January 06, 2004
Is It Just Me?

Is it just me, or is there something very, very wrong about Arthur Miller going to Cuba without having bothered to think about what he would want to say to Cuba's writers? What he did seems a profound and deep betrayal of intellectual solidarity: Arthur Miller: A meeting had been arranged the previous afternoon, no doubt through the writers union, with some fifty or so Cuban writers. Initially the organizers had expected only a few dozen on such short notice, but they had had to find a larger space when this crowd showed up. We encountered a rather barren auditorium, a speaker's platform and an odd quietness for so large a crowd. What to make of their silence? I couldn't help being reminded of the fifties, when the question hanging over any such gathering was whether it was being observed and recorded by the FBI. It was hard to tell whether [William] Styron's or my work was known to this audience, almost all of them men. In any case, with the introductions finished, Styron briefly described his novels as I did my plays, and questions were invited. One man stood and asked, "Why have you come here?" Put so candidly,...

Posted by DeLong at 02:59 PM

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? Part CCCCLXXXI

Sisyphus Shrugged bangs its head against the wall as it finds the Washington Post editorial page engaged in a not-atyical act of shallow stupidity: Sisyphus Shrugged: A case in point for why silly ol' regulations are beside the point: the Washington Post, on the ephedra ban. But while the ban was a wise and necessary move, market forces had already largely worked in the case of ephedra. The combination of state laws banning or restricting ephedra sales, the threat of costly lawsuits, and bad publicity have all but killed the ephedra market... Me personally, I'm perfectly OK with defining aggressive government regulation and a healthy tort system as Market Forces, but I'm not all that sure the nice folks at the editorial page do....

Posted by DeLong at 02:59 PM

The Ongoing Flame-Out of David Brooks

Kevin Drum's jaw drops to the floor as he views the ongoing total flame-out of David Brooks: Calpundit: OK, let's get this out of the way: I was mistaken to ever think that David Brooks was anything other than a hack. I could swear that I've read good stuff by him in the past, but I guess not. I was wrong, wrong, wrong. His column in the New York Times today is the latest offering in a developing conservative meme: neoconservatives, he says, don't really exist, they don't have any influence if they do exist, and "neocon" is just a codeword for "Jew" in any case. This argument is so deeply dishonest and morally offensive that it's hard to even know where to begin with it.... [W]hy would Brooks write this stuff? And why is the Wurlitzer being cranked up to pretend that "neocons" (complete with scare quotes) are little more than a figment of liberal imaginations? What's the agenda here?...

Posted by DeLong at 02:54 PM

December 23, 2003
Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? Part CCCCLXXX

Ogged of Unfogged notes that: Unfogged: ...not only is David Brooks still a hack, he's getting to be a very unpleasant one. He starts today like so. In 2000, John McCain led an insurgent campaign against the Republican establishment. Say what you will about G.O.P. elites, they do not lack self-confidence. When McCain hit them, they hit back, viciously. In South Carolina, they insulted McCain's honor, caused him to lose his equilibrium and left him battered and defeated. I know that that "viciously" is supposed to cover the sins of the Republicans in South Carolina, but judge for yourself. Bush loyalists, maybe working for the campaign, maybe just representing its interests, claimed in parking-lot handouts and telephone "push polls" and whisper campaigns that McCain’s wife, Cindy, was a drug addict, that McCain might be mentally unstable from his captivity in Vietnam, and that the senator had fathered a black child with a prostitute. Callers push-polled members of a South Carolina right-to-life organization and other groups, asking if the black baby might influence their vote. Now here’s the twist, the part that drives McCain admirers insane to this very day: That last rumor took seed because the McCains had done an...

Posted by DeLong at 08:03 PM

December 22, 2003
How to Rent Conservative Friends

It may be impossible to buy friendship. But you can certainly rent it: Friendship and Business Blur in the World of a Media Baron: ...Though the conversations at the traveling advisory meetings could be illuminating, Mr. Buckley said he was hard pressed to find an example of how the sessions were of assistance to Hollinger. But sometimes having such good friends helped burnish Lord Black's public image. In a column syndicated by The Washington Post Writers Group in March, Mr. Will recounted observations Mr. Black had made in a London speech defending the Bush administration's stance on Iraq. In a rebuttal to Mr. Bush's critics, Mr. Will wrote, "Into this welter of foolishness has waded Conrad Black, a British citizen and member of the House of Lords who is a proprietor of many newspapers." Asked in the interview if he should have told his readers of the payments he had received from Hollinger, Mr. Will said he saw no reason to do so. "My business is my business," he said. "Got it?" Alan Shearer, editorial director and general manager of The Washington Post Writers Group, said he was unaware of Mr. Will's affiliation with Hollinger or the money he received....

Posted by DeLong at 09:40 PM

First Refusal

Mark Kleiman finds that Andrew Sullivan doesn't know what "first refusal" means:     the meaning of "first refusal"?" href="http://www.markarkleiman.com/archives/wesley_clark_/2003/12/will_someone_please_explain_to_andrew_sulivan_the_meaning_of_first_refusal.php">Mark A. R. Kleiman: Will someone please explain to Andrew Sulivan the meaning of "first refusal": Andrew Sullivan criticizes Wesley Clark: An interesting position from Wesley Clark: And I would say to the Europeans, I pledge to you as the American president that we'll consult with you first. You get the right of first refusal on the security concerns that we have. We'll bring you in. The right of first refusal. I'm with Clark on consultation and on building the U.S. alliance in Europe. But first refusal? That's tantamount to Howard Dean's view that we should seek the "permission" of the United Nations before military action. Permission? If you give X the right of first refusal on piece of property Y, that means that before you can sell Y to Z you have to give X the chance to buy it on the same terms that Z would buy it on. In this context, it means exactly what Sullivan says he believes in--try first to do the things we want to do within the framework of the western alliance, and if...

Posted by DeLong at 05:18 PM

December 18, 2003
Oceania Has Always Been at War with Eurasia, Part CII

The sharp-eyed Billmon notices a certain... pro-administration bias in the New York Times's rewrite department: Pravda, Part II" href="http://billmon.org/archives/000937.html">Whiskey Bar: According to both Yahoo and Google, this is how today's New York Times story on Jim Baker's Iraq debt relief mission looked when it was originally posted on the web: France Gives Baker Lukewarm Commitment on Iraqi Debt By CRAIG S. SMITH PARIS, Dec. 16 -- Former Secretary of State James Baker III received a tepid commitment from France and Germany today to help reduce Iraq's towering foreign debt, a legacy of Saddam Hussein's ruinous wars and the crippling economic sanctions that followed them. The French did not offer to go beyond their previously announced plan to negotiate a debt reduction plan for Iraq within the framework of the Paris Club, a group of 19 industrialized countries that have jointly worked to alleviate the financial obligations of over-indebted countries since 1956. And this is what the same story looks like now... France and Germany Join U.S. in Effort to Reduce Iraq's Debt By CRAIG S. SMITH PARIS, Dec. 16 -- France and Germany agreed Tuesday to work with the United States toward a "substantial reduction" of Iraq's towering foreign debt...

Posted by DeLong at 05:36 PM

December 17, 2003
Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? Part CCCCLXXIX

The Sacramento Bee's Daniel Weintraub writes a strange column: California Insider - The $4 billion bulge: Local governments are in an uproar over the car tax cut and the state's failure to provide the "backfill" that makes cities and counties whole for the lost revenue. Although the locals are describing this as balancing the state budget on the backs of cities and counties, that's not really what is happening here. The car tax has always been a local revenue source, controlled by the state. If the tax is lowered, as the public seems to have wanted, there is no inherent state obligation to hide the effect of that reduction in revenues by putting it on the state tab. In any case, if the burden is shifted to the state's books, it will simply force cuts in other programs that people value, or tax increases elsewhere. That $4 billion is becoming like the bulge in the balloon. Budget writers can push on it here, but it simply shows up over there. It won't go away. Schwarzenegger was foolish to promise in the campaign to make local governments whole even while cutting the tax, as if local government services were somehow more...

Posted by DeLong at 07:06 PM

December 11, 2003
AEI-Quality Research

John Quiggin argues that Charles Murray is another one of the American Enterprise Institute scholars who has materially contributed to its loss of scholarly reputation: John Quiggin: The Flynn effect and the Bell Curve: In my last post in the AEI, I lumped Charles Murray, in with James Glassman, Karl Zinsmeister and Lynne Cheney as someone who had contributed to the loss of the AEI's reputation for scholarship (John Lott, the main subject of the post is in a class of his own).... I thought that this would be a good time to set out my views on Murray, and more particularly on The Bell Curve with Richard Herrnstein.... The Bell Curve got a pretty thorough hammering on statistical grounds when it came out (this Heckman review is one of the more favorable but is still pretty damning): I would not have said that the Heckman review was "pretty damning." Any review that says that a book fails for four main reasons is more critical than that. I would have said that the impeccably right-wing Jim Heckman flayed Murry and Herrnstein alive and hung their skins on his office door: James Heckman in Reason: ...The book fails for four main...

Posted by DeLong at 02:47 PM

December 10, 2003
What Is the World Coming to?

What is the world coming to? In this new age, you can't even anonymously post poison-pen reviews trashing the work of people in neighboring offices! Google is just too powerful a tool. Tim Lambert discovers that American Enterprise Institute senior fellow John Lott (or somebody using a computer with amazon.com cookies set at identical values to those on John Lott's computer) has been anonymously trashing fellow AEI senior fellow Kevin Hassett's book, Bubbleology, accusing him of "running a scam," among other things. Go here and look for the review by "a reader from Swarthmore, PA USA": Despite Mr. Hassett's track record with his previous book "Dow 36,000," I saw him appear on CNBC during the early morning show and thought that he did well enough that I should buy the book. He promised that you could use his book to figure out what stocks were overvalued and which ones weren't. A pretty important topic given the current market environment. However, after reading this short book I have no idea of how to actually rank stocks on the 1 to 6 scale that he uses. He doesn't actually provide concrete examples, only that he says that he put together this ranking...

Posted by DeLong at 04:30 PM

November 27, 2003
The Answer Is, "Yes"

Are those who work on the Wall Street Journal editorial page as stupid as they seem to be? The answer is, "Yes, they are": WSJ.com - The GOP's Spending Spree: Notice we aren't complaining here about the "deficit," which is usually used as an excuse to raise taxes. The Bush tax cuts are already helping to promote faster economic growth that should shrink the deficit in future years. The thing to worry about is actual spending, because federal outlays will have to be financed somehow. By failing to restrain spending now, Republicans are increasing the political pressure they will face to raise taxes in the future. Ah. But if the "deficit" isn't a problem, why do spending increases mean that you have to raise taxes in the future? You only have to raise taxes in the future if it is important to reduce the deficit, after all. If it's not, you don't. And this "federal outlays will have to be financed somehow": isn't that the reason why other people say that deficits are a problem--because they (temporarily) evade the question of how federal outlays are to be financed, and so generate risk and uncertainty? You cannot assert both that deficits...

Posted by DeLong at 10:51 AM

November 13, 2003
Why Are We Ruled by These Liars? Part CCXXIV

Reason's Julian Sanchez is dumbfounded by the fact that, for Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's staff, telling the truth is simply not a consideration to be taken into account: Hit & Run: Doctoring the Numbers: ...a question asking visitors "Should the President's nominees to the federal bench be allowed an up or down vote on confirmation as specified in the Constitution?"... liberal weblogger's readers began voting "no" in overwhelming numbers. Uh-oh. So Frist's web folk changed the wording to make it a little more obvious which answer they considered the "right" one. The revised question asked: "Should the Senate exercise its Constitutional duty to provide the President's judicial nominees with an up or down vote?" Unfortunately, the nays still had it by a wide margin--an even wider margin at some points, in fact. So what did they do this time? Instead of just pulling the poll altogether--which would be craven, but not grossly dishonest--the majority leader's webfolk changed the question to reverse the meaning of the "yes" and "no" answers. The question now reads: "Should the Senate minority block the body's Constitutional duty to provide the President's judicial nominees with an up or down vote?" So, will the senator...

Posted by DeLong at 08:13 AM

November 04, 2003
The Infamous "Team B"

Matthew Yglesias writes about the infamous "Team B": TAPPED: November 2003 Archives: IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED. Over the weekend, The Boston Globe ran an interesting profile of Richard Pipes, the historian of the Soviet Union whose anti-communist zeal led him to Washington to do some practical work as a cold warrior:In late 1975, a dramatic reshuffling of the Ford administration installed a new defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, a new chief of staff, Dick Cheney, and a new CIA chief, George H.W. Bush. It was Bush who approved the formation of "Team B," a group of 16 outside experts charged with challenging what some considered the CIA's sanguine estimates of Soviet military strength. Pipes, named the group's chairman, brought in a brilliant young weapons analyst, Paul Wolfowitz. "Richard Perle recommended him," Pipes says of Wolfowitz today. "I'd never heard of him."Team B was engulfed in controversy from the outset. A top CIA analyst called it "a kangaroo court of outside critics all picked from one point of view." Others said its mission was to hype the Soviet threat. Pipes disagrees. "We dealt with one problem only: What is the Soviet strategy for nuclear weapons? Team B was appointed to...

Posted by DeLong at 04:58 PM

October 29, 2003
Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt

Fear, uncertainty, and doubt at Microsoft: Of blogging and unemployment" href="http://www.michaelhanscom.com/eclecticism/2003/10/of_blogging_and.html">eclecticism > Of blogging and unemployment: The day started like any other day -- get up, dink around for a bit, bus into work, and start working through the stack of jobs. Just shy of an hour after I got in, my manager came in and asked me to step into his office when I had a chance. Sure, no biggie, and I headed over as soon as I finished the job I was setting up. "Okay, here's the first question. Is this page," and here he turned his monitor towards me, letting me see my "Even Microsoft wants G5s" post from last Thursday, "hosted on any Microsoft computer? Or is it on your own?" "It's on mine. Well, it's on a hosted site that I pay for, but no, it's not on anything of Microsoft's." "Good. That means that as it's your site on your own server, you have the right to say anything you want. Unfortunately, Microsoft has the right to decide that because of what you said, you're no longer welcome on the Microsoft campus." And that simply, as of about 2pm today, I once again joined...

Posted by DeLong at 06:35 AM

October 23, 2003
Department of "Huh?"

Glenn Reynolds writes at the top of his column: TCS: Tech Central Station - Convoy!: Citizens' Band radio became popular because of widespread resistance to another example of regulatory overreach: the unpopular 55-mile-per-hour speed limit. Actually passed in 1974, but popularly identified with Jimmy Carter's "moral equivalent of war"... But by the bottom of the very same column, he is saying: CBs were popular with people who wanted to get around Jimmy Carter's speed limits... Pul-leeze. If they were passed in 1974, they weren't Jimmy Carter's. If they were Jimmy Carter's idea, they couldn't have been passed in 1974, could they? Alan Turing proposed a test for intelligence: can whatever is claimed to be "intelligent" conduct a convincing conversation? Let's not flunk the Turing Test here: let's remember in the last paragraph what we wrote five paragraphs above....

Posted by DeLong at 07:52 AM

October 19, 2003
Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? Part CCCCLXXVI

George Gilder, Katie Hafner of the New York Times writes, "however, is no wacko, and his invectives are anything but random. Through the years, he has been building his own version of a socioeconomic unified field theory, integrating politics, sex, economics and technology, with a dose of religion thrown in." Is this supposed to be ironic? Alas, probably not. She appears to be telling it what she thinks is straight. Here's her take on the backstory: The Revolution Is Coming, Eventually: ...Investors who believed in Mr. Gilder's wildly optimistic predictions about the telecommunications revolution... spent the last few years watching their portfolios unravel.... Now, slowly but surely, portions of the telecom industry are recovering. Shares of the companies Mr. Gilder recommends in The Gilder Technology Report - a more diverse mix than it used to be - have outperformed the Nasdaq by a healthy margin for the past year, and his adherents are cheering up. And Mr. Gilder is gradually regaining the credibility that nearly vaporized before his eyes three years ago.... In early 2000, Mr. Gilder presided over a small but lucrative empire that consisted of his newsletter, the Gilder Technology Report, and its various spinoffs - with names...

Posted by DeLong at 08:51 AM

October 18, 2003
Fred Barnes Just Makes Stuff Up

"Brad," said the wise old Washington hand. "Don't ask me where Fred Barnes gets his views. When he thinks he needs something, he just makes it up." Now Michael Froomkin discovers this truth: Discourse.net: Unhappy Troops:Another false thing Fred Barnes said the other day was that our troops in Iraq are really happy to be there. The audience found that not credible (“read the letters to Stars and Stripes” I shouted, but couldn’t be heard over the other incredulous reactions). Now that low morale is on the front page of the Washington Post, maybe he’ll retire that talking point? See Many Troops Dissatisfied, Iraq Poll Finds: “A broad survey of U.S. troops in Iraq by a Pentagon-funded newspaper found that half of those questioned described their unit’s morale as low and their training as insufficient, and said they do not plan to reenlist.” What pieces of information could Barnes have possibly been relying on to support his belief that our troops in Iraq are happy? Yep, you got it--there are none. He just made it up....

Posted by DeLong at 12:03 AM

October 16, 2003
Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? Part CCCCLXXV

Mark Kleiman provides a long and careful explanation of why there is overwhelming evidence against Mike Isikoff and Mark Hosenball's "theory"--that there might not have been six reporters who were offered fact that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA before Novak finally picked it up--is almost surely wrong: Mark A. R. Kleiman: Faith-based scandal management: Mike Isikoff and Mark Hosenball of Newsweek offered an intriguing theory -- which they presented as "theory," not fact -- that there might not have been six reporters who were offered fact that Valerie Plame worked for the CIA before Novak finally picked it up [*]. That bit of speculation, reasonable enough in its context, has now been adopted as an article of faith by those clinging to the hope that the Bush Administration can somehow emerge from the scandal not looking like scum and with none of its major players in prison. (Glenn Reynolds [*], for example, and Sean Fitzpartrick [*].) But this is an application of Pudd'nhead Wilson's maxim that "Faith means believing what you know ain't so": at least, believing what any reasonable person has reason to be virtually certain isn't so. There are simply too many facts now out there inconsistent...

Posted by DeLong at 08:46 AM

October 15, 2003
Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? Part CCCCLXXIV

The Washington Post's headline practices continue to bemuse Matthew Yglesias: TAPPED: October 2003 Archives: READ THE WHOLE THING. When I saw an article in The Washington Post headlined, "President Rallying Support in Polls," I was foolish enough to assume that it was about some kind of new poll showing a rally in support for the president. Read the poll results, however, and you'll see that the president's approval rating is actually down one point from the previous Post/ABC poll. In fairness, his disapproval rating is also down -- by two points -- and this is all within the margin of error, so it's not terrible news for the president. But it's hardly a Marlins-esque rally, either....

Posted by DeLong at 03:40 PM

October 14, 2003
Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? Part CCCCLXXIII

The Wall Street Journal's Alan Murray--coauthor of the classic Showdown at Gucci Gulch--may be America's best political-economic journalist (may, I said). So what is he doing writing: WSJ.com - Political Capital: Several of the governor-elect [Arnold Schwarzenegger]'s 10 steps -- "repeal the car tax," "pass a jobs package," "put more money into the classroom" -- would actually increase the state's budget deficit. Others -- "audit the budget," "renegotiate state employee union contracts," "streamline bureaucracy" -- are such vague and fuzzy deficit-cutting notions as to be almost meaningless. But one, and only one, of his 10 steps could make a clear, and sizable, dent in the deficit. It is step four: "Get our fair share of Indian gaming revenue." without letting his readers know that the one step that Murray sees as positive reduces California's deficit by only 1/5 as much as the other steps would increase it? Isn't it important for Wall Street Journal readers to know that the other parts of Schwarzenegger's ten-step program blow a hole in the California state budget that could not be filled by five billion-dollar-a-year deals with Indian gaming interests?...

Posted by DeLong at 04:40 PM

October 11, 2003
Arnold Kling Is Unhappy with Paul Krugman

Arnold Kling believes that we members of the ancient and honorable order of Adam Smith have a duty to address substantive arguments and not personalities--to never doubt that our intellectual adversaries are acting in good faith, and to confine ourselves to substantive social-science debate and never attempt to peek at the mixed and bad motives of our intellectual adversaries: The Bottom Line: Krugman and Limbaugh: Rush Limbaugh was fired at ESPN for making what I call a type M argument--attacking the motives of someone with whom one disagrees. I have that problem with Paul Krugman. You could express your point of view using type C arguments and still take strong stands for what you believe is right. In fact, you might find that doing so would make you more effective. Even if that is not the case, even if there is a sort of media version of Gresham's Law in which specious reasoning drives out careful analysis, then that is a challenge for all of us who are trained as economists. I believe that we have a professional duty to try to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. I'm not so sure. Assuming that liars are...

Posted by DeLong at 08:13 AM

October 09, 2003
The Decline of the Weekly Standard

The Weekly Standard plumbs the depths of journalistic dishonesty where one usually only finds National Review or the Wall Street Journal editorial page: Quick-Draw Dems: ...Novak cited "two administration officials" in his column. They may work in the White House, but they also may work in other places. There are tens of thousands of "senior administration officials."... No. There are about 40 assistants to the president and cabinet-rank officials. They are always "senior administration officials." They have about 40 deputies--who are usually referred to as "senior administration officials." There are about 120 undersecretaries, who are often referred to as "senior administration officials." That's it: 200, not tens of thousands. And Novak's source is not a Labor Department, a Treasury Department, an Interior Department, or a Health and Human Services Department undersecretary. The real pool is quite small....

Posted by DeLong at 01:03 PM

October 03, 2003
Allan Meltzer Long Ago Stopped Being Careful

Allan Meltzer long ago stopped being careful. He accuses Alan Greenspan of "misread[ing] the employment data... referr[ing] to the 'weakening' labor market. It isn't so.... Don't believe these reports.... All these alleged facts are either wrong or greatly exaggerated, based on the same faulty source." Meltzer goes on to write: WSJ.com - A Jobless Recovery?: There are two sources of labor market statistics, the Establishment Survey and the Household Survey.... The first asks manufacturing and service sector companies how many employees they have. The second asks a sample of people whether they have jobs... old firms die and new ones are born. The Labor Department learns about the deaths quickly, but it takes longer to learn about the births. When the cafeteria workers are asked about their employment, they report that they are working. If they work for a new firm, the Establishment Survey misses them for a time. But their former employer reports that the number employed at the firm declined this month. Both reports are true, but the second is misleading when taken to the aggregate level.... Downsizing large firms in the interest of greater efficiency is a big source of the new, small firms. It's good to...

Posted by DeLong at 07:26 PM

September 24, 2003
Gregg Easterbrook Is a Very Strange Guy

Gregg Easterbrook is worried about the Bush Administration's inaction on global warming: TIME.com: Why Bush Gets a Bad Rap On Dirty Air -- Sep. 29, 2003: ...Greenhouse gases, released mainly by the burning of fossil fuels, are accumulating in the atmosphere, and seem likely to cause long-term climate change. The scientific case for regulating greenhouse gases gets stronger every year.... The one big weakness in Bush's environmental performance in office is his failure to propose substantial action against global warming. But politically, why should he? White House advisers see that Bush's opponents are already savaging him with false claims that regular air pollution is getting worse. They know that if Bush proposed a substantive global-warming plan, his opponents would only bash away at that too. It's critical that Democrats stop distorting the Bush air-pollution record... Yes. You read that right. If only Democrats would stop "distorting the truth of the Bush air-pollution record," George W. Bush would be an enthusiastic and effective advocate of collective international action to control greenhouse gasses. Yet another journalist living in a total fantasy world of his own construction....

Posted by DeLong at 06:55 AM

September 22, 2003
Not in My Backyard

The Republican Chair of the House Transportation Committee thinks that air traffic control "privatization" is a really good idea--but for other people only: washingtonpost.com: Speaking of contracting out, an administration move to privatize air traffic control at 69 airports has sparked opposition from labor groups, which contend it would compromise safety. The administration had proposed 71 airports, but House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young (R-Alaska), who supports the effort, got someone to strike the two Alaska airports on the list. Young, on an Alaska cable TV show a week ago, acknowledged the move generated some heat. "Of course the criticism of myself," he said, "is that I exempted the state of Alaska." But there were ample reasons for that, he said, ticking off a number of them. "Lastly," Young said, "my hotel room is on the top floor of the Sheraton, and the airplanes take right off towards my hotel room. Every morning I look out and there's one coming right at me. It's an interesting experience and I want to make sure everything is done right in that field."...

Posted by DeLong at 09:52 AM

September 16, 2003
Not the Whopper of the Quinquennium

More quality work from the American Enterprise Institute. A year ago I was confident that this would be the "whopper of the quinquennium" (to steal from Slate's "whopper of the week" feature). But it has been overtaken by events: there are now bigger whoppers out there. Nevertheless, it is still worth noting how avidly James Glassman and Kevin Hassett pushed their theory that because "dividend and earnings yields are dropping as the [equity] risk premium is exposed as superstition.... Stock prices... will continue to rise... a process that could easily lead to a tripling or quadrupling of the stock market in a very short time. Hence, Dow 36,000 or even 40,000 or 50,000." It was obvious to everyone at the time that Glassman and Hassett were confused about what "earnings" were and what "dividends" were, and so simply had their math wrong. As Clive Crook pointed out to Glassman and Hassett in May 1998: ">You're wrong, plain wrong.... Your reasons for believing that the Dow should be at 36,000 are wrong in the same way that it's wrong to say two plus two equals five.... Using your own method, provided only that you put the right variable into the formula,...

Posted by DeLong at 11:00 AM

September 13, 2003
Real Money Customer Service

Max Sawicky writes: Weblog Entry - 09/12/2003: "THE DONALD LUSKIN CHAIR IN ECONOMIC IMBECILITY" at the University of Schtupfuss is strongly contested for here. I assume it's only a matter of time before we see this on the NRO/Corner. But I don't have to argue with idiots. I'll leave this one to Professor DeLong. Time for me to go home. *Sigh* Well, somebody somewhere should say something about it. I click over, discover it's at a thestreet.com pay-for-site. I sign up for a month-to-month subscription so I can read it. I read it. Max: No. No!! No!!! A thousand times no. Vita brevis. There are some idiocies that it is not worth anybody's time to refute. So now it's time to cancel my month-to-month subscription to thestreet.com's "Real Money." I go to the "Update Account" page: nope, you cannot cancel your subscription here. I go to the "Payment Information" page: nope, you cannot cancel your subscription here. Perhaps I could change my credit card number to something nonexistent? I'll hold that possibility in reserve. The "General Information" page: nope, you cannot cancel your subscription here. The "Premium Subscription" page: nope, you cannot cancel your subscription here. Click through five more...

Posted by DeLong at 10:44 AM

September 12, 2003
I Will Never Understand Pollsters

The National Journal's Charles Cook writes: Charlie Cook: ...After a Iraq War spike in President Bush's job approval ratings and the nation's right-direction numbers in late March and through the month of April, both measurements have settled back to roughly pre-war levels, notwithstanding the results of some rather dubious polls and even sketchier interpretation of recent data, not to name names.... According to Ipsos Public Affairs/Cook Political Report polling, 57 percent of the 1,561 registered voters in the two combined August surveys (margin of error +/- 2.5 percent) approved of the president's overall performance in office, with 39 percent disapproving. That is almost identical to the 56 percent approve, 39 percent disapprove among the 4,709 registered voters interviewed during the first quarter of this year (margin of error +/-1.5 percent).... All of these numbers are very similar to the 57 percent approve, 41 percent disapprove level in July.... [H]is approval rating jumped up in April, dropped five points in May and lost a bit more ground in June and July, then essentially leveled off. But while Charlie Cook is writing this, I am staring at figures like: The Ipsos-Reid/Cook polls do indeed show what Cook says they do: the light-colored...

Posted by DeLong at 05:01 PM

Naughty, Naughty...

The always-engaging and usually-highly-intelligent (except when he's arguing that the self that succumbs to telemarketers is more "authentic" than the self that wants to plan in advance how not to be bothered by telemarketers) slips up: Marginal Revolution: Paul Krugman's latest: But these days I can never forget the other Paul Krugman, the one who keeps free market and right-wing bloggers so busy. The Krugman of self-righteousness, sloppiness with the facts, and ad hominem attacks.... There are many examples of this other Krugman.... September 2, 2003: "I admire the virtues of free markets as much as anyone."... June 20, 1999: "The question of how to keep demand adequate to make use of the capacity has become crucial. Depression economics is back. ...in a world where there is often not enough demand to go around, the case for free markets is a hard case to make." Now I know--and Tyler knows--that he is quoting Krugman out of context. The first uses "free markets" in a micro sense: in this context, a believer in "free markets" shares Krugman's immensely strong belief that markets have extraordinary virtues as ways of allocating economic resources--especially when the alternative is someone like Robert Kuttner sitting behind...

Posted by DeLong at 08:54 AM

September 10, 2003
The Krugman "Truth" Squad

Ah. Tim Russert was asking Paul Krugman about National Review's "Paul Krugman Truth Squad." And Paul answered that he was actually impressed by how little of their mud managed to stick. This is true: given teh propensity of false mud to stick, it is remarkable how little has. But that's not what impresses me the most. What's always impressed me the most about National Review's Krugman Truth Squad is how low they had to go, how hard they had to scrape the bottom of the barrel, in order to find anybody to do their mudslinging task. For example... Ah. Here it is. Thanks to Sadly, No!, which points to a piece by Donald Luskin. Here Luskin can't make up his mind: Is it more important for Luskin to suck up to David Brooks and agree with him that 'Bush Lied' ("Brooks['s]... overriding theme is a version of the familiar 'Bush Lied'... [but] I find the administration's communication style just as infuriating as [Brooks] does")? Or is it more important for Luskin to excoriate Brooks for betraying the right-wing cause by saying 'Bush Lied' on the New York Times editorial page ("it's just a cleverly disguised way of putting out the...

Posted by DeLong at 12:18 PM

September 09, 2003
Chris Bertram Ventures Into Tech Central Station

Chris Bertram ventures into Tech Central Station: Crooked Timber: Confusing the public about global warming : One TCS column that caught my eye was one "Here Comes the Sun" by Lorne Gunter, a Canadian newspaper columnist. The supporting text to the link to Gunter's article reads "Global warming is caused by the SUN, not SUVs." In the body of the piece Gunter refers to research by a Canadian geologist (Jan Veizer) and an Israeli astrophysicist (Nir Shaviv).... Here's Gunter's take on their conclusion: far from being a manmade disaster, the warming we have experienced to date is entirely natural. Good blogger that I am, my first move in investigating further was... Google.... Google did enable me... to find Nir Shaviv's own summary of his research. What is Shaviv's own view? Some of the global warming is still because of us humans (probably about 1/3 to 1/2 of the warming). Now a half to a third is quite a lot, especially when we are talking about a phenomenon that may have significant threshold effects... Now there are a lot of people who are trying very hard to tell me the truth. Why should I spend any time reading people who don't...

Posted by DeLong at 09:05 AM

September 05, 2003
The American Enterprise Institute

Mark Kleiman asks: Mark A. R. Kleiman: RECREATIONAL MENDACITYKevin Drum catches Lohn Lott in another pointless untruth. [*] Isn't there anyone in the management of the American Enterprise Institute with a modicum of institutional self-respect? If they had any institutional self-respect, why would they keep James "Dow 36,000" Glassman and Kevin "We're Not Joking: Dow 36,000 by 2003" Hassett? Why would they keep Charles "I Don't Know What a Correlation Is" Murray? It's not just John "I've Taken My Own Courses, and I Can Report I'm Really a *Great* Teacher" Lott....

Posted by DeLong at 06:20 PM

September 04, 2003
Straight Talk

Kevin Drum is surprised by Dan Weintraub's... umm... "enthusiasm" for Dan McClintock: CalPundit: Tom McClintock: ...this is what Dan Weintraub had to say about right-wing tax warrior Tom McClintock's performance in yesterday's debate: Tom McClintock’s performance reminded me of the old line that when you tell the truth, you don’t have to worry about keeping your stories straight. Whatever you might think of him and his ideas, it can’t be said that McClintock trims his sails to match his audience. This is a man who knows what he believes and isn’t going to be shaken from it. You've got to be kidding. McClintock has been involved in California politics for over two decades, he was a state senator during the entire budget fiasco of the past couple of years, and he's running for governor on a platform of fire and brimstone opposition to tax increases of any kind. In other words, he's an expert, someone who knows the budget and doesn't need an "audit" to tell him which way is up. Despite this, he has consistently refused to give us even a hint of what program cuts he would make to balance the budget. He has just flat out refused....

Posted by DeLong at 07:17 PM

September 03, 2003
Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? Part CCCXXVII

*Sigh.* Why oh why can't we have a better press corps? Part of a phone conversation with a reporter who refused to accept my answer to his question, "Is the deficit good or bad?" Me: "Short-term countercyclical deficits when unemployment is high are good: they boost employment and production, keep the economy from falling further into recession, and make us a richer society. Moreover, confidence that the government will act to stabilize the economy reduces risk, raises investment, and helps long-run growth. However, long-term structural deficits are bad: they drain the pool of savings that businesses rely on to fund investment spending, reduce the stock of productive capital, and slow economic growth." Him: "But are deficits good or bad?" Me: "The best policy has substantial short-run deficits when unemployment is relatively high, but substantial surpluses on average over the business cycle." Him: "Why are you evading the question? Are deficits good or bad?" It shouldn't be that hard, should it? I mean, if the pigs can teach the chickens and the sheep of Animal Farm the key slogan, "Four legs good! Two legs bad!",* we economists should be able to teach the press corps of America the slogan, "Countercyclical deficit...

Posted by DeLong at 02:43 PM

August 19, 2003
Is Atrios Fair and Balanced?

Matthew Yglesias's knee-jerk reaction is that Atrios is unfair and unbalanced: Matthew Yglesias: Wow!: I read this Atrios post and thought it was really unfair:Actually, I'm not sure what's funny about [UN headquarters getting blown up], but I'm sure Instahack and Bill Quick will find the humor there somewhere... But then facts make him change his mind: I was all prepared to rise to Professor Reynold's defense when what did I see but this:Hmm. The problem is that everyone in Iraq, both pro- and anti-Saddam, has a reason to dislike the U.N., which makes assigning responsibility tricky. [...] Maybe the bomb was planted by environmentalists, angry at the U.N.'s complicity in ecological devastation under Saddam: [...] Yeah...I'm sure military intelligence will be looking into that angle any minute now. And then later we hear:HERE'S ANOTHER MARINE who says that things in Iraq are better than the press makes them sound. You know that post-Vietnam press corps -- someone blows up a building full of UN workers and they act like it's a bad thing! Compare to Josh Chafetz thinking seriously about how to improve the situation:LOOK, IT'S GREAT THAT things are going well outside the Sunni triangle and all, but...

Posted by DeLong at 12:15 PM

William Saletan Is Unbalanced and Unfair

Why oh why do we have such a lousy press corps? Here we have William Saletan and Ben Jacobs sneering at Dick Gephardt for being proud of his role in the 1993 deficit-reduction package: The Best of Dick Gephardt - The bravest thing he ever did. By William Saletan and Ben Jacobs ...Whether that [1993 Clinton] budget caused the expansion, boosted home ownership, lowered inflation, and created millions of jobs is far more dubious. According to figures released by the Office of Management and Budget in 1999, the recovery from the 1990 recession started in April 1991, nearly two years before Clinton took office. Furthermore, the Dow Jones Industrial Average didn't begin skyrocketing until Republicans captured Congress in 1994. The Dow gained just 538 points during the two years in which Clinton enjoyed a Democratic Congress. The Dow then soared nearly 7,000 points in the six years during which Clinton faced a Republican Congress. And the nation's Gross Domestic Product didn't starting recording annual increases of 4 percent until 1996. Where to start? Let's work backwards, with the claim that the 1993 budget deal did not contribute to rapid growth in the late 1990s because GDP growth did not cross 4% per year...

Posted by DeLong at 08:44 AM

August 16, 2003

Kevin Drum has been reading Irving Kristol with an insufficiently critical eye: CalPundit: The Neocon Persuasion: To summarize: neocons want to cut taxes, team up with the religious right to maintain traditional cultural values, and aggressively defend democracy and American interests in the broadest possible sense... Let's go through these planks of "neoconservatism" one by one, shall we? The attachment to tax cuts comes not from a belief that they are good (for the country) and that supply-side doctrines are true, but from a belief that such policies and doctrines are useful (for mobilizing the Republican coalition. As Kristol wrote back in 1995, the neoconservatives had a "cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit and other monetary or fiscal problems" because "the task, as I saw it, was to create a new majority, which evidently would mean a conservative majority, which came to mean, in turn, a Republican majority--so political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government." Similarly, the attachment to the religious right comes not because the neoconservatives believe that Genesis, Leviticus, and John are true (very few neoconservatives of my acquaintance accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour, disbelieve in evolution, or believe that...

Posted by DeLong at 02:37 PM

August 13, 2003
Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

Greg Ransom raves against what he sees as a Federal Reserve devoted to "reducing the value of money": PrestoPundit.com: The Fed moves to continue its ongoing devaluation of the currency, voting to keep interest rates artificially low. The major worry of the Fed is that there may be some slowing in its highly successful policy of reducing the value of money. Behind all this is the Krugman/ "Keynes" theory of "deflation".... Further evidence in my view that the Fed -- and the economics profession generally -- is overrun by witch doctors and astrologists, not scientists or even competent dentists (reference here to a famous line from Keynes). Leave to one side the fact this is not a Federal Reserve devoted to reducing the value of money: the inflation rate under Greenspan has been less than under any Fed Chair since the days of Herbert Hoover. Focus, instead, on the fact that it is definitely not the "Krugman/'Keynes' theory of deflation." The theory is Irving Fisher's (analyzing the impact of a falling price level on the real interest rate and investment), Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz's (analyzing the effect of a falling price level on the banking system and the money...

Posted by DeLong at 11:09 AM

What Is Wrong with Thomas Sowell?

Thomas Sowell rants about how migration data covering the 1995-2000 period show that the California state government is killing California's economy: Thomas Sowell: The real voting: The latest census data show -- for the first time -- that more Californians have been moving to other states than people in other states have been moving to California. Between 1995 and 2000, California had a net loss of more than 600,000 people to other states. People are voting with their feet. California's total population has not gone down, however. Immigrants have replaced Americans. Apparently California is still considered to be preferable to Mexico or Central America. After years -- indeed, generations -- of being a magnet for people and businesses, California is now exporting both, including particularly young people. Why? One reason is that California's politicians are following a strategy which has worked well politically in New York City -- milking the productive people in order to support the unproductive, whose votes count just as much and are easier to get. This may be killing the goose that lays the golden egg, but that is all right politically, so long as the goose doesn't die before the next election... But the 1995-2000...

Posted by DeLong at 10:28 AM

August 12, 2003
Downward Spiral

Kevin Drum's jaw drops in amazement that National Review can't find anyone smarter than Donald Luskin to write for it: CalPundit: Watching the Watchman: Poor old Donald Luskin... Paul Krugman... said that California's spending growth between 1989-90 and 2002-03 was 10% after adjusting for inflation and population growth. Luskin says that's not true: Krugman's source actually pegs the growth at 13.4%... rounding off to 10% isn't that big a deal... swept away by the excitement of finally finding a genuine inaccuracy in one of Krugman's columns, Luskin pulls a full frontal Dowd by demanding that the New York Times publish a retraction [of]... Krugman's flatly deceptive claim that this growth "was simply a matter of keeping up with the population and inflation"... Would Paul Krugman "flatly" claim that California's spending growth was a simple matter of keeping up with population and inflation? Of course not. Here's what Krugman said: "As analysts at the nonpartisan California Budget Project point out, real state spending per capita was only 10 percent higher in 2002-03 than it was in 1989-90 -- that is, most of the spending growth was simply a matter of keeping up with the population and inflation."... So why did Luskin...

Posted by DeLong at 12:40 PM

August 10, 2003
Paging Senator De Concini...

The Washington Post's Al Kamen on yet another misrepresentation of his views from Clarence Thomas: No Justice for All (washingtonpost.com): But that doesn't mean justices can't mature on the bench. Take, for example, Justice Clarence Thomas. During his confirmation hearings 12 years ago, Senate Democrats grilled him for his views on a constitutionally protected right to privacy. Under questioning from Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), Thomas said that his "view is that there is a right to privacy in the 14th Amendment." Former senator Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.), a key moderate, focused on the issue in a floor speech announcing his support for Thomas. "This is a very important point," DeConcini said. "I was also pleased to hear that Judge Thomas agrees that the fundamental right to privacy also extends to non-married individuals. He repeatedly stated that he agreed with the Supreme Court's leading precedent in this area," which "extended the right to privacy stated in" Griswold v. Connecticut, a case dealing with the right of married couples to buy contraceptives. DeConcini, a Judiciary Committee moderate, was a critical swing vote in the 52 to 48 confirmation vote for Thomas. But in the court's ruling in June striking down anti-sodomy...

Posted by DeLong at 08:16 AM

August 04, 2003
Mercy, Mercy, Lord Jeebus! Mercy!

I must have been very, very bad in a previous life to have been born into a world in which I have to bear the karmic burden of reading Stephen Moore. Here's the latest: Stephen Moore and Phil Kerpen on GDP on NRO Financial: Here's a proposal: The conventional GDP numbers should be replaced with private-sector GDP. Private-sector GDP would omit government spending from the calculations. This would allow us to measure how much the market-based economy is expanding over time. By excluding government spending, no longer would economists and policy makers automatically assume the Keynesian theory that increasing government spending increases economic output. Let's measure GDP correctly. Activities that add to wealth should be included; expenditures that reduce wealth excluded. Sorry to say that when we calculate economic growth correctly, our performance is still underwhelming. We would make the case that the single most productive thing that Congress could do to revive prosperity and jobs would be to cut government spending by as much as possible. By all means, bring a chain saw. But this advice is exactly the exactly the opposite of what the GDP calculators would tell us to do. The New York Times just published a...

Posted by DeLong at 09:04 AM

July 30, 2003
How Stupid Does National Review Think We Are?

This time its Stephen Moore--he who can't count--of the Club for Stagnation: Stephen Moore on NRO Financial: ...the last time massive public spending was used to try to regenerate prosperity was in the last real depression in the 1930s. The FDR spending binge converted what could have been a short-lived depression into a decade-long economic retrenchment that drowned millions of Americans in a sea of human misery... Does Moore really suppose that his readers are too dumb to remember that the Great Depression was already 3 1/2 years old when Franklin D. Roosevelt took office in March 1933? That the unemployment rate in 1933 was already 25%--its Great Depression nadir? Recovery from the Great Depression was appallingly slow, yes--unemployment was still 14.3 percent in 1937 after Roosevelt's first term and still 9.9 percent in 1941 after his second. And there are arguments that pieces of the New Deal (NIRA, long waiting lines for work-relief jobs) retarded recovery just as there are (more powerful) arguments that other pieces of the New Deal (ending deflation, abandonment of Hoover-era desperate attempts at budget balance, WPA) were effective ways to fight it. But to say that in the absence of the deficit spending of...

Posted by DeLong at 01:48 PM

July 23, 2003
The Current NSC Staff

Recent press reports have led many people to ask, "What kind of people staff the National Security Council these days?" Well, here is NSC director Elliott Abrams on Tail-Gunner Joe (McCarthy, that is): In his review (Elliott Abrams (1996), "McCarthyism Reconsidered," National Review February 26, pp. 57-60. [A review of the reissue of William F. Buckley and L. Brent Bozell, McCarthy and His Enemies (Regnery).]) of the reissue of Buckley and Bozell's infamous McCarthy and His Enemies, Abrams advances on his own--or approves Buckley and Bozell's advocacy of--five theses: The key issue in assessing Joe McCarthy--the bar he has to pass--is not whether his charges were accurate or backed by evidence, but whether the State Department was running its security policy poorly. Senator McCarthy did not need to show that individual State Department employees were spies or even that there were spies in the State Department. Instead, all he needed to do was to show that there was some evidence the State Department had overlooked that an employee was a security or loyalty risk. In most of his cases McCarthy did adduce persuasive evidence; the State Department's efforts stood condemned; and the screams of 'Red Scare' were efforts to occlude...

Posted by DeLong at 06:20 PM

July 15, 2003
History Proves Paul Krugman Correct!

I should have listened to Paul Krugman back in 2000, Andrew Sullivan says. He was 100% right all the time: www.AndrewSullivan.com - Daily Dish: No one can now doubt that, in matters of free trade, the Clinton administration was far [better] ...than Bush.... [W]e now have two huge disappointments: a protectionist tilt on trade and a profligate slide on fiscal responsibility. At least some conservatives are begining to realize the damage Bush is doing......

Posted by DeLong at 11:36 AM

July 01, 2003
Historical Revisionism

John F. Irons is really annoyed that George W. Bush is trying to backdate the start of the recession to 2000. Of course, the real thing to get annoyed about is that the Bush Administration has done so very, very little to fight the recession: This isn't to say that Bush somehow caused the initial recession (although it certainly didn't help that VP Cheney was running around in the country in late 2000 and early 2001 telling everyone how the economy was in bad shape.)... The important question is not whose fault is the recession, but rather what has been the response of the administration to the economic situation. We have seen 3 major tax cuts... each of which were sold as economic and job stimulus, but which in reality had very little to do with good counter-cyclical fiscal policy, or with the current economic problems. The result? Unemployment continued to increase and is up to 6.1%, and there have been 2.5 million jobs lost since March 2001... As I've said before, the failure of the Bush Administration to take any significant steps to boost aggregate demand over the past two years is remarkable and strange. The most they've done...

Posted by DeLong at 12:51 PM

June 30, 2003
Yes, This Is Art

Busy, Busy, Busy has turned the "Shorter Columnist [Name]" format into a true art form: Shorter Eugene Volokh: Cheney’s Supposed Lie: Cheney didn't lie about the Iraqi nuclear threat but merely misspoke, his subsequent failure to correct the public's already false beliefs - which his misstatement reinforced - notwithstanding. Shorter Charles Krauthammer: No 'Roe' Replay On Affirmative Action: The Supreme Court's affirmative action decision is socially ruinous, a legal travesty, and a good thing as it circumvents a potential Roe-style political backlash against my side. Shorter Fred Kaplan: Was Bush Lying About WMD?: Don Rumsfeld probably bent the truth because he lacked enough actual evidence to justify a war that he deeply and viscerally desired, but in doing so he was sincerely deluded rather than duplicitous. Shorter George Will: Lap Dancing On the Constitution: By my logic, private consensual sex is indistinguishable from public sex acts, commercial sex transactions or marriage contracts, so if one is constitutionally protected then all must be outside the purview of the state. Shorter Colin Powell: Freeing a Nation From a Tyrant's Grip: Look! Over there! In Zimbabwe there is a problem that requires urgent attention. Shorter George Will: The Bush Doctrine At Risk:...

Posted by DeLong at 05:24 PM

National Review Once Again

A correspondent asks, "Is it really the case that the National Review's economics writing is that much worse than, say, The Nation's?" So I went and read Larry Kudlow's latest on the Federal Reserve and the Monetary Base. I have to report that the answer is, "Yes indeed, it is that much worse." The lowest point is Kudlow's finding of significance in the fact that although "[t]he monetary base... has increased over the past two months by about 5½ percent at an annual rate... that's way down from the 11 percent base-money growth we were enjoying in the two months ending in April." As every monetary economist knows, month-to-month fluctuations in noisy monetary base figures simply do not have the economic or policy significance that Kudlow attributes to them. The second lowest point is the declaration of political allegiance with which Kudlow closes: "President Bush has sponsored a huge tax cut, exactly the right medicine for this economy." Damned few agree with Kudlow: the bulk of the tax cut is too far in the future to do significant good now (when we need more spending), and when it does affect the economy five or more years hence it will be...

Posted by DeLong at 10:15 AM

June 09, 2003
Why Is National Review's Economics So Bad?

Matthew Yglesias drops his jaw in disbelief at the National Review's claim that Clinton was a big tax cutter: Matthew Yglesias: Jobs and Taxes: Jobs and Taxes Oftentimes I have wondered how conservatives can persist in the belief that tax cuts will cure all economic ailments in the face of mountains of empirical evidence. In particular, there's always the embarrassing matter of the '93 Clinton budget which raised taxes and helped turned the economy around despite dire predictions of depression from the GOP. At last, NRO tries to come to grips with this awkward fact:We have had four presidents in the past four decades of American history who signed major tax cuts: Kennedy, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush. Although these men also raised some taxes, they stand out in history for their large tax cuts. [emphasis added]Turns out that Clinton counts as a historical example of a big time tax cutter because he passed NAFTA which lowered tariffs. Well, I'm glad they've become Clinton fans over at NRO, but I think it's worth mentioning that there's a significant difference between lowering trade barriers (while raising some taxes on the wealthy) and endless cuts in income taxes at the top brackets. Is...

Posted by DeLong at 08:44 PM

May 21, 2003
Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? Part CCXXI

The New York Times beats up on the Bush administration Treasury: ... stature gap... Paul O'Neill the gaffe-prone... John Snow... credibilit... impaired... policies which are now discredited... credibility in question, Mr. Snow... antagonizing America's trading partners... dangerous confusion in currency markets... I cannot disagree: for someone used to Bentsen-Rubin-Summers O'Neill and Snow seem a long, long, long way down. But then the Times tells why it is beating up on the Treasury Secretary, and in the process reveals how pitifully little those who write--and review, and edit--it know about finance and economics: The dollar's decline... certainly amounts a vote of no confidence in America... it isn't as if Europe is attracting investment on its own merits... This makes me want to say, "But... But... But..." Over the past year investors have become convinced (rightly, I believe) that the Federal Reserve is seriously concerned about the dangers of deflation and is willing to keep interest rates low to prevent even a shadow of a chance of a full-scale deflation, while the European Central Bank is not. This means that European interest rates are likely to be significantly higher than American interest rates for years to come. This makes euro-denominated bonds more...

Posted by DeLong at 10:13 AM

May 17, 2003
Thoughts on National Review

The Unofficial Paul Krugman Archive criticizes the National Review's Don Luskin for failing to realize that in the U.S. today fiscal policy affects employment only if (a) it takes effect immediately, inside the Federal Reserve's decision cycle, so that the Federal Reserve has no opportunity to neutralize it, or (b) it takes effect in those unusual times (which we may be approaching) of a "liquidity trap," in which the Federal Reserve finds itself temporarily powerless to move the economy. Why does fiscal policy have effects only in these limited circumstances? Because the Federal Reserve has powerful views about what level of employment is consistent with stable prices, and has powerful levers it uses to try to push the economy to that level of employment. The Federal Reserve thinks (rightly) that its judgment on this is better than that of the Senate or of Karl Rove, and so takes active steps to neutralize whatever the effects of their policies would otherwise be. But if the Unofficial Paul Krugman Archive wants to actually influence Don Luskin's thought, it has taken on an impossible task. Luskin, remember, is a guy who in his original attack on Paul Krugman took a February CEA report...

Posted by DeLong at 08:15 AM

May 14, 2003
Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?

The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman writes: Temporary Dividend Tax Cut Proposed (washingtonpost.com): In a rare display of GOP discord, Kevin Hassett, an American Enterprise Institute economist with close administration ties, posted a Web site editorial calling the emerging Senate plan "one of the most patently absurd tax policies ever proposed." The plan would discourage companies from offering dividends over the next two years, he said, and could harm the economy Bush wants to help... Where does this "rare display" come from? Douglas Holtz-Eakin--chief economist at the Bush Council of Economic Advisors until his recent move to head the Congressional Budget Office--says that the various variants of the Bush plans would have little positive stimulative effect on the economy in the short run and are likely to be a drag on economic growth in the long run. Alan Greenspan says that the dividend tax cut is not worth doing if it comes at the price of a larger deficit--if it is not offset by spending cuts. Martin Feldstein says that even though incremental steps toward the reform of capital taxation are worth taking, the various variants of the Bush plan doesn't contain nearly enough short-term stimulus. Bruce Bartlett says that speeding...

Posted by DeLong at 07:34 AM

May 07, 2003
Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Competent Executive Branch? Part MCIX

Bruce Bartlett (one of the few sane people in Washington, DC, as evidenced by his decision to live in beautiful Great Falls, Virginia) has switched from believing that Job #1 is to reform and reduce the taxation of income from capital in order to boost long-run economic growth to believing that Job #1 is to boost demand and stimulate the economy over the next two years. Unfortunately, he says, as the economic news making the case for immediate stimulus stronger has dribbled in over the past half year, "the White House [which] recognizes that the political and economic landscape has changed... has simply revised its rhetoric. Now, instead of making the correct argument for its dividend plan -- that it will raise productivity, growth and incomes over time -- the White House talks only about jobs, jobs, jobs. The problem is that the dividend plan probably won't create many new jobs and very few of those will come in the short run." The Thomas option -- The Washington Times: May 7, 2003 The Thomas option Bruce Bartlett      By tomorrow , both the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee will have completed mark-up of a major tax...

Posted by DeLong at 09:52 AM

April 27, 2003
Deficits and Interest Rates

Note the "corrections and amplifications" note at the bottom of the story below. It reads: The President's Council of Economic Advisers estimates that a persistent $100 billion annual increase in the budget deficit would increase long-term interest rates by about 0.3 percentage point. The estimate was given incorrectly as 0.015 percentage point in this article. That figure is the effect of a $100 billion increase in government debt. This is the result of Glenn Hubbard's being a little too clever back when he was chairing the Council of Economic Advisers. Reporters would ask him, "What's your estimate of a $100 billion increase in the deficit?" He would answer either "A one-time $100 billion increase in the deficit will raise interest rates by about by 0.015%," or "A $100 billion increase in the government debt would raise interest rates by 0.015%." The reporters would go away, and write that the president's Council of Economic Advisers believed that a $100 billion increase in the deficit would have only a negligible effect on interest rates. The whole point was to confuse reporters--to blur the distinction between the effects of a change in policy that increases the deficit by $100 billion a year, so...

Posted by DeLong at 09:38 PM

April 19, 2003
Why I Am a Semi-Pseudo-Sorta-Utilitarian-Consequentialist

Matthew Yglesias demonstrates some of the *big* problem with rights- and duty-based ethics that pretend to take no account of utility: Matthew Yglesias: Lott and Anonymity: Some thoughts on this Lott/Levitt/Reynolds/Kopel fiasco: 1. It would be really inappropriate for Glenn [Reynolds] or Dave Kopel to reveal who their anonymous source was to anyone, even if this were the only way of clearing up suspicions that Lott was the source. You don't welch on a pledge of anonymity you've given to a source even if making the pledge turns out to have been inappropriate. 2. The use of an anonymous source in this context -- whether or not that source was Lott -- is totally inappropriate. Anonymity is supposed to be a tool for gathering actual information that won't otherwise be revealed. Simply letting someone go off-the-record with unsubstantiated insults has no journalistic value. 3. For Lott to turn around and take an anonymous charge in an NRO article and then write that "media reports" have described Levitt in such-and-such a way is both inappropriate and wildly dishonest, but we've all known for a while that Lott's not a big fan of honesty. Let's look at the videotape: Levitt has been...

Posted by DeLong at 08:19 AM

"Roger Ailes" on Kopel and Reynolds

"Roger Ailes" on Kopel and Reynolds: Roger Ailes: Reynolds and Kopel wrote, concerning the members of a National Academy of Sciences panel on gun issues, "Most of them have reputations as being antigun. Steven Levitt, [sic] has been described as 'rabidly antigun.'" Reynolds and Kopel decline to name the "describer," stating that he/she wishes to remain anonymous. I don't care who the accuser is. The real question is: at the time Kopel and Reynolds described Levitt as "rabidly antigun," what evidence did they have of that fact? Mr. A. Non. didn't force them to print the allegation. Either they took A. Non's word for it or they independently verified the charge. If they have proof that Levitt is "rabidly antigun," they can vindicate themselves by citing the proof without disclosing A. Non's identity. (And they've now had close to 2 years to gather evidence for the claim.) And if they can't, then they've established that they're willing to publish claims from someone unable and/or unwilling to back them up. Also of interest: Reynolds made the claim that Levitt was an "ardent supporter of gun control" on his blog on August 16, 2001, 13 days before the stated publication date...

Posted by DeLong at 08:14 AM

April 18, 2003
More From Tim Lambert

Tim Lambert downgrades Glenn Reynolds to "unreliable": Tim Lambert: On Monday Glenn Reynolds wrote: Kopel sent an update to the NRO piece some time ago stressing Levitt's denial of the charge. Although Lambert doesn't mention this, I imagine that he's aware of it. I don't know if it has appeared on their site yet or not. It turns out that "some time ago" was Reynolds' special way of saying "yesterday". Nor, of course, would he have any reason to believe that I would be aware of this update. Kopel says he thinks Reynolds may have "misremembered". Anyway, here's Kopel's update: Shortly after this article was published, Steve Levitt wrote to Glenn: "I don't understand your National Review article in which I am described as 'rabidly anti-gun.' "No one who knows me would describe me that way. I love to shoot guns and would own them if my wife would let me. I recently published an op-ed piece in Chicago Sun-Times entitled 'Pools more dangerous than guns' (July 28, 2001) that could only be construed as pro-guns. I have never written anything even remotely anti-gun. I think your sources must have me confused with someone else." Levitt's Sun-Times article argues that...

Posted by DeLong at 08:41 AM

March 26, 2003
Why Can't Reporters Do a Better Job?

The Economist seems to be slipping lately in the quality of its economic reporting. One reads paragraphs like: Taxing Times: ...Economists are divided about the wisdom of slashing taxes in this way, without trying to balance the books. Last month, around 450 economists, including ten Nobel laureates, openly criticised the tax-cut plan: in response, the White House quickly marshalled support from economists who took a different view. Mr Bush has been arguing that his tax cut will itself have a beneficial impact on economic growth, and that as a result the deficits projected under current methods will turn out to be overly pessimistic... And one wants to scream. What "...economists who took a different view..."? Alan Greenspan--number one Republican economist--who says that now is definitely not the time to cut taxes? Douglas Holtz-Eakin--until two months ago Chief Economist at Bush's Council of Economic Advisers--who, now that he heads the Congressional Budget Office and is out from under Karl Rove's message discipline, politely says that it is "not obvious" why anyone would think the tax cut would have a beneficial effect on growth? Bush's own ex-Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, who says that shoring up Social Security would be much better than...

Posted by DeLong at 07:17 PM

March 06, 2003
Right-Wing British Financial Newspaper Calls Bush Economic Policy "Lunacy"

Gerard Baker, the Washington correspondent for the Financial Times, calls the Bush Administration's economic policy "lunacy." Note that Gerard Baker is not a partisan Democrat. Gerard Baker is a normal, smart, conservative, keen-eyed financial reporter who is trying to give the largely well-off European readers of the Financial Times some idea of what is going on in economic policy in Washington. The fact that he is reduced to words like "lunacy" and "utterly out of touch" and "engaged in one of those psychological exercises where if you say something patently false enough times you eventually start to believe it" should give anyone who is still inclined to credit Bush Administration economic policy with any competence at all a great deal of pause. FT.com Home Global: ...the more important lesson of all this is how utterly out of touch with economic reality those on the ideological Republican right have become. They now regard the most obvious and widely accepted nostrums of fiscal economics as tantamount to treason. For the past two years, they have been engaged in one of those psychological exercises where if you say something patently false enough times you eventually start to believe it. Deficits do not matter....

Posted by DeLong at 11:59 AM

March 01, 2003
Cranks and Charlatans

Our Australian Cousin John Quiggin is bemused as he watches the cranks and charlatans attack CEA-Chair designate Greg Mankiw: John Quiggin: Jason Soon points to this piece of silliness by Stephen Moore of the National Review. Moore doesn't like Greg Mankiw because he once wrote that Reagan-era supply-side economists were "charlatans and cranks".... I'll just concentrate on Moore's proposed alternatives [to Mankiw]. He writes The good news is there are a multitude of brilliant supply-side academics who would be superb chief economists at the White House. I am thinking of talented people like Brian Wesbury of Chicago, Richard Vedder of Ohio University, and David Malpass of Bear Stearns. It seemed a bit odd to describe someone working on Wall Street as an academic, but of course lots of academics have been lured there in recent years. And while I'd never heard of any of these guys, Chicago is one of the top economics departments in the US (or the world, for that matter) and Ohio State is certainly respectable. But why not say "University of Chicago" and "Ohio State University." A short Google search reveals all. Not only is David Malpass not an academic, he doesn't hold an economics qualification...

Posted by DeLong at 08:10 AM

February 24, 2003
William Watts Gets Snookered

William Watts of CBS Marketwatch gets snookered. He writes: EarthLink - Finance: But as is usually the case when politics and economics meet, there are a number of contradictory answers. Glenn Hubbard, the chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisers and an architect of the tax-cut plan, has argued that the deficit's impact is relatively minor, and partly offset by future economic growth that can stem from income-tax cuts. "I think that the effects (on interest rates) of the size of the proposals that the president proposed are very, very modest and they are outweighed" by the potential upside benefits Hubbard told reporters last week. The Economic Report of the President, released earlier this month by the Hubbard-led CEA, laid out a formula that results in a sanguine answer when it comes to the impact of debt on interest rates. Read it. According to the CEA's calculations, each dollar of debt crowds out about 60 cents of capital. The other 40 cents is offset by larger capital inflows from abroad. "A conservative rule of thumb based on this relationship is that interest rates rise by about 3 basis points for every additional $200 billion in government debt," the report...

Posted by DeLong at 06:18 PM

September 14, 2002
Daniel Gross, Meet Daniel Gross

Last week Slate's Daniel Gross tut-tutted that Berkshire-Hathaway's Warren Buffett is lending money to distressed companies at usurious interest rates: these transactions are not in existing shareholders' interest, but they do satisfy managers' desire to postpone bankruptcy in the hope that something, anything might turn up. Daniel argued that Berkshire-Hathaway's resort to this strategy--the exploitation of the conflict-of-interest between managers and shareholders--is a sign that the stock market is still highly overvalued: The New Warren Buffett Way - From value investor to vulture investor. By Daniel Gross: ...Perhaps the deals say something more profound about the post-9/11 market than about Buffett. With so many stocks having plummeted, so many companies beset by scandal, so much money fleeing the market, and such a crisis of investor confidence, one might expect that the classic value situations that are Buffett's hallmark would be everywhere. Buffett should be grabbing an underpriced company every few days. The fact that Buffett, who has oodles of cash to put to work, hasn't found many--and has instead been nibbling on distressed properties--shows just how overvalued stocks still are... This week Daniel does a backflip and savages PIMCO Bond's Bill Gross for... saying that the stock market is still...

Posted by DeLong at 08:52 AM

September 08, 2002
Coverage of Mugabe

Andrew Sullivan slimes New York Times bureau chief Rachel Swarns: www.AndrewSullivan.com - Daily Dish: ...It seems the brutal tyrant in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe, has lost his head p.r. guy. Never mind. With puff-pieces like this one, who needs p.r.? "A Hero To Many!" Whoever Rachel Swarns is, she's clearly a Rainesian.... "Criticized in the West." This is a man who jails his opponents, rigs elections and is fomenting a famine in his country by brutal evictions of the only productive farmers. He's viciously homophobic and reviled by any serious African analyst as a menace to any democratic trends in the region. But the Times sees his good side. Of course they do. Ted Barlow spends five minutes on the web and comes up with a list of articles on Mugabe Rachel Swarns has written: August 17, 2002 Zimbabwe Starts Arresting White Farmers Defying Eviction August 14, 2002 World Briefing | Africa: Zimbabwe: A Pledge To Withdraw From Congo August 13, 2002 Mugabe Remains Unyielding On Eviction of White Farmers August 12, 2002 Thousands of Whites Defying Zimbabwe Over Farm Evictions August 9, 2002 World Briefing | Africa: Zimbabwe: Eviction Deadline August 4, 2002 For Zimbabwe White Farmers, Time to Move...

Posted by DeLong at 08:20 AM

August 21, 2002
More on Rhinoceroses

Jason McCullough believes that Mickey Kaus is not only turning into a Rhinoceros--a neoconservative--but that the process is complete: that he has turned into a huge mutant God-King Rhinoceros: that he has joined the DARK SIDE. I disagree. Hronkomatic: Oh, I missed the line that finally convinced me Kaus has gone over to the dark side: P.P.S.: Does Krugman really think it's a sensible government expenditure to have a whole separate, costly, and not-very-good system of Veterans' health care? If not, why blast Bush for trying to save money by suspending "marketing activities to enroll new veterans" in that white-elephant system? What the living fuck is going on? This is the same Mickey Kaus that wrote the End of Equality? Bush is trying to hold down spending by indirectly denying veterans health care. This is pretty slimy, as veterans have an entitlement to free health care by virtue of, oh, getting shot at. Kaus's reaction is to question whether should have the entitlement at all and complain about the quality of the system. Last time I checked, free health care was better than no health care! Talk about jumping through hoops to make your own... First, some background. Joshua Micah...

Posted by DeLong at 11:43 AM

Thomas Frank on the "Rah-Rah Boys"

For the clippings file... Los Angeles Times: The Rah-Rah Boys The Rah-Rah Boys: There are no mea culpas from the gurus who prophesied an unending bull market. They're still cruising from one posh gig to the next. By THOMAS FRANK: Thomas Frank is the editor of the Baffler magazine and author of "One Market Under God." August 18 2002 CHICAGO -- Many of the '90s icons have passed from the scene: The swashbuckling dot-com entrepreneurs have moved back in with mom, the rule-breaking CEOs are being hauled before Congress for tongue-lashings, the day-trading seniors who were supposed to "beat the pros" are thanking God that Social Security still exists. But one group remains untouched: the public intellectuals of the bull market. The writers of Dow-worshipping books and commentators who handed down daring pronunciamentos from the silicon heights are still cruising from one posh gig to the next. If you tuned in to CNBC at any point during the long, slow meltdown of the last couple of months, you probably saw the news reader turn to a representative of Forbes magazine, formerly one of the world's most enthusiastic pushers of bull market optimism, now cast as an expert on a market...

Posted by DeLong at 07:41 AM

August 07, 2002
More Evidence That Mickey Kaus Has Joined the Neoconservatives

Which is the biggest problem: that six million children around the world die annually from hunger, or that the Alliance to End Hunger is asking slanted poll questions in an attempt to convince American politicians that voters do really care about reducing world hunger? A relatively normal person would say that the first is a more important world problem. But what gets Mickey Kaus outraged and excited is the second. Kaus has thus passed through the third of the four stages of becoming a Rhinoceros... excuse me, a neoconservative. The first stage is to hold that the flaws--the mighty flaws--of the center-left in American politics are important enough to more-or-less balance the flaws of the right. The second stage is to start making desperate and implausible excuses for Republican politicians and functionaries. The third stage is to lose contact with the substance of public policy issues, and focus instead on intellectual and rhetorical "errors" made by those left of center. And the fourth stage is to start acclaiming right-wing political hacks as noble thinkers, and right-wing office holders as bold and far-sighted leaders with a plan to guide us to utopia. There's still time for Kaus to return to his...

Posted by DeLong at 07:40 PM

July 28, 2002
Gresham's Law of Policy Debate

From Brendan Nyhan's Spinsanity: Heritage's Daniel Mitchell shows that he can go very low indeed. My question: does everyone else at Heritage realize that Mitchell is burning their analytical credibility? Spinsanity - Countering rhetoric with reason Mitchell's metaphor (Brendan Nyhan): In May, I criticized Daniel Mitchell of the Heritage Foundation for comparing the plight of US corporations, who under pending legislation would be prevented from rechartering in other countries for tax purposes, to slaves who escaped to free states but were still considered the property of their previous owners under the Supreme Court's infamous 1857 Dred Scott decision. Well, he's at it again. In an op-ed in the Washington Times Friday, he writes that the "anti-inversion" legislation is "popularly know [sic] as the 'Dred Scott Tax Bill' since it assumes corporations belong to the IRS and are not allowed to escape bad tax law." Of course, a search of the Nexis news database reveals that Mitchell is actually the only person to use this offensive and bombastic formulation in print. Let's hope he'll stop soon......

Posted by DeLong at 06:31 PM

July 23, 2002
No Comment

No comment. Counterspin Central: A Web Log dedicated to the poposition that no dishonest right-wing, propaganda will go unpunished, or unrefuted SULLY IS SOOOO PREDICTABLE: Just like I predicted, Andrew Sullivan has already started the "what did Rubin know?" line of propaganda. Not only that, Sully lied his glutes off and claimed that Bob Rubin joined Citigroup in July of 1999! Sorry, Andy, but Rubin didn't join the company until October 26, 1999. He also either misread the New York Times article, or deliberately misrepresented it, when he claimed that the deal between Enron and Citigroup was "cemented" in the Fall of 1999. Au contraire! The deal itself was "cemented," meaning agreed to, by the late Spring of 1999. The Times reports:"Money flows from the bank to the company, cash is paid back months later along with the equivalent of interest, and actual commodities rarely change hands. Technically, experts have said, such transactions — known as prepays — follow the requirements of the accounting rules, even if ultimately they can disguise the total debt held by a corporation. But, for such transactions to be treated as prepays, one agreement must stay in force: the company must maintain its commitment to...

Posted by DeLong at 03:05 PM

July 08, 2002
Andrew Sullivan Attacks CDC For No Reason

I've got to stop going to andrewsullivan.com. It's really depressing. Consider the most recent example: Andrew Sullivan's decision to attack the Centers for Disease Control staff as mendacious government hacks--"Imagine the panic among the AIDS lobby if they had to report that the rate of infections were declining!"--who put out phony numbers: Here are two consecutive paragraphs [from the New York Times] "Federal officials said they felt confident in reporting that the number of new H.I.V. infections has been stable in recent years, with an estimated 40,000 Americans becoming infected each year. Government officials estimate that 900,000 Americans are living with H.I.V. or AIDS. The number has increased by 50,000 since 1998, largely because advances in treatment have controlled the infection in many people, allowing some to go back to work and live longer." If 40,000 are infected each year, shouldn't over 120,000 new infections have been logged since 1998? So why only 50,000? No one at the CDC really answers that question ever. The obvious answer is: No. We would not expect the number of HIV infections to have grown by 120,000. People die of AIDS. The number of HIV infections is the number of old infections, plus the...

Posted by DeLong at 03:43 PM

June 05, 2002
A Truly Loathsome Toad

So I stopped by Andrew Sullivan's weblog this morning to see what's what, and was confronted with a short item which read, in its entirety: SELF-PARODY WATCH: "Special Report: Zambian Copper," - a headline from this week's Economist. At first, I genuinely didn't get the joke. You see, I'd read the Economist's Zambian copper story. It was one of the most interesting (and depressing) articles in this week's edition: the failure of privatization in southern Africa, 15000 workers who may lose their jobs, a mining complex that once produced 10 percent of the world's copper so damaged by two decades of neglect during nationalization that now there appears to be no way--not even if the mineworkers of Zambia work for free--that the mines can produce more in value than they take in, the fact that Zambia has little else worth exporting besides copper, whether the key flaw lay in the decades of nationalization or in the transformation of the privatization program into a "looting exercise." Why, I wondered, does Andrew Sullivan consider this--interesting and important--story to be a big joke? But then I began to imagine what the inside of Andrew Sullivan's mind must be like... Look! The Economist thinks...

Posted by DeLong at 09:22 AM

May 22, 2002
Trust, But Verify?

A correspondent from Washington writes that I have been grossly unfair to the Cato Institute--that Stephen Moore is not a representative Catonian

Posted by DeLong at 02:30 PM

May 17, 2002
Moral Philosophy and Israel's Right to Exist

Brad DeLong, who is not certain whether today is his day to be a Utilitarian, a Post-Modernist, a Sewer Diver for Silver Linings, or a Realist...

Posted by DeLong at 02:46 PM

Berkeley Graduation

I felt Friday night that I was laying a burden on those students who had majored in PEIS. All graduating California residents knew that the citizens of California had invested $100,000 in each of their Berkeley educations in the belief that the education will help them accomplish great things. And we need great things from all of our graduates. Never has the pace of scientific and technical advance beeen greater, never has the world been more closely linked, never has the world economy been richer, never has the world seen faster economic growth, never has the world been more democratic. But never has the world been more unequal. Never before have we known how to make such destructive weapons. Never have waves of hatred been able to propagate themselves so rapidly around the globe.

Posted by DeLong at 02:40 PM

May 12, 2002
Let Us Now Praise Right Wing Hacks

David Broder thinks that the success of the Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute is "something to cheer" because they are so "proficient in generating and promoting ideas" and have great "intellectual honesty." I disagree: I think David Broder has lost his ability to distinguish intellectual wheat from partisan chaff. Cato and Heritage's main function is to provide soundbites. As a result,their work can rarely be relied on: too much of the time, even when the good, straight, accurate arguments are on their side, the guys from Cato and Heritage are likely to come up with something twisted, inaccurate, and misleading that sounds punchy. Brendan Nyhan also disagrees with Broder, and expresses it better than I do.) For example, consider Stephen Moore, sometime Director of Fiscal Policy Studies at Cato, sometime a Fellow at the Heritage Foundation. Let me pull down from the shelf Stephen Moore and Julian Simon (2000), _It's Getting Better All the Time: 100 Greatest Trends of the Last Hundred Years_ (Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute). It's a book I by and large agree with: things are a lot better now than they were 100 years ago. It's a book I'm sorry I bought, because I cannot refer...

Posted by DeLong at 02:58 PM

April 30, 2002
International Productivity Comparisons

My main point, however, is that the world is complicated, and single statistics are bound to be incomplete. Anyone who presents to you one single number for a nation--and then draws sweeping conclusions from it--is interested in driving you into the corral as if you were a panicked sheep. Don't pay attention to such people....

Posted by DeLong at 03:28 PM

April 20, 2002
Rawnsley: Servants of the People

Reading along, I discover that Tony Blair = Josef Stalin is Rawnsley's view, or at least is a view that Rawnsley wants to make sure is whispered into his readers ears, without, of course, leaving too many of his own fingerprints on it...

Posted by DeLong at 03:40 PM

May 10, 2001
David Irving's Attempt to Make Neo-Naziism "Respectable"

In Richard Evans's view a "holocaust denier" clearly loses his or her historian's license, but what about lesser offenses against wie es eigentlich gewesen?... Review of Richard Evans, Lying About Hitler Richard Evans (2000), Lying About Hitler: History, the Holocaust, and the David Irving Trial (New York: Basic Books: 0465021522). Richard Evans (1997), In Defense of History (New York: Norton: 0393319598)....

Posted by DeLong at 05:17 PM