Assorted links


#7 is good. Maybe TGS means 'The Great Slowdown', not quite as dire as your chosen verbiage.

I saw Davies speak last week to a room of non-economists. I thought he was very good.

His conclusion:

"Is this “secular stagnation”? The term is interpreted differently by different schools of economists. Some believe that the disappointments in growth since 2009 have been mainly due to persistent shortages of demand because of balance sheet problems after the Great Recession, while others attribute them to a slowdown in supply potential over a longer period of time.

The Fulcrum study does not attempt to settle this debate. However, if we assume that G7 activity was broadly at trend in 2007, and that long run growth since then has been about 2 per cent, then the current level of GDP is still about 8 per cent below its long run level."

I think we're still 2-4% shy of capacity, but extrapolations from 2007 overstate this.

Modern macroeconomics seems to assume that GDP is a mean-reverting trend, rather than a unit root integrated process. The evidence is weak. Why are we so sure that recessions have no long run impact? If GDP is stochastically integrated then there's a third possibility: a deep recession doesn't change long-term growth rates but we'll permanently be some X% below pre-recession trend.

It seems to me that if everyone decides to go on vacation for a year, then they'd always remain slightly behind the parallel universe where they didn't. If you're running a marathon and take a nap in the middle, you're not going to be able to run any faster catching up. GDP levels aren't some manna from heaven that simply accrue with the passing of time, it's the result of productive work and investment. Yes there's some technological development that's relatively exogenous to economic conditions, but mostly slack doesn't just go away. If it did then we wouldn't observe high-savings economies growing faster than low savings one.

I agree. Plus, who's to say 3% growth is the magic number. Why not 2.5%?

My own sense of slack has more to do with the still low employment numbers versus 2008. Some of those disappeared jobs were bogus, but 8 million?

I don't agree with everything Jared Diamond says (especially post-GG&S), but the hate he gets from the academic left is just absurd. It's either, "How dare you suggest that different outcomes are caused by factors other than the evilness of Europeans!" or "How dare you suggest that having MRI machines and internal combustion engines are somehow 'more advanced' than the XYZ tribe's traditional lifestyle!" or something along those lines.

I keep a list of people I admire, and they have one trait in common: they all are late fathers. Diamond sired two boys at age 50. Good on him. My favorite is Saul Bellow. I've never read his work, but this caught my eye: (" In 1999, when he was 84, Bellow had a daughter, Rosie, his fourth child, with Freedman."). 84 and he could still swing it.

you should admire more people.

You admire someone for having viable sperm into his 80s? Seems like a pretty low bar.

A much tougher trick is being an effective parent of a young child at such an age. In my experience, parenting is a job for a much younger person. But good luck with that.

JAMRC has been dropping the ball lately. Ray has been upping his game and is currently leading as most entertaining commentator IMO.

Mutations accumulate in the gametes with age, you're not doing your kids a favor by delaying their birth. Here are some of Greg Cochran's posts on the topic:

Harpending is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Utah: see this homepage. Cochran is an adjunct Professor at the University of Utah but he lives in Albuquerque, NM. His formal academic background is in optical physics but he spends as much time as possible working on evolutionary biology, especially of humans. His work with Paul Ewald on pathogens and chronic disease is well known.

Above speaks volumes. And they dis Jared Diamond in one of their blogs. I'm not listening to these fools*. It turns out my family has a family history of breeding late. Look at me: my dad was close to sixty when he had me and I'm fine. And I'm in the 1%. Salmon are the same way: some breed late in case the early breeders all get eaten by the grizzly bears or some other catastrophe occurs. 'Nuff said.

* Update: Before I hit the Enter button I did a Google search. I have heard of Cochran and he's provocative (Steve Sailor also cites him a lot); among other things he thinks homosexuality must be caused by a pathogen rather than genes. And I remember this counter-intuitive paper (which also speaks volumes about genetic mutations and IQ): Cochran and co-authors Jason Hardy and Henry Harpending suggest that the widely observed high average IQ of Ashkenazi Jews may be attributed to natural selection for intelligence during the Middle Ages and a low rate of genetic inflow. Cochran et al. hypothesise that the occupational profile of the Jewish community in medieval Europe had resulted in selection pressure for mutations that increase intelligence, but can also result in hereditary neurological disorders. So there. I will indeed bred and my master race, mutations and all, will inherit the earth like the Ashkenazi Jews.

Yeah, definitely. The thing is, I don't have the time to become an expert in all these subjects on my own so I have to decide which experts are trustworthy to understand the literature, review it, and offer conclusions about what the science has really been able to determine. But given the nature of the criticism Diamond has received, I have determined that those folks criticizing him should not be trusted to offer expert opinions on these subjects. Basically, they have lowered my view of their field to being roughly equivalent to astrology. It's pretty pathetic.

I'm with you. The criticism isn't so much factual as attitudinal. Diamond is insufficiently deferential to non-Western lifestyles.

Diamond also gets a lot of heat from rightwingers on environmental issues. That his program pisses of both sets of nutcases is nice.

From what I gather, his theory for the downfall of Easter Island is pretty far off the archeological record, according to some more recent work in the area. I don't remember the details, but basically, it was probably rats, not human warfare, that devastated the island.

Whatever the story was, both sides of the debate seemed to me pretty grounded in evidence, whichever side is right or wrong. However, the left-wing hysteria that his research is politically incorrect is much more founded in deep-seated ideological biases, and not very much in facts and evidence. I wonder if his ecological disaster book was dashed off quickly in order to prove is bone-fides, as it seems a little less well thought out than his (also flawed) other books.

Rats? Foiled again on my pet Easter Island collapse theory! Anyway scientific models (theories) come and go, and for archeological research based on fragmentary remnants I would not necessarily trust "recent work" much more than traditional work on Easter Island collapse. Maybe it was a combination of rats, cutting down all the timber, and maybe an unknown epidemic or two. I share your ideas in the second paragraph however.

Time traveling rats that went and destroyed the island's trees before showing up.

There wasn't any shortage of evil on the part of the Europeans:

At the same time, Diamond has ignored the studies of Joseph Tainter that posit a growth in bureaucracy that eventually destroys a society:

Ah yes, nothing like posting selective evidence, completely out of context, to win an ideological fight.

The left claims that non-Whites are morally superior to Whites and that this is why Whites dominated, the historical record suggests if anything the opposite. Africans sold their racial brothers into slavery to Europeans, I have no doubt they would have sold members of other races into slavery if they had that opportunity.

Yeah. Three cheers for the Vasco DeGama Welcome Wagon:

"Along the way, on the outgoing voyage, Gama's fleet opened contact with the East African gold trading port of Sofala, and reduced the sultanate of Kilwa to tribute, extracting a substantial sum of gold. On reaching India in October 1502, Gama's fleet set about capturing any Arab vessel he came across in Indian waters, most notoriously the Miri, a pilgrim ship from Mecca, whose passengers he had massacred in open water. He then appeared before Calicut, demanding redress for the treatment meted out to Cabral. While the Zamorin was willing to sign a new treaty, Da Gama made a preposterous call to the Hindu king to expel all Muslims from Calicut before beginning negotiations, which was naturally turned down. The Portuguese fleet then bombarded the city for nearly two days from the sea shore, severely damaging the unfortified city. He also captured several rice vessels and barbarously cut off the crew's hands, ears and noses, dispatching them with an insulting note to the Zamorin."

Thanks for that Brian, it is good to use any opportunity to remind people of wicked acts commited by people of European descent. Your nobility is admirable.


Any opportunity? You did read the comment to which I replied, no? There are the stories we tell ourselves and there are facts. I'm just hoping for a little congruence.

Yes, I read it. The story Clover told is in no way incongruent with your facts. Clover‘s contention was that the story of unique European wickedness is incongruent with the facts. You provided no counterargument. You merely used the opportunity to bring up an example of European wickedness.

Where do you get the idea that all African's are one "race"? Because they all have dark skin?

They generally sold prisoners they captured during battles or raids. In their eyes, those sold as slaves were in general no more their "racial brothers" than we were.

I don't mean to suggest that there was. However there's a certain sect within the left that insists that every bad thing that ever happened prior to the late 1800s was Europe's fault and everything bad after that was America's fault (we get a break for WW2 though, which is nice). An overly simplistic view of history to say the least.

Oddly, though, modern Germans never seem to get blamed for WWII. Is a sufficiently humiliating defeat sufficient to expunge guilt? This is to say nothing of the Soviets. It's still chic to wear Che t-shirts or hammer and sickle insignia.

I think you have to give Germans some credit for a decades-long national self-examination and catharsis.

Having said that, I am generally sympathetic to J's point of view.

"Oddly, though, modern Germans never seem to get blamed for WWII. Is a sufficiently humiliating defeat sufficient to expunge guilt?"

I think there are two things at play here. First, the humiliating defeat led to fundamental changes in institutions and social attitudes. If Germans were naming parks or monuments after Hermann Goering or Reinhard Heydrich, it would be a different story. Second, at least in the U.S. (and maybe in parts of Western Europe as well), the Cold War made it impolite to talk too loudly about the Nazi era in official circles. A lot of former Nazi officials who could arguably have been prosecuted for war crimes were given a free pass and allowed to stay in mid-level or provincial bureaucratic positions with little if any complaint from the U.S., almost certainly for Cold War strategic reasons. The forgive and forget mentality induced by Cold War rivalry may have spread into the wider culture.

@Ricardo, contrast this with the wholesale exclusion of Baathists from post-war Iraqi government, then draw a straight line to ISIS.

Didn't Diamond say the people of New Guinea are the most intelligent people he knows. Presumably they are massive intellects trapped in a hostile environment.

Yet, when their environment changes to become less hostile due to modernity, or individuals transfer to friendly environments, this great intelligence doesn't seem to manifest itself.

Diamond is a bit too pat and simplistic for me. Kind of like the Gladwell of anthropology.

5. Jared Diamond is a "strident propagandist for capitalism"? I want to believe that the author was being ironic.

It only makes sense in terms of the world view of The guardian, ie effectively the far left is the left, the left is the centre and the right is the far right, thus Diamond, who in reality receives most of his criticism for being too much of an environmentalist, is described as someone who receives criticism from the left. The article is worth reading just for coining the phrase "geographic privilege".

#3: I´m really curious about the feelings around independence, specially for 20 somethings in a few years. If they are still part of Spain, it's going to be a frustrated generation. If they succeed, frustration also arises since dignity is sexy only while you're young. Just curious about the monomaniacal life of some passionate individuals from Catalonia I've met over a few beers. Perhaps that's the objective I just can't relate, the nation over individuals.

Here's Dean Baker talking Eurogeddon:

Note, this link is specifically targeted to make prior_approval's head asplode. Let's see if it works.

See improperly placed reply - however, it is Matt O'Brien that is discussing eurogeddon. Dean Baker is merely pointing out the advantages of a weaker currency - something Germans already understand.

I'm skeptical. Below you refer to German mercantilists- these guys presumably haven't read Adam Smith, let alone Milton Friedman.

Nope - those German mercantilists and socialists (united in what is called the Soziale Marktwirtschaft) seem to follow a non-English language script.

The noted socialist Bismarck, for example, did the work creating the German welfare state - and a hundred and thirty years later, it still seems to be pretty much following the same broad framework.

1. That's a pretty random sample of rom-coms. I'm not sure the evidence does much to support the thesis.

It is an exaggerated POV on rom-coms but there is a lot of truth to the writing. (Modern poors won't last.) In terms of the Rom Com golden age (1932 - 1945) the number of women that were rich heiress to millionaire happens ALL the time. Along with the three above movies, the rich heiress is in Trouble In Paradise, Libeled Lady, The Thin Man, It Happened One Night, Palm Beach Story, The Lady Eve (That was a Heir and whooed comedy Famme Fatale!) and The Awful Truth, where the rich couple owned a Coal Mine. (Needless to say a coal mine is nowhere in the picture.) Remember there were 10 Rogers-Astaire movies in which 9 of them Astaire was broke dance wearing tailored tuxedos, drinking champagne at night clubs, and staying at four star hotels.

The 1930s Rom Coms had as much reality in the Depression as do The Avengers does with the modern world.

Dean Baker understands what a gift the euro has been to Germany - 'If Germany left the euro zone, the problems of the other countries would be largely over. The euro would presumably fall in value against the new deutschemark, allowing the countries of southern Europe to quickly regain their competitiveness against Germany. The resulting reduction in their trade deficit would be a major boost to growth and employment. And this could be done without the financial disruptions that would be caused by the southern European countries leaving the euro.

So the question is, if Germany threatened to leave the euro zone, why wouldn't the other countries just say "please do?"'

The reason being, of course, that a lowered value of the euro compared to other major currencies gives German mercantilists just another big advantage. German exporters love the euro in a way that only countries with major trade surpluses can appreciate.

German mercantilists are real big fans of America's strong dollar policy too, by the way.

So then answer the question: why don't the rest of the eurozone countries kick out Germany, or push them to threaten to leave and then call their bluff?

The other half of the mercantilist game - who do you think those weaker countries are relying on to avoid even worse pain? Germany (with Austria, the Netherlands, and Finland in a supporting role) is pretty much the only reason the Greek government can borrow any money at all - and if one thinks Greece is suffering now (and it is), just imagine Greece without any access to international finance markets at all. The Greeks can - they'd rather avoid that for as long as possible.

Good point, thanks.

And leaving aside the AfD (and man, would the CDU love to), there is no political backing for any threats to leave the euro.

Reading the article (as compared to commenting on Dean Baker's words) - another author who cannot tell the difference between 'Europe,' the EU, and the eurozone - 'Of course, this isn't how central banks are supposed to work—they're supposed to be independent—but it's how Europe works. Or doesn't. Once you understand that, you understand why Europe has floundered from one existential crisis to the next.' The Bank of England, the Swiss National Bank, and the Swedish Rijksbank all wonder what this means.

@6. It's refreshing to read an interview about books that comes across as genuine rather than calculated -- as is so often the case.

#1...My favorite romantic comedy is "Holiday", with Grant & Hepburn. It, too, is about economics and life.

Holiday may be romantic, but it's not a comedy. I don't mean that it fails in its efforts to be funny. I mean it's not trying to be funny. It's actually sort of sad, and that's quite intentional.

Encouraging risk taking and not spanking is an exclusive Pygmy child raising technique?

It sounds great in a fawning Guardian piece but its more likely a mere reaction to his own strict upbringing.

I wonder if Pygmies think Christians are not "decent people"?


A quick and easy explanation:


They’ve been doing a pumpkin curry as well.

Anyone who talks about dishes that a restaurant "does," as opposed to what they serve, is under deep suspicion, and not to be trusted as a reviewer.

re: 2

Pumpkin curry, eh? Doesn't take much to impress the rubes in Northern VA.

Also, that 'whole fish' in the pic: parable of the loaves & the fishes, right?

Last, hoisted from a blog on 'frequent flyers' for air travel?

The Decline & Fall of the West.

#6 Gawande. No, Encyclopedia Brown was dumb, and it and Hardy Boys are stochastically dominated by The Three Investigators. TC, figured you knew better...

Wow. Memories. I haven't thought about the Three Investigators since I stopped reading them, but they're infinitely better written than the Hardy Boys. Also, Atul Gawande was a late developer if he was reading the Hardy Boys after third grade. I'd wager most really bright people were reading much better stuff, much earlier.

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