Assorted links

1. Jazz for cows, via Chris F. Masse, excellent video.

2. Ten books lost to time.

3. New Cochran and Harpending blog.

4. Interesting interview with Robert Lucas and why he voted for Obama.

5. The pessimism and optimism of Matt Yglesias.

6. Rumored version of the EU plan in the works, involves lots of leverage!  Not ready until November 4th, according to this report.  Caveat emptor, but to me it sounds plausible as a prediction.  Can work if Germany is willing to guarantee the trillions.


Sophisticated cheese comes from sophisticated cows.

5. If we started spending on the right things, we would spend immensely more, and like it.

Re 6: Why do you think this can work? It is the same plan as before. The only difference is the leverage trick, but this seems to be devised to get around the Bundestag, not to really solve something. Because in the end, the Germans (and the Dutch, the fins, etc) still are guaranteeing the complete bailout (because they guarantee in effect the ECB).

Or do I miss something?


You missed nothing.

Precisely. Get a guarantor for trillions, and anything will work. Until the guarantors got "die Schnauze voll".

I like what floyd Norris said in yesterday's New York Times, "For a country, the ability of the economy to generate growth and profit, and thus tax revenue, is more important. For the private sector, it matters greatly what the debt was used to finance. If it created valuable assets that will bring in future income, it may be good. Even if the borrowed money went to support consumption, it may still be fine if the borrowers have ample income to repay the debt.
That is one reason many euro zone countries are struggling even with harsh programs to slash government spending. With unemployment high and growth low — or nonexistent — it is not easy to find the money to reduce debts. And debt-to-G.D.P. ratios will rise when economies shrink, even if the government is not borrowing more money. "
My point is that even with all the alleged leveraging that appears to be coming on the horizon, it won't matter with the combination of high unemployment and low growth in many of the countries of the Euro Zone.. I think the Germans may have it right, what is the point of throwing more debt into the fire?

The interview with Mr. Lucas strikes me as nearly incoherent, a jumble of thoughts so lacking in logical consistency that one wonders if the transcript was somehow transcribed incorrectly. Here is a detailed critique of the piece.

Really, is "cutting taxes on capital" the only contribution Mr. Lucas can make to the policy debate?


"Optimistic about China: I think American commentators have gotten obsessed with “bubbles” and are missing a China that’s (a) steadily growing its capital stock, and (b) determined not to let millions of people sit around idly out of fussy dislike of waste. They could keep growing at close to this clip for 20 years and still be well behind Portugese living standards, and I see no reason why Chinese people should forever be poorer than Portugese. Don’t listen to the haters"

I am optimistic about China as well. I am pessimistic about American math skills. The current per-capita GDP of China is $7,600 (PPP). 20 years of 10% growth will give China a per-capita GDP of $51,128. Portugal's per-capita GDP is $23,000 (PPP). Portugal's economy has been flat for years. Future fast growth is doubtful. Assuming MattY is right about Chinese growth, China will be much richer than Portugal (per-capita) in 2031.

His math is as bad as his spelling. His admiration for left wing totalitarian governments is disgusting.

At the very least, he could have expressed optimism about democracy in China, but that's off his radar. He's apparently more concerned about outcomes in the American Republic that irritate him.

" I was caught by surprise by how far left the guy is and how much he's hung onto it"

Wow. And on top of that Lucas says that he voted for Obama because he is black. You would think that ignorant, poor people would fall for this but this is an educated guy. Incredible.

Only educated people are smart enough to be racists? Oh wait, I'm sure that isn't all what you meant - well, no actually, I'm pretty sure you meant just that, but then, I wonder why people are still falling for stuff like this -
'The burden to pay for all this largess falls on workers in the form of high marginal tax rates, and in particular on married women who might otherwise think of going to work as second earners in their households. "The welfare state is so expensive, it just breaks the link between work effort and what you get out of it, your living standard," says Mr. Lucas. "And it's really hurting them."'
Yeah, Germany is really, really suffering from its 7% unemployment rate. And the burden of a health care system that costs 50% less per capita than the American version is obviously due to the largesse of socialism.

And the guaranteed kindergarten ('day care' is the correct translation) places for children between 3 and 7? Yep, that certainly keeps married women from participating in the labor force.

Sometimes, one just wonders how gullible Americans really are when presented such easily refuted assertions of a non-factual nature. ('Bullshit' is the technical term of the art, I believe.)

I still find this

... one of the most subtle satire sites on the web. (Damn, twice cut off in one day.)

"If computers can play Jeopardy at a high level, they can also take over a huge share of routine diagnostic work."

Yglesias simply isn't a very bright guy, is he?


He is bright enough. Just not very attached to reality.

Yeah. This same development is why we've filled the schools with robots & computeres & fired half the teachers. If it could be done, then obviously it will be done. Public policy is easy!

The NEA and their political allies wouldn't allow that, even if it were proven effective.

Peter: Dreamers/thinkers don't tend to be "very attached to reality" and that is usually a good thing. I really enjoyed Matt Yglesias' post and I am happy that MR got the "ball rolling" on what's been a series of interesting posts on this topic from various bloggers this week. Leave "reality" for the offline folks...

i think he just thinks too much. i bet he has approach anxiety like a mo-fo.

They could be if we had the same information set up for medicine as the Internet for random factoids. The Computers are smart enough, but no one developed one for this purpose. Computers are also smart enough to take our orders in restaurants, and a whole massive amount of things that computers are smart enough to do, but we won't accept them as replacements yet.

Well, the IBM lab at Böblingen in Germany was talking about the contracts they were expecting from providing exactly this sort of service. (Yes, I work at a software company in that hell hole of socialism that is called the People's Republic Of The Homeland Of Mercedes, ERP software, and ICE trains fed by dual system streetcars.)

But sure, call IBM a bunch of idiots for having some blogger in the U.S. reveal what has not exactly been an IBM secret. As if anyone would ever listen to IBM when it comes to computer technology, after all.

Jazz cows? I raise you Mariachi Beluga:

#2: "a meeting of the grandest expressions of competing colonial powers”: England wasn't really much of a colonial power in 1613.

Dear Tyler Cowen,
You might wish to put onto your reading list the title 'Too Small to Fail' by Maurice Gleitzman, publishers Puffin, link to Oz site:

Enjoy the read.

5. Interesting how he expresses optimism about China and describes people who are pessimistic about China's sustained growth as 'haters', but spends the next several points being critical about the US.

So typical of a privileged American leftist.

"Haters" is a generational thing. It refers to people who don't like particular bands, etc. He has denounced Katy Perry-haters in similar terms. It doesn't have the connotation you are reading into it.

China is the new Japan: The country that the left points to as the one that is going to eat America's lunch because it is more interventionist in the economy. That didn't work out so well for Japan, and it won't work out well for China in the long run.

China's current growth is due to the fact that it's devouring an awful lot of low-hanging fruit, but this too shall pass. Its state interventions are causing all sorts of problems that are going to become increasingly severe as it loses its ability to grow itself out of trouble.

I liked the Lucas article. I have to wonder how much more of an effect rational expectations have now than they did in the 1930's? The flow of information is so much greater and so much faster now that I would think it's nearly impossible to fool people as to the source of the money being injected into the economy and what they'll ultimately have to sacrifice to pay it back.

From a Keynesian standpoint, isn't it just possible that a government with high debt loads and a large deficit will find it impossible to borrow and spend the economy out of the doldrums because every dollar of stimulus results in an even bigger increase in fear for the future and a subsequent increase in savings, to a much higher degree than what might have happened in the past when information about the source of the newfound money in the economy was harder to come by?

Sad about the lost books, but one third of Bach's works are lost and that is a deeper tragedy.

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