Monday assorted links

1. Contemporary art exhibit for dogs, via Yana.

2. “Tyler Cowen asks what I think the five biggest open questions are in the current economic debate.”  That is from Adam Ozimek, those are pretty close to my own list, I would toss in some China too like “what the hell is going on there?”.

3. Smart tattoos can control your phone — and what else?

4. Taxidermist robotic deer there is no great stagnation.

5. I’ve been telling you that foreign agents will continue to be a big and growing issue (NYT, #Ukraine, #Russia, #Manafort).

6. Iran fact of the day: per gdp, they are number one in medial count, USA is number three.


Art exhibit for dogs. Wow. I have heard of pet massage but this might be taking it too far.

#5 Foreign agents? Like the US never tried to influence elections abroad before... But if you talk about Manafort case, what about the Clinton Foundation? Lets face it, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are hightly corrupt amoral individuals, who would not be out of place in any South American country...

I think you drawing the connection to Saudi funds is the, erm, intended effect.

Bill Clinton certainly blazed a trail back when he first ran for President. Remember Charlie Trie? Don't forget that Obama turned off verification software so that we wouldn't know where the contributions were coming from. HRC - she's learned from experts.

Is he saying NYT are foreign agents? Ah, things now make more sense.

Republicans just invade or send in the CIA because elections never come out the right way.

Too bad the IRS doesn't have more power abroad, the Democrats could fight back.

.............. "Lets face it, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are highly corrupt amoral individuals >>"

Yes, but no one seriously questions the current U.S. political system that 'delivered' these wonderful people as our ONLY real electoral choices for President.

If you have a factory system that's supposed to produce chicken-salad at the end of the conveyer belt--- but instead delivers chicken-$hit .... your basic problem is with that factory system, not today's output pile of $hit.

So, why haven't you started a factory yourself?

I find it odd that Bernie with your attitude about the factory, tried to take over an existing factory from owners and customers that were happy with the factory instead of competing to take over the factory with lots of very angry customers wanting massive changes in the products with a dozen factory insiders trying to burn down half the factory, just different halves, and a customer of the other factory comes in and takes over the factory angering the factory owners and workers and striking fear in half the factory customers.

Why didn't no party Bernie run for the Republican presidential nomination? According to supporters, he would have won the Republican nomination for president because he beats Trump who beat all the Republicans.

According to the Bernie Bros there is no difference between the two parties so how did Bernie pick the Democratic Party when the Republican Party had the most internal conflict, yet the most control of government? If Bernie were the Republican presidential nominee, he could order all Republicans to campaign on replacing Obamacare with single payer Medicare for All and order them all to campaign on banning all coal and oil and gas production.

According to the Bernie Bros there is no difference between the two parties so how did Bernie pick the Democratic Party when the Republican Party had the most internal conflict, yet the most control of government?

Presumably (playing Bernie Bro's advocate) because that's the base he thought he could win, and not much or at all because of the party machine that is about as indifferent to him as the Republicans.

"Yes, but no one seriously questions the current U.S. political system that ‘delivered’ these wonderful people as our ONLY real electoral choices for President."

What reality are you living in? I've seen that very question raised scores of times in the last few months.

And the answer is always that someone else did something wrong.

If lobbyists represent multinational corporations, are they foreign agents?

If Boeing says, "You know, Iran is not so bad," are they effectively representing foreign interests?

How can Iran be ahead of Fiji in medals per GDP? Iran has about 100 times the GDP of Fiji.

#2. Pretty meh. This in particular is aggravating: " Inflation seems to be much harder to generate than it was in the past and the relationship between inflation and expectations seems to be breaking down"

Beware of sentences with the word 'seems' (twice here!) Generally means, "here's an evidence-free impression."

Aren't there enough real disputes in economics without manufacturing new ones? Zimbabwe has figured this inflation mystery out.

Also, market expectations are much better predictors of inflation than asking people (consumers, economists, doesn't matter, it's just someone's dumb opinion with no skin in the game):

Here, I made a picture:

...and if you're playing at home, the current estimate for 5-year inflation based on TIPS spreads is about 1.25%. Much better than clueless people with opinions.

......."Aren’t there enough real disputes in economics without manufacturing new ones?"

Yes of course, but addressing the genuine contradictions in current economics ideology would expose the vacuity and hypocrisy of mainstream economics and its priesthood.

Inflation: a general increase in prices. How can there be a general increase in prices if wages are flat (or not increasing faster than productivity)? Sure, bubbles can come and go but bubbles aren't "inflation". I asked Scott Sumner how we could have inflation since wages are flat. His response was that lately wages have been rising at a 2.6% clip while productivity is hardly rising at all. I pointed out that there's a lot of lost ground for wages to make up, since wages today are still below the 2009 level. And while we are on the subject of rising prices, what if the local demand curve for housing sloped upward? Or Say's Law on steroids.

Stop rambling and stay on point. Do you think Zimbabwe has seen big increases in wages? Is that why they have such high inflation?

Inflation is a monetary phenomenon. This is not a news flash.

Judging by history, if there is one task we can surely agree government is competent at, it is debasing the currency.

But suddenly, this is one of the big mysteries in economics.

Bubbles are money not paid in wages.

Bubbles are from too much money bidding up prices of stuff that costs much less to make more of.

Economists seem to think workers will make things that are scarce with prices too high. Like workers will just make iPhones in their bedrooms at a cost of $200 and sell them for $400 instead of $800 on the street corner. That this isn't happening means they are lazy Democrats.

That China and Elon Musk pay lots of workers to make cool stuff like iPhones for $200, hot cars for $80,000, and rockets for $20 million, cheaper than anyone else, is just because of big government spending and capitalist welfare.

But by selling US real estate to other nations to pay to buy consumer goods from those nations, like iPhones and oil, the prices of US real estate are bid up, and it would be disasterous to have government take some Fed money and build low income housing on some brown field nearby which would require paying too many workers to safely cleanup the pollution and then pay too many workers building too many apartments for poor people making only $75,000. That would destroy wealth.

The key to keeping inflation low is to never pay more to the labor force and increase the goods available for consumption by higher imports, and never invest in anything new but instead bid up and buy old stuff.

Ie., keep all newly created money out of the hands of workers.

Imagine the disasterous inflation if the Fed bought only bonds that were based on 110% of the bond sale proceeds paid to workers. Those workers would cause inflation by spending that money buying more new stuff like housing that requires paying workers who would spend, and before you know it the same dollar will be paid to workers a dozen times like in the past instead of just half a dozen it is today.

Good points by Brian Donahue and callan, and I would add that CNTRL + F + "patents" yields again no hits in the article. Indirectly they discuss the productivity puzzle, but nobody in economics is talking about incentives for innovation (and improving today's patent system). Yet these same people claim they believe in the Solow model for growth, which at the steady state limit only allows for technology to affect growth (and, disappointingly, it's considered a deus ex machina exogeneous variable). The next Nobel Prize goes, or somebody like me with an economics degree, that pounds the table on IP. Yes innovation can be taught. In this weeks Economist, they have a lead article on research on "living forever", which, IMO, if they had a better patent system and if we'd avoided WWI, II, we'd already be living to 120 (which the Economist points out is an upper bound for humans, unless you get into things like regrowing organs).

On the other hand, economists have done a fine job since Ricardo pounding the table on free trade, an issue that they seem to understand. Like those professors looking under a streetlamp for lost keys that they lost 100 feet away because it's the only place at night where they can see.

Why would anyone, including yourself, wish to live to be 120?

You'd be dating sixty year old women! ;)

ps one more time: 'Death is the greatest invention of life', Steve Jobs, 2005

6. Per a table at the response to the Twitter comment, Iran is 22nd , US 56th.
This is the current order . Jamiaca can only bolt upwards.
1 Grenada
2 North Korea
3 Fiji
4 Mongolia
5 Jamaica

"Jamiaca can only bolt upwards."

I see what you did there.

#6: The problems of small numbers. The original Google post was 19 hours ago. Right now, Iran is ranked on place 43, USA in 2 and Fiji on 1st. Along this king of variability, are the stats meaningful?

On the other hand, in the under 16 yrs old Chess Olympiad held the other day (no relation to the Olympics), team Iran came in #1, surprising everybody: (Chessbase): "In a field with traditional chess nations such as Russia and Armenia, the winner was Iran, conceding only one draw."

Very interesting, chess proficiency can be described as 100% human capital, no need for expensive infrastructure (fields, tracks, pools). Just a teacher and a pupil.

Someone who didn't know what they were doing made that page. There's no way the US has the 2nd highest medal count per GDP. Just to name one, the US has 15 times the population of Australia, and no doubt at least 15 times the GDP, but much less than 15 times the medal count.

#5. So which is worse? Soros sock puppet Hillary or Putin dealing Trump?

I don't know - considering that Putin considers Soros an opponent, I guess the Soros sockpuppet is probably the better choice for anyone that thinks a Russian invasion of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Poland, Romania, etc. is not exactly in America's interest. At least in light of this quote - 'Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to expand his invasion to Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Romania, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reports.

According to the newspaper, Putin made this statement during a conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko, who in turn, relayed his words to European Commission (EC) President Jose Manuel Barroso, during the latter’s visit to Kyiv last Friday (12 September), in which Poroshenko briefed the EU chief on threats.

“If I want, Russian troops in two days could not only be in Kyiv, but also Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn, Warsaw and Bucharest,” the German newspaper cites Putin’s quote. All of these countries are either former Soviet states or members of the Warsaw Pact eastern bloc. Moscow’s army occupied Poland from 1939–1956, the Baltic states from 1940–1991, and Romania from 1944–1958.'

I though that Putin considers Soros a competitor.

Opponent, then.

Especially in light of this - 'Two pro-democracy foundations launched by liberal U.S. billionaire businessman George Soros have been officially banned by the Russian government, the Kremlin said Monday, which charged that the groups pose a threat to Russian national security and public order.

The decision by the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office, which extends a crackdown on foreign nongovernmental organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy and Freedom House begun this summer, puts the Moscow branches of Mr. Soros‘ Open Society Foundations and an allied foundation on a so-called “stop list” of foreign NGOs that are no longer allowed to operate within Russia’s borders or give money to Russian individuals and civil society organizations.

“It was found out that the activity of the Open Society Foundations and the Open Society Institute Assistance Foundation poses a threat to the foundations of the Russian constitutional system and security of the state,” said Marina Gridneva, the spokesperson of the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office, in a statement Monday.'

(One should note that the Washington Times is likely biased against Trump, as the Washington Times has never been a supporter of Putin, being one of the more consistently reliable anti-Soviet - oops, Russian - voices in the American media landscape.)

"Russian troops in two days" ..."Riga, Vilnius, Tallinn, Warsaw and Bucharest"

Only if they can revive Lend Lease.

The Poles alone would stop them in their tracks well short of Warsaw. No second front this time.

Not to mention US air power.

If only Russians would die, it would almost be worth it to see them try. We never did have a victory parade in Moscow.

I'm no military expert and I do think the US military is #1 in the world, but the other day I was examining on Youtube a video on the AC-130 Spectre gunship and was amazed at (1) how lethal it was, and (2) how hard, despite its vast firepower, it was to kill people walking on the ground, without any protection. Most of the people seemed to be hard to kill, in some instances they had to fire hundreds of rounds to destroy just one person who was (foolishly) running away (he should have played dead). It was pretty sicking and not a good endorsement for the US military IMO. Now imagine instead of people on foot, unarmed, you had them in tanks or airplanes or in WWI style trenches. I think a US-Russia war would be a stalemate, with the edge going to the USA, non-nuclear of course. And Poland is not worth fighting over. Diplomacy and another Cold War yes, but not a shooting war, since it will expose how weak the US's military really is.

"Diplomacy and another Cold War yes, but not a shooting war, since it will expose how weak the US’s military really is."

Sure, LOL.

I don't want the US involved in a war. And the Russians could still mount a very credible attack. But the Iraqi's fielded a rather decent Soviet equipped army on the defense and they were utterly demolished.

Attacking is significantly harder than defending. A conventional Russian attack into Europe, would probably carry the Baltic states (they're geographically tiny), but has little chance of getting further than Poland. And it would be a blood bath for the Russians.

The bulk of aircraft the Russians currently fly all date from the 1980's. IE they are the same era planes from the movie Top Gun. Those were awesome aircraft then. but they don't stand a chance against F-22's and F-35's on the defense.

F-35? Really?

But the Iraqi’s fielded a rather decent Soviet equipped army on the defense and they were utterly demolished.

"Soviet" = old stuff.

Also, Arabs are terrible fighters, much less Arabs under the Sunni dictator of a made-up country.

Well to be fair, there's only once semi-active wing of F-35's. But still the US has over 180 F-22's in service. They are much better aircraft than the majority of Russian aircraft and the pilots get a lot more flight time.

"“Soviet” = old stuff."

The Iraqi Soviet equipment during the First Gulf War was modern Soviet hardware at the time.

"Arabs under the Sunni dictator of a made-up country."

All countries are "made-up".

@chuck martel:

True, but some are more made up than others

We are not going to war with Russia, no matter how many old shrews say we should.

If they take over Ukraine and the Baltics, move the capital to Crimea, crown Putin as Tsar, we are still not going to war with Russia.

"We are not going to war with Russia, no matter how many old shrews say we should."

No, we're not. And Russia is not going to invade the Baltic States no matter how much pearl clutching people do because of Trump's comments that we shouldn't reflexively defend NATO members that refuse to meet their treaty requirements.

The 'pearl clutching' meme is having a moment lately, but it's kind of juvenile. For every Dem doing some pearl clutching about the latest stupid thing Trump says, there's a Rep doing the same thing about Clinton's email server.

You should read Rand's Baltics war games summary:

True, Warsaw and Bucharest are a stretch. Grabbing the Baltic states however would be little harder than grabbing Crimea (Jan's cite of that Rand study is informative; it would take them 60 hours).

But given enough years and political instability, I think even Poland could be conquered. Foment a civil war, and have one side invite Russian support.

Who would fight in the civil war? Polish nationalists and? Polish Catholics and? Polish communists???

Hillary is the only one who would trigger war with Russia. When the sons of the elite are compelled to come home in boxes for the defense of lithuania than we can talk. As it is, Clinton supporters want to to send the sons of Trump supporters to defend their corrupt empire.

'Hillary is the only one who would trigger war with Russia.'

Probably because she is just stupid enough to think that NATO requires all its signatories to defend each other in case of attack. Trump, an experienced businessman, is much more likely to only look at whether the deal is good for him - oops, us - and really, who has ever cared whether the Soviets or the Russians invade Estonia or Poland. After all, what has Poland ever done for us, right? Maybe the Europeans could build a wall, though maybe with a fancier name - how about using something along the lines of a word like 'curtain'?

Like I said, when I see the sons and daughters of Cowen, you, and all the reporters doing the pearl clutching lining up to die for Estonia, Ill take you seriously. The combat arms of the US army are heavily the sons of white conservatives. Do your own dying

Also, until Cowen and Tabarrok take several male somalis into their house they have no right to speak for more refugees. Put your own skin in the game before you send other people kids to die or be gang raped.

#5...And I've. been telling you to get on a plane and meet me in Prague.

Czech meet ?

Czech please.

Czech your privilege

2. " What does a full-employment U.S. economy look like and how far from it are we?"

The idea that most of the population should be employed in what are called "jobs" is an incredibly new concept in human history and is beginning to look more and more like a very temporary one. Jobs as we know them today are the product of technological development, where dull/normals were trained to operate machinery and perform simple, repetitive tasks. Prior to the industrial revolution these nincompoops were satisfied with being able to get a couple of bowls of gruel a day and a dry place to sleep after watching over the baron's sheep. The growth of the capitalist system required them to become producers and consumers, the advent of "jobs" enabled both. There's no real reason to believe that this situation should be the apex of human existence or even endure in the short term.

I have been waiting for someone to say this for some time now.

Also, I might add this collective conviction we have about the value of the individual being tied to their "work". I suspect this is a holdover from the Protestant work ethic, which loses effect when you switch from farming (putting food in your mouth), to mindlessly sweeping a cash register for eight hours a day. I also imagine that at least 50% of the populace holds no emotional attachment to their jobs whatsoever.

5 is such a fertile field for false equivalence, will commentators hear the call?

in re: #5, this is just an indication that foreign powers are getting sloppy with their bookkeeping. if you think the great game is a new invention, you're being willfully naive.

How does #5 hurt Trump? If you want to reduce foreign influence in elections, you stop immigration. Foreign constituencies are the largest source of foreign influence.

Like those Irish and the Kennedies, obviously.

Hopefully, people like Cruz and Rubio will have less success in the future. right?

Which tribe do you belong to? Cherokee? Hopi? Sioux? Iroquois?

It's a bit of a mystery why economists regard recent low productivity growth as a puzzle, because there were never any good economic models of productivity growth in the first place. It's an empirical fact that the high growth rates we see in developing economies slow as they reach the levels of developed economies, so it hardly seems surprising that growth in developed economies slows as they develop further, too.Of course, this is still a big deal for living standards, but that doesn't make it a deep puzzle.

i don't think growth rates slowing from 10 percent to 5 percent in developing countries is relevant to whether developed countries can maintain a 2% productivity growth rate.

I do think it's relevant. It shows the basic pattern to expect: as your productivity increases, the rate of increase of your productivity drops. It's plausible and appears to be empirically confirmed. In the absence of a plausible and empirically confirmed theory with different predictions, it's what we should expect for the developed world, too. We had 100 years with ~2%/yr productivity growth, perhaps now we can expect 100 with ~1%/yr, followed by 100 with ~0.5%/yr.

Just to complete the thought: that the rate of productivity growth drops as higher levels of productivity are reached is much more plausible than that the rate of productivity growth drops until it reaches 2%/yr, then it continues at that rate forever. And it's not like the latter prediction ever had any theory behind it. It was nice that it seemed to hold for so long, but it was never plausible and has now become untenable empirically.

6) We're getting absolutely destroyed in medals per capita:

There are over 200 countries participating in the Olympics and that list only has 68 members.

Think about it.....hint in my comment right after yours

India was what made me realize the list wasn't complete. Of course, it undermines Jan's narrative to point out the US is 37th out of 200.

But we are THIRD in the medals for adjusted GDP link Tyler posted, if that is to be believed. So that is a pretty big disparity. I don't have a narrative an agenda. Just an observation.

But we're America. I truly thought we'd be doing much better.

Oh, and to your point. I think they've just omitted countries with no medals, right?

What about India, with ZERO medals in Rio and all those people?

The all-time per-capita list is kind of cool too, the Nordics dominate:

Thanks for the link

Too busy playing the only sport on earth that matters.

Good point. I guess the Nordics have indeed prioritized the Games over that sport, evidenced by TFR

Cricket. By which I mean the sport of cricket, not "crickets ..." as in "wtf...?"

Why waste your time in Rio when there's a perfectly good cricket grounds in town?

I was watching runners preparing for a 100M, and noted them walking past obese event staff.

It is about who we want to be.

"It is about who we want to be."

Aboslutely! Welcome to the Libertarian Party.

If libertarians believe obese pedestrian traffic controller and Olympic runner are equally valid expressions of human potential, count me out.

As I've said before economic freedom is important, but it is insufficient for a good human life.


So, by foreign agents, do we mean the foreign agents of Ukraine, who turned in a shoddy handwritten document that the New York Times treated as "news"? Do we mean our own Establishment's desire to believe foreign agents when it fits their own political aims?

Meanwhile, Tyler the "Liberty-lover" somehow neglected this:

I hope Trump pays you well. I understand he's mostly counting on volunteer support to spread his lies and misleading innuendo. Too bad, because some of the grievances leading to support for him deserve discussion, but instead we have a sickly circus with the potential to rapidly transform into a horror house.

4) For those who wanted a VIDEO of the robotic deer

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