Fairly Recently: Must- and Should-Reads, and Writings… (June 5, 2019)

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  • Live at Project Syndicate: What to Do About China?: “It is entirely foreseeable that America’s attempt to “get tough” with China could accelerate its own relative decline, effectively handing China the semi-hegemony it is already approaching…. So, what should the US do to shore up its position vis-à-vis China?…

  • Weekly Forecasting Update: May 31, 2019: No Significant Changes: “About the only news these past three weeks is an 0.7%-point decrease in our estimate in what production will be over April-June, driven by a reduction in estimated durable goods orders and capacity utilization. This might be an impact o Trump’s trade war, plus Trump’s attempts to add a trade war with Mexico to the mix…

  • An Intake from “Slouching Towards Utopia?: An Economic History of the Long Twentieth Century 1870-2016”: Refinding the Path Toward Utopia: From 1938 to 1973 growth in the G-7 jerked forward again: not at the 0.76%/year pace of 1913-1938 or even the 1.42%/year pace of 1870-1913, but at an average pace of 3.0%/year. That is a material wealth doubling time of not the 90 years or so of 1913-1938 or even the 50 years of 1870-1913, but 24 years: less than a generation. Thus the G-7 was three times as well-off in 1973 as it had been in 1938…

  • An Outtake from “Slouching Towards Utopia?: An Economic History of the Long Twentieth Century 1870-2016”: The Cold War: There was one other fact about post-World War II that cemented the social-democratic mixed-economy Keynesian order that drove a generation of the fastest economic growth and the greatest advance in human prosperity and liberty the world had hitherto seen: it was the Cold War…

  • Note to Self: Lecture: African Retardation: https://www.icloud.com/keynote/0O8TxLOzM1gvGwSZYkWBV97rw

  • Note to Self: G-7 national income per capita growth since 1800, according to Hans Rosling’s http://gapminder.org: https://www.icloud.com/numbers/07Q5v0jKa1sohBHiO8l3Np9Gw

  • Hoisted from the Archives from 2017: Interview: “NAFTA Is Just Not a Big Deal for the U.S.”: “In a typical year we sell exports that we could get 2 trillion for if we had to sell them here at home and get imports that would cost us 4 trillion. That makes us 2 trillion per year—25,000 per family each year—richer and more prosperous. That is a big deal…

  • A Year Ago on Equitable Growth: Twenty Must- and Should-Reads from the Week of May 31, 2018…

  • Weekend Reading: Belle Waring: Uses and Abuses of Tarps: : “Such creativity! And the need to give Gorky one slender reed on which to lean for his glowing reviews of the labor re-education camps! Even his choice of fiancee seemed to augur his judgments: ‘The famous writer embarked from the steamer in Prosperity Gulf. Next to him was his fiancee dressed all in leather—a black leather service cap, a leather jacket, leather riding breeches, and high narrow boots—a living symbol of the OGPU shoulder to shoulder with Russian literature’…

  • Weekend Reading: Henry Farrell: The American Right’s Torquemada Option: “When anti-modern conservatives decide that the liberal world is depraved… cleanse it of the corruption of tolerance. Call it the Torquemada Option https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nemesis_the_Warlock. And the moderate success that some modern figures-such as Orban-have enjoyed in taking over the university system and forcibly purging it of those who would pollute our youth with gender studies and the like give old time reactionaries like Kimball some hope it can be done…

  • Weekend Reading: Jeremiah: 22 KJV: “‘Do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place. For if.. ye will not hear these words, I swear by myself’, saith the Lord, ‘that this house shall become a desolation’…

  • Weekend Reading: Into the Abyss: James David Nicoll on Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers”: “Heinlein… convinced himself he intended ‘veterans’ to include people whose public service included non-military organizations but there is no textual evidence of this…. ‘Youngster, do I look that silly? I’m a civilian employee’. ‘Oh. Sorry, sir’. ‘No offense. But military service is for ants’. The doctor clearly sees service as military service…

  • Comment of the Day: As Dan Davies says, finance works with criminal penalties for material misrepresentations, and works better. Would not politics also work better with such?: Graydon: “Remember that in this case, Boris made the public lie in an official capacity, was told by the relevant governmental body that it was a lie—the statistics authority officially informed the official persona of the officeholder that no, no, that’s not correct; that is not close to correct—and the official persona went right on making the lie in public in ways the court refuses to find obviously immaterial…


  1. Gershem Gorenberg: “The actions of a leader desperate to hold power and stay out of jail are utterly beyond prediction…

  2. Paul Krugman: Robot Geometry: “Imagine an economy that produces only one good… using two techniques, A and B, one capital-intensive, one labor-intensive…. Technical progress in A, perhaps also making A even more capital-intensive… will lead to a fall in the real wage, because 1/w must rise. GDP and hence productivity does rise, but maybe not by much if the economy was mostly using the labor-intensive technique. And what about allocation of labor between sectors?… Capital-using technical progress in A actually leads to a higher share of the work force being employed in labor-intensive B…

  3. Nadiezda Kizenko (2000): A Prodigal Saint: Father John of Kronstadt and the Russian People https://books.google.com/books?isbn=027101976X: “Three introductory comments…. While I have tried to do justice to a figure as complex as Father John, this is not a hagiography…. Because I intend this book… for readers… interest[ed] in the history of Russia and… of Christianity, I have included background material…. I am well aware that Father John still sparks intense reactions…

  4. Mark Thoma (May 29, 2019): Your Daily digest for Economist’s View

  5. Chris Patten: Unforgettable Tiananmen: “It’s not surprising that the Communist Party of China has worked so hard to eradicate the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre from public memory. History–including the horrors of Mao Zedong’s rule–is too volatile a substance for the Chinese dictatorship…

  6. David Evans: New Findings in Global Education: “Want better test scores? Lower the heat….Parents make school choices based not only on test scores but also on a school’s contribution to reduced crime or teen pregnancies…. Education reform ≠ education gains…. It’s hard to teach what you don’t know…

  7. Erin Blakemore: The Korean War Hasn’t Officially Ended. One Reason: POWs: “And then there were the POWs who were not returned at all. About 80,000 South Koreans were in North Korea when a ceasefire ended the war. Most are thought to have been put to work as laborers, ‘re-educated’, and integrated into North Korean society. In 2010, South Korea estimated that 560 were still alive. Their ordeals in repressive North Korea were unknown until a small group of defectors told their stories…

  8. Chris Duckett: AMD 3rd-Gen Ryzen Series Coming in July LedbyBy 12-Core Ryzen 9 Beast: “Range of chips beginning at 330 and topping out at 500 for the 12-core Ryzen 9… 7 nanometre technology… 12 cores, can handle 24 threads, has 2.8GHz base frequency with 4.6GHz boost, and has 70MB of cache. ‘That’s half the price of our competition with much, much more performance’, AMD CEO Dr Lisa Su said…

  9. HathiTrust Digital Library

  10. Mihir Sharma: Modi’s Election Win Sends a Populist Warning to the World: “From Trump to Brexit, don’t bet against voters making the same choice again…

  11. Hoisted from 2010: How an Economy Can Live Beyond Its Means on Its Wits: P.J. Grigg: “I distrust utterly those economists who have with great but deplorable ingenuity taught that it is not only possible but praiseworthy for a whole country to live beyond its mens on its wits and who in Mr. Shaw’s description tech that it is possible to make a community rich by calling a penny two pence, in short who have sought to make economics a vade mecum for political spivs…” Confront economists’ theories of depressions… and you find yourself immediately confronted with… seven… Monetarism… Wicksellianism… Minskyism… Austrianism… Vulgar Keynsianism… Hickianism… Post-Keynesianism…

  12. Hoisted from 2009: Fama’s Fallacy II: Predecessors: Fama, actually, is much worse than the British Treasury economists of the 1920s. They acknowledged that monetary policy could affect the level of employment–could do more than shift resources from one use to another. Fama’s argument based on his misinterpretation of the NIPA savings-investment identity has the implication that monetary policy cannot affect the unemployment rate either…

  13. Paul Krugman: “Back in the USA and thinking about what it must be like for conservative economists who weren’t always total hacks but have sold their souls-eg backing crazy claims about tax cuts or declaring that Bernanke was debasing the dollar to help Obama. All that self-abatement to curry favor with the right-and then Art fricking Laffer gets a presidential medal while they get nothing. Self abasement. If I could do self abasement I probably would…

  14. Neil McInnes: The Great Doomsayer: Oswald Spengler Reconsidered

  15. George Kennan (1947): The Sources of Soviet Conduct

  16. U.S. National Security Council (1950): NSC-68: United States Objectives and Programs for National Security

  17. Live from the Republicans’ Self-Made Gehenna: Irving Kristol: “This explains my own rather cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit and other monetary or fiscal problems. 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…


  1. Gideon Rachman: Beijing, Berlin and the Two 1989s: “Fear for democracy often has more to do with events in the west itself—in particular the election of Donald Trump—than developments in China. But the change in intellectual mood also represents a tacit acknowledgment that China has achieved what seemed impossible to most western intellectuals back in 1989…. China has… remained a one-party state… continued to surge economically…. The Communist party has always argued that the key to growth and prosperity in China was not democracy but stability…. The Chinese political system has become more, not less, autocratic. Meanwhile, a horrible realisation has grown that the internet and social media may not be the tools of political liberation that were envisaged during the Clinton and Obama years…

  2. As Dan Davies says, finance works with criminal penalties for material misrepresentations, and works better. Would not politics also work better with such?: Sarah Provan: Boris Johnson Faces Trial over Brexit Campaign Claim: “Johnson must attend court for a preliminary hearing, District Judge Margot Coleman has ruled. Mr Johnson behaved in an ‘irresponsible and dishonest’ way when he claimed during the 2016 Brexit vote that the UK sent £350m a week to the EU, a London court was told last week by lawyers representing a campaigner who wants to pursue a private criminal prosecution against the former foreign secretary. ‘The allegations which have been made are unproven accusations and I do not make any findings of fact’, wrote Judge Coleman. ‘Having considered all the relevant factors I am satisfied that this is a proper case to issue the summons as requested for the three offences as drafted.’… Marcus Ball is pursuing a criminal charge of misconduct in a public office against the Conservative MP over the £350m figure emblazoned on a red bus used by the Vote Leave campaign. He has raised almost £200,000 by crowdfunding the legal action and last Thursday his lawyers asked Westminster Magistrates’ Court to issue a summons that Mr Johnson should appear in court to answer the allegation…. Lewis Power QC, acting for Mr Ball, told the court that the proposed prosecution was not a ‘political stunt’ or about Brexit but was about the behaviour of those in public office. Adrian Darbishire QC, acting for Mr Johnson, has previously told the court that his client ‘absolutely denied’ that he had acted in an improper or dishonest manner at any time. He argued that the proposed prosecution would be a misapplication of the law because the criminal offence of misconduct in public office is ‘confined to serious abuse of state power’…

  3. Michael Hiltzik: A Devastating Analysis of the Tax Cut Shows It’s Done Virtually No Economic Good: “You may remember all the glowing predictions made for the December 2017 tax cuts by congressional Republicans and the Trump administration: Wages would soar for the rank-and-file, corporate investments would surge, and the cuts would pay for themselves. The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has just published a deep dive into the economic impact of the cuts in their first year, and emerges from the water with a different picture. The CRS finds that the cuts have had virtually no effect on wages, haven’t contributed to a surge in investment, and haven’t come close to paying for themselves. Nor have they delivered a cut to the average taxpayer…

  4. The McKinsey Global Institute takes “A new look at the declining labor share of income in the United States” in a report by James Manyika, Jan Mischke, Jacques Bughin, Jonathan Woetzel, Mekala Krishnan, and Samuel Cudre (May 2019)…. Why did this happen?…. Five main causes… supercycles… rising depreciation and shift to IPP capital… superstar effects and consolidation… capital substitution and technology… and globalization and labor bargaining power…

  5. Unsalted Sinner: @unsaltedsinner: “Sulzberger has said that the New York Times doesn’t need a public editor anymore, because their readers will use social media to act as a watchdog. And when that watchdog actually shows up…

  6. Joshua Gans: An Old Result on Automation and Wages: “Herbert Simon… The Shape of Automation for Men and Management…. Simon starts wondering what happened to the horses and the jobs they held. He argues that the problem with horses was that their existence depended on market forces. In other words, when the demand for horses fell, soon after supply went down—that is something that doesn’t necessarily happen for labour…. If a production technique is employed in equilibrium, the value of output will equal the sum of labour and capital costs. If the price of the good is 1 then: w * a + (1 + r) * b = 1…. Now suppose there was a new production process with coefficients (a’, b’) such that w * a’ + (1 + r) * b’ < 1…. Producers would expand their production…. The pie will be increased but who will get what?… Suppose a’ < a but b’ = b. Then it must be that w’ > w. In other words, reduce the labour requirement in production and labour captures more and, indeed, all of the value arising from this technological change…. Second, suppose that a’ = a but b’ < b. So capital is more productively efficient. So long as the rate of interest does not change (which it won’t if it is set by consumption level savings preferences), then once again w’ > w!… To quote Simon, ‘so long as the rate of interest remains constant, an advance in technology can only produce a rising level of real wages. The only route through which technological advance could lower real wages would be by increasing the capital coefficient (the added cost being compensated by a larger decline in the labor coefficient), thereby creating a scarcity of capital and pushing interest rates sharply upward’…

  7. Graydon Saunders: Some Assumptions About Cars: “Honda is leaving the UK for manufacturing purposes…. Cost scales with parts count, and the drive train parts count in electric drops a couple orders of magnitude…. Honda (and everybody else making cars) is sharply aware of this…. Given current Chinese policy (fairly close to ‘electric or death’), the distance from Japan to China, and the fundamental impracticality of shipping anything but Veblen-good luxury vehicles globally in an electric car world, of course Honda is pulling out of Europe. Overall, this is a good thing; that’s a good hint we’re getting closer to the electric transition for personal vehicles…

  8. The Quarterly Journal of Economics puts its stamp of approval on Cengiz, Dube, Linder, and Zipperer. This makes me even more surprised that the minimum-wage effects wars are till going on. At least for minimum wages near current U.S. levels, there literally is no downside to raising the minimum wage: Arindrajit Dube: On Twitter: “Pleased to announce that our paper quantifying the overall effect of US minimum wages on low-wage jobs is now forthcoming at the Quarterly Journal of Economics…

  9. David G. Blanchflower: Recessions Elude Economic Forecasters: “I served on the MPC from 2006 to 2009…. From around October 2007 onward, for many months in a row I started to vote for interest rate cuts, mostly on my own…. Eight people on the MPC had the same opinion, and I had a different one, so there were only two opinions. I felt as if I had the weight of the British people on my shoulders. As the famous Liverpool football club battle cry from the Kop End that sang out loudly the other day in the 4-0 defeat of Barcelona, from the old Gerry and the Pacemakers song, ‘Walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone’. Some years later, Gordon Brown… apologized for appointing me ‘to that awful job’. I still believe Gordon Brown and Ben Bernanke saved the world…

  10. There is lots that seems to me to be smart in this piece by Mervyn King, and a lot that seems to me to be not smart at all. The claim that a second referendum would not work because “it is no longer possible to confine the options, as in 2016, to a binary choice” is simply ludicrous: there was no “binary choice” on offer in 2016; there never was a “binary choice”. Britain could seek a relationship like Norway’s, like Switzerland’s, like Ukraine’s, like Turkey’s, or like Korea’s—or it could just confront the EU as a standard WTO member. The right path, IMHO, is to say that the first referendum result was corrupted by Boris Johnson’s criminal or near-criminal misrepresentation and by the absence of a definition of “Brexit”, and to rerun the referendum as a binary choice between remain on the one hand and the May plan on the other. And, indeed, Mervyn King’s hope for a general election in which the “two main parties… [present] clear opposing positions on Brexit” would be that—if Labour would admit that it prefers remain, and if the Conservatives would get behind the May plan. But neither party will. The May plan, with the backstop, deprives Britain of its voice in Brussels’s decisions and in return gives Britain the power to kick Poles out of the country at will. That is what the Conservative membership wants—probably because what they really want is to kick the Pakistanis out, and gaining the theoretical power to kick Poles out has been sold to them by right-wing neo-fascist demagogues as a good substitute. But the right-wing neo-fascist demagogues objected to the May plan because it put Britain in the position of being a dependent supplicant relative to Brussels—like Canada is to the U.S. What they want is both the power to kick Poles out and the power to veto decisions being made in Brussels—and that is not on offer. I suspect that what King really wishes—but cannot say, even to himself—is that he really wishes he and his ilk had all supported Blair and Brown rather than Cameron-Osborne-Clegg in 2010, and so had a governing party with competent technocrats who sought a better Britain rather than one populated entirely by grifters and spivs. But he ought to have checked those three dogs for fleas before he lay down with them: Mervyn King: How Brexit Broke British Politics: “The test of any political system is how it copes with an issue that divides the nation…. There are two requirements for major change in Britain. The first is a public mandate. And the second is a working majority in the House of Commons to implement that mandate. In normal circumstances, a general election is the mechanism by which one party obtains both a public mandate and a majority of seats in the Commons…. In June 2015, the House of Commons voted for a referendum on EU membership…. Voters were told the choice was theirs, and they voted to leave. But there was no parliamentary majority to deliver Brexit, and no vision of what Brexit even meant…. The best way forward would be for the two main parties to develop clear opposing positions on Brexit, and put the disagreement to voters at another general election…. Why not a second referendum?… It is no longer possible to confine the options, as in 2016, to a binary choice on the fundamental issue—in or out…

  11. Franklin M. Fisher (1989): Games Economists Play: A Noncooperative View: “As a teacher of mine (probably Carl Kaysen) once remarked some thirty years ago, it may very well be the case that one cannot understand the history of the American rubber tire industry without knowing that Harvey Firestone was an aggressive guy who believed in cutting prices. Maybe so. But then, as someone else (probably Mordecai Kurz or Kenneth Arrow) remarked to me a few years ago, the job of theory is to discover what characteristics of the rubber tire industry made such aggressive behavior a likely successful strategy. Absolutely right. That question would be answered if we had a generalizing theory of oligopoly. As it stands, we are a long way from an answer…

  12. Richard Feynman: Math and Science: “How am I going to explain to you the things I don’t explain to my students until they are third-year graduate students? Let me explain it by analogy: The Maya Indians were interested in the rising and setting of Venus as a morning “star” and as an evening “star”—they were very interested in when it would appear. After some years of observation, they noted that five cycles of Venus were very nearly equal to eight of their “nominal years” of 365 days (they were aware that the true year of seasons was different and they made calculations of that also). To make calculations, the Maya had invented a system of bars and dots to represent numbers (including zero), and had rules by which to calculate and predict not only the risings and settings of Venus, but other celestial phenomena, such as lunar eclipses. In those days, only a few Maya priests could do such elaborate calculations. Now, suppose we were to ask one of them how to do just one step in the process of predicting when Venus will next rise as a morning star—subtracting two numbers. And let’s assume that, unlike today, we had not gone to school and did not know how to subtract. How would the priest explain to us what subtraction is?…

  13. Brahma Chellaney: China’s Tiananmen Reckoning: “In a night of carnage on June 3-4, 1989, the Chinese authorities crushed the pro-democracy protests with tanks and machine guns. In Eastern Europe, the democratization push led to the fall of the Berlin Wall just five months later, heralding the end of the Cold War. But the West recoiled from sustaining its post-Tiananmen sanctions against China…. After a long post-massacre boom, China–the world’s largest, strongest, wealthiest, and most technologically advanced autocracy–is entering a period of uncertainty…. The Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 were inspired by the watershed May 4, 1919, student demonstrations against Western colonialism at the same site. But whereas Xi recently extolled the May Fourth Movement in a speech marking the centenary of that event, he and the CPC are edgy about the Tiananmen anniversary. This year also marks the 60th anniversary of a failed uprising in Tibet against Chinese occupation. And it is ten years since a Uighur revolt killed hundreds in the Xinjiang region, where more than one million Muslims have now been incarcerated as part of a Xi-initiated effort to ‘cleanse’ their minds of extremist thoughts. Then, on October 1, the People’s Republic of China will celebrate its 70th birthday…

  14. Moreover, who says that workers are paid anything like their marginal products? Luck and market power seem to me to be much more important than anything that could be called net social value of the work. As I often say, a skilled worker is an unskilled worker with a strong union: Paul Campos: Talent Is Not Scarce: “Existing social hierarchies, and especially the compensation structures that undergird them, require the constant denial of the fact that almost everyone is easily replaceable at any time.  After all, if there are 500 people standing at the ready who could do just as good or better a job than Chairman Smith or President Jones or Senior Executive Vice President for West Coast Promotion Johnson or Distinguished Professor of the Newly Endowed Chair for the Worship of Capitalism Cowan, then why do these people get treated and most of all paid as if they were as unique as unicorns, as precious as Vermeer portraits, as irreplaceable as Billy Shakespeare or Willie Mays? Because if we didn’t treat them (us) in that way, that would mean the entire structure of our society is radically unjust, root and branch.  And that can’t be true, obviously…

  15. Harry Brighouse: A Game-Changer in Accountability: Using Online Discussion Boards (Even in Face-to-Face Classes): “My first lecture of the week is on a Tuesday, and most of the reading is assigned for that class. Thirty-six hours before class, the students must respond to a prompt about the reading—one that is impossible to respond to coherently without having done the reading. Settings allow you to prevent them from seeing other students’ responses until after they post. Then, they have until the beginning of class to respond to a classmate. If students post, they get credit; if not, they don’t…. In smaller classes, the effect has been astonishing. Almost all my students do almost all the reading for almost every class…

  16. Judea Pearl and Dana Mackenzie: On the Meaning of the Monty Hall Problem: “Even today, many people seeing the puzzle for the first time find the result hard to believe. Why? What intuitive nerve is jangled?… Causeless correlation violates our common sense. Thus, the Monty Hall paradox is just like an optical illusion or a magic trick: it uses our own cognitive machinery to deceive us…. on the Meaning of the Monty Hall problem…. Our brains are not wired to do probability problems, but they are wired to do causal problems. And this causal wiring produces systematic probabilistic mistakes, like optical illusions. Because there is no causal connection between My Door and Location of Car… we find it utterly incomprehensible that there is a probabilistic association… [because] our brains are not prepared to accept causeless correlations, and we need special training—through examples like the Monty Hall paradox or the ones discussed in Chapter 3—to identify situations where they can arise…

  17. Michael Gelman, Shachar Kariv, Matthew D. Shapiro, Dan Silverman: Rational Illiquidity and Excess Sensitivity: Theory and Evidence from Income Tax Withholding and Refunds: “There is a tight relationship between having low liquidity and a high marginal propensity to consume both in theoretical models and in econometric evidence about behavior. This paper analyzes the theory and behavior surrounding income tax withholding and refunds. It develops a model where rational cash management with asymmetric cost of increasing or decreasing liquidity endogenizes the relationship between illiquidity and excess sensitivity. The analysis accounts for the finding that households tend to spend tax refunds as if they were liquidity constrained despite the fact that they could increase liquidity by reducing withholding. The model’s predictions are supported by evidence from a large panel of individuals…

  18. So far the paid leave proposals I have seen out of the Republican side are not really “paid leave”: they are “drain your 401(k) without a tax penalty” leave. But at least there is bipartisan acknowledgement that there is a problem, and there should be some congressional fix: Equitable Growth: On Twitter: “The @SenateFinance Committee has formed a bipartisan working group on #paidleave—a great chance to consider the evidence and establish a paid leave program that protects everyone. See our resources…

  19. Oya Aktas (2015): Intellectual History of the Minimum Wage and Overtime: ” This debate dates back to the early 20th century, before the minimum wage even existed in the United States and when overtime pay was unheard of…. Rapid industrialization created the Gilded Age of American wealth, and people credited the free market with their increased prosperity. But along with increasing growth, industrialization also sharpened economic inequalities…. Debates over hour and wage limits focused on which groups required labor protections and the best mechanisms for protecting these groups. Labor regulations began in the 1890s as state-level maximum hour and minimum wage protections, which the U.S. Supreme Court repeatedly struck down. Federal standards were not created until four decades later, when president Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins, guided the Federal Labor Standards Act into law…. This issue brief details the arguments that shaped hour and wage limits in the early 20th century…

  20. Martin Wolf: The Looming 100-year US-China Conflict: “China’s ideology is not a threat to liberal democracy in the way the Soviet Union’s was. Rightwing demagogues are far more dangerous. An effort to halt China’s economic and technological rise is almost certain to fail. Worse, it will foment deep hostility in the Chinese people. In the long run, the demands of an increasingly prosperous and well-educated people for control over their lives might still win out. But that is far less likely if China’s natural rise is threatened…. Managing China’s rise must include co-operating closely with like-minded allies and treating China with respect…. The administration is simultaneously launching a conflict between the two powers, attacking its allies and destroying the institutions of the postwar US-led order… the wrong war, fought in the wrong way, on the wrong terrain…

  21. This has become a classic for all wishing to think clearly about progressive income taxation. Note that their conclusions in favor of a high top marginal rate do rest on strong and proper state actions to close loopholes and shut down tax havens: Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez, and Stefanie Stantcheva (2011): Optimal Taxation of Top Labor Incomes: A Tale of Three Elasticities: “A model where top incomes respond to marginal tax rates through… (1) the standard supply-side channel… the tax avoidance channel, [and] (3) the compensation-bargaining channel through efforts in influencing own-pay setting…. The first elasticity (supply side) is the sole real factor limiting optimal top tax rates. The optimal tax system should be designed to minimize the second elasticity (avoidance) through tax enforcement and tax neutrality… in which case the second elasticity becomes irrelevant. The optimal top tax rate increases with the third elasticity (bargaining) as bargaining efforts are zero-sum in aggregate….. There is a strong correlation between cuts in top tax rates and increases in top 1% income shares since 1975, implying that the overall elasticity is large. But top income share increases have not translated into higher economic growth, consistent with the zero-sum bargaining model. This suggests that the first elasticity is modest in size and that the overall effect comes mostly from the third elasticity. Consequently, socially optimal top tax rates might possibly be much higher than what is commonly assumed…


  1. Wikipedia: Iron Triangle (Korea): “The area was located 20 to 30 miles (30 to 50 kilometres) above the 38th parallel in the diagonal corridor dividing the Taebaek Mountains into northern and southern ranges and contained the major road and rail links between the port of Wonsan in the northeast and Seoul in the southwest…

  2. Murray Gell-Mann (1964): A Schematic Model of Baryons and Mesons

  3. Wikipedia: Eightfold Way (Physics)

  4. Nadieszda Kizenko: Russia’s Orthodox Awakening: “The Fraying of Russia’s Church-State Alliance…

  5. Wikipedia: Classic Maya Collapse: “Anthropologist Joseph Tainter wrote extensively about the collapse of the Southern Lowland Maya in his 1988 study The Collapse of Complex Societies. His theory about Maya collapse encompasses some of the above explanations, but focuses specifically on the development of and the declining marginal returns from the increasing social complexity of the competing Maya city-states…

  6. Wikipedia: Spiv: “In the United Kingdom, the word spiv is slang for a type of petty criminal who deals in illicit, typically black market, goods…

  7. 20 European Flags

  8. Michel Barnier: Slide Presented to the Heads of State and Government at the European Council (Article 50) on 15 December 2017

  9. James Davis Nicoll: Outside of That: “This is the Heinlein novel in which he dismisses fluoridation as a dead end: ‘They were perfectly right and biologically quite wrong, for an advantage is no good to a race unless it can be inherited.’ Forget those light-bulbs, chums! Learn to grow luminescent antennae (like angler fish)…. I had completely forgotten the whole Yellow Peril backstory…

  10. Wikipedia: William Adams (Sailor, born 1564)

  11. Wikipedia: World War II casualties of the Soviet Union

  12. Wikipedia: We will bury you

  13. Stuart Birkby: “We Will Bury You”: How Mistranslation Heightened Cold War Tensions

  14. John Winthrop (1630): Arabella Sermon: “Follow the counsel of Micah, to do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. For this end, we must be knit together, in this work, as one… keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. The Lord will be our God, and delight to dwell among us, as His own people, and will command a blessing upon us in all our ways, so that we shall see much more of His wisdom, power, goodness and truth, than formerly we have been acquainted with. We shall find that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us shall be able to resist a thousand of our enemies; when He shall make us a praise and glory that men shall say of succeeding plantations, ‘may the Lord make it like that of New England’…

  15. Wikipedia: List of ethnic cleansing campaigns

  16. Wikipedia: Iran Air Flight 655

  17. Wikipedia: Korean Air Lines Flight 007

  18. Wikipedia: List of nuclear close calls

  19. Wikipedia: Bandung Conference

  20. Wikipedia: Non-Aligned Movement

  21. UCB DS Educ Workshop

  22. Journal Refereeing Practices and Polynomial Regression: Threat or Menace?

  23. Alwyn Young: Consistency without Inference: Instrumental Variables in Practical Application

  24. Kieran Healy: Data Visualization: A Practical Introduction

  25. Kieran Healy: America’s Ur-Choropleths

  26. Raj Chetty et al.: The Best and Worst Places to Grow Up: How Your Area Compares

  27. Mike Monteiro: 13 Ways Designers Screw Up Client Presentations: “1. Seeing the client as someone they have to please…. 2. Not getting off your ass…. 3. Starting with an apology…. 4. Not setting the stage properly…. 5. Giving the real estate tour…. 6. Taking notes…. 7. Reading a script…. 8. Getting defensive…. 9. Mentioning typefaces…. 10. Talking about how hard you worked…. 11. Reacting to questions as change requests…. 12. Not guiding the feedback loop…. 13. Asking ‘Do you like it?’…. And one weird trick that you won’t believe works every time: Learn the client’s goddamn name…

  28. Rachael Meager: Public Speaking for Academic Economists

  29. Duncan Black: Eschaton: America’s Worst Editorial Page Editor: “Fred Hiatt Has apparently been very sad…. ‘We knew he would grab’em by the pussy when we voted for him, so the multiple on camera rapes are just not grounds for impeachment’-Fred Hiatt, basically…

  30. William Stanley Jevons (1865): The Coal Question: An Inquiry Concerning the Progress of the Nation, and the Probable Exhaustion of our Coal-Mines


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