Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings… (May 25, 2019)

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  1. Rob Beschizza: Reporters Who Quote Ums And Ahs Only Make Themselves Look Bad: “Journalists sometimes use a version of the facts to support faleshoods. Check out the following, posted by Daily Mail reporter David Martosko, quoting a teenager on Trump’s use of the racist ‘Pocahontas’ slur…. Martosko wanted to establish here was that the teen—and perhaps by implication young Warren supporters in general—is confused and foolish. He did this by including all the ums and ahs of speech, filler terms… and extraneous commas. Most people saw this ‘verbatim’ text for what it was, and Martosko was thoroughly ratioed by readers…. Most of us talk just as the teen did, when challenged to speak extemporaneously. This can be true of even polished and well-prepared speakers. Listen to politicans and pundits on cable news panels, with an ear for the fillers, and you might be surprised…. We don’t usually judge speakers for it because our brains correctly interpret it as meaningless filler…. Reporters usually remove speech disfluency when they quote subjects. In fact, it is generally considered unethical and unprofessional for editors not to remove the ums and ahs and filler terms…

  2. Eliza Mackintosh: Finland Is Winning the War on Fake News. Other Nations Want the Blueprint

  3. Julian Matthews: A Cognitive Scientist Explains Why Humans Are So Susceptible to Fake News and Misinformation » Nieman Journalism Lab: “We might like to think of our memory as an archivist that carefully preserves events, but sometimes it’s more like a storyteller…

  4. Andrew Carnegie: Steelmaking: “The eighth wonder of the world is this: two pounds of iron-stone purchased on the shores of lake Superior and transported to Pittsburgh; two pounds of coal mined in Connellsville and manufactured into coke and brought to Pittsburgh; one half pound of limestone mined east of the Alleghenies and brought to Pittsburgh; a little manganese ore, mined in Virginia and brought to Pittsburgh. And these four and one half pounds of material manufactured into one pound of solid steel and sold for one cent. That’s all that need be said about the steel business…

  5. Sam Biddle: Facebook’s Work With Phone Carriers Alarms Legal Experts: “From these eight categories alone, a third party could learn an extraordinary amount about patterns of users’ daily life, and although the document claims that the data collected through the program is ‘aggregated and anonymized’, academic studies have found time and again that so-called anonymized user data can be easily de-anonymized. Today, such claims of anonymization and aggregation are essentially boilerplate…

  6. Khoi Vinh: ‘John Wick: Chapter 3–Parabellum’ Review: “A film creates a compelling fantasy world and fans clamor for more. So sequels build that world out, they show more of its mechanics, its people, its history… the inevitable outcome is bureaucracy…

  7. Joe Wiggins: Why Are Other Investors So Biased? | Behavioural Investment: “If you ask a fund manager why they believe that their investment philosophy can generate excess returns, they will almost inevitably state that they are seeking to exploit the behavioural biases exhibited by other investors that create pricing inefficiencies.  It is somewhat puzzling therefore that if you question the same fund manager about how they seek to address their own biases the response is either entirely unconvincing or evasive…

  8. Ben Steverman: The Wealth Detective Who Finds the Hidden Money of the Super Rich: “Thirty-two-year-old French economist Gabriel Zucman scours spreadsheets to find secret offshore accounts…

  9. Arindrajit Dube: Econ 333 : “Income Inequality & Policy Alternatives…

  10. Wikipedia: Barbarian: “The case has been made that [Rosa] Luxemburg had remembered a passage from the Erfurt Program, written in 1892 by Karl Kautsky, and mistakenly attributed it to Engels: ‘As things stand today capitalist civilization cannot continue; we must either move forward into socialism or fall back into barbarism’…

  11. Douglas B. Harris (1997): Dwight Eisenhower and the New Deal: The Politics of Preemption

  12. Brian Warren: Mac Open Web

  13. Gavin Kennedy (2010): What Adam Smith Actually Identified as the Appropriate Roles for 18-century Governments


  1. Another old piece, but more true than ever. On the left, the talking heads the media puts on the TV as economists are economists. On the right, they are grifters who play economists on TV. My recent encounter with Steve Moore at the San Francisco Commonwealth Club has erased any doubts I might have had: Paul Krugman (2015): On Econoheroes: “I gather that some readers didn’t get what I was driving at in declaring that Joe Stiglitz and yours truly are the left’s ‘econoheroes’, but the likes of Stephen Moore and Art Laffer play that role on the right…. What I meant—I thought this was obvious—is that Joe and I do tend to get quoted, invoked, etc. on a frequent basis in liberal media and by liberals in general, usually with (excessive) approbation. And the thing is that while there are people playing a comparable role in right-wing discussion, they tend not to be highly cited or even competent…

  2. Ben Thompson: China, Leverage, and Values: “Tim Culpan declared at Bloomberg that The Tech Cold War Has Begun…. ‘We can now expect China to redouble efforts to roll out a homegrown smartphone operating system, design its own chips, develop its own semiconductor technology (including design tools and manufacturing equipment), and implement its own technology standards. This can only accelerate the process of creating a digital iron curtain that separates the world into two distinct, mutually exclusive technological spheres…

  3. Gavin Kennedy: What Adam Smith Actually Identified as the Appropriate Roles for 18-Century Governments: “Navigation Acts, blessed by Smith under the assertion that ‘defence, however, is of much more importance than opulence’ (WN464); Sterling marks on plate and stamps on linen and woollen cloth (WN138–9); enforcement of contracts by a system of justice (WN720); wages to be paid in money, not goods; regulations of paper money in banking (WN437)…

  4. Adam Smith: An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of The Wealth Of Nations: “The first duty of the sovereign… protecting the society from… other independent societies… by means of a military force…. The second duty… of protecting… every member… from the injustice or oppression of every other member…. The third… of erecting and maintaining… institutions and… public works… in the highest degree advantageous… [but] of such a nature, that the profit could never repay the expense to any individual, or small number of individuals…. [These] works and institutions… are chiefly for facilitating the commerce of the society, and… promoting the instruction of the people…. Of the public Works and Institutions for facilitating the Commerce of the Society…. Of the Expense of the Institution for the Education of Youth…. Of the Expense of the Institutions for the Instruction of People of all Ages… chiefly those for religious instruction…

  5. Jamie Powell: Tesla’s Shifting Capital Raise Narrative: “In two weeks, the 2.4bn in cash has gone from being a “contingency fund” to being potentially burnt in ‘approximately ten months’ unless changes are made to its expense structure. Changes so large that every expense has to be signed off by CFO Zach Kirkhorn…

  6. Martin Wolf: The US-China Conflict Challenges The World: “Historic allies of the US… would stand beside it….. Yet these are not normal circumstances. Under Donald Trump, the US has become a rogue superpower, hostile, among many other things, to the fundamental norms of a trading system based on multilateral agreement and binding rules…. We are also seeing a big shift in conservative thinking…. The US no longer sees why it should be a ‘responsible stakeholder’…. Some might conclude that the high costs mean that the conflict cannot be sustained, particularly if stock markets are disrupted. An alternative and more plausible outcome is that Mr Trump and China’s Xi Jinping are ‘strongmen’ leaders who cannot be seen to yield…

  7. Robert Heilbroner (1996): The Embarrassment of Economics: Schumpeter arrived in his famous riding habit and great cloak, of which he divested himself in a grand gesture. He greeted us in a typically Schumpeterian way: “Gentlemen, a depression is for capitalism like a good, cold douche.” The remark shocked us…

  8. Rosa Luxemburg (1916): The Junius Pamphlet: “The Crisis of Social Democracy…. Socialism is the first popular movement in world history that has set itself the goal of bringing human consciousness, and thereby free will, into play in the social actions of mankind. For this reason, Friedrich Engels designated the final victory of the socialist proletariat a leap of humanity from the animal world into the realm of freedom…. Friedrich Engels once said: ‘Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to socialism or regression into barbarism’. What does “regression into barbarism” mean to our lofty European civilization?… This world war is a regression into barbarism. The triumph of imperialism leads to the annihilation of civilization….. We face the choice… either the triumph of imperialism and the collapse of all civilization as in ancient Rome, depopulation, desolation, degeneration–a great cemetery…

  9. Language, opposable thumbs, and erect posture—those are the three keys to the kingdom: Doug Jones: Four Legs Good, Two Legs Better: “With Ardipithecus Radius (about 4.5 million years ago) we have the strongest evidence so far that hominins have adopted bipedalism…. Even… she had a somewhat diverging big toe, and arms and hands well-adapted for suspension, suggesting she was bipedal on the ground, but still spent a lot of time in trees…. Bipedalism allowed ancestral dinosaurs to overcome the tight coupling of locomotion and respiration that prevents sprawling lizards from breathing while they run. But human bipedalism, with no counterbalancing tail, is different. As far as we know it evolved only once…

  10. Rosa Luxemburg (1916): The Junius Pamphlet: “In the midst of this witches’ sabbath a catastrophe of world-historical proportions has happened: International Social Democracy has capitulated. To deceive ourselves about it, to cover it up, would be the most foolish, the most fatal thing the proletariat could do…. The fall of the socialist proletariat in the present world war is unprecedented. It is a misfortune for humanity. But socialism will be lost only if the international proletariat fails to measure the depth of this fall, if it refuses to learn from it. The last forty-five year period in the development of the modern labor movement now stands in doubt. What we are experiencing in this critique is a closing of accounts for what will soon be half a century of work at our posts…

  11. Chris Cook: Brussels Takes Control: “The EU’s initial response to the referendum result said: ‘Any agreement, which will be concluded with the United Kingdom as a third country, will have to reflect the interests of both sides and be balanced in terms of rights and obligations’. A few days on, it added: ‘Access to the single market requires acceptance of all four freedoms’. This reflects a belief in what the EU is actually for. Those who know her have learned that when Merkel, who grew up on the far side of the Iron Curtain, says freedom of movement of people is a fundamental principle, it pays to take her seriously…. The statement was also intended to ram home the basic principle that the EU insists rights be balanced by obligations…. This has created fixed grooves that third countries must fall into. In return for unfettered access to its internal markets, they have to tick certain boxes. When the UK Treasury modelled possible outcomes of the Brexit negotiations before the referendum, it presented a discreet menu of options… Switzerland’s… Turkey’s… Canada’s… found the same likely range of options. This formula–’no cherry-picking’–was most clearly set out in a diagram released to modest fanfare in late 2017 by Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator. It became known as the ‘staircase’ diagram: https://delong.typepad.com/.a/6a00e551f0800388340240a4899366200d-pi

  12. Over at Equitable Growth. From last March: The brilliant Bhash Mazumder in conversation with Liz Hipple. He is right in his stress on siblings as an excellent test strip for measuring and understanding inequality in one easy-to-calculate number: Liz Hipple: In Conversation with Bhash Mazumder: “The sibling approach… boils everything down into one number by saying, what are all of the things that two siblings shared growing up? How much does that determine their overall outcomes?… That’s an important measure that we haven’t studied a lot. In the United States, there has been some research on sibling correlations, which I’ve contributed to a little bit, that suggests there’s much less intergenerational mobility in U.S. society than in other countries…. There is something about the nature of our society causing family background characteristics to strongly influence children’s long-run outcomes, thereby reinforcing inequalities…

  13. Tremendously depressing. We have a huge problem here. Absolutely brilliant by Alwyn Young on the replication crisis in economics. In empirical practice, instrumental variables appears to be a very weak crutch indeed. this reinforce my judgment that it is almost always better to write down the causal structure, present the correlations, and then provide a map given the correlations and given reasonable assumptions about the possible organization for the causal network from causes to effects: Alwyn Young: Consistency without Inference: Instrumental Variables in Practical Application: “I use Monte Carlo simulations, the jackknife and multiple forms of the bootstrap… 1359 instrumental variables regressions in 31 papers…. Non-iid error processes adversely affect the size and power of IV estimates, while increasing the bias of IV relative to OLS, producing a very low ratio of power to size and mean squared error that is almost always larger than biased OLS. Weak instrument pre-tests based upon F-statistics are found to be largely uninformative…. Statistically significant IV results generally depend upon only one or two observations or clusters, excluded instruments often appear to be irrelevant, there is little statistical evidence that OLS is biased, and IV confidence intervals almost always include OLS point estimates…


  1. Wikipedia: Orthonormal Basis

  2. Wikipedia: Fleetwood Mac

  3. Martin Surbeck et al.: Male Reproductive Skew Is Higher In Bonobos Than Chimpanzees

  4. Wikipedia: Event Horizon

  5. Rosa Luxemburg (1916): The Junius Pamphlet

  6. Wikipedia: Rosa Luxemburg

  7. Andrew Carnegie (1889): Wealth

  8. Karl Polanyi (1940): Five Lectures on The Present Age of Transformation

  9. Wanted: A Readable Polanyi…

  10. Wikipedia: Winston Churchill

  11. Wikipedia: 1953 Iranian Coup d’État

  12. Wikipedia: Mohammad Mosaddegh

  13. Wikipedia: Mohammad Reza Pahlavi


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