My podcast with Erik Torenberg

What Tyler Cowen Thinks About Basically Everything.”  The first half of so covers Stubborn Attachments, the second half is an entirely new set of topics, including what I think of various people, honest answers given!


This was the conversation I wanted to hear every time I listened to Conversations with Tyler

Heya ich bin zuum ersten Mal hier. Ich stieß auf fand dieses Board undd ich finde
es wirklich wirklich nützlich und es half mir eine Menge viel.
Ich hoffe, etwas zurück und Hilfe geben, andere wie Sie half me.

Heya ich bin zum ersten Maal hier. Ich stieß
auff fand diesees Board und ich finde es
wirklich wirklich nützlich uund es half mirr eine Menge
viel. Ich hoffe, etwas zurück und Hilfe geben, andere wie Sie gestützte me.

Excellent, I'll be flattered if I'm mentioned, am I?

Torenberg asks a question I found illuminating. His question to Cowen: why has there been no criticism of the book? The thesis of the book is that we should be more focused on future generations when setting policies and making decisions today, specifically by choosing policies and making decisions that maximize economic growth. One might disagree about what sacrifices we should make today in order to achieve a better life for future generations, but the thesis itself is inherent in the human condition. After all, at the individual level, parents make sacrifices today in order for their descendants to have a better tomorrow. Cowen is simply applying the same individual predisposition to the aggregate. Difficulty arises, however, in making the decisions that will maximize a better life for one's descendants and that will maximize economic growth for the benefit of all in future generations. At the individual level does that mean the parents should save all of the earnings so their children can afford to attend an elite college, or does that mean the parents should invest in a house in a "good" neighborhood so the children are subject to the positive influences of their neighbors? At the aggregate level, Cowen advises that we focus our collective decision-making on achieving productivity growth and thereby achieving the resulting economic growth, and he points out that our productivity growth has lagged for many years while productivity growth in some Asian countries, especially China, has been far greater than our own. Why is that? Is it because we are selfish and more concerned about ourselves than future generations? It's true that investment in productive capital has been depressed for years, dragging down economic growth with it - it's investment in productive capital that fuels productivity and thus economic growth. Of course, one might point out that investment in productive capital in China came at the expense of investment in productive capital here at home. Why was China willing to make the investment? China's version of state capitalism mandated the investment. Should we adopt state capitalism in order to increase investment in productive capital? Or can we simply rely on markets and adopt policies that will induce greater investment? What policies are those? The past 40 years we have adopted policies intended to benefit capital rather than labor and, yet, investment in productive capital lags. These are difficult issues. At the macro level I agree entirely with Cowen's thesis, but it's at the micro level that difficulties arise. Cowen deserves credit for focusing on future generations, something few would criticize; indeed, as Torenberg points out, nobody has.

You would go for state control.

Its the regulation and taxes, stupid.

Allow workers/entrepreneurs/capital more to retain more of their earnings and we will get more output from those areas.

Stop with the mindless increase in state power through regulation and less resources will be spent upon compliance, and more business will be started.

It's not my book, it's Cowen's book. The question is what would Cowen do to increase productivity and economic growth. Torenberg says there's been no criticism of the book. That's not quite true. The criticism I've read is that the book offers something for everyone: liberals, conservatives, libertarians. Is that criticism or a compliment? Something for everyone or nothing for everyone. As I tried to point out, micro is hard, real hard. Of course, micro is the mantra of this blog. I have complimented Cowen for putting the focus on the future. But it's the present in which we make choices. And choices are hard. Saving for college, or investing in a house in "good" neighborhood and its positive influence? What provides the best future for one's children?

"And choices are hard. Saving for college, or investing in a house in "good" neighborhood"

Your examples probably belong in the category of "can't go wrong." Saving for college and investing in a good neighborhood are both winning choices. If one ends marginally better, not a big deal. The easy choices that people fail at are: save for college or buy a jet ski. Invest in a house in a good neighborhood, or lease a BMW.

Can't go wrong?? What? Ray posed the Q of which to allocate $ to. And your answer is "both"? (or was it "it doesn't matter"?) You must be a Democrat.

so, while Mr. Chomsky's East Timor and Khmer Rouge logs were in-fact a criticism of attendance for concerts during the 1960's, we can be assured in the fact the NYT is blind. They have a photo of the Prince of Saudi Arabia while still having not written about Richard Jefferson Sr.

This is maybe the best interview with Tyler, so it' too bad the sound quality isn't a little better in spots. In particular, when Tyler is giving a list of what most economists agree on as ways to promote public growth, I _think_ the first thing on his list is public works, but I can't be sure, even after listing to the passage several times.

Tyler said The Great Stagnation will be over when 50 percent of drivers are riding in driverless cars as that will save thousands of lives. If the death rate was cut in half, then that would save around 18,000 lives in the U.S. each year. Yet if the death rate from cancer falls 1.5% percent a year as it has for the past ten years, then in 2020 18,000 fewer cancer deaths will be achieved. By 2022, there will be 38,000 few cancer deaths than in 2018. Is that enough lives saved to declare The Great Stagnation over? And with advances in immnotherapy, the fall in the death rate is likely to be faster. At a 3% drop a year, 18,000 cancer patients would be alive who otherwise wouldn't be the year before.

Cowen: "We don't have virtual reality yet." True, apart from the millions of users. It won't be "30 to 40 years at least" before VR is a decent substitute for travel but closer to 10 years.

By the way, I noticed Cowen peppered his comments with "like" every 30 seconds during this two hour conversation. I went back to his podcast with Ezra Klein this past spring and not one "like" uttered in the 25 minutes I listened to. Like, what's up with that?

This was one of the best podcast interviews i’ve listened to, the audio quality was bad, but overall very good. It got me through installing vertical blinds on one of our sliding doors and assembling a kitchen island so thank you to both parties.

Listening to the interview, I was surprised that I agreed with TC so often. (But way too much was 'inside the beltway' and kreminology, probably because I'm not either's core constituency.). 2 hrs and I'm wondering how many times TC mentioned IQ or how someone was smart. One way to tell if you have a problem is by replacing the words with other similar descriptors. So, TC, I suggest you think about what the reaction would be if you replaced "smart" with "attractive" (or "sexy") and IQ with cup-size. But I'm not winning on this point, I'm sure.. I consider how quaint his ideas are and how likely it is (imho) that in 50 years IQ and his idea of "smart" will be viewed like we view bloodletting today. I guess I need to read TC's book to find out how he suggests we *measure* future value for current investment. (50 or 100 yrs from now?? Seriously?!?!?). TC criticizes others for holding positions which he believes is inconsistent with human nature. Of course, no one knows what is human nature and what is culturally transmitted but I suspect his criticism that we spend too much in non-productive ways (and should spend less) is more a result of him living a very comfortable tenured life without adequate appreciation of the drive humans have to feather their own nest and provide for a comfortable "rest of their lives" as well as provide for their progeny. (I don't disagree that we spend too much on (well-to-do) elderly but I also think that's one of the third tracks of our social contract. One other point I think (ironically) that he misunderstands is the real difference between thinkers and doers, between those who articulate ideas and those who execute plans. He says that few people should be generalists because so few will be CEOs...but also claims that we need more risk takers and entrepreneurs. A bit contradictory, I think. He doesn't think (economic) inequality is important but decries the concentration of venture capital (and innovation) on the W & E Coasts. (and he complains that there are too many apps but not enough innovation, LOL!) He suggests that ones friends would make the best filter on ideas or relationships, but doesn't seem to understand that the friendship pool is mostly (still) limited to people living or working in close proximity. (I think adolescence leads one to learn many things, one of them is that you need to pick your friends, but someone growing up in S.Chicago will have dramatically different choices than one growing up in Bellevue, WA. (Yesterdays Channel 5 News claimed that 40% of the people living in Cleveland, OH didn't have internet access. So, local and neighborhood still count a lot.) Seems as if TC has written off those w/o a college degree - kinda what HRC's mistake was...) He says the the two core ideas of his book are Human Rights (whatever that means) and Productivity (whatever that means), but they conflict and how the choice is made between them isn't usually up to the individual, not even necessarily the majority. He thinks economic systems can and should be open and allow a religious component. But anyone who thinks religions (and adherents to) are open hasn't been paying attention. I find no persuasive argument that religion and science can (stably) co-exist, they are antithetical (not that any of us is actually self-consistent). His POV seems enormously Liberal/Progressive - implying that (religious) Belief exists only in the gaps (God of the Gaps) in between the facts supplied by Nature (the Laws of). It don't work that way. And finally, TC, as a chemist I agree with you, mostly, that you don't *need* to know any chemistry. Although I'd argue that understanding how such "simple" chemical reaction systems as, say, the Briggs-Rauscher reaction can introduce students of economics or ecology into the complex world of coupled, (non-linear, oscillatory, or/and non-equilibrium) systems in the lab (where the system is isolated from other perturbations). So, it isn't clear to me that a (good) economist can write off all chemistry. I'm sure that the math modeling of such systems (see wikipedia's article on Belousov–Zhabotinsky reaction) is far easier to understand than (adequate) macroeconomics models.

I was waiting for TC to mention our patent system and intellectual property (issues and problems with them), but other than China's theft, nuttin'. Seems to me changes to that system could make as much difference to productivity as the FDA's system for the approval of new drugs...

The position that many American high schools poorly identify talent and the position that there's no genius in community college seem to contradict. At best, they seem too cute when juxtaposed not to be motivated reasoning.

There is a willingness here to discuss relationships. Could a CWT with Esther Perel be in the works? (I hope so.)

Excellent. Apt characterization of Nassim Taleb as “pussycat”.

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