Thursday assorted links


I think the blokes commenting on Piketty are being clots - they've completely missed the point. Nobody is saying that Greece now is like Germany in '53; what they are saying is that the Germans should stop all the self-satisfied moralising about debt. Maybe somebody should also point out that Merkel herself did pretty well out of W Germany bailing out E Germany.

Merkel is essentially a West German Lutheran pastor's daughter who grew up in East Germany, with a family still well connected to West German resources. A special case, to put it mildly.

Well, yes, maybe. However, isn't part of the motivation for criticism of the moralizing an attempt to lay the foundation for treating Greece like Germany in 53?

Is it reasonable for Piketty to compare the Greek vs German debt to GDP ratios? German GDP was depressed by the war. Greek OTOH, has never had a stellar GDP.

One was a calamity induced spike. The other a long term trend.

Having debts from rebuilding after a war is a tad different from overspending on pensions and public sector employment.

dearieme July 9, 2015 at 12:14 pm

Nobody is saying that Greece now is like Germany in ’53; what they are saying is that the Germans should stop all the self-satisfied moralising about debt.

But this issue is not about debt. The Greeks can't pay back their debts. Everyone knows it. They won't and the EU won't make them. That is why the EU has socialized their debts. The bankers won't lose that money. The German and French tax payer will. The issue is about reforms. The Greeks are in trouble because they are refusing to collect taxes, and want to continue to use the public service as a Spoils system while allowing hair dressers to retire at 50.

That is what the Germans are moralizing about - the moral benefits of hard work. The need for independence from the government. Honesty. Thrift. All those other nasty capitalist values that are alien to southern Europe.

They are perfectly right to moralize about this.

Maybe somebody should also point out that Merkel herself did pretty well out of W Germany bailing out E Germany.

But did East Germany? I would argue no. The Germans should not have accepted reunification at 1:1. The Ossies have suffered most. However there is a legacy of Communism in the East because the Communists did so much to undermine those Protestant Thatcherite values. They are German but not German in the same way the West is or their ancestors were.

As for Rodrik, what on earth does he thinks this means "What the Greeks call democracy comes across in many other ... countries as irresponsible unilateralism."
Blethers of a high order, that.

Perhaps a flare of nationalism on his part? (He's a Turk.)

Maybe a Turkish subject, but he's Jewish.

The problem with the statement is that it is an understatement. The Greeks are welcome to their unilateralism. The trouble is that they are hoping to vote on what Germans taxpayers are supposed to do.

Now I am a German taxpayer, though I am no German. As guest in their country, I'm fine with Germans voting on my taxes without my input. But *only* the Germans. They too are welcome to their unilateralism.

Voting that other people give you money strikes me as a pretty good example of unilateralism.

By definition it is at least bilateral, as they are the ones giving you the money.

It's just not symmetrically democratic.

5. Sieg heil! Guy Verhofstadt, whose rant Cowen approved, expressed concerned about Russian influence in Greece. Well, then, why not a Marshall Plan for Greece; it saved West Germany from the Russians and made it possible for Germany to repay its debts.

Because Greece in 2015 isn't nearly as important as Germany in 1948.

Really? Greece is the gateway to (and from) the middle east, which seems to have some importance to the West. If the West loses Greece, what's to stop the jihadists from overrunning Europe.

Are we back to conducting trade by coast-hugging ships or something?

The Hellespont must be retaken!

"Cabotage" is the word.

How long has it been since we invented commercial aircraft for the jihadists to travel to Europe in?

Really? Greece is the gateway to (and from) the middle east, which seems to have some importance to the West

The middle east is of little importance to the west.

what’s to stop the jihadists from overrunning Europe.

Am I missing it, is this sarcasm?

Hitler was a brutal, repressive dictator. Germany's war debts were illegitimate because The German People did not have a democratic say in the matter. It's quite reasonable to cancel the debts of a former dictatorship.

Similarly, after the United States replaced Saddam Hussein's dictatorship, the world forgave many of Iraq's debts. After all, the Iraqi people shouldn't be held financially responsible for the warmongering of their dictators.

Greece has been a democracy since 1974. They've had forty years of democratically elected governments. It's hard to argue that The Greek People did not vote for the spending that ultimately bankrupted their country.

Wasn't Hitler democratically elected?

Shhhh, you'll confuse everything.

Hitler was a brutal, repressive dictator. Germany’s war debts were illegitimate because The German People did not have a democratic say in the matter. It’s quite reasonable to cancel the debts of a former dictatorship.

The Nazi Partydid win elections and all those crowds at Nazi/Hitler rallies were German people cheering him on. It is not right to say the German population did not participate in Nazi endeavors.

They won a single election, barely. Then they shut down the entire democratic process and removed all checks on their power.

After the war, we removed all the top leaders, executed a bunch of them for war crimes and banned the Nazi Party. The Allies ripped apart and rebuilt Germany's entire government.

We didn't forgive the debts of the Nazis and then let them continue to run the country.

Can we invade and replace their government and ban membership in Syriza first, because that seems ot be part of the formula too.

We didn't leave the Nazi's in power while lending them money.


I'm not cheering on a coup, but it's starting to look like a less-bad option in some respects.

In any event, Greece is very different from post-war Germany.

Because Syriza is responsible for Greece's financial problems? How long has Syriza been in power, or even politically relevant? A matter of months, no?

Lets ban ALL of the political parties who are responsible for greece's debt then.
The point is that the German government and it's policies were completely replaced. By force. They weren't allowed to keep following the same policies while also receiving loan money.

A string of terrible Greek governments caused the problems. Greece then doubled-down on an even more terrible government. Syriza didn't cause the problems, but they're clearly more of the same.

"Maybe if we scream even louder, we'll get the pony from daddy!"

We didn’t leave the Nazi’s in power while lending them money.

Well that's not true at all. And considering Syriza has been in power for like 5 months how is that comparable to the Nazi officials who first came to power years before the end of the war?

Yes, there were certain bureucrats who remained in place, but they were hardly directing the policies of the government.

Because the Greeks would rather retain their sovereignty than have working institutions and high incomes.

I think the Greeks would gladly give away their sovereignty if only you'd give them free money.

That should be the next referendum.

Isn't this the whole point of the EU? (Being flippant here, but it's a little bit true)

Uh, actually we are giving them free money. Then they are calling us Nazis because it is not enough free money.

3. This is the same version as one of the lecture chapters linked to a while ago.

I am confused about what Creditor nations think they are asking from the Greek people.

Isn't the long term equilibrium an exodus of talented Greeks out of Greece into other Eurozone economies, thereby making the Greek economy even less able to generate the kind of growth needed to pay off these debts?

Greeks have shown over and over that they are willing to leave for work elsewhere, and with labor mobility it is a pipe-dream to think they can keep Greeks inside of a defunct Greece.

The same can be said for Puerto Rico in labor mobility terms. If people can move, it is pretty dang hard to tax them to pay off debts.

The whole thing has become in exercise in figuring out the least bad way to throw good money after bad. Whatever plan is settled upon (if one is settled upon) Greece's economic situation will worsen. The question is how much worse for how long, but the answer may only matter in that it will determine the length of time that will pass before the next moment of crisis. A vicious cycle has begun.

The cycle can be broken. Everyone needs to stop thinking of this in moral terms ("Greeks need to pay the money they OWE!") and think of it in economic terms. There is a reason modern bankruptcy includes discharge of debts, and it ain't about charity. Separate moralism from markets. Isn't that part of the marginal revolution?

I agree. But part of declaring bankruptcy is that other people are entitled to stop lending you money, and if they do lend, they are entitled to charge much higher interest rates.

Greece is demanding debt relief AND another bailout. They want to declare bankruptcy and keep borrowing money.

time to move to greece?


Reality again fails the delusional.

Pretty ugly chart there if you're one of the 'AGW-keep-me-up-at-night' types. Despite some pretty substantial subsidies and quotas in the developed world, not to mention an intense PR campaign, "Other Renewables" has grown from a negligible source of energy in 2000 to....a still pretty negligible source of energy today.

From an anti-AGW perspective, anything other than coal or oil is good news. Even natural gas, which gives off more energy per unit mass of carbon exhaust than oil or coal.

Danish consumers pay 40 cents per kWh for their electricity. A family earns around $40,000/year so they can buy 100,000 kWh of resident power per year.

A residential consumer in India pays around 8 cents per kWh for their electricity. A family lives on maybe $1,200/year so they can buy 15,000 kWh of power per year.

And you're telling me India should want to pay *more* for its energy?

I am telling you no such thing.

Sorry, I didn't mean "you" specifically.

I was responding to the notion that the Danish/German model of ludicrously expensive residential electricity is something that the developing world should emulate.

The average US family earns enough for 400,000 kWh. Why emulate the Danish/German model?

I don't think anyone is saying that. Most people who have thought about the issues don't think progress would be possible without some implicit or explicit subsidy to poorer countries to get them to convert to cleaner energy. This could come in the form of direct aid, subsidized loans to build new plants, preferential trade privileges, or some other arrangement.

Oh, the Danes want to pay more for India's energy. Got it.

"but I don’t think he understands where the adverse selection problem lies.”
Actually, Tyler, I think he does. That’s why the 6-month rule.

So I and a friend decide she'll date him for 6 months, get him to pay me (because he won't pay her... that sounds fishy right there) and then she can dump him the next week, we split the funds (or heck, I just let her have the $10k, she's doing all the work, I'm just the middleman. We're friends, after all.)

Sure, 6 months is a big commitment for $10k, but it's not like you can't do a real job in the meantime (and if you can't... well, there's a reason he's not getting a decent date).

You're assuming it's up to the girl + friend to stick it out six months. My guess is a guy so bad at dating that he has resort to a scheme like this has some ridiculous standards.

Or, maybe this guy is banking on people trying to scam him, so he gets slightly less than six months of a girl giving the best she's got hoping to stick around. Then he breaks it off.

"You’re assuming it’s up to the girl + friend to stick it out six months."

I think you mean stick it *in*.

Why not add a #4 with the difference of Germany and Greece? If you are going to screw up, screw up big so people will fear you. The variance Marshall Plans and debt restructing was probably the smartest thing the US did last century (along with the Civil Rights movement) as it turned former enemies, Japan and Germany into Allies. It appears Europe has decided that Greece is not that important so it is time for Greece to both accept it and start working in their self interest.

sounds more like Oedipus in silicon valley.

1. If the guy gets through six years of Ivy education surrounded by thousands of beautiful and smart women who are husband shopping, good luck in Alabama.

That's why he is giving a 10k bounty, duh.

You can't make up stuff like this.

You seems to be quite inexperienced. So, You needs to get refunded his biz-skoul tuition money. Better use of the $10,000 would be high-end hookers.

Again, though: Alabama. High end hookers....probably few and far between down there.

Sure. It strikes me as a nerdy equivalent of parading your sports car around town. "I'm a great guy with money! Why don't girls like me?"

On the bright side, 10k probably goes a lot farther in Bama than in Cambridge.

But look at his ripped torso

anyone have a simple loopable video for fish kick stroke?

fucking ridiculous that such a high concept website doesn't just have like a diagram or any kind of simple demonstration of what the whole article is about. come on people. style over substance as usual on marginal revolution.

You may have forgot your medications today. Please double check.

I don't mean marginal revolution is high concept, I mean that this web 3.0 design web app article doesn't have a short animation or clip of someone doing this "fish kick" that is so revolutionary. Instead it has descriptions of how hard it is. It has videos embedded but they are not good videos to embed. It is a flashy article but not particularly informative.

Well, it certainly does have videos of people doing the fish kick. None are super-clear demonstrations of how to do it at home, but I imagine that would be a more difficult thing to accomplish than just filming someone doing it in the water, which is what they did.

there are no minimalistic of it.

there are no minimalistic videos of it.


butt-plug say what?

#5 tldr: "Piketty's thesis A is like B is wrong because A is not like B"

#2. It might be faster, but it is most certainly not 'new'.


"That all changed in 1998, when FINA, the world governing body of competitive swimming, ruled that swimmers performing the backstroke had to surface after 15 meters."

You realize that refers to the dolphin kick and not the "fish kick"

Since FINA changed the rules in response to Misty Hyman's swimming style in 1998, and Misty Hyman is the "fish kick" expert from the article, I'll take her word for it.

Anyway, it's the same thing, fish kicking is just dolphin kicking with the body turned sideways.

Naive question: Why do these rules apply only to backstroke?

I don't think rules like this are just specific to backstroke. Here's something talking about underwater rules for Breastroke, for example:

quote: "In the vote, FINA approved a new interpretation of allowing the single dolphin kick on the pullout to come at any time before the first breaststroke kick. Previously, the rules required some separation of the hands before the first dolphin kick. The change will be effective immediately."

#4 - and yet, contra the tub-thumping pieces to which Tyler is prone to link, global warming has slowed:

"The global average surface temperature has been rising since 2003 by +0.001°C/year. Although not zero, it is slower than the century time-scale warming of +0.0064 ± 0.0015°C/year since 1880. The surface warming of the 00s is also substantially slower than the 90s, which warmed at a rate of +0.008°C/year."

4. Australia will never build a new coal power station because they cannot compete with renewable energy. And this also applies in places that aren't Australia. So existing coal power plants are a cause for concern, and ones that are under construction are cause for concern, but ones that have been approved but haven't had concrete poured are not as large a problem as many of them will not be built.

In Australia the "coal renaissance" certainly appears to be over. Export thermal coal is now under $60 US a tonne which is 44% of its peak in 2011. This is not high enough to pay for opening new basins of (lower quality) coal that would be required if Australia is to maintain its coal exports, and Australia is not maintaining its coal exports. Exports may be down 100 million tonnes this year compared to last year.

Not even close.

Australia is exporting about twice as much coal as it did twenty years ago.

Let me get this straight - you are attempting to show that Australian coal exports aren't down this year from last year by linking to a graph that stops in the year 2012? Have you recently emerged from a lengthy coma?

I did not argue that.

Sorry, I wrote coal exports may be down by 100 million tonnes. That's not correct. It's down a few million tonnes. What is really down is coal exports in dollars. By maybe about $20 billion US from 2011. I appologise for not getting that right.

If coal is getting cheaper, that makes coal power a better deal.

Note the chart at the original link goes to 2014 and shows a steady increase over the past few decades.

TallDave, Australian coal exports are down this year. No one is claiming they weren't increasing before that. The decline in coal exports is a new thing. And now with coal under $60 US a tonne we are seeing mine closures and sackings.

Also, if solar and wind were cheaper than coal we wouldn't need to give them $13B a year in subsidies in the U.S. alone.

But hey, let's end the subsidies and hope you're right!

Wind farms get built in the United States with Power Purchase Agreements of under 4 cents a kilowatt-hour. And solar in Nevada has just received a PPA of 3.87 cents a kilowatt-hour. With the Production Tax Credit that will come to about 5 cents a kilowatt-hour. Can new coal capacity be built in the United States for 5 cents a kilowatt-hour in the United States? If so, that's impressive, because we can't do that in Australia.

"Wind farms get built in the United States with Power Purchase Agreements of under 4 cents a kilowatt-hour. And solar in Nevada has just received a PPA of 3.87 cents a kilowatt-hour. With the Production Tax Credit that will come to about 5 cents a kilowatt-hour."

The US Production tax credit for wind is 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour in the US. So, it about 6 cents per hour with the Federal tax credit. And generally the states have additional incentives that raise the total costs even further.

For how many years is the Production Tax Credit? Is it 10? The expected life of a wind turbine is typically 25 years, though some in the US are expected to last 30, so they'll be producing a lot of electricity after their Production Tax Credit ends if it's only for a decade.

Claims about wind costs are extremely speculative anyway. Many of them have not been borne out.

Note that as coal gets cheaper, the cost of coal power production also decreases.

The data suggest coal is at least 3x less expensive than wind and probably closer to 5x less expensive over the long run.

This is, of course, very old news.

There are lots of claims out there, but the reality is that areas that rely more on wind and solar tend to pay the highest electricity prices.

Talldave, you wrote that wind costs are extremely speculative. Why is that? Because there's no fuel cost and the average amount of wind tends to be fairly constant in most locations, surely the cost of wind power would be less speculative than say coal or natural gas costs since the price of fuel isn't going to change. Really, only solar PV should have it beat on consistancy. Once the capital costs paid there shouldn't be a lot of variation.

The variables include maintenance costs, wind availability, and turbine lifetimes. There have been some nasty surprises for investors on all three fronts.

I don't think you read the link. Wind variability is a major problem because people want the power on all the time, and wind is often less available in winter.

If they can keep the wind on 100% of the time that will be a compelling argument. Since they can't, it isn't.

I knew a recent law graduate who accepted an offer of on-demand oral sex in lieu of rent (and she was pretty hot). This sounded fun but as you might expect it generated problems and in the end no one was really happy with the arrangement.

One might argue that Europeans are not well informed about the plight of the Greeks and the damage that austerity has done to the country.

Is it austerity or tight money that has caused the pain? I would say tight money. The ECB should offer Greece 5 years of 5% Euro inflation in exchange for more Greek Government austerity. That way Greek incomes and prices can stay at the current level while the German and Dutch prices rise making Greece more competitive.

Central have been a curse.

#3 the only normal people are the people that you do not know and we all know too much about famous people.

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