Why Trump might keep Yellen

Many commenters have taken it as a given that Trump will replace Janet Yellen next year.  I certainly think that’s possible, but I’ve also argued that he might reappoint Yellen.  Now that seems a bit more likely:

Mr Trump has been highly critical of Ms Yellen in the past, saying that the Fed’s low interest rate policy had hurt savers.

He has also indicated that he would not nominate her for a second four-year term when her current one expires in February 2018.

But in Wednesday’s interview he said he now liked “a low-interest rate policy” and “respects” the Fed chair.

He also said she would not be “toast” when her current term ended, although he added: “It’s very early.”

The reason is simple.  When Trump asks his advisors for some possible names to replace Yellen, he’ll be given a list of conservatives.  Then Trump will ask whether interest rates will be lower under Yellen or under the conservatives.  The advisers will respond “Yellen”.  Trump will then say “Then why don’t we just stick with Yellen?

PS.  A few months ago I got a lot of grief from Trumpistas for suggesting:

1.   Flynn and Bannon are extremists and should not be on the NSC.

2.  Trump is just as militaristic as Hillary.

3.  Although China’s occupancy of some tiny uninhabited atolls is unfortunate and illegal, it’s trivial compared to what Russia is doing in the Ukraine and Syria.  Contrary to what Bannon claims, Russia’s the real threat.

4.  NATO is the most successful alliance ever, and is certainly not obsolete.

Now we read:

Trump spoke glowingly on Wednesday of a personal connection with Xi that he said had developed during the two days that the Chinese leader visited over the weekend.

“We had a very good bonding. I think we had a very good chemistry together,” Trump said of his time with Xi during a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Trump, who added that he was “very impressed with President Xi,” repeatedly stated that he thought the Chinese leader had good intentions toward the United States. “President Xi wants to do the right thing,” Trump said. “I think he wants to help us with North Korea. … I think he means well, and I think he wants to help.”

There were other signs of goodwill between the Trump administration and China on Wednesday. Trump told the Wall Street Journal that he would reverse his previous pledge to label China a currency manipulator, which had been a cornerstone of his argument that China was cheating the U.S. and depriving American workers of jobs.

As for Russian President Vladimir Putin, a man that Trump has often spoken of in equally glowing terms, Wednesday’s assessment was not as kind.

“I don’t know Putin,” Trump said, before pivoting back to praise Xi, as well as NATO itself, in another sign of shifting relations between the White House and Russia.

Standing next to NATO’s top official, Trump said the European alliance that exists to counter Russian aggression was “no longer obsolete,” reversing himself on a term he’d used as recently as January to describe the group.

In Moscow, meanwhile, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met with Putin for nearly two hours before declaring that “the current state of U.S.-Russia relations is at a low point.”

Trump himself added that “we may be at an all-time low in terms of relationship with Russia.”

I know it’s poor taste to rub “I told you so” into people’s faces; but in the case of alt-righters I’m willing to make a exception.

New predictions; contrary to campaign promises:

Trump won’t significantly change our trade relationship with Mexico and China.  China is not a “currency manipulator”.

Trump won’t do anything significant to help blue-collar workers.

Trump won’t repeal Obamacare, at best he’ll modify it.

Trump won’t significantly change immigration policy.

Trump won’t pay off the national debt.

Trump won’t significantly improve the economy.

Trump will hurt the GOP in the 2018 midterms.

Basically, Trump won’t Make America Great Again.  Instead he’ll mostly maintain Obama’s policies.  The economic performance will be similar to what it was under Obama.

Trump is bad in just about every possible away a person can be bad.  Fortunately some of those bad characteristics offset.  Thus his bad policy ideas are offset by his complete incompetence, which forces him to rely on experts.  Thank God there are damn few alt-righters who have the expertise required to be top policymakers.  It looks like people like Jared Kushner and Gary Cohn (who are basically Democrats) will run the show.

PPS.  I have no sympathy for that United Airlines passenger.

HT:  Saturos


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91 Responses to “Why Trump might keep Yellen”

  1. Gravatar of eneas ez eneas ez
    13. April 2017 at 06:17

    loved the end

  2. Gravatar of rtd rtd
    13. April 2017 at 06:24

    FYI, Bernanke supporting price-level targeting.

    https://www.brookings.edu/blog/ben-bernanke/2017/04/13/the-zero-lower-bound-on-interest-rates-how-should-the-fed-respond/

  3. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    13. April 2017 at 06:43

    Trump is getting a lot of grief from the alt-right now.

    “1. Flynn and Bannon are extremists and should not be on the NSC.”

    -On the contrary, they are moderates and are vastly superior to you know who. They should be kicked off the NSC becausethey are not extreme enough.

    “2. Trump is just as militaristic as Hillary.”

    -Obviously wrong.

    “3. Although China’s occupancy of some tiny uninhabited atolls is unfortunate and illegal, it’s trivial compared to what Russia is doing in the Ukraine and Syria. Contrary to what Bannon claims, Russia’s the real threat.”

    -Still as ridiculously false as ever. America is the real threat to itself in the short run and China in the long run. Russia is not a threat to any nation either in the short or long run.

    “4. NATO is the most successful alliance ever, and is certainly not obsolete.”

    -NATO is still little more than an Islamist terrorist organization which has done nothing to help America.

    Trump should nuke DC and possibly Ankara instead of attacking airbases which have done nothing to the U.S.

  4. Gravatar of Jeremy Goodridge Jeremy Goodridge
    13. April 2017 at 06:49

    What’s your prediction on taxes?

  5. Gravatar of Ryan Meehan Ryan Meehan
    13. April 2017 at 08:35

    Why don’t you have any sympathy for the United passenger? I’m curious because I haven’t really seen anyone defend United at all.

  6. Gravatar of Scott H. Scott H.
    13. April 2017 at 08:54

    I don’t have a dog in this particular “I told you so” fight, but couldn’t most of your current predictions be turned around on you for an “I told you so”? It certainly looks like the old “sky is falling” predictions are notably absent.

    Meanwhile we’ve got justice Gorsuch, avoided nationalizing all student loan debt along with socializing college education. We’ve also gotten a short reprieve on social justice warriors using executive federal powers to remake America. We may even get a small tax cut.

    I didn’t vote for Trump. At the same time, right now I don’t have a lot of nostalgia for what an HRC presidency might have been like — knock on wood.

  7. Gravatar of Arilando Arilando
    13. April 2017 at 08:55

    >I have no sympathy for that United Airlines passenger

    Why not?

  8. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    13. April 2017 at 08:57

    “Trump won’t repeal Obamacare, at best he’ll modify it.”

    “Trump will hurt the GOP in the 2018 midterms.”

    This is where the rubber hits the road. The cynic in me thinks the GOP will massively screw up health care, and then blame Trump for their losses.

    Basically you have a law that gives two choices:
    1) Pay 2.5% of income for no health care
    2) Pay ~10% of income for almost no health care (unless extremely sick)

    Don’t people usually make fun of those who voluntarily check the higher income tax rate box when filing their tax returns?

    The penalty is both too low to make a stable risk pool, and too high to be politically enforceable.

    Guaranteed Issue/Community Rating don’t work. But you can’t repeal them, because it’s completely unjust who gets affordable insurance, kind of like post-Soviet property privatization. And you can’t credibly promise to phase GI/CR out and enforce “responsibility” because health care is so politicized people will rightly bet on a bailout; it’s self-fulfilling.

    So which party is first to acknowledge Obamacare is a hot pile of garbage that requires a massive taxpayer funded bailout? Any takers?

    I expect the answer to that will turn elections.

  9. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    13. April 2017 at 09:06

    “Instead he’ll mostly maintain Obama’s policies.”

    “Trump will hurt the GOP in the 2018 midterms.”

    Again, this is an interesting juxtaposition, which gets to the heart of TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome):

    So you’re saying Obama’s policies are baaddddd????

  10. Gravatar of Jeff G. Jeff G.
    13. April 2017 at 09:25

    Steve, I’ll let Scott opine on whether or not Obama’s policies are bad but maintaining the opposition’s policies is certainly bad for any political party.

  11. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    13. April 2017 at 09:30

    rtd, As he did before joining the Fed.

    Jeremy, I have no idea, but I expect to be disappointed. Having said that, they’ll probably do SOMETHING, as there will be a lot of pressure to get something done. I don’t expect to see the BAT passed.

    Ryan, When an airline tells you to get off the plane, you need to get off the plane. He had no legal right to be there. If I was one of the other passengers I would have been infuriated with him. His actions held up the flight for everyone else. He’s just a spoiled crybaby.

    I have sympathy for the Syrian dad holding the two dead babies in his arms. I have no sympathy for spoiled Americans complaining about “first world problems”. So he has to take a later flight—big deal. I’ve had to stay in cities overnight because of flight problems–it’s not the end of the world. He needs to grow up.

    Scott H. You said:

    “It certainly looks like the old “sky is falling” predictions are notably absent.”

    You may recall that I repeatedly made two claims when Trump ran:

    1. His policies would be a disaster if enacted.

    2. His policies will not be enacted.

    I’d say I’m looking pretty good right about now.

    Arilando, See my reply to Ryan.

    Steve, I opposed Obamacare. I thought Obama was OK on foreign policy, except the Syrian “red line” fiasco.

  12. Gravatar of Benny Lava Benny Lava
    13. April 2017 at 09:38

    This is a great post! The trumpery is hilarious. I’ve long thought the definition of a conservative is credulity. Trump is just a salesman. If he was born poor he’d be selling used cars in Lodi New Jersey right now. Instead he is President because the suckers believed all these promises. A ship of fools.

  13. Gravatar of Justin D. Justin D.
    13. April 2017 at 09:40

    –“NATO is still little more than an Islamist terrorist organization which has done nothing to help America.”–

    Que?

    –“Basically, Trump won’t Make America Great Again. Instead he’ll mostly maintain Obama’s policies. The economic performance will be similar to what it was under Obama.”–

    Not the best, but better economic performance than Obama really wasn’t on the table this past election. We also get Neil Gorsuch instead of Merrick Garland, which I consider a huge win.

    –“Trump won’t repeal Obamacare, at best he’ll modify it.”–

    Tinkering around the edges isn’t likely to produce results anyone will be happy with. Ryan’s health care plan really confused me. It was basically just a worse version of Obamacare.

  14. Gravatar of Jeff G. Jeff G.
    13. April 2017 at 09:41

    One of the best descriptions of Trump: “I guess if you want Trump to completely reverse his position on you, your company, your country or your institution – all you have to do is meet with him.”

    Paging Bryan Caplan.

  15. Gravatar of Jim Glass Jim Glass
    13. April 2017 at 09:49

    First, more news on the subject.

    My opinion that was censored, purged! out of existence at EconLog follows…

    WaPo:

    President Trump is abandoning a number of his key campaign promises on economic policy, adopting instead many of the centrist positions he railed against while campaigning as a populist.

    Trump will not label China a “currency manipulator,” he told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, despite a campaign pledge that he would apply the label on his first day in office. He also said he was open to reappointing Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet L. Yellen after saying last year that the central banker should be “ashamed” of what she was doing to the country. And he embraced the Export-Import Bank, a government agency that he mocked last year…

    The statements represent a move toward the economic policies of more centrist Republicans and even at times align with the approach of former president Barack Obama.

    On the global stage, Trump’s reversals have been even sharper. Last week, he ordered airstrikes against the Syrian military, even though he promised during the campaign to keep the United States out of conflicts in the Middle East. He is also adopting the Obama administration’s call to oust Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, a position he refused to take during the campaign. The shift on Syria enraged some of Trump’s campaign supporters who had embraced his isolationist foreign policy…

    Also on Wednesday, Trump praised the work of NATO, a pact between the United States and some of its closest allies that Trump once called “obsolete.”

    “It was once obsolete; it is no longer obsolete,” he said Wednesday after meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg….

    Barry Bosworth, a senior fellow in the economic studies program at the Brookings Institution, said, “Boy, what a surprise to find that he’s moved so far.”

    “The president’s positions were ‘shoot from the hip,’ and, basically, I think the professional economists found it absurd,” Bosworth said. “To observe that he’s willing to move back towards a more rational policy, even while he’s being pushed in the opposite direction [by some advisers] … to me, it says the president listens to common sense. In that respect, I think it’s encouraging.”

  16. Gravatar of Russ Abbott Russ Abbott
    13. April 2017 at 10:00

    Having Kushner and Cohn run the show is not necessarily good. See http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2017/04/stop_relying_on_jared_and_ivanka_they_are_enablers.html

    and

    http://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/4/13/15281232/trump-pivot-sessions-cohn

  17. Gravatar of Jim Glass Jim Glass
    13. April 2017 at 10:08

    A comment I submitted to EconLog (in response to you) was censored out of existence a little while back for “ad hominen attack” — against Trump! — for saying The Donald is a beautiful natural experiment that should thrill Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Bryan Caplan: What if Bryan’s typical irrational voter somehow ascended to the height of power … if Cliff Clavin became president? Because it just happened!

    The “Cliff Clavin” line wasn’t a slur against Trump, rather a defense of him against all the charges that he is a “racist … pathological liar”, etc, which all of us in NYC who have been watching him for 30+ years know is not true. (NYC is immigrant town, with >600k illegals walking the streets, and Trump never said ‘peep’ against any of them in his 30+ year public life. And while he’s always had a host of stand-out personality traits, “pathological lying” just is not one of them). Hey, there was nothing evil about Cliff. He was just a regular guy who meant well, while getting his opinions from strange sources and having to be right all the time. Suppose he became president?

    Well, the results are coming in and Bruce in particular should be thrilled, because they are just as he says, Cliff The Donald behaves exactly like every other politician facing the same political incentives. First, when outside trying to get in, find populist issues to ride whether you believe them or not, damn your evil enemies, and tell the lies that work in a one-time play with the ignorant masses (JFK’s “missile gap”, FDR’s “while I am talking to you mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars” — just before ordering the US Navy in peacetime to attack German submarines in the hope of provoking that foreign war.)

    Personally I found Trump’s campaign lies rather meek in substance compared to those of many of his predecessors, and believe the reaction of horror to them in many quarters came from his amateurishly exuberant disregard of our rules for lying in politics, being so brazen and him openly enjoying them so. We have social standards for polite political lying. E.g., the border with Mexico has been a legit steady political issues since before 1846. (See Speechless, Michael Keaton and Gina Davis, 1994, and “the Ditch”.) Why the big-deal reaction to Trump about it? Because he was going to deal with it via a wall tall and gloriously beautiful and, yes! the Mexicans were going to pay for it! Eeek!! … but I digress.

    OTOH, when one moves from outside to inside the game changes from one-time play to iterative — to get anything done, even survive, one must deal with the same people over and over. One must work *with* people, no longer call them bad names, no more bullspit that peeves them off, no making enemies lists (ask Nixon) like Bannon tried to do by forcing a losing vote on the Obamacare ‘repeal’. Now the same incentives that forged everyone else forge you. The populist bomb-throwing enemy-makers go overboard. Bye, Steve. But you’ll be happier being outside again throwing bombs in.

    BTW, it is quite amusing that Bannon and buddies have taken to calling Jared and Ivanka (and by implication The Donald himself) “Democrats” as a slur. Didn’t he ever look at Donald’s long history of campaign contributions? (To Harry Reid, John Kerry, Edward Kennedy, Charles Rangel, Chuck Schumer…) Who did Steve think he was supporting? What a naif. Just another rube who believed what a politician said. A “political chief strategist” really should be a lot better than that.

  18. Gravatar of bill bill
    13. April 2017 at 10:29

    If $800 doesn’t draw volunteers, they should increase the offer. Only voluntary de-bookings should be allowed. No drafts.

    Regarding this specific case, it’s bizarre to me that they were putting people in hotels and on a flight 18 hours later. It’s less than a 5 hour drive. Someone should have told United about Uber.

  19. Gravatar of Jim Glass Jim Glass
    13. April 2017 at 11:10

    If $800 doesn’t draw volunteers, they should increase the offer.

    Of course. And it seems some airlines are smarter than others…

    Why Delta Air Lines Paid Me $11,000 Not To Fly To Florida This Weekend

    For which Delta gets probably more than that in good publicity in Forbes. While millions of dollars of negative advertising couldn’t have bought what United got hit with for trying to save those 800+ bucks.

  20. Gravatar of Doug M Doug M
    13. April 2017 at 11:24

    Trump is neither the savior nor the anti-christ.

    The power of the presidency is more limited than most people give credit for.

    The difference between the Republicans and the Democrats is about as distinct as the differences between Coke and Pepsi. To the brand loyal they couldn’t be more different. But, for the rest of us, the differences are superficial.

  21. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    13. April 2017 at 13:21


    New predictions; contrary to campaign promises:

    All the predictions you make are correct but they are pretty easy to foresee. You aren’t really going out on a limb here, you predict the things that are to be expected as of now.

    A good prediction is predicting something that’s not easy to foresee by others at the given moment.

  22. Gravatar of Arilando Arilando
    13. April 2017 at 13:45

    Sumner, in regards to the flight passenger, your view is pretty fucked up. Even if you believe they had the right to remove him, that doesn’t justify the way they removed him, which led to him getting wounded in a way that was completely unnecessary. United were the ones who handled the situation in a completely incompetent manner. They should know that a certain percentage of people would act the way the passenger acted in situations like that.

  23. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    13. April 2017 at 13:59

    Russ, Not good, just less bad than Bannon.

    Arilando, I said I had no sympathy for the passenger, who is a jerk that inflicted a lot of inconvenience on everyone else. Next time maybe he’ll behave like an adult, not a spoiled child.

    I never said I agreed with United’s decision—I don’t care about them. The problem is the passenger.

  24. Gravatar of Arilando Arilando
    13. April 2017 at 15:42

    Yes, we all know that justifies getting beaten to a pulp.

  25. Gravatar of Patrick Sullivan Patrick Sullivan
    13. April 2017 at 15:52

    ‘A comment I submitted to EconLog (in response to you) was censored out of existence a little while back for “ad hominen attack” — against Trump!’

    I wonder if Lauren was once one of those sci.economists who swore we were one and the same person?

  26. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    13. April 2017 at 16:47


    Yes, we all know that justifies getting beaten to a pulp.

    I doubt that the staff of United beats someone to a pulp. From what I read they called airport security and/or police. Then the security and/or police explained him that he had to leave the plane, then the passenger declined multiple times and that’s usually the point when police is allowed to use force.

    We all suspect how things will unfold from this point onwards: The passenger will get quite a lot of money (maybe thousands or even millions of dollars). Quite often a sum that bears no relation whatsoever to the damage that was inflicted. Not to mention that the passenger is a big child and not even in the right.

    Here’s how the passenger is behaving before security/police has to force him out. He’s even talking about a lawsuit already:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cFNhMZFqfIo

    United Airlines should not offer him a cent. He had his chance when they offered him 800$ (in vouchers?), a hotel for the night and a flight the next day.

    Of course United Airlines made pretty huge mistakes, too. They should have raised the offer until someone accepted it. They should have switched to hard cash not vouchers. And they should not board when they are overbooked.

  27. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    13. April 2017 at 16:51

    Sumner, why do you continue to speak ill of Trump when doing so is not pragmatic since you’re not offering any superior alternative? You criticize people who say the Fed should be abolished but who don’t offer any other (centralized control) alternative.

    I can speak ill of Trump because my alternative is anarch0-capitalism, no Presidents at all.

    You don’t have an alternative because you want Presidents, but Trump is the only President possible right now, so you’re being anti-pragmatic.

    Oh, and Bill Clinton is a rapist, and Hillary Clinton accepted millions of dollars from governments she knew funded ISIS:

    https://www.rt.com/news/365299-assange-pilger-saudi-clinton/

  28. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    13. April 2017 at 16:59

    The $500 billion fraud discovered at the HUD is going to take a lot to clean up

  29. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    13. April 2017 at 17:03

    Obama admin ordered wiretapping of Trump campaign staff:

    https://parkspoint.org/additional-clarity-on-the-carter-page-fisa-9e37f0418fcd

    Speaking of liars, why doesn’t Sumner call out Clapper, Comey, and Rice when it has been proven they did lie?

  30. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    13. April 2017 at 18:18

    For your enjoyment, here’s one of the latest incredibly dumb statments from Trump, who is too dumb to realize how dumb he comes across:

    ‘But in a recent interview, Trump acknowledged that the issue is, well, complicated. In a conversation with the Wall Street Journal, the president said he came into his first meeting with Xi convinced that China could curtail North Korea’s nuclear threat. Xi had to explain Chinese-Korean history to Trump, who then realized something important: “After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy,” he told the Journal. “I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power North Korea. … But it’s not what you would think.”’

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/04/13/trump-thought-china-could-get-n-korea-to-comply-its-not-that-easy/?utm_term=.5133f0252655

  31. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    13. April 2017 at 18:31

    Sorry Scott, I also side with the airline passenger.

    Everything can be negotiated, and frequently is. Unreasonable rules that violate common sense deserve to be challenged. The deplaned passenger did not start the part of inconveniencing the other passengers. The airline did, out of incompetence and operational rigidity. The fellow passengers who witnessed the incident, from seeing social media, seemed to side with the victim. They knew it could have been them and they knew it wasn’t right, no matter what the letter of the contract said.

    All in all, sacrificing the individual for the good of the majority is not a libertarian position, certainly not mine.

    On a meta level, the whole thing is just another symptom of US culture – send in the armed goons for each and any minor disturbance.

  32. Gravatar of LC LC
    13. April 2017 at 19:09

    It’s pretty funny for Trump to say he doesn’t plan to label China a currency manipulator in one sentence, and then next sentence goes on to manipulate US currency.

  33. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    13. April 2017 at 19:28

    Trump has dumped Putin and is now dating Xi.

    I wonder if Asia will embrace democracy-freedom-free markets ever.

    As Westerners, we think progress is inevitable, despite reality.

    Look at photos of Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey, Iran, Egypt 60 years ago. The people looked like they wanted to be Italians. Now they look like bedsheets. The region has gone backwards. Religious minorities have left.

    China has been going backward on political-human rights levels for 30 years, and Xi is said to be worse then predecessors.

    A major SE Asian nation recently overturned two national elections and then the men in green uniforms took over.

    Putin is Putin, and Duterte. Add on the Korean nut.

    Is Asia getting better or worse?

    Outside of the long-colonized India, S. Korea and Japan?

  34. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    13. April 2017 at 20:01

    Arilando, No it doesn’t justify the cops beating him to a pulp. And that’s why they did not do so.

    God! People around here are getting spoiled. He got a bloody nose, let’s not act like it’s a big deal.

    Scott, Xi must have laughed all the way back to China. We elected an idiot.

    mbka, I’m not saying he had no right to be angry with United, I would have been angry. But if I tell someone to get out of my house, or out of my restaurant, or out of my movie theatre, or off of my airplane, I expect them to leave. Even if I’m the one who screwed up. And if they don’t, I’ll call the cops.

    I’m also annoyed that people are making a martyr out of that immature spoiled baby, while Americans could care less about the 400,000 people in prison for drug “crimes”, many of whom were beaten much more brutally by police, and some of whom are in prison for life for “crimes” that are perfectly legal now in many states.

    Many of those people will be in prison for decades, where they will be repeated raped. Why in the world does anyone care about this spoiled brat?

    The media’s focus on this pathetic incident shows just how immature we are as a country.

    Ben, China is so much better off than 30 years ago that it’s almost beyond human imagination. To suggest otherwise is just ridiculous. The same thinking that regards this United passenger as a martyr.

    Everyone, Don’t confuse what you see on TV with the real world.

  35. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    13. April 2017 at 22:50

    “Xi must have laughed all the way back to China. We elected an idiot.”

    The Chinese president may have been tempted to laugh in Trump’s face.
    Nevertheless, Xi desisted.

    Actually I’m sure he loves Trump, since he can go home and remind people what happens in a democracy. China is the ultimate deep state.

  36. Gravatar of Riccardo Riccardo
    13. April 2017 at 22:58

    Re: United passenger, while he’s likely milking the lucky situation of finding himself suddenly having a big airline in a public relations headlock, United does have it coming. Their work process is laughably bad in that it asymmetrically empowers gate agents who aren’t allowed to offer a few hundred bucks to entice people to deplane voluntarily but are allowed to create a debacle for their company costing millions of dollars. Sorry, that’s funny, and they get no sympathy from me.

  37. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    13. April 2017 at 23:02

    Scott Sumner:

    The word I get from Hong Kongers is that mainland China is far more repressive than 30 years ago. There is even a fear that a window of opportunity to political freedom has been closed and is now being nailed shut. Of course regional political literature suggests the same—this not something only my friends believe.

    Living standards are higher also in Russia and the Philippines than 30 years ago..but they seem to be going backwards on other levels.

    Asia outside India, Japan, S Korea and Taiwan seems to be in retreat….stage a risque play in Tehran…print an iconoclastic novel in Beijing…laugh out loud at Jung in North Korea…these are not good ideas

  38. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    14. April 2017 at 04:44


    Why in the world does anyone care about this spoiled brat? The media’s focus on this pathetic incident shows just how immature we are as a country.

    It might be a rule based thing. Most people know that you can end up in prison when dealing with illegal drugs (hint: that’s why they are called illegal drugs). That’s one reason why you like to talk about this topic so much. It’s boring. The legal situation is pretty clear and easily preventable: Don’t do illegal drugs and you are fine.

    The United Airlines case is different. Here many people aren’t sure how the legal situation is. Many people with different opinions feel they are in the right. That’s one reason why the case is interesting. There’s something to discuss.

    And like ssumner said: No one has beaten this passenger to a pulp.


    some of whom are in prison for life for “crimes” that are perfectly legal now in many states.

    There are people in prison for life for smoking pot? I don’t think so.

  39. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    14. April 2017 at 04:45

    Correction: That’s one reason why *people don’t* like to talk about this topic so much.

  40. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    14. April 2017 at 06:03

    Riccardo, They get no sympathy from me either–no need to say “sorry”, I agree with you.

    Ben, You said:

    “The word I get from Hong Kongers is that mainland China is far more repressive than 30 years ago.”

    They are wrong. Only in free speech has China become more regressive. In most areas it’s getting far more free.

    Christian, Maybe a bit of hyperbole. But consider that just in Texas there are 116 people in prison for life for simple drug possession, not selling. Louisiana recently sentenced someone to 17 years for possessing 1/2 ounce of pot (legal in many states.) We live in a deeply sick society, and people worry about airline overbooking. Sad!

  41. Gravatar of Friday assorted links – Marginal REVOLUTION Friday assorted links - Marginal REVOLUTION
    14. April 2017 at 07:38

    […] 1. Eli Dourado offers advice to undergraduates.  And Scott Sumner tells it like it is. […]

  42. Gravatar of united united
    14. April 2017 at 08:31

    “Of course United Airlines made pretty huge mistakes, too. They should have raised the offer until someone accepted it. They should have switched to hard cash not vouchers. And they should not board when they are overbooked.”

    Duh. They didn’t use this solution because they were greedy. It was inevitable that it would cause an incident. We should be glad that someone stood up to it, or else the policy would never have been changed.

    What United has been doing is using intimidation to get passengers to part with a product they purchased for a lower price then they consider fair. This is pure theft. With hundreds of passengers on each plane its unlikely that offering “whatever it takes” to get extra seats was going to be prohibitive to the airlines margins. If it was, that means they utilize overbooking too much.

    SSumner,

    There is in fact a third world out there where life is tough. It’s existence does not change anything about whether what happened with the United passenger was right. Or any other moral issue.

    Your comment shows an incredible amount hatred. Is everyone born in the first world have zero moral rights or standing for the rest of their lives so long as the third world exists.

    Get over yourself. There is no conflict between fixing United’s clearly wrong policy and not wanting people in the third world to be gassed.

  43. Gravatar of Jacques René Giguère Jacques René Giguère
    14. April 2017 at 08:49

    Scott: the contract of carriage is clear: “Refusal of Transport” (Rule 21), which lays out the conditions under which a passenger can be removed and refused transport on the aircraft. This includes situations where passengers act in a “disorderly, offensive, abusive, or violent” manner, refuse to comply with the smoking policy, are barefoot or “not properly clothed,” as well as many other situations. There is absolutely no provision for deplaning a seated passenger because the flight is oversold.
    Even so, it is at the gate that you can be denied boarding.
    Moreover the flight was not over booked. Just full. United wanted 4 seats for an “unexpected influx of crew members.” That’s not overbooking, merely bad management by United (bad management by United, why do you ask?). That’s United’s problem, of no concern to the passengers (obviously now bad management will be of concern to passengrrs.)
    Dr Dao had every legal right to remain seated. Chicago airport police are there to ensure passengers security, not for beating up people at the request of a badly managed corporation.
    Dr Dao’s injury include 2 broken teeth, a broken nose, bone damage and a concussion. He may need reconstructive surgery.
    For too many self-proclaimed “libertarians” liberty seems less about liberty for the individual but liberty for the powerful.

  44. Gravatar of jseliger jseliger
    14. April 2017 at 09:24

    WRT that United passenger: you should: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/04/united-passenger-removal-reporting-management-fail.html

    It’ll also be interesting to see your reaction when you buy something and then have the seller arbitrarily take it back after you’ve paid, especially if that something will take a lot of time and/or money to remedy. I’m reminded of the bromide, “A conservative is just a liberal who hasn’t been arrested yet.”

  45. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    14. April 2017 at 09:24

    Christian List:

    “There are people in prison for life for smoking pot? I don’t think so.”

    You can’t smoke pot without acquiring pot, so trying to make the case one of “smoking only” is a misdirection, and yes there are people in prison for life without parole for acquiring pot for their own use.

  46. Gravatar of Brian Donohue Brian Donohue
    14. April 2017 at 09:45

    Look at the mote in your own eye, Scott. All the Napoleonic hand-wringing looks a bit silly in retrospect.

    Many of us assigned a high probability to a “business as usual” or “typical GOP” agenda under Trump. To us, your fear-mongering from 2016 doesn’t look much better than the hopes of deluded Trump supporters.

  47. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    14. April 2017 at 09:57

    China cancelled their purchasing of coal from North Korea and are now purchasing coal from the US

    Air China will be cancelling flights into PyongYang

  48. Gravatar of Viking1 Viking1
    14. April 2017 at 10:13

    Sumner is mistaken about the airline rules. The denied boarding rules did not apply. Mr. Dao had not been denied boarding, he already was boarded. If the reason for removing passengers was overweight of plane, the removal would have been safety related, and allowed. By sitting still in his seat, Mr. Dau was not interfering with the safe operation of the aircraft. By having no sympathy for Mr. Dao, Sumner implicitly expresses sympathy for United’s lying. Their press release said the flight was overbooked. There is no evidence of that, given the number of paying passengers did not exceed the number of seats. (I do admit most likely, the exact match was due to overbooking and no shows cancelling). There is only evidence that United’s logistics was lacking.

    In short, United lied to involve the airport police in what was simply a civil dispute.

    http://www.rasmusen.org/papers/united.pdf

    Regarding Sumner’s points about proportions, also the Chinese have a proportionality problem, being angry about a single Asian being unjustifiably assaulted on another continent, but being silent about the millions that lose their land in dubious eminent domain use that enriches the local party bosses. Being mad as hell about the Japanese killing millions, but having convenient amnesia about Mao killing 10s of millions through mismanagement.

  49. Gravatar of A Definite Beta Guy A Definite Beta Guy
    14. April 2017 at 10:32

    Many of us assigned a high probability to a “business as usual” or “typical GOP” agenda under Trump. To us, your fear-mongering from 2016 doesn’t look much better than the hopes of deluded Trump supporters.

    Bingo.

    Also, why take any Trump statement at face value? He’ll say whatever is convenient at the time.

    Also pretty sure Trump was pretty clear when he said “bomb the shit out of them.”
    https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/04/mother-of-all-bombs/522960/

    The Trump administration has increased the pace of airstrikes the U.S. military has carried out in Afghanistan. From January to March, the U.S. Air Force dropped 450 bombs in the country; that number was close to 1,300 for all of 2016, according to the Air Force’s open-source database of such strikes.

    Trump is decisive and militant compared to, say, Obama, but he wasn’t running against Obama. He was running against Hillary and the Republican establishment. I don’t expect him to commit 50,000 ground troops anywhere in his term.

  50. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    14. April 2017 at 10:53

    Everyone, I never defended United. They should have offered more money. I said I had no sympathy for the passanger. If the airline tells you to get off the plane, you need to get off the plane. If you think it’s unfair, go to court and sue. He’ll sue anyway, so why waste everyone’s time grandstanding?

    Brian, I frequently said Trump would not do the things he promised, and I was right.

    He’s been exactly the inept President I predicted. What commenters don’t seem to understand is that Presidents don’t have very much impact. I’ve said that from day one. If you haven’t been paying attention, that’s your fault. Don’t be another Bob Murphy, always trying to read into what I say. I said:

    1. Trump’s policies would be a disaster.
    2. Trump’s an idiot.
    3. Trump will not implement his policies.

    Which one was wrong? Be specific.

  51. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    14. April 2017 at 11:02


    Louisiana recently sentenced someone to 17 years for possessing 1/2 ounce of pot (legal in many states.)

    I totally agree that this would be wrong and excessive.

    On the other hand I know how this cases are presented by NGOs like ACLU and so on. They usually don’t present the whole case. I doubt that anyone in the US is sentenced for 17 years for possessing 1/2 ounce of pot for the first time in his life.

    These people usually have a history. They got a first strike, a second strike, and then some people still don’t learn, so they get a third strike. So those 17 years must have been the third strike at least. That’s still excessive of course but it’s not as extreme as it’s presented.

    Conclusion: You don’t get 17 years for possessing 1/2 ounce of pot in the US, but you might get it when you possess illegal drugs again and again and again.

    @MF

    You can’t smoke pot without acquiring pot

    I never acquired pot in my life but I smoked it when it was passed around at a party. That’s not “acquiring” in my book. You just need to know the laws and then omit those things that can bring you into trouble. In Europe that would be buying and/or possessing certain amounts of pot, so I simple never do that. It’s not worth the trouble.

  52. Gravatar of A Definite Beta Guy A Definite Beta Guy
    14. April 2017 at 11:04

    1. Trump’s policies would be a disaster.
    2. Trump’s an idiot.
    3. Trump will not implement his policies.

    Which one was wrong? Be specific.

    2 is wrong, but that’s besides the point.

    #3 is the essential point: a lot of people who voted for Trump believed #3 (at least for some of the positions). So you saying “I told you so” is like someone telling me “I told you so” because the Sun rose in the East.

    Then you’re hind-casting the non-repeal of Obama-Care. I can also predict events that happened 2 weeks ago. It’s not terribly impressive.

  53. Gravatar of Brian Donohue Brian Donohue
    14. April 2017 at 11:25

    Scott, perhaps you had arrived comfortably at #3 last year, but it makes your overwrought 2016 posts hard to understand.

    Mercifully, I don’t work in academia, but I reckon if I had to get along with a bunch of profs, some harmless anti-Trump signalling might go a long way. That’s the best explanation I got right now.

  54. Gravatar of GU GU
    14. April 2017 at 11:27

    “I have no sympathy for spoiled Americans complaining about “first world problems”. So he has to take a later flight—big deal. I’ve had to stay in cities overnight because of flight problems–it’s not the end of the world. He needs to grow up.”

    Easy for a tenured college professor to say, not so easy for someone to say when they might get fired or lose customers/clients/patients/etc. for being late. And many people get very little vacation time—delays like that can truly ruin what might be their only trip of the year. Some people’s first world problems are worse than others’.

    The guy was being a douche, but he still deserves some sympathy.

  55. Gravatar of BC BC
    14. April 2017 at 11:36

    “If the airline tells you to get off the plane, you need to get off the plane. If you think it’s unfair, go to court and sue.”

    One could just as easily say that the airline should have allowed him to stay on the plane and sued him for damages related to not being able to transport their crew, if it turned out that they had a contractual right to remove him. There is reason to believe that United had no contractual right to remove the passenger nor even to deny him boarding: [https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-04-13/united-broke-its-contract-with-frequent-flyers]. Ultimately, that’s a matter for a (civil) court to decide.

    The passenger is sympathetic because, in a contract dispute between two private entities, he is the only one to have suffered physical injuries. Also, law enforcement seems to have presumptively sided with United even though, again, this was a civil matter. Suppose the passenger was initially denied boarding to make room for United crew, and he believed that was not allowed under the contract terms. Could he have called law enforcement to forceably remove the crew? Obviously not. People are sympathetic to him because, in a private civil matter, United was able to marshall the power of government to advance its interests in a way that he would not have been able to.

    The situation is analogous to one in which you have leased property to a tenant. If you ask the tenant to leave, he actually isn’t (necessarily) obligated to leave immediately. There is a process for ajudicating any disagreements about each party’s rights under the contract and under law.

  56. Gravatar of Benny Lava Benny Lava
    14. April 2017 at 12:30

    I find it kind of weird that so many people think that this passenger has an immutable right to fly on this plane. If you read through United’s fine print no where does it say once you board the plane you can not be removed. But if you read the fine print it says specifically that they can pull you off for lots unspecified reasons.

    If this was a restaurant, and you ordered a burger, and then they come back and say sorry we are out of burgers. Here is a coupon for a free one next time please leave would you go? If you don’t and they say we are calling the cops and the cops show up would you go? If not why?

  57. Gravatar of Saturos Saturos
    14. April 2017 at 12:43

    I thought the passenger was a doctor who needed to get to his patients on time? He thought he had paid for his right to be there. And apparently he’s getting reconstructive surgery now? Sounds absurd to claim he’s entitled to no sympathy because the third world exists. Reminds me of the infamous “Dear Muslima” fiasco when Richard Dawkins wrote a similar thing about a woman complaining about her discomfort being propositioned. (Grow up, you’re in the first world, I have no sympathy for you.) He was rightly pilloried on social media for this. Of course Scott is also entitled to be a grouch about other people’s misfortunes, I guess.

  58. Gravatar of William Wilkinson William Wilkinson
    14. April 2017 at 13:55

    Agree with all of this, except I think he has significantly changed immigration policy.

  59. Gravatar of Jose Jose
    14. April 2017 at 14:23

    Prof. Sumner, your contempt for Trump sometimes makes you have ideas that are inconsistent. You said, Trump is incompetent, and also has bad policy ideas, nonetheless, he is able to build a reasonably good team and rely on experts. How can the US, or the World for that matter, be so lucky? Maybe the president should always just take care of the general orientation of the public’s demand for policy reform and leave implementation to experts. Maybe that is what every president, everywhere, should do, instead of pose as an expert on every matter (an obvious impossibility) or just try to be cool, show up in late night shows, and be smart with words. I think that the view of the president as the ultimate technocrat is a rather naive, and ultimately flawed view of the world. Not being a technocrat does not make anyone “incompetent”. Presidents have to be political leaders, not technocrats. The contemporary world has an abundance of technocratic experts, but we are short on political leaders. I don’t know how the history books will purport Trump, but maybe he will become a better leader over time. His victory in the election so far deservedly puts him on a list of marketing savvy political leaders. Your predictions for him actually are your wishes. How the Washington establishment “controls” a potentially reformist president. That is actually bad for US politics, not good. But it is not surprising that this kind of thinking comes from a utilitarist technocrat. Not at all.

  60. Gravatar of Jim Glass Jim Glass
    14. April 2017 at 14:31

    1. Trump’s policies would be a disaster.
    2. Trump’s an idiot.
    3. Trump will not implement his policies.

    Which one was wrong? Be specific.

    Well, #1 and #3 are to some degree empirical, and you are on course with them so far — but #2 is well into subjective name calling, so you’ll have to be more specific about that.

    By the classic objective definition of “idiot”, IQ of 0 to 25 , #2 is plainly false. And he did graduate from Wharton. Otherwise…

    “Massively ignorant about important subjects”? Applies to every human being alive. And about a lot of them he has been moving fairly quickly up the learning curve (Yellen, China …) which true idiots do not do.

    “Massively self-important”? A fault perhaps, but not ‘idiocy’, and frankly endemic among big-time politicians (if most take more care to keep it less visible).

    “Shockingly inexperienced for the job he just took on, making him prone to make bad mistakes”? That’s not idiocy, it’s inexperience. Which goes away, as per the learning curve.

    Most other uses of ‘idiot’ seem to be just name-calling. My personal definition is “one who is worse than stupid by doing something stupid without the excuse of being stupid”, but I tend to aim that mostly at myself after my bad moments (and the last part may be a conceit).

    So I’d need a clean definition of “idiot” to have an opinion if it fits or not.

  61. Gravatar of Anonymous Anonymous
    14. April 2017 at 15:16

    TPP is Dead

    High speed trains are being built

    Justice Gorsuch is confirmed

    ISIS and terrorists are being bombed

    Companies are moving back to America, jobs are being created

    China has sided with us over North Korea

    Dr. Carson found $500 Billion fraud at HUD

    Pedophiles being arrested all over the country

    The wall will be built

    Law and Order are being restored

    National debt has decreased over $100 BILLION since Jan 20, 2017

    —————

    If Sumner calls this failure as compared to Obama or Bush 2, he is clearly out of his cotton picking mind

  62. Gravatar of Anonymous Anonymous
    14. April 2017 at 15:20

    First, the Clinton News Network reports that Facebook is targeting 30,000 accounts for “fake news”

    http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/14/media/facebook-fake-news-france-election/index.html

    Simultaneously, there is a report out of Bloomberg that says LePen is in a downward spiral in the polls.

    http://money.cnn.com/2017/04/14/media/facebook-fake-news-france-election/index.html

    in an effort to discourage voters from voting LePen.

  63. Gravatar of Anonymous Anonymous
    14. April 2017 at 15:23

    Imagine being so rabidly anti-Trump that you actually start to root for North Korea.

    https://twitter.com/polNewsNet/status/852889140437938178

  64. Gravatar of Anonymous Anonymous
    14. April 2017 at 15:25

    Liberals on the bomb:

    https://i.imgur.com/40DJ5jD.jpg

  65. Gravatar of Jim Glass Jim Glass
    14. April 2017 at 15:40

    All this bizarrely endless brouhaha about the United passenger reminds me of the ‘Ray Rice beats fiance in elevator’ episode. Just one more publicly-known domestic dispute episode working its way through the legal system *until* the video came out – then a national furor! Not that the video changed any of the known facts … but there was a video!! Sudden outrage!! The reaction wasn’t to the facts, it was to the video.

    How many people get removed from airliners every month? Who cares? But this time there is a video!! National Furor! Destroy United Airlines!!

    Insane national Rorschach test. OK, I’ll take it too…

    1) United did something stupid in that it got cheap and didn’t raise the auction-to-leave price until it got four people to leave the plane voluntarily. Win-win, everybody’s happy. Something other airlines know how to do (See Delta, above). That was just plain bad business dim. But hardly any kind of “horror” . Beyond that, what did United do wrong?

    2) It was entirely within its legal rights to remove a (randomly selected) passenger from the plane.

    3) When the passenger refused to leave it did the proper thing and called the police to remove him. (Its own people didn’t do anything to the passenger). What’s wrong there?

    4) The police then did or did not use excessive force when removing the passenger. We shall see. Either way, how is United responsible for what the police did?

    Dudes and dudettes, when the police in the lawful course of their business tell you to move on, you move on! Or take the consequences. (Even if the one who called the cops on you was wrong to do so, you move on as told and take it out on that party later.) *Especially* on an airliner, of all places in this day and age! The law has zero tolerance there, believe me, there are a lot of law-lands-on-air-passenger cases a lot more extreme than this that nobody ever ranted about just because no video ever made the news.

    Enough. Next outrage, please.

  66. Gravatar of Anonymous Anonymous
    14. April 2017 at 15:52

    https://i.imgur.com/t867kbB.jpg

  67. Gravatar of Anonymous Anonymous
    14. April 2017 at 15:54

    Trump keeping yet another campaign promise:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWejiXvd-P8

  68. Gravatar of Anonymous Anonymous
    14. April 2017 at 15:59

    The latest school shooting the very fake news MSM is pretending never took place

    https://imgur.com/H4fHQc4

  69. Gravatar of Anonymous Anonymous
    14. April 2017 at 17:03

    ‘member when the lying MSM kept claiming Trump was going to put gays in concentration camps?

    How many will ‘member that Islamic Chechnya is doing just that and there is not a PEEP from the MSM now?

    https://americanlookout.com/muslim-chechnya-putting-gay-men-in-concentration-camps-liberals-silent/

  70. Gravatar of Anonymous Anonymous
    14. April 2017 at 17:05

    Sweden has no idea what Trump meant when he said, “You look at what’s happening … in Sweden”

    http://www.freiezeiten.net/brutale-gewalt-und-vergewaltigung-als-jugendliche-zwei-afrikaner-zur-party-einladen

  71. Gravatar of Anonymous Anonymous
    14. April 2017 at 17:07

    CNN goes full retard

    http://archive.is/dVfph

  72. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    14. April 2017 at 17:07

    Everyone, Suppose I wear a Green Bay Packer t-shirt into a restaurant. I order a meal. Then the owner (a Patriots fan) sees me, and kicks me out. My reaction would be that the owner’s a jerk and out of line. Even so, I’d leave his private property before the police dragged me out. No matter how much I may disapprove of his decision, ultimately it’s his call.

    If this sets a precedent, and lots more people refuse to leave a airplanes, then flying will be an even more nightmarish experience. I’ve been on planes where two people had tickets for the same seat. Suppose they both refuse to leave—and we all have to just sit on the runway?

    Brian, You said:

    “Mercifully, I don’t work in academia”

    Neither do I. Nice try, maybe you can think up some other excuse for my behavior.

    Will, You may be right, I haven’t looked at the specific H1-b changes. But my sense is that both legal and illegal immigration levels under Trump will be about the same as under Obama. We will see.

    Thanks for commenting.

    Jose, You said:

    “You said, Trump is incompetent, and also has bad policy ideas, nonetheless, he is able to build a reasonably good team and rely on experts.”

    No, the people he brought in (Flynn, Bannon, Sessions, Navarro, etc.) are horrible. The Education Secretary is a joke. A president needs 100s of advisors, and he doesn’t know enough qualified people. So he’s relying on people like Pence to build the team.

    I would add that Kushner is also probably unqualified, but at least he’s not a fascist.

    I probably should have been clearer in pointing out that Presidents are not that important. As far as my “told you so” remarks, I’m not claiming that I knew exactly what Trump would do. I frequently said I had no idea what he’d do, other than that he wouldn’t do the things he claimed he’d do. That’s all.

    Jim, Here’s something Scott gave me (above):

    ‘But in a recent interview, Trump acknowledged that the issue is, well, complicated. In a conversation with the Wall Street Journal, the president said he came into his first meeting with Xi convinced that China could curtail North Korea’s nuclear threat. Xi had to explain Chinese-Korean history to Trump, who then realized something important: “After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy,” he told the Journal. “I felt pretty strongly that they had a tremendous power North Korea. … But it’s not what you would think.”’”

    Do you want your President “learning”: about China from Xi? He sound like a fool, someone who believes whatever he heard from the last person who spoke with him.

    Or how would you describe someone who thinks that discouraged workers who have given up looking for work are counted as “employed” by the government?

    “Idiot” may be a bit of hyperbole, but a month ago I saw a press conference where the President of the United States acted like a stupid 8th grader, taunting the press. If the GOP really truly believes none of this disgraceful behavior matters, then can someone tell me why they made such a fuss about Monica Lewinsky? Remember how Clinton had “disgraced” the Presidency?

    Obviously I completely agree with you about the video, and the overreaction to the United Airlines fiasco.

    To bad the American public cannot summon any outrage over the War on Drugs.

    Anonymous, Not sure if you’re joking . . . but much of that list is . . . FAKE NEWS!

    BTW, when Trumpistas support LePen it’s the “tell” that they are closet socialists.

  73. Gravatar of Anonymous Anonymous
    14. April 2017 at 17:22

    THE NARRATIVE HAS CHANGED EVERYONE

    We’re not supposed to believe Trump is a Russian spy anymore

    Now he’s a Chinese spy!

    https://i.imgur.com/znbf3bx.jpg

  74. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    14. April 2017 at 18:59

    Scott Sumner re mainland China:

    Well, I do not know if you are reading anymore on this blog post, but if you are, a lot more than just freedom of speech is being eroded in the last 30 years.

    The legal system is becoming an instrument of the state also. This was published just yesterday, but there is a whole body of work on the Chinese legal system evolving into a state apparatus.

    From the Sough China Morning Post (a pretty god newspaper):

    “China’s Communist Party to evaluate lawyers based on ‘political performance’

    The Justice Ministry will rank members of the profession according to how well they have served authorities, with experience and skills counting for less

    PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 April, 2017, 9:02am
    UPDATED : Friday, 14 April, 2017, 9:31am

    Nectar Gan
    Mimi Lau

    China is tightening its grip on the legal sector, with plans for a ­professional standard based to a great extent on each lawyer’s “political performance”.
    The Ministry of Justice flagged the new standards in a notice dated late last month but the document only started circulating on social media this week. Shanghai, Inner Mongolia, Anhui and Shaanxi provinces will pilot the scheme.
    Under the new system, lawyers will be classified into nine specialist areas, ranging from criminal law to intellectual property law. The system would help people seeking legal services to narrow their search, the notice said.”

    –30–

    Okay so no freedom of speech in China, and kangaroo courts also.

    And contrary to popular belief, mainland authorities have long kept even large listed companies on the leash through mandatory board-seat assignments.

    Evidently board seats are not enough; now “private” companies are also setting up party committees inside each company.

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/06/29/xiaomi_sets_up_communist_party_committee/

    I could go on, but in every sector of Chinese life, the Chinese Communist Party is exerting greater influence under Xi.

    Whether freedom of speech, or in legal rights, or in freedom of operation in commerce, China is presently going backwards.

    One of the ironies is, if a state can control speech, then people like Scott Sumner can be misled. A Sumner can believe things are betting better in China, not worse, because of the limits on speech. You are not seeing the other side of the coin.

    Is China life better than 30 years ago? Yes, in material terms.

    Hong Kong joke:

    Question: Do millions of Chinese want US passports?

    Answer: No. It is hundreds of millions.

  75. Gravatar of Philip Crawford Philip Crawford
    14. April 2017 at 19:22

    Regarding Trump, my only question is “Will the statutory corporate tax rate be lowered?”

  76. Gravatar of united united
    14. April 2017 at 20:21

    These are totally different situations. You can easily just go to another restaurant. The man is majorly inconvenienced by not being able to fly, as we typically book flights to get places we need to be. Often the costs of not being there are extremely high, much higher then the price of the ticket or in this case the voucher they were willing to offer. In this particular mans case the cost of a missed flight was seen as extremely high.

    United has a bad policy. It hurts paying customers en masse every day. It doesn’t appear to have even been legal to bump him, but even if it was buried in the fine print it would be sneaky and unethical. It could easily be fixed.

    If people sheepishly follow the policy, we know it will never change. United is trying to profit off the idea that nobody will cause an incident even if they act in bad faith.

    We both know how little would have been done if he left the flight and then tried to sue. Little guy against big corporation. Complicated agreements and legal morass. Who would have the resources for that kind of legal battle. The guy or united? Suppose he sued and won, would it have gotten him to the hospital to treat his patients. What about them?

    People make reasonable accommodations in travel *when they are reasonable.* United’s policy is not reasonable, and this incident is the only thing that was going to change it and we both know that. If they had been reasonable enough to offer a fair amount someone on the plane that didn’t need to be where they wanted to be that bad would have taken it.

  77. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    15. April 2017 at 03:47

    @United
    Overbooking is a good policy for the passengers and for United. All other alternatives are far worse. Most people don’t seem to get that.

    The only mistake by United was that they botched the auction for leaving the plane. They can do that a lot better by using methods that are based on economics and psychology.

  78. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    15. April 2017 at 10:18

    Sumner writes that he has no sympathy for the United Airlines passenger (who by the way now needs reconstructive surgery, and who by the way United CEO Oscar Munoz has apologised to). This passenger was a doctor, whose absence could have cost people their lives. I’ not saying he should not have been removed, but the way he was removed could have been less destructive.

    I am seriously wondering if Sumner also has no sympathy for another airline passenger who was forced off an airplane.

    I have sympathy for women who try to escape forced marriages but didn’t get “permission” from their male guardian to travel, such that they are forced back to Saudi Arabia, likely to be killed, by…Australia? Virtue signalling has become a game of who can allow the most deaths by actual oppressors of women.

    Where is the outrage in the international press about this?

    This sounds like the type of culture and belief system that would fit right into western culture. We should import that en masse so that all of us can be culturally enriched.

  79. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    15. April 2017 at 10:27

    Sumner says at least Kushner is not a fascist.

    This merely weeks after Trump signed an executive order to SHRINK the federal government.

    Those damned fascists always trying to reduce their power over society, lol

    In other news, Facebook has implemented a “fake news” filtering system, hahaha:

    https://i.imgur.com/LPa3Sc1.png

  80. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    15. April 2017 at 10:53

    Speaking of fascists, look at what the CIA had written about them:

    https://i.imgur.com/XT4cgNL.jpg

    Julian Assange is being attacked by CIA Director Pompeo, so Julian replied with the above

  81. Gravatar of Michael Michael
    15. April 2017 at 17:04

    Scott,
    you’re ravenous hungry, you buy a meal, you already paid for it — now the owner tries to throw you out. (You’re a red-blooded human.) You seriously claim you’d leave?!
    I think I get why you dislike Dao. He was a nuisance for everybody else because he dared to treat himself as a individual and not as a a good member of the Kollektiv. (You really missed out on the experience of living in a state that would’ve coerced you to be one.)
    Utilitarianism is lovely for the average case. It’s not made for the border cases.

    Jim Glass: as much as I love your comments, the one on United is telling in its polemicism. So Dao was lucky to have his mistreatment on camera. Others are less ‘lucky’. So that makes him wrong? So commenters are wrong because they also win the media war through the video?

    It actually hurts to see people I respect very much so caught up in unreflected mood affiliation

  82. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    16. April 2017 at 06:49

    Sumner wrote:

    “Even so, I’d leave his private property before the police dragged me out.”

    You know for all your posts calling Trump a liar, that comment right there shows you are a liar. You’re no defender of private property rights. If you were you would be pro private production of security and defense, of money, and everything else, that is to say you would be anti government. Governments cannot arise and cannot be maintained without systematic violations of individual property rights (derived from homesteading and free trade).

    You *want* private property rights to be violated, to pay for all the things you want the government to pay for.

    You’re just virtue signalling and giving an excuse to justify your contempt of the man who was beaten and thrown off the plane. Cherry pick “private property rights” this time, next time it depends on whatever groundless subjective assertion fits the emotional mindset.

    It is a persistent pattern: left wing socialists just cannot self-reflect for more than 5 seconds

  83. Gravatar of Scott Sumner Scott Sumner
    17. April 2017 at 07:07

    Ben, Remind me about the time when the communist Chinese courts were independent.

    And how come you have access to the truth about China but I do not? I also read the SCMP.

    United, I have confidence that markets can address those problems better than regulations or lawbreakers. If United is consistently angering passengers it will hurt their business. This guy’s action makes it more likely that Congress will do something stupid.

    Philip, I am also curious as to whether Trump will get us into a nuclear war.

    Michael, Believing in property rights makes me a communist?

  84. Gravatar of Benny Lava Benny Lava
    17. April 2017 at 09:51

    After reading through the comments I realize now that Americans are weirder than I thought. Does everyone in America really believe the customer is always right?

  85. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    18. April 2017 at 03:20

    But you don’t believe in property rights. You only want people to believe you do, I.e. signaling.

    If you actually did believe in property rights you would for one thing certainly believe in protecting property rights in the production, distribution and competition in money, which would require abolishing the Federal Reserve.

    The Federal Reserve cannot exist if property rights were protected.

    Total protection of property rights would in fact lead to the abolition of all state institutions, since they are all predicted on a continual violation of property rights in order to even exist. States are ex post property, since states do not produce anything and take from people what they already produced and already developed as their own property.

    States defend property between civilians and other states the way farmers defend their cows from each other, and from other farmers. This keeps the cows producing lots of milk for that farmer only you see.

    You’re no defender of property rights if you advocate for continuous violations of them, even if you call it protecting property rights! You have contradictory, incompatible beliefs.

  86. Gravatar of Bob Murphy Bob Murphy
    18. April 2017 at 11:23

    Scott wrote:

    Brian, I frequently said Trump would not do the things he promised, and I was right.

    He’s been exactly the inept President I predicted. What commenters don’t seem to understand is that Presidents don’t have very much impact. I’ve said that from day one. If you haven’t been paying attention, that’s your fault. Don’t be another Bob Murphy, always trying to read into what I say. I said:

    1. Trump’s policies would be a disaster.
    2. Trump’s an idiot.
    3. Trump will not implement his policies.

    Which one was wrong? Be specific.

    You know Scott, I was going to let it go, but since you brought me up by name… (And notice how it’s not just me who “misunderstood” all of your anti-Trump posts.)

    ==> In August 2015 you said our election was like 1930s in Germany, then said even though Trump would obviously not win the election, you were worried his nationalist policies would infect the GOP platform.

    ==> In this one you compared Trump to Hitler (because the GOP had made a “deal with the devil” thinking he’d moderate over time), said he was becoming more fascist, and said he’d have the power to cause riots.

    ==> Here you said the 25% chance (at that time from “markets”) of Trump victory was an unacceptably high risk to you. A risk of another 4 years of Obama? (The post focused on military policies.)

    ==> Not a pure contradiction, but why would you endorse Hillary Clinton whom you despised, if the president doesn’t matter much anyway? If you knew then what you are claiming now–that Trump would basically be Obama–and you in this very post said Hillary Clinton would be worse than Obama, then why would you put so much time in getting your readers to avert a Trump presidency?

    ==> Right before the election you did say Trump winning wouldn’t be a big deal (so you were consistent with what you’re saying now) but you had this: “The stock market futures reaction will be interesting to watch. It could be very strong, particularly if Trump wins (in which case stocks will fall).” I imagine your fans will say you were right on that one and your haters will say you were wrong.

    ==> In this piece you say, “One argument for Trump is that Congress would prevent him from doing anything crazy. Oh really?” And then quote from a news article that you thought blew up that notion.

    Don’t misunderstand me, Scott, I think a lot of your warnings are holding up pretty well, especially on the foreign policy stuff. But I can’t very well congratulate you for “warning us about Trump” if you’re now arguing, “Presidents don’t make much difference, I told you guys all along Trump’s crazy policies wouldn’t get implemented because he’s a buffoon.”

    Help me, help (congratulate) you, Scott.

  87. Gravatar of Michael Michael
    18. April 2017 at 14:13

    Scott, I respect your general respect for property rights, but in tis case you don’t respect them. It’s a conflict of rights: United SOLD a right to its passenger, and now wants to take it back. How is one right summarily senior to the other?

    You claim that UA only sold a contingent right, while its own right is absolute. But that’s clearly the disagreement — all serious supporters of Dao clearly assume that he was not subject to any legitimate contingency in his purchased right. We may be wrong on that, but so may you. (Just as an aside: very unlikely that UA actually owns the plane. They just have a longer-term lease than the passenger.)

    Because all this is so obvious, I can’t help the impression that pressing a (individual) property right in the face of great inconvenience to others is poorly compatible with utilitarianism. I think this is actually a general objection to utilitarianism, not insurmountable, but sadly, you just gave it extra force.

    PS: communists, of course, are completely shameless in using any old argument that gives them a momentary edge, so why not vulgar utilitarianism; for them, ends always sanctify means. But what I meant was the crude collectivism of East German education, which was communism in cover and German authoritarianism at heart, playing the individual against the collective

  88. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    18. April 2017 at 16:53

    “I can’t help the impression that pressing a (individual) property right in the face of great inconvenience to others is poorly compatible with utilitarianism”

    Michael you are exactly on point.

    It is incidentally why there is such a thing as utilitarianism in the first place. There have always been morally unscrupulous brutes and thugs who’ve had no regard for the rights and well-being of individuals.

    Utilitarianism arose as essentially an apologia for violence, but in a “scientific” way, by fallaciously adding up the utilities of individuals, and fallaciously subtracting the disutilities of individuals, and then fallaciously coming up with a thumbs up or thumbs down, hammer for every problem, collectivist yay or nay “recommendation” to of course those with powers of the state.

    There were two critically important changes in the philosophy and ideology of classical liberalism which both exemplified and contributed to its decay as a vital, progressive, and radical force in the Western world. The first, and most important, occurring in the early to mid-nineteenth century, was the abandonment of the philosophy of natural rights, and its replacement by technocratic utilitarianism. Instead of liberty grounded on the imperative morality of each individual’s right to person and property, that is, instead of liberty being sought primarily on the basis of right and justice, utilitarianism preferred liberty as generally the best way to achieve a vaguely defined general welfare or common good.

    There were two grave consequences of this shift from natural rights to utilitarianism. First, the purity of the goal, the consistency of the principle, was inevitably shattered. For whereas the natural-rights libertarian seeking morality and justice cleaves militantly to pure principle, the utilitarian only values liberty as an ad hoc expedient. And since expediency can and does shift with the wind, it will become easy for the utilitarian in his cool calculus of cost and benefit to plump for statism in ad hoc case after case, and thus to give principle away. Indeed, this is precisely what happened to the Benthamite utilitarians in England: beginning with ad hoc libertarianism and laissez-faire, they found it ever easier to slide further and further into statism. An example was the drive for an “efficient” and therefore strong civil service and executive power, an efficiency that took precedence, indeed replaced, any concept of justice or right.

    Second, and equally important, it is rare indeed ever to find a utilitarian who is also radical, who burns for immediate abolition of evil and coercion. Utilitarians, with their devotion to expediency, almost inevitably oppose any sort of upsetting or radical change. There have been no utilitarian revolutionaries. Hence, utilitarians are never immediate abolitionists. The abolitionist is such because he wishes to eliminate wrong and injustice as rapidly as possible. In choosing this goal, there is no room for cool, ad hoc weighing of cost and benefit.

    Hence, the classical liberal utilitarians abandoned radicalism and became mere gradualist reformers. But in becoming reformers, they also put themselves inevitably into the position of advisers and efficiency experts to the State. In other words, they inevitably came to abandon libertarian principle as well as a principled libertarian strategy. The utilitarians wound up as apologists for the existing order, for the status quo, and hence were all too open to the charge by socialists and progressive corporatists that they were mere narrow-minded and conservative opponents of any and all change. Thus, starting as radicals and revolutionaries, as the polar opposites of conservatives, the classical liberals wound up as the image of the thing they had fought.

    This utilitarian crippling of libertarianism is still with us. Thus, in the early days of economic thought, utilitarianism captured free-market economics with the influence of Bentham and Ricardo, and this influence is today fully as strong as ever. Current free- market economics is all too rife with appeals to gradualism; with scorn for ethics, justice, and consistent principle; and with a willingness to abandon free-market principles at the drop of a cost-benefit hat. Hence, current free-market economics is generally envisioned by intellectuals as merely apologetics for a slightly modified status quo, and all too often such charges are correct

  89. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    20. April 2017 at 03:30

    http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2017/04/report-john-brennan-colluded-foreign-spies-falsify-trump-russia-connections/

    So the Democrats were the ones who colluded with the Russians during the election

    Liberals: PROJECTION PROJECTION PROJECTION

  90. Gravatar of Major-Freedom Major-Freedom
    21. April 2017 at 04:21

    I am not comparing Sumner to Hitler, but Hitler often bickered with the established powers of central banks, and wanted the “right” people to do the “right” thing with money, meaning controlled by the state and doing what he wanted. He believed he knew more than the disbursed knowledge across millions of citizens on how money production and distribution ought to occur.

  91. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    21. April 2017 at 20:09

    Side note to Scott Sumner; I misspoke a bit, and did not mean to imply I have channels to “the truth” that others do not have, including you. I do have a good pipeline into China through Hong Kong, and also my job is to read Far East newspapers a lot. I think Westerners believe China is getting better, but it has been devolving rapidly under Xi, in political terms, and in some economic arenas as well. Very small recent example; Xi is pressuring Chinese not to go to Japan shopping, and cutting down that tourism market. If you dislike mercantilists and think they will ruin an economy, then you certainly have a foul taste in your mouth when you review Xi.

    Meanwhile, the Trumpification of Tyler Cowen continues!

    “I’ve found that a lot of my fellow academicians retreat to the moral platitude that the “good guys” simply need to fight harder against the special interest groups. Maybe so, or maybe that response is just another way of digging in deeper to what so far has been a losing battle. The reality is that income inequality has gone up a great deal since the early 1980s, and we haven’t done so much to reverse the basic trend. The potentially egalitarian effects of tax increases under the past two Democratic presidents and Obamacare have been outweighed by globalization, which benefits most those individuals who can access global markets, and by increases in the returns to highly skilled labor. The reality is that government expenditures have not become radically more poverty-reducing over the last few decades, although we do send more resources to the elderly.” —TC

    Add that onto exploding house prices from current account deficits….

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