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

Janet Yellen Will Be Treasury Secretary

Janet Yellen Will Be Treasury Secretary

 I have long been a great fan of hers as well as knowing her and her husband, George Akerlof, personally.  Back in 2009 I was the first person to call for her to be named Fed Chair. I am very pleased with this appointment.  This is as good as it gets. (For those who wanted Lael Brainerd, we need her at the Fed where all the current governors are Trump appointees other than her).  Elizabeth Warren also would have been good, but Mass has a GOP governor who would appoint her successor, not so good. Yellen is the best pick and will be great.

Barkley Rosser

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Lord, the Pain of it

The good mayor of El Paso is at wit’s end. He is worrying himself into the grave. The City’s hospitals and morgues are overflowing. Seems that the people have to work to eat, and, if they work, they get the virus and get sick, and, too many die. Damned capitalism is as deadly as the virus; together they are a catastrophe. Maybe, if he would just step across the border into New Mexico, better yet, hop on a plane to San Francisco, better to get as far away from Texas as possible, we could explain the problem to him without being drowned out by the ignorant Texas dogma coming out of Austin; crapola he’s heard his whole life.

In a functioning state, there are dozens of examples, the government would have handed out masks and hand sanitizer, and free food as the need arose. It would have worked out a deal on the rents. The government would have mandated the changes needed to make the workplaces safe. If the government had done these things, had functioned, instead of blithering on about capitalism and the American way, the people could have kept on working without getting sick and dying by the droves; and, the economy could have kept on working. What our government didn’t do is killing us by the hundreds of thousands; destroying the nation.

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New Fault Lines in a Post-Globalized World

(Dan here,,,I think worth looking at in American Affairs)

New Fault Lines in a Post-Globalized World

By Marshall Auerback and Jan Ritch-Frel

November 20, 2020The economic damage of the coronavirus pandemic has upended the global economic system and, just as importantly, cast out the neoliberal orthodoxy that dominated the industrialized world for the past forty years. But Covid-19 has only accelerated a process that was already well underway, impacting trade negotiations between China, the United States, and the European Union and spreading throughout the world’s largest economies. Although many defenders of the old order lament this trend, it is as significant a shift as the dawn of the era of global trade that began with the birth of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Economists, politicians, and pundits are often tempted to see new economic patterns through the lens of the past. Thus, we are likely to hear that we are returning to nineteenth-century mercantilism or that we will see a revival of 1970s-style stagflation. But this historical view misunderstands our present moment; the motives now are different, and so are the outcomes.

Instead, what we are experiencing is the realization by governments of developed countries that new technologies enable them to expand or initiate new and profitable production capacity closer to or within their own markets. The savings in transportation, packaging, and security costs that come with domestic production, along with benefits to regional neighbors and to domestic workforces, will increasingly enable developed nations to compete with the price of goods produced through the current internationalized trade system. American politicians from Donald Trump to Elizabeth Warren are increasingly joined by a chorus of European and Asian politicians who see the long-term political benefit of supporting this transition.

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Jobless claims: the beginning of a pandemic reversal?

Jobless claims: the beginning of a pandemic reversal?


This week’s new jobless claims rose from last week’s pandemic lows, while continued jobless claims again declined to new pandemic lows.

On an unadjusted basis, new jobless claims rose by 18,264 to 743,460. Seasonally adjusted claims rose by 31,000 to 742,000. The 4 week moving average, however, declined by 13,750 to 742,000. Here is the close up since the end of July (for comparison, remember that these numbers were in the range of 5 to 7 million at their worst in early April):

Unadjusted continuing claims (which lag initial claims typically by a few weeks to several months) declined by 419,670 to 6,081,402. With seasonal adjustment they declined by 429,000 to 6,372,000, both new pandemic lows:

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Weekly Indicators for November 16 – 20 at Seeking Alpha

 – by New Deal democrat

Weekly Indicators for November 16 – 20 at Seeking Alpha

My Weekly Indicators post is up at Seeking Alpha.

Nothing definitive yet – after all weekly data is going to be noisy – but there is some indication that the recovery in coincident conditions in the economy have ceased to make progress, and maybe even have begun to reverse, probably due to the pandemic being out of control, and new restrictions put in place in some States as a result.

As usual, clicking over and reading should bring you right up to the moment, and reward me with a penny or two for the effort I put in to bring you this report.

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Coronavirus dashboard for November 20: North Dakota “leads” the world

Coronavirus dashboard for November 20: North Dakota “leads” the world


Total US infections: 11,715,316*

Average last 7 days: 165,029/day (new record high = 1 out of every 2000 Americans infected per day!)

Total US deaths: 252,535
Average last 7 days: 1,335/day
Source: COVID Tracking Project
*confirmed cases only: I suspect the total number is on the order of 17 million, or 5% of the total US population (other estimates are much higher).

Just how ghastly is the situation in the northern Great Plains and Mountain States? So bad that if North Dakota were a country, it would be “leading” the world in infections and new deaths per capita, and rapidly approaching “leading” the world in total deaths per capita.

Here are the “top 10” US States for total confirmed infections (plus New York for comparison purposes):

Almost 9% of the entire population of North Dakota has had a *confirmed* infection. In about another week, that should be over 10% (and probably is already including infections that have not been confirmed).


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John Locke: decisionmaking by standing rules set in advance is a foundational requirement for civil government

John Locke: decisionmaking by standing rules set in advance is a foundational requirement for civil government

John Locke’s “Second Treatise of Government,” published in 1690 just after and in support of the Glorious Revolution, is the founding philosophical document of modern liberal representative democracies.
In it he anticipates John Rawls’s “original position.” Locke argues that in order to protect their property, over time all groups of humanity form “civil societies” by agreeing *in advance* to rules that will be applied to public and private controversies, civil and criminal; and by establishing a legislature which will make further laws – again, *in advance* – to govern new controversies which may arise.
The essence of this argument is found in Sections 87, 88, 89, 94, 124, 131, and 142, which I have abridged below (advance warning: Locke writes in *extremely* long and convoluted sentences!)(bold emphasis is mine):

Sect. 87. … [B]ecause no political society can be, nor subsist, without having in itself the power to preserve the property, and in order thereunto, punish the offenses of all those of that society; there, and there only is political society, where every one of the members hath quitted this natural power, resigned it up into the hands of the community in all cases that exclude him not from appealing for protection to the law established by it. And thus … the community comes to be the umpire, by settled standing rules, indifferent, and the same to all parties; and by men having authority from the community, for the execution of those rules, decides all the differences that may happen between any members of that society concerning any matter of right; and punishes those offenses which any member hath committed against the society, with such penalties as the law has established…


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Libertarians and Trump, one last chance for redemption

Progressive websites and even the mainstream media have been surprisingly blunt in their reporting on Trump’s attempt to steal the 2020 election.  Many reporters and commentators have rejected bothsidesism and said openly that Biden has won and Trump is trying to steal the election.  Quite a few have gone further and emphasized that his behavior is a threat to the survival of American democracy.

One group that has not been so outspoken?  Libertarian economists.  Of course, it is difficult to prove a negative, but I follow several libertarian thinkers, and so far, it’s been nothing but crickets.  My observation is consistent with the discussion of conservative economists by Saldin and Teles in their book Never Trump.

What accounts for the silence of the libertarian economists?  I can think of two possible explanations; they are not mutually exclusive.

The first explanation is that libertarians genuinely do not believe that Trump poses a threat to American democracy.

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Could JFK Be Saved Today?

As you must know by now, I read the healthcare articles. One of my favored spots is MedPage Today where I pick up the less technical information on what is going on in healthcare.

November 22. 1963 is the day President John Kennedy was assassinated. My whereabouts were sitting in a high school study hall along with 100 other boys getting through my first year at Lane Technical H.S., an all boys school. November 22nd and the principal, who we called “froggie” because of the twangy noise from the school speakers pre-announcement, came across the school loud speaker announcing John F. Kennedy had been shot about the same time as the thought had passed through my head. Or at least, I remember it this way. It is hard to know what one would think at such an announcement or result at such an age. I wouldn’t till about 5 years later.

A medical question arises as to;

“How different might John Kennedy’s care be in 2020? Could modern medicine techniques have helped President Kennedy to survive if his shooting happened today?”

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