23 May 2016

It’s Apparently Opposite Day at Krugman’s Blog

Krugman 102 Comments

For our first ever live audience taping of a Contra Krugman episode on Saturday, Tom and I tackled this op ed from Krugman on inequality.

Naturally we were skeptical of Krugman’s claims, particularly his glowing references to Denmark. But I had no idea just how duplicitous Krugman’s argument was. But Glen Raphael, a commenter on David R. Henderson’s post at EconLog, caught the following:

Later in the article, Krugman writes:

“How does Denmark do it? Partly with higher taxes and bigger social programs, but it starts with lower inequality in market incomes, thanks in large part to high minimum wages and a labor movement representing two-thirds of workers.

If you follow the link to “high minimum wages”, the first sentence of non-title content is “There is no legally stipulated minimum wage in Denmark.”

Now if you go and look at the link, and then circle back and see that Krugman put a plural on “minimum wageS,” you understand what he must have meant. Namely, there are collective bargaining agreements that ensure “minimum wages” for various types of workers. (Though even on his own terms, it seems Krugman would have to admit that 1/3 of the workers in Denmark are not explicitly covered in this way?)

But boy oh boy, would anybody have thought that from Krugman’s own wording? It sure sounds like he thinks U.S. politicians should raise the minimum wage to be more like Denmark, don’t you think? (As opposed to: Abolish the federal minimum wage.)

22 May 2016

Two Good Verses

Religious 14 Comments

James 4:7:

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”


Proverbs 9:10:

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”

19 May 2016

Bask on Tom Woods Show Appearances by Michael Malice

Tom Woods 4 Comments

(For new readers, “bask” = blog ask. I don’t like “bleg.”)

I seem to recall that Michael Malice appeared on Tom Woods’ show a while ago, and he confidently predicted that Hillary Clinton would not be the Democratic nominee. I thought he would have said this during the episode when he debated Tom on whether a Clinton presidency would be good or bad for liberty, but I listened yesterday and didn’t catch him making the other point.

Does anyone else remember Malice saying this? Can you help me find where?

18 May 2016

Lara-Murphy Show: How Governments Use Inflation as a Hidden Tax, Part 1

Inflation, Lara-Murphy Show 4 Comments

This will probably seem like Romper Room stuff to many of you, but for whatever reason Carlos’ idea to use Caesar as the launching-off point struck me as very powerful to connect with the average person. I first saw Carlos give a public talk on fractional reserve banking and open market operations, but he started out talking about Caesar literally debasing the currency.

18 May 2016

Power to the People

Economics, Libertarianism, Shameless Self-Promotion 98 Comments

My latest at FEE. I quote a socialist with approval! (Really.) Here’s the conclusion:

The advocates of political intervention think that they ensure “consent of the governed” through the institution of democracy. But both history and theory show the naïveté of that belief. Suppose we had retained the medieval guild system, but with the tweak that the numbers of new entrants would be ultimately controlled by politicians who were elected every four years. Would that have solved the problem and given us a free labor market where people can choose their career paths?

In this world, it is impossible to have “total freedom” in the sense of being subject to no one else’s will — your behavior will necessarily affect others, and vice versa. But the institutions of private property and money allow for voluntary exchanges, with price signals communicating the information everyone needs to adjust his or her behavior. The system is not perfect, but it is the only coherent way to retain a meaningful sphere of individual autonomy while receiving feedback from others.

16 May 2016

Murphy Twin Spin

Contra Krugman, Shameless Self-Promotion, Trump 7 Comments

==> Hey, every Contra Krugman episode is a thing of beauty, but I really liked this most recent one, where we take on Krugman talking about Trump talking about a Treasury default.

==> And here’s the accompanying blog post I did, to show why Krugman/Yglesias in 2012 were stressing salutary mechanisms over fears of a Treasury default that for some reason they don’t mention today in the context of Trump. (And vice versa, the stuff they’re saying today–to show what a nutjob Trump is–were never mentioned back in 2012 when some people were worried about a “bond vigilante” attack.)

==> And here’s a bonus link: Michael Malice does a good job on Tom’s show talking about Trump vs. Clinton.

15 May 2016

I Go Deep on Twitter

Religious 9 Comments

I realized that most of what I pump out on social media is cynical humor, and so I thought I should keep it real for a bit.

Let there be peace on Earth /
And let it begin with me…

15 May 2016

I Took Down My Brad DeLong vs. John Cochrane Post

DeLong, Noah Smith 84 Comments

Well shoot, I still think Brad DeLong was very unfair to John Cochrane when he said that in his Cochrane’s WSJ op ed, Cochrane “draws this curve:” and then posts a curve that DELONG drew, not Cochrane. That’s the upfront, gripping part of the post, and when I first read it, I too was stunned that Cochrane had (allegedly) done that.

Later on in the post, DeLong posts computer code and says “Play with the R-code if you want to see how much a more flexible functional form wants to say that the U.S. has the optimal “Business Climate.” I confess I didn’t look very carefully at this. I thought DeLong was saying (I’m paraphrasing), “Even if you use other functional forms, you can’t make the ‘best-fit’ line go through the point Cochrane needs, if you’re using levels of per capita income on the y-axis.”

But alas, I should’ve looked more carefully. DeLong at that point (again, the bottom of his post) *does* finally switch to log income, which is what Cochrane actually used in his WSJ post. (Cochrane explains why he did that, in his blog response to DeLong.)

So, I still would’ve had a nice little blog post had I looked more carefully at what DeLong did with that code. To wit: Rather than simply reproduce the actual graph Cochrane used, instead DeLong (a) first tells us he drew a graph that he did not, and (b) then gropes around with computer code to make it work better (?), leading the reader to believe that DeLong is searching for a way to figure out where Cochrane could possibly be coming from.

So anyway, I took down the first post, because I had so badly misunderstood that component about the computer code that it was easier just to remove it. My apologies for the confusion I added.

Last thing: I realize it sounds like I’m making excuses, but guys, cut me some slack. I don’t read DeLong’s blog anymore, or Cochrane’s for that matter. The whole reason I even stumbled on this dispute was that I (foolishly) follow Noah Smith on twitter, and this is the tweet that alerted me to DeLong’s blog post:

Noah on DeLong

So I went into this thinking–and Salim Furth confirmed–that DeLong had eviscerated Cochrane, both logically and with computer code. This is why I didn’t carefully parse DeLong’s computer code to see that far from writing code that “annihilates Cochrane’s main graph,” I think actually what happened is that DeLong’s code came closer to explaining Cochrane’s main graph (though still not sure what he was doing with it–I think Daniel Kuehn and Noah Smith came to opposite conclusions about what DeLong was demonstrating with that code).

What did we learn, kids?

#1) Never be really smug, because in case you make an innocent mistake you end up looking like an idiot. (I’m referring to myself in the previous post.)

#2) Economists are dangerous.

#3) I need to unfollow Noah Smith on Twitter. I’ve known this for a while but this is pushing me to act. I’ve hit rock bottom.

#4) I made Daniel Kuehn’s weekend.