Thursday assorted links

1. Left-wing critique of the Green New Deal.

2. TV show about North Korean defector beauties (NYT, recommended).

3. China/Moldova fact of the day: “World alcohol consumption on the rise as China’s thirst grows. Chinese will surpass the US for per capita intake by 2030, research shows, but Moldova claims top spot for now.”

4. Is Belt and Road a big, dysfunctional mistake?

5. What happened to Indian demonetization?


A treasure trove of links. Note if money is neutral (story #5) you would see some short-term effect on real GDP, but you haven't.

@Ray Lopez - I meant if money is non-neutral, you'd see some effect on real GDP in the experiment to withdraw cash in story #5, since most people would temporarily not be able to use plastic money due to unfamiliarity. And indeed there is a small drop, for a few months, in nominal GDP, see here: But inflation was even dropping before the late 2016 shock announcement to withdraw paper money in India (which was correctly seen as a tax hike), so real GDP did not drop much at all, proving money is neutral.

All in all, monetarism is mildly non-neutral at best say this data and others I've seen over the years. Nothing to get too excited about.

#3 Transniatria is a legitimate part of Moldova! Free it from the Russian bear!

+1 good one
how about this one from the
seriously nancy pelosi you went to law school
is this postmodern bullshit or cognitive decline?
we are sorta gonna need a coding clarification!

Can the president collude with himself, obstruct himself, impeach himself and replace himself with himself to save time?

apparently the postmodern interpretation is russiagate
was all about childhood trauma
not covert&overt misinformation
and then it gets a little marxist

4. If (and that's a big if) Belt and Road succeeds as envisioned by Xi Jinping, then what? Critics of Belt and Road (and China) have lots invested in the failure of Belt and Road. Success of the initiative won't have the critics reconsidering their biases, but it will have agnostics shifting in the direction of China and China's version of state capitalism. Like I said, there's lots at stake here.

"If (and that's a big if) Belt and Road succeeds as envisioned by Xi Jinping, then what?

Is it East versus West or man against man?
Can any nation stand alone?

That seals it, you are an American. No other nationality can quote obscure lyrics from a song from Rocky IV. Carry on with your art project.

"No other nationality can quote obscure lyrics from a song from Rocky IV. "
We have TV sets and internet access in Brazil, too. Mr. Balboa's speech in Rocky IV ("I guess what I'm trying to say, is that if I can change, and you can change, everybody can change!") is as famous in Brazil as Chaplin's in The Great Dictator.

Yes, thank you. I enjoy your character.

It is not a character.

We are supposed to pretend the show on the stage is actually happening. Sorry, carry on real Brazilian.

I am a real Brazilian.

I think someone else took up the mantle. He used to quote Brazilian verse and mention the War of Peruvian Aggression much more often.

It is the War of Paraguayan Aggression. Inn the closing days of 1864, Paraguayan forces, sent by Tyrant López, tried to annex Brazil. Brazilian soldiers refused to surrender. Their leader, Mr. Ribeiro, said, "I know I will die, but my blood and my comrades' will be a solemn protest against the invasion of our Fatherland's soil".

This place wouldn’t be the same without you Thiago!!

Thank you.

I particularly like his terse rebuttals, e.g. “That is not true.”

Brevity is the soul of wit.

4. If China was building ghost cities, and instead of that builds ghost highways, what is the opportunity cost?

Maybe we can be glad we don't have their problems, but if they must create domestic demand, any way possible, then that's what they'll do.

Years ago, and not only once, the US actually had "their problems."

In the early 1980's, large American banks get stuck with credit (defaults) and market (price depreciation) losses in the Lesser Developed Countries Debt (LDC) Crisis. Of the ten largest banks LDC-affected only two exist in 2019. Another big player, First National Bank Philadelphia went bust. It was US National Bank Charter Number One.

Then (1998), came Long-Trem Capital Management which were far too heavily leveraged (needed because of low margins on debt instruments arbitrages) which bail-out the Fed needed to "orchestrate" to prevent a global financial crisis. Some see LTCM as a blue print for the bail-outs 0f 2008.

Seen elsewhere. "Will China Learn From It's Venezuela Mistake?" Seems to explain some "mechanics" of these deals.

Not sure about Chicom AD explains it. They - Chiner Development Bank - had/had huge amounts of FX/cash and these deals seem to be how they deployed some of it.

We've certainly had a variety of financial crises, and perhaps one of our strengths is that we do work them out "quickly" (if that's defined as over a decade or so).

But we've never had a big state-directed economy which as I understand it "must" switch from external demand to internal to continue their growth.

How do you create growth in a directed economy? Direct it, and hope for the best.

Truth. It's all above my pay grade. Thank God.

That made too much economic sense. You can’t be “Anonymous “.

Who is anyone? In a sense it shouldn't matter. Each comment should have a neat nugget, ideally of truth, that stands on it's own.

Lesser Developed Countries

These are now referred to as "shithole countries"(SHL)

1. I believe I have read this same argument made at the link someplace else. Let's see, where was it? Oh yea, by Tyler Cowen in Stubborn Attachments. Invest in the future; humanity is depending on it.

1. Total waste of time. All it says is the usual red-green drivel about how the only way to save the planet is to overthrow the capitalist system.
Because, according to them markets, are just SO BAD at dealing with resource limitations. Capitalism will just keep growing until all resources are consumed and everyone dies of starvation! Again, leftists displaying their utter ignorance of basic economics. It's like they've never heard of price signals, or even thought much beyond the Marxist dogma they've been fed on.

Not that the Green New Deal is a good idea or anything.
GND is environmentalism as a pretext for democratic socialism.
This article is environmentalism as a pretext for revolutionary Marxism.

Right, ignore any controversies in the Congress and focus on this.

What is salient here is we must only discuss Trump, in all threads of every blog, or we hate America. It's not that hard, people. Be your better selves.

A careful reader will would note that I rarely introduce the topic - jump on it sure.

But here's the thing, is this an apolitical economic blog?

Or is it a political economic blog that seeks to focus the eye?

A careful reader will note that you introduce the topic irrespective of the subject at hand.

Well today I had to get a fasting blood test. No coffee and a headache made me a bit test-y, but it's actually a pattern I try to follow. When Tyler introduces Trump I'm on it (as any good citizen should be), and when any other commented has opened the floor, I consider that fair game.

I could have gone in after "apostmoderngendertheorist" above, right?

Whom you don't think to bother .. for some reason.

Im a bother to you? You poor thing!

I'm done, back to how AOC is the single greatest threat to American Democracy!

He doesn't get on people's nerves the way you do.

The thing that attracts no attention from "apostmoderngendertheorist" is that he hates on Pelosi and that's fine groupthink.

His question was perfectly legitimate, if somewhat off topic.

Of course it was, and there was no need to attempt the:

As Oprah Winfrey has said, “You teach people how to treat you.”

" and when any other commented (sic) has opened the floor, I consider that fair game."

No one opened the floor to Trump here. You just did what you always do. All threads must be about Trump or we are bad Americans. Good luck with that.

You probably forget how many times others do provide the opening, or prolong the agony as it were.

Not here though. So stop lying.

lol, you are basic.


lol, you are a liar and a hack


Hi mouse!

I missed you. Just like I've grown to love that warm little gray mammal that drops turds in my cabinets.

So you live in a vermin-infested hovel.

Au contraire. "The infrastructure of the modern world is cast from molten grief." That's some excellent unintentional comedy. I also enjoyed how, in typical Marxist fashion, in order to make his critique of the Green New Deal, he has to go all the way back and rehash the revolutions of 1848. For some people, apparently, it never stopped being the 19th Century, even if it ended 80 years before they were born.

Still, though, his main argument that the GND may not reduce carbon emissions as much as promised, and instead will merely move them around, seems plausible or even likely.

Given that governments are invariably *less* efficient at allocating scarce resources than free markets, the GND would probably lead to more emissions, not less.
If the price of carbon rises, capitalist markets will try to consume less of it. By contrast the GND is supposed to double as a jobs program, and what creates more jobs than being as inefficient as possible? There's a reason why infrastructure construction and the US military are extremely inefficient, and it isn't because they are run by capitalists.

You're preaching to choir, HM, but paragraphs like this one from the article remain cogent despite all the other silliness:

The problem with this scenario as a framework for the Green New Deal is that renewables are not massively cheaper than fossil fuels. The state cannot blaze the trail to cheap, renewable energy, satisfying consumers with lower costs and producers with acceptable profits. Many once thought that the depletion of oil and coal reserves would save us, raising the price of fossil fuels above that of renewables and forcing the switch as a matter of economic necessity. Unfortunately, that messianic price point has drifted farther into the future as new drilling technologies, introduced in the last decade, have made it possible to frack oil from shale and to recover reserves from fields previously thought exhausted. The price of oil has stayed stubbornly low, and the US is, suddenly, producing more of it than anyone else.

Sure, but then you get crap like this:
Because, in capitalism, a small class of owners and managers, in competition with itself, finds itself forced to make a set of narrow decisions about where to invest and in what, establishing prices, wages, and other fundamental determinants of the economy. Even if these owners wanted to spare us the drowned cities and billion migrants of 2070, they could not. They would be undersold and bankrupted by others. Their hands are tied, their choices constrained, by the fact that they must sell at the prevailing rate or perish. It is the class as a whole that decides, not its individual members. This is why the sentences of Marxists (and Marx) so often treat capital as agent rather than object. The will towards relentless growth, and with it increasing energy use, is not chosen, it is compelled, a requirement of profitability where profitability is a requirement of existence.

Capitalism will just keep consuming all resources until there are a billion migrants and we're all under water! It's not like there are other capitalists who have an interest in that real estate or anything!

It's like this bizarre warped understanding of economics where they can't quite think through the logic of how incentives will evolve as the availability of various resources change. In their model of the world, incentives stay the same forever, and people keep doing the same thing until the system blows up. They can only see positive feedback, not creative destruction.

> It's not like there are other capitalists who have an interest in that real estate or anything!

Forgive me for being patronizing, but ever hear of the tragedy of the commons? All the capitalists might want to coordinate to prevent global warming, but incentives don't allow them to, individually. I'm all ears to hear about how I'm wrong.

I actually think it's much worse than all that. I see no conceivable political or social mechanism to prevent catastrophic enviornmental disaster, because what actually needs to be done is so much more extreme that what is inside the overton window. Moloch has already won, cllapse of global society and billions of deaths are already fated. Enviornmental engineering is a last ditch hope, perhaps.

There are solutions to the tragedy of the commons. Which entails establishing rights over various aspects of that commons - i.e. making it no longer a "commons" but a system of private property rights, even if that doesn't involve geographic property rights. (i.e. catch-share fishing rights, etc.)

Similar systems could be devised with respect to CO2 emissions, with the most obvious being the carbon tax + pricing of damages due to climate change, and tort, as Matt Young discusses below.

The posted link argues this wouldn't happen because the capitalist class has too much capital invested in fossil fuel technology to allow the carbon tax to become law. My point is that if climate change becomes a real threat of putting cities under water, there are going to be a lot of other capitalists who will counter the influence of the fossil fuel lobbies. I really doubt that all the people who own skyscrapers in New York are going to let their capital be destroyed without a fight.

Buy real estate in Canada, then.

Here is the good news:

"new drilling technologies, introduced in the last decade, have made it possible to frack oil from shale and to recover reserves from fields previously thought exhausted. The price of oil has stayed stubbornly low, and the US is, suddenly, producing more of it than anyone else."

These morons are dangerous.

@EdR - you are aware that the Permian fracked fields are running out of oil faster than previously thought? That's why we have record low natural gas prices now (gas comes out after the oil field is exhausted of oil).

re: gas comes out after ...

Well, if you have a traditional reservoir with a gas cap drive and you choose to produce the oil first.

Or you may have a dry gas reservoir with little to no oil.

Or a wet gas reservoir with natural gas liquids which can be fractionated out at surface.

Or primarily oil reservoir with associated gas which comes out of solution at surface pressure, and may be separated.

The record low prices are because the gas production volume is greater than the pipeline capacity to move the gas from the Permian to the users (petrochemical, export, interstate pipelines) on the Gulf Coast. Additional pipeline capacity will come online this year and next, and Permian prices will rise to about match Gulf Coast.

@Engineer - I'm not qualified to say what percent of oil fields are traditional or not. But at least one prominent geologist agrees that oil is running out in the Permian. As for gas pipelines, as an investor in ENB (Enbridge), the biggest pipeline operator in the USA/Canada, I know it's not easy to build gas pipelines. In fact, ENB has three times the market value of Ford (F) for just this reason. It's not the technology, it's the right-of-ways. Some links below. (different ways to drive out oil) (heretic geologist, not very popular with the Texas Chamber of Commerce)

I have heard rumors, but don't care.

The main points are:
1. The apocalyptic predictions like this:–Ehrlich_wager
2. The benefits of cheap and abundant energy.
3. The unknown potential of future innovation.

These people are emotionally disturbed idiots, and dangerous.

"you are aware that the Permian fracked fields are running out of oil faster than previously thought?"

Ah, that's why Occidental upped it's bid for Anadarko, right? :)

You sound like the peak oil advocacy committee circa 2010: "don't worry about shale, it's almost gone already, aside from the fact that it's not even really oil"

"Interesting" read. I kept hoping he would explain how communism would solve all the environmental problems. Shockingly, he punts on that, other than saying it would happen by super-fast decarbonization, little or no travel, and bunch of other hooey that would only be "acceptable" to people with guns pointed at their faces. Essentially, his solution to climate change is Pol Pot's Cambodia, world-wide.

Even less persuasive than the Underpants Gnomes.

Yes, really.
Some people's idea of what replaces capitalism is pretty magical. Like incentives cease to exist in a world without capitalism. Take away the profit motive and price signals and people will just automatically know what is socially optimal and do it. Even if well intentioned, there is no way this can work in reality, so it always turns into guns pointed at faces.

#1: "I’ve always despised the transitional program concept."

Well, every technological change is transitional. The "industrial revolution" is just an abstraction to visualize gradual and boring change. Slow change looks dramatic when you compare the outcome after 30 or 50 years to initial conditions.

Can it be called compound change? Stealing the idea from compound interest. Slow change today becomes something huge 20 or 30 years later, marginal improvements, marginal........revolution? ;)

Blue LEDs. An incremental improvement which opened the door to a revolution in light bulbs.

#1 TL;DR

To be truthful, I read some of it. The usual and customary nutty enviro-drivel, and I am a hard core environmentalist.

As for extinctions, see Douglas Erwin, paleontologist, Permian extinction expert.

The sky is not falling.

You're not hard core my friend. Perhaps not even an environmentalist. Does the Devon coal question mean anything to you?

With all due respect, you don't know very much about me.

I assure you, I am a hard core but rational environmentalist. I won't go into detail, it's too painful on this phone.

I agree with Ray. If you really were hard core you wouldn't let a silly little phone stop you. That's not what hard core means.

#3 Booze consumption is of course, like meat (as in the last links) another log scaling element of consumption with GDP/cap:

Much more noise on the relationship due to Islam on this one however (Hindu vegetarianism probably does the same for meat, but there aren't any high income Hindu nations yet, while there are a few Moslem ones that are wealthy through resource extraction).

Singapore also another outlier. Partly that's probably the Malay, but I believe I can recall some restrictive laws about alcohol consumption in Disneyland With The Death Penalty as well?

It's probably sensationalism to imagine that China will top out highest booze consumption in the world tho. Like meat consumption, they will probably top out about the European average (which is nonetheless, fairly high on a world scale, but not relative to income). Ganbei!

1. Left-wing critique of the Green New Deal.

The problem is that growth and emissions are, by almost every measure, profoundly correlated.

The problem is too much absorption and not enough emission, relative to the sun. The optimum path forward is tort, it is the fair priced path down toward pre-industrial emissions.
"We need a revolution, a break with capital and its killing compulsions, though what that looks like in the twenty-first century is very much an open question."

Nah, tort and micro pricing. From traffic to energy to agriculture we can price, better and faster with Silicon. The victims of climate change can increasingly price their damage. Then take that 20% of land use and drop it to 10% as we combine breakthroughs in biofuels and sequestering efficiency. One thing we are excellent at is converting CO2 into long term storage, plastic bottles. We need to apply that expertise to atmospheric carbon.

It is actually doable because the solar flux is a net positive energy flow. The research on manipulating carbon is rather exciting right now, and I would take that bet. I would be building energy inefficient pilot plants to develop technology.

#1 "Chernobylesque cancer rates" is a delightfully prolix way of saying "normal cancer rates." The minotaurs released by mining could well have a more serious effect.

#1..."We cannot keep things the same and change everything. We need a revolution, a break with capital and its killing compulsions, though what that looks like in the twenty-first century is very much an open question."

Get back to us when you have something like an answer. He reminds me of a caller into a radio station I listened to many years ago who always said, "It should be free." It hardly matters. The welfare state is very resilient. Even after Trump, things are going to be basically like they are now. I'm an optimist about this. Things are slowly getting better. My pessimism is linked to our human situation/ condition, in which so many things we care about pass away as we age. There's no cure for that. We will deal with climate change, but, as per usual, we'll make a pig's breakfast of it in doing so.

#1 - and not even a far leftist nut can think the thought "if there were a population of 3 billion rather than 8 billion this would be easier...."
And *any* level of per-capita burden, even capita eventually make a burden that overwhelms the system.
Expect warfare and general horror in the coming century - it's all human history has ever known.

Given that his solution implies that the whole world will be treated to the Pol Pot's Cambodia solution, he's probably on board for 5 billion dead, as long as they are the right 5 billion.

Alternatively, he is insane enough to believe people will voluntarily drastically reduce energy use, travel, consumption, technology use, and so on. This is in the same piece where he describes how capitalists will fight against all this tooth and nail. Like many on the far left, he thinks individuals have no opinions on these matters, and no agency. Only the Party.

Is there a particularly tasty alcoholic beverage from China? The beers found in Chinese restaurants in the US is o.k, but I wonder if there is something special I should know about.

Apparently they have cheap hooch.

"According to the Chinese tradition, Baijiu (grain alcohol) is served neat at the room temperature. It is a tradition to drink baijiu in small cup or glasses with food rather than on its own. The expense of a bottled baijiu is the roughly same price as a can of beer. The Baijiu which is aged for many years may cost high as per the quality."

Alcoholic Drinks in China

Mao Tai is the expensive stuff. The government people are not allowed to buy it when they have celebratory meals with foreign delegations anymore. Part of the anti-corruption drive.

No. Them bastards and the Japs have destroyed the US bourbon industry, for native born murikans. We need a tariff on bourbon exports.

#5 "All that effort, for what?"

How is the number of banknotes relevant to anything? They took out the ₹500 and ₹1,000 bills of the Mahatma Gandhi Series and issued new ₹500 and ₹2,000 bills. Plus, early critics assailed the reduction in banknotes. If the they want to make numbers of banknotes an issue, critics should explain why it matters and then stick to one position on what the right number of notes ought to be.

The government claimed the intended benefits were to:

(1) disrupt financing to terrorists
(2) help unearth black money
(3) by reducing black money, Increase the tax base and set the stage for the unified national Goods and Services Tax that was adopted in 2017.
(4) help reduce interest rates in the banking system
(5) help formalize India’s informal economy, reduce the extent of cash transactions, and help in the creation of a less-cash economy.

1, 2, were achieved.

Demonetizaton did lead to an increase in income tax collections—both from individuals and firms. And it did indeed help support the 2017 introduction of the GST.

Interest rates did indeed fall.

Finally, there has been a significant rise in digital payments since demonetization.

Additional benefits realized include a slow down in food price inflation.

All this anti-Hindu bigotry and pissant carping on this or that component of the portfolio of numerious bold, massive, and inter-related initiatives undertaken by the Modi administration misses the big picture entirely, and that picture is continued growth and increased real output per capita.

The IMF World Economic Outlook projects Indian real per capita output to equal China's this year and surpass it in 2020 and the 2018 GDP growth rate of 7.1 percent in 2018 to increase to 7.3 this year and 7.5 in 2020, all three years exceeding China. Only elitest establishment academics could fail to recognize how remarkable this achievement is.

I agree with Edgar.

On a different note - my view is that DeMonatization was a purely political move by Modi. Modi used this as a shock technique to signal it to the country that he is a heavyweight politician. Shock technique is a technique used by shrewd politicians a number of times to establish themselves as heavyweights.

1. Oh good--leftists are color-blind, too.

Every time I saw Commissar AOC peddling her New New Deal, she was dressed in TEAL, never in a "true green"--no Kelly green, no spring-leaf green, no chlorophyll green--TEAL.

Wise up, corrupt and corrupting Media Establishment (beset with your own vision problems, 'tis true): it is NOT "the Green New Deal", it's "the Teal New Deal".

It's interesting that right wingers can't seem to discuss female politicians without talking about their clothes.

Being no right winger, I would not know.

Commissar AOC can sport whatever socialist fashion rages where socialist fashions rage, I am certain, and wherever she travels in hot pursuit of socialist celebrity with her enviromaniacal zeal.

You're not a right winger; but you play one on the internets

I aspire to being one of the planet's devoted but lazy partisan centrists, but that's not quite accurate, since formally I am apolitical--"non-aligned and unaffiliated", then: a thin reed thinking thin thoughts.

As you well note: role playing is practically impossible to escape or avoid here onstage at the Global Potemkin Village.

1. I don't see anything particularly left-wing about the critique, until the end when it drifts into an anti-capitalist tangent.

Up to that point, it's a concrete pragmatic assessment that seems fairly neutral ideologically.

"I don't see anything particularly left-wing about the critique, until the end"

It's a combination of ad-hoc reasoning and distopian darkness fiction marshaled in support of total futility. The total futility part isn't the median left wing line these days. The common left-wing line is that there's still hope that left wing policies can avert the apocolypse. But even in that line abject futility is just under the surface.

While it is accurate in presenting environmental boosterism as delusional, it's only doing so to justify the futility of even trying to avoid the calamity, which in turn justifies even more drastic political remedies.

In other words, it's not the main lefty line, but it's sure as hell not centrist or right!

Is it really necessary to point out that the primary goal of the Green New Deal is to get certain politicians elected? It's hardly necessary that it actually be implemented, or if even partly implemented that it accomplishes anything it says it will accomplish.

Or, As Humpty Dumpty remarks in Alice in Wonderland, "The question is ... which is to be master, that's all."

This is different than other major legislative initiatives?

4. The fundamental error in this analysis is imagining that the stated goals of the Belt and Road are the intended goals. Belt and Road is a coat of whitewash to reduce the discontent of the growing Chinese middle class with the corruption of power brokers.

Every fact outlined makes perfect sense when you assume that the problem is that infrastructure overbuilding in China is something that the locals can notice and complain about being driven by corruption. By moving the construction overseas and covering it with talk of national prestige and international influence, the corruption becomes less perceptible to the public.

The fact that the very same mechanism of authorization/planning/finance is used for Belt and Road that was used for domestic infrastructure is not a defect of Belt and Road, but the whole point.

Belt and Road was launched shortly after Xi's big anti-corruption campaign started. In both cases the goal was to insulate China's powerful against rising popular discontent, one by publicly slaughtering a few hogs, the other by covering up letting pigs get fat with talk of national greatness.

"Many once thought that the depletion of oil and coal reserves would save us...."

And they claim to be advocates of science! :)

1. Communist believes progress impossible unless we all become communists, news at 11

As usual, those critiquing GND-style policies have no such practical solutions of their own. How should we mitigate the climate disaster, if not through massive economic incentives for transitioning to renewables?

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