"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"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

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Tyler Cowen pushes Real Business Cycle Theory (RBC theory) - from Wikipedia:
According to RBC theory, business cycles are therefore "real" in that they do not represent a failure of markets to clear but rather reflect the most efficient possible operation of the economy, given the structure of the economy. RBC theory differs in this way from other theories of the business cycle such as Keynesian economics and Monetarism that see recessions as the failure of some market to clear.
RBC theory is associated with freshwater economics (the Chicago school of economics in the neoclassical tradition).
The article links to a 1986 piece by Larry Summers titled: Some Skeptical Observations on Real Business Cycle Theory.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Tyler Cowen pounces on Keynesianism by Noah Smith
Jobs Report, First Impressions by Jared Bernstein

As he writes, "The trend is our friend."
Economists in Love: Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers
U.S. Economy Added 243,000 Jobs

Republicans Sharply Question Bernanke for Fed’s Focus on Job Market
“I think this policy runs the great risk of fueling asset bubbles, destabilizing prices and eventually eroding the value of the dollar,” said Representative Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who is chairman of the House Budget Committee.
“The prospect of all three,” Mr. Ryan said, “is adding to uncertainty and holding our economy back.”
Mr. Bernanke was calm and careful in his responses, but he did not back down. He told the committee that the economy, and the housing market in particular, would need help for years to come from the Fed and Congress.

Writers at the Ramparts in a Gay Revolution by Dwight Gardner
It’s hard to believe that this story — about the tangled lives of men like Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams, Allen Ginsberg, James Baldwin, Truman Capote, Edward Albee, Edmund White, Armistead Maupin, Tony Kushner and Mr. Kramer — has not been combed and braided into a single narrative before. Lesbian literature is not dealt with here; Mr. Bram is probably correct to suggest that “it needs its own historian.”
This country’s gay revolution, Mr. Bram notes, “began as a literary revolution,” far more so than did the civil rights or women’s movements. America’s literary past is filled with brilliant, closeted gay and very possibly gay writers: Henry James, Walt Whitman, Willa Cather, Hart Crane. But the story Mr. Bram sets out to tell commences in the late 1940s.
“Before World War II,” he says, “homosexuality was a dirty secret that was almost never written about and rarely discussed.” The year everything changed, he persuasively argues, was 1948. That year the first of the Kinsey Reports appeared. So did two groundbreaking gay-themed works of fiction: “The City and the Pillar,” by Mr. Vidal, and “Other Voices, Other Rooms,” by Capote. The men would become bitter rivals.
How to Fight the Man by David Brooks

On thing to notice about gays and "fighting the man" that many brilliant gays were on the Left and fighting for civil rights and democracy like Bayard Rustin. The rightwing and fascism often contained manly, closeted gays who bashed homosexuality in public and were/are sadistic and mentally unstable. See J. Edgar Hoover or Roy Cohn. (By the way there's a weird, factually incorrect meme out there that the German Nazi Party was created by masculine gay men although it did include some.)

But to Brooks's broader points:
If I could offer advice to a young rebel, it would be to rummage the past for a body of thought that helps you understand and address the shortcomings you see. Give yourself a label. If your college hasn’t provided you with a good knowledge of countercultural viewpoints — ranging from Thoreau to Maritain — then your college has failed you and you should try to remedy that ignorance.  
Effective rebellion isn’t just expressing your personal feelings. It means replacing one set of authorities and institutions with a better set of authorities and institutions. Authorities and institutions don’t repress the passions of the heart, the way some young people now suppose. They give them focus and a means to turn passion into change.
Kenyan Socialism (need link) is embedded in the tradition of fighting for democracy and economy justice. This includes the recently successful civil rights and feminist movements.

What Brooks doesn't acknowledge in his columns is the tradition of the left in fighting for gains that today people take for granted.
Collateral Crises by Gary Gorton and Guillermo Ordo˜nez

(via Thoma)
The Logic of Recovery Winter by Yglesias

Recovery Winter Arrives With HUGE 243,000 Increase in Payroll Employment by Yglesias

Hooray! First Genuinely Good Employment Report of the Recovery! by DeLong

Bad news for my Rogues Gallery:

Greg Mankiw (who was skeptical of stimulus according to the Larry Summers memo)

Tyler Cowen

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

CBO budget and economic outlook
CBO expects economic activity to quicken after 2013 but to remain below the economy’s potential until 2018.

In CBO’s forecast, the unemployment rate remains above 8 percent both this year and next, a consequence of continued weakness in demand for goods and services. As economic growth picks up after 2013, the unemployment rate will gradually decline to around 7 percent by the end of 2015, before dropping to near 5½ percent by the end of 2017.
Fed fail.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Nial Ferguson pulls a Johnny Cochrane, "Krugman and the dreaded Keynesians were right." By Henry Blodget.
Should The U.S. Take A Harder Stance On China's Currency? (Part II) by Joe Gagnon
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently said that Chinese currency manipulation "is blocking what might be a more normal recovery process." In fact, the problem goes beyond China to include many other emerging economies and even a few advanced economies. All together, governments in these economies are spending about $1.5 trillion per year on currency manipulation.
Currency manipulation occurs when governments purchase foreign currency in order to hold up its value relative to their own currency. Manipulation makes a country's exports cheaper and imports more expensive, artificially raising the trade balance. The evidence suggests that currency manipulators jointly have increased their trade balances by about $1 trillion relative to where they would have been in the absence of manipulation. Europe and the United States have suffered the corresponding decline in trade balances.
(via Thoma)

American Republicans (and Fed board members like Lacker), the Chinese Communist Party, and German conservatives are the Axis of fools, all denying the American economy full employment and adequate demand to close the output gap. Germany however is mostly damaging Europe, though. The Chinese are screwing their consumers.

DeLong gives an early sketch of the Brookings paper he's working on with Larry Summers, titled "Fiscal Policy in a Depressed Economy".
Persistent high transitory cyclical unemployment is transforming itself into permanent structural unemployment as the labor market recovery continues to delay its appearance.
Government polices by the American, Chinese and German governments are actively delaying its appearance. Its not choosing to be fashionably late itself.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Role of Austerity by David Leonhardt
Over the last two years, the private sector grew at an average annual rate of 3.2 percent, while the government shrank at an annual rate of 1.4 percent.
The combined result has been economic growth of 2.3 percent.
The Austerity Debacle by Krugman
Fannie and Freddie don’t deserve blame for bubble by Mark Zandi
There is plenty of blame to go around for the U.S. housing bubble, but not much of it belongs to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The two giant housing-finance institutions made many mistakes over the decades, some of them real whoppers, but causing house prices to soar and then crater during the past decade weren’t among them.
The biggest culprits in the housing fiasco came from the private sector, and more specifically from a mortgage industry that was out of control. These included lenders who originated home loans, investment bankers who packaged them into securities, rating agencies that misjudged these securities, and global investors who bought them without much, if any, study.
Reflections on the Current Disorder by Doug Henwood
Lest you think that this analysis, tying debt growth to increased inequality, is just the fevered product of a radical mind, let me assure you that it recently got support from a very orthodox corner. A bit over a year ago, the International Monetary Fund—normally thought of as a bastion of economic orthodoxy—published a working paper with the provocative (by IMF standards) title “Inequality, Leverage and Crises.”
In any case, in the paper, IMF economists Michael Kumhof and Romain Rancière wondered aloud whether the increase in inequality we’ve seen over the last few decades contributed anything to the causes of our economic crisis. They attempt to model, in rigorous mathematical fashion, the perception that poor and middle-income households borrowed aggressively to maintain or expand their standard of living while wages and employment were growing only weakly, at the same time that rich households had more money than they knew what to do with, so they sought profitable opportunities to lend all that spare cash to those below them on the income ladder.
Kumhof and Rancière draw parallels between the recent period and the 1920s. In both periods, the share of income claimed by the top 5% rose dramatically, and by similar magnitudes. And during the 1920s and the recent period, roughly the last 25 years, the ratio of household debt to underlying incomes doubled.

Sunday, January 29, 2012