lukegilman.com : High on the Hog Blog
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Please note: I'm no longer updating this particular blog, but keep it around for archival purposes. Visit me at the current blog at www.lukegilman.com

Apocalypse Not Now: Paul Krugman on the State and Direction of the American Economy

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Paul Krugman, perhaps the United States best-known active economist by virtue of his NY Times column and popular books, has posted a though-provoking lecture from his class at Princeton – The Return of Depression Economics?

Among the contentions of just how bad the current financial condition of the country really was, Krugman notes that “we basically replayed the first year of the Great Depression” in that “year one was a full match for the Great Depression itself.” His relative optimism springs from the conclusion thatafter “the mother of all asset bubbles in housing, probably the biggest mis-pricing and overvaluing of assets in history … we do not appear to be replaying the second year of the Great Depression.”

Audio: Paul Krugman, The Return of Depression Economics?, Oct. 21, 2009 (download mp3)

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Krugman’s narrative – an economic catastrophe originating in Reagan’s deregulation was saved by the stabilizing influence of big government (“deficit spending saved the world”!) – is not one I’m entirely willing to accept, but the discussion is nothing if not thought-provoking.

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Alex Tabarrok, How ideas trump economic crises – a surprising lesson from 1929

Alex Tabarrok writes on one of my favorite blogs, Marginal Revolution and gave a a surprisingly optimistic talk on the dismal science at the TED Conference.

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Jeffrey Sachs on Representing the Voiceless

The good people at the Situationist have uploaded many of their videos to YouTube. Included below is Jeffrey Sachs’ talk “Representing the Voiceless: The Poor, the Excluded, and the Future.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Peter Schiff’s Financial Predictions 2006-2007

Prognosticators are rarely held to their prior errors, as long as they tell us what we’re in the mood to listen to. It will be interesting what the internet does to long-term punditry.

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An Economic View of Time Management

All people are equally good at time management, but some people are more willing than others to admit that they are doing what they want to do, while others maintain the illusion they wish they were doing something else.

A typically insightful observation from Tyler Cowen at Marginal Revolution: My sentence on time management

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New York Review of Books, Allison Lurie on Alice Munro, Jeffrey Sachs on the viability of Economic Aid

Allison Lurie on Alice Munro

The New York Review of Books had two recent articles of interest to me; perhaps to you as well. One of my pet peeves is discovering great writers only after they’ve died. I discovered Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man in 1994 for instance. Same with James Merrill, I’ve finally jumped ahead of the curve with Alice Munro. Hopefully this doesn’t bode ill for her. She’s long been admired by fellow practitioners; she was a favorite assignment of the creative writing profs I had in undergrad. Her literary star is now apparently finding a deservedly wider audience. This is surprising for two reasons. First, her subject matter is neither sexy nor exciting. There is no elevator pitch for Munro’s work. It’s highly unlikely movies will be made. She is, simply and rarely, a fantastic writer. To read Munro is to be in the hands of a skilled butcher, to have the animal aspect of ones nature revealed, quarted, boned and trimmed with the same mix of pragmatic nonchalance and artistry. Secondly, Munro lives almost exclusively in the short form, a more difficult, technical yet infrequently lauded.

Lurie does an admirable job of capturing what’s important to know about Munro for the uninitiated.

One of Alice Munro’s great achievements has been to look with care and concern at her chosen world, and at what some readers would consider uninteresting persons: a sulky little girl, a small-town elementary school teacher, a retired salesman of farm chemicals. Munro takes these people seriously. As she says in the epilogue to Lives of Girls and Women, “People’s lives, in Jubilee as elsewhere, were dull, simple, amazing and unfathomable—deep caves paved with kitchen linoleum.”

Growing up next to Canada, I found this line alone was worth the price of admission:

In the imagination of most Americans, Canada is a blur. It contains a lot of pine trees, moose, and Mounties; its population is relatively small, its politics relatively polite. Canadians are honest and serious but slightly dull. Some of us may pity or scorn them for not having joined the revolution of 1776: in this view, they are like the goody-goody siblings who never rebelled against their parents.

New York Review of Books: The Lamp in the Mausoleum

Jeffrey Sachs on the viability of Economic Aid

In a second article, economist Jeffrey Sachs responds to an earlier article by Nicholas Kristof which cited Sach’s panegyric The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time and William Easterly’s skeptical White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good.

A second reason for the retreat is the widespread belief that aid is simply wasted, money down the rat hole. That has surely been true of some aid, such as the “reconstruction” funding for Iraq and the cold war–era payouts to thugs such as Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire. But these notorious cases obscure the critical fact that development assistance based on proven technologies and directed at measurable and practical needs—increased food production, disease control, safe water and sanitation, schoolrooms and clinics, roads, power grids, Internet connectivity, and the like—has a distinguished record of success.

New York Review of Books: How Aid Can Work, in response to Aid: Can It Work?

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Milton Friedman, RIP

:-(

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