Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Can Nobody Play this Game Correctly?

CBO:

At 9.2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), that deficit would be slightly smaller than the shortfall of 9.9 percent of GDP ($1.4 trillion) posted in 2009. [emphasis mine]

A 7.1% decline in real GDP terms isn’t just “slightly smaller”; it’s a real improvement that is greater than any (mythical or not) “spending freeze” would produce.

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$300 billion F-35 fighter jet

by ilsm

The US deficit, and its related total debt, are awesome worries.

Military outlays need to be reviewed, by qualified analysts who have not bought into the climate of continuing to clothe the emperor in nothing. Those outlays that are not “worth the expenditure of scarce taxpayer resources” in the military program need to be “cut”.

Naval Open Source Intelligence reports:

“Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn on Thursday [21 Jan 10] underscored the Pentagon’s commitment to Lockheed Martin Corp’s $300 billion F-35 fighter jet, saying the U.S. government and its allies still planned to buy 3,000 of the new fighters over time.

“We are heavily investing in the F-35. A successful Joint Strike Fighter is at the heart of our continued air superiority,” Lynn told industry and military officials at a conference hosted by Tufts University and the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis.”

The pentagon’s commitment, like a drunken sailor, is toward the $300B for lockheed and the $600B in sustainment costs that the fighter jet represents. The relationship between air superiority and the common defense is not the issue. What does an airplane which cannot be built on time, pass its test and evaluation, and cannot be kept flying have to contribute to “air superioriity”?

Heavily invested” means we need to throw good money after bad.

What is important about “air superiority“?

The last airplane “at the heart of air superiority” with these issues was the F-22 (Lockheed, too). For the original price of 800 F-22 the Air Force received 183. For huge maintenace costs the “mission availability” is running 62%. Mission availability is tracked at the flying units. The total availability of F-22 airframes is half are broke at any time, because many airplanes are off the units property books. These are really hard broke and the ones being refitted to fix scrap and rework problems that were found in test but since there is no relation between air superiority and these fighters they can buy the airplane and try to fix them after they are paid for.

If the F-35 were being purchased in a free market in a commercial contract the thing would have been terminated for breach and the judge would have awarded the buyer all their money back.

We must establish rules, which used to exist, that all contracts by the DoD be reveiwed for the value to the taxpayer, not for the money going off to Lockheed or Boeing or Northrop Grumman.

What sense to keep companies in business who cannot develop the F-35?

Air superiority is endangered by bad companies, and better served by killing the F-35.

Big military contracts are all suffering from poor performance from the big vendors.

The F-35 is the most recent and the one where the adminsitration needs to stand tall.
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by ilsm

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The One Sentence Everyone Needs to Read and Understand

Bruce Bartlett:

The Fed has talked openly about new procedures to soak up the bank reserves it has created even as those reserves remain largely idle and unlent.

You don’t get inflation if there is no money multiplier in play. So long as the banks are just holding the cash, worries about monetary policy leading to inflation are at best a shibboleth.

(via Brad DeLong)

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How To Bail Out the Economy – A Less Wrong Way…a repost

by cactus
How To Bail Out the Economy – A Less Wrong Way Posted 11/27/2008.

Regular readers know I’ve had post after post explaining why a bail-out would be a bad idea and would not work, dating to long before the bail-out began. I predicted that the end result would be the further enrichment of some of the very folks who brought us this mess and junior versions of the same folks who were too young to get in on the original crime spree, but otherwise, we’d have nothing to show for the trillions that would get spent.

The supposed “rationale” for this bail-out is to make sure that companies that are willing and able to produce goods and services that consumers wish to purchase are able to do so, and that in turn consumers are willing and able to purchase goods and services that companies want to bring to market. The story line is that this can be accomplished by giving money to the financial sector, that sector of the economy that for the past few years has specialized in selling squirrel meat as fillet mignon. Give those talented folks some money to make up the massive losses pulled off in the past years and they will happily loan money to producers and consumers, we are told.

Its becoming obvious even to the likes of Henry Paulson that no matter how much money gets paid to Goldman, Welfare, Queen & Sachs and Citi and Countrywide and the rest of ’em, the “financial system” of old is gone forever. Compensating buyers of squirrel meat is more than enough burden on the taxpayer, but it seems we’re expected to make Goldman, Welfare, Queen & Sachs whole for paying the exorbitant salaries of folks like Henry Paulson in the past, and the current and future generations of Henry Paulson to boot. Clearly this is not only a very, very, indirect way to keep companies producing and consumers buying, its also adding a bunch of layers of unnecessary expenses.

So… if the goal is to stimulate production and/or consumption, why not cut out the unnecessary layers of exorbitant expense? I’m not sure I see the reason for bailing out car companies, but say that was the goal for some reason. In that case, the government could simply buy a $20K car for every single American, every single one, and spend less than the $7 trillion that’s been committed so far. That’s well over 30 times as many cars as GM made last year. Worldwide. You could bet the car companies would tool up for this, and it would employ a lot of people, and it would stimulate the economy. Additionally, we’d all have another car thrown in. Sure, it might be a GM vehicle, but its still something, which is more than the nothing we’re gonna get from pumping it into the Goldman, Welfare, Queen & Sachs black hole. Heck, it doesn’t have to be cars – the gubmint could simply commit to spending $20,000 on something, anything each of us picks. You could take your 20 G and spend it on a menu of American made options.

Preposterous, you say? Inflationary, you say? Jingoistic, you say? Sure, I say. Its a stupid idea and I don’t like it all. But I think its a much better idea than the current bail-out approach, which I think is worse than taking (for now) $7 trillion and setting it on fire. Giving the money to the likes of Henry Paulson’s former employer is simply rewarding bad behavior and sending the wrong message, not to mention preposterous, inflationary, and jingoistic.
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Cactus of Jan. 2010 writes: “That was the old cactus of yesteryear. Today’s new, improved, modern cactus realizes that his obsolete self made a mistake – all those trillions being printed weren’t the creation of new money. They were merely replacing imaginary money created by the banks through derivative trading that nobody believed in any more.”

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Bernanke Part 2 of 2: Leaders Lead, or Just Say No

The world would be a much better place if people had listened to Tom last August:

Now some elite opinion favors Ben Bernanke’s reappointment, but politicians are irritated over Fed stonewalling of bailout oversight and others (e.g. Dean Baker) point out that Ben Bernanke who put the Fed throttles to the firewall to save the world is also the Ben Bernanke who carried over Greenspan policy until it was too late. [links in original]

Not a strong enough source for you? How about the Internet’s Chief Bernanke Apologist? Brad DeLong last August:

I am surprised that he is being reappointed. I would have thought that the combination of people angry because he has given too much public money to the banks and people angry because he didn’t stop the recession would together make him damaged and that Obama would want to bring in a fresh face–never mind that Bernanke had no way to try to lessen the recession save by policy steps that inevitably involve giving money to the banks.

Tom also dealt with that:

To which the obvious response is, duh, who says it has to be one or the other? A reality-based critique of the bailouts allows them to be both effective at saving the world and unconscionable screw-jobs that kept an array of bad actors from paying for their greed and incompetence. (The latter clearly feeds a lot of the underlying sentiment of the tea partiers, even if it’s ultimately the greedy and incompetent who are marshalling it.) However, considering Team Obama’s political tone-deafness, it’ll be a pleasant but major surprise if they let Bernanke go back to Princeton for some R&R.

And DeLong himself (today) moves the goalpostsnotes where the problem is centered:

[Bernanke] is no longer the academic intellectual who advocates inflation targetting. He is, instead, the voice for the consensus of the Federal Open Market Committee–and a member of that committee who can, by his own internal arguments, move that consensus at the margin. So he is going to reflect that consensus….[A] Fed chair who doesn’t reflect the consensus in public has less power to move the consensus in private. From my perspective, I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with Ben Bernanke’s (private, intellectual, academic) analysis of the current situation. What is wrong is that the FOMC consensus is wrong—and Bernanke’s public statements reflect that wrong consensus. So here I tend to blame Obama more than I blame Bernanke for the recent character of Bernanke’s public statements–for the fact that Fed policy and rhetoric right now is not more Gagnonesque, because Obama could have done things over the past year to move the FOMC consensus that he has not done. [emphases mine]

This is a true statement—but it is no less true now than it was in August, and Ben Bernanke has been the ostensible leader of the FRB since then—and, indeed, since 2.5 years before then, as the crisis was unfolding.

In the past four years, Bernanke has “led” the Federal Reserve. And even those who are not sympathetic to Steve Keen’s interpretation of Bernanke’s flaws (h/t Yves and Naked Capitalism, who printed it themselves as well) would have to agree that the sounds coming from the Fishers* and Hoenigs, not to mention Bernanke himself, are more reminiscent of Morgenthau than Volcker.

Which should have been the death knell for his renomination. To turn Brad DeLong’s statement on its side: Ben Bernanke has been unable to lead and change the consensus of the Federal Reserve Board, even marginally, to be more in line with what Ben Bernanke, the skilled economist, knows would be a better policy.

Leaders lead. Ben Bernanke hasn’t and doesn’t.* For that alone, he should be replaced, and Janet Yellen nominated to replace him.

*This one was reprinted, without several of the cronyism acknowledgements, in the WSJ comics section today. I prefer the original.

**The similarity to the Canadian Liberal Party’s selection of Celine Stephane Dion as their leader should not be overlooked. That they had the good sense to replace him after one term is a sign of sanity the Obama Administration would have been wise to consider. (That they compounded the mistake by replacing him with a pro-torture American conservative is a mistake from which one would expect the Obama Administration could and presumably will learn.)

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Why the Apple Tablet (and clones) will Change the World

by Bruce Webb

I’m serious. But out of mercy towards those who want to reach for sharp objects every time they see a Mac/PC ad, whether that be to hurt themselves or others, I’ll take this below the fold. Because you don’t HAVE to slow down to see that car crash.

For those living in a cave Apple is expected to release its Tablet tomorrow. The Tablet is expected to be essentially a much larger iPhone with a form factor of maybe 10″ by 8″ by 1/4″ meaning slightly bigger but thinner than a trade paperback. Like an iPhone its surface will be almost entirely a screen, and that screen a multi-touch surface meaning that you move within screens and between screens with finger movements. Text input will be by default a virtual keyboard right on the screen although there is no reason in principal it should not accept external wireless or usb input devices.

The expectation is that the Tablet will provide internet and file access everywhere you go, pull it out, push a button, the screen lights up and there you are and all without separating you from the world in the way a laptop does. Eight people sitting around a table with open lap tops is eight people sitting behind mini-walls. Compare that to eight people sitting around a table with legal pads. That is a meeting. A couple having breakfast at a cafe each with a laptop, it might as well be an advertisement for marriage counseling. That same couple at that cafe each browsing through the Sunday paper on their own 8 x 10 screens flat on the table or held in their hands are free to look at each other and talk and share, it is just a totally different look and feel both between them and from the outside in.

And appearance matters, because frankly if you are sitting at a park bench, or at the beach, or in a museum, or watching football while sitting at the bar in your local tavern you look pretty god damn dorkish with an open laptop, and it is not much better if you are peering at some tiny screen on your cell phone. And while I love my iPhone and spend hours and hours a day surfing the web when I am sitting at a table it is abundantly clear thats what I am doing. On the other hand a Tablet will allow you that same access while maintaining a social presense, the screen is there, you can read or manipulate it without disconnecting from the world.

Unless you have had the experience of using an advanced smartphone it is hard to explain how transforming it is to have the Internet in your pocket, if I have a question about anything it is mostly as close as my left pocket. But like the iPhone the Tablet is a lot more than a combined phone/usable web browser, it is a host for Apps, millions of them. And it is the Apps that are the game changer. Because the possibilities are quite literally endless.

You are travelling and maybe a little lost. Pull out your 8 x 10 Tablet push a button and your location is pinpointed on a street map. You are waiting for a train or bus or trying to make a connection. Push a button you got a schedule and a map. You got ten minutes and want to work on a crossword puzzle, or read your bible, or figure out your next move in your chess game, or check the weather, or catch a litle of the game. Pull out your tablet push a button and select an icon. Or catch up on your e-mail or identify that bird or pay some bills, with a tablet you can have one touch access to easily 100 such applications right from your front screen, with many times more on board or in the cloud.

My brother has a Kindle and likes it a lot. But he gets frustrated when reading military history because the battle maps are just so small and he can’t distinguish the individual unit detail. Well that shouldn’t be a problem with a Tablet you just move your fingers and expand the image.

Obviously there are other tablet and tablet hybrid products out there but none that will have access to tens of thousands of free or inexpensive programs. For example how many kids would kill to be able to just pull an 8 x 10 Tablet from their purse or backpack push a button, hit an icon and have their Facebook Wall right there. Or all your music. Or maybe your textbooks. Or if you are a grand mother maybe an entire gallery of photos.

I think it is a category killer. Because I can’t think of anyone who could not use a portable display that can either lay flat on a surface or up on a frame that will display whatever your standard tool: cookbook, parts catalog, U.S. Code, warehouse inventory but that with the touch of a button can turn into a communication device, all while serving as a clock whatever, and then when taken to the break room seamlessly turns into a Soduku puzzle or a paperback, or a newscast, and then after work into a sports trivia book. People who think this will just be another fancy laptop just have not considered the difference the form factor and the fact that it is a sealed unit makes. You have to be kind of an obsessed nut to take your laptop to the beach, or bikeriding, or camping or really to any tourist attraction. But what if you could just dump all your photos into the tablet and display them immediately, or have all your route or USGS Topo maps preloaded. Particularly since like the iPhone it is likely to come with built-in GPS. Instead of being a geek who brings his office on vacation, you have a way of enhancing that vacation experience (while still being in touch with the office as necessary.)

Last but not least this thing will a blogger’s dream, particularly for the casual blogger. Because it will allow monitoring and updating your blog to be done everywhere without the hassle of trying to deploy a laptop. Now you wouldn’t want to sit down and pound out serious copy on a virtual keyboard the size that a 10″ tablet with accommodate but it is plenty big to pound out a 400 word post or a five thousand character comment. And live-blogging anything becomes a snap.

Best feature of all? Nearly beer-proof. Spill a ball park beer on your laptop and you really will be crying, and not over the beer. Spill it on a tablet and absent some really bad luck you are a wet towel away from being back to a blogging machine.

(No word if it will have a video camera like the iPod Nano but if it does, we got Dick Tracy’s Wrist TV. Only 70 years later!)

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Bernanke Interlude

Via David Wessel’s Twitter feed, the WSJ publishes a letter:

Ben Bernanke is a good person, a fine academic and a well-respected professor. But those traits have no bearing on whether he should be reconfirmed as Federal Reserve chairman….

Applying accountability principles, there’s no way Chairman Bernanke should be reconfirmed by the Senate, let alone reappointed by the Obama administration….He’s been at the helm from the very beginning of this Great Recession. That alone warrants a “no” vote on reconfirmation.

At this point, I feel obligated to note that if you’re going to declare this The Great Recession—i.e., if you are assuming the chance of having the third Depression is over*—then Bernanke deserves credit, not blame. (Even those of us who do not assume we’re out of the woods admit we aren’t quite sunk yet, though 17.3% unemployment is problematic at best.)

In addition, the Fed’s behavior over the past 15 months has put America on a very dangerous path. The Fed has increased the monetary base (high-powered or wholesale money) by the largest amount ever, from colonial times to the present, times 10. Without an exit strategy, inflation is a virtual certainty over the coming decade, while an effective exit strategy virtually assures a further weakening of the U.S. economy. [emphasis mine]

This is Gospel for the WSJ editorial page, and a logical confusion of the first order. Any “exit strategy” assumes that the conflict is primarily over, so any exit strategy would, by definition, not weaken—let alone “further weaken,” which suggests that the writer’s faith that “the Great Recession” is accurate is wavering—the economy. (We can, and will, discuss where All That Money Has Gone; suffice to say, it’s not exactly producing a Multiplier Effect.)

But the writer saves the best for last.

And lastly, on a more personal note, [Bernanke] doesn’t have the gravitas of a Paul Volcker, Alan Greenspan or William McChesney Martin. In this day and age of crisis management, gravitas is essential. Almost anyone would be better than Mr. Bernanke.

Well, at least Arthur Burns is conspicuously excluded. It’s nice to know that Arthur Laffer believes in gravitas, while his best-known disciple believes “deficits don’t matter.”

*Yes, I could 1873-77 as a Depression in the United States. Looking at the evidence, it would be difficult not to.

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Is China a Bubble?

by cactus

Is China a Bubble?

A friend of mine who does just about all of his business providing a very specific service to selling to companies who do business with China. (And yes, that is as specific as I am willing to be, except to say that right at this moment, the service he provides is extremely tailored toward China.) My friend tells me he believes “China is a bubble” which very much resembles the dot com bubble and the housing bubble. According to him, this is the resemblance – there is no due diligence to speak of on any deal involving China, not from the Chinese and not from the Westerners dealing with them, and all the deals are being done with “other people’s money” and heavily leveraged.

In most instances, on the Chinese side, everyone is in some way connected – that is to say, they are connected to one of a few key organizations, or more likely, key people in the government. The more such people involved in the deal, the more people there are who are used to big payoffs and have the juice to make sure they will get paid. The Chinese government ends up providing its “blessing” to all sorts of crazy operations based on the simple principle that once enough people who have to get paid are involved,a project cannot be stopped. And its not merely that connected people have leverage; in China there is a feeling that this is China’s time, so its not like something can go wrong. Throw in the unlimited pot of money trying to do business in China, and you end up with big projects – half a billion dollars and up – happening simply because they have to happen for the sake of the parties that put them together.

The Westerners also have the sense that it is China’s time. So if you ask them about a particular deal they’re doing and why they’re doing it, if you scratch hard enough, it comes to because “its China.” That includes the very biggest private equity funds in the world.

The end result is that a lot of things are happening that make no financial sense and wouldn’t pass the laugh test if the magic word “China” wasn’t there. Deep down everyone knows it, but nobody cares.

So is my friend planning to get out? Heck no. He simply makes sure on every contract that he gets paid early. Everyone he’s dealing with is very happy to comply since the expectation is that China is going to grow forever. Being shortsighted as far as everyone else is concerned has had some big benefits, and so far he’s done very, very well. Of course, if he’s wrong, he’ll lose out on the gravy that comes in the back end. If he’s right, he’ll move on to servicing the operators of the next bubble when this one bursts, no worse for the wear.

I don’t know enough about doing business with China to say much other than I trust my friend’s judgement, and if he tells me he’s seeing no due diligence on multi-billion dollar projects, it means there are multi-billion dollar projects with no due diligence happening. I do that the demographics are going to get very interesting in China over the coming decade. With my limited knowledge, I’m leaning toward agreeing with my friend. So waddaya think? Is China a bubble?
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by cactus

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Dustbin of History Looking Increasingly Attractive to the Obama Administration

by Tom Bozzo

Update: See Brad DeLong. The exercise may even have been carefully conceived to do little harm, or perhaps little good if you’re an anti-deficit crazy. But even if this is not as bad on the substance as it could be, the engagement of the administration in the production of Potemkin policy initiatives is not reassuring.

See also: Steve Kyle at Americablog.

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Jackie Calmes’ story on the Obama administration’s apparently forthcoming appearance-of-fiscal-rectitude initiative leaves me solidly in agreement with Ian Welsh. Calmes:

President Obama will call for a three-year freeze in spending on many domestic programs, and for increases no greater than inflation after that, an initiative intended to signal his seriousness about cutting the budget deficit, administration officials said Monday…

[I]t would exempt the Pentagon, foreign aid, the Veterans Administration and homeland security budgets, as well as the entitlement programs that make up the biggest and fastest-growing part of the federal budget, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

Entitlement spending may be the biggest part of the budget, but it hasn’t been fastest-growing. From 2001 to 2008, defense spending’s share of GDP increased from 3 percent to 4.3 percent, according to the CBO [note: PDF]. All discretionary spending increased by 1.5 percentage points of GDP over the same period, from 6.5 to 8 percent, so nondefense discretionary spending increased by only 0.2 percent of GDP. Entitlements collectively increased by 1.2 percentage points — from 10 to 11.2 percent of GDP — Medicare spending growth accounts for one percentage point of that. Military and other security-related expenditures dominate Bush-era spending growth, and the rate of increase for those expenditures has far outstripped that of entitlements or nondefense discretionary spending.

The payoff in budget savings would be small relative to the deficit: The estimated $250 billion in savings over 10 years is less than 5 percent of the $9 trillion to $10 trillion in additional debt the government is expected to accumulate over that time.

Cutting 1.3 percent of GDP in military spending, in contrast, would save roughly $185 billion (2008 dollars) a year; with interest, that could be around 20 percent of the projected fiscal gap.

The initiative holds political risks as well as potential benefits. Because Mr. Obama exempts military spending while leaving many popular domestic programs vulnerable, his move is certain to further anger liberals in his party, including senior Democrats in Congress, who are already upset by the possible collapse of health care legislation and the troop buildup in Afghanistan, among other things.

Gee, ya think? Even here to the left of slightly-left-of-center, not all Federal spending is equally beloved. But there’s plenty of needed economic transformation that can’t or won’t be accomplished solely by way of private spending, and can’t be funded adequately at FY 2010 levels. I am thinking particularly about bringing various of the U.S.’s mostly inadequate infrastructure networks up to (or back up to) first-world standards.

Here’s the kicker:

But one administration official said that limiting the much smaller discretionary domestic budget would have larger symbolic value: It includes spending covering lawmakers’ earmarks for parochial projects, and only when the public believes such perceived waste is being wrung out will they be willing to consider reductions in popular entitlement programs.

“By helping to create a new atmosphere of fiscal discipline, it can actually also feed into debates over other components of the budget,” the official said, briefing reporters on the condition of anonymity.

So the whole charade is seen as a method to soften the public up for Medicare and Social Security cuts. For sure, health care spending including Medicare can’t grow as projected simply as a matter of Stein’s Law. But a system of reasonably universal, reasonably affordable health care is not obviously going to involve lower Federal spending on health care entitlements. On the Social Security front, Yves Smith recently groaned over a report (via Jesse’s Café Américain) that the Obama administration was seeking to promote conversion of retirement accounts to annuities. The problem with such a proposal, though, is more that private annuities tend to suck (for insurance market failure type reasons) than that senior citizens have too much secure, inflation-protected retirement income. A logical, and maybe even efficient, solution that happens to be off-limits in most of polite society would be to add resources to Social Security to increase benefits. You may see these programs less charitably — you may also have elderly relatives who would be in less dire financial straits without them than I do. The bottom line is that entitlement spending cuts shouldn’t be ends in themselves to anyone left-of-center with half a brain.

In any event, I have had enough. Fire Larry Summers. Fire Tim Geithner. Give Peter Orszag time to spend with his children. End the one-sided pseudo-post-partisan Kumbaya bullshit. Do it now.

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Bernanke Apologist Watch

by Tom Bozzo

Shorter [1] Jim Hamilton (via [2] Brad DeLong):

Ben Bernanke’s record leaves nine links’ worth of things to be desired, but considering the zombie ex-Fed Chair alternatives (plus Brett Fav-Paul Volcker), he deserves to be confirmed for a second term.

I am almost not kidding. Here’s what Hamilton actually asks Bernanke’s critics:

I wonder which of [sic] previous Fed Chairs critics think would be better for the job than Bernanke. Surely you don’t think we’d have been better off bringing Alan Greenspan back? [touché] G. William Miller [deceased] fumbled badly with much simpler problems. Arthur Burns [also deceased] is a case study in how not to conduct monetary policy.

Would DeLong accept this sort of argument from a Berkeley undergrad seeking a decent grade? The question of far greater interest is why critics should have preferred Bernanke to prospective candidates who might have the combination of background and metabolic function to carry out the job — say, Janet Yellen or Alan Blinder — and might also do better than Bernanke in a pop quiz on the Fed’s dual mission.

Nor does Hamilton impress in reviewing the (admittedly odd) politics of Bernanke’s reappointment:

I shake my head when I look at the list of senators who say they’ll vote “no.” How could there possibly be an alternative whom Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Jim DeMint (R-SC) would both prefer to Bernanke?

Obviously an alternative candidate need not be preferred by both Boxer and DeMint. An SDJ commenter rightly notes that DeMint’s opposition is in the nature of a political stunt, that is rejecting the rightmost potential nominee for Fed Chair to try to help along the development of the Obama political suicide machine. (They may not need the help.) As little as they act like it, the Democrats hold a sizeable majority of Senate seats, and a reasonable choice of a Democratic monetary policy technocrat ought to have little trouble lining up at least 59 votes. As for the sixtieth, I’d have liked to see the Republican Senate caucus hold ranks in preventing a Yellen nomination from receiving an up-or-down vote.

[1] ‘Shorter’ concept created by Daniel Davies and perfected by Elton Beard. We may not be aware of all Internet traditions™ but try to keep abreast of the popular ones.

[2] Econbrowser’s feed has a high-attention place in my feed reader, and it should be in yours; this piece, though, gets emphasis largely via DeLong’s apologist-in-chief blogging.

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