Friday assorted links


'The new Mercatus state fiscal rankings — the Northeast does poorly.'

One could be forgiven for having a sneaking suspicion that South and North Dakots's and Alaska's outlooks look a bit different if one assumes a different baseline oil price than that assumed for state budgetary purposes in the previous research this is based.

I couldn't forgive. The differences are far more than oil prices/revenues. And, it's not the Northeast location. It's liberal spending policies that use too much of other people's money, hinder private businesses, etc.

Pretty shortly, the democrat-controlled cesspits of fiscal ruin all will be Puerto Rico.

'The differences are far more than oil prices/revenues. '

Of course - if we just happen to exclude the oil wealth that ca. 740,000 Alaskans share, one can be confident that Alaska would remain at the top of that list, right?

I would say so. Unless I'm mistaken, AK oil royalty money that it distributes to Alaskans is a state budget outlay. If the AK government kept the money, it's budget surplus would be higher by that amount.

Additionally, the post isn't about the aggregate wealth of the states' citizens. It's about the solvency/insolvency of the states.

Democrat-controlled cesspits?

Good luck finding any conclusive evidence that, on average, Republican-controlled governments (at any level) spend any less than Democrat-controlled ones.

Read the survey. GMU's Mercatus Center did it for me.

I agree that Congressional GOP and recent GOP WH residents have been spending almost as much as democrats. It may partly explain Trump. In the states it's different. The states cannot print Federal Reserve Notes or monetize their debts.

On average, a solvent entity doesn't proportionally spend as much ("on average") as an insolvent entity.

Your comment is astonishing.

Interesting that Kansas and Louisiana are in the middle of pack with all the budget problems they have.They don't even make it to the big movers. Not sure what are they measuring.

I'm guessing you didn't bother to read the link - 'For the most part, states’ overall fiscal performance remained relatively constant. Only Delaware and Iowa dropped significantly in the overall ranking of fiscal condition.'

Man if only the overwhelming majority of the country that lives in all these terrible northeast and west coast places knew what Mercatus thought of their governments, they would move to where things are *really* great out in Nebraska!

You're trying to be sarcastic, but the Northeast and California really are experiencing massive net outmigrations (see link). Mostly to the states that do rank in the Mercatus upper half. The tragedy is that the Northeast and West Coast really are such fantastic places to live. Either because of accumulated cultural capital or amazing natural amenities. California's been endowed by God with astounding natural beauty. The New Yorkers of 1900 built an amazing, dynamic city. And the Californians and New Yorkers of 2016 are doing everything in their power to price everyone but the super-rich out.

You have to consider a combination of responsible state fiscal health, desirability as a living location, and net migration pattern. Based on that, it seems pretty clear that in 50 years, South Florida will be the economic and cultural center of the US.

California had "massive net outmigration" of about 100,000 people a year. Out of a population of 39 million - a "massive out migration" of 2/10 of 1% of the population. In a state where half a million babies are born every year.

At a 1% growth rate, California's population will be close to 80 million people when my months-old nephew is close to retirement. If I'm a betting man, I'd bet he doesn't mind a few people leaving every year. Or even "massive out migration."

Your nephew won't be living in California

We are now ready for the red states to make the blue states bail them out by nationalizing debt.

Is the Federal government in process of "nationalizing" (assume responsibility to pay investors interest and principal?) the debt of Puerto Rico?

6: The main reason, by far, that the US has produced so few truly good players is a lack of quality academies and coaching compared to European nations. It'd be certainly be a nice bonus for the talent pool if everyone had equal access to top-level (for the US) youth soccer, but, even with the current state of affairs, the pool is plenty large. A lot of outsiders get caught up on the "Imagine if Allen Iverson played soccer!" type of thinking without realizing just how unique soccer is compared to American sports in the importance of skill relative to athleticism.

No, its because Americans don't want to spend much effort on a game where hardly anyone scores and where falling down and pretending to be fouled is a major activity.

Ever wonder why there aren't any great American rugby players?

Possibly because Americans aren't at all interested in playing a physical contact sport without wearing armor, one where falling down and pretending to be fouled is considered contemptible.

"Possibly because Americans aren’t at all interested in playing a physical contact sport without wearing armor"

This is a common misconception among those who have never played football (maybe I am wrong and prior_test2 has). Football with pads is quite a bit more violent and physical that football without pads and football without pads is more probably more violent than rugby (i cant say for sure since I have not played rugby, but I have watched it a bit).

I spent most of the Sundays of my youth playing pickup no pads tackle football and played organized football with pads from 3rd-12th grade. Helmets and shoulder pads are at least as much of a weapon as they are armor. You just don't get near the type of impacts without pads.

Also it is often said for soccer that "all you need is a ball and a field". Well that is also the case for football. It is pretty easy to set up an informal tackle football game in a park or someone's back yard. Maybe upper middle income kids don't do this, but i bet lower middle to poor kids still do.

Rugby is like football, except it's played by men.

Rugby is generally rougher than football, save for the high-speed midfield crossing route collisions that you so often see wide receivers get are largely lacking. But much of football is just the offensive and defensive lines gently walking into one another. I've found it really surprising that so much CTE work seems to focus on the seemingly minor collisions that occur frequently, rather than the less common devastating hits.

I do find the allegation that soccer is a physical contact sport kind of laughable. It's about the same level of contact as basketball.

'maybe I am wrong and prior_test2 has'

Nope - I was a HS varsity high and intermediate hurdler.

'probably more violent than rugby'

Football played without pads is certainly like rugby. And there is no question that football players know how to use weight and momentum as a weapon - in bursts of a few seconds, with a pause in between. With players switching out depending on ball possession. Rugby players do not enjoy such luxuries.

No question that Rugby players are better conditioned than football players. Its not even close.

But football sets up violent situations that I don't think you see in Rugby. Here are a few that come to mind.

1) The blind side sack. This is essentially someone getting teed off on by a guy running full speed while he is standing looking the other way.

2) Various forms of blocking. My understanding is that only the ball carrier can be hit in rugby outside of the scrum, but pretty much anyone can be hit in football pretty much at any time on any play. Several particularly brutal blocks are the lead block on an isolation play, a crack back block on an inside defender by an outside player (often unsuspecting), cut blocks where a player launches himself at a defender's knees, and kick out/trap blocks

3)Special teams play where folks launch themselves into each other with running start of more than 30 yards.

4) And as Lord Action mentioned collisions on catch attempts by receivers.

It just does not seem to me that Rugby creates near as many of these types of high impact scenarios. But again that is just from watching not playing.

And because endurance is not important you select for large players that can create large explosive forces.

This is all offset of course by having pads, but pads also allow you to launch your body at folks in ways you would never dream of without pads and create a hard weapon to hit people with.

Like I said I had more fear and got more truly jarring hits playing with pads than I ever did in the back yard.

Rugby is like football, except it’s played by men.

Amusing, given how large a percentage of the players are women

But much of football is just the offensive and defensive lines gently walking into one another.

Oh, he's just an inept troll. I guess I should have read more before making the last post.

Pads are not protection; they are weapons. That may not have been the original design goal. They were originally to prevent skull fractures (which are rare in rugby). Rugby has a constant flow to the game so players are all moving in the same direction. By contrast, football has constant resets after each play where the players lineup opposite each other. So you get high frequent high speed collisions from opposite directions. I'm sorry, rugby should be arguing with hockey about which sport is more physical, not football. It's not close.

No, it's because in the US, kids have many sports to choose from, while in Brazil, they have one.

Brazil, all the rest of South America and all Europe... Come on.

Basketball has eliminated simulations of being fouled by simply calling a foul on every play.

In Europe, kids are being scouted at 9 or 10 years old. So I don't buy the thesis that there are a bunch of great hispanic kids being ignored and left behind. If that were true then the professional teams both in the US and Europe are ignoring a free pot of gold.

I suspect the real reason that US is not producing many great players is that athletic skill is fungible - so kids who are great soccer players are also potentially great football players, or baseball players or tennis or golf etc. So they have multiple options, and they go for the ones that are most popular and most remunerative. The kids that are left playing soccer are simply doing it because they enjoy it, not because they are great athletes.

I should also mention that when I did play soccer in the US when I lived in Houston in the 1990's I played against many Mexican teams (that's what they called themselves). They had very good individual ball skills but were not very fast, so when we got the ball, as a mainly european team, we were able to lose them pretty easily and make many more goal chances. So I could easily imagine a hispanic only game as a great display of soccer but they would not necessarily beat a less skilled european one. Of course in the Houston summer, by the end of the second half, that advantage tended to fade.

Yeah, this is it. Soccer would need to displace things that are better opportunities for the athletic. So there's a chicken and egg problem in the US.

Soccer is basically ultimate frisbee in the US - it's a place you go if you don't fit into mainstream sports.

I suspect the real reason that US is not producing many great players is that athletic skill is fungible

This is blindingly obvious, and I struggle to grasp how anyone could fail to see it. In general, sports requires a combination of excellent coordination (of both the hand/eye and agility varieties), strength, and stamina; there isn't some magic trait specific to each sports that so displaces these as to make those attributes useless for picking up new sports.

There's a reason the star wide-receiver is usually also the star point guard is usually also the star outfielder.

American sports give huge size premiums. What American sport would Lionel Messi play? Maybe second baseman in baseball ... Placekicker in football ... There wouldn't be much out there in American sports for the small man who is the world's best at the world's most competitive sport.

I would think he could play running back at his height, however he would need to add somewhere between 40 and 50 lbs to survive the physicality of football.

How many short white running backs are there in the NFL?

But now that you mention it, I could imagine Messi coming out of a small college football program with absurd yards per carry stats due to his Barry Sanders-like elusiveness, going undrafted, and then Bill Belichick signing him as a free agent and him piling up a few good years before the physical toll wrecks his body.

A lack of quality academies and coaching compared to European nations. But why do we lack the quality academies and coaching? Maybe because beyond youth sports up to 12, soccer is not popular. Parents of a potentially great athlete push the kids to the more popular basketball, football or baseball. (Or in the Minnesota hockey) Maybe, Allen Iverson, Derek Jeter, or Jerry Rice would have not been made great soccer players but remember there 1,000s like them between 10 - 16.

Along with coaching, even the road to university and professional is pretty bleak.

Hockey is way more stuck in the suburbs han soccer, way more expensive, and less common, but we still get great America players ell above the rates compared to soccer. We have the coaching, we have the university, and we have the minor and major league guys getting paid enough that someone will dedicate their life for that.

It's not just talent. Talentes players exist, developing them is a problem, especially through high school and beyond. You never know if you're gonna be top level, but a skilled guy who stuck mostly in the minors in hockey is way better off than a skilled guy doing the same in soccer.

Maybe, a deindustrialized America has grown decadent and can't muster anymore the moral integrity (the real football, i.e. "soccer", is known as a gentlemen's game) and resilience that soccer demands at its highest levels. It is no surpise that America's women's soccer team are among the best (women were not hit nearly as hard as men by the emerging economic patterns). It is no surprise either that Germany is the reigning champion team. "Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton" and the 2016 World Cup (oh, God!) was won in Germany's vocational training system.

Isn't another reason the US women are so good is that others just aren't serious about it? I seem to recall reading that the Brazilian women's team is regarded a group of outcasts attacking femininity. A shame when you consider how outstanding Marta was in her prime.

She was outstanding, no doubt about that. I'd say there was some negative perceptions attached to the women's soccer in the beginings of the game, but not today-- the big issue nowadays, if I am not wrong, is, as virtually everywhere else, to atract attention and sponsors.
Still, even if you count Brazil out for the reason you proposes (that would fail to explain how Brazil has been the top team or among the top teams for so long), it is hard to believe that American women do well because all the usual soccer suspects are not serious (Germany, the current men's champion, won two of the last four Women's World Cup, and even the strange cases, like Japan and China's successful teams, challenge this narrative-- do the stern Asians believe that kicking a ball around is more becoming of a woman than the male soccer European powerhouses do?)

"The main reason, by far, that the US has produced so few truly good players is a lack of quality academies and coaching compared to European nations."

Right, soccer in the USA is a genteel pastime aimed at getting upper middle class kids college scholarships. It's not the kind of intensive life-monopolizing training aimed at making 16 year olds into full time professional soccer players that the Netherlands took the lead in devising.

I personally think American soccer, as a social institution, is pretty healthy right now, even though it means the national men's team has a hard time getting past the round of 16 in the World Cup:

Owen Hargreaves went from an obscure Calgary team right into Bayern's academy, then their first team (and England's team and then Man U).

#4 - Under what conditions is concealing or reducing access to information a good idea?

Information on average must get less valuable with time as the general supply of information increases. Therefore it is a depreciating asset (on average) in real terms. So information hoarding must be a utility reducing strategy on a societal basis.

#4 - Crap, that's my favorite fiction author. I guess I'll have to wait another few years for his next work.

#3: OK, I'm sure stupid question, but how does this information differ from state bond yields and/or ratings?


It is driven by ideology. Remember that Mercatus' very purpose is ideological.

#3: Has anyone ranked US states in terms of their yield curves? This would reflect the perceived fiscal health of the states, conditioning on all publicly available information not only about their present policies, but also their expected future policies.

#1. Point number seven seems to be an incomplete sentence. What is he trying to say there?

I saw that log rolling festival yesterday on NHK World. That is really dangerous -- I'd rather be running away from bulls in Spain than those logs.

Hmmm . . . so China's favorite place to invest in foreign real estate is the U.S. In the not too distant future I'll be executor of my mother's estate which includes two acres of some of the best land in Silicon Valley. Maybe I should plan on running an advertisement for it in a Chinese newspaper. What is the Chinese equivalent of the Wall Street Journal?

The Wall Street Journal, probably.

Mitchell's last two books were meh.

The NBA players are the greatest athletes in the world period.

Joke from a sitcom: wife - "my uncle used to fix soccer games".

husband - "pick the ball up and throw it down the field, that's the only way to fix soccer".

If they are, then what a waste! Dedicating themselves to a game where every close result is entirely determined by the balance of awful officiating and interminable free throw contests.

So, it's just like soccer.

NBA players don't need to be able to skate.

I was going to say about soccer that Americans like to use their hands, but someone beat me to it.

Actually, a very good college soccer player once suggested that the sports Americans grow up playing rely heavily on hand-eye coordination, which is not so important in soccer. The exception is the goalie position, and my informer claimed that Americans playing soccer abroad successfully were disproportionately goalies.

Is any of that true?

Is there any evidence suggesting that hand-eye coordination is a unique trait, rather than a manifestation of coordination more generally?

Put differently, why should we expect someone with good hand/eye coordination to not also be able to develop good foot/eye coordination?

I don't know.

If they are correlated then the theory is wrong.

I think hand-eye and foot-eye coordination _are_ correlated, though this is based not on science but on my own experience of playing sports in high school and college. This was in England, where playing multiple sports in high school seems more common than in the US, where I live now; the rugby, field hockey, cricket and tennis teams featured the same core of 8-10 boys, augmented in each sport by several others. These sports required very different portfolios of skills, but the same kids were on the teams (though the best at one was typically not the best at the others). Soccer was not a varsity sport in my high school, but we played in our spare time and the same kids were the best.

Soccer requires three things: (i) aforesaid coordination, or immediate spatial mastery; (ii) basic athletic ability (speed, strength, stamina); (iii) vision/pattern recognition or more macro spatial mastery (the ability instantaneously to size up a complex situation, keep that picture in your mind while navigating your immediate spatial surroundings, think two or three moves ahead and then make the right decision).

There are many people in the population with (ii) at the level of an elite soccer player. The fastest elite soccer player in the world is probably slower than the best sprinter at my local high school.

Having (i) and (ii) together makes you potentially very good, and can be sufficient for a career.

I think (iii) is the rare ability, at least in combination with one of the others (those with (iii) but neither (i) nor (ii) probably never get to exhibit (iii)). It is rare enough that excelling at (iii) can make you world class even if you are mediocre at (i) or (ii). As one of my sons' youth soccer coaches said, even at high levels soccer teams often have one or two slow players - his words were something like "every team needs a conductor". My favourite example is Ronald Koeman, a great Dutch soccer player and now an excellent manager; his reading of the game from a sweeper position was so superior that it outweighed his extraordinary slowness.

US soccer players tend to have lots of (ii), quite a bit of (i) but less (iii) than elsewhere. That might be because an individual can increase his (iii), but only in the right environment, and the US just does not offer that environment. It might also be because (iii) is not selected for at the youth level in the US. These two effects can reinforce each other.

There's a reason Klinsmann turns to US players who spent formative (or at least some) years abroad. Pulisic (17-year-old who plays in Germany) looks quite a player, while the one with the most (iii) is probably Michael Bradley (formerly of Roma), who alas put in a pretty average performance tonight against Colombia.

You could be right, but remember that at the high school level, at least, and to some degree in college, there will be huge variations in (ii) - basic athletic abilities - that may overwhelm variation in the other factors. When you get to the top tiers the variation there is much less, so the other stuff takes over.

For an interesting take on (iii) you may enjoy this on the notion of "physical genius," or this piece on Bill Bradley.

Could it be that in the US athletes with this kind of spatial ability tend to play basketball or hockey at an early age and so find their way into those sports instead of soccer?

European soccer youth development focuses on being touch with the ball, with a lot of one-on-one. American soccer youth programs focus on playing eleven-on-eleven games. The American system is fun, but it doesn't develop soccer genius the way the Dutch system does.

The Europeans focus on producing 16-year-old pro soccer players, the Americans focus on producing college student-athletes. Not surprisingly, the Europeans train better ultra-elite soccer players.

Personally, I think American youth soccer is fine. It's good exercise for kids, it gives lots of kids a chance to play a sport. It's not humiliating for inept kids the way baseball often is. It won't get USA past the Round of 16 in the World Cup very often, but, basically so what?

Re: 1 - Balding's basic thesis is that China is in the middle of a credit boom. But inflation remains really low, 2.3% against official figures and I suspect as usual this is not adjusted for hedonic effects, so probably overstated. So why does he think there is credit boom? Is he against Governments attempting to stabilise their economies (whether by fiscal, monetary or credit loosening) ? Would he really prefer than their economy be driven to recession just so that it was more "pure"? The days when usury was a sin are now over, can't people just stop thinking of borrowing or lending as a sinful thing?


I read the description of the methods used. It seems like an awful hodge-podge and smushing together of lots of numbers without any real consideration of how they should be combined. There are arbitrary weightings, ratios used when perhaps absolute or per capita figure are more reasonable, etc.

Not a very rigorous analysis, IMO. Is it really the result of what Mercatus considers "rigorous internal review, peer review, and a transparent process for selecting and undertaking research projects?"

6. Lack of college scholarships.

6. All our best athletes go to other sports (ones with more popularity/$$$ in the USA).

He sees well-to-do families spending thousands of dollars a year on soccer clubs that propel their children to the sport’s highest levels, while thousands of gifted athletes in mostly African American and Latino neighborhoods get left behind.

This is the rule in all minor sports in America. Poor kids play revenue sports. Rich kids play minor sports.

Go to an Ultimate Frisbee tournament sometime. A $10 frisbee will last longer than your knees in that sport, but it's whiter than a Bernie Sanders rally in Alaska.

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