Assorted Links (6/29/2011)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading lately:

The Deficit Is Worse Than We Think

“In The Wall Street Journal, Lawrence B. Lindsey writes that higher interest rates, slower economic growth and a more costly ObamaCare would mean escalating deficits for years to come, regardless of whether a budget deal is struck.”

A Review of HBO’s “Too Big To Fail”

“Nearly three years after the worst of the financial crisis, we are still living with its residue of slow growth, anemic job creation, and a moribund housing market. On top of these real-life reminders have come movie depictions of the crisis, including the May 2011 HBO version ofAndrew Ross Sorkin’s book Too Big to Fail, and the 2010 Academy Award-winning Inside Job.”

Notable & Quotable –

“Economist Steve Hanke on the failure of deficit spending to revive the economy.” (note: This is an excerpt of Professor Hanke’s article; the full version is available at

160 Million and Counting

“Abortion and the tragedy of the world’s missing women.”

Q&A with Russ Roberts and John Papola

“Economics Professor Russ Roberts, and host of the weekly podcast series “EconTalk,” and John Papola, a filmmaker and entertainment marketing executive, have collaborated on the creation of two rap videos about economics.”

The Failure of Al Gore: Part Deux

“That Al Gore’s definitive statement on the crisis of the climate change movement appeared in the back pages of Rolling Stone magazine rather than in a more prominent and prestigious location is one sign of the decline in his reputation.”

An ObamaCare Legal Precedent?

“In The Wall Street Journal, David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey write about the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Bond v. United Sates, which gives a boost to the doctrine of enumerated powers and could have far-reaching implications for ObamaCare.”

Why Your Car Doesn’t Have a Spare Tire

“In The Wall Street Journal, Sam Kazman says the government’s CAFE standards means lighter cars, which results in thousands of additional traffic deaths per year.”

The Local Government Pension Squeeze

“In The Wall Street Journal, Steve Malanga reports on the severe budget problems of municipalities, thanks to growing pension costs and other retiree benefits.”

Are Catholic Colleges Catholic Enough?

“In The Wall Street Journal’s Houses of Worship column, Patrick J. Reilly writes that federal regulators want to pass judgment on the religious character of schools.”

GOP Governors Are Showing the Way

“In The Wall Street Journal, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell writes that state Republicans are tackling the issues voters want addressed—and that’ll be a major asset for the party’s presidential nominee in 2012.”

Debt Hamstrings Recovery

“Around the globe, the inability of governments and households to reduce their debt continues to cast a shadow over Western economies and the financial health of individuals.”

Bummer of a Recovery

“On economic growth, real GDP has risen 0.8% over the 13 quarters since the recession began, compared to an average increase of 9.9% in past recoveries.”

Why the Old Jobs Aren’t Coming Back

“In The Wall Street Journal, Nobel laureate Michael Spence writes that old jobs aren’t coming back, but smarter tax policies and collaboration between the public, private and labor sectors can help make the U.S. competitive again.”

The Drug War: What is It Good For?

“Absolutely Nothing. Let’s end it.”

Did the Stimulus Stimulate? Real Time Estimates of the Effects of the American Recovery and Reinvest

From Dartmouth, here’s the latest empirical assessment of the economic impact of the Feb. 2009 “stimulus” act: “A cross state analysis suggests that one additional job was created by each $170,000 in stimulus spending. Time series analysis at the state level suggests a smaller response with a per job cost of about $400,000… Grants to states for education do not appear to have created any additional jobs.”

Obama vs. ATMs—Why Technology Doesn’t Destroy Jobs

“In The Wall Street Journal, Russell Roberts of George Mason University writes that doing more with less is what economic growth is all about.”

The Two Year Anniversary of the Non-Recovery

“This month marks the two-year anniversary of the end of recession and start of recovery. But it’s a recovery in name only, so weak as to be nonexistent. And it has been weak from the start.”

Shlaes: Remember the lessons of the 1980s to avoid a double-dip recession

“Is our economy headed back into a recession? A look at a past double-dip, the recessions of 1980 and of 1981-1982, suggests we are due.”

The Failure of American Schools – Magazine – The Atlantic

Among other things, I learned that 1) “The average NYC teacher works fewer than seven hours a day for 185 days and costs the city $110,000-$71,000 in salary, $23,000 in pensions, and $16,000 in health and other benefits”, and 2) “It’s possible for a teacher in New York City to retire at 55 and draw down an annual pension of more than $60,000, plus lifetime health benefits…”

Post office suspends retirement contributions

Quoting from this Associated Press article, “The agency (USPS) said Wednesday it is acting to conserve cash as it continues to lose money. The post office was $8 billion in the red last year because of the combined effects of the recession and the switch of much mail business to the Internet. It faces the possibility of running short of money by the end of this fiscal year in September.”

The Surprising Roots of Liberal Nostalgia

“In The Wall Street Journal, Michael Barone writes that World War II created confidence in large institutions and big government. But today, few Americans would want to go back to the cultural conformity of the mid-20th century.”

Assorted Links (6/21/2011)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading lately:

Adam Smith: An Overview of His Ethical Vision

“Daniel Klein offers an overview of Adam Smith’s ethical vision. Focusing on Theory of Moral Sentiments, Klein highlights key ideas favoring the equal-equal relationship and minimizing the superior-inferior relationship. Klein highlights Smith’s liberalism, the presumption of liberty. An extension of Theory of Moral Sentiments, Wealth of Nations is Smith’s instruction at the wide “fourth source” of moral approval.”

Is weather becoming more extreme?

Interesting photo essay about climate change from the Boston Globe’s “Big Picture” website…

Five Lessons for Deficit Busters

“In The Wall Street Journal, Michael J. Boskin of Stanford University writes that a recent study of successful deficit reductions found they averaged more than $5 in spending cuts for every $1 in tax hikes.

Stephens: A Republican Foreign Policy –

“In The Wall Street Journal, Global View columnist Bret Stephens writes that credibility—not consensus—should be the GOP’s watchword.

Blue State Schools: The Shame of a Nation

“When it come to excellence in education, red states rule — at least according to a panel of experts assembled by Tina Brown’s Newsweek. Using a set of indicators ranging from graduation rate to college admissions and SAT scores, the panel reviewed data from high schools all over the country… Three of the nation’s ten best public high schools are in Texas – the no-income tax, right-to-work state that blue model defenders like to characterize as America at its worst.”

Japan: three months after the quake

Amazing photo essay about the aftermath of the March 2011 Japan earthquakes from the Boston Globe’s “Big Picture” website…

Paul Krugman: The Prophet of Socialism

Interesting (conservative) assessment of the punditry of Nobel Economics laureate and Princeton economist Paul Krugman – I particularly appreciate Mr. Luskin’s 94 column, 5 year effort called the Krugman Truth Squad (cf.…

Uncertainty Is Not the Problem

“In The Wall Street Journal, Clifford S. Asness writes that it’s not the policies we don’t know about that are retarding the economy—it’s the bad policies we have.”

Rivkin and Casey: Why ObamaCare Is Losing in the Courts

“In The Wall Street Journal, David B. Rivkin Jr. and Lee A. Casey write that the government’s lawyers keep changing their arguments as each one is exposed as constitutionally suspect.”

The Lone Star Jobs Surge

“The Wall Street Journal says the Texas model added 37% of all net U.S. jobs since the recovery began.”

Comparing 2011 with 1937

“In today’s article in Bloomberg View I explore reasons for the current weak recovery, and in particular whether there is an analogy with what happened in the recession of 1937-38 which interrupted the recovery from the Great Depression.”

A Short History of Political Suicide

“In The Wall Street Journal, John Steele Gordon writes that Anthony Weiner’s Twitter disaster may well cost him his seat in Congress, but Washington has seen many other sordid meltdowns.”

More Calls for a Drug War Cease-Fire

“In The Wall Street Journal, Americas columnist Mary Anastasia O’Grady notes that an increasing increasing number of world leaders believe that laws against drug consumption do more harm than good.”

Dr. Kevorkian’s Victims

Ross Douthat’s article on the so-called “right to die” quite clearly identifies the moral and ethical slippery slope that this concept entails…

Feds to Biotech Firms: Shut Up

“In The Wall Street Journal, Scott Gottlieb writes that medicine will suffer if Washington controls the flow of scientific information.”

The Real Cost of the Auto Bailouts

“In The Wall Street Journal, University of Pennsylvania law professor and bankruptcy expert David Skeel says that the government’s unnecessary disruption of the bankruptcy laws in the reorganization of GM and Chrysler will do long-term damage to the economy.”

The Age of Obama

“Recessions come and go. Typically we emerge with strong sustained growth. Not this time. Today we learned that employers added the fewest jobs in 8 months. Unemployment jumped back to 9.1 percent – and really, the level is 15.8 percent.”

What Paul Ryan’s Critics Don’t Know About Health Economics

“Stanford University’s Alain Enthoven writes in The Wall Street Journal that a premium-support system would create the right incentives for cost cutting without putting undue burdens on seniors.”

Assorted Links (6/2/2011)

Here’s a list of articles that I have been reading lately:

Faith and the markets

Some interesting (and clever) analogies between faith and finance from The Economist…

In Praise of Debt Limit ‘Chicken’

Stanford University economist John Taylor notes that yesterday’s debt limit statement (calling for tying any increase in the debt limit to spending reform) is all about solving the so-called “time inconsistency” problem (cf. The “trick” is to ensure that policies implemented today can be credibly expected to result later in a more stable and financially sustainable fiscal environment.

Why You Still Shouldn’t Worry About Cellphones And Cancer

“The news that an arm of the World Health Organization said cellphones might cause cancer seems to have caused a World Wide Web freakout. But what kind of risks are we talking about? The reality is calming.”

Afghanistan, May 2011

Amazing photo essay from the Boston Globe’s “Big Picture” website…

The Death of the American Dream I

“The news from the housing market this week is bad.  Really bad.  House prices today are lower in most of the country than they were in the dismal month of April 2009; we are now in the second dip of the double dip housing downturn.”

Obama’s Cloud Economy

“In The Wall Street Journal’s Wonder Land column, Daniel Henninger writes that the economy is flying without instruments because of the White House’s policy choices.”

Future Oil Supplies Can Lower Prices Today

“In The Wall Street Journal, Lucian Pugliaresi of the Energy Policy Research Foundation writes that, as the 1970s oil shocks taught us, prices are heavily influenced by expectations.

The U.S. Postal Service Nears Collapse

“Delivery of first-class mail is falling at a staggering rate. Facing insolvency, can the USPS reinvent itself like European services have—or will it implode?”

66% Worry Government Will Run Out of Money

Quoting from this article: “”Sixty-two percent (62%) of Adults think most politicians want the government to have more power and money than it does today, while 18% think politicians want less power and money… By comparison, just 18% feel that most Americans want the government to have more power and money than it does today. A strong majority (64%) feel Americans want the government to have less power and money.”

A Look at Case-Shiller, by Metro Area (May Update)

“S&P/Case-Shiller home-price data indicated a clear double-dip for housing, as a tax-credit-induced bump last year was erased and national prices fell back to mid-2002 levels.”

Boehner Cites Support of Economists in Debt Limit Fight

For what it’s worth, I (along with 149 of my closest economist friends) signed the statement referenced in this article. I worry that runaway spending and indebtedness may continue relatively unabated even if this gets legislatively implemented. David Malpass’s ideas (about linking debt/spending to GDP; see may provide a more credible long-run strategy for preventing financial Armageddon…

The U.N. Can’t Deliver a Palestinian State

“Fouad Ajami writes in The Wall Street Journal that the 1947 U.N. General Assembly vote that created Israel was the culmination of decades of hard work on the ground.”

House Prices Have Now Fallen Farther Than They Did In The Great Depression

“This report is the most widely-followed home price index, equally quoted in bank boardrooms, Treasury Department back rooms, and Congressional Committees.”

11 Things You Should Know About The U.S. Postal Service Before It Goes Bankrupt

“Facing a projected $6.4 billion loss this year, the Postal Service is expected to hit its own debt ceiling by the end of this fiscal year on Sept. 30.”

Sociology and Other ‘Meathead’ Majors

“In The Wall Street Journal, Harvard’s Harvey Mansfield writes that Archie Bunker was right to be skeptical of his son-in-law’s opinions.”

It’s Not About You

“America needs to adjust its message to college graduates.”