Thursday, March 29, 2012

Thursday Roundup (3/29/2012)

OK, here's y'all's links! This week, Brad DeLong and Larry Summers release a paper about how people shouldn't be left without jobs for long, Paul Ryan re-enters the national discourse, Steve Williamson's blog explodes in an all-out comment war, and a couple of obscure bloggers write some absolutely magisterial stuff:

1. Mark Thoma and Steve Williamson make up and have a beer! Yay. All is at peace in the blogosphere. Now I want a beer.

2. However, the peace is short-lived! Steve Williamson attacks the notion that "Lucasian macro" is losing support among the younger generation of economists (warning: post is heavy on pointless Krugman-bashing, DeLong-bashing, and Summers-bashing), and an ABSOLUTELY EPIC comment thread ensues, of the kind that my humble little blog can only dream of. People gettin' gunned down in the streets by the Macro Wars!

3. Brad DeLong draws some pictures to explain some of the thinking in his new magnum opus on fiscal policy. Go, read, now, go!

4. Simon Johnson eviscerates the Paul Ryan plan. The Paul Ryan plan's entrails are now leaking out onto the floor, and Simon Johnson is wiping his katana with his eyes closed in peaceful contemplation.

5. Stock & Watson think that the economy will never return to its previous trend line. If it was HOLMES and Watson, I might be more inclined to believe them.

6. Tim Harford on forensic finance. Very cool stuff. An example of economics actually making real predictions and being applied usefully to the real world!

7. Simon Wren-Lewis explains the limitations of microfounded models for setting central bank policy. Central bankers, of course, realize this, and keep DSGE models around merely as a check on their other models and forecasts. Along with Paul the Zombie Octopus.

8.  Steve Randy Waldman has an absolutely magisterial discourse on zoning, property rights, and Matt Yglesias' new book. ABSOLUTELY MAGISTERIAL. I hereby change Steve's name to Steve Magisterialrandy Waldman.

9. Tyler Cowen has a roundup of links to research on labor hysteresis, a phenomenon which features prominently in the new DeLong/Summers fiscal policy opus. I can't think of any comment about this, so here is a picture of a butter sculpture of Darth Vader.

10. Asians are the fastest-growing immigrant group in the U.S.! Let's keep Asian immigration going strong! I continue to firmly believe that the United States' geopolitical future is to be the Alternative Asia, the way we were the Alternative Europe up through 1945.

11. Old news, but can't be repeated enough: Active investing is a loser's game! Remember, friends don't let friends day-trade.

12. Tyler Cowen asks: If stimulus and quantitative easing are politically unpopular, how about we combat labor hysteresis by forcing people to take low-paying jobs, by cutting unemployment benefits? I'm just going to let that question answer itself...

13. Mark Thoma links to Evan Koenig on NGDP targeting vs. Taylor rules. Basic argument: NGDP targeting is harder to commit to. Cue 13,403 posts from Scott Sumner and one comment from David Beckworth...

14. Read all about EMMY NOETHER, one of my favorite mathematicians ever. Hint: Go learn Noether's Theorem. It's awesome.

15. A very useful guide for prospective econ PhD students. Via my grandadvisor Greg Mankiw.

16. Already flagged by Mark Thoma, an ABSOLUTELY MAGISTERIAL post on top marginal tax rates, by David Glasner. It rivals Steve Randy Waldman's zoning post in its absolute magisterial-ness. "Magisterial" is the Word of the Week, in case you hadn't already figured that out.

17. Blogger "M.S." (I always forget his name, but whose fault is that) has a great post about how the Ryan plan is emblematic of America's incipient state failure. He fails to mention, however, the hypothesis that the old Confederacy lives on as a cancerous tumor within our body politic that has metastasized during a moment when America's immune system was weak, and that this is what is strangling our institutions...


  1. Noah,

    If you like Steve Waldman institution type analysis then I highly recommend Samuel Bowle’s book ‘Microeconomics: Behavior, Institutions, and Evolution’. Don’t be put of by the title, it’s a misnomer. It teaches you to analyse things exactly the way Steve just did.

  2. Anonymous10:12 AM

    MS is Matthew Steinglass.

    1. Thanks! I'll try to remember this time... ;)

  3. Anonymous12:39 PM

    Re 14), the appreciation of Noether, see this correction/clarification:

  4. I loved this comment from the Williamson comment thread:
    “You are absolutely right about the state of macroeconomics--its health is perfect.

    "Why, we just went 3 for 3: (1) we did not have any hint or idea the Lesser Depression was coming; (2) we have no idea what caused the Lesser Depression; and (3) we have no idea what to do about the Lesser Depression (we won't use either or both fiscal or monetary policy, nor will we learn from Japan).

    And, I almost forgot: But we can see inflation even though: (1) we didn't see inflation the last time (the bubble in real estate); (2) Europe is in recession and it is going to get worse; and (3) in 2013 we are going to have massive fiscal deflation (tax increases and spending cuts)”

    Also: Steve Randy Waldman is frequently absolutely magisterial. I often read blog posts that I like – but only his are sometimes so over the top good that I spam my colleagues inboxes with them (not that it is really fair to compare his weekly essays with other bloggers more frequent posts).

  5. JohnR1:38 PM

    I just thought to mention that (a) I enjoy your links very much, and should probably visit more frequently than I do, (b) as happens all too frequently, I left a comment on the Williamson thread you cite, and then on going back to the originating site (yours) found to my dismay below that you had thought first and thought best on the subject (reminds me of grad. school), and (c) you should get back to work on that great pile of paper you're trying to whip into a meaningful dissertation. If it helps, my advisor used to say that I should carve away anything that didn't look like a thesis, and what was left would be publishable. He had a real mean streak, that fellow.

  6. I scanned over the comments in the Williamson thread. He's a nut job and his own comments expose him as such. You should not aspire to having such threads on your blog.

  7. " the old Confederacy lives on as a cancerous tumor within our body politic that has metastasized during a moment when America's immune system was weak, and that this is what is strangling our institutions"

    The South Has Risen Again! By taking over the party of Lincoln.

  8. vimothy7:11 PM

    In what sense is SRW an obscure blogger?

    1. Well, maybe not that obscure.

  9. "Mark Thoma and Steve Williamson make up and have a beer! Yay. All is at peace in the blogosphere. Now I want a beer."

    J*s*s F*cking H. Chr*st. Why the hell do liberals want to make nice with lying hack wh*resons who have long since demonstrated that they are indeed lying hack wh*resons?

    The goal should be to string up Williamson, not to make nice with him.

    1. Settle down, settle down...

      (Also: Just so you know, I delete all comments that advocate violence...)

    2. Also, I want to make nice because I would rather have an intellectual discussion than just lambaste someone. Personal preference. And I happen to consider Steve Williamson neither a liar, a hack, nor a "wh*reson".

      Sometimes people do genuinely offend me. Steve Landsburg, saying that public sexual harassment is OK. Niall Ferguson, saying Asian Americans aren't real Americans. But the worst Steve Williamson ever does is insult other bloggers...and this is the blogosphere, so that happens. I'm not worked up about it.

  10. Anonymous7:41 PM

    David AndolfattoMar 26, 2012 08:39 AM
    I do not think you should be lumping Noah in with those two bozos, however. Noah seems genuinely curious and open-minded.

    Stephen Williamson Mar 26, 2012 08:59 AM
    Yes, I agree with that. Obviously Krugman sees him as a "fellow-traveler" though.

    There is one more reason for this strain of macro to outlast all others: it is a cult... where they congregate and decide the future of people like you. And the St. Louis Fed is really the Fox News of macroeconomics.

    1. Oh ho ho. No one decides Noah Smith's future but Noah Smith and the Flying Spaghetti Monster.