I have thought Gingrich was a snake ever since he snubbed my family and me in a stairwell of the capital building in 1997. That might
mbe unfair but there is enough wrong with him otherwise. I wont get into it to avoid unhelpfully alienating readers as politics is not the point of this blog.
However, I had forgotten that he is a longtime supporter of Robert Zubrin and the idea of issuing federally funded prized for space exploration. Basically, instead of having NASA do the exploration (central planning approach, fraught with poor incentives), or contracting firms to do the exploration (maybe better but still open to regulatory capture, Eisenhower’s warning), NASA simply throws money at the first group to achieve some goal. So if you wanted an American mission to Mars, you set aside $50 billion in treasuries and give it to the first team to meet the mission criteria. That is, send 4 or 6 American’s to Mars for 18 months of science stuff.
There is enough private capital in the world to come up with the $20 billion needed for a risky, barebones Mars mission as long as the prize is big enough. If the mission fails, it doesn’t directly cost the taxpayer a thing. If no one goes, it doesn’t cost a thing. If it succeeds, well then we get our Mars mission on the cheap.
Of course Gingrich can’t beat Obama for a number of reason, so it doesn’t really matter. Still, I will take the wrong people supporting the right policy any day. I just hope the policy doesn’t become tainted because of Newt’s character flaws.
I have been working on this post for a few days and don’t really know what I am trying to say. Still, now that Sumner has beaten me to the punch, I’ll post so that people can see recent movements in British NGDP, at least as of the third quarter.
So Britain is slipping again. The sometimes tribally partisan Menzie Chin:
The UK Office of National Statistics has just released preliminary estimates for real GDP growth in 2011Q4. The 0.8% contraction (q/q SAAR) was large than consensus , and in fact larger than the 0.6% decline forecasted by Deutsche Bank on 1/18. Figure 1 illustrates the fact that a year and a half after the election of a coalition government bent on a path of austerity, the UK economy is likely to be entering a new recession (not that growth was so great even before the dip).
U.K. NGDP has been weak for a while now, and sterling fairly resilient in 2011. My interpretation is predictable. The BOE hasn’t done enough. If they would debase the currency down to 1.30 or 1.20 v.s. USD and get AD back on track then we could have a debate about the wisdom of austerity. Until then the blame goes to BOE for not spiking the punch enough. Remember, monetary policy is not about setting interest rates. Monetary policy is about manipulating the aggregate behavior of the public by using the central bank’s monopoly on money base money creation. The BOE should manipulate the public into spending more, now.
Here is a plot:
I kind of like this measure of NGDP stability. The change in NGDP from three years ago. The much bigger U.K. economy had pretty stable growth over three year spans compared with tiny Sweden (presumably harder for the Riksbank to steer nominal growth quarter-to-quarter). Even if you were a member of that small minority of Britons who actually work in the nonfinancial private sector (stealing TVs in riots and breeding legions
of dullards on Her Majesty’s largess don’t pass muster) you could be pretty confident that your average self would see about 16% nominal income growth every three years. So…1.16^(1/3) -1… that’s 5%!
NGDP in Britain is too weak, but probably not so weak as to explain more than just slow growth if the potential growth rate of the economy were not compromised. My story is that out-migration of the upper middle class is dragging on AS while the economy transitions from finance to other services. I read the the Daily Mail daily and it seems to me that England in particular is becoming a crass, uncouth land. I probably wouldn’t live anywhere in Britain but for maybe Scotland, unless it was temporary or I were being well paid or were house sitting for the Queen. This may be the real reason why Britons capable of producing AS gains are flocking to American and Canada. I’ll work on finding some evidence, there was an article in The Economist on this about two years ago, but I can’t find it now.
Until I get some real numbers, think of this anecdote: While visiting a friend in Malmö this summer I went bar hopping with the inevitable chain of expat acquaintance. In the group was an English theoretical chemistry PhD student. He wasn’t too keen on Sweden, but as university funding had dried up in the U.K. he was forced to study in Malmö (this would have been my second choice after Copenhagen and Uppsala but then I am from Vermont). I asked him if he had been in England for the riots and he proudly proclaimed that the garish sweatshirt which he wore had been looted by him personally. Wow. In England theoretical chemistry PhD students loot sweatshirts. Wow. It is almost a shame that members of the Second Word War generation are alive to see the monstrosity that their formerly great country has become.
Sometimes youtube clips are better than words:
It now occurs to me that some readers get new posts by email. Sorry if you got a half written post this morning about unnecessary adulterations of the English language. That’s what I get for writing the wordpress editor, kindly disregard my off topic crankiness.
He makes me want to be a libertarian
This is convenient. From Bloomberg News:
Warren Buffett’s Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC is among U.S. and Canadian railroads that stand to benefit from the Obama administration’s decision to reject TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL oil pipeline permit.
I’m not saying Buffett stat down for a lunch of bland cheeseburgers and coca cola with the Obama and ironed out a way to boost his railroad’s profits. [Key Hannibal Lecter voice] The Obama is incidental!
I’m saying Obama’s antigrowth policies favor the interests of existing capital. There is no one alive more cut from the existing capital cloth than Buffett. An evil genius like him couldn’t help but grasp the hand which feeds. I am also clearly not saying the Republicans, especially the George Bush-Newt Gingrich wing are wise or honorable.
I’ve never trusted Warren Buffett. Or rather I have never bought the conventional tale that his heart isn’t as wormridden and scornfilled as say a Dick Cheney or Angelo Mozilo. His dopey way of talking and unthreatening appearance aside, I am too strong a believer in the efficient markets hypothesis to accept that someone could become so wealthy without also being at least a bad person, if not quite a crook. I guess my point is that Buffet’s endorsement of Obama is not a plus for Obama, in a moral sense anyway, I am sure it is good politically.
The only politician I would ever endorse would be an AI programed to maximize welfare conditional on not stealing from or killing nonviolent people.
Sorry for the lack of worthwhile posts. Work has drained me of any energy, creativity or positive feelings.
Boy do I wish my job were to write this blog. A month since the last post. I’ve written several lengthy drafts in the meantime—too bad they were all rubbish.
Most of my readers will be at least aware of the Sumner v.s. Wren-Lewis +Krugman debate. Once I saw that their fight was over fiscal multipliers I sort of stopped reading. I am too busy crawling my way through a Swedish translation of Schopenhauer’s Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung (Swedish is truer to the original I figure), the new Steve Jobs bio and most interesting: Money in a free society. Sumner is a trooper for fighting with those who are too craven to just come out as say they want more government spending, rather than concocting Rube-Goldberg arguments to trick us. The honest progressives like Matt Yglesias impress me so.
There is nothing wrong with saying the welfare state should be bigger, a lot of reasonable people think so. However, in a world where MV=PY there is no credible argument for fiscal stimulus. If we need more nominal spending, do it through the rigors of the market by dropping money from helicopters. That way the new spending is owned by someone and subjected to the warehood of scarcity, not the lalaland of marginal and temporary government spending. Don’t give it to the same people who gave us the TSA.
Speaking of silly politicians, if these SOPA and PIPA laws are really as bad as Jimmy Wales says, I will have to move to Canada ASAP. Give me Wikipedia or give me death.
If you want to hear a funny tongue and learn a whole lot in the process, check out the Norwegian documentary series Hejernevask (brain wash) on youtube. The program’s showman (what do you call the guy who does the interviewing, the Michael Moore?) interviews PC Norwegian academics on various Nature-Nurture debates, invariably hearing that Nurture trumps all. He then tracks down the best experts in the world (usually in the U.K. and America) who then tell him that, no actually it is mostly genes behind man’s behaviors, lusts and capacities The best part is when the aforementioned PC academics are confronted with the impressive evidence in favor of biology, they come across as the charlatans they are. There are instructions just below the play button and time selector on the youtube interface for the version with English subtitles. Don’t forget to check out the other episodes.