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

Dana Milbank and the "Fact Free Zone"

by Robert Waldmann

Dana Milbank and the “Fact Free Zone”

I expected to enjoy Dana Milbank’s article entitled “From Obamacare to the IRS scandal, Republicans are ignoring the facts” But Milbank decided that he should Ballance his observation that Republicans are indifferent to facts with the following paragraph.

Rubio’s fact-free approach to Obamacare is puzzling because plenty of damning things can be said about the health-care law that are perfectly accurate: It does little to curb entitlements, it disrupts insurance plans for millions, it leaves 31 million Americans without coverage and, as the CBO forecast, it would take the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time workers out of the workforce.

Yep that’s showing em Dana. 1. “little” is a nice weasel word, but the ACA eliminated the huge Medicare advantage extra payments and massively cut the rate of growth of regular Medicare payments. It also made hospitals responsible for the costs of treating the infections people pick up there. I don’t claim that the sudden complete utter change in US entitlement spending is mostly due to the ACA but the assertion “little” is based on completely ignoring those data which are inconvenient to the quest for Ballance, that is all of the relevant data.

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Obamacare Killing Jobs . . . again

Cost of Obamacare

picture hat tip TPM DC


After shown to be wrong by in its analysis, the Fox News group and Republicans are at it again  with a worn out commentary on how Obamacare kills jobs. This time they are using the CBO’s new analysis on the impact of Obamacare. Sometimes, I wish the CBO’s Douglas Elmendorf would simply shut up and keep his calculations and thoughts to himself. From Healthcare taking over the economy which Louise Sheiner and Glen LaFollette debunked and Yves Smith at Naked Capitalism portrayed; to Fair Market Valuation of Student Loans for risk even when Student loans can not be discharged in bankruptcy and make a greater return in default; and now the nebulous wording in a recent CBO report;

“The reduction in CBO’s projections of hours worked represents a decline in the number of  full time-time equivalent workers (page 117) of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024.”

What this really means is Labor can work fewer hours as a result of Obamacare causing healthcare insurance to be less costly. The number of hours needed to work would decrease 1.5 to 2%. People may want to work less and it sounds like they will opt to work less. The Republicans and Tea-baggers (their right of right brothers) just made their own version of the CBO’s report. The entire blog-o-sphere is laughing at Fox News and the Republicans with their obvious effort to distort the report.

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John Cochrane: I Would Never Dream of Suggesting that this Correlation Implies Causation!

Let’s say you come across this on the interwebs:

Then the person who posted it says this:

I purposely did not make any argument, draw any conclusions or anything else.

And the person who posted it is a prominent, high-profile right-wing economist.

What conclusions do you draw about that economist? About the economic effect of unemployment benefits?

Then you find this, from another high-profile economist:

Now what conclusions do you draw?

Cross-posted at Asymptosis.

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50 Best Investing Blogs

Daily Reckoning’s Jason Farrell lists Angry Bear in his top fifty…

The new year is off to an interesting start. With inflation dove Janet Yellen helming the Fed, another recession possibly imminent and Wall Street still making a killing, it’s as good a time as any to review some of the best sources of independent financial and economic thought out there.

Besides, of course, our own numerous free publications and some of the bigger blogs like Zero Hedge and Seeking Alpha, there is a broad selection of outstanding investing blogs that cover everything from ETFs to metals to disaster prepping. We decided to put together a list of some of our favorites.


Angry Bear: This popular blog has made several lists, including The Wall Street Journal’s and Minyanville’s list of most influential blogs. They cover global economics, taxes, regulation, healthcare and a variety of other topics.

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The End of an Era: Ben Bernanke Passes the Torch

Angry Bear will be posting writing by writers less well known and will usually be twenty and thirty years old as well.  Here is another one:

by David Parkman

The End of an Era: Ben Bernanke Passes the Torch

After an eight-year term, Ben Bernanke arrives at Brookings Institution for his first day of work and Janet Yellen was sworn in as the first woman to chair the Federal Reserve on Monday February 3, 2014. Succeeding a term of great upheaval, Yellen has the four decade background in monetary and economic affairs to take the reins, but is unlikely to make a repeat performance of Bernanke. However, his work to stimulate the economy and lower interest rates will most likely continue under her authority. Always a staunch ally of Bernanke, it remains to be seen how she will apply her unique skills and ideas for Americas Central Bank.

Bernanke’s legacy:

Ben Bernanke is leaving a legacy of unprecedented actions; he was the first chairman to use emergency lending powers to rescue businesses since the Great Depression. He devised a monetary policy that curbed longer-term interest rates by lowering credit costs after the short-term policy rate bottomed out. His goal to declare an inflation target was met in 2012 at 2% and he made the Federal Open Market Committee meetings more of an open floor forum encouraging a sharing of ideas and policy views.

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House effects

by Robert Waldmann
(Dan here…lightly edited for readability and Robert’s sense of humor))

House effects

Noah Smith and Chris House are engaged in a stimulating blogospheric discussion. I am tempted to engage House in debate. I am not at all tempted to actually read his posts. Caveat Lector I will here dispute the part of an an essay up to the point where I stopped reading.

(Update: Welcome ThomaTwitterTots. When I wrote this post, I honestly considered it a test of whether Mark Thoma links to everything I write about economics methodology macro and all that. Note above (and below) that I admit I am critiquing a post which I didn’t read to the end. I honestly thought “if that doesn’t keep Mark Thoma from linking nothing will”. Also Matt Yglesias has a more interesting post responding to House. He notes that academic economists are to the left of the general public and explains the leftish implications of economics 101.)

According to Smith and my semi reading, House argues that in economics the facts have a conservative bias.

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Plain vanilla banking

Elizabeth Warren proposes simple banking needs through the Post Office:

According to a report put out this week by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the U.S. Postal Service, about 68 million Americans — more than a quarter of all households — have no checking or savings account and are underserved by the banking system. Collectively, these households spent about $89 billion in 2012 on interest and fees for non-bank financial services like payday loans and check cashing, which works out to an average of $2,412 per household. That means the average underserved household spends roughly 10 percent of its annual income on interest and fees — about the same amount they spend on food.

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Alito is Right. Perceptions of the U.S. Supreme Court Differ From the Reality.

WEST PALM BEACH – Using a mix of jokes and drawing on his own experience, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito said Monday that being a judge at the nation’s top court is often not what it appears to be.

“A lot of people, I think, have the impression that sitting on the bench and listening to oral arguments is the main thing we do,” Alito said to a crowd of 1,120 at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

“If people were to see me really at work, it would not be a particularly edifying spectacle,” added the 63-year-old New Jersey native. “They would see me at my computer at eight in the morning in my pajamas.”

Perceptions of U.S. Supreme Court differ from reality, Justice Samuel Alito says in West Palm Beach, Brett Clarkson, Sun Sentinel

Hmmm.  And to think I thought that the justices spent most of their time reading those specially-printed-and-bound-at-a-cost-of-$5,000-to-$7,000-per-case certiorari petitions.  At least the ones whose covers bear the name of $1,000’Hr.-D.C.-Based-Supreme-Court-Specialist as counsel.  Or the ones filed by state attorneys-general challenging federal-court grants of habeas petitions.

Guess the justices have some time left over to do other things, like prepare for oral argument in cases whose petition covers bore the name of $1,000/Hr.-D.C.-Based-Supreme-Court-Specialist as counsel. Or like signing on to opinions that summarily reverse federal-court grants of habeas petitions at the behest of state attorneys-general.

This week while he’s in his pajamas at a luxury hotel in Palm Beach.  Maybe next week, too.  The justices don’t meet again for another two-and-one-half weeks.

Yes, perceptions of the U.S. Supreme Court differ from the reality.

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