Saturday, December 17, 2011

Assault of Thoughts - 12/17/2011

"Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking" - JMK

- I truly do not understand the appeal of Ron Paul. I think he's wrong on a lot of policy, but of course if you're a libertarian you think he's right. I get all that. But as I've said in the past I don't get this view that he's above politics when he seems to me to be the quintessential politician. I am also really, really bothered by things like this, from 1992. I think I know much better than, for example, presumptuous New Englanders or Californians, the context in which a Southerner displays a Confederate flag. So I've been willing in the past to stick my neck out and defend such people, while agreeing that it is unintentionally offensive. I'm willing to stick my neck out and defend some old coot who was a segregationist in the 1950s and seems to have realized in the ensuing decades that he was wrong. I'm willing to stick my neck out and say "you know - the old guy probably genuinely realizes he was wrong". But something like this in the 1990s really bothers me. I don't want a man like this to be my president.

-Tyler Cowen keeps pointing to China as an example of Austrian business cycle theory. Is it just me, or does this seem really wrong? When we see bad investment decisions in China, it's because the government is making these decisions for political reasons. It's not because cheap money fosters a different capital structure than would have existed naturally. Ghost cities aren't examples of an elongated capital structure. What gives? Is it just me or does this have exactly zero to do with ABCT?

- Scott Sumner talks Wittgenstein, macro, and Ptolemy. At the end he ponders over "what future generations will think of the Keynesian/monetarist split. Which model will seem like the Ptolemaic system?" I think making a big thing of this alleged "Keynesian/monetarist split" says you're one of two kinds of people: (1.) you're a monetarist that is mistakenly under the impression that Keynesians are allergic to monetary policy, (2.) you're an old Keynesian that drank the post-war Keynesian Kool-Aid that turned "monetary policy alone isn't right - fiscal policy has a role" into "monetary policy alone isn't right - fiscal policy has a role". I think the future will see that the whole monetarism back and forth was just us coming to grips over the emphasis of the Keynesian paradigm.

- Brad DeLong defends Stiglitz, has some criticism for Nick Rowe, and cheers us Hicksians.


  1. "I truly do not understand the appeal of Ron Paul."

    Politicians are to some degree vessels that people can pour their hopes and dreams into. I never understood the appeal of Barack Obama either, and he turned out to be exactly the sort of President I expected him to be. To go to the well of David Hume, politics is mostly about imagination - once you understand that you understand how politician X can appeal to person Y.

    "...but of course if you're a libertarian you think he's right."

    Not really. Many libertarians think he is a bozo. Be it for his stance on immigration or whatever.

    "But as I've said in the past I don't get this view that he's above politics when he seems to me to be the quintessential politician."

    So what?

    Conor Friedersdorf has written some of the smartest pieces on Paul this election cycle; here is one of them:

  2. An interesting play on Wittgenstein to make a roundabout point about Nominal GDP targetting. As for the invocation of Ptolemaic astronomy in reference to the study of economics, I personally wouldn't go as far as some people would and advocate for a total house-cleaning, if neoclassical economics doesn't make changes, it might be replaced by econophysics.

  3. Future generations will see all of neoclassical economics as Ptolemaic, and someone like Sumner - who is basically impossible to understand if you live in the real world - will be seen as a high priest.

  4. Unlearning econ, what do you make of econophysics?

  5. > Ghost cities aren't examples of an elongated capital structure.

    Yes, but what about the enormous amount of building in existing cities?

    I think it's clear that the government are promoting malinvestment directly. The question is whether they are also doing so indirectly.

  6. Your link for the incident in 1992 doesn't seem to be working but I imagine it's the racist news letters. If it is, then Paul has already addressed them.

    If it's something different I would like to know what it is.

  7. Thanks for letting me know the link was bad.

  8. The case for RP shouldn't be that hard to grasp. For anyone who wants substantial change in any of the following things...
    1)Foreign policy
    2)Level of pandering to corporate interests
    3)Size of the federal government
    4)Intellectual honesty and consistency
    5)Intrusion by the federal government in people's lives.
    ...RP is, to some, the only choice. He also seems to care more about promoting ideas than boosting his own ego, which again, is pretty rare in a politician.

    To me the "quintessential politician" would value being elected over pretty much all else. Many of RP's ideas sound completely foreign to most people - not a great way to get votes, IMO.

  9. It's kind of funny that you insist that Keynesians aren't allergic to monetary policy and then link to the topic of Stiglitz article which has 'Forget Monetary Policy' in the title and blatantly claims 'Monetary policy is not going to help us out of this mess'.

  10. It's a great thing that Keynesism is flexible, isn't it? It's like having a claw hammer in your toolkit, and knowing when to pull nails instead of trying to get them out by pounding them through the board. So that article alone doesn't refute what Daniel Kuehn has said; rather it underscores the point that some economists may have their biases, which is why it's important to have various policy tools and admit policies may be well suited, at times, to exclusive situations.

  11. Dannie

    Your poor baby

    Your model of the world is so broken

    It's is good v. evil, baby. You can no longer sit on the fence. Ron Paul is an evil, sick man, not worthy of any consideration, as is anyone who says they are a supporter.

    Hard times reveal character. You are going to see the gut of America split open and it isn't going to be pretty.

    You ain't see nothin yet.

    Wait until next Oct.

    You are so foolish. You have no idea the camel you have let under your tent by playing with these people

    Paul, you precious Don and Russ, they don't need comments, they need to be gagged.


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