"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

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The Value of the Dollar Does Not Tell Us About the Strength of the U.S. Economy by Dean Baker
Anyhow, it is easy to show there is no direct relationship between the health of the economy and the strength of the dollar. In fact, the recovery in the first half of the Clinton administration was based to a substantial extent on the idea that a lower deficit would lead to a lower valued dollar and therefore more net exports. And, this largely worked as shown below.  

Then Robert Rubin took over at Treasury and pushed his high dollar policy giving us record trade deficits along with a stock and housing bubble. You know the rest of the story.

What motivates James Hamilton, whose Econbrowser blog I link to on the right side? Menzie Chinn is Very good. I feel bad for Chinn, here, but I seem to vaguely remember that Chinn dwells on debt too.


Fed Watch: The Importance of Printing Your Own Currency by Tim Duy

AV Club review of "Duty and Honor" from "The Americans"

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

1996 Welfare Reform: Failure

Paul Ryan: Welfare reform can be a model for the rest of the safety net by Brad Plumer
"How that reform fared is still subject to much dispute. States did manage to shrink their caseloads significantly. And, during the 1990s, the poverty rate fell. It looked like the program was working. Yet critics have argued that the booming economy and the Earned Income Tax Credit deserve most of the credit here. Meanwhile, the poverty rate rose again in the 2000s and TANF didn’t respond. One reason welfare reform is cheaper today is that it simply helps fewer families in poverty."
"On the pro side is Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution, one of the architects of the 1996 law. He generally supports the idea of block grants and adding work requirements to food stamps, though with one big caveat. “It’s a lot more difficult to get a job now than it was back in 1996,” he says. “Our timing with welfare reform could not have been better—there were jobs galore in the late ’90s.” 
As such, Haskins says, Congress would have to be careful this time around about things like work requirements and time limits. To take one example: The number of people on food stamps, he notes, “tends to be very responsive to the state of the economy.” If a recession came around and states were limited on how much they could spend, they might simply end up cutting benefit levels." 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Who's Afraid of Sheryl Sandberg? by Katha Pollitt
After this storm of outrage—let’s not forget two vituperative columns from Maureen Dowd and a front-page New York Timesstory by Jodi Kantor that uses an out-of-context half-quote to make Sandberg sound like the would-be Queen of Feminism—the book itself comes as a pleasant surprise. Sandberg’s voice is modest, humorous, warm and enthusiastic. (I should mention that I attended a dinner she hosted for women writers and found her much the same in person.) She’s like someone who’s just taken Women’s Studies 101 and wants to share it with her friends. Did you know that women apply for jobs only when they are 100 percent qualified, but men apply at 60 percent? That even incredibly accomplished women think they’re frauds about to be found out? That women are caught in a double bind between femininity and ambition? Have you read Alice Walker? She repeatedly acknowledges her own advantages: comfortable middle-class upbringing, Harvard degree, mentoring from Larry Summers, and now enormous wealth and the power to—parental nirvana!—leave the office at 5:30. She does not claim to speak for or to every woman, nor does she blame women for the stalled gender revolution. She cites study after study showing that the deck is stacked against women: discrimination is real, the old boy network is real, the difficulties of raising children while working full time are real. She constantly talks about the need for men to be equal partners at home and to support women at work.
Via DeLong. Comment at DeLong:
Nice article. The history could do with a some revision though - it seems to have escaped notice that, although private sector organisations were relatively small until the late C19, government and quasi-government organisations were not. The Royal Navy, for instance, was able to victual, maintain, man and control some 600 ships and a world wide network of suppliers, dockyards and bases in 1810 - through a mixture of legal power, contract, monetary and social incentives and carefuly nurtured corporate spirit. Government and similar organisations have usually been at the cutting edge of the social technologies of large scale organisation, and the techniques pioneered by them have filtered down. But there does seem to be an empirical upper limit at any given time to the scale of organisation possible - one which the Soviet Union exceeded in most (not all) areas. GM may mark the current upper limit.
My response: 
GM may mark the current upper limit." The Federal Reserve Bank posted a profit of $89 billion last year which it remitted to the Treasury. Since it backstops the financial system (IOER?), the quasi public private Fed system may mark the upper limit. 
Sulphurous Summers mentored Sandberg and the Professor? Can't be that bad then. Interesting that he's tangentially related to Facebook via Sandberg and Harvard (see "The Social Network.")