe – the Hapsburgs, the Orleans and the Braganças -, Brazilians are not parvenus like Americans or savages like the Japanese or the Russians. And unlike some “civilized” countries like England, Russia and France, we did not murder all Emperors. Unlike Americans, we do not murder our presidents ir engage in massacres and wars of aggression.

63 Alan Gunn October 5, 2017 at 3:04 pm

3. Reminds me a bit about what someone (can’t remember who) once said about why James Gould Cozzens isn’t taught in college English courses: Undergrads are romantics, and Cozzens didn’t write for (or about, except disparagingly) romantics.

64 Li Zhi October 5, 2017 at 3:04 pm

#2. Geffen is disappointed and either impulse control impaired or attempting to move the focus of the fiasco from himself to the “silent (wealthy) majority”. The idea that the Phil would be homeless for 3, 4, 5,… years seems to me (not an orchestra fan, ymmv) preposterous, especially given the difficulties that these types “Old-Folks Establishment” institutions are having today surviving.
#3. It’s revealing to read between the lines of the 1992 essay. He says he began to think “like an economist” AFTER he was teaching the subject (and doing some government consulting). Smells like snake oil to me. In most professional disciplines,
you come out of graduate school BECAUSE you have demonstrated a competence in “thinking like a professional”. (I’m not arguing that you don’t also continue to broaden and deepen your thinking as you gain in experience on-the-job.) I took a year of econ as an undergraduate as a semi-elective (iirc, it was a choice between a year of that and a year of political science). Economics is the study of scarcity – about as useful as claiming vacuum is the absence of air. Homo economicus was/is such an absurdity, basing an entire undergraduate curriculum on it couldn’t have demonstrated the discipline’s non-empirical core with any more certainty than if they’d have brought out an old scroll and proceeded to chant at the start of the first lecture. I agree that you can’t (effectively) teach undergraduates economics. I argue that the reason is not the kid’s lack of intellectual competence, but a lack of a body of (coherent) knowledge to be imparted. Case studies? risible! It’s a clear admission that there is no theoretical core to the subject. I suggest that (aside from the “confidence men” of the profession, and by that I means those who are exclusively con-artists) the reason you don’t learn it in school is because you’re being taught the wrong stuff. Economics is applied meta-psychology and until it is taught with a large amount of human nature (neuropsychology, group dynamics) as well as the (valid) classical stuff (game theory, etc.), you’ll never teach it to anyone. My first R&D (Product Development) Director explained than the Projects I was assigned were make-work while waiting for me to create/invent/innovate/copy/modify/etc. some actually good (profitable) ideas. It seems to me that the economics as taught is the same type of make-work. There’s no there there.
#4. Seems like an old man’s early attempt to come to grips with his own mortality. (60 isn’t that old, is it??) Also, he obviously believes his command of English is a lot better than it actually is. The presentation contains a large number of errors of fact (eg. the human brain with 30E9 cells, 1709 CE as the date for “Iron Technology”, and many more). He seems to be an autocrat anxious to appear as far-sighted as Sony’s founders’ 500 year plan. It’s just another conglomerate trying to justify its lack of a coherent business model. The problem is, it seems to me, that the business model “Be flexible and make money” just doesn’t work above a certain organizational size.

65 Thad Freitas October 5, 2017 at 3:15 pm

Thiago, I mean, the Truth Seeker, have you noticed how you always fail to examine Brazil’s hardships on their own merits. You always try to measure them against something else, completely arbitrary. Therefore, you can lower the bar as far as you want and make Brazil look like a paradise on Earth.
What does American witch hunts have to do with Brazilian slavery?! How does those witch hunts affect Brazil’s inequality?

66 A Truth Seeker October 5, 2017 at 4:13 pm

So comparing Brazil to America is lowering the bar… Comparing Brazil’s respect to all peoples with America’s wars of aggression and conquerst are lowering the bar…
It is sad to see that America and its puppets keep attacking Brazil and portraying themselves as paragons of virtue!! Maybe Americans and their puppets should see the log in their eyes instead of talking about non-stop about the speck in Brazil’s eyes.

67 A clockwork orange October 5, 2017 at 6:51 pm

Brazilians are more worried about global warming than any other country. Meanwhile, America focuses on Hand Puppets and India focuses on the oral tradition. PSA ethanol is no substitute for Captain Cook or Butter.

68 msgkings October 5, 2017 at 3:32 pm

Cranky today?

69 msgkings October 5, 2017 at 3:36 pm

Not me, but I’m curious too

70 msgkings October 5, 2017 at 3:47 pm

not him, but come on, Art is always cranky

71 msgkings October 5, 2017 at 3:51 pm

This is true.

72 dearieme October 5, 2017 at 3:50 pm

#3 I went off to university having already absorbed some of the essentials of microeconomics. Whether I was a “natural” I don’t know, but I do know that several years of a running tutorial during weekday lunchtimes with my father had made those essentials entirely clear. So there’s one way to learn: choose a father of reflective bent, who has years of experience in business, and learn to discuss adult topics with him. My experience of university teaching suggests that many of the students arrive with essentially no experience at all of talking to adults.

73 Enrique October 5, 2017 at 6:21 pm

Good grief. Isn’t McCloskey’s little rant applicable to all majors? One learns *about* x field in college. Not until one is older does one learn to *think* like someone in one’s field…

74 Glenn Hefner October 5, 2017 at 3:51 pm

4. Softbank. Aside from it being more than 7 years old, and aside from it using poor English (and I understand it’s a Japanese company), it’s almost laughably trite and very nearly a caricature of corporate/silicon valley/gobbledygook.
It’s very easy to be big, just buy your way there, which Softbank has done. It’s hard to be good, and almost impossible to be be big and good and remain big and good. A presentation like this makes me believe Softbank will only be big.

75 August Hurtel October 5, 2017 at 4:03 pm

Dear Softbank,

There are only so many pages I can go through. If you really want to do that, you have to address family formation, and you’d have to address it WAAAAAY before you mention the cloud or any of these other retarded buzzwords.


It can be done, especially if a Softbank sized entity were willing to put in the time and resources.

76 A Truth Seeker October 5, 2017 at 5:43 pm

OK, then…

77 Sandia October 5, 2017 at 4:08 pm

#3 is good. I think it’s right that economics is about allocation under scarcity, not fairness or God Forbid “social justice”, which the kids try to find in philosophy or maybe political science. The idea of scarcity is pretty much not taught at all in those disciplines.

78 mkt42 October 5, 2017 at 4:14 pm

3: Did McCloskey teach undergraduates at the Univ of Chicago? My impression is that a pretty good chunk, more than 1%, of the econ majors there were what I would consider to be “naturals”. But McCloskey would perhaps say, no even they did not truly understand economics. In particular, McCloskey seems to setting an awfully high bar if Sandy Grossman is the only undergrad who truly was a natural. But perhaps McCloskey simply didn’t meet very many UC undergrads.

When I think of what I learned in undergrad econ classes vs graduate level, I certainly learned a lot of formal stuff at the grad level but I think that I and most of my fellow grad students went in with a strong sense of “how to think like an economist”, contrary to McCloskey’s claim that economists don’t learn that until several years after graduate school. In particular the notion of identifying goals, then constraints, then other agents was intuitive from the start and well ingrained in me by the end of my undergraduate days.

But maybe McCloskey would say that even now, decades later, I still haven’t learned how to think like an economist? She may have in mind a whole additional set of tools or ways of thinking that go beyond what’s described in the article. But from the article, she and Bower seem to be talking about what I think of as the pretty universal core curriculum for what the Chicago school likes to call “price theory” but what I think is the core of neoclassical economics in general.

A couple of other random observations: so Colorado College’s econ department uses professors such as McCloskey to review it? Impressive, I would’ve expected them to use professors from say Pomona, Carleton, or Whitman, or at most maybe Swarthmore/Williams/Wellesley.

In my last year as an undergrad at the U of C, I did take McCloskey’s first year graduate price theory course, the less mathematical sort of pre-first year course. Got a B+, so maybe I was not a natural.

In that class, McCloskey expressed disdain for non-price theory based economics, calling it “third-rate applied mathematics”. In this article, written some years later, she calls it “fourth-rate applied mathematics”. Inflation I guess.

79 Nate Rausch October 5, 2017 at 4:39 pm


I interpret it as a genuine attempt to identify the ultimate answers to questions we all seek: what are the most pressing problems, what is good, what does the future hold and what’s the meaning of life.

It does that in a way that is supremely ambitious, an completely unafraid to appear sincere or even naive. And given that these people later raised a $100bn fund to invest in startups, I suppose it show that the world is much more hungry for wildly ambitious, optimistic plans that aim for the highest possible good that can be imagined.

80 apoptosis October 7, 2017 at 3:14 pm

I appreciate some of the perspective 30 years can bring. The example of being able to store 30,000 years of video on your phone in the year 2040 or 350 million years of newspapers changes the way to think about data storage. The potential of a “life log” or always storing what is happening to everyone all the time becomes a reality, with both the pros and cons that can bring.

Or the example of processors potentially having 100,000 more transistors in 2040 than the human brain has cells made me pause to consider also.

The idea of “automated learning” is interesting, that integration with so much knowledge and tech may enable ability to just think about something similar to bring up ability to learn it. Reminds me of learning in the Matrix – like downloading how to fly a helicopter.

81 johnWH October 5, 2017 at 5:53 pm

Wonder why Tyler would post this 25 year old McCloskey article… any guesses?

82 Anonymous October 5, 2017 at 6:02 pm

A tax (legislation) season remarkably free from economic thought?

83 johnWH October 5, 2017 at 6:39 pm

All seasons of policy discussion are free from economic thought!

84 The Other Jim October 5, 2017 at 6:51 pm

>Is it unrealistic to expect undergraduates to think like economists?

You mean, fascinated by irrelevant minutiae? Desperate to make a name for themselves? Willing to write literally anything that might get them a paycheck from the State? Highly and paranoically aware of the caste system in their profession, so that they know exactly who it would be vocationally lethal to offend at all times?

It takes a few years to think like that, but I’m sure it could be done in 4.

85 A clockwork orange October 5, 2017 at 7:09 pm

When the industrial revolution occurred, there was a need, a defensive innovation was created; the novel. To tell the people who weren’t peasants, who never needed such a device about how to live and act and who was good and who was bad, these ideas were passed through oral tradition, but the Victorian novels in Britain in the nineteenth century were a pedantic invention. And in the 1920’s when the first world was on the brink, there was another need. A way to cope with mass destruction, though it had existed for centuries, in a type of firebird salute, and those writers were the most famous of the day. And in the 1960’s, there was a need to deal with an existential threat, and so Hunter S. Thompson lived existentially, in a way Camus taught, to report on the moment, to think and to be and to write. But the novel has lost its way in a celebrity culture based on cult personality. It’s the tail of the dog wagged by Aquinas and Augustine in a way Orrwell never even thought could be conceivable for an artist, nor Basquiat, about the the author himself and not the narrator. And so confession has been confused for consumption, and cosmipolistanism replaced comic jokes, and unbearable and tedious and sentimental and lost.

86 efim polenov October 5, 2017 at 9:53 pm

I took notes on most of the link at #4, which was really well done, in general. Some of my notes (stop reading if you don’t care!) Frame 11 – they do not know what apoplexy is (I know, they don’t – until frame 11 I had no reason to think they did not know what they were talking about). Frame 23 – Hey they have been reading my comments, that is the actress from the Kelly Chen Bach How Gentle is the Rain video (just kidding, the red-headed Japanese woman is to them what Aubrey Hepburn would be to us if we lived in a world where Audrey had been named Aubrey – remember the Bread song? they didn’t need me to tell them that) – 21 – first frame with non-Japanese shutter stock models, that is not unfair, I guess, frame 34 – I can’t read my writing – 46 – amoeba is spelled wrong, they say ameba 47 – ‘One time’ ?! – Obviously Turing fans, Only someone who idealizes logic but does not understand that we live in a world where all that matters is cor ad cor loquitur calls the present time “One Time” (they were probably listening to the Fugees song where that is a refrain – well good for them, English is a fun language to learn 54 – the horribly Disneyesque disproportion between the male and female silhouettes is rude and out of place and shows that the presenter has no real feel for the true and beautiful distinction between men at their best and women at their best – which would not show so many differences of proportion – Sad! 58 – that is the Maslow pyramid, they taught us that at USAF officer school back in the day, Sad! – it is as if you were trying to teach a robot how people feel about very very general things (well maybe that was the point and maybe those of us who dislike “glittering generalities” are the ones who do not know how to communicate – maybe …:( …. maybe not …. 🙂 …… 61 … complete fail, You never photograph old people like that, as if they were healthy survivors still with an uncaring smile on their face. True that, Bank dudes. They need to look a little more care worn. Dostoyevsky covered this long ago – describing the difference between Father Zosima (70 years old, looked a hundred) and his bitter envious rival, Father Ferapont (75 years old, looked 65, maybe even a rock and roll roguish 55). Do better next time! 70 – I can’t read my handwriting (I took notes for this, as I said). Overall impression – this is a very well reiterated version of the backstory of an anime that some group of very intelligent Japanese people put together dreaming that they, having worked in a bank, could write a spectacular anime celebrating the joyous banks of the future. Great job, guys – las mariposas son amabiles y ustedes tambien!

87 efim polenov October 5, 2017 at 10:08 pm

In the Tale of Genji, there are frequent exhortations of this type: “what we say may be remembered, dear friend, so let us say something that, when repeated, will resonate with love”. The Greeks were good, but there was something in the Tale of Genji – “let us say something that, when repeated, will resonate with love” 🙂 – that just about anybody not named Housman or Wilamowitz or Clausen missed, reading that other store of pagan literature. Thanks for the link, (#4) Tyler. Bonus trivia: You are a better chess player than I or just about anyone else who comments here would be after not just 10 but even 20 thousand hours of practice on my or our part : but I like New Jersey more than you do. To anyone who has read this and the 9:53 all without spleen or apoplexy: thanks, las mariposas son amabiles y *ustedes* tambien!

88 efim polenov October 5, 2017 at 10:09 pm

So that is what I think about the link at Four.

89 buural October 5, 2017 at 11:47 pm

#4 I’m wondering if an AI built this entire deck.

90 a counterclockwise witness October 5, 2017 at 11:55 pm

Chess is only important when it’s a must win. Because then the defensive strategies are mimics, in the only way that a mimic has any liberty in this world, and that mine, and they are blown up in favor of something else entirely, an open board. And when the field is open, and the rod is dropped, it is no longer the chess player who is playing but someone else entirely. There isn’t any adrenaline rush. There isn’t anything left to grope. It’s a cold blooded side to side vibration that takes over, static, circumfrance, kertosis, kernals of thread. Though you might have a check mate in mind, that’s not important, it’s the development, the unfolding, the discarding, the discernment, the discretion, the displacement, the patience, the governance, the pacing in an open field which only Lorenzo from Eudora Welty and perhaps, perhaps, some of Ray Carver’s friends and maybe, maybe, Jack London never had a tell, and yes of course, Captain Nemo is sitting there, always, 20,000 leagues under the sea.

91 October 5, 2017 at 11:56 pm

#4 The first part of the report is just about ‘Japanese Angst’ to resonate with the mood of the Japanese public to draw them in. And Japanese do not have to dispair about the aging population and dwindling work-force as Softbank has partnered up with IBM Watson to streamline medical diagnosis and smart robots to take care of them.

Then the report talked about corporation extinction rate. To cheer them up and to talk about microprocessors, hinting at the purchase of ARM Holding (microprocessor patents holder), a potential ‘get out of jail’ card which they could sell to China when the need arises and for any price Softbank asks for. Previously China could not buy it directly. That might be the most valuable Softbank asset which was bought on $32B and how much will it sell for?

“””For China that presents two problems: price (ARMH was $19B last week) and politics (China buying the crown jewels of the internet touches some nerves in the Western world). … Perhaps Softbank on its own is front-running a bigger China budget. … Don’t be surprised if we see an announcement in a year or two that ARMH is up for sale and the buyer is a major Chinese company. This was a brilliant move.”””

There might be another potential big win as the Alibaba investment, the BGI Genomic corporation. Together with the ARM acquisition, Watson partnership, the “””Symbiosis between humankind and computer””” will produce the future generation of human cyborgs with greatly increased IQ and can be cloned to make as many copy as needed. Through genomics the aging population will have replaceable artificial organs and people can live happily to 200 years old.

92 Mark Thorson October 6, 2017 at 12:24 am

They’re also buying a major stake in Uber. Seems like a reasonable idea — lots of bad PR in the last several months, so the timing is probably good.

93 edgar October 6, 2017 at 6:57 am

#1 Slavery only ended nominally in Brazil in 1888. It might be argued that Roger Casement’s investigation of the rubber industry demonstrated that it continued among the indigenous population well into 20th century. Other complicating factors in attempting to draw parallels with slavery in the USA might include the lack of a violent redistribution of ownership. Emperor Pedro supported abolition and allowed the peaceful termination of monarchy. Most underrated historical figure for my money. Machado de Assis’s short story Father Against Mother also suggests there were other confounding cultural issues in the not-so-rich majority in some cities like Rio. FWIW his The Education of a Poser could have been written in DC this morning and The Looking Glass offers a timeless expose of political correctness.

94 Scott Gustafson October 6, 2017 at 8:06 am

3. I came at economics from engineering and was already thinking about things from the standpoint of maximization (optimization), equilibrium and interactions. Not sure if you can teach that way of thinking to liberal arts majors, but you can certainly teach it to engineers.

95 JWatts October 6, 2017 at 9:21 am

Chuckle. The wrapper says 92 comments but the inside the thread count is 63. There was some serious pruning in the last 12 hours or so.

96 msgkings October 6, 2017 at 11:28 am


97 mkt42 October 6, 2017 at 3:32 pm

I’ve been following this thread but I don’t have a good enough memory to recall what the deleted comments contained. Presumably the random ad hominem posts that’ve been popping up in recent weeks were among the deleted ones, but I ignore those anyway. This thread did not seem especially rant-riven or inflammatory so I’m surprised that so many comments got deleted.

I don’t have a way of keeping a decent count, but I don’t notice very many comments being deleted on this site. The one exception was a few weeks ago when Ray Lopez made a comment, a good one, and several people replied saying essentially “good comment”. Those replies got deleted! (But Ray’s comment was allowed to remain.)

I was surprised at that deletion, maybe this site has become more aggressive at deleting comments recently? If so my reaction is pretty neutral; there are a lot of BS comments here but I mostly ignore them. What makes this site worth reading, aside from the authors’ posts, is there are some good comments here too.

98 Dan O October 7, 2017 at 9:24 am

#4 Softbank
I’ve probably given this way too much thought, largely because this was a vision statement–and worse still a presentation of one. Visions are purposefully vague, big picture. However, there is supposed to be some level of coherent direction, and message, which is obviously the difficulty here.
I think the message they are trying to convey is that technology is interwoven in the lives of people, at every level of human need, and that’s where the future is. Technology is clearly what Softbank wants to invest in for the future. Ultimately I think Softbank wants to back the technology to interweave processors with our brains; that guess is probably not a long shot. But between now and when that startup venture becomes available, they want to invest in new tech. Technology is increasingly changing was a key message, which signals the expectations they should have on new technology investment opportunities. They should be looking for opportunities to invest in new tech that involves making people happier (preferably physically integrated tech).
It seems easy to laugh at the presentation, but for its ambition to guess the future they did as good a job as we should expect. At first I scoffed at the idea that they went hundreds of years into the future, but when thinking about future tech like interactive augmented reality or computers that create better computers, guessing hundreds of years out is much less ambitious than the 1950’s shows that projected flying cars in mere decades. So, maybe it’s a wildly ambitious presentation for an aggressive technology vision. If you think about what the presentation could have been about if it were a completely different visionary direction, you could have had a very similar presentation but replacing tech with medicine, energy, or production farming.
A few strange messages overall. I’m left wondering if Softbank plans to be lending to more people of robots in a few hundred years time. I can only assume robots would have pretty great credit, so I’m hoping that Softbank keeps human happiness in it’s vision statement.
Bottom-line, it’s a vision for the bank to invest in new tech, for at least the next couple hundred years.

99 apoptosis October 7, 2017 at 3:21 pm

Dan O, I agree, it’s probably too easy to reflexively dismiss the presentation without appreciating the insights.

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