"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Barney Frank, Obama, TARP and homeowner relief

via DeLong

David DayenBarney Frank Explains the Financial Crisis: “The TARP legislation included specific instructions to use a section of the funds to prevent foreclosures…
…Without that language, TARP would not have passed…. The Bush administration… used none of the first tranche on mortgage relief, nor did Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson use any leverage over firms receiving the money to persuade them to lower mortgage balances and prevent foreclosures. Frank made his anger clear over this ignoring of Congress’ intentions at a hearing with Paulson that November…. Frank writes, ‘Paulson agreed to include homeowner relief in his upcoming request for a second tranche of TARP funding. But there was one condition: He would only do it if the President-elect asked him to.’…
Obama rejected the request, saying ‘we have only one president at a time.’ Frank writes, ‘my frustrated response was that he had overstated the number of presidents currently on duty’…. Obama’s unwillingness to take responsibility before holding full authority doesn’t match other decisions made at that time. We know from David Axelrod’s book that the Obama transition did urge the Bush administration to provide TARP loans to GM and Chrysler…. It was OK to help auto companies prior to Inauguration Day, just not homeowners. In the end, the Obama transition wrote a letter promising to get to the foreclosure relief later, if Congress would only pass the second tranche of TARP funds. Congress fulfilled its obligation, and the Administration didn’t….
Frank… first leveled [this] in May 2012 in an interview with New York magazine. Nobody in the Obama Administration has ever denied the anecdote…. I suppose those reviewing ’Frank’ can offer an excuse about this being ‘old news’…. The political media’s allergy to policy is a clear culprit here. Jamie Kirchick’s blanket statement in his review of ‘Frank’ that ‘readers’ eyes will glaze over’ at the recounting of the financial crisis is a typical attitude. But… people [who] suffered needlessly for Wall Street’s sins… would perhaps be interested in understanding why…

Monday, March 30, 2015


Former Federal Reserve Board Chair Ben Bernanke gave the keynote speech at a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities forum on policies that promote economic growth and employment.


Destroying the Greek economy in order to save it by Mark Weisbrot
It could hardly be more obvious that this is not about money or fiscal sustainability, but about politics. This is a government that European authorities didn’t want, and they wish to show who is boss. And they really don’t want this government to succeed, which would encourage Spanish voters to opt for a democratic alternative — Podemos — later this year. 
The IMF projected the economy to grow by 2.9 percent this year, and until the last month or so, there was good reason to believe that — as in 2014, after years of gross overestimates — its forecast would be on target. This growth would likely have kept Syriza’s approval ratings high, together with its measures to provide food and electricity to needy households and other progressive changes. The ECB’s actions, by destabilizing the economy and discouraging investment and consumption, will almost certainly slow Greece’s recovery and could be expected to undermine the government’s support. 
If carried too far, European officials’ actions could inadvertently force Greece out of the euro — a dangerous strategy for all concerned. They should stop undermining the economic recovery that Greece will need if it is to achieve fiscal sustainability.

Bernanke, Krugman, Piketty, and Stiglitz

Why are interest rates so low? by Ben Bernanke

video of "Thomas Piketty, Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz: The Genius of Economics"

Friday, March 20, 2015


Political Aspects of Full Employment

"Kalecki" at EV saying monetary policy doesn't work.

Steve Randy Waldmann

That wasn't full employment monetary policy. That was monetary policy taking advantage of "opportunistic disinlflation" in order to keep labor markets wrong. Meanwhile financial markets were deregulated. Deregulating financial markets is not monetary policy. Waldman is wrong here.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sumner on Krugman and Europe

For simplicity, suppose we started with US and eurozone interest rates being equal. After the monetary injection the eurozone rates are lower.  So the euro is expected to appreciate.  But in the long run it’s expected to be 10% lower.  That means the immediate effect of a monetary stimulus shock must be a more that 10% decline in the euro.  Dornbusch called this exchange rate overshooting.  The model is composed of 4 theories (QTM, PPP, IPT, liquidity effect.)  Most of us are not as adept at juggling 4 theoretical balls in the air at the same time as Krugman, so we struggle with the concept.  As for empirical evidence, these things are hard to test. I’d argue that each component is pretty well established, and that’s good enough (and I suspect Krugman would agree.)  In any case, it’s too beautiful a theory not to use once and a while.  Here’s Krugman:
So, can we say anything about how the recent move in the euro fits into this story? One way, I’d suggest, is to ask how much of the move can be explained by changes in the real interest differential with the United States. US real 10-year rates are about the same as they were in the spring of 2014; German real rates at similar maturities (which I use as the comparable safe asset) have fallen from about 0 to minus 0.9. If people expected the euro/dollar rate to return to long-term normal a decade from now, this would imply a 9 percent decline right now. 
What we actually see is almost three times that move, suggesting that the main driver here is the perception of permanent, or at any rate very long term European weakness. And that’s a situation in which Europe’s weakness will be largely shared with the rest of the world — Europe will have its fall cushioned by trade surpluses, but the rest of us will be dragged down by the counterpart deficits. 
Now, this is not how most analysts approach the problem. They make a forecast for the exchange rate, then run this through some set of trade elasticities to get the effects on trade and hence on GDP. Such estimates currently indicate that the dollar will be a moderate-sized drag on US recovery, but no more. What the economic logic says, however, is that if that’s really true, the dollar will just keep heading higher until the drag gets less moderate.
Krugman’s looking at real rates to abstract from inflation.  While the Dornbusch overshooting model does a nice job of explaining the recent dramatic plunge in the euro, the model also predicts that the real exchange rate is unaffected in the long run. But that’s because interest rates are unaffected in the long run.  Krugman’s readers don’t know this, but unless I’m mistaken he’s arguing that the recent fall in long-term interest rates in Europe is the income effect, not the liquidity effect.  I actually like that argument, but it’s not the way Keynesians usually look at changes in long-term rates occurring in close proximity to QE.  Most Keynesians would say the ECB is driving bond long term bond yields lower.

So Krugman’s arguing that the big fall in the expected 10-year future exchange rate reflects worsening prospects for long term European growth, not just monetary stimulus.  That argument makes sense to me.  But he’s also arguing that this increasing long-term pessimism occurred at almost exactly the same time that expectations of short-term growth became more optimistic.  That might be true, but I kinda doubt it. And yet I can’t think of a better explanation for the fall in the future expected value of the euro.

So I’ll file this under “unresolved problems.”

DeLong rant

Time for a Rant!: Why Oh Why Cannot We Have Better Economists? by DeLong

Marking-One's-Beliefs-to-Market Should Be a Collective Endeavor...: Focus by DeLong

Krugman in 2005

A Whiff of Stagflation

Published: April 18, 2005
We shouldn't overstate the case: we're not back to the economic misery of the 1970's. But the fact that we're already experiencing mild stagflation means that there will be no good options if something else goes wrong. 
Suppose, for example, that the consumer pullback visible in recent data turns out to be bigger than we now think, and growth stalls. (Not that long ago many economists thought that an oil price in the 50's would cause a recession.) Can the Fed stop raising interest rates and go back to rate cuts without causing the dollar to plunge and inflation to soar? 
Or suppose that there's some kind of oil supply disruption - or that warnings about declining production from Saudi oil fields turn out to be right. Suppose that Asian central banks decide that they already have too many dollars. Suppose that the housing bubble bursts. Any of these events could easily turn our mild case of stagflation into something much more serious.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Krugman and currency wars

It’s Always 1923
FEBRUARY 12, 2013 8:18 AM
David Glasner writes sensibly about the “currency war” issue and related subjects, set off by recent commentary by Irwin Stelzer. As Glasner says, expansionary monetary policy can cause currency depreciation — but it is not currency manipulation. There’s a world of difference between Chinese-style intervention-plus-tight-money and either the Fed’s quantitative easing or Japan’s new turn to inflation targeting.
But what really seems to get Glasner going is Stelzer’s bad history — bad history that is, one has to say, very widely accepted out there. No, the 1923 hyperinflation didn’t bring Hitler to power; it was the BrĂ¼ning deflation and depression. Hard money and a gold standard obsession, not excessive money printing, was the proximate disaster.
One thing Glasner doesn’t do, though, is point out not just that Stelzer seems weirdly obsessed with inflation risks despite the complete absence of any evidence, but the unchanging nature of that obsession. A quick bit of googling says that Stelzer has been warning about an inflationary explosion for at least four years (pdf). (In the same piece he also insisted that it would be very hard to find anyone to buy all the bonds the US would be issuing).
This gets at one of the true wonders of this ongoing economic crisis: the inflation-and-soaring-rates crowd has been wrong, again and again, year after year, yet seems completely undaunted in its certainty that it possesses The Truth. You might think that someone, at some point, would have a creeping suspicion that he might be working with the wrong model. But it never seems to happen.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Don Kervack calls the bubble

Mark the date. 
Democrats have saddled themselves with a postmodern financial fluff economy dedicated to the continued erection of nothing on top of nothing. They are afraid the new stock and housing bubbles are going to go pffft before 2016, especially with the pin pricks coming from Europe, and they want to keep puffing it up as long as possible.

King's Landing riot

How inequality hurts a society.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Currency wars

Currencies Gyrate, but There’s No War by Greg Ip

Spain and the IMF

Weisbrot on Podemos and Spain:
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects unemployment to still be at 18.5 percent in 2019. This is assuming that things go according to plan, and ignoring that IMF projections have tended to be over-optimistic in the past few years. But the most outrageous part of this forecast is that the IMF is also projecting that the Spanish economy in 2019 will be very close to full employment. In other words, the Fund – and by extension the European authorities— are saying that something like 18 percent unemployment is basically full employment for Spain.