This is my crappy blog

Commenter sejanus had the following suggestion:

you should start a separate blog for the political fighting and commenting; maybe move your china devaluation posts there too. this was a much better blog when limited to monetary policy.

There are a few misconceptions here.  First, China devaluation posts are monetary policy posts.  Second, there was never a time where all my money illusion posts were about money.  Most importantly, sejanus doesn’t seem to understand that I already have two blogs, and this is the crappy one. I have warned readers on numerous occasions that my political posts are dumb, so skip them. How could a post discussing Trump not be dumb? I do them because I enjoy writing them.

Over at Econlog I am a guest.  One doesn’t track mud into a guest’s house, and I’m not going to defile that excellent website with Trump bashing.  I try to put my best posts over there, and indeed just did a post over there that I happen to think is my best post in the past year or so.  So if it’s quality you want then stop reading this blog, and go over to Econlog.

Nonetheless, I welcome the suggestion, and will try to do more money posts.  It’s just getting hard to find new things to say.  Right now the US seems to have settled into a low growth/low inflation/low interest rate phase, and posts are usually easiest to write when something dramatic happens.  Some commenters criticized me a month ago when I suggested that TIPS spreads may be underestimating actual inflation expectations.  However recent data suggests that inflation is likely to pick up a bit over the next year or so (but maybe not next month, given the recent fall in oil prices.)  The Fed is falling short, but maybe not as much as the bears believe.

HT:  Tyler Cowen


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97 Responses to “This is my crappy blog”

  1. Gravatar of David Pinto David Pinto
    29. February 2016 at 11:16

    It’s your blog. Write what interests you.

  2. Gravatar of TylerG TylerG
    29. February 2016 at 11:19

    Couldn’t disagree more– I come for the monetary economics but stay for your more general posts on politics-philosophy-economics.

  3. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    29. February 2016 at 11:23

    Thanks David and Tyler.

  4. Gravatar of William William
    29. February 2016 at 11:30

    If you are running out of new things to say about money, then you could write more about philosophy and/or taxes. I always enjoyed those posts.

  5. Gravatar of Adam Adam
    29. February 2016 at 11:43

    You should do some more AMA (Ask Me Anything) posts, ignoring the trolls of course. I think you’d get enough genuine questions.

  6. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    29. February 2016 at 12:09

    “I try to put my best posts over there, and indeed just did a post over there that I happen to think is my best post in the past year or so.”

    -I think that post was below-average for you in quality.

  7. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    29. February 2016 at 12:10

    “How could a post discussing Trump not be dumb?”

    -Easy. Don’t write it dumb.

  8. Gravatar of TravisV TravisV
    29. February 2016 at 12:20

    Prof. Sumner, I’m glad to hear your writings on politics.

    In general, I do think some folks are overestimating the amount Trump will be able to reshape the GOP in his image if he wins lately…..

  9. Gravatar of Joe Joe
    29. February 2016 at 12:20

    I’m definitely with David and Tyler on this one. Write what you like – I’ve enjoyed every post.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on monetary policy during the first years of a Sanders (I think Trump too) presidency. Specifically, would there be a boom as unrealistic spending and Fed brow-beating got us back on track to NGDP-growth-at-5% since 2008? Or would we skip straight to stagflation?

  10. Gravatar of dlr dlr
    29. February 2016 at 12:20

    The China suggestion was laughable and if anything you aren’t doing enough on China’s monetary policy here. The problem is not your political posts either, it’s the commentators they attract. You should consider banning more commentators despite it being against your sensibilities.

  11. Gravatar of jknarr jknarr
    29. February 2016 at 12:48

    IMHO, I’m certainly interested in your smart thoughts, which tend to gravitate toward economics! 😉

    Politics, however, makes everybody really, really, dumb. Politics makes people unable to identify facts, discuss reality, or really engage in any basic systematic analysis (or math!).

    So it’s not additive, but a negative drain on blog cognition — and it spills over into getting good-faith analysis in other more important dimensions of your blog, i.e. monetary policy. EG, I don’t want to know your personal biases; I want to understand monetary reality.

  12. Gravatar of Britonomist Britonomist
    29. February 2016 at 12:50

    I’d be interested to see what blog is actually ‘bigger’ (in terms of view count/readership and influence), I reckon it’s probably this blog – but then I’ve always viewed econlog as a slightly more niche blog for libertarians. I think this blog used to be a bit more wonkish and a bit less political, but I may not be remembering well.

  13. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    29. February 2016 at 13:08

    Everyone, Thanks for the comments.

    Harding: You said:

    “I think that post was below-average for you in quality.”

    I’ll take that as a compliment.

    Britonomist. The past few weeks I’ve done a lot on politics, but I didn’t do much in 2012, as the race was boring. This one is interesting (although depressing.)

  14. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    29. February 2016 at 13:41

    @ ssumner: If EHarding doesn’t like something you wrote, you’re doing it right.

    @jknarr: yes politics makes people stupid, but every 4 years it’s a big part of the culture. And let’s be honest, this year is a wild one and worth debating.

  15. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    29. February 2016 at 13:58

    @msgkings

    -Just the opposite. I’m really impressed by some of Sumner’s Econlog posts, especially on tax policy. The problem is the comment moderation there sucks. And politics is making you and Sumner as intelligent as the average mental patient. For me, it might be lowering my IQ to 100 or 110.

  16. Gravatar of Jeff Jeff
    29. February 2016 at 14:03

    Msgkings, Well said.

    Scott, I come to this blog for the monetray posts but find the political posts interesting as well. You often make insightful points I don’t see anywhere else. For example, I think your comments regarding the historical ebs and flows of left/right issues and the recent drift of the Republican party toward something that resembles the European Right. I haven’t seen anyone else making this point.

  17. Gravatar of Jeff B Jeff B
    29. February 2016 at 14:03

    Actually, as someone who is mostly ignorant during the monetary posts, I really appreciate the other ones. I subscribed to this blog after reading you on EconLog specifically for more of your general insights… so please don’t assume that everyone feels the same about this blog having to be so narrow in focus.

  18. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    29. February 2016 at 14:22

    Jeff, you don’t get around much:

    http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/02/2016-elections-european-politics-213674

  19. Gravatar of Dan C Dan C
    29. February 2016 at 14:47

    I’ve been reading your blog since shortly after it started. Granted, you sound like a broken record sometimes, but it is still one of my top blogs. If I could only figure out how to synergize you and Michael Pettis. Your Trump posts are fantastic. But that’s probably because I agree with you.

  20. Gravatar of Gordon Gordon
    29. February 2016 at 15:25

    Scott, do you have any thoughts on the recently concluded G20 meeting? The central bankers and finance ministers said that monetary policy has gone as far as it can go and now it’s up to structural reforms. Some of the attendees were dead set against any easing of monetary policy.

  21. Gravatar of Jerry Brown Jerry Brown
    29. February 2016 at 15:30

    Well Professor, I have continued to enjoy this blog so thank you for posting.

    As far as political topics, I think that those who agree with your conclusions think you are a genius, while those who don’t agree are amazed that you can even write sentences in the first place.

  22. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    29. February 2016 at 15:37

    @Jerry

    -No. I am amazed Scott is able to write such stupid sentences. And I do think Scott is a very smart guy, maybe a genius.

  23. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    29. February 2016 at 15:37

    Some people – even GOP supporters – seem to be really afraid of Trump. They imply that when he becomes President his power would know no boundaries. Could it be that they really doubt the US democracy with its checks and balances itself? Or are those GOP supporters afraid of their own party ruling Congress and White House at the same time?

    Others – libertarians for example – seem to be very afraid of tax cuts all of sudden. What do they fear? Do they think that more money in the hands of private people instead of the state is a bad thing now?

    It seems to me that some people don’t put their money where their mouth is.

  24. Gravatar of Scott Freelander Scott Freelander
    29. February 2016 at 15:47

    Scott,

    I find your political commentary excellent and welcome more. And besides, what kind of person would you be morally if you didn’t speak out against Trump and his supporters?

    We appear to be in the midst of a realignment of one, or perhaps both political parties. This doesn’t happen often. It’s certainly worth commenting on.

    Also, this blog is better than econlog, though I do like reading many of Caplan’s counter-intuitive takes.

  25. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    29. February 2016 at 15:50

    My biggest worry about Trump was that his tiny little fingers would hit the red button because of a temper. But since Scott said that the military won’t obey in cases like this, I’m not worried anymore.

  26. Gravatar of collin collin
    29. February 2016 at 15:52

    The problem I have with Trump popularity isn’t Trump himself but why he has so many supporters. And his polls have surged since his NH win and he is winning college educated Rs.

    Additionally, in terms of monetary policy, it seems the entire developed world is “Turning Japanese” economically. And China is ~10 years from that reality. Other economies depending upon commodities are in serious trouble. (Sure sounds like a global AD issue to me.)

    Otherwise Trump is doing a lot to increase validate minority concerns and right now HRC is benefiting against Sanders.

  27. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    29. February 2016 at 16:05

    collin: “The problem I have with Trump popularity isn’t Trump himself but why he has so many supporters. ”

    Quite. Perhaps the most striking thing about Trump is that he is using a major political Party as his vehicle. Unlike elsewhere, where his sort of economic nationalism and anti-migrant populism requires new political Parties. Answering the How come? question is relatively easy — the two major political Parties permit it. (Both Bernie and The Donald are Party outsiders.)

    Using a major political Party then hijacks that Party’s political brand. Plus any legal advantages that accrue. So means being much closer to the centre of political power much quicker.

    That is the distinctive thing about Trump. “Trumpism”–angry votes by lower-educated voters who are not otherwise particularly ideological–is a much wider phenomenon in recent years. But getting Americans to see their politics as other than sui generis is often a difficult task.

  28. Gravatar of Jerry Brown Jerry Brown
    29. February 2016 at 16:27

    E. Harding- yes, I phrased that wrong. I suspect that people who disagree with Scott Sumner’s political posts will still concede that he is a very intelligent person. I was trying to use the “you” in my comment to refer to people in general who write political opinions and people’s reaction in general to those opinions. And of course it was an exaggeration- my bad. I mean, I don’t think you would be mentally deficient just because you supported Trump.

  29. Gravatar of Jerry Brown Jerry Brown
    29. February 2016 at 16:30

    Damn- that came out wrong again. That “you” can be tricky.

  30. Gravatar of Matt Waters Matt Waters
    29. February 2016 at 17:04

    Avoiding Trump is quite honestly more pressing than getting level targeting and setting expectations right now.

    I’m just going to violate Godwin’s Law completely. Some people here blame the IRS “Jews” for auditing a diehard Christian who happens to have also said “I never had to ask God for forgiveness.” I also read David Duke barely coherent endorsement of Trump. You would assume it was about Mexicans and Muslims. Most of it was about Jews who run the “FED.”

    There’s all these different ways to rationalize it, but Donald Trump and many of his supporters have a laser-like focus on outsiders of any sort. Even natives get scorn for being different. He routinely makes fun of looks, mannerisms or differences (Rubio drinking water, woman being on her period, the reporter with the disability, all his misogynist remarks concerning women, etc.)

    He plays to the most base instinct for authoritarianism and for fascism. He must be stopped.

  31. Gravatar of Cameron Cameron
    29. February 2016 at 17:36

    Make TheMoneyIllusion great again!

  32. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    29. February 2016 at 18:11

    @Cameron, Endorsed 100%. The Money Illusion would have been more great had it formally endorsed Trump, and it has lost its greatness ever since it began its unsubstantiated mudslinging campaign against him.

    @Waters

    “all his misogynist remarks concerning women”

    -Man, get ahold of yourself. Nobody would be accusing anyone of misandry if he had made all those remarks concerning men. You are wildly overprotective of Official Victim Groups.

    “He plays to the most base instinct for authoritarianism and for fascism.”

    -And Rubio, I’m sure, plays to the least base instinct for libertarianism and anarcho-syndicalism.

  33. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    29. February 2016 at 18:15

    My biggest complaint about Trump is that he isn’t race-realist enough. In his complaint about U.S. education, he implied his administration could help fix it by a more efficient use of money. He isn’t aware of race at all in this matter. Maybe he should listen to some of the fascists he retweets.

  34. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    29. February 2016 at 18:33

    Sumner: “This is my crappy blog”.

    For once, we can agree on something. Blog on dude!

  35. Gravatar of Giuseppe C Giuseppe C
    29. February 2016 at 18:50

    I like your crappy blog, and I support your decision to carry on writing whatever it pleases you.
    Actually, if you ever considered to write about European politics too, when the debate on the dismantling of the EU really gets going, you’ll have at least one interested reader.

  36. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    29. February 2016 at 19:15

    E Harding- Trump didn’t retweet a fascist. He retweeted a troll who later misattributed a quote to a fascist. Trump has more trolls than the entire nation of Norway.

  37. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    29. February 2016 at 19:30

    Everyone, Thanks for the comments. Trump said people should be proud of their heritage, and not change their names, so I’m calling him by his family’s original name—Drumpf.

    Gordon, As far as possible in terms of real growth or nominal growth? I think they meant real growth, not that central banks were out of ammo for NGDP growth.

    Christian, You said:

    “Could it be that they really doubt the US democracy with its checks and balances itself?”

    So if a mental patient from a hospital were leading in the polls, you’d have no problem–checks and balances are enough to make it so it doesn’t matter if a madman has his finger on the nuclear trigger?

    Collin, You said:

    “And his polls have surged since his NH win and he is winning college educated Rs.”

    Think how dumb the average comment is over here, or my political posts for that matter. Then think about the fact that my commenters are far above average. And yet many of them can’t even see what a phony Drumpf is. College educated means nothing when it comes to politics. I used to say take 20 IQ points off, make that 30.

    I don’t think it will happen, but the establishment GOP should create a new party, with a new name. Or let Drumpf rename the GOP the “Trump” party, and keep the GOP name.

    Matt, Well said. BTW, the problem with political correctness is that it went too far on college campus. The basic idea (don’t insult other groups) is sensible. Trump even violates the sensible type of PC.

    Harding, You said:

    “Nobody would be accusing anyone of misandry if he had made all those remarks concerning men.”

    I am accusing him of being a verbal bully toward other men. In any case, it’s not just what he says to individual women, but his overall sexist attitudes toward women as a group. That they get ahead with their good looks, not ability.

  38. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    29. February 2016 at 21:21

    “That they get ahead with their good looks, not ability.”

    -The evidence is strong for this one, especially among Black women. Unfortunately, data for looks is not available, but obesity serves as a good proxy. Rich Black men become fatter. But they tend to choose thinner wives, so the correlation for Black women and household income is the reverse of that for Black men.

    BTW, in response to your short deleted political post, no, the delegate math is not working out for Rubio (Rubio will not win a single state on Super Tuesday; Cruz will win at least two, Trump will win most, Trump will win every March 15 state), a Rubio presidency would be much worse than a Trump one, and John Oliver’s infantile remarks will never make a dent in Trump’s image. Trump’s description of Oliver’s show was deadpan:

    http://variety.com/2015/tv/news/last-week-tonight-donald-trump-john-oliver-1201631194/

    “So if a mental patient from a hospital were leading in the polls, you’d have no problem–checks and balances are enough to make it so it doesn’t matter if a madman has his finger on the nuclear trigger?”

    -It matters. Fortunately, the mental patient is only in third place.

  39. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    29. February 2016 at 22:41

    Scott,

    your politics and society posts are right now the most pressing ones. You started this blog with a quote from Yeats, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity” and applied it to your feeling about monetary policy. Well in the past few years, the entire world started to fall apart in the original meaning that Yeats had in mind. Everywhere, the nationalists and nativists are making brutal comebacks. They want to destroy the cosmopolitan, globalized world that I love. They want to return to a world broken up into tiny little local nations, isolated from each other, as would-be jails for their captive citizens and economies. Trump is just the latest emanation of this trend, Europe for example has been full of this type of sentiment for years.

    You, Scott, played a big part in changing global thinking about monetary policy. And you are most capable, and most indispensable, in the even larger fight for a world with freedoms of movement, trade, and ideas. Your political posts fight for the globalized and cosmopolitan world that I want to live in. So please, keep them up. It may take a while but it is worth it, and eventually you will even get more of the sane kind of commenters again.

  40. Gravatar of Jacob Aaron Geller Jacob Aaron Geller
    1. March 2016 at 03:21

    Some of your best and most underrated posts have been about inequality, IMO.

  41. Gravatar of Adam Adam
    1. March 2016 at 03:28

    Are you giving any talks on the Midas Paradox?

  42. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    1. March 2016 at 05:01

    Okay, say the consensus is the world is flat. Along comes Trump, is bombastic and small, but says the world is a cube. Closer, anyway.

    That’s the GOP today.

    Trump said we blew $5 trillion in Iraq. No GOP’er will say that, but Trump did. Trump said all the candidates on stage were stooges for their money-backers. No one denied it and Trump said it out loud.

    Trump said Bush jr. lied on Iraq, and ignored warnings on 9/11. All true. Heresy!

    Meanwhile, Kasich wants more and more aircraft carriers, and Cruz wants to carpet-bomb Syria and Rubio says he thanks God that Bush jr. was president on 9/11.

    Jeb Bush brags he used the apparatus of the state of Florida to prevent Trump from starting businesses in his state, and he gets cheered by the house. Rubio says Trump would be selling watches if no inherited wealth.

    And what is wrong with selling watches? Funny thing is, Trump would not look down on someone selling watches, and everyone intuitively know that.

    Rubio just shit on millions of run-of-the-mill salespeople, without seeming to know it. So who is smart?

    The interesting question is why is the GOP establishment so enraged by Trump? Trump wants big tax cuts for rich people. So it ain’t that.

    Could it be the GOP-aligned interest groups are worried their will be cut off from access, the federal till, and favorable regulations? Oh, maybe.

    And as for “dummies back Trump,” I am not so sure.

    Should I vote for Hillary Clinton who was part of a team that occupied Afghanistan for eight years after Bush jr occupied Afghanistan for eight years? Backing up a narco-Islamic state, considered the most corrupt government on earth? Would Trump do that? Seems like something a lot of neo-cons and eggheads would do.

    The kicker: Trump is a loonie, but maybe as a real estate developer he will think about tight money as a negative.

    The other kicker: Who is so smart? The literati who universally dismissed Trump, kept dismissing him and said he had no chance, or Trump, who is winning?

    Also: Trump is winning despite universal condemnation by the literati and the GOP establishment. They have leveled both barrels at him, and he is standing and they are putrefying.

    So who is smart?

    Man, the guy has outsmarted the best political and PR minds in the nation, and easily.

    This is like watching Cassius Clay boxing, and everyone saying he will get killed by Sonny Liston. Yeah, Sumner remembers that, but some of you young punks….

  43. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    1. March 2016 at 05:33

    Benjamin,

    so you mean to say that Trump’s demagoguery is so cool just because it’s _successful demagoguery_? That a used car salesman is great just because he _successfully_ sells you a lemon? That some hypnotist is great just because she _successfully_ makes you purr like a kitten and hoot like an owl? The problem is what Scott said – it’sa not what Trump said, it’s what he IS. Besides – is entertainment by Trump-l’oeil all that you want from politics, panem et circenses? Because that’s what the US is heading towards. NOT an endorsement of liberal democracy by any means, and already extremely damaging to, let’s call it the “Brand of the West”. Free markets got tarnished by 2008, free speech and due process got mangled by ludicrous overreactions to terrorism, and now Trump and his followers finish off the very ideal of liberal democracy by turning it into a global laughing stock. It is frightening.

  44. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    1. March 2016 at 05:47

    I am accusing him of being a verbal bully toward other men. In any case, it’s not just what he says to individual women, but his overall sexist attitudes toward women as a group. That they get ahead with their good looks, not ability.

    ‘Sexist’ is a nonsense term. That aside, see his remarks on female executives in The Art of the Deal. He said nothing like that.

  45. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    1. March 2016 at 06:01

    @MBKA who says: “You, Scott, played a big part in changing global thinking about monetary policy. And you are most capable, and most indispensable, in the even larger fight for a world with freedoms of movement, trade, and ideas.” –

    LOL! Scott, the Blogger Who Saved The World! Too bad: (1) nobody has adopted Sumner’s ideas, and by his own admission the Fed did not ease enough so they did not take his advice, (2) money is largely neutral, short term and long, so it doesn’t matter anyway (cue FAVAR paper by Bernanke), (3) Sumner himself despises the assertion he saved the world (or so he says), (4) Sumner’s greatest work, by his own admission, is a book that claims, implausibly, that the US going off the managed gold standard in the early 1930s stopped the Great Depression [GD] then, equally implausibly, that FDR’s policies prolonged the GD until the start of WWII. Not read it but the book no doubt glosses over that other countries devalued their currency by going off gold before and after the US did and it did not seem to help them much at all.

    But hero worship is common with infatuated girls (like you?) so please feel free to believe whatever you wish.

  46. Gravatar of Michael Rulle Michael Rulle
    1. March 2016 at 06:03

    You are very funny.

    It is obvious you spend more time at Econlog per word written. The content is no more serious than MoneyIllusion by any means. But little things like grammar, article structure, more care taken not to make spelling or “word repeat repeat” errors. They even have a preview page for comments so we morons can correct our mistakes before submission. Also, the articles appear consistently more academic in form. So I like your guest analogy.

    I like both of course but your crappy blog is my first read of the day. Since Kling left the ring of the masses, you are my favorite economist blogger by a wide margin. Also, and this is no knock on them, your comment section in crappy blog is always much bigger. You take your role as a crappy blogger seriously and I certainly appreciate it as your other readers do as well.

    Now to serious stuff, like Trump. Behind the seeming idiocy of the Trump persona is a clown. But to me these are superficialities. Back in 2008, when politics came up at a party and Obama was all the rage, I could literally empty the 5 foot radius around me by expressing why I then liked Sara Palin. But Trump is taken seriously—people want to talk about Trump. Even you like to talk about Trump. I am for Rubio—not Cruz, not Kasich, not Carson, not Trump. But I will vote for a “yeller dog” before I vote for anyone who increases HRC’s chances of being president. But that’s just me. I have many reasons, but I am sure you can figure them out.

    Meanwhile, in case it was not clear, I really like your crappy blog.

  47. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    1. March 2016 at 06:03

    Then think about the fact that my commenters are far above average. And yet many of them can’t even see what a phony Drumpf is.

    Trump is a performer. Performances incorporate fictions and artifice. If it’s your contention that he has no intention of seeking any kind of policy changes regarding his signature issue this year, what’s your substantive complaint?

    If you want an example of a ‘phony’ in the old sense, which is to say a man who is his own artifact, you might look at Gary Hart, whose persona and objects suggested flat nothing of the small town working-class upbringing he’d had. Another person like that outside of political life was Helen Gurley Brown, a po’ girl from Appalachia. If you want an example of someone whose life as a politician was a jumble of personal ambition and marketing gimmicks, Richard Gephardt or the elder George Bush might be your man. That could be Trump, who seems to be motivated by ‘winning’ above all else, but that’s not what we know of him at this very moment.

  48. Gravatar of Dan W. Dan W.
    1. March 2016 at 06:04

    Scott,

    You and me could do a Miller Lite commercial like the ones they used to do in the 1970s. We agree on so much, including incredible disgust with the man named Donald Trump. We just don’t agree on the ability of the Federal Reserve to manage levels of money and credit in the economy. That it can influence asset prices is not disputed. That lower interest rates on borrowed money promote more borrowing is not disputed. But all evidence shows that reliance on monetary stimulus is a dead end street that leads to ZIRP, NIRP and economic stagnation.

    Every call for the Federal Reserve to not raise rates is a call for stagnation. And you are in this chorus. The only way out is for the funds rate to be increased and for the economy to adjust to higher rates, which as you argue, will lead to higher growth. The only way to get to where you want to be is to go there! If you want higher growth you need higher rates and to get higher rates the central bank needs to set its rate higher.

  49. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    1. March 2016 at 06:13

    Back in 2008, when politics came up at a party and Obama was all the rage, I could literally empty the 5 foot radius around me by expressing why I then liked Sara Palin.

    Read Charles Fried’s remarks on Gov. Palin, and then compare his complaint to the reality that was Barack Obama. Much faculty discussion of political topics consists of displays of class-delimited taste preferences.

  50. Gravatar of Philo Philo
    1. March 2016 at 06:14

    So now, so far as you’re concerned, it’s ‘Cassius Clay’ and ‘Lew Alcindor’?

  51. Gravatar of Giles Giles
    1. March 2016 at 06:18

    If you’re looking for a topic (I know you are not) I would love to read more on negative IOR, because there is a real head of steam building up around the view “it damages the banking system so bad that it will work the opposite to how it is meant to”.

    I should ask Nick Rowe and Lars too ….

    G

  52. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    1. March 2016 at 06:22

    @Dan W – uh, I hate to break it to you bro, but I don’t necessarily think Sumner agrees with anything you just wrote, in particular “That it can influence asset prices is not disputed. That lower interest rates on borrowed money promote more borrowing is not disputed”. I’ll let him comment, but my reading of Sumner is that he is VERY difficult to pin down, even by Robin Hanson, Tyler Cowen, that Finance professor name escapes me, Bob in Australia, and a half a dozen other professionals in his field. Your seeming familiarity with Sumner’s positions may be an illusion.

  53. Gravatar of collin collin
    1. March 2016 at 06:23

    Well in terms of choosing a leader, the political system does have a tremendous effect the economic system. And although the President influence on the economy is not very strong, a success President seems to know how to blend policies into the economic system. (So do we have the 1980s without Reagan or Dotcom boom without Clinton? Yes, but it does not feel right today. Also review the 2004 reelection of Bush with the housing boom.)

    Leaving aside the problems with Trump, what is it that is making him successful in the Primary? The big surprise of the early voting Primary was after the candidates started dropping the support would be consolidated around a non-Trump nominee (most pointed to Rubio). In fact the opposite has happened, and the Party, including college educated voters have rallied around Trump. (FYI my very smart in-laws were closeted Trump supporters in December now have come out.) So the big question is why the Republicans missed this so big all of last year?

  54. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    1. March 2016 at 06:37

    After reading this astonishing blogpost from Ed Dolan;

    http://www.economonitor.com/dolanecon/2016/02/18/marco-rubio-would-leave-economic-policy-rudderless/

    ———-quote———
    Stabilizing the national economy is one of the federal government’s key responsibilities. Is that too much to ask? ….

    If you remember your basic college econ course, you’ll know that the first line of defense against a recession is fiscal policy. ….

    If you’re a true Keynesian, automatic stabilizers aren’t enough. You add some discretionary fiscal stimulus in the form of road projects and maybe a temporary tax rebate. If the timing is right, that softens the recession even more and speeds the recovery. ….

    The Fed alone can’t fully stabilize the economy. Countercyclical monetary policy just isn’t powerful enough. But it helps. Economists are widely agreed that if the Fed had sat on its hands, the Great Recession would have would have become Great Depression II. ….
    ————endquote———–

    This guy wrote a textbook! Makes one more sympathetic to Rubio.

  55. Gravatar of Dan W. Dan W.
    1. March 2016 at 07:50

    Ray,

    I’ll let Scott explain how monetary stimulus works. Maybe it is by magic. The real world says that by lowering borrowing costs “people” can borrow more for the same interest expense. It is like free money, assuming the debt can always be rolled over at an equal or lower interest rate. The problem is perpetual debt refinance is a dead-end, one-way street. And the developed world has arrived at the cul-de-sac.

  56. Gravatar of Joe Joe
    1. March 2016 at 08:49

    Drumpf, according to John Oliver – pretty funny: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnpO_RTSNmQ

    Hopefully in Trump’s America this blog will still be legal to read.

  57. Gravatar of Becky Hargrove Becky Hargrove
    1. March 2016 at 09:19

    Joe,
    re your last point: I’ve been concerned about the same thing.

  58. Gravatar of Justin Irving Justin Irving
    1. March 2016 at 09:43

    Ben Cole said a lot of sensible things.

    Frankly I’m tired of seeing people grasp for virtue points by making a big show of opposing him. Kudos to Ben for not taking the easy position.

  59. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    1. March 2016 at 09:53

    Interesting post on the nuts and bolts of negative interest rates by Steve Cecchetti and Kermit Schoernholtz;

    http://www.moneyandbanking.com/commentary/2016/2/28/how-low-can-they-go

    ———–quote———
    As we continue trying to figure out what the transactions costs are for storing, transporting, and insuring large amounts of cash, we have two further thoughts. First, on a per unit basis, these costs are probably lower the larger the jurisdiction. That means that the floor on interest rates is likely higher in the euro area, Japan and the United States than in Sweden, Switzerland or Denmark (that is, even if the Fed concludes that it has the legal authority to set the interest rate on excess reserves below zero). Second, the floor is probably a soft one because the eventual prospect of higher interest rates limits the potential profit from a large investment in cash management. That is, because of the fixed costs involved in setting up cash accounts, and the threat that rates will rise, banks will hesitate to pay the start-up costs until rates are expected to stay low enough long enough to warrant the risk.

    The bottom line: international experience suggests that negative interest rates, at least as low as we are seeing today and (in some places) significantly lower, will become a permanent part of the monetary policy toolkit. If that’s right, we need not worry quite so much whether a 2% inflation target is too low.
    ————-endquote———–

  60. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    1. March 2016 at 10:13

    I predict Trump will need a sympathetic comedian to be his press secretary, perhaps David Spade?

    He will also want one ex-Bushie: Chief of Staff Andrew Card

    And, since Trump is a secret liberal, he will seek economic advise from Peter Diamond and Gary Hart.

    Hey, it’s better the Bush, Dick, and Colin.

  61. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    1. March 2016 at 10:22

    I watched that Trump Oliver video now. The fact such a man is a credible future Presidential nominee proves how discredited the establishment is. And, yes, a lot of Trump’s promises may be broken. He may be a con man. But I prefer a wolf in sheep’s clothing to a wolf in wolf’s clothing. I’d vote for Cruz. But I just don’t trust his competence (esp. on on foreign policy) honesty (esp. in his campaign), or ability to stand up to Hillary Clinton. He’d make a better Senator than President.

  62. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    1. March 2016 at 10:46

    “international experience suggests that negative interest rates, at least as low as we are seeing today and (in some places) significantly lower, will become a permanent part of the monetary policy toolkit. If that’s right, we need not worry quite so much whether a 2% inflation target is too low.

    Just as I predicted, the IMF moonbats are suddenly embracing negative rates as an excuse to lower the inflation target even lower. With the lower bound now unbinding, Steve “500 Euro Note’ Cecchetti needs to probe for the bank run/bank bail-in lower bound instead.

    But I’m just a loon and loons be loony.

  63. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    1. March 2016 at 11:06

    @E. Harding
    What in the world happened to you?! You don’t sound like the guy from a few hours ago who defended Trump at any chance he got.

    It’s really amazing what people like John Oliver (or John Stewart) can do. One partly well done bit about all the scandals of Trump and people start toppling over like flies.

    You could make three episodes like this about Hillary. Oliver and Stewart would have made the exact same bit about Rubio or Cruz but they will never do something like this against people like Hillary or Obama.

    It still amazes me that someone like Trump was even allowed to be a GOP candidate. He had no real connection to the GOP. They should have never let him take part in the primaries. Cruz and Rubio would have stood a good chance against Hillary. Trump is in a much weaker position. It’s hard to imagine how he could prevail against Hillary.

  64. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    1. March 2016 at 11:34

    I also don’t get why a lot of the people who are believing in pretty rational efficient markets are assuring us now that a lot of (if not most) voters are irrational. Both theories do not go well together.

  65. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    1. March 2016 at 12:06

    “What in the world happened to you?! You don’t sound like the guy from a few hours ago who defended Trump at any chance he got.”

    -What? It’s a change in emphasis, not substance. My opinions of Trump haven’t changed at all after watching that video. I have always thought of Trump as a liar and demagogue, but I never thought those were good reasons to vote against him if the rest of the field was clearly insane (which it is). I still view Trump as the only man who can even remotely save the nation. I will vote for him a week from now.

    “but they will never do something like this against people like Hillary or Obama”

    -Bingo.

    “It’s hard to imagine how he could prevail against Hillary.”

    -You are badly underestimating Trump. I thought you’d know that Trump lacks ceilings by now. And I don’t find a Rubio or Cruz victory possible. Kasich, maybe.

  66. Gravatar of Steve F Steve F
    1. March 2016 at 13:27

    E. Harding,

    Rest assured that your concerns about Cruz need not be. His foreign policy is closer to Reagan’s and HW Bush’s than any other candidate’s. His campaign has been remarkably more honest than the others (excluding Kasich, who has had the luxury of never being attacked or attacking therefore not having his integrity tested). This particular meme is a total fabrication by the shameless media. His ability to stand up to Hillary is next to none. He stood up to Trump longer and harder than anybody (by many times over) and didn’t suffer from it, all the while the shameless media has marginalized him and praised Trump and Rubio at every juncture. He has the strongest contrasts to Hillary and the strongest debate skills. He is the only candidate who has not had a poor performance.

    Don’t be played by the people who are playing you. Trump is pushed up by the media to degrees unprecedented and Cruz is marginalized to near Ron Paul levels. Ron Paul’s coalition made a mistake when it jumped onto the Trump wagon instead of the real constitutional conservative’s wagon.

  67. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    1. March 2016 at 14:14

    if the rest of the field was clearly insane (which it is).

    No one is insane.

  68. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    1. March 2016 at 15:13

    I like the logic of Oliver. When Trump asked why Jon Stewart changed his name it was shameless and racist. When Oliver makes fun of Trump’s German name it’s clever and witty.

  69. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    1. March 2016 at 15:16

    Exactly, Cruz (and Kasich) have been the most honest in this campaign. Cruz has been hurt by open media bias, as confirmed by Rupert Murdoch’s tweet preferring Rubio or Trump. That explains Megyn Kelly’s blatantly dishonest attack on Cruz in the debate in the run-up to Iowa. I hope all Texans saw Rupert Murdoch’s true heart and run out to the polls to vote Cruz.

    The risk of Cruz is finding people to work with him in DC, when he is openly promoting a big reduction of bureaucracy. Cruz would need to pick an extreme VP, otherwise the lunatics in the Republican establishment might impeach him out of spite as they see their golden parachutes evaporating.

    Trump, for all his distasteful rhetoric, may have to backbone and gravitas to deliver four key policy outcomes that are within the realm of possibility:
    1- immigration reform, a wall, and perhaps touchback amnesty.
    2- corporate tax reform, inversions and offshoring
    3- reduce corruption in health taxes/regulation/pricing
    4- foreign policy that is strategic, rather than based on short-term polls
    Trump will NOT implement 1st amendment restrictions (libel laws), but he will belittle and expose all the gotcha journalism that has become endemic in the media.

    That’s the optimistic read of Trump, anyway, given all the political and institutional constraints he would be operating under.

  70. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    1. March 2016 at 15:18

    “His foreign policy is closer to Reagan’s and HW Bush’s than any other candidate’s”

    -Though I’m definitely a fan of Scalia and Thomas, I am not a fan of Reagan’s Obama-like and Bush’s quasi-Bush-II-an foreign policies. Cruz’s Syrian policy is weak tea and his Iran, Ukraine, and military budget policies are terrible. I trust Trump more on this, though he has fewer advisers. Cruz does have the strongest policy contrast with Billary, no doubt, but I’m not sure he can adopt the dominant posture that’s necessary for him to win against Hillary not just in debates, but on social media.

    @Art, you’re a weird guy.

  71. Gravatar of Joe Joe
    1. March 2016 at 15:49

    Interesting take from Larry Summers: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/03/01/larry-summers-donald-trump-is-a-serious-threat-to-american-democracy/?postshare=6971456834459580&tid=ss_tw

    Even though Cruz and Rubio have more extreme policy positions (in some ways) than Trump, I fear Trump’s authoritarian streak. I don’t quite trust that he’d work within the confines of the constitution.

    And maybe some Presidents are a bit sleazy in their grasp for power. But I prefer an underhanded grasp for power rather than the overt kind.

    I guess I’m already “ready for Hillary” :-(

  72. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    1. March 2016 at 15:51

    In an ideal world, Trump would bring in the honest operators Kasich (VP) and Cruz (AG) to broaden the depth and appeal of his campaign.

    The losers (Bush), liars (Rubio), and weenies (Christie) can go away.

    I was joking about Trump, Card, Spade, Diamond, and Hart.

  73. Gravatar of Steve F Steve F
    1. March 2016 at 15:55

    What Cruz policies are extreme? I support him exactly because he is the least extreme. Liberty is not extreme. The extremists are those who continually perpetuate the strengthening of the federal government and the weakening of individual liberty.

  74. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    1. March 2016 at 16:01

    http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/larry_summers_85_million_dollar_man/

    Donald Trump is a threat to Larry Summer’s ability to earn another $8.5 million in policy consulting fees.

    While Summers is smart, why do so many so often confuse intellect and self-interest on This Crappy Blog?

  75. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    1. March 2016 at 16:24

    Whoever wins the primaries needs to reconcile himself with the GOP establishment and move to center-right at the same time without pushing the GOP base away. Trump could do the last two things (maybe even the first one). The same is true for Cruz. It would depend a lot on their VP pick I guess.

    The US is still a center-right country. Nevertheless in the last 6 presidential elections the center-right party lost the popular vote 5 times. That’s just really weak.

    @Steve
    I totally agree. Trump needs to broaden the depth and appeal of his campaign if he really wins the primaries.

  76. Gravatar of Joe Joe
    1. March 2016 at 17:11

    Are Massachusetts republicans particularly angry? I’m surprised Trump is doing so well in the Northeast. I would have thought conservatives out there more reasonable than in the West. So far it looks like the opposite is true…

  77. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    1. March 2016 at 17:45

    @Joe
    The piece by Summers is really funny. Why doesn’t he write a piece like that about Obama or Hillary? You can find more than enough extremely authoritarian actions during their rule.

    Compared to them Trump is only a talker who never did anything authoritarian in his life except maybe firing somebody in “The Apprentice”. And even then it was only an act.

  78. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    1. March 2016 at 17:52

    Mbka: that is a good line about Trump-loy. As a one-time faux finisher….

    Philo: the boxer then known as Cassius Clay (great name btw) was dismissed twice, then twice beat Sonny Liston…Don Trump is a political Cassius Clay….yes my sports analogies are a half century dated…

  79. Gravatar of Simon Turkel Simon Turkel
    1. March 2016 at 18:01

    Your posts on Trump are marvelous, and inspiring. Please continue. Complaints come from those made uncomfortable.

  80. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    1. March 2016 at 18:05

    Kasich seems like a gentle grandfather, so why is nobody interested in him? Says something about the Republican party’s lust for extreme views. Steve is right about Larry Summers wanting his girl Hilary to win, so he can have a job. Summers is a con man, I notice he always jumps on some bandwagon. Jeffrey Sachs is another such e-CON-o-mist. Another is…OK stop.

  81. Gravatar of myb6 myb6
    1. March 2016 at 18:23

    @ssumner,

    You might drive me a little crazy with the consumption tax issue (we only disagree about the top percent or so, but I think what little social cohesion we have left depends on that fine distinction). But allow me to take this opportunity to thank you for the untold hours you spend blogging. I’ve learned an enormous amount about money these last few years reading your blog, and value your thoughts on a wide variety of issues.

    Trump drives you to distraction, I get it. Might I suggest framing the argument in more economic terms to try to reduce the emotion? Trump’s support is mostly built on immigration.

    1) A significant part of America justifiably views immigrant labor as hurting their economic condition, even if immigration was a net win in the aggregate (big maybe). They were never compensated for that taking and are right to be upset.

    2) People also clearly, and understandably, value a certain amount of homogeneity- social/economic/political interactions are all much easier with shared values/expectations/signals/interests.

    3) There’s also risk, which of course has value: people just aren’t all that sure about what kind of costs immigration might impose (or have already imposed) upon them and their institutions, and immigration is extraordinarily painful to reverse, unlike non-immigration.

    4) Finally, the fact that our laws so blatantly ignore the popular will on this issue, and then the executive so blatantly ignores our laws, is understandably infuriating to people who were under the deception we have two branches of government operating democratically; maybe view those political rights as a form of property that was taken.

    No other candidate is offering this bloc the slightest olive branch, so there’s no sensible alternative, and frankly seeing Trump hand the establishment their a$$es in the media wars is giving me (I’d vote for Kasich) a lot of schadenfreude; think of this as a game-theory punishment for elite defection.

  82. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    1. March 2016 at 20:00

    myb6: what you said.

  83. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    1. March 2016 at 20:07

    Kasich seems like a gentle grandfather,

    With early stage dementia and really bad prostate problems.

  84. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    1. March 2016 at 20:09

    No other candidate is offering this bloc the slightest olive branch,

    No, they offer the olive branch, but not in such a way that the skeptical voter figures it won’t be back to business as usual when the election’s over. See Marco Rubio’s activities in early 2013.

  85. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    1. March 2016 at 20:15

    I have done a post on the trade-offs of immigration policy being more morally complex than is usually admitted.

    I have added myb6’s pithy formulation of the homogeneity issue.
    http://lorenzo-thinkingoutaloud.blogspot.com.au/2016/02/can-contemporary-western-country-have.html

  86. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    1. March 2016 at 20:29

    Scott is probably in mourning as Massachusetts is the most Trumpian state in the Union (so far).

    Why are the Yankees so extreme? Because they dislike religion. The Yankee Republicans would deport Muslims, the Yankee Democrats would deport Christians, and the ‘moderates’ would deport anyone who believes in anything other than money or policy wonkery.

    Sorry for my cynicism. Make Massachusetts Great Again!!!

  87. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    1. March 2016 at 21:02

    I admit to being strongly surprised and puzzled at Marco’s victory in Minnesota. This is completely contrary to MN’s Santorum+Paul (i.e., Cruz-type) surge in 2012. I suspect electoral shenanigans. You didn’t even have to be registered to vote to caucus. Fortunately, Rubio did not win a single delegate in TX, thus crippling his chances at the nomination.

    Rubio is expected to drop out after March 15, after failing to win his home state. After that, TRiUMPh.

    The real instructive states here are Oklahoma and Arkansas, and to a lesser extent the trans-Appalachian South.

  88. Gravatar of mbka mbka
    1. March 2016 at 23:31

    Thanks Benjamin.

    I’ll give you more.

    DT is more toxic than DDT. He trumples on our most sacred values. He is the ultimate repugnican.

  89. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    1. March 2016 at 23:58

    @myb6 – each of your points is wrong and ideologically biased. Just to pick one example, open borders to date has not been a net plus “maybe” but unequivocally. The one study that found a slight negative was towards American born high school dropouts, who lost about $50 a year from illegal aliens. As for homogeneity, it’s overrated: much better is an open economy. Belarus is homogeneous, as is North Korea, while South Korea, Japan, Denmark and the USA are open (the first three are homogeneous, the last one heterogeneous and open). BTW: money is largely neutral. Google: Bernanke, FAVAR.

  90. Gravatar of Tom Tom
    2. March 2016 at 05:55

    Can I get more Sander’s bashing? I enjoy the Trump ones but I feel like Sander’s gets off easier from most people because he’s “well intentioned”

    As an aside, thank you for this blog. As a person who is interested in Econ but doesn’t understand more than a base level, I’d love to see more Econ 101 type posts to help understand MMT theory.

  91. Gravatar of sejanus sejanus
    2. March 2016 at 07:29

    i am honored to have been the subject of a post.

  92. Gravatar of sejanus sejanus
    2. March 2016 at 07:37

    oh, and i misspoke. not the china deval. the china false statistics screeds.

  93. Gravatar of Matt McOsker Matt McOsker
    2. March 2016 at 07:45

    This is a great blog, you take the time to work on it to keep it fresh, and you respond directly to many involved commenters. Haters are just gonna hate, and this blog makes me think.

  94. Gravatar of Jeff Jeff
    2. March 2016 at 09:05

    Omg, Ray just wrote something I agree with. Isn’t this one of the signs of the Apocalypse?

  95. Gravatar of max max
    3. March 2016 at 05:27

    Hi Scott. You could talk about the rol the fed monetary policy played in the oil crash since june 2014.

    http://macromarketmusings.blogspot.cl/2016/02/connecting-dots-demand-side-to-oils.html

    http://marketsandthefed.blogspot.cl/2016/02/the-oil-crash-and-fed-policy_19.html

  96. Gravatar of collin collin
    3. March 2016 at 11:45

    Well, it is time to start practicing “And I for one welcome our Trump Overlord” Fox News has given up on Rubio and ripping into Romney for his Anti-Trump rant. Well, looking at the bright side there is:

    1) He might be a good negotiator on issues and get things done.

    2) It is hard to gauge his foreign policy and he might be a good negotiator. He is the one R candidate who will not rip up the Iran deal day and I suspect he will focus more on US national interest as opposed to ally interest.

    3) Frankly, I think the best attribute of a success President is to have the able convince people on TV that everything is fine which gets more citizens to go about their business. This has been a problem with Obama in more successful second term.

  97. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    5. March 2016 at 14:10

    Everyone, Thanks for all the comments. I read them, but don’t have time to respond to them all. Too much travel recently.

    Steve, You said:

    “Scott is probably in mourning as Massachusetts is the most Trumpian state in the Union”

    Actually it just confirms my intent to move to California, too many Massholes here. And Massachusetts is booming—so much for the view that Trump votes reflect economic distress. I assure you that 49% of GOP voters in Massachusetts are not suffering.

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