"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, March 05, 2016

Sarah Silverman feels the Bern

Mark Ruffalo did last week.

reverse income policies

Time for helicopter money?
Recently, more radical proposals have surfaced, reflecting a sense of urgency and widespread disappointment with the impact of current monetary policy. Beyond advocating higher minimum wages, some are calling* for “reverse income policies,” with governments imposing across-the-board wage increases on private employers – a move that would drive up prices and defeat deflationary expectations. The fact that economists whose views typically fall nowhere near those of the far left are even thinking about such interventionism shows just how extreme circumstances have become. 
I favor all of these proposals, in some form. The details of their implementation would obviously have to vary, depending on each economy’s circumstances. Germany, for example, is in a strong position to implement a reverse income policy, given its huge current-account surplus, though there would undoubtedly be major political barriers. More spending on education, skills upgrading, and infrastructure, however, is a no-brainer almost everywhere, and is politically more feasible.

*  Getting Serious about Wage Inflation in Japan by Blanchard and Posen

Friday, March 04, 2016

Yanis Varoufakis on People's QE


The Labour Party has an instinctive urge to protect those left behind by the long years of uneven private-debt-fuelled growth and its austerian aftermath. This is good and proper. However, it would be a mistake to waste Labour’s energies on tirades against austerity. If I am right that austerity is a symptom of low investment (and of a government keen to push the inevitable burden on the weaker citizens), Labour should concentrate on policies that will shift idle savings into investment funding, engendering new technologies that produce green, sustainable development and high quality jobs. 
Such an economic program will require the creation of a public investment bank that issues its own bonds (to be supported by a non-inflationary Bank of England quantitative easing strategy targeting these bonds), but also a new alliance with enlightened industrialists and parts of the City keen to profit from sustainable recovery. Labour, I believe, will only overcome its infighting, and the toxic media campaign against its leader, by escaping into a Green, investment-led British Renaissance.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Tulsi Gabbard!

Tulsi Gabbard, Rising Democratic Star, Endorses Bernie Sanders by Yamiche Alcindor

“As a veteran of two Middle East deployments, I know first hand the cost of war,” said Ms. Gabbard, one of the first female combat veterans to serve in Congress. “I know how important it is that our commander-in-chief has the sound judgment required to know when to use America’s military power and when not to use that power.

“As a vice chair of the D.N.C., I am required to stay neutral in democratic primaries, but I cannot remain neutral any longer,” she added. “The stakes are just too high. That’s why today I’m endorsing Senator Bernie Sanders to be our next president and commander in chief of the United States.”

Ms. Gabbard, while not mentioning Mrs. Clinton by name, went on to cast Mr. Sanders as being more interested in peace and as someone who would be better trusted with the lives of American troops. She also implied that Mr. Sanders had better foreign policy judgment than his rival.

“We need a commander in chief who has foresight, who exercises good judgment, and who understands the need for a robust foreign policy which defends the safety and security of the American people, and who will not waste precious lives and money on interventionist wars of regime change,” Ms. Gabbard said. “We can elect a president who will lead us into more interventionist wars of regime change, or we can elect a president who will usher in a new era of peace and prosperity.”

Ms. Gabbard, who was born in American Samoa and is the first Hindu elected to Congress, is seen as a young, rising star of the party but has publicly battled Democratic leadership. In October, Ms. Gabbard said she was uninvited from the first Democratic presidential primary debate by the chief of staff to Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the chairwoman of the national committee, after Ms. Gabbard appeared on television and called for more debates.

At the time, the party’s leadership had been criticized for allowing only a limited number of debates, which some viewed as an effort to deny Mr. Sanders more time to confront Mrs. Clinton when she was ahead in polls. Ms. Wasserman Schultz has denied that Ms. Gabbard was uninvited from the debate.

Mr. Sanders welcomed Ms. Gabbard’s endorsement Sunday.

“Congresswoman Gabbard is one of the important voices of a new generation of leaders,” Mr. Sanders said in a statement. “As a veteran of the Iraq War she understands the cost of war and is fighting to create a foreign policy that not only protects America but keeps us out of perpetual wars that we should not be in.”

Ms. Wasserman Schultz praised Ms. Gabbard with a statement of her own. “As one of the first female combat veterans to serve in Congress and the first American Samoan and Hindu member of Congress, Congresswoman Gabbard is a role model who embodies the American ideal that anyone can dream big and make a difference,” Ms. Wasserman Schultz said. “She is also a colleague in Congress and a friend, and I look forward to continuing to work alongside her when our Party unites behind whoever emerges as our nominee.”

Sunday, February 28, 2016

DeLong, Waldman, and Waldmann

Welfare economics: an introduction (part 1 of a series) by Steve Randy Waldman

New Keynesian Orthdoxy and Hysteresis by Robert Waldmann
Must-Read: I want to endorse this line of thinking from Paul Krugman because I think it is completely right. My initial worries about Sanders-Friedman was that it made promises about where we could get as far as economic growth over the next decade that were very unlikely to be achievable. More important is the Romers' accurate critique that Sanders's plan would not even come close to getting us there even in the unlikely possibility that things do break the way that Sanders-Friedman. And that generates the corollary that is perhaps most important: Sanders's plans look seriously underpowered, and we should be trying to assemble a coalition to do even more than he envisions come 2017...
Must-Read: IMHO, Paul Krugman should have had not two but four parting observations:
  • Primaries are valuable testing grounds for candidates' ideas and teams, which is a point he makes.
  • It's dangerous to believe something because it is what you want to hear, which is a point he makes.
  • A point he doesn't make but should: If you believe that hysteresis is not a one-way ratchet--that it is as easy to boost potential via a high-pressure economy as to destroy it via prolonged depression--Sanders's stimulus plans are underpowered by a factor of four.
  • A point he doesn't make but should: If you believe--which I do--that so far hysteresis has only gobbled about two-thirds of the gap between current production and the pre-2008 trend, then Sanders's fiscal stimulus plans are about the right size--and HRC's are much too small.