Modest Proposals

Matt Yglesias points to this study on the Federal Reserve’s asset purchasing program:

An analysis shows that the Federal Reserve’s large-scale asset purchases have been effective at reducing the economic costs of the zero lower bound on interest rates. Model simulations indicate that, by 2012, the past and projected expansion of the Fed’s securities holdings since late 2008 will lower the unemployment rate by 1½ percentage points relative to what it would have been absent the purchases. The asset purchases also have probably prevented the U.S. economy from falling into deflation.

He notes:

Monetary expansion raises aggregate demand. That means more employment and more inflation. If the economy is already close to full employment, extra demand mostly means more inflation. But if the economy is far from full employment, then you mostly get more employment and more output.

Meanwhile Kevin Drum reads a new paper by David Glasner which shows that low inflation plus low interest rates lead to companies hoarding cash, thereby decreasing aggregate demand. Scott Sumner writes:

There is no way to overstate the importance of these these findings.  The obvious explanation (and indeed the only explanation I can think of) is that low inflation was not a major problem before mid-2008, but has since become a big problem. Bernanke’s right and the hawks at the Fed are wrong.

….In my view the time-varying correlations between inflation expectations and stock prices are one of the most important pieces of evidence we have that [aggregate demand] became a problem after mid-2008. It will be interesting to see if those economists who are skeptical of demand-side explanations can come up with a plausible alternative explanation for this pattern.

Essentially it’s a perfect storm: low interest rates, low inflation, all on top of what appears to be a balance-sheet recession. Demand is weakened and can’t be spurred by cutting interest rates. Unemployment remains high and we can’t break out of the cycle so demand remains low. Large companies are sitting on cash rather than investing it in part because low inflation means cash is a worthwhile investment in and of itself. Why spend now when you don’t risk increased prices in the future? And consumers are in debt and/or out of work which certainly doesn’t help. We get a vicious cycle of low spending, low demand, and low employment.

Meanwhile, the supply-siders and deficit and inflation hawks are sending everyone barking up the wrong tree with austerity-now politics. While long-term concerns over fiscal collapse may be worth considering in the long-term, we’re much more likely to see fiscal ruin from a longer-than-necessary recession than we are from increased spending in the short-term. Economic growth and the subsequent increases in revenue are far better ways to stave off a budget crisis than cutting spending and further reducing demand. Unfortunately, more stimulus is politically impossible unless it’s in the form of even deeper tax cuts. But increased stimulus would not only pump more money into the economy and lead us closer to full employment, it would begin to drive inflation rates up a bit, leading to more capital investment in the private sector. So what’s to be done?

We could always start a war and increase military spending which would have a stimulative effect. Plus, more people would join the army which would lower unemployment. 

I kid, of course, but it is funny that there’s such widespread agreement that military spending creates jobs and boosts the economy but that this logic never translates into any other kind of government spending. We see this reasoning come up any time someone raises the specter of defense spending cuts. Why is this? It doesn’t even make much sense on its own merits: a single troop in Afghanistan costs close to one million dollars a year. We could hire 25 teachers at $40,000/year salary for the cost of one troop in Afghanistan. Hell, we could hire ten really well-paid teachers and still get more for our money which would filter back into the domestic economy (not to mention the long-term investment in our childrens’ education). And it wouldn’t be digging holes and filling them back up sort of work, either. I think there’s plenty of work that needs to get done in this country – plenty of productive work. We wouldn’t have to break any windows just to fix them – there’s plenty of broken windows already that need to be fixed.

Am I missing anything?






123 replies
  1. 1
    jwb says:

    Man, you are getting more and more shrill.

  2. 2
    jinxtigr says:

    Fred at Slacktivist has been saying this for some time…

  3. 3
    gene108 says:

    Why bother? Krugman’s been shrill like this for a couple of years now and no one really pays attentions.

    On the one side, you have Republicans who have created a religion out of supply-side economics, where any thing other than a tax cut will destroy the economy and therefore must be shunned and Democrats, who have no idea how to convince people government spending can be a positive.

  4. 4
    Zifnab says:

    I think there’s plenty of work that needs to get done in this country – plenty of productive work. We wouldn’t have to break any windows just to fix them – there’s plenty of broken windows already that need to be fixed.

    The federal balance sheet is deep in the red. Raising taxes (hell, even letting tax cuts on the wealthiest of Americans naturally expire) is completely 100% off the table. And the Republicans have a gun to the head of the Treasury, threatening (abet somewhat hollowly) to shut down the government by refusing to let us borrow more money.

    So, while it would make a lot of sense to send in the feds to create jobs and drive inflation, it’s NaGaanaHaPan. Politically impossible. We’ve got too many idiots in the House screaming for Presidential blood and waving an ax at “excessive” government spending.

    We can’t afford all these studies on bear DNA and volcano monitoring, dontcha know.

  5. 5
    Nutella says:

    “low inflation was not a major problem before mid-2008”

    Low interest rates have been a problem for longer than that. Rates on savings accounts are ludicrous. We might as well keep our savings under the mattress. This has many bad effects, including 1) People can’t live off the interest on their savings, and 2) People thought investing in real estate would get higher returns.

  6. 6
    Violet says:

    E.D. Kain…when did you become a soshulist?

  7. 7
    jwb says:

    @jinxtigr: As has Krugman, and pretty much anyone who accepts Keynesian economics. They saw all this happening back in 2008 and told us what needed to happen if we wanted to avoid what in fact happened. Nice to see Kain finally get his head out of his ass, but really in a sane world this wouldn’t be news.

    ETA: In a sane world, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation because suitable intervention in 2008-09 would have prevented the situation from emerging.

  8. 8
    Ailuridae says:

    @gene108:

    Why bother? Krugman’s been shrill like this for a couple of years now and no one really pays attentions.

    This. Additionally krugman didn’t spend two weeks torturing everyone here because he didn’t understand what a monopoly was.

    I presume at the time of the stimulus debate ED wrote something similar to this, right? Right?

  9. 9
    Sebastian says:

    We could start a war against dittoheads. That would spur the economy.

    Let’s start with Boehner.

  10. 10
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    What to do? Go to your bag of policy preferences. Deregulate something. Or cut taxes. Perhaps both.

    The global savings glut (of which corporations are part) is what got us here in the first place. There’s no such thing as trickle down, there’s only hoarding at the top. Why the fuck you care NOW is what bothers me. I guess these problems are starting to affect well to do white collar white libertarians. When this is used to just keep wages down for the plebs during good times it’s all A-OK.

  11. 11
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @jwb: Hooray for Kain’s 20-20 hindsight. It will do nothing to prevent the next “MORAL HAZARD!!!!” gut response.

  12. 12
    Ailuridae says:

    @Nutella:

    When I was a kid with a paper route I remember passbook rates well about 5%. It gave me an incentive to keep money in my passbook.

    I get some super earner benefits in my 30s with savings accounts but the rates are absolutely brutal.

  13. 13
    jwb says:

    @Ailuridae: Actually, depending on the inflation rate that 5% as kid may well have been earning less in real interest to what you are earning now.

  14. 14
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Ailuridae: I’ve written about the balance sheet recession previously. What’s your point?

  15. 15
    Marmot says:

    Whoa. I would’ve figured ED was more sympathetic to supply-side. But it’s good to see I’m wrong. Perhaps it’s catching? Wouldn’t that be nice?

  16. 16
    New Yorker says:

    Yeah, but what does noted Wharton School economist Sarah Palin have to say about this?

  17. 17
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Barb (formerly Gex): thank you so much for your helpful suggestions. I wouldn’t want to deprive you of your Target practice. All that anger needs to come out, not stay pent up inside.

  18. 18
    jwb says:

    @E.D. Kain: The point is: what was your position on the stimulus? It’s been no secret what’s been going on since 2008, what the causes and basic solutions to problem were, and most particularly that the stimulus was far too small to solve the balance sheet issue. And yet here you are trumping this piece by Glasner as though it’s revelatory.

  19. 19
    Ailuridae says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    My point is why is a libertarian who plainly doesn’t understand economics in any meaningful way writing a “preaching to the choir” post here and why should any of us pay attention.

    Please produce some pro-stimulus links from late 2008 or early 2009. K? Thanks.

  20. 20
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @E.D. Kain: The point is that we’re all very happy to have you coming around on some of these issues. But that happiness is dampened by the fact that many of these issues are a result of your default preferred political positions.

    Cole at least changed his mind over an issue that was not all about him. You are somewhat starting to change your mind over issues, but it seems that it is because these issues are threatening to you too. When the way things work was only bad for the working poor – no big deal.

    I guess at least that is completely consistent with a market enthusiasts assumption that operating in self interest will lead to good ends.

  21. 21
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Nutella:

    Low interest rates have been a problem for longer than that. Rates on savings accounts are ludicrous. We might as well keep our savings under the mattress. This has many bad effects, including 1) People can’t live off the interest on their savings, and 2) People thought investing in real estate would get higher returns.

    My bank is proudly offering a 1% APR CD. One. Percent.

    Low interest rates are great for businesses that want to hoard their money, but they suck for the rest of us.

  22. 22
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @E.D. Kain: No problem. There’s nothing quite like having a libertarian come in and teach us these valuable lessons about how to make the economy work for society, not for just for profit seeking.

  23. 23
    E.D. Kain says:

    Actually I’ve been struggling with these questions for a long time and I just find the demand side much more compelling given all the evidence.

  24. 24
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @jwb: Since 2008? More like 2004. I read somewhere that all the indicators in 2004 would normally cause the Fed to tighten the money supply. But that doesn’t happen when a Republican incumbent is in the White House. So Greenspan poured fuel on this fire to get W. reelected. I guess we are somewhat fortunate that this gasoline caused the implosion to occur before 1/20/2009.

  25. 25
    Ailuridae says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    Low interest rates are great for businesses that want to hoard their money, but they suck for the rest of us.

    A couple of years of 4 or 5% inflation would do most Americans (but not all of us) a ton of good. The low inflation at any cost insanity is basically just an acknowledgment that the only economics the Village understands is one that benefits a small handful of bankers.

  26. 26
    Ailuridae says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    Good. Maybe in five years you’ll develop into a fully formed adult.

  27. 27
    Marmot says:

    @Ailuridae: Are Villagers excited about low inflation? I haven’t been paying attention to them recently. The last time I heard worries about high inflation, they came from Palin asserting that “Americans know” that the price of groceries is going up. Contra evidence, naturally.

  28. 28
    PeakVT says:

    We could hire 25 teachers at $40,000/year salary for the cost of one troop in Afghanistan.

    We could, but how could anyone make a profit off of hiring teachers? Which is why we don’t.

    Am I missing anything?

    Your early morning cup of piping hot cynicism.

  29. 29
    E.D. Kain says:

    @jwb: I haven’t been convinced one way or the other until recently though I have been saying stimulus now, austerity later for some time.

  30. 30
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @Ailuridae: Did someone just invent demand-side libertarianism? What the heck would that look like?

  31. 31
    cleek says:

    @Nutella:

    Rates on savings accounts are ludicrous.

    man, you said it.

    i got an email from my bank yesterday advertising special CD rates for existing customers. they’re offering a bonus of 0.15% on top of their existing rate! 0.15%!

    that’s an additional 15 cents for every $100 deposited ! wow.

    add that to their existing 1.01% for a 13mo CD and we’re talking real money… i give them $100 and in 13 months they give me my $100 back, plus some change they found under their break room vending machine.

  32. 32
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @Marmot: This is how you keep people who are hurt by low interest against the idea of interest rates going up at all.

  33. 33
    Ailuridae says:

    @Marmot:

    Villagers hate inflation. Hate, Hate, Hate. The WaPo editorial page’s only economics policies of the last 20 years have been 1) lower taxation on the wealthy and 2) keep inflation down.

  34. 34
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Ailuridae: I really appreciate the irony of that comment, thanks.

  35. 35
    Ailuridae says:

    @Barb (formerly Gex):

    Who knows? And would you want somebody executing a push to aggregate demand who didn’t understand what a monopoly was?

    Years ago someone wrote something to me in passing about a libertarian who was part of our group project: “there are no smart libertarians but there are plenty of clever ones”

  36. 36
    Ailuridae says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    You understand irony in an Alanis way.

  37. 37
    David Fud says:

    It’s gotten to the point around these red-state parts that even ex-military birthers are embarrassed by their anti-education elected officials. I mean the local school board officials who rode in on the recent R wave. Oddly, this one in particular said she was embarrassed by the fact that the guy was a Republican, even though she is owned by that wrecking crew.

    So, maybe there is some hope that someday we will start spending money on things other than digging and filling holes on the other side of the world.

    But I wouldn’t count on it happening in time to save our stupid asses.

  38. 38
    Ailuridae says:

    @Marmot:

    Well the price of groceries was indeed flying up before the crash. But the main driver in US food costs during that time was gas pricing, doubly so if you are a carnivore.

    For most Americans a 3-5 % increase in food costs is fine if it allows them to inflate away some of the onerous debt they carry

  39. 39
    Holden Pattern says:

    @PeakVT:

    We could, but how could anyone make a profit off of hiring teachers? Which is why we don’t.

    Also, spending money on teachers doesn’t give the Wolverines! crowd the same frisson as spending money on killing people and blowing shit up.

    @Ailuridae:

    Villagers hate inflation. Hate, Hate, Hate. The WaPo editorial page’s only economics policies of the last 20 years have been 1) lower taxation on the wealthy and 2) keep inflation down.

    Inflation (even moderate, controlled inflation) is a direct attack on the income, wealth and power of the rentier classes. The villagers are their courtesans, so of course they hate inflation.

  40. 40
    Marmot says:

    @Barb (formerly Gex): Sure, but I mean, are the Villagers all excited by low inflation right now?

    It wouldn’t surprise me — much of what I hear about economics from that set seems to have been set in stone circa 1984-1992: Inflation terrible! Deficit abominable! Nat’l debt equally abominable and somehow linked, but never mind how!

  41. 41
    Daulnay says:

    Couple points:

    A decent stimulus package would have been far more cost-effective than what the Federal Reserve did. Those who opposed a bigger stimulus did the U.S. a fair deal of harm.

    Yes, Krugman has been shrill about this for a while. However, Krugman was studying the Japanese deflation problem, and was intimately familiar with what deflationary problems look like. Krugman should have been ahead of the pack, given his knowledge. It’s unrealistic to fault other economists for not immediately agreeing with him, and even more unfair to fault non-economists like E.D.

    Finally, the risk of depression is far from over. Once there is a small rate of inflation – 2 or 3 %- we should be out of the woods, but right now it’s altogether too easy to tip into a depressionary spiral. On the bright side, it looks like Chinese economic growth is raising the worldwide price of raw materials. On the dark one, that growth could have been ours, if it weren’t for conservative foolishness.

  42. 42
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Ailuridae: you’re just compounding my point.

  43. 43
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @David Fud: Do black people still vote Democratic in large part? If so, they will stomach associating with those Rs. It’s been that way since the Civil Rights Act.

  44. 44
    pragmatism says:

    my job producer (TM) friends are still trying to convince me and themselves that they are sitting on cash and not hiring because of “uncertainty” and their feelings being hurt because they aren’t appreciated enough. i’m going to pass this along so they can get a better talking point–the cash investment angle.

  45. 45
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @Daulnay: I get the disagreement between economists. But at what point do voters who refuse to give serious consideration to the expertise of a guy who studied this precise issue own the results of the policies they advocated instead?

  46. 46
    ChrisS says:

    Inflation could be occurring as something that can’t be measured the official way (especially since inflation was redefined by Greenspan and Reagan). Relative to wages, though, goods and services are chewing up a greater percentage of people’s wages.

    Product X isn’t increasing by 6% every year, but combined with salaries stagnating or declining and goods being improved slightly (with a higher price point, natch), it’s just as damaging as inflation.

    The fact that energy costs aren’t included in inflation is fucking laughable.

  47. 47
    Maude says:

    @Nutella:
    Thanks for re posting last night. What a trip, the poor thing.

  48. 48
    Marmot says:

    @Ailuridae: Sure — inflation can be good or bad, depending on context (and for whom you’re considering it).

    I should’ve been clearer about timing. This Politifact link says Palin was rabble-rousing about inflation starting Nov. 7 or so, not before the crisis.

    Still, I got the (probably false) impression that the Right’s inflation scaremongering ceased due to low inflation. It’d be a hoot if the WaPo editorial page or whoever is currently happy with the inflation situation. Cursory Googles haven’t found much.

  49. 49
    Ailuridae says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    If you had a point ever it would be the first cogent point you’ve ever made here. And as long as you are paying attention is there a point where we can expect for Balloon Juice’s George Will to retract that lunacy about competitively bid municipal trash collection being monopolistic? Because until that happens you’re only worth mocking.

    It is fine that some people here want to pat down your feathers in hopes that you emerge out the other side of your privileged here-to-now existence as a liberal or a liberal ally. But, to me and to any clear-thinking person, you’re a horrible combination of ignorant and intellectually dishonest. I guess we could wait for you to see the light but then you are just going to make long intellectually dishonest posts for our side. The left blogosphere is already saturated with that though.

    Good to see you can engage comments now. But, wait, that was always BS, right?

  50. 50
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Daulnay: very well put. I agree, the risk of a depression is still very real.

  51. 51
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Ailuridae: glad we’re clear on that.

  52. 52
    Sly says:

    Am I missing anything?

    Political reality. Republicans gain traction by engaging in the whole “families have to tighter their belts, so should the Federal government” canard, and there are more than enough Democrats who play along. The Federal government isn’t a family, however, and doesn’t operate under the budgetary rules that exist for families (it can’t). Republicans, at least those in the party establishment, know this. But they don’t care.

    The administration can argue for deficit-neutral stimulus but those arguments have, of course, fallen on deaf ears. The economic consequences of conservative policy are irrelevant, the only thing that matters is how well their argument makes an intuitive kind of sense to people who aren’t proficient in these matters.

    In other words, the opposition is shameless and the supporters of the opposition are fucking clueless about how shameless they actually are. Which is easy to understand, given the fact that a large number of those supporters think this whole mess started because Jimmy Carter gave a trillion dollars worth of housing to black people, and that hyperinflation is just around the corner.

    Thus fiscal policy as a means of course correction is dead, at least for the next two years. That leaves (unconventional) monetary policy. So the Fed can raise inflation expectations and purchase more debt securities to drag aggregate demand out of the depths. Which is what they have been doing, and will continue to do, albeit at an insufficient rate to actually solve the problem any time soon.

  53. 53
    Karmakin says:

    Yes, the villagers are ALWAYS big on fighting inflation. What the hell do you think all the Austerity nonsense is all about? It’s all about lowering wages in order to make sure that inflation remains low.

  54. 54
    Ailuridae says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    Uh huh. Go eat some brie.

  55. 55
    Stillwater says:

    the supply-siders and deficit and inflation hawks are sending everyone barking up the wrong tree with austerity-now politics… (snip)… Am I missing anything?

    Yes – two things. One, that the paid propagandists on the right argue in good faith and that therefore their proposals ought to be taken seriously. Two, that it is a mistake to try to account for a person’s political position by attributing rationality to them. Often, this assumption gives both them and their views far too much credit.

    Re: the first: chants of imminent default and all the resulting pain if we don’t get serious about austerity now are best understood as phase N in the perpetual and endemic class war that’s been going on since the dawn of man individuals in a society had disproportionate wealth. Sure there may be serious arguments about particular issues (eg, the unfunded liabilities coming due), but in general, these arguments are driven by class identification.

    As to the second, why attribute rational thought processes to people who hold irrational positions, eg, people who deny or remain willfully ignorant of obvious facts in order to push a particular political agenda? You give them too much credit when you reflexively try to understand their view according to your own rational thought processes (based on say, modus ponens, or relevant evidence). What ends up happening is that you give them the benefit of the doubt re: their honesty and impartiality. Which is a mistake. They’re usually just bleating words and catch phrases because they’re paid to or because they’ve drunk too much kool-aid.

  56. 56
    Ailuridae says:

    @Karmakin:

    Yeah, it is a little disappointing on a left blog for folks not to understand the terrain of the arguments. The rich benefit mightily from low inflation almost always.

  57. 57
    ChrisS says:

    This country needs an enema.

    Too much wealth on one side of the distribution curve.

  58. 58
    Shalimar says:

    I guess I don’t read comments often enough to understand all the Kain bashing. Has he personally been an asshole to people to even remotely the same degree that others are to him in this thread and others? Or is all this anger and name-calling prompted because he doesn’t agree with the local consensus on everything even though he does agree with the people who are calling him names here? It just seems bizarre to read the personalized hatred over and over.

  59. 59
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    Given a choice between a bailed out banking industry foreclosing on homes without proper paperwork, i.e. fraudulently, and an individuals and families having their houses taken who do you instinctively defend?

    Kicking the family out is traumatic for real people. Having to wait a while to straighten out paperwork will maybe cost the bank some money, although probably not. We all know what is the more severe moral hazard in our economy, right?

    And how long did you have to be beaten about the head to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe it was worse to take homes from people than it was to make banks prove their claim.

    I’m sorry you dislike the attitude some of us have towards you. But I see attitudes like that and think “that’s why the world sucks so bad”. Not even a moment’s thought as to the effects on the people you were screaming “moral hazard” about when you, like almost all of us here, have it so very good.

    So yeah, to see you suddenly care about how the economy works for society is to wonder what about the current conditions threatens you directly.

    ETA: BTW being accused of only acting in self interest shouldn’t sting so bad for a libertarian.

  60. 60
    Marmot says:

    @Karmakin: Well, here’s a Morgan Stanley guy talking yesterday about Chinese price rises feeding inflation in the United States. The title says M Stanley is “more fearful” of inflation, but he’s talking post-June, and there’s a bit of newsy hyping.

    Just wondering about whether the Village is currently beating the inflation horse.

  61. 61
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Ailuridae: I’m seriously not sure what that even means.

  62. 62
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @Shalimar: It is about his manner of argument. He makes shallow easily debunked arguments that take several threads of 300+ comments to start making a dent in his understanding of what is wrong with his argument. Seriously. It took several days to get Kain to decide that banks shouldn’t be able to foreclose on property to which they had no clear claim.

    ETA: A property-rights, contract law advocate needed to be convinced that a contract had to be in place to foreclose.

  63. 63
    Ailuridae says:

    @Barb (formerly Gex):

    For me that’s not even an egregious example. Just who Kain reflexively is; he’s a corporatist.

  64. 64
    Sentient Puddle says:

    @Shalimar:

    I guess I don’t read comments often enough to understand all the Kain bashing.

    I do read comments often enough, and I still don’t get it. It’s one thing if he writes something that deserves it (which has happened), but then there are times like these where he says something so utterly unobjectionable, and yet people somehow find something so incredibly banal or unrelated to hook on to. And that’s just stupid.

  65. 65
    Ailuridae says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    It means go eat some brie.

  66. 66
    azlib says:

    @Violet:

    E.D. Kain…when did you become a soshulist

    Nah, E.D. has just become a Keynesian.

  67. 67
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @Ailuridae: Oh, there’s definitely a lot. But I find that the easiest to example to give to outsiders wondering what the fuck is going on. The idea that he prefers a system that allows banks to fraudulently foreclose on people to one that makes banks wait to get their paperwork in order is usually stark enough that your average fiscal conservative can grok the problem with that.

  68. 68
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Barb (formerly Gex): your blatant self-righteousness is refreshing.

  69. 69
    Daulnay says:

    @Barb (formerly Gex): Most people don’t know Krugman as an economist, they know him as a columnist for the NYT. How many of the people here, fairly well-read people, knew at the time that Krugman had done extensive research on the Japanese depression? Or that there even was a Japanese depression?

    I knew, but only because 1) I studied Japanese economic development as a college student, and follow events there, and 2) I’ve been reading Krugman because I took a class from him as an undergrad and found his ideas on economic development and technology interesting. Do most Americans have my interests or knowledge? So, how the heck can you expect them to make a good choice between experts?

    Faulting E.D. here is 20/20 hindsight, and pretty unfair.

  70. 70
    Bob says:

    @azlib:

    Nah, E.D. has just become a Keynesian.

    Perhaps a “reluctant” Keynesian. You know, to match his “reluctant libertarian” sock.

  71. 71
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @Sentient Puddle: Mostly, I find that in broad strokes, this is what is happening:

    Liberalism is by default bad and to be avoided. Libertarianism is the proper starting place. Now let’s look at each individual issue and relitigate every policy decision that’s ever been made in this country as though we never learned anything about unabashed capitalism.

    I guess it is unfair to target Kain specifically. It’s just that this is what is frustrating about all libertarians. And, he’s one that cares about understanding what’s happening and making better policy decisions. But holy fucking hell – I do not trust the gut instincts of someone who is okay with fraudulent foreclosures on residences. He’s just now, what, 2 years after the stimulus coming around on demand side stimulus? What the fuck good is that? If we had waited until now to do anything it would have been too late.

  72. 72
    Ailuridae says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    So says the man who was claiming there was a moral hazzard in forcing banks to demonstrate the owned the property they were trying to take from people.

  73. 73
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @E.D. Kain: More refreshing than your disregard for human suffering.

  74. 74
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Ailuridae: that’s bullshit.

  75. 75
    David Fud says:

    @Barb (formerly Gex): Well, I have a Democratic black Congressman, so apparently blacks do vote Democratic in my district.

    Not sure where we are going with this, but I thought I would play along.

  76. 76
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @Daulnay: Fair enough.

    I happen to think ED isn’t most people. ED knows Krugman is an economist. ED writes a political blog on these topics. Maybe he should be expected to know a little more about Krugman than *most* people.

  77. 77
    Ailuridae says:

    @Bob:

    Hopefully at some point in his pained description of himself he can work in a “recalcitrant” usage. One of the first things I learned re: class consciousness is that the privileged have a need to qualify their political affiliation to make it more amenable. Hence “reluctant libertarian” and “reasonable conservative”

  78. 78
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @David Fud: Ah, I was assuming the military guy who was starting to get queasy about his fellow Republicans was white. Sorry.

  79. 79
    Marmot says:

    @Daulnay: So here’s the counterargument. I’m not in economics, never took a college course in it.

    But after the 80s-early 90s U.S. freakout about Japan’s economic growth (remember the Michael Crichton book and movie Rising Sun? and the meme that the Japanese were buying all our land?), I recall hearing about Japan’s stubborn, stagnant growth and deflation. Over the course of years. I expect other people who lived through it to remember too.

    When our crisis started, a few folks in addition to Krugman pointed to Japan’s late-90s problem as a hazard to look out for.

    That’s why faulting ED isn’t truly 20/20 hindsight. But still, it gets kinda triumphal up in here. I’m happy to have ED see the wisdom in Keynes, and I hope it’s catching on with self-styled libertarian types and everyone else.

  80. 80
    Ailuridae says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    You reflexively defended the right of a corporation to take property that they couldn’t prove they owned. What’s the point of arguing with you about this – we’re nearly a half year past you demonstrating in clear detail you didn’t understand what monopoly meant? Why argue corporatism with you?

  81. 81
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @Marmot: If it takes this much effort to get them to “catch on” we won’t have enough time.

  82. 82
    E.D. Kain says:

    Meh. I give up.

  83. 83
    David Fud says:

    @Barb (formerly Gex): No, it was a white military wife well past retirement age who has moved here because she loves it here. Birther, wife of military (retired), and defender of education.

    Who knew? She wanted me to run against this Republican, and it is quite clear that I am nowhere near her side of the aisle.

  84. 84
    David Fud says:

    @E.D. Kain: You are engaging on the substance of this post, I think. Good on you. You don’t need to convince everyone of your pristine intentions or something like that.

  85. 85
  86. 86
    elm says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    Actually I’ve been struggling with these questions for a long time and I just find the demand side much more compelling given all the evidence.

    What was the evidence in favor of alternative explanations? What’s the new evidence in favor of the Keynesian family of macroeconomic explanations?

  87. 87
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    I can understand EDKs views and respect his path. But he also blogs about them on several politically oriented blogs that are much larger than just a private “here are my thoughts” blogs. If you are just now coming to a decision on how the 2009 stimulus should work in 2011, why are you writing to influence instead of reading to learn? None of the pro-demand side arguments are new.

    ETA: Which is why this just reeks of, “holy shit, it’s gonna affect me too!” And again, me accusing EDK of being only concerned with how stuff affects him is right in line with the libertarian market model of social organization. Not sure why it stings so bad.

  88. 88
    Daulnay says:

    It’s a bit crazy to attack people who are trying to become more rational. It’s one thing to call out those who are simply changing their positions out of opportunism, and quite a different one to attack those who are, like E.D., changing positions because they’re reasoning.

    Yes, it’s later rather than sooner. So, too, were our gracious host John, Andrew Sullivan, and many other former conservatives, about the Iraq war. Let’s be civilized and patient. If someone is amenable to reason (even if a bit thick-headed and slow to come around), aren’t they worth the time spent?

    (edit) Looks like a few of you are out of patience. Time to sit back and let others argue, then, instead of making ad hominem attacks.

  89. 89
    ericblair says:

    Low inflation is good if you’re a rent-seeking Galtian overlord. Some inflation is good from the point of view that it tends to make people find productive uses for money to stop it from being slowly inflated away, and gradually reduces the value (and impact) of old and stagnant assets and liabilities. Since your basic rent-seeking Galtian overlord probably makes a fair bit of cash off of passively exploiting old and stagnant resources, this is bad news.

    In essence, moderate inflation is the fiber in the economic diet; keeps things moving through the system and not getting backed up. No fiber means things get clogged up, nothing moves, and the patient starts getting sick from old garbage stuck in the system. Hyperinflation is like eating the bad Chinese take-out and spending the weekend on the crapper; everything gets trashed including useful stuff in a panic, and the patient can expire in a crappy evil-smelling mess on the floor and be an embarrassment to the neighbors. I should write a book.

    Of course, the idea that the little people need to suffer and take their medicine after getting too big for their britches has a lot to do with elite mentality, too.

  90. 90
    Sentient Puddle says:

    @Barb (formerly Gex):

    Liberalism is by default bad and to be avoided. Libertarianism is the proper starting place. Now let’s look at each individual issue and relitigate every policy decision that’s ever been made in this country as though we never learned anything about unabashed capitalism.

    But what’s wrong with that? Everyone has an ideological starting point when they start evaluating any given issue. The important thing is whether or not they actually evaluate the various points and evidence involved with the issue. A lot of libertarians do fail here because they stick too hard to first principles, but I don’t see how anyone could accuse Erik of doing that here.

    He’s just now, what, 2 years after the stimulus coming around on demand side stimulus? What the fuck good is that? If we had waited until now to do anything it would have been too late.

    And this is an example of the banal points I was talking about. First of all, I don’t think anyone has even pointed to anything indicating that he thought differently two years ago, and people are instead just sort of assuming it. Second, so fucking what? It’s not 2009 anymore. Good economic policy right now is more important than whining about how we could have enacted good economic policy then.

  91. 91
    Padraig says:

    Am I missing anything?

    Yup! What you’re missing is that increasing the rate of inflation would have exactly the beneficial effects for the economy that you mention – by essentially moving wealth out of the pockets of the wealthy. So, for the wealthy it’s a question of the good of the country versus their own (incredibly short-term) self-interest. And the wealthy control our political system, because they outbid everyone else for political support, which is exactly what you’d expect in a pluralist lobbying-centered system.

    The take-home point is that the concentration of wealth creates a concentration of power – there’s no way to severe politics from economics. Which is why (pure) Libertarianism does not work in the real world. Basically, if you want checks (allowing the political system to self-correct without coercive governmental interference) you have to have balance – i.e. maintain basic equality among the players. Same logic to perfect competition: once competition is restricted to a small number of wealthy players, they begin cooperating with each other to the detriment of the consumer – and the logic of competition, where some win and others lose, is to decrease the number of players over time while increasing their wealth. So, let’s start figuring out how to get the state to move against the Bankers – cause until that happens, we’re gonna keep getting screwed.

  92. 92
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @Daulnay: Awesome. Can we retool the stimulus to be more demand side heavy or make it larger? The point was made that on this topic, there are no new demand side arguments. What has changed?

  93. 93
    Ash Can says:

    AND DON’T EVER FORGET JOHN COLE VOTED FOR BUSH

    Seriously, you guys, in a thread on a post in which Kain makes perfectly good sense, the Kain-bashing looks like nothing more than a bunch of personal temper tantrums. It’s getting really, really old.

  94. 94
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @Sentient Puddle: What’s wrong with that is that if every single person in our society starts out by rejecting what that society has heretofore agreed upon we are back to having to write a new Constitution whenever a new American citizen was born, as they need the chance to start in that pristine libertarian world as well.

  95. 95
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    And with that I will drop it. Many of you are more tolerant of this stuff and that is good. I suspect if EDK keeps posting on the front page, a number of you will understand this thread better eventually.

  96. 96
    DecidedFenceSitter says:

    @Sentient Puddle: While I don’t agree with it, I do understand it.

    It gets tiring to be call insane, stupid, treacherous, ignorant, naive, etc, etc, having time pass and then all of sudden the people who were berating us are now taking our positions, and rarely with any sort of mea culpa.

    It is the reaction of any Old Guard in any community to the introduction of a New Guard – a feeling that they haven’t done their time, they aren’t devoted enough to the cause. It is always annoying, whether we’re talking politics or alternative lifestyle communities – but it is natural, normal.

    So if Kain is finally coming to the Keynesian light, great. However, he should be expecting to see some shoe leather for what he’s said in the past. Cause that’s how it works in any large enough group that’s been mocked by him or his previous allies.

  97. 97
    El Cid says:

    The right actually argues that what we are dealing with right now isn’t a demand problem, but a supply issue. Just as was argued in the Great Depression. And what caused a downturn to turn into a Great Depression was Herbert Hoover’s big spending, and then FDR made it worse, and it didn’t even help unemployment, blah blah blah blah blah.

    These are the same fuckwads that dismiss public employment in assessing unemployment rates under the New Deal. Because, you know, fuck you if you now had a job, it wasn’t a real job because it wasn’t from private industry, so your family getting food is just some sort of illusion.

    They argue that the notion that a fall in demand could cause a recession is Keynesian mythmaking, a failed economist and propagandist whose last feverish adherents died out in the 1970s since they were all killed in Black Panther shootouts.

    “Pshaw!” respond the Keynesians. “If consumers spend less on consumption goods, why would entrepreneurs increase the capacity of their operations? Moreover, even if people saved more today with the goal of consuming more tomorrow, investors’ motives are so haunted by animal spirits that we can’t rely on investors to read lower interest rates as a signal to invest more. Alas, only government can provide the rationality, stability, and spending necessary to keep the economy at full employment.”
    __
    The “classical economists”—which include in this case not just scholars who preceded Keynes, but also the likes of Frank Knight, Ludwig von Mises, and F. A. Hayek, who were contemporary with Keynes or even younger than him—pointed out that an increase in savings doesn’t mean a permanent desire to consume less in an absolute sense. It means a desire to spend a lower portion of income on consumption goods. As income increases, consumption will rise in an absolute sense.
    __
    A person saves more today, first, to increase his income and wealth over time so he can consume more in the future while still preserving or even growing his wealth, and, second, to be able to consume comfortably when illness or retirement makes further work impossible. The notion that people work to produce valuable output without any desire ultimately to consume the fruits of their labor is really rather bizarre, when you think about it, but it forms part of the foundation of Keynesian economics.

    So, Mr. Rationalist Asshole above completely ignores the fucking question of what’s happening with the economy at the moment for jacking off to a discussion of what consumers might eventually purchase.

    So, all you shit-bags worried about the economy now, shut your pie-holes, because someday when they feel like it consumers are going to have enough saved up to rush out and buy stuff again, someday, and therefore businesses who can’t sell anything to such future consumers in the present will just invest more in contemporaneous economic activity because interest rates may lower.

    See? Keynes was wrong because by saying that in the temporary case of severe downturns caused by a collapse of aggregate demand the government could step in as a replacement consumer he totally forgot that some people who weren’t devastated by losing jobs and their investments and housing value might work really hard and save up money and spend someday.

    The biggest fucking problem ever in the universe is therefore inflation and the possibility of taxes on the wealthy who are busy laying golden eggs for the rest of us to steal via our jealous redistribution of wealth.

  98. 98
    El Cid says:

    @El Cid: Aggregate demand causing a recession in the sense of being the manifestation of consumer behavior change as a result of the housing bubble collapse.

  99. 99
    Ailuridae says:

    @Ash Can:

    On the rare occasion ED has something to say it is nothing other than what’s already been said 100X here. Given his very real credibility problems (he is demonstrably ignorant regarding basic economic principles) why listen to him?

    Specifically, until he admits his claim that a municipality bidding out trash collection doesn’t constitute a monopoly I will hector him in every economics related post he makes. He is demonstrably as ignorant as McMegan

  100. 100
    Shalimar says:

    @DecidedFenceSitter:

    It gets tiring to be call insane, stupid, treacherous, ignorant, naive, etc, etc, having time pass and then all of sudden the people who were berating us are now taking our positions, and rarely with any sort of mea culpa.

    Ok, this I understand, and I have my moments of irrationality when it comes to dealing with libertarians. But I just haven’t seen Kain berating anyone. Saying things I completely disagree with, yes. But not saying my beliefs are wrong and not even worthy of consideration. Which most people who consider themselves libertarians are very quick to do, I agree.

  101. 101
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    Oh, back in to just add, John is special. His mea culpa was thorough and he held himself to account. In addition, he does not repeatedly hold and advocate the same BS positions (economy, SSM, and so on) he used to. So he doesn’t get the crap ED does. And Sullivan gets more crap here than ED.

    To be honest, I aspire to hold myself to account like that. John helped me realize that I do have common ground with self-identified conservatives. But there are precious few people of any stripes who will cut open a vein like he did. And in that he has earned something that ED hasn’t (yet).

  102. 102
    Marmot says:

    @El Cid: I still don’t get this argument against Keynes. So, people who’re out of income are actually saving a load of money for later purchases, rather than slowly paying off debt? And when times are good, people buy things with money, rather than easy credit, which suddenly evaporates when times get bad?

    The anti-Keynes stuff just surprises me. How can it even seem plausible to people who can read?

  103. 103
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @Marmot: A saying my boss used to tell me: “People who don’t read have no appreciable advantage over people who can’t read.”

  104. 104
    Daulnay says:

    @Barb (formerly Gex): RE John, ED, Andrew, and crap. I guess my preference is to argue rather than to fling poo. I enjoy the snarkiness of Balloon Juice, but the stuff I see here here isn’t witty at all.

  105. 105
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @Daulnay: I wasn’t trying for wit, to be sure. I was displaying outrage simply because I cannot understand how the idea of a family being kicked out of their home can be viewed the way he initially did. And some of it was the spill over from the fact that it took several days of long arduous arguments to even make a dent in that – in which he tended to respond to the inflammatory comments and refuse to address actual arguments. But ah, I’m going there again. Like I said. He’ll turn it around or you’ll all eventually see the pattern too.

    Right now, I just need to check myself. Do not want to be a matoko.

  106. 106
    DecidedFenceSitter says:

    @Daulnay: Having been here since the earliest Schiavo days, the snarkiness has generally been lacking of witty, it is just with the amount of snarky shit that is said, some gems emerge.

  107. 107
    pandera says:

    @Barb, @aluridea – please god stop. We get it. Until E.D. prostrates and whips himself until he bleeds over his inability to define monopoly to your satisfaction and begs forgiveness for addressing the foreclosure crisis in a way that offended you – you will not listen to anything he says (it’s the unworthiness, don’t you know.), but will hijack the thread on his post until every single, goddamned commenter agrees with you and praises your forthright, common sense wisdom. Got it. Are we finished?

  108. 108
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @pandera: Wow, did you have epic fail on reading where I went? And who the fuck are you to tell us what we can and can’t say on the internet? Get the damn pie filter.

    ETA: Are we finished? Well who the fuck is stirring it up 40 minutes later? Maybe read where I said I was going to let up. Then refrain from coming back in and starting it up again, and we can be finished.

  109. 109
    J Frank Parnell says:

    We could always start a war and increase military spending which would have a stimulative effect. Plus, more people would join the army which would lower unemployment. I kid, of course

    Sure, you kid, but President Brush-Clearer apparently thought it was a wonderful idea (link)

  110. 110
    pragmatism says:

    ED gets it from commenters at the league for not being enough of a glib and here for being too much of a glib. that blows. but….back to glib bashing, saw this today at http://timothyblee.com/2011/02.....k-liberal/ that reminded me of his league/cato buddies:

    One of the more pernicious influences of Rand and Rothbard on the libertarian movement was their tendency to treat every policy problem as almost reducible to a logical syllogism. Too many libertarians act as though they don’t need to know very much about the details of any given policy issue because they can deduce the right answer directly from libertarian principles. The practical result is often to shut down internal debate and discourage libertarians from thinking carefully about cases where libertarian principles may have more than one plausible application. Hayek seems to have written “‘Free’ Enterprise and Competitive Order” with the explicit purpose to combat that kind of dogmatism. He thought it “highly desirable that liberals shall strongly disagree on these topics, the more the better.”

  111. 111
    El Cid says:

    @Marmot: This particular “argument” against Keynes ignores a discussion of a situation now versus a situation long term.

    The economy is ‘hurting’ (objectively and in its human effects) now; Keynes’ recommended policies are designed to counteract the situation now. And this will help to minimize long-term negative effects as well.

    The ‘counter’ argument ignores the economy as it is now and tries to substitute a facile statement of philosophical principles regarding ‘the long term’.

    Keynes’ famous quip was what this was all about.

    His ‘conservative’ opposition at the time dismissed the concerns of people like Keynes because things would work out economically ‘in the long term’.

    Thus Keynes’ response, ‘In the long run, we’re all dead.’

    The blogger doesn’t know and/or doesn’t care that Keynes didn’t argue that government always be the consumer ‘of last resort’ to boost aggregate demand.

    He argued that it do so only in the sorts of circumstances we’re in now (recession).

    Keynes likewise argued that governments should not do so in periods of strong but normal economic growth.

    In periods during which the hoarding of cash instead of business investments in growth and upgrades and hiring and the like begins to drag down economic growth, Keynes advocated raising taxes and/or cutting government spending and the like.

    You never hear about that other bit.

    Part of the problem, though, is the huge dependence of the American economy on federal spending. What is the DOD and related military research and contractors but a continuous public subsidy to semi-soshullized military-related companies and research centers?

  112. 112
    socratic_me says:

    @Barb (formerly Gex):

    Oh, back in to just add, John is special. His mea culpa was thorough and he held himself to account. In addition, he does not repeatedly hold and advocate the same BS positions (economy, SSM, and so on) he used to. So he doesn’t get the crap ED does. And Sullivan gets more crap here than ED.

    This is BS, which I expect even John would own up to. He says all sorts of stupid stuff all the time. This is almost always a return to cranky conservative default positions and is inevitably irritating. Then some people call him on it and some defend him. But to act like John is somehow washed of his sins because he flagellated himself appropriately is just dumb. It also speaks volumes for how dumb this crusade against EDK is.

    Moreover, listening to people who show up in every thread to beat Kain up for not being pure enough or seeing the light early enough turn around and tell others to use a pie filter is glorious for its wingnut-grade lack of self-awareness.

    EDIT re 108: And no, after taking a giant dump in the middle of a thread for a goodly chunk of 80 comments, you don’t get to whine about how people won’t just drop it when they point out that you should pull your damned pants up and stop acting like a fool.

  113. 113
    gex says:

    @socratic_me: Oh, so my opinion on what I think about John is wrong. I don’t show up in each thread – even if this occurs in every thread. And well, if people keep addressing me directly, they don’t really get to whine about me continuing to comment.

    If EDK didn’t keep coming back to each economic argument with the same errors of argument it would be different. I mean, how much “I think this would show” and “I don’t really know much about this” hedges in an argument can you take before you give up that he’s an honest broker in any of the arguments he’s had, whether you like his position (this post) or not (moral hazard keeping people in houses they may own!).

  114. 114
    eyelessgame says:

    E.D. – ok, I was really pissed by a lot of your (imho clueless glibber) previous posts, but I am glad to see you’re following the First Rule of Holes, and I think people should give you a bit more credit for seeing some light – especially considering whose blog this is.

    One point of order.

    a single troop in Afghanistan costs close to one million dollars a year.

    Keep in mind that much of that million dollars goes to the additional support personnel who must be employed in order for that one troop to be there. It’s not like it’s a 40:1 inefficiency here. The million dollars doesn’t just evaporate. It goes to somebody (most of it not to that grunt, of course).

    It’s not the best use of money, still – teachers would be a lot better – but don’t oversell.

    That aside, you may be miles down the wrong-direction road from your history, but you appear to have pointed yourself in the right direction here. Keep driving this way. Eventually we will notice you’ve figured out more.

    But on reputation and changes in beliefs. Explain to us what you understand to be wrong about your prior positions. Show us what you’ve learned – not just that you happen to believe this now, when the decision has already been made to go the way you used to advocate – but show us that we can rely on you (should we survive the disastrous consequences of fucking up by doing what you were advocating a few years ago, and reach a similar point again in the future) to be on the right side of the question when it matters.

  115. 115
    mclaren says:

    Kain writes:

    But increased stimulus would not only pump more money into the economy and lead us closer to full employment, it would begin to drive inflation rates up a bit, leading to more capital investment in the private sector.

    Sorry, but that’s just not correct. Inflation depends not only the total quantity of money in circulation, but also on its velocity of circulation. Right now, the velocity of circulation is almost zero. People everywhere are hoarding cash — especially corporations. So we could jack up the stimulus to ridiculously high levels and still get no inflation because the velocity of circulation is near zero.

    If you don’t believe me, consider that after all the trillions of dollars of stimulus the Fed pumped into the economy over the last 2 years, core inflation right now is…zero.

    Source: Core consumer price inflation is still on track for 0%.

    Why? Because the velocity of circulation is near zero. Everyone who’s got cash is holding onto it.

  116. 116
    mclaren says:

    @eyelessgame:

    Keep in mind that much of that million dollars goes to the additional support personnel who must be employed in order for that one troop to be there. It’s not like it’s a 40:1 inefficiency here. The million dollars doesn’t just evaporate. It goes to somebody (most of it not to that grunt, of course).

    It’s not the best use of money, still – teachers would be a lot better – but don’t oversell.

    We have hard metrics on this. Confirmed: murder-of-third-world-women-and-children spending creates fewer jobs than other types of spending.

  117. 117
    E.D. Kain says:

    @eyelessgame: Oh gosh. It’s a long answer. I mean, back when Obama was elected I was very much anti-libertarian, advocating protectionism and all sorts of stuff. Anti-market, etc. Actually, my libertarian phase hasn’t been all that long, and it’s really stemmed from studying how healthcare works, how cartelization occurs, etc. But my instinct is very much against the libertarian grain, actually, and that is why I’ve described myself as a ‘reluctant libertarian’ (contra earlier claims in this thread I’ve never self-described as a ‘reasonable conservative’). My blogging has been a process to help me understand what it is I believe. I write to learn, and I change my mind frequently. I voted for Obama and supported his stimulus program (even through my own doubts over its merits) and I’ve never spoken out against it. Even here at Balloon Juice I’ve written favorably for it though I’ve warned that bailing out states that won’t manage their own finances or raise their own taxes creates some bad incentives. But honestly, what I’m trying to do is figure out what is right and what will benefit the most people. I’m no ideologue.

  118. 118
  119. 119
    brantl says:

    @Shalimar: He can’t seem to get his facts straight, time after time, after he’s been refuted with both logic and facts. He keeps touting the smae horseshit. That’s what is the burr under everyone’s saddles.

  120. 120
    brantl says:

    @E.D. Kain: And your blatant “I don’t know shit, but my opinion is informed and worthwhile” is really, really cloying.

  121. 121
    brantl says:

    And what you’re missing Kaine, is that this shit wouldn’t happen with decent regulation. If you’d paid attention, you’d have noticed that the Eurpean Union countries that didn’t follow our lead on deregulation only suffered to the extent that they invested in the U.S. . So, your views about the “free markets” are horseshit.

  122. 122
    E.D. Kain says:

    @brantl: have you been paying attention to Europe at all?

  123. 123
    Ecks says:

    @brantl: Bloggers should always be our daddies and tell us things authoritatively and expertly. If they admit to doubt, uncertainty, or the limits of their knowledge that just proves we should be reading someone else’s blog in the first place.

    Or maybe, y’know, there are different styles of bloggers. There are uber smart experts, and there are elite snarksters, there are the non-expert wise (I think of Digby), and there are others who are bright people who know something but not everything, and are working through it in public. You can hate that, or you can be part of the conversation, but FWIW it’s legit. If you don’t like something, then do what the rest of the internet does, and just don’t read it.

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