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

If there was a Public Option in PPACA, what grounds would the Supreme Court use to overturn it?

The above is a more-than-semi-serious question.

I’ll be blogging/tweeting the Kauffman Foundation’s Bloggers’s Forum tomorrow from 9:30-3:30 EDT (8:30-2:30 here in Kansas City; 6:30-12:30 in DeLong/Thomaville; in Hawaii, they’re still watching Dave Garroway).

You can tell it has reached maturity because tomorrow’s presenters include J. Bradford DeLong, Scott Sumner, Tyler Cowen, and Karl Smith—and that’s just the first panel (“Recovery and Long-Term Growth”).

Mark Thoma, Arnold Kling, and the Former Dynamic Duo [Ezra Klein and Matt Yglesias] are all scheduled to follow.

As Brad noted, the event will be live-streamed at Growthology and (one assumes, as usual), the videos will be archived and available.

Neither your not-very-humble correspondent nor fellow AB (and now Roubini contributor) Rebecca Wilder will be presenting.

[links completed late; apologies to Ezra, Matt, and Rebecca for the delay.]

Big Changes at Capital Gains and Games

I go away for a week and the world collapses. While most of you probably noticed that Russell Brand is available again, the other Major Separation was at Capital Gains and Games, which is now exclusively Stan Collender’s as “principal writer and managing editor.”

It is also rebranded “Stan Collender’s Capital Gains and Games.” (The URL remains unchanged.)

Stan has been driving the posting at CG&G for a while now, and this seems, on balance, a good move for everyone, most especially the readers.

In related news, Andrew Samwick has gone back to being a solo artist.* I suspect there are more details in the CG&G posts over the past week, but I’m still catching up.

*If Samwick is the blogsphere equivalent of Sammy Hagar,** then Vox Baby was “I Can’t Drive 55,” while the new one will be…uh, someone help me out here. He’s already got a Brad DeLong link, which may be a better equivalent than the post-VH solo Hagar did.

**Comments game for Nils Lofgren-solo fans: Who are “the Supreme Court of” Economics Bloggers?

Even a Blind Nut Rightly Clocks a Stopped Squirrel Twice a Day

by Mike Kimel

Hi folks. I have to go on a bit of a hiatus. I have some work-related things that need taking care of that will require a lot of time for the foreseeable future. But I thought I’d leave you with a link to a post by Megan McArdle that I actually agree with 100% and recommend reading. I know!!!

Well, off to the salt mines. Toodle-oo.

Random Notes 3 June 2011

  1. Buce has been on fire recently, so I’ll probably have to do a post about why this post is so off-target, though his conclusion is correct (short version: he’s been misled).
  2. If I’m reading this morning’s SIFMA Brief correctly, Moody’s—whose rating skills Robert has discussed at length—(1) may downgrade US debt if we spend too much and (2) will downgrade US banks unless we spend too much on them. Oh, and the banks object to regulation because it would “artificially” reduce asset values (presumably, many of the same ones Moody’s wants protected).
  3. Relatedly, James Salt (probably h/t Felix) notes that “generous” UK banks are playing reporting games. (The US version is to deny the rework and leave the asset marked at unsustainable levels.)
  4. That this is spot-on would make me sadder if I thought we still lived in anything resembling a meritocracy, or even a developing economy.
  5. If we needed further evidence of that, the state with the best secondary eduction system in the country is pushing forward with privatize-the-gains.
  6. I’m more and more convinced that China “is different,” but very much not certain the differences will make an ultimate difference. Daniel Gross is inclined to think not. More on this as I finally finish my review of BoomBustOlogy, which you should expect to see some time before the apocalypse.
  7. I assume everyone has already seen this. Just in case, check out the facts, stylised or not.
  8. Oh, and Felix is wrong here. But that’s a post that will probably never be written by me. Someone else want to send it in?

Kauffman Economics Bloggers Forum Update and a Few Links of Noe

I’m in Kansas City, where the Royals have started the season as one would expect of the current iteration of the team.

Fortunately, I’m not here for the baseball, but rather for the Kauffman Economics Bloggers Forum. There will be presentations tomorrow (agenda here; homepage for live streaming here) in three session. The morning features Tyler Cowen, Ben Wildavsky, Megan McArdle, Bryan Caplan, and Bob Cringely; early afternoon are Lynne Kiesling, Ryan Avent, Arnold Kling, and Felix Salmon; and it closes out with Dean Baker, Steve Waldman, and Virginia Postrel.

All times on the website are Central.

Discoveries so far:

  1. Steve Waldman and Matt Yglesias have the same hairstyle
  2. Felix Salmon agrees with me about individual investors and 401(k)s—indeed, I should say I agree with him, since he’s more vehement about the issue. (He gave me permission to quote him, but this is a family blog.)
  3. For the second year in a row, the “best” barbecue place in Kansas City provided inferior product; Tyler Cowen blames the voters for its loss.
  4. There was much discussion of cricket without mention of Lagaan (which, as I noted last year at this blog, explained to me why the British Empire failed, rather in the same way that Dick is the only movie to make sense of the White House in the early and mid-1970s).

Tune in tomorrow, after the positive but not thrilling Non-Farm Payoll release. Meanwhile:

  1. Buce continues the discussion started by Tim Geithner’s Chief Internet Apologist‘s discussion of Neil Barofsky’s analysis of TARP.
  2. As another two-fer, I’m trying to figure out how Don Marron’s discussion of a letter he signed dovetails with Bruce Bartlett’s analysis of a newly-proposed Constitutional Amendment. Maybe our readers can help?

On a personal note, the only “Asian” food service available at O’Hare Airport was nearly a full kilometer round-trip away from my gate, and I decided that my legs were tired enough. But on the flight from Chicago to Kansas City, I finished reading Sarah Manguso’s marvelous (and short) The Two Kinds [sic] of Decay and thought about feeling ashamed for not taking the walk. Fortunately, the feeling passed, but my regard for and recommendation of the book hasn’t.

We Beat the Germans in 1918/And They’ve Hardly Bothered Us Since Then

Brad DeLong culls the comments to this post at Crooked Timber to produce a “with notably rare exceptions” Greatest Hits package—his second post riffing on the original—in honor of The Maestro continuing to attempt to improve the reputations of Paul Volcker and Ben Bernanke, if not G. William (“I ran a company, I didn’t need to know about Finance”) Miller.*

I point you to Dr. DeLong on the off chance that you didn’t read any of the other three (one by Henry, two by Brad) posts, while we all wait for Patrick or Jim MacDonald to continue the riff with more variations.

Economics question of the day: whose productivity will be greater: someone who reads all (now four, counting this one) posts, someone who starts with Dr. DeLong’s second, someone who starts with Dr. DeLong’s first, or someone who only read Henry Farrell’s original post but kept clicking back to see the newer comments?

Explain your answer in terms of the value-added of aggregators and/or hedonic pricing. Best answers will be forwarded to Bill Dudley, the current leader of the FRB of New York, on the off chance he ever agrees to speak in Queens again.

*I refuse to believe that Alan Greenspan is stupid enough to believe the things he’s saying now. Next thing you know, he’ll be claiming that his Ph.D. thesis was so perfect that no one should ever read it, lest they despair of following in his giant footsteps.

Reposted in its Entirety: Memorial Service for Alison Snow Jones

Just in case anyone didn’t see this, or overlooked it the first time, at Maxine Udall, Girl Economist:

A memorial service and celebration of her life will be held for Alison at 1:00 pm on March 5, 2011 at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 145 West Rose Tree Road, Media PA, 19063.

We invite you all to attend. We welcome your thoughts and memories of Alison as we remember her, so please feel free to come prepared share them if you wish.

Please let us know if you plan to come. Email

For those who would like to make a gift in Alison’s memory to please consider giving to the FaithTrust Institute or the Alison Snow Jones Memorial Fund at Drexel University. If giving online to Drexel University, please be sure to add “Alison Snow Jones Memorial Fund” in the special instructions field. Call Ray Slater, the director of development at the School of Public Health, at (215) 762-8437 for more information.

-David Pinney, Meredith Frost

One Less Blog to Answer: No More "Girl Economist"

Between deadlines and strange website blockages, I missed this yesterday. Via Steve Randy Waldman (whose “Interfludity” is blocked) and Mark Thoma (whose isn’t) comes Really Bad News:

To all Maxine Udall Girl Economist Readers: It is with great sadness that we bring you the news that Dr. Alison Snow Jones, aka Maxine Udall, Girl Economist, passed away suddenly on Monday, January 17, 2011. “What Price Microfinance” was her last post.

She was in her early- to mid-50s, estimating by her c.v..

Go read what you missed, and what we will all miss going forward. UPDATE: For instance, this post, which is both (1) the only valuable thing ever to be sourced to treating a David Brooks column as if it were rational and (2) a much more generous reflection on economics that the data currently appears to warrant (until you realise the math/model that will be required to reach the goal).

The 20 Most influential finance blogs

“Most investors would acknowledge that social media is playing an increasing role in their investment decisions,” observes the UK Web site Mindful Money. “Yet no-one has mapped the emerging network of influence likely to be playing a crucial part in those decisions.” Until now.
The presentation below provides a fascinating map of financial media influencers. The MindfulMoney top 20 should come as no surprise. You probably visit them daily, or at least discuss ideas they have unearthed long before the mainstream media stumbles onto them.
Here are the top 20, with links, followed by the presentation. Congratulations to all listed:

1. Naked Capitalism
2. Infectious Greed
3. The Big Picture
4. Jesse’s Cross Roads Cafe
5. Zerohedge
6. Mish’s global Economic Analysis
7. Calculated Risk
8. Paul Krugman’s Blog
9. FT Alphaville
10. Ludwig von Mises Institute
11. The Market Trader
12. WSJ Blogs
13. The Epicurean Dealmaker
14.Credit Writedowns
15. Dealbreaker
16. China Financial Markets
17. Max Keiser
18. The Angry Bear
19. The Economist
20. Jr. Deputy Accountant

There are several thoughts that occur to me regarding this list,

but the first is that readers and those who comment make a difference…people bring information and insights that go far beyond slogans of the moment or passions of the day, although those are are part of the deal. This is true for each blog but also from my experience readers usually have at least several blogs on their lists, and often are not organized simply by political economic approach as the first criterion. One can read NC or Economist’s View as well as Mish.

These blogs are data driven in various ways and often contain many links that allow easy access to data, original materials, or documents so people may check accuracy of the post. In looking for new writers for AB this is one criterion that is mandatory overall, and even decent writers of blogs with strong opinions often omit links to such data or docs, which is unsatisfactory but average for writing. The extra care for targeted audiences pays off.

Most are dominated or driven by a person with a strong presentation style and implied forceful personality who spends a lot of time gathering information and is part of the industry. Angry Bear is a multi-authored blog that has more of a magazine format than most.

Another recent list ranked 20 top financial blogs includes AB and is based on pageviews, but the notion they added appears to have a definition of finance that includes advice to investors.

Anyway, our readers and commenters deserve the credit in addition to the contributors. Thanks all. Dan

Other Voices, Other Blegs

We try to pretend we’re not actually human sometimes. And sometimes we have to decide not to pretend.

Many of the Life Cycle Theory models for economics assume limited borrowing constraints: you can’t borrow more than you will make (present valued), but you can borrow on future earnings.

You can only do that for so long until the projections start shifting and you hit a constraint even in a perfect modelworld.

This isn’t a perfect world. Four people who have recently hit constraints: Diane, Roy, Gary, and Lance. That’s probably in reverse order of need at the moment: people came through well for Diane over the weekend, and Roy has a wide audience.

So hit Lance’s tip jar if you can only hit one.

But remember: one of the things that happened in NYC after 11 September 2001 is that people started giving blood. People who didn’t normally give were donating; the place I usually give at was suddenly booked.

You know what happened next. Blood, unlike money, isn’t fungible or transferable. Six months later, there were shortages again.

If you can’t hit the tip jars now, but have a windfall later and are thinking about paying it forward: go read their blogs, and be ready for the next time. They don’t do what we do, but life isn’t only economics.

In the midst of the recovery, we need to give chances to as many starfish as we can.

And if, by chance, you are one of those starfish who needs help right now, Gary’s post here may be useful.

Or if you know of someone else who is in dire straights, mention it in comments (or send me an e-mail) so it can be added to this post.