Four posts yesterday. The first was “Being Human (Personal and Trivial):
Sorry about silence this morning, but I was actually trying to have a life, briefly. As some readers of my last Friday Night Music post might have guessed, I went to see Elephant Revival at Joe’s Pub Sunday. I uploaded a snippet (it’s an mp4) that I recorded on my smartphone; sorry, I don’t have a YouTube channel, but if someone else wants to post it, feel free.
Anyway, that was great — and when they say Joe’s Pub is an intimate space, they’re not kidding; my friends and I were about three feet from the fiddler. But it did mean a late night in NYC, and an early train back to Princeton to teach.
Now back to NYC (blogging from NJ Transit) to debate Joe Scarborough on Charlie Rose …
The second post of the day was “Cockroaches at the European Commission:”
I’ve written several times about cockroach ideas in economics — ideas that you try to flush away, but keep coming back. (Are cockroach ideas the same as zombie ideas? Not quite, I would say; I think of cockroach ideas as misconceptions held because the people holding them are just unaware of basic facts, while zombie ideas are held by people who refuse to acknowledge contrary evidence).
Anyway, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard catches Olli Rehn with a cockroach:
While the tone is changing, there is no sign yet of a retreat from fiscal belt-tightening. “Given that average debt exceeds 90pc of GDP in the EU, I don’t think there’s any room for manoeuvre to leave the path of budgetary consolidation,” said EU economics chief Olli Rehn.
“We won’t solve our growth problems by piling new debt on top of our old debt,” he said. Defying his critics, Mr Rehn said John Maynard Keynes himself would not be a Keynesian today’s circumstances.
Ah yes, the old “when Keynes wrote in the 1930s, governments weren’t deep in debt the way they are now” claim. Been there, done that:
The amazing thing is the way men who know neither theory nor the history of previous crises are utterly convinced that they know what to do in our current crisis; and how their confidence in their prescriptions has been unaffected by the fact that they have been wrong about everything so far. Of course, what’s even more amazing is the fact that these men are actually running things.
The third post of the day was “Urk, Charlie Rose Edition:”
Well, we’ll see how it comes out after editing, but I feel that I just had my Denver debate moment: I was tired, cranky, and unready for the blizzard of misleading factoids and diversionary stuff (In 1997 you said that the aging population was a big problem! When Social Security was founded life expectancy was only 62!) Oh, and I wasn’t prepared for Joe Scarborough’s slipperiness about what he actually advocates (he’s for more spending in the near term? Who knew?)
A useful reminder, I guess, not to take anything for granted. But I’d rather not learn my lessons with the camera rolling.
Update: By the way, considering how things eventually turned out, having a Denver moment isn’t the worst thing that can happen. Ask Mitt Romney.
And the last post of the day was “Meanwhile, From Alan Blinder:”
The truth is that on the actual crucial issue — which is whether we should be cutting or actually increasing spending now — lots of good economists, from Blinder to Bernanke, agree with me.