11 May 2012


Economics, karaoke, Potpourri, Shameless Self-Promotion 35 Comments

* I have been saving up posts on the alleged “austerity” over in the UK and Europe, but the news is moving fast and I’d better just send you to the relevant links. So first of all, here is Tyler Cowen showing an awesome graph from Veronique de Rugy detailing nominal government spending in various countries. Not surprisingly to readers of Free Advice, the alleged poster child of austerity–the UK–is just about the worst example one could pick. (And by “one” I mean “Paul Krugman.”) People bit Tyler’s head off in the comments, but he doubled down in this subsequent post, basically saying, “I admit there might be more to say on this issue, but so far, nobody has said it.” Don’t be intimidated Tyler. (Seriously: The people in the comments at his first post are throwing up all sorts of sand, none of which detracts from the basic point Veronique was making. They might as well have said, “Oh, but your chart is in annual figures! In the real world spending is done daily.”)

* No idea at this point how I stumbled upon this news report on “Million Dollar Voices,” but it’s kind of neat. I’m sure there’s a lesson about the division of labor and population growth in there, somewhere.

* Here’s the interview Charles Goyette did for Carlos and me in April’s Lara-Murphy Report.

* Ralph Raico sent me this article on karaoke. (A sentence I never thought I’d blog.) I must disagree, however, when the alleged experts in the article caution people not to do “Hey Jude.” Perhaps that’s true in general, but not at Mises U:

NOTE: The above video is, to my knowledge, the only one in existence where I didn’t say, “Jeez, I swear I sounded better in person than that iPhone would suggest.”

35 Responses to “Potpourri”

  1. Mr. Magoo says:

    I see no austerity in the Netherlands, a majority of five parties has agreed on tax hikes. Higher taxes on gasoline and so called dirty fuel, the VAT rate will be raised from 19% to 21% percent (this rate includes almost everyting except food), higher taxes on soft drinks, alcohol and tabacco. The state pensioen age will be raised to 67in a pretty fast time frame (sucks if you doing physical work al your live).

    But because all policital parties wanted something to get the deal done, there will go a little more money to culture spending and there will be a lower VAT rate on solar panels and so called podium arts, wich honestly isn’t much but the government spending on so called culture is still wasteful. Yep, the people governing us in the Netherlands have the ambition to really squeeze the taxpayers.

  2. John G. says:

    Nice video, Doc!

    Smart and fun loving; nice combination, sir!

  3. Daniel Hewitt says:

    Note that the de Rugy graph shows Euros for all. However the UK units should be Pounds. The values themselves of the UK series are correct.

    (As Brad DeLong cautioned, I am checking your data very carefully Murphy)

  4. Connor says:

    As someone who lives in the UK I can safely say there has been no austerity here. The “austerity” the govt have undertaken has mainly involved raising taxes and attempting to freeze some public sector pensions.

    I am not even sure they have managed to cut the rate of growth significantly…

  5. Major_Freedom says:

    Here are the total government expenditures data for every European country:





    Notice how “savage” the Ireland government’s spending cuts were (second chart). They “savagely” cut spending back down to 2009 levels.

    Notice how “savage” the Greek government’s spending cuts were (also second chart). They “savagely” cut spending back down to 2007 levels.

    Oh the HORROR!

    • MamMoTh says:

      Has someone discovered how the automatic stabilizers work?

      This should be on the news!

      Those clever countries that stop paying teachers and doctors to do their job and rather pay them unemployment benefits!

      Sweden, Norway and Switzerland still not get it, and are missing a lifetime opportunity to enjoy a Great Recession.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        Glad that you admit, via the passive aggressive method of not explicitly addressing the fact, that there hasn’t been “savage” SPENDING CUTS in Europe. At best, there’s only been a mild retrench to spending levels of the very recent past.

        I’ll leave the “automatic stabilizers” red herring for another day.

        • MamMoTh says:

          I couldn’t have been more explicit!

          Sent your red herrings to the Swiss, Swedish and Norwegians, to make it up for their lost opportunity to enjoy the Great Recession.

          • Major_Freedom says:

            All three of those countries have had increasing government spending since 2009.

            They aren’t examples of “savage” spending cuts.

            • MamMoTh says:

              Oh man, you are thick!

            • Major_Freedom says:

              that’s what she said

  6. Beefcake the Mighty says:

    In advance of the Keynesian lawyer (aka DK) showing up:

    .(‘(…´…´…. ¯~/’…’)
    …’\……………. _.·´

    • Daniel Kuehn says:

      …………………/ /
      ………….___/” |
      ..:[¯¯:¯[¯) \
      ..:[¯¯¯:¯[¯) \¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
      ..:[¯¯¯:¯[¯) |
      ..:[¯¯:¯[¯) /

      Thumbs up are much nicer!!

      (rough, I know, but I did not resort to copy and paste for mine)

      • Major_Freedom says:

        That thumb is amazingly double jointed.

  7. Daniel Kuehn says:


    It looked right on the comment section… hold on

  8. Daniel Kuehn says:

    ………………/…. /
    ..:[¯¯:¯[¯) ……………\
    ..:[¯¯¯:¯[¯) …………..\¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯¯
    ..:[¯¯¯:¯[¯)…………… |

    • Daniel Kuehn says:

      OK – that spacings screwed up too.

      Bah – forget it. And btw – you’re paranoid and obsessive, beefcake.

      If the first thing you can think of on a sparse comment thread of a post that doesn’t even mention me is me, then you’ve got issues.

      • Beefcake the Mighty says:

        Issues? Got plenty, thanks for asking. But truth is, at almost any Austrian (or non-Austrian) site that discusses matters Keynesians, you’re usually the first to post saying “well that’s not really what it means…blah blah legal beagle etc”. You’re simply late for this particular party.

        • Robert Fellner says:

          This a true statement. People don’t need to have issues or be “extremely unhappy” to point this out to you, Daniel.

          • Joseph Fetz says:

            To be honest, I was turned off by his Krug-fluffing a long time ago. The Keynes thing I can deal with, but I will not engage in correspondence with a Krug-fluffer.

            • Major_Freedom says:

              Oh you guys are missing out. I for one love to hear the same monotonous, passive aggressive, non-committed and evasive meanderings from DK.

              It would be boring if there were no “What are you talking about?” or “It seems to me that while I think there could be at least some sense where one could at least make a statement as to the underlying assumptions, it nevertheless is the case that the intention here is to convey the impression that he may have said something I would have challenged, uh….RON PAUL SUCKS!” kind of endless amusement.

              • Beefcake the Mighty says:

                Don’t forget about his assurances that he too supports the free market and limited government. Except, you know, for those cases when he doesn’t.

              • Richie says:

                Also don’t forget that he gets pissed if you tell him he thinks like a central planner, even though that’s what fiscal and monetary “policy” is all about.

  9. Daniel Hewitt says:

    Paul Krugman insists that there have been big spending cuts, because “you can’t just look at spending levels”.


    • MamMoTh says:

      He’s right. don’t believe the usual suspects when they say anything at all.

      • Major_Freedom says:

        He’s wrong. I believe the usual suspects in this case because in this case they’re right.

        If the claim is that large spending cuts have been made, then of course the proper metric is…spending levels.

        This is a hilarious case of “Ruh Roh! The data doesn’t match my rhetoric! Better redefine what spending means!”

      • Richie says:

        HIs sister love’s plagiarists.

      • Richie says:


        • Beefcake the Mighty says:

          Bob has pretty much destroyed the continuity of this part of the thread. And all because I used the term “ball juice”. That’s a bit heavy-handed, don’t you think, Bob?

    • Beefcake the Mighty says:

      Typical. They didn’t spend enough. How do we know this? Because the economy didn’t recover. And how do economies recover? By spending enough that the economy recovers.

      Keynesianism vindicated!

    • Daniel Hewitt says:

      Something else worth mentioning about Krugman’s post, is that by dismissing the relevance of welfare spending, he seems to be cutting off his nose to spite his face. He specifically mentioned food stamps and unemployment insurance as examples of “social benefits” spending. However, when Krugman was trying to sell the stimulus several years ago, he supported these types of spending.

      How much do tax cuts and spending raise GDP? The widely cited estimates of Mark Zandi of Economy.com indicate a multiplier of around 1.5 for spending, with widely varying estimates for tax cuts. Payroll tax cuts, which make up about half the Obama proposal, are pretty good, with a multiplier of 1.29; business tax cuts, which make up the rest, are much less effective.


      From the link in the above excerpt, food stamps and unemployment insurance had multipliers that were right up there with spending on infrastructure:

      Spending Increases
      Extend Unemployment Insurance Benefits 1.64
      Temporarily Increase Food Stamps 1.73
      Issue General Aid to State Governments 1.36
      Increase Infrastructure Spending 1.59

  10. RG says:

    “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” has entered my repertoire to ballyhooed success.

    For those brave enough “Sir Psycho Sexy” by RHCP is best for finding true friends in the room.

  11. Chris says:

    Excellent video, Bob !!!!
    Lets see Krugman try to top that

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