Friday assorted links

1. Earnings announcements have increasing explanatory power for share prices.

2. Interview with the Spotify CEO.

3. What the West is becoming, and why.  An interesting piece.

4. Ludwig and Rogoff on the economics of obesity.

5. “I’m a lifelong Angeleno and, in this life, I’ve come to know two versions of the city: One I’ve seen from the car and another I understand as a pedestrian. It’s that second version of the city that’s closest to me.”  Link here.

Comments

3. A bite of a side tangent, but my husband and I were having a conversation the other day regarding how to identify Russian trolls. he was telling me about a reddit thread which had curiously been taken over by "alt-right" commenters systematically upvoting certain comments, including comments which seems to be dividing the Democratic side as well. The thing he said was that he thought that the Russian trolls could sometimes be identified because they had a kind of peculiar worldview, like they didn't quite get certain fundamental concepts of liberal democracy like individualism. And I think he might have a point - in a world where everyone has access to the internet, you can still distinguish different cultural groups by their ideas. More importantly, in the future it might start to be more relevant which intellecual tradition someone adheres to than where they live - The "West" may start to be a kind of floating intellectual entity, concentrated in Europe and the US, but really spanning political factions around the globe, and so will everyone else. So is it better to think of "Russia" as the foreign influence, or to think of a sort of network of authoritarian intellectual impulses the run distinct from and counter to the Enlightenment, regardless of where their adherents happen to reside?

I just saw a site lately where they said a lot of that went away when they banned Russian IPs. Can't remember where though.

I remember about 5-6 years ago there was this wierd moment where there seemed to be Russian trolls everywhere, and you could tell because they didn't speak very good English. So maybe they never went away, their English just got better.

You have real life conversations with your husband about how to identify Russian Trolls online?
Yes, you are extremely online or full of it.
Is this the same vain that journalists have BS conversations with their 3-year-old who said they believe Trump is the harbinger of the decline of America?

Speaking of foreign influence, why is lobbying by foreign countries not considered foreign influence?
Why aren’t lobbyists like the Podesta Group not investigated considering they were paid $7million+ by foreign countries?
https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2018/08/foreign-interests-fara-lobby-watch-exclusive/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=twitt-foreign-interests-fara-080818

And if dumb, anti-Hillary election memes were created by Russians, how can you quantify the effects of “swinging the election” this as opposed to Hillary being smug Hillary and not campaigning in key battle ground states?

A lot of people have not come to grips with a difference between a bad candidate and a bad prospective president.

Or for that matter between a good candidate and a bad prospective president.

Is Hasbara Russian for troll?

Interesting question, considering how this is not actually accurate - 'Why aren’t lobbyists like the Podesta Group not investigated'

But it certainly furthers a certain narrative structure which Russians have been actively advancing.

However, here is some recent reporting concerning the special counsel and Podesta (among others) - 'Federal prosecutors are investigating former lobbyist Tony Podesta, former Rep. Vin Weber, R-Minn., and former Obama White House Counsel Greg Craig, NBC News confirmed, citing multiple sources familiar with the matter.

CNN first reported the existence of the investigation.

Prosecutors for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York opened the investigation following a referral from the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, the sources told NBC.

NBC previously reported that Mueller had been looking into Podesta and his Democratic-leaning lobbying firm as part of its broader investigation into the finances of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

Tony Podesta is the chairman of the Podesta Group. His brother, John Podesta, was the campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton and is not currently affiliated with the lobbying firm. He is also not part of the investigation.' https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/01/tony-podesta-under-investigation-following-special-counsel-referral.html

Of course, as has been historically true, the Russians have always been able to find American willing idiots for whatever propaganda the Russians are using to further Russian goals.

Of course it is infallible that anyone who questions the US or the MSM narrative or the justification for the selectively scope-less inquisition IS a Russian troll but denies they are a Russian troll is a Russian troll given the unhinged state of affairs by those that they believe they are educated.

'Of course it is infallible '

No it isn't.

'by those that they believe they are educated'

The word you are looking for is not 'educated,' but instead 'experienced.' The number of people who have been on the receiving end of Russian attempts to destabilize their political system - the left wing Greek government being the latest example - do not doubt that the Russians pursue their interests using all tools at their disposal. Try to tell an Estonian or a French citizen (the French played the Russians as fools perfectly, one should note, in part by anticipating Russian involvement and being prepared to deal with it) that Russia is not pursuing its own goals, and they will simply laugh.

Wow, a country pursues their self-interest which may conflict with US interests!

Maybe the EU has heavy trade ties to the Russia more so than the US has to Russia and this is above your rah-rah-rah USA garbage.

For the perception about MR (or its readers) being cosmopolitan and above the fray, you seem pretty provincial and nationalistic in your outlook - dumber than the redneck Trump voters you like to disparage.

Does the US conduct "influence operations" on other countries? Do other countries conduct "influence operations on the US?

Trump and Russian invented the Ugly American I guess.

Also nice to know that John Podesta is exempt from the investigation for activities that were on his watch.

I know this site presents quality based articles and extra material, is there any other
website which provides these things in quality?

No, Hasbara is Hebrew for ëxplaining, but used often in the context
of "Explaining israel's view"

Hazel is a female libertarian. That's rare enough that I can believe this too.

Female Libertarian? Does that exist? Let me guess, she's polyamorous also and into hard sci-fi.

Well yeah, don't you have to be those to be a libertarian?

Interesting. But in this point of view, is there a difference between a "Russian troll" and someone who is genuinely "pro-Russian" or "pro-Putin"? I try to imagine what someone like Solzhenitsyn would look like if he was still alive, and an anonymous commenter on various forums. He would certainly finds lot to criticize in Putin, but he would make comment probably even more "trollesque" than true Putin's minions.

I think the important question was "how could we tell Russian trolls from the people who gullibly followed them."

Perhaps this thread is evidence that we are over that hump.

What kind of mass hysteria, McCarthyist red scare BS is this?

Is a Russian Troll: Anyone who disagrees with you? Anyone with poor grammar online? States something negative about the US? Am I a Russian troll?

Look up "foreign lobbying in the US" or Hasbara and you will be SHOCKED to learn foreign influence operations exerted upon on the US exists long before the "the digital Pearl Harbor" of mind controlling Russian ads of Facebook of 2016.

I hate Trump BTW, his nepotism, his militarism, and actual business conflicts of interest – these should be the concern, be subject to investigations as opposed to end-stateless, selectively broad scope ones.

Maybe to coddle the failure of the MSM sages in explaining the “unusual event” of Trump defeating Hillary, this was due to forces beyond their control and explanatory powers.
The American greatness myth often relies on foreign devils that throw wrenches in the long term plan for greatness, an external enemy always helps as opposed to examining oneself.
Or MAYBE the Russians do have a better pulse on the American psyche than the Hillary campaign!

HM: So is it better to think of "Russia" as the foreign influence, or to think of a sort of network of authoritarian intellectual impulses the run distinct from and counter to the Enlightenment, regardless of where their adherents happen to reside?

So "Russia", then is merely an ideological abstraction, and should those "Russian" trolls not actually exist, and those Russian influences not exist, well, they were ideologically "Russian" anyway, so it's spiritually true...

1. SSRN is down all weekend. Anybody have a link to the paper?

"What was remarkable about the Brexit referendum was that the country that had invented free trade and taken it to the four corners of the world was now refusing to be part of the largest and freest economic bloc ever created." I don't think they don't want to trade with then, they just don't want to be ruled by Brussels. Kind of telling the author can't distinguish between the two.

" As for Donald Trump, he has come to symbolize a precipitous retreat from the previous American foreign-policy consensus. " Consensus? Odd word to use here. Trump seems to be a reversion to the mean of previous foreign policies from our previous administration.

If the British didn't invent mercantilism they certainly refined it.

The largest and freest economic bloc ever created is a bureaucratic regulatory maze.

"Trump seems to be a reversion to the mean of previous foreign policies from our previous administration."

What foreign policy does Trump stand upon, that is not flavor of the week?

Funny to see neocons crying about Trump yet he is giving them basically everything they complain about including indefinite omni-interventions, more US troops and equipment in Europe, and blank check military budgets?

Maybe the decline of the West can be due to the fact that the world sees through the moral shallowness of the West with its multiple failed interventions.

It caused great chaos, needless death and suffering, and unintended consequences from Vietnam to Iraq 2 to Afghanistan to Syria to Yemen with pick and choose moral and legal justification? It sucks to see Western financed head chopper "Syrian Rebels" lose I suppose? Or this is the same BS creation myth of the US being recycled every 5 years?

‘US refuses to invade Iran, Trump is coward’ Is the new neocon baseline?

What I remember of the Brexit arguments was that they were _not_ an argument over free trade or the liberal world order - and I was there and voted in the referendum. The main arguments for Brexit were that the UK could regain the sovereignty of parliament and (the less reputable one) reduce immigration to the UK. In fact some of those arguing for Brexit claimed that they would replace EU trade with trade links with countries outside the EU (e.g. India) which would in the long term provide more profitable trade (I never thought this was plausible but a small number of very prominent Brexiteers did make this claim).

Longstanding concerns about the EU were for a long time summarised by the phrase "Democratic deficit" though I see that searches for this now find articles explaining why it doesn't exist or if it does it is not the EU's fault.

Another remarkable statement by Macaes is: For some, Brexit and Trump have simply been an error of perception: It is true that the countries at the core of the system have to restrain their power and cannot come out on top every time, but over the long term they reap the largest benefits and have the most interest in preserving the system.

But he has no way of substantiating whether it is true that the greatest relative benefits fall to the "policeman" or whether significant free rider problems exist... How can this kind of blithe assumption engender confidence? What evidence is there that anyone within Britain or the United States have reaped any benefits whatsoever from maintaining the international system, relative to Germans, Swedes, French and so on?

And as for this comment "largest and freest economic bloc ever created" - in the present day, the largest economic bloc is the People's Republic of China.

Now, would trade by freer or less free if the PRC detonated into, say, three of four states with significant regulatory divergence and limitation on freedom of movement?

To use the logic applied to the European Union, this would be a setback for free trade, but this is not a sensible framework.

#4. Start with the U.S. government spending decades promoting an scientifically unfounded, unhealthy, low-fat, high-carb 'food pyramid' diet. Add in state and local government treating instances of children playing outside by themselves as criminal parental neglect which require the intervention of child-protective services, and an epidemic of obesity in children is almost a foregone conclusion.

Diet matters more than anything else. Exercise and macros can influence body comp, but your weight is really controlled by caloric intake. You could eat 1700 cal of twinkies and lose weight.

The bottom line is that people are eating too much because they don't care enough about their weight. Pass along the costs of being overweight by permitting more price discrimination in insurance premiums, maybe even tax people by kg/m^2 -- then maybe people will care.

So long as we live in a society that coddles the sedentary, overweight, and obese we will live in a society full of sedentary, overweight, and obese people. Even this article went out of its way to insist that "we can't blame individuals and expect personal responsibility to solve the problem"... when at it's core, the composition and state of your body is exclusively one's personal responsibility to control. Nobody is maliciously forcing you to overeat, to choose to consume entertainment instead of going on a ten minute run in the evenings. Those are all personal choices well within one's personal sphere of influence.

+1

If the absence of risk pricing is the cause, why are coutries with socialized medicine less obese?

The second fattest country in the world, Qatar, has a fully socialized medical system.

You're trying to make an appeal to Europe, which is bad and you should know why it's bad. Most of the prosperous European countries you're thinking of have starkly different demographics than the US. Perhaps people are less unfit in these wealthy, densely populated, and highly urbanized countries because they commonly have excellent public transportation systems, which encourage more daily walking. Perhaps, when comparing apples to apples, one would find that the wealthier, densely populated, and highly urbanized cities in the US also outperform the average US population and look more like European populations than they do populations in (thank god for) Mississippi.

'the composition and state of your body is exclusively one's personal responsibility to control.'

I'm guessing you aren't even 40 yet, much less 80.

My sister and I grew up with our Mother overweight, constantly claiming to be on a diet, and constantly failing to keep to it. Our Father always claimed that his weight wasn't a problem because he could lose it if he really had to. Now in our fifties were are perhaps the first generation that knew for sure that diet and exercise really mattered. In a more sedentary age we both take exercise and watch our diet and so we both have a healthy weight - despite whatever genes we have inherited. I don't claim that the state of our bodies is under our exclusive control, but I think that - even in the 50s - applied conscientiousness does make a difference.

'applied conscientiousness does make a difference'

Absolutely. But anyone who has reached their 50s knows that how the quoted statement was formulated - 'the composition and state of your body is exclusively one's personal responsibility to control' - is simply beyond your control, though rereading that, it is true that only you are responsible for yourself. However, a 58 year old with arthritis, for example, is not responsible for that fact.

"Exercise and macros can influence body comp, but your weight is really controlled by caloric intake. You could eat 1700 cal of twinkies and lose weight."

Except in rare cases, your body is as fat as it 'wants' to be, and how fat it wants to be depends on the composition of your diet and your level of activity. Previous dieting (e.g. trying to lose weight on 1700 calories of twinkies) will also make your body want to get fatter (your set point mechanism isn't very smart -- it doesn't know what your conscious goals are, it only knows that, hey, around here there are lean periods where all we can get is 1700 calories a day -- so we better add some more fat reserves when the opportunity arises, dial up hunger levels, so that knucklehead will get the idea. And if he doesn't listen, we know how to make things really unpleasant until he does).

The biggest lessons of the last 30 or 40 years are that diet and exercise are complicated. As much as we wanted, in all that time, for there to be a simple answer for everyone, there is not.

Looking back, we can say that food pyramids and such were nonsense, but neither did we get what we really wanted, which was an easy answer for everyone.

What we know now? is there anything more than everyone should eat better and exercise more?

Not exactly. Get rid of processed foods and you're golden no matter who you are

How does the average shopper understand the word "processed?"

A healthy frozen vegan entree is very processed.

A gallon of apple juice is hardly processed at all.

The processed one is the better choice.

("Natural foods" might be better, but again that requires savvy consumers, willing to trust the butter over the margarine.)

So no one ever got fat before processed foods? Ever seen a portrait of Henry VIII in his later years?

Who is the sort of person who prefers the city one comes to know from the car?

I would rearrange the rood pyramid as follows:
Fruits and Vegetables on the bottom. Then whole grains, beans and legumes. Then fish on one side and meat on the other (seafood deserves to be it's own food group). then dairy on the top, replacing sugar, which shouldn't even be included at all.

Hazel Meade - Diet Guru to Economists everywhere. (We love you, Hazel)

a rood is a unit of area (about a quarter acre), or a type of crucifix. The intelligent question, it seems to me, is not where to shuffle the pieces to, or what pieces to include, but whether a single graphic can adequately inform both parents of young children, teens, soldiers in boot camp, sedentary as well as very active adults, and senior citizens. Does one size fit all? I doubt it. (Note that none of the above is about genetics, which would be another thousand or so dimensions).

Should fruit really be at the bottom? Eating several ripe bananas a day does not seem very healthy.

4. As a pediatrician, I am glad to see that the public seems to be more accepting now of scientific theories of obesity that place the "blame" not primarily on individual choices and willpower, but also on the underlying genetics and biochemistry that may predispose certain individuals towards obesity.

It's interesting though, because we're talking about how biology influences grocery store purchases. Take a person and put them on the "zoo" diet of whatever, fruits, vegetables, nuts, some meat- they can't get obese no matter what.

'they can't get obese no matter what'

Of course they can - obesity has to do with caloric intake, no more and no less, This is precisely the flip side of those people who say they cannot lose weight - a caloric intake of zero over several weeks ensures that you will lose weight over that period (not a recommended weight loss method, of course, nor is the drop all that dramatic, at least when not performing hard physical labor).

Net caloric intake is certainly a critical factor in determining a person's weight. But I also think that's not going to be the entire story. I am curious whether future research about the gut microbiome will show that certain microbiomes predispose people to be skinny rather than fat, or vice versa. I would be willing to bet a lot of money that this will be the case.

What about pop psychology terms such as "willpower", "self-control", and "discipline"? Certainly the biochemistry of a person's brain must play some role in determining those abilities?

Ultimately, I suppose that much of this debate may hinge on whether one is philosophically committed to the existence of genuine human "free will" that operates independently from the laws of nature.

Different Anonymous here.

Free Will is b******* because it has been defined down to a meaningless term.

Sure, if you know an organism's "complete state" its next move is cast, but that definition negates the whole Human Experience.

'But I also think that's not going to be the entire story.'

I do agree that being so completely reductionist as to only look at caloric intake (and physical activity) is far too simplistic to be useful.

However, it is also the basic reality which cannot be put to the side.

Okay, well assuming that someone doesn't come along and feed them like a foie gras goose, it's impossible. No one is capable of making themselves eat that volume of food. They'll be satiated well before that. There have been experiments where people were asked to gain weight on such a diet and they were unable to.

'No one is capable of making themselves eat that volume of food'

Nuts are quite high caloric - for example, 12 ounces of peanuts is roughly 2000 calories (https://www.verywellfit.com/peanuts-and-peanut-butter-are-good-for-your-diet-2506569) Throw in some meat, add a few ounces of other nuts - 3000 calories is no problem, without even talking about fruits or vegetables (corn or potatoes tend to be on the higher side of caloric density).

By the way, your premise is certainly untrue, because you are limited by the body's ability to digest those calories and turn them into fat. Try eating an ice cream diet- all ice cream and only ice cream. Eat as much as you want. You will lose weight and die. That is how malnourishment works.

Got a link for your just so stories? You will gain weight, then various problems will arise due to various nutrients not being available, and you will die. How much weight you will lose before dying due to various deficiencies is open to question of course. But for that first week or two of going on the ice cream diet (assuming you eat a consistent amount of ice cream - obviously fasting because you are sick of ice cream is a possible variation, but long enough fasting always leads to weight loss), you will gain weight.

Malnourishment is surprisingly well researched - it is quite possible to be extremely overweight and extremely malnourished (check into junk food vegans to see how this works in current practice).

"a caloric intake of zero over several weeks ensures that you will lose weight over that period ... nor is the drop all that dramatic"

The average non-overweight person has about 30 days of stored energy. In a few weeks you might lose 20 pounds.

Re: a caloric intake of zero over several weeks ensures that you will lose weight over that period

Actually that will put you in the hospital, if not the grave. All food period (unless it is 100% indigestible) contains calories. Zero caloric intake = no food intake.

As a non-pediatrician, I think it's pathetic that the public is more accepting of ideas that place the blame of being a fatass not on individual choices.

If you're fat, it's your own fault. Accepting that one fact (perhaps genetics leads you to have a harder time staying thin, but it's still not impossible, hence your own fault) is the only way one can stop being fat.

I'd expect that a pediatrician have enough knowledge in genetics to understand that a large (pun) change over the course of just a couple of generations is NOT caused by genetics.

The hypothesis is not that the genetics of recent generations has changed significantly. It is that people with a particular genetic profile, when immersed in an environment with cheap and easily accessible high calorie and low nutritional value foods, will eat a lot of those foods and then become obese.

The article links to this piece in the NEJM: https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/nejmp1400613

"Genetic predispositions, in tandem with the development of food environments that facilitate overeating and built environments requiring minimal energy expenditure, may help explain why so many Americans are obese today."

The hypothesis can be further improved by noting that immersing people in an environment where fatness is aggressively shamed will counteract the food availability effect, and immersing them in a 0 blame environment will augment it.

"After remaining essentially flat in the 1950s and 1960s, the prevalence of obesity doubled in adults and tripled in children between the 1970s and 2000."

Were folks differently predisposed then than now?

Seizure has a genetic risk. Throughout the first part of the 20th century, seizures killed increasing numbers of people.

Shockingly it was deduced that changing the environment (e.g. more people driving) resulted in more seizure deaths.

G6PD deficiency is 100% genetic deficiency, often of a single gene. Yet the incidence climbed dramatically in the 20th century. Shockingly when we began dosing people with heavy oxidants (like anti-malarial drugs) these otherwise healthy people began developing symptoms of disease.

And it can work the other way as well. There is a genetic component to peanut allergy. Jews raised in Israel rarely develop peanut allergies. Related Jews in London did develop the allergy. This is because Israelis feed their babies Bamba, a peanut based snack while immune tolerance is developing.

One of the things sitting through medical school teaches you is that there are many diseases which have volitional (e.g. choosing to eat something), environmental (being exposed to high caloric beverages which trigger less release biochemicals in the satiety signal transduction cascade), and genetic (e.g. Prader Willi syndrome, Leptin Receptor Deficiency). Our health is a complex interplay of inputs and the math is often geometric.

So...yes? It's different this time?

There was a lot more straightforward physical labor.

The correlation between increasing obesity rates and usage of glyphosate [since the mid '70's] & high fructose corn syrup [since the mid '80's] = 100%.

Even companion animals [dogs, cats] are obese.

Its more than just overeating.

There's something else going on.

'Its more than just overeating.'

Nope, it really is that simple from the most reductionist viewpoint.

'There's something else going on.'

Lots of things - increased food processing and increased advertising, to give two notable examples that parallel the rise in obesity perfectly.

The interaction of the market and biochemistry has been going on for at least 150 years.

Even zoo animals-- on carefully regulated diets-- have been getting fatter.
Two possible culprits: Change to gut flora altering how we absorb nutrients, and an increase in ersatz hormone mimics in the environment (mainly from our plastics) are resetting our metabolic rates. Note that the increase in childhood obesity coincided with the era when plastic largely replaced glass and paper in food and beverage containers.

#4 “ ... we can’t blame individuals and expect personal responsibility to solve the problem. Instead, we need the government to pass a suite of policy changes to encourage healthy diets.” The solution to every problem: more government programs.

This is even better: "First, establish a federal commission to coordinate obesity policy...Second, adequately fund obesity research into innovative approaches for prevention and treatment, beyond the conventional focus on eating less and moving more."

Fund more research into alternatives to putting less junk food in their mouths and getting their fat asses off the couch.

I'm suspicious when Ludwig, director of an obesity research foundation, calls for more obesity research funding. A little self-serving, I think.

The Chicago public schools have done extensive research on childhood obesity among their students. The obesity rates vary widely across the city, despite everyone living with the same food tax structure (candy and soda are taxed at a much higher rate than other food) and the same junk food advertising. Despite what Ludwig says, the problem isn't "food deserts": some neighborhoods with plenty of grocery stores have the same obesity rates as areas with a similar economic and racial profile.

At least here in Chicago, the problem mostly correlates with being poor and black. I don't see a federal commission solving that, but I do agree with Ludwig that it would be nice to see school lunch programs emphasizing meals made from scratch. I'd go a step further and bring the students into the food preparation process. If they're not seeing made-from-scratch at home, at least they could become familiar with it at school.

A policy is not a program

3. They sound like an effort by the rational and enlightened classes to persuade the irrational and the superstitious — professedly in the interest of the latter. Politicians and intellectu­als scrambled to explain the bizarre voting behavior through all sorts of economic and psychoanalytic theories, all the while insisting that a new effort at civic education had become urgent. Such mes­sages can only deepen the divisions and alienation.

How can there be such a thing as "bizarre voting behavior" in a democratic society? Isn't the majority automatically the best judge of whatever the question might be? Otherwise, why even have the phony elections currently selecting from a tiny group of elites? By superstitious he no doubt means religious. Actually people are wising up. Pathetic article.

'Isn't the majority automatically the best judge of whatever the question might be? '

At least in the U.S., as embodied in its Constitution, the answer has been and remains no. To provide a modern example, this is why Trump is president, not Clinton.

If you were 1/10th as bright as you think you are you wouldn't be spending hours each day importing wikipedia citations to the blog of someone else.

Hard as it might seem to believe, this is just a hobby. And when it stops amusing me to spend my morning drinking coffee and as part of my web routine reading/commenting here (this site's timed EST posting SEO strategy fits perfectly into my MET schedule), well, so it goes.

You have noticed that Prof. Cowen follows a fairly consistent schedule, right?

I don't think the author meant objectively bizarre. He mean that politicians and intellectuals found the voting to be bizarre. It's more of an indictment against them and not the electorate.

#2. Good read. I still haven't settled on a streaming service. I prefer the Pandora model. Spotify playlists are filled with schlock that somebody paid to put there.

I read elsewhere that in the music business these days, artists are getting less than 20% of the revenue, and this includes touring. Sad.

#4 Unmissable thread on from Washington Post writer Tamar Haspel economics that thwart Ludwig and Rogoff's ideas. https://twitter.com/TamarHaspel/status/1027904398251511808

Snippet: "Take the subsidies away from Twinkies, and they'd cost $1 instead of $.99. The bunch of carrots would be $1.47 instead of $1.50."

Came to me via the also essential @SarahTaber_bww.

#4 Strangely absent from an article on the economic impact of obesity is the cost of the food required to be obese. Total food consumption in the US costs $1.24T annually per USDA estimate. If that were reduced by, say, 25% through eating less the reduced food bill would be of the same magnitude as the health savings from eliminating obesity.

I can tell you are conservative because you are innumerate. Eating healthy costs more, not less:
https://www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/features/healthy-food-cost

That link doesn't actually say what you think it says. it does claim that healthy is a bit more expensive, but mostly it is explaining that it's not as expensive as people think because people confuse labels like "organic" with healthy.

I would go further and argue it is not even more expensive, it is actually cheaper. First, because eating less costs less. Second, because cooking from scratch is cheaper and allows one the control of ingredients which allows you to cook healthier meals. Also as the article notes, frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh veggies and they cost less and store longer.

It's true that an "amy's organic" frozen dinner is going to cost more than a stouffers hungry-man frozen dinner, but if you actually cook for yourself it's pretty easy to eat healthy for cheap, especially if you eat a vegetarian diet with a lot of legumes. Rice and beans are dirt cheap. Fresh and frozen produce is also very cheap and there are lot of discount groceries where you can find very cheap produce especially when it's in season. I just don't see how eating processed foods like frozen pizzas could possibly be cheaper than buying a giant bag of rice and another giant bag of beans every few weeks and then adding fresh fruits and vegetables from the ALDI or whatever.

God you're fucking stupid. Eat at home does not equal eating less. Fucking conservatives. Its like talking to a child.

Your claim is that eating 5000 calories in mac and cheese, chips, soda, pizza and fried chicken is cheaper than 2000 calories of rice, beans, and frozen vegetables.

Citation “fucking” needed.

Yes, clearly you can eat basic healthy foodstuffs cheaper than you can eat processed foods. Anyone that spends anytime in a grocery store realizes that.

I don't like Benny's answer, but it does touch upon an important point. There is an important difference between "diets" and what people who think they are following diets do "in the wild."

What is someone actually eating who tells you they are "low carb?" You have no idea.

No Benny, is clearly mostly in the right right.

If you want to save 70 cents a day, then yes, a bag of rice (about 20 cents per portion) is indeed cheaper than a frozen pizza (about $1 for a whole pizza).

If you want to save $4 a day (because you have very little income and the Rent Is Too Damn High), then you don't buy fresh meat and you don't buy fresh vegetables. And then if you don't care about saving the additional 70 cents, you probably buy the pizza, because the flavour is vastly superior to a cup of unseasoned rice and beans.

How deluded do you have to be to believe that cheapest carbs+fresh meat and vegetables is cheaper than buying the cheapest processed foods, especially taking into account prep time and costs of fuel? The marginal saving you make by buying cheap carbs is far less than the saving you make by avoiding actual quality foods. Cheap processed food has dropped in price compared to the cheapest bulk carbs (and this is because manufacturing, and fast food, is more efficient than in the past), while the costs of meat and vegetables have not.

Sometimes it is like talking to the idiots who believe that urban millennials would easily be able to buy properties if they simply refrained from discretionary spending....

'through eating less the reduced food bill would be' a disaster for a number of large companies.

#4, set up a commission, fund a study, pass some laws. Hmm. I think i have read this article before.

3 was interesting indeed but I wish the author Macaes had pursued his argument farther. He draws an analogy between the powers-that-be in the liberal West facing unexpected challenges from almost-alien ideologies, and empires such as China and the Ottomans facing unexpected challenges from upstart Europeans.

The Chinese and Ottomans ended up being the losers in those encounters, but I'm not sure if that's what Macaes is saying lies ahead for the liberal West, nor what he thinks the West should do about the situation.

On the whole I think a better analogy than China or the Ottomans is with European or westernized nations that turned away from liberalism, be it Russia with Putin, fascism in the first half of the 20th century, or various other regimes that capitalized on nationalism, xenophobia, and/or racism to rise to power. But it was a thought-provoking article.

Macaes on POTUS...

"He has promised to pursue what he sees as better trade deals for America, even if that means unraveling the liberal world order as it exists at present. According to Trump, “Americanism, not globalism, will be our credo.” ...good grief. He's not even asking for mirror tariffs. Doesn't it matter that Germany is obviously a wealthier society than America? Sure, you don't see that in DC, NYC, or SF. But everywhere else....

New England, at least, is significantly wealthier than Germany, and obviously so. Even middle class salaries are much higher in the US than Germany.

U.S. middle class salaries are higher than German middle class salaries but not by that much. Also, the average American worker works many more hours than the average German worker: 1780 hours versus 1360 hours a year.

I wonder what happens when you subtract healthcare costs from the "wealthier" American?

You can add in intangibles from other safety and security metrics (crime rates Germany vs US), other intangibles such as treating adults as adults when it comes to adult entertainment, and you could have parity or even a better standard living for many Middle Class Germans vs Middle Class Americans.

4: I haven't paid close attention to Rogoff's ideology; his famously crappy research that attempted to show that too much national debt led to lack of economic growth made me assume he was an anti-government spending ideologue. But this paper shows a strong interventionist slant.

#4) Authors claim that body weight is strongly influenced by biology, so we can't blame individuals and expect personal responsibility to solve obesity, i.e., obesity is not a choice. But, they then advocate a "suite of policy changes to encourage healthy diets", including subsidies and taxes. If individuals cannot choose to be non-obese, then how would subsidies and taxes cause them to choose to become non-obese? How is it that government can "encourage healthy diets" but individuals cannot be expected to choose healthy diets on their own absent government "encouragement"?

If we made eating processed foods a crime, I think that would qualify as "blaming individuals" for their dietary choices. Yet, a tax on processed foods, which the authors advocate, is equivalent to criminalizing eating of processed foods, enforced by a fine.

A tax on processed foods combined with a subsidy for whole foods is a tax on the poor to fund a tax cut for the wealthy, if the poor consume more processed foods and less whole foods than the wealthy. Now, one could (quite sensibly) object to conflating incidental distributional impact with explicit and intentional redistribution, given that the tax/subsidies are facially income neutral. (The tax/subsidy depends only on dietary choices, regardless of income.) But, then we would also have to stop saying that capital income tax cuts redistribute wealth from the poor to the wealthy. Comparing people of *equal* incomes, capital income taxes penalize savers and reward spendthrifts. If we can debate the wisdom of creating dietary penalties without leveling charges of "favoring the rich", then we should also debate the wisdom of eliminating savings penalties without leveling those charges.

Finally, if obesity is the problem, then why not tax obesity directly rather than taxing processed foods. Why should a non-obese person that consumes processed foods have to incur a penalty? If a "fat tax" constitutes unacceptable body-shaming, then why wouldn't a tax on the food that fat people eat also constitute body-shaming?

Any thoughts on the Democrat troll Army?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/democrats-seek-stronger-social-media-presence-to-guard-against-potential-russian-interference-in-midterms/2018/08/10/7345fcd4-972b-11e8-80e1-00e80e1fdf43_story.html?utm_term=.b75fb7d242aa

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