When organizations have made up their mind

I suppose that most of us have experienced that sense of helplessness when our employers are determined to do something, even though it’s becoming clear that it’s the wrong move. In my field (academia) it might be a new and “innovative” MBA program, which is not well thought out.  Once a lot of effort has been put into developing the program, it’s hard to stop.

This problem occurred in the space program, back in 1986:

More than 30 years ago, NASA launched seven crew members to space on the space shuttle Challenger, but they never got there.

Seventy-three seconds after lift-off, one of the shuttle’s fuel tanks failed, generating a rapid cascade of events that culminated with a fireball in the sky, eventually killing all the passengers on board.

While we all probably know this story, there’s another equally tragic account from engineer Bob Ebeling that strikes a chord with us for a different reason.

The night before the disaster, Ebeling, along with four other engineers, had tried to halt the launch, according to an exclusive interview from NPR with Ebeling.

The five engineers worked for NASA contractor Morton Thiokol, who manufactured the shuttle’s rocket boosters — the two rockets on either side of a shuttle that fired upon lift off.

They knew that this mission would involve the coldest launch in history, and that the shuttle’s rocket boosters weren’t designed to function properly under such extreme temperatures.

The night before the explosion, Ebeling said in the NPR interview, he’d told his wife: “It’s going to blow up.”

I recall reading that while NASA pretended to be bewildered by the accident, the stock market figured out the cause almost immediately, and Morton Thiokol stock plunged.  Now we find out that the NASA bigwigs knew all along who was to blame, they were.

In December, Narayana Kocherlakota warned that the Fed was in danger of losing credibility, as market indicators of inflation expectations fell increasingly far below target.  But the Fed had put a lot of effort into developing a “liftoff” of interest rates, and wasn’t going to be pushed off that goal by warnings that it was a mistake.  Let’s hope NGDP in 2016 does better than the Challenger. If not, the Fed will pretend to be bewildered by “shocks” that mysteriously hit the economy in 2016.

The beauty of markets is that they admit mistakes within milliseconds, and reverse course when new data comes in. They have no ego.  Recall Keynes’s famous comment:

When the facts change, I change my mind.  What do you do, Sir?

This applies to very few people and almost no organization.  But it perfectly describes markets.  That’s why intellectuals with minds closed to new ideas are so contemptuous of the flighty nature of market prices.  “Make up your mind!”  No, don’t make up your mind—keep changing it as new information comes in.  Every millisecond.

BTW, Ramesh Ponnuru sent me an interesting article by Jed Graham, showing that the Fed raising rates during a quarter of 1.5% NGDP growth was unprecedented in modern history:

Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 8.55.07 PM

If you take a four quarter perspective, the rate increase looks even more unusual. The 4 quarter NGDP growth rate came in at 2.9%, which is well below the levels of previous rate increases:

The data discussed above and displayed in the accompanying chart reflect the annualized pace of growth in each quarter the Fed hiked rates. But if one looks at the pace of GDP growth from the year-earlier quarter, the Yellen Fed stands alone as the only Fed to hike rates when nominal growth was below 3%.

Commerce Department data show the economy grew 2.9% from the fourth quarter of 2014, unadjusted for inflation. There have only been three other times that the Fed hiked when nominal year-over-year growth was less than 5%. Once was in 1986, when growth was 4.9%. The other two times came during the Volcker recession in 1982, when nominal growth fell as low as 3.2%.

While the Yellen Fed didn’t go so far as to admit a mistake, its policy statement after Wednesday’s meeting did implicitly acknowledge that policymakers were no longer confident about the path of inflation.

A footnote on the Japanese decision to adopt negative IOR.  I’m told it only applies to new reserves, not existing reserves. This is similar to an idea I proposed back in April 2009, in a (ridiculously long) reply to Greg Mankiw.

Suppose the government pays 4% positive interest on required reserves and negative 4% interest on excess reserves.  The penalty rate on excess reserves affects behavior at the margin, and should reduce ER holdings to the very low levels that existed before reserve and T-bill rates were nearly equalized.

Not exactly what the BOJ did, but close in spirit.  Just one more crazy MM idea that people told me could never be done in the “real world”, because I’m just an academic in an ivory tower that knows nothing about finance and banking.

Check out Nick Rowe’s post on this same general issue.

PPS.  I won 10 euros in the Hypermind market last year, as I shorted NGDP early in 2015, when the price was around 4.2%


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96 Responses to “When organizations have made up their mind”

  1. Gravatar of JJ JJ
    30. January 2016 at 07:22

    Calling something “unprecedented in modern history” seems strange to me. Sometimes it adds insight, I guess, if you’re harkening back to things that used to happen but for good reasons stopped happening. But mostly it just means “I admit the time series is short but I’m going to just go ahead and extrapolate anyway.” It’s self-defeating language, and it makes me wonder how many other phrases we use like that regularly.

  2. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    30. January 2016 at 07:50

    JJ, Fair point, but I’m fairly confident that his generalizations would extend back at least through the 1960s and 1970s. The gold standard period is obviously irrelevant as the trend rate of inflation was zero, not 2%.

  3. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    30. January 2016 at 08:01

    Excellent blogging.

    I suspect the world’s central banks are too tight, yet even in this gang of joykillers the Fed is an outlier.

    The ECB has QE underway, the Bank of Japan has QE and negative interest rates, the People’s Bank of China has QE and is cutting rates, even the Reserve Bank of India, under Raghuram Rajan, is cutting rates and “injecting liquidity.” All too timid and too little, but in the right direction.

    The Fed? Raising rates and siphoning liquidity out of the commercial bank system through the mysterious reverse repo program.

    Janet Yellen has lost her bearings.

  4. Gravatar of Mikio Mikio
    30. January 2016 at 08:39

    Yes, that’s right.

    What happened on Friday was that Kuroda (in a 5-4 vote) showed he is open to new ideas. He send a signal in the right direction, which is what global markets responded to.

    He showed he has a functioning gun in his hands, but didn’t actually aim or fire it.

    For some reason he did not want, or could not, go the full mile and charge the negative interest on all excess reserves. Maybe he simply wanted to test the waters.

    My guess is that he is still reasonably happy about the course of the Japanese domestic economy, which is what he is charge of. His motivation to send the signal was triggered by the global “growth scare” and turmoil in the first three weeks of January. He wanted to signal that the BOJ will not fall behind the curve, and wait until the data deteriorates. He wanted to signal precisely that:

    “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, Sir?”

    I hope the other central banks follow suit soon, and signal that they also will fall behind the curve. Or that they are willing to move back in front of the curve.

    I am judging whether he is right or wrong. Just trying to read him.

  5. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    30. January 2016 at 09:04

    Sumner: “(quoting Keynes) ‘When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, Sir?’ This applies to very few people and almost no organization”

    Are you one of the ‘very few’? Tell us professor, what will it take for you to admit money is largely neutral? What evidence would you like to see? You refuse to read Bernanke’s 2002 FAVAR paper which proves just that, so please tell us what evidence would convince you?

  6. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    30. January 2016 at 09:43

    I recall reading that while NASA pretended to be bewildered by the accident, the stock market figured out the cause almost immediately, and Morton Thiokol stock plunged. Now we find out that the NASA bigwigs knew all along who was to blame, they were.

    “Now we find out”? Allan McDonald’s testimony before a commission of inquiry on the matter was reported here

    http://www.nytimes.com/1986/02/26/us/man-in-the-news-tenacious-engineer-allan-j-mcdonald.html

    Note the date: 28 February 1986.

    Your thesis that ‘the market’ figured out ‘who’ ‘was responsible’ is dubious. Did you check what happened to the stock price of the Shuttle’s other contractors? Not fantastically insightful to figure the income streams of those companies dependent on the program might suffer given there’d been a catastrophic failure.

  7. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    30. January 2016 at 11:06

    What about Canada’s recent rate cut?

  8. Gravatar of Negation of Ideology Negation of Ideology
    30. January 2016 at 11:40

    Ray –

    Ben Bernanke has his own blog. Have you ever asked him if he believes his 2002 paper proves that money is neutral?

    His answer may surprise you.

  9. Gravatar of Philo Philo
    30. January 2016 at 12:44

    Aside: I don’t like Keynes’s formulation. The *facts* don’t change. Various *conditions* change, but you’d have to be aware of the changes for them to affect your beliefs. So Keynes should have referred rather to changes in the available *evidence*. Still, it would have been misleading to say: “When the evidence changes, I change my mind,” for not just any change in the evidence would, as a matter of logic, require one to abandon any particular belief.

    So let me offer this as an improvement on the Keynesian dictum:
    “When there is a change in the balance of available evidence bearing on a given proposition, I change my epistemic attitude to that proposition.” (“Epistemic attitude” is a bit broader that just belief/disbelief, encompassing degrees of credence.)

    As you note, the dictum expresses an ideal that we all, including Keynes himself, fail to achieve.

  10. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    30. January 2016 at 13:28

    Thanks Ben.

    Mikio, That sounds plausible.

    Art, You said:

    “Your thesis that ‘the market’ figured out ‘who’ ‘was responsible’ is dubious. Did you check what happened to the stock price of the Shuttle’s other contractors? Not fantastically insightful to figure the income streams of those companies dependent on the program might suffer given there’d been a catastrophic failure.”

    Yes I did, and thanks for asking:

    “Twenty-one minutes after the explosion, Lockheed’s stock was down 5 percent, Martin Marietta’s was down 3 percent, and Rockwell was down 6 percent. Morton Thiokol’s stock was hit hardest of all. As the finance professors Michael T. Maloney and J. Harold Mulherin report in their fascinating study of the market’s reaction to the Challenger disaster, so many investors were trying to sell Thiokol stock and so few people were interested in buying it that a trading halt was called almost immediately. When the stock started trading again, almost an hour after the explosion, it was down 6 percent. By the end of the day, its decline had almost doubled, so that at market close, Thiokol’s stock was down nearly 12 percent. By contrast, the stocks of the three other firms started to creep back up, and by the end of the day their value had fallen only around 3 percent.
    What this means is that the stock market had, almost immediately, labeled Morton Thiokol as the company that was responsible for the Challenger disaster.”

    http://wisdomofcrowds.blogspot.com/2009/12/stock-market-reaction-to-challenger.html

    Negation, Yes, Bernanke spent a whole career arguing that money is not neutral. He believes tight money caused the Great Depression. But it’s great having a clown like Ray to laugh at—no one deserves it more that Ray, except perhaps Trump supporters.

    Philo, Good point.

  11. Gravatar of septizoniombalbus septizoniombalbus
    30. January 2016 at 15:17

    not necessary to insult trump supporters when you are disparaging Ray (your bete noir and alter ego Mr Hyde).

  12. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    30. January 2016 at 16:17

    septizoniombalbus, You said:

    “your bete noir”

    Au contraire, Ray brings me great joy.

    As for Trump supporters, I’m trying to scare them away from my comment section. They are not welcome here.

  13. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    30. January 2016 at 17:52

    ssumner, I’m currently reading your Midas Curse. My question is, during the $ devaluation fears of 1931-2, was just gold hoarding encouraged by them, or paper currency hoarding encouraged by them as well? If currency hoarding, why? Wouldn’t the velocity of currency increase on devaluation fears? Or was the falling price level just due to an effect of devaluation fears on broader monetary aggregates, like M1? I find this a very puzzling question.

    And I really like the book. After a very boring introduction, it shows your sophistication as a writer.

  14. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    30. January 2016 at 17:59

    “As for Trump supporters, I’m trying to scare them away from my comment section. They are not welcome here.”

    -Why??????? And what are you trying to scare us who wish to Make America Great Again with? In the grand scheme of things, Trump’s clearly better than any candidate currently running (though is orders of magnitude worse than Ron Paul).

  15. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    30. January 2016 at 18:05

    “Au contraire, Ray brings me great joy.”

    -Do I? So why is Ray welcome here and I’m not?

  16. Gravatar of H_WASSHOI (Maekawa Miku-nyan lover) H_WASSHOI (Maekawa Miku-nyan lover)
    30. January 2016 at 18:43

    I won €133! yay!

  17. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    30. January 2016 at 19:23

    “They are not welcome here.” Lol!!

    What about Trump himself? It’s hard to believe he wouldn’t provide you as much joy as Ray. You could rib him about his small hands.

  18. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    30. January 2016 at 19:31

    I hope somebody adds a chart here showing the (presumably shrinking) ratio of Trump’s hand size to that of a “normal human” alongside a curve of America’s declining “greatness.”

  19. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    30. January 2016 at 19:35

    Sorry, normal here.

  20. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    30. January 2016 at 19:40

    @Negation who suggestions I check with Bernanke, the lead author of the FAVAR paper, to see if he believes money is neutral: obviously Bernanke will simply say, as the paper says, that money is not neutral to a statistically significant degree. But, as I told MF, 3.2% to 13.2% effect out of 100% on a range of variables from monetary shocks from 1959 to 2001, the subject of the FAVAR paper, is statistically significant but is hardly anything to crow about.

    So what drives markets? Expectations. Do you think that the slight trade flows between countries in the 1920s were sufficient to export ‘contagion’? Ditto for the small amount of gold crossing the continents? Did the collapse of the Austrian bank system before the onset of the Great Depression really spread panic? I think the answer is maybe, probably YES. But it was not due to the relative value of money flows (tiny) but more likely because of psychological reasons. Thus, if MM is nothing more than “setting expectations” then Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde are in violent agreement–I say “animal spirits” is often the source of business downturns (as well as I think Kondratieff waves play a role, long term), while Sumner might say “open mouth operations / expectations” set by the Fed. But, either way, we agree it’s not something mechanical like the money supply. It’s human herd behavior. And you can’t model that (sorry Dr. S, but your NGDPLT will never work).

    @E. Harding – read, you atheist, the parable of the Prodigal Son to understand why you are unloved and I am. It’s actually based on economic logic as well (water under the bridge doesn’t count, only future expectations matter). The same reason independent voters are valued by political parties while rote party members are safely ignored since they are not going to change their mind.

  21. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    30. January 2016 at 19:46

    “I won 10 euros in the Hypermind market last year, as I shorted NGDP early in 2015, when the price was around 4.2%”

    What was the final price?

  22. Gravatar of Kevin Erdmann Kevin Erdmann
    30. January 2016 at 20:10

    I don’t see a 2016 contract for NGDP at Hypermind. Is the market not going to happen any more?

  23. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    30. January 2016 at 20:32

    Ray, the U.S. was about as open to trade in the late 1920s as today. Those trade flows weren’t tiny. And gold was money back then, so yes, a rise in the demand for gold in one country raised the price of it in all others worldwide. Read Sumner’s book on it; it’s good.

  24. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    30. January 2016 at 21:09

    “The beauty of markets is that they admit mistakes within milliseconds, and reverse course when new data comes in. They have no ego. Recall Keynes’s famous comment:

    When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, Sir?

    This applies to very few people and almost no organization. But it perfectly describes markets. That’s why intellectuals with minds closed to new ideas are so contemptuous of the flighty nature of market prices. “Make up your mind!” No, don’t make up your mind—keep changing it as new information comes in. Every millisecond.”

    Except money production. Then market monetarists have contempt for markets.

  25. Gravatar of ChrisA ChrisA
    30. January 2016 at 22:49

    This point about the difficulty of changing bureaucratic processes is a good one that proponents of more state control or regulation miss. It happens in large companies as well but often what seems like an impossible change happens really fast when a competitor starts to steal an advantage. People talk a lot about incentives driving innovation but what I see is that most change happens due to fear of losing existing privileges or status – which makes senses since we all know that loss aversion is the most powerful bias.

  26. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    31. January 2016 at 04:57

    Ray, the U.S. was about as open to trade in the late 1920s as today.

    No. Tariffs were much higher and the country produced for its domestic market. The ratio of exports to domestic product was about 0.05.

  27. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    31. January 2016 at 05:03

    What this means is that the stock market had, almost immediately, labeled Morton Thiokol as the company that was responsible for the Challenger disaster.”

    I think you’re confounding a successful surmise with actual knowledge. The people who trade stocks do not know engineering from tiddlywinks. While we’re at it, Morton Thiokol as a corporate entity did not recommend cancelling the launch, but it’s engineers sure did, and NASA knew what Messrs. McDonald and Boisjoly were reccommending. The mess was NASA’s, not Morton Thiokol’s. There were period articles about how James Fletcher had damaged the agency’s institutional culture that are worth pondering.

  28. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    31. January 2016 at 05:34

    Interesting data from St. Louis Fed.

    https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/PCECTPI

    Personal Consumption Expenditures: Chain-type Price Index

    2013-10-01 108.108
    2014-01-01 108.540
    2014-04-01 109.117
    2014-07-01 109.441
    2014-10-01 109.322
    2015-01-01 108.795
    2015-04-01 109.391
    2015-07-01 109.740
    2015-10-01 109.775

    According to this series, prices increased by 1.54% from Q4 2013 to Q4 2015. That’s not per quarter, or per year.

    That’s total!

    And largely before the oil price collapse, and the Q4 GDP slowdown.

    By this measure, prices are rising by 0.75% annually—and the Fed wants to raise rates four times in 2016?

    Boy, the world has changed. Volcker declared victory on inflation when he got it below 5%. In Oct. 1992 Milton Friedman bashed the Fed for being “too tight” after it cut rates from 10% to 3%. Inflation was about 3% then.

    When did a hysterical squeamishness about inflation become a norm for central bankers and right-wingers?

    And no, the left-wing is no better; just nuts about other things.

    Is there hope in Ponnuru’s pal Ted Cruz? Cruz took a principled stand against ethanol in Iowa. He is the picture of a smarmy little turd.

  29. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    31. January 2016 at 05:43

    E. Harding, Thanks for reading the book. The currency hoarding is motivated by fears of bank failure, and low interest rates. Why people didn’t hoard gold instead of cash is an interesting questions. At the time most Americans probably viewed devaluation is unthinkable. I’d guess that most of the gold hoarding was in Europe, but I cannot be sure.

    Wasshoi, Congratulations.

    Tom, The final growth rate was 2.9%.

    Kevin, I hope so, but I find it very difficult to arrange these things. People don’t respond to my emails. Would have been nice to have one over the past month.

    ChrisA, Good observation.

    Art, Is it so implausible that the engineers’ doubts quickly leaked out to the market?

  30. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    31. January 2016 at 06:43

    “As for Trump supporters, I’m trying to scare them away from my comment section. They are not welcome here.”

    Up to this point, you’ve said Trump was ‘unqualified’ and ‘a horrible human being’. Megan McArdle is the soi-disant libertarian writing for general audiences most likely to take the President apart in print, and she voted for him once, so I’m taking it that Obama’s history was not a matter of concern for the libertarianish punditosphere. The crew at EconLog certainly had nothing to say about it. So, running the Chicago Annenberg Challenge into the ground and marking time in the Illinois legislature is an adequate qualification but running a large and diversified business enterprise for four decades is not?

    Evidently, Marla Maples coming and going is beyond the pale but the miasma around the Clintons (which goes back four decades) is not? (You’ve also said that Richard Nixon was a peculiarly disagreeable human being in the White House, a judgment which might come as a surprise to anyone familiar with biographical sketches of Lyndon Johnson or what’s been said about Jimmy Carter on the QT. People who worked for him (William Safire, Henry Kissinger) have said he wasn’t at peace with himself, but his domestic life was untroubled (pace Judith Viorst’s efforts to claim otherwise), his children were untroubled (compare them to the Reagan kids or the Ford kids or the Carter kids), he wasn’t feuding with his relatives or Pat’s, he was able to build friendships with someone other than his wife (Reagan was not), and he had the affection and loyalty of intimates (Rose Woods, Pat Buchanan) to a degree Reagan and Carter did not (see Donald T. Regan and James Fallows); the one person who was spitting mad at him was Spiro Agnew).

    Trump’s position papers are humbug? Welcome to American election campaigns.

    Anyone listening to you is going to wonder what your standards really are. Recall Charles Fried, who was mortified that the Governor of Alaska (who had spent 11 years in charge, successively, of a municipal government, a small state agency, and a state government and with regard to whom the most damning complaints were some cost over-runs on a municipal athletic center and canning the town librarian) was occupying the 2d spot on the Republican ticket while the fact that a sometime lawyer with no history as an executive (but an unhappy stint as non-executive chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge) was on the top of the Democratic ticket. Fried’s utter superficiality could not have been more transparent.

    Trump is loud and exhibitionistic, but we live in a Kardashian age, and you can shut your TV set off. I maintain my equilibrium regarding the current incumbent by never listing to a broadcast word he says if I can help it. Works for me.

    So what’s driving your? Your pals over at EconLog (Henderson, Caplan) are all incensed that there is such a thing as immigration law. Six billion people are debarred from settling here. How brutal.

  31. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    31. January 2016 at 06:44

    Art, Is it so implausible that the engineers’ doubts quickly leaked out to the market?

    With 1986 communications technology? Yes, that is implausible.

  32. Gravatar of Engineer Engineer
    31. January 2016 at 06:53

    It is not implausible that the engineers’ doubts quickly leaked out to the market?. But I would think that Thiokol stock price could have also reacted the greatest because I would imagine that experts immediately thought that the most likely cause of an explosion like that is the rockets. Also the fact that Thiokol is the least diversified and smaller than the others means even with even odds of fault, the impact on Thiokol would be the greatest.

    That said, I don’t want to rain on your main point…large organizations are like the Titanic, you don’t change course on a dime. The NASA propaganda machine ultimately was responsible. One of the best decisions by this administration was to get NASA out of management of launches and launch technology and to privatize them. What the private sector (Xspace, etc) has done in this area in just a couple of years is huge and will reap some large benefits to the economy and mankind in the coming years….

    So yes, you economists need to come up with a rules for monetary policy and put the computers in charge and abolish this entire FED decision making apparatus…that would also reap large benefits to the economy and mankind.

  33. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    31. January 2016 at 07:00

    “So yes, you economists need to come up with a rules for monetary policy and put the computers in charge and abolish this entire FED decision making apparatus…that would also reap large benefits to the economy and mankind.”

    Ah yes, Marxism by robots. The “Zeitgeist” solution.

    But the robots need to be programmed. Programming is a human decision making process.

    If you want to die, please don’t take others with you.

  34. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    31. January 2016 at 07:19

    @E. Harding- you make a good point that price ‘leaks’ across borders and equalizes worldwide, but, as Art Deco says, actual trade flows were much smaller in the 1920s than today.

    @Sumner – people hoard cash and/or gold during a routine recession, which 1929 clear was (we both agree). The routine recession of 1929 became a general depression with bank panics in 1932/33. So what? If you look at US history before the Fed, such panics were routine and sometimes lasted many years. How is the Great Depression of 1929-1933 any different from the four year depression of 1839, which had a 34% decline in the economy? (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_recessions_in_the_United_States) How is the GD any different from the crash of 1919, as James Grant has said? As you point out in your book (from reviews I’ve read), FDR’s policies were responsible for the post 1934 funk in the USA (and I agree). So we agree then: the Great Depression lasted from 1929-1933/34, then could have gone away but for FDR. You attribute the ending of the GD to devaluation of the gold dollar, while I maintain it was just a random stopping, but in any event there’s nothing special about the GD. Trying to build a general theory from the rebound in an economy when the dollar is devalued is rather comical, don’t you think? After all, the USA recovered from the 1839 depression with a gold dollar.

    @Art Deco- you are a font of information.

  35. Gravatar of ChrisA ChrisA
    31. January 2016 at 07:38

    Scott – I am not American, so I get no vote. But which way would you go if it were Trump vs Sanders? I think I would chose the lesser of the two evils – Trump.

  36. Gravatar of septizoniombalbus septizoniombalbus
    31. January 2016 at 07:41

    Mr Sumner: I am surprised you would say anyone would be unwelcome; it betrays an intolerance. always seek truth, doubt all proffers of truth and be afraid of those certain they know the truth.

  37. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    31. January 2016 at 08:02

    Ray, You said:

    “people hoard cash and/or gold during a routine recession, which 1929 clear was (we both agree).”

    No they don’t, and no we don’t agree. Throw another dart, eventually you’ll have to hit the target. More darts!!

    Art, You have a Manchurian candidate who clearly doesn’t believe anything he says. You have perhaps the worst personality among all 320 million Americans, and the positions he does take are completely loony, far beyond that of other candidates. And he’s running on a platform to attract bigots. And the defense is that other candidates also have flaws? Seriously?

    I find it comical that the Christian fundamentalists are supporting this guy:

    “RUSSERT: Partial-birth abortion — the eliminating of abortion in the third trimester. Big issue in Washington. Would President Trump ban partial-birth abortion?

    TRUMP: Well, look. I’m very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it, I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I hear people debating the subject. But you still — I just believe in choice. And again, it may be a little bit of a New York background, because there is some different attitude in different parts of the country, and I was raised in New York, grew up and worked and everything else in New York City. But I am strongly for choice, and yet I hate the concept of abortion.

    RUSSERT: But you would not ban it.

    TRUMP: No.

    RUSSERT: Or ban partial-birth abortion.

    TRUMP: No, I would — I would — I am pro-choice in every respect, as far as it goes. I just hate it.”

    End of quote.

    Just how stupid is Jerry Falwell? It was always clear that he wasn’t a rocket scientist, but I never imagined he was such a complete fool.

    And the small government Republicans are supporting a guy who wants to make America’s government “great” again, just like LBJ’s “Great Society”:

    “Speaking with CNN host Larry King in 1999 when he was flirting with a run for president on the Reform Party ticket, Trump said he was “quite liberal” when it came to health care. …

    Trump added believed in “universal health care.”

    “If you can’t take care of your sick in the country, forget it, it’s all over. I mean, it’s no good. So I’m very liberal when it comes to health care,” he said. “I believe in universal health care. I believe in whatever it takes to make people well and better.”

    Asked if he thought it was an entitlement, Trump affirmed he did indeed believe it was one from birth.

    “I think it is. It’s an entitlement to this country, and too bad the world can’t be, you know, in this country. But the fact is, it’s an entitlement to this country if we’re going to have a great country.””

    End of quote. Elsewhere he supports the “single payer system”

    So in the fall we’ll be able to choose between 2 authoritarian Democrats; Hillary and a guy who idolizes Hillary while pretending to be a nutty Republican. And the moronic GOP voters are fooled by this guy. If only Mencken was still around. Here’s one that applies to both Hillary and Trump:

    “Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

  38. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    31. January 2016 at 08:04

    ChrisA, I would easily pick Sanders over Trump, because Trump is not qualified to be president. That’s the basic first test of any candidate, and hence I’d support any qualified candidate over Trump, no matter how appalling their views.

  39. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    31. January 2016 at 08:06

    septizoniombalbus.

    You should be happy that I don’t ban commenters, like so many other bloggers do. I’ve learned a great deal from commenters over the years,

  40. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    31. January 2016 at 08:23

    Is Trump the loonie? I wonder.

    The “establishment” Kasich is promoting the idea of 16 aircraft-carrier Strike force groups, which are offensive weapons systems. We now have 11 or 12. A good argument could be made that we need 0 or 1. Surface ships are easily sunk, by the way.

    Bush got us into Iraq, and Obama has prosecuted a losing war in Afghanistan for his entire presidency, while drone-bombing various people around the world, but especially in Pakistan

    So who is crazy?

  41. Gravatar of Dan W. Dan W.
    31. January 2016 at 08:30

    Engineer, the problem with rules is first the economists and politicians would have to agree on them and second there would need to be a way to actually follow them!

    So there will never be “rules” only wishful thinking. During the Greenspan era wishful thinking worked wonders. Of course Greenspan had the benefit of beginning when the target rate was 7%. 15 years of wishful thinking resulted in the target being 1%. One can monetize a lot of debt with wishful thinking like that!

    The problem for the central planners of today is they don’t have the luxury of starting with 7% interest rates. They don’t get the benefit of the economy monetizing debt with ever lower payments as interest rates fall. The world needs wishful thinking but it doesn’t know where to find it!

  42. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    31. January 2016 at 08:30

    Art, Consider the following:

    “Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump seems to have a new fan in his corner –- Vladimir Putin — and the real estate mogul thinks it was a “great honor” to get compliments from the Russian leader.

    . . .

    Trump tells ABC News in a statement that “it is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.”

    Trump fanatics get upset when people call him a fascist, but why then does he think it’s an honor to be praised by another fascist leader?

  43. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    31. January 2016 at 09:45

    Putin? A fascist? LOL. Were Andrew Jackson, the Roosevelts, and Polk fascists, too? Putin is the best and most democratic ( http://www.systemicpeace.org/polity/rus2.htm ) leader Russia’s had in at least a century. What, exactly, is fascist about Putin? And it is, indeed, a great honor for Trump to get compliments from Putin.

    “it is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond.”

    -Indeed:

    http://www.unz.com/akarlin/putin-approval-map/

    And thanks for the answer; confirms my suspicions much of the crash was about liquidity preference triggered by financial crisis or fears of such. Of course, besides actually existing financial crisis, as in the U.S. and Germany, the real problem was NGDP; Canada was the country affected by the Depression to the second-greatest degree, and it didn’t have a banking crisis.

    “The ratio of exports to domestic product was about 0.05”

    -Art, pretty sure (70% confident) that’s false, and it was higher. Yes, tariffs were much higher, but trade flows as a percentage of GDP were similar for the U.S. in 1929 as they are today. I made a FRED graph of it once, but I have to look it up.

    Benjamin Cole, you’re exactly right.

    “That’s the basic first test of any candidate, and hence I’d support any qualified candidate over Trump, no matter how appalling their views.”

    -That’s stupid. Was Romney? Was Obama? Is Sanders? Is Fiorina? Is Carson? Trump clearly has the best views, so I’m going with Trump 2016.

    “Seriously?”

    -Yes. And it’s pretty clear Trump changed his mind on abortion over the past 20 years. Unlike with Romney, his change of heart sounds way less sleazy.

    “So what’s driving your? Your pals over at EconLog (Henderson, Caplan) are all incensed that there is such a thing as immigration law. Six billion people are debarred from settling here. How brutal.”

    -Bingo, Art. My guess is what’s driving Scott is that Trump doesn’t play by the rules -and TRiUMPhs.

  44. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    31. January 2016 at 09:57

    Putin is a communist, not a fascist.

    At any rate, you get upset when people call you a socialist, and yet your whole intellectual career has been to promote central banking, which is plank number 5 in Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto.

    You also support graduated income taxation, which is plank number 2.

    If you can promote socialism as a political goal, which adversely affects billions of people, then surely Trump can say he is honored to be praised by a socialist.

  45. Gravatar of ChargerCarl ChargerCarl
    31. January 2016 at 10:13

    E. Harding loves Putin…why am I not surprised?

  46. Gravatar of Engineer Engineer
    31. January 2016 at 10:13

    “Ah yes, Marxism by robots. The “Zeitgeist” solution.”

    Eventually most everything will be run by computers and robots…so I would assume that controlling the money supply will be no different. At the same time I would foresee many other private means of exchange, like bitcoin, m-pesa, gold, or perhaps some new alloy that is only found on certain asteroids, but the government is always going to want their cut in dollars, so it will always be the predominant means. Controlling the medium of exchange has been a fundamental governmental function for thousands of years and a whole lot different from controlling all of the means of production. So please critique with sound arguments rather than misapplied labels.

  47. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    31. January 2016 at 10:35

    @ssumner
    Don’t use this stupid Mencken quote while getting more and more maudlin and hysterical yourself just because of this Trump guy. It’s weird, it’s ironic, it’s stupid. And worst of all: It makes no sense.

    Don’t accuse other people of fascism/racism/whatever while indicating at the same time that you are fan of this pretty racist, anti-semitic, eugenic, some say even pro-nazi, shmuck called Henry Louis Mencken. You guessed it: It makes no sense!

    @E. Harding
    I agree with you on Trump to some extent. When I see people like Trump and Sanders, I see populism (I mean this as a neutral term here). And when I see American populism I think of Andrew Jackson and FDR first.

  48. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    31. January 2016 at 10:36

    Engineer:

    “Eventually most everything will be run by computers and robots, so I would assume that controlling the money supply will be no different.”

    The concept “run” needs fleshing out here.

    For a process to be “run” by robots and computers, which are themselves “run” by human designers, is not the same thing as believing money can be “run” by robots and computers in the sense of humans running the robots. All robots and computers need to be programmed. All programming is rules based. Who or what will come up with those rules?

    “At the same time I would foresee many other private means of exchange, like bitcoin, m-pesa, gold, or perhaps some new alloy that is only found on certain asteroids, but the government is always going to want their cut in dollars, so it will always be the predominant means. Controlling the medium of exchange has been a fundamental governmental function for thousands of years and a whole lot different from controlling all of the means of production. So please critique with sound arguments rather than misapplied labels.”

    What unsound arguments?

    Speaking of unsound arguments, one is that there will always be governments, and another is that governments will always “control” (monopolize, or just steal?) the medium of exchange.

    You seem to be overlooking the requirement for the act of programming and all the other intellectual requirements that go into the construction of robots and computers.

  49. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    31. January 2016 at 11:15

    Major Freedom, even further from the truth on Putin.

    “Don’t use this stupid Mencken quote while getting more and more maudlin and hysterical yourself just because of this Trump guy. It’s weird, it’s ironic, it’s stupid. And worst of all: It makes no sense.”

    -Exactly, Christian.

    Yes, Mencken, as do I, accepted the dominance of genetics in everyday life. He was a proto-libertarian, though, not pro-Nazi. He was sorta like Rothbard in the 1990s, only gentile German. Rothbard wasn’t anti-semitic, but he clearly contrasted his opinions to those of most Jews. If Mencken was alive today, he wouldn’t have been pro-Trump, but he would have enjoyed the fun. The only book of his I fully read was his “Notes on Democracy”, which was probably the most convincing book I read against that institution. Most of what he wrote and published is quotable, something you can’t say for 99%+ people. And, yet, ssumner, despite his Menckenite disdain for democracy, paradoxically thinks immigrants coming to this country and voting for economically leftist candidates is not a problem I should be concerned about:

    http://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=31427

  50. Gravatar of Tom Brown Tom Brown
    31. January 2016 at 11:18

    Trump offers his devoted followers one thing: dominance. Or the illusion of dominance. Something his followers are desperate to feel the vicarious thrill of.

    Trump has no shame and that’s why they follow him. He could be caught on video molesting a teenage boy, and then lie about it, and all they’d care about is “Did he dominate the media? Did he dominate the boy?” Only if it’s clear that the boy dominated HIM is it a problem.

    If Kaisich pushes too many carriers he’ll be quietly told to sit down and shut up. Nobody cares. It has nothing to do with policy, except in policy being a demonstration of dominance.

    People put WAY too much emphasis on government. It’s fun as a sports fan to have the illusion that you’re part of a winning team. But most people understand that they’re not actually on the team: that would require hard work, talent and some luck. A winning team isn’t going to transform their fans from losers to winners.

  51. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    31. January 2016 at 11:26

    E. Harding, Didn’t you say Hitler was justified it taking the Sudetenland? If so, I’m not surprised that you think Putin was justified in taking Crimea.

    Christian, So one cannot quote a witty line from anyone with bad politics? Then I suppose one cannot quote from the Bible? After all, doesn’t it advocate genocide?

    BTW, not to defend his racist views, but by the standards of America in the 1920s, Mencken was viewed as being relatively liberal on the issue of race. He frequently attack racists like the KKK. From your silly comment, I assume you don’t know much about history. Almost everyone who lived more than 100 years ago was extremely racist by modern standards. And I mean almost everyone, including liberals, moderates and conservatives. Also socialists. The American labor union movement was extremely racist.

  52. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    31. January 2016 at 11:40

    Tom, Actually, a Trump victory would help me a lot. Either I could say “I told you so” as he proved that his campaign promises were meaningless, and he’s nothing like what his fans assume. Or I could benefit from him causing the US economy to go down the drain, and that would both allow me to say “I told you so” and also to have lots more economic problems to blog about.

    And in the worst case at least he gives rich people like me a big tax cut, for a few years until our economy goes down the toilet. I’m already 60, and probably don’t have that many years left, it’s the next generation that should be worried.

    The people who comment here like to think of themselves as being smart, and many are. I just think it’s funny to see so many smart people sucked in by such an obvious phony demagogue. If he were in a Hollywood film playing a demagogue, people would complain the role was too obvious to be believed. How can people not see through him? Does he have to paint on a little Hitler mustache? Change his name to Le Pen? What are people thinking? Is this really so hard to see? Do we only notice it when it’s in a different country?

    On an unrelated topic—how can people not see 1984 approaching? How many similarities to Orwell’s book do we need? Does it have to be 100% identical?

  53. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    31. January 2016 at 12:03

    @ssumner
    Of course you can quote Mencken. That wasn’t the point I was trying to make. I tried to make two points, maybe even three:

    The line by Mencken is not witty. It’s dull. It’s a cliché.

    People should not play the fascism/racism card so often. It’s dull. It also downplays fascism and mocks the real victims of fascism.

    You should not be so hysterical about this Trump guy. Harding is exactly right: Mencken would have enjoyed the show and so should we.

    I tried to read “Min kamp” by Knausgård by the way. I was really astonished by this book. 500 pages and there’s nothing happening. Nothing! Nothing at all! The last book with such ‘class’ is The Death of Virgil by Broch. But even this book is not half as boring as Min kamp. (In fact the first page is really nice – something you cant say about a single page in Knausgård’s book).

    The next book I want to read is The Midas Curse. I know the title changed but who cares. Now would be the best time for me to read it because after reading Knausgård there’s really only one direction left: Up, up, up. Your book can not be more boring than Min kamp. That’s an impossibility.

  54. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    31. January 2016 at 12:05

    E Harding,

    No, I am just not not a cult of personality fan on Putin like you and so many others are.

    Democracy is just a watered version of Communism.

  55. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    31. January 2016 at 12:12

    Trump fanatics get upset when people call him a fascist, but why then does he think it’s an honor to be praised by another fascist leader?

    The problem with your question is your misconstruction of Putin.

    Russia’s run by a political machine and is in essence authoritarian. It’s a popular authoritarianism inasmuch as Putin does not need to stuff the ballot boxes to win. Freedom House complains that ‘serious opposition candidates’ were ‘prevented from competing’ and about non-specific unfairness and irregularities. Color me skeptical re the significance of these: Yabloko has never had much of a popular base, the Communist Party and the Zhirinovsky fan club antedated Putin and received similar levels of support pre-Putin to what they did in the 2011 election. Russia bears more resemblance in these respects to Evo Morales or Juan Domingo Peron than he does to Hitler or Mussolini.

    If you review Freedom House’s complaints about the press, it all sounds pretty much bog standard re a Latin American military regime ca. 1977, bar that the internet has rendered certain sorts of information flow uncontrollable.

    Freedom House makes a great deal of ‘hyperpatriotic propaganda’, and perhaps that’s a problem (I do not read Russian or the Russian media). For a person of my disposition, I have to ask what offends the average NGO functionary: not what would bother me, I do not think. That aside, I have to ask what world’s Putin has conquered in 16 years on the throne. Thus far, we’ve seen some ugly counter-partisan warfare in Chechenya (which does not differentiate him from his predecessor, alas), the effective seizure of a small knock of Georgia which has 55,000 people in it, and poking and prodding at the Ukrainian government in a most distasteful fashion. Not exactly Stalin’s subjection of Eastern Europe or Lenin’s reconquest of Central Asia or Hitler’s barbarian invasion of much of Europe. If one might concede there has been rhetorical revanchism, there hasn’t been much practical revanchism; Estonia still has Narva. The ratio of military expenditure to domestic product is unremarkable (about 0.045).

    Roughly a third of capital investment and employment is accounted for by state enterprises in Russia, with a smaller share of total assets so accounting. The state share gradually declined at least through 2007. The direction of change, however graduated, is a story distinct from the formation of the sindicatos in Italy after 1922.

    So, we have a revanchism with scant practical application (and how does it compare rhetorically with that of Iran or the Muslim Brotherhood), a measure of pluralism, and a slowly declining state sector. This is your idea of ‘fascism’? That only makes sense if ‘fascism’ means any sort of authoritarianism not explicitly Marxist in underpinnings and Leninist in institutions.

  56. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    31. January 2016 at 12:37

    I don’t watch either Russian or U.S. propaganda at all often, but I can’t see how Russian television is substantially different from Fox News (or even MSNBC). Both are biased and are stacked with nationalists.

    “If you review Freedom House’s complaints about the press, it all sounds pretty much bog standard re a Latin American military regime ca. 1977, bar that the internet has rendered certain sorts of information flow uncontrollable.”

    -Pretty much. Tor remains downloadable and functional in Russia.

  57. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    31. January 2016 at 12:50

    “Didn’t you say Hitler was justified it taking the Sudetenland?”

    -Yes. Czechoslovakia had to cleave at some point.

    “On an unrelated topic—how can people not see 1984 approaching? How many similarities to Orwell’s book do we need? Does it have to be 100% identical?”

    -Except there’s less ideological conformity. Agreed. Which is why I’m surprised this website isn’t in https, so it’s more difficult for random wiretappers to see what I’m typing.

    “I just think it’s funny to see so many smart people sucked in by such an obvious phony demagogue.”

    -Honestly, I prefer the mystery meat demagogue to the policies Bernie or the vile VSPs are proposing. People vote for candidates, not policies.

    “He could be caught on video molesting a teenage boy, and then lie about it, and all they’d care about is “Did he dominate the media? Did he dominate the boy?” Only if it’s clear that the boy dominated HIM is it a problem.”

    -Tom, that’s going too far. His support would instantly drop by at least two-thirds if that occurred.

  58. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    31. January 2016 at 12:58

    Art, You have a Manchurian candidate who clearly doesn’t believe anything he says.

    No, that’s not what a Manchurian Candidate is. You’ve forgotten the plot of the film. Trump is nothing if not self-governing. It is difficult to divine just what Trump’s views are, so it is not clear that he ‘doesn’t believe anything he says’. I think it is clear that his viewpoints are not stable and he thinks with a businessman’s brain, not an opinion journalist’s brain or a professor’s brain.

    You have perhaps the worst personality among all 320 million Americans,

    If you say so. Question: is Trump feuding with his relatives, are his children causing embarrassments to him, or has he produced a string of disgruntled senior managers? Maybe I missed it, but I’m not hearing the static you used to hear about the younger Bill Gates, about Steven Jobs, about Carly Fiorina, about Chainsaw Al Dunlap, and about Hillary Clinton.

    and the positions he does take are completely loony, far beyond that of other candidates.

    What’s loony?

    And he’s running on a platform to attract bigots.

    Those of us on this side of the argument are used to people like you impugning our character. Doesn’t touch us any more.

    And the defense is that other candidates also have flaws? Seriously?

    Yes, seriously. My question is why some flaws animate you and some do not.

    I find it comical that the Christian fundamentalists are supporting this guy:

    “RUSSERT: Partial-birth abortion — the eliminating of abortion in the third trimester. Big issue in Washington. Would President Trump ban partial-birth abortion?

    TRUMP: Well, look. I’m very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it, I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I hear people debating the subject. But you still — I just believe in choice. And again, it may be a little bit of a New York background, because there is some different attitude in different parts of the country, and I was raised in New York, grew up and worked and everything else in New York City. But I am strongly for choice, and yet I hate the concept of abortion.

    RUSSERT: But you would not ban it.

    TRUMP: No.

    RUSSERT: Or ban partial-birth abortion.

    TRUMP: No, I would — I would — I am pro-choice in every respect, as far as it goes. I just hate it.”

    End of quote.

    The interview you were quoting was given 17 years ago and it’s actually about the best you’d ever get out of a Democratic politician. Jerry Brown is the only consequential presidential candidate in the last 35 years in that ambo who has questioned the legitimacy of it. The question for someone like me is going to be, push comes to shove, do you prefer an unpredictable quantity to a quantity which is predictably bad. Trump is a businessman, and to businessmen politicians are fungible and issues you cannot settle by examining balance sheets and profit-and-loss statements fry the circuits. I care about these issues myself, but that and $1.17 will get you a cup of coffee in my little town re the political class we have. You don’t really care about this yourself, do you?

    Just how stupid is Jerry Falwell? It was always clear that he wasn’t a rocket scientist, but I never imagined he was such a complete fool.

    He was probably smart enough to distinguish between Scott Sumner and Scott Sumner’s children. Jerry Falwell is dead. He was also a competent institutional architect. The Thomas Road Baptist Church and Liberty University are his legacies. The legacy of most professors is bupkis. As for his son, Jerry Falwell Jr., he was smart enough to pass the Virginia bar. The father preferred to make nice with mainstream Republicans rather than promote demonstration candidates. All that’s ill advised for a pastor (or a lawyer with some ministerial functions). And he’s not my pastor. I stick to Byzantine-rite services, unless there isn’t one near me. The integrity and dignity of the clergy (and they lawyer brothers) doesn’t actually interest you, does it?

    And the small government Republicans are supporting a guy who wants to make America’s government “great” again, just like LBJ’s “Great Society”:

    Uh, who? The ‘small government’ types I correspond with are backing Cruz.

    “Speaking with CNN host Larry King

    I can fish out an old copy of Policy Review for you in which Milton Friedman sketches a plan for public medical insurance. Megan McArdle has also endorsed a variant of it. Doesn’t bother me. You’ll have to take that up with someone else: perhaps the fellow who blogs under the pseudonym “Patterico”, who professes to believe that production statistics are nonsense and that medical care can be treated like an ordinary consumer good. Not my shtick.

    So in the fall we’ll be able to choose between 2 authoritarian Democrats; Hillary and a guy who idolizes Hillary while pretending to be a nutty Republican.

    How do we know he ‘idolizes’ ‘Hillary’? I’m getting a bit confused as to how you interpret what he says (or divine what he says). First you say he’s unserious, then you tell me that a stray quote of something he said 20 years ago is the real deal. Whatever. Here’s a question: why would he have any reason to idolize Hillary?

    And the moronic GOP voters are fooled by this guy. If only Mencken was still around. Here’s one that applies to both Hillary and Trump:

    I’m used to being on the side of arguments wherein my intelligence is impugned as well. Doesn’t touch me anymore.

    “Civilization, in fact, grows more and more maudlin and hysterical; especially under democracy it tends to degenerate into a mere combat of crazes; the whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, most of them imaginary.”

    Mencken was an episodically talented user of language. He knew nothing about anything but newspaper and magazine publishing (and drink and cigars). He just stated his mental static in elegant language.

    My candidates are pretty much out, so I’m just observing, for the most part. You’re the one with the vehement opinions. There’s a gap between your characterizations and observable reality. Why do you suppose you have these particular gaps?

  59. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    31. January 2016 at 13:06

    Or I could benefit from him causing the US economy to go down the drain, and that would both allow me to say “I told you so” and also to have lots more economic problems to blog about.

    You think building a wall on the Mexican border will ’cause the U.S. economy to go down the drain”?

  60. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    31. January 2016 at 13:10

    On an unrelated topic—how can people not see 1984 approaching? How many similarities to Orwell’s book do we need? Does it have to be 100% identical?

    The only similarity I see is the omnipresence of security cameras. I suppose the enhanced capacity for snooping from electronic communication is analogous. (Yes, I have a first degree relation whose federal personnel file is now in the hands of the Chinese).

  61. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    31. January 2016 at 13:11

    I just think it’s funny to see so many smart people sucked in by such an obvious phony demagogue.

    Yeah, the Obama campaign did have that amusing aspect.

  62. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    31. January 2016 at 13:16

    Almost everyone who lived more than 100 years ago was extremely racist by modern standards.

    ??

    Read George Schuyler’s reflections on growing up in Syracuse ca. 1905. Or come up with quotations from non-Southern public figures which are ‘extremely racist’. The phrase is quite misleading when characterizing the somewhat dismissive paternalism of, say, my grandmother (who was a precise contemporary of George Schuyler). She was very disciplined about how she spoke to anyone, but not extremely anything.

  63. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    31. January 2016 at 13:19

    Trump offers his devoted followers one thing: dominance. Or the illusion of dominance. Something his followers are desperate to feel the vicarious thrill of.

    So far, Trump’s been called a fascist and Mr. Trump’s supporters have been called ‘morons’ and ‘bigots’ by a business school professor who signs his name to such characterizations. Now they’re S & M freaks as well. Maybe you all might take a step back and ask yourself why this is causing such emotional turmoil in you.

  64. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    31. January 2016 at 14:18

    Christian, I’m not surprised that you don’t like Knausgaard.

    You said:

    “Your book can not be more boring than Min kamp. That’s an impossibility.”

    I’m afraid it’s infinitely more boring.

    E. Harding, You said:

    ““Didn’t you say Hitler was justified it taking the Sudetenland?”

    -Yes. Czechoslovakia had to cleave at some point.”

    At this point it’s probably wise for you to simply stop digging.

    You said:

    “I don’t watch either Russian or U.S. propaganda at all often, but I can’t see how Russian television is substantially different from Fox News”

    Sure, if Fox were our only news source. However RT has had me on several times, so I’ll give them that. :)

    Art, So Putin hasn’t yet conquered as many countries as Stalin or Hitler, and I left the “Jr.” off Falwell’s name? That’s all you’ve got?

    I never said the policies mentioned in those quotes were bad, did I? I said he’d pulled the wool over the eyes of the GOP. I support abortion rights and universal health care.

    And I said “racist by modern standards”. FWIW I think those modern standards are almost worthless. In high schools today students are taught that any sentence containing the phrase “blacks tend to be” is ipso facto racist. Even if the next word is “Democrats”.

    You said:

    “The only similarity I see is the omnipresence of security cameras.”

    How about TV sets that listen to what people say in their living rooms, and send the information out over the internet? Or the move to abolish currency and replace it with electronic money that will allow the government to trace all transactions? How long before the location of every automobile in real time will be available to government authorities?

    You said:

    “Mencken was an episodically talented user of language. He knew nothing about anything but newspaper and magazine publishing (and drink and cigars).”

    You obviously know very little about Mencken. He was a talented literary critic.

    You said:

    “Yeah, the Obama campaign did have that amusing aspect.”

    Yes, campaigns based on meaningless drivel like “Hope” are just as demagogic as those based on banning Muslims, calling Mexicans rapists, and suggesting Chinese are devious people who are stealing our jobs. But Russians—well gotta love those Russian people…President Trump will get along great with the Russians. They’re too incompetent to steal our jobs.

    You said:

    “My candidates are pretty much out”

    Finally we agree on something!

  65. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    31. January 2016 at 14:37

    Art, So Putin hasn’t yet conquered as many countries as Stalin or Hitler, and I left the “Jr.” off Falwell’s name? That’s all you’ve got?

    No it isn’t, as anyone can see who reads my posts (and they can also see what you avoid responding to while you’re playing these games). (And you do not expect me to believe you had such a vehement opinion about a Lynchburg, Va. lawyer who was until age 47 employed in his father’s organization in the legal department. I read some of the evangelical press and Falwell Jr is hardly mentioned in these outlets).

  66. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    31. January 2016 at 15:00

    Stalin was knocking about for 26 years and change, Mussolini for 21 years, Hitler for 12 years, and Lenin for five years. Putin as we speak is in the middle of the pack regarding durability. He’s conquered the Crimea, which is largely populated with Great Russians. The population of the Crimea is about that of the sum of the Saarland, Danzig, Memelland, and the area around Aussig in German Bohemia. For some reason, Putin might be considered less dangerous than some others.

  67. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    31. January 2016 at 15:03

    You obviously know very little about Mencken. He was a talented literary critic.

    He compiled a useful book of quotations. An ancestor of mine two or three generations back bought one. I bought a book of his essays some years back and promptly mailed it to a friend in Seattle. Big disappointment, he.

  68. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    31. January 2016 at 15:04

    Finally we agree on something!

    Oh? Which are my candidates?

  69. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    31. January 2016 at 15:07

    “I’m afraid it’s infinitely more boring.”

    -Nah. The intro’s boring, and so are the literature reviews, but the rest is gripping.

    “How long before the location of every automobile in real time will be available to government authorities?”

    -Don’t a lot of tires have RFID tags in them? And I’m still surprised, given your concern about surveillance, you don’t even turn on https. Without it, a random wiretapper can easily tell all the text I’m entering into all the boxes in this site if they have my Wi-Fi password.

    “Or the move to abolish currency and replace it with electronic money that will allow the government to trace all transactions?”

    -Bitcoin has put a partial obstacle to that. But, yes, the movement against cash is very much on in countries from Nigeria to Norway.

    “They’re too incompetent to steal our jobs.”

    :-) The Germans, though…

  70. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    31. January 2016 at 15:37

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSTrmJtHLFU

    If you watch the live broadcast of Challenger, flight control says “Go with throttle up” and a few seconds later a flame appears along the solid rocket booster, followed by a massive explosion, then a rocket booster flying through the air on its own.

    It doesn’t take a “rocket scientist” to conclude that Morton Thiokol is likely to blame. It hardly matters the specific reason, if it is negligence or not, traders had a pretty good idea what to sell.

  71. Gravatar of Mark Mark
    31. January 2016 at 16:03

    Did someone here really use Andrew Jackson as an example of a non-fascist leader? He was a nationalist, militarist, racialist (who even implemented ethnic cleansing policies against various tribes) who ruled by cult of personality. Seems to meet the big check boxes for being a proto-fascist. It’s worth noting that being democratically elected doesn’t make one less of a fascist; both Hitler and Mussolini came to power through the legitimate democratic process. Jackson, like the latter two, enhanced the authority of their executive office once they held it.

    I don’t think Trump or Putin necessarily qualify as fascist; I don’t know to what extent either of them are racialists. I consider racialism necessary (but not sufficient of course) to be a bona fide fascist. Most of the other check boxes they meet though. Vehement nationalism, militarism, populism, cult of personality leadership.

    Anyhow, I think Don Broudreaux made a solid argument for supporting any Democrat except Trump, even if one doesn’t necessarily believe (which I do not) that Sanders is any better: if Trump wins, his failures will be chalked up to good, sound, “right wing” ideas like free markets and economic freedom, no matter how clearly he opposes such ideas. I’ve heard plenty of progressives associate Trump (utterly without irony) with the Koch brothers and the 1%ers and the malevolent ‘reactionaries’ trying to deregulate the economy, even though Trump is probably left of Clinton economically. Trump, simply because he’s a Republican, will actually destroy the credibility of ideas that are antithetical to his own bad ones.

    So, better we let Sanders implement failed socialist/mercantilism ideas and have it be blamed on socialism than have Trump implement the same kind of ideas yet have it be blamed on capitalism, because, no matter how obviously absurd, the reasoning among many on the left largely seems to go: Trump=R, R=capitalism, ergo Trump=capitalism.

  72. Gravatar of Steve Steve
    31. January 2016 at 17:34

    “I recall reading that while NASA pretended to be bewildered by the accident, the stock market figured out the cause almost immediately, and Morton Thiokol stock plunged. Now we find out that the NASA bigwigs knew all along who was to blame, they were.”

    This sort of thing is very very common. When the stock market flash crashed on August 24, 2015, market participants immediately knew that it was driven by high frequency trading / market structure. That’s why the market was able to recover later in the day.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-08-24/stunning-comparisons-between-flash-crash-august-24-2015-and-may-6-2010

    Of course the people in charge at the exchanges and the SEC claim otherwise, mostly because they are paid to claim otherwise.

  73. Gravatar of Dan W. Dan W.
    31. January 2016 at 17:39

    Of all presidential candidates I give Sanders the best odds of producing an economy that hits the Feds 2% inflation target.

  74. Gravatar of Bob Murphy Bob Murphy
    31. January 2016 at 19:13

    Engineer (at 6:53) wrote:

    The NASA propaganda machine ultimately was responsible. One of the best decisions by this administration was to get NASA out of management of launches and launch technology and to privatize them. What the private sector (Xspace, etc) has done in this area in just a couple of years is huge and will reap some large benefits to the economy and mankind in the coming years….

    So yes, you economists need to come up with a rules for monetary policy and put the computers in charge and abolish this entire FED decision making apparatus…that would also reap large benefits to the economy and mankind.

    Engineer, notice that after you pointed out the institutional failures of NASA, your solution was to get the government out of space exploration and turn it over to the private sector.

    In particular, you didn’t say, “We need to take human discretion out of it. From now on, yes of course all spaceflight is coordinated through NASA, but the decision to launch will be determined by a computer programmed with very specific rules to follow.”

    Regarding your point from another comment that government involvement with money is OK because it’s been around for thousands of years, keep in mind that some of the icons of this blog do not think the track record is a good one.

  75. Gravatar of Bob Murphy Bob Murphy
    31. January 2016 at 19:17

    Scott Sumner wrote:

    I never said the policies mentioned in those quotes were bad, did I? I said he’d pulled the wool over the eyes of the GOP. I support abortion rights and universal health care.

    Scott, you often give advice to small government people at EconLog. Have you fooled them?

    Regarding Trump’s flip-flopping, I think he should simply say: “People are still confused about my views on abortion and being pro-choice. First of all, no one should assume that they understand what I’ve said in the past on these issues. This stuff is very nuanced, very counterintuitive…”

    (For those who don’t recall the reference, here ya go.)

  76. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    31. January 2016 at 20:35

    Bob, in Scott Sumner’s book, he recommends FDR give a Grover Cleveland-type speech defending the gold standard at nomination, only to do what he actually did in March and April 1933, in order to avert needless suffering resulting from devaluation fears.

  77. Gravatar of david david
    31. January 2016 at 22:53

    A similar thing happened after the Columbia disaster:

    “On Feb. 4, 2003, among the publicly traded NASA contractors, the biggest loser was Alliant Techsystems Inc., the current owner of Thiokol, which made the shuttle’s booster rockets. Alliant’s stock fell almost exactly the same amount that Morton Thiokol did on the previous crash–about 11.66 percent. Boeing, which now owns Rockwell International, a major NASA contractor, fell 1.5 percent, and Lockheed Martin fell about 3 percent.

    The market–perhaps remembering Thiokol’s implication in the prior disaster–swiftly punished Alliant. Wrongly, it seems. Thus far, attention has focused on the performance of foam insulation lining the external fuel tanks, which were made by the Michoud unit of Lockheed Martin”
    http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2003/08/the_disaster_market.html

    Lockheed was a huge contractor in 2003 with things like the F22 and F35 on the books, and in 1986 the F117 and B1 were around for Lockheed and Rockwell. I think Thiokol and Alliant were much smaller companies so they had more risk, so maybe the market was simply adjusting to the risk for all of them by a logical amount. I’m not sure anything can be said about whether the market “knew” who was responsible for either shuttle disaster.

  78. Gravatar of Engineer Engineer
    1. February 2016 at 04:42

    “Who or what will come up with those rules?”

    In my opinion, if that is not the ultimate end goal of macro economics..then you should just close the entire field down. Just get our the Ouiji board the next fed meeting and see where it lands….

    The rest of it is just common sense…stick with free markets, they work..socialism doesn’t…

  79. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    1. February 2016 at 04:50

    Engineer, so the rules that are to “run” monetary policy, with the assistance of computers, should be set by…macroeconomists?

    You mean people? Decisions being made?

    Why not rules set by macroeconomists, using computers, for food production, housing construction, and everything else?

    Why socialism for money, but markets for space travel?

  80. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    1. February 2016 at 06:37

    It doesn’t take a “rocket scientist” to conclude that Morton Thiokol is likely to blame.

    Thiokol wasn’t to blame. Their engineers told NASA that the equipment they designed and built wasn’t to be used at those temperatures. NASA officials leaned on Thiokol management to sign off on the launch.

  81. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    1. February 2016 at 06:51

    Did someone here really use Andrew Jackson as an example of a non-fascist leader? He was a nationalist, militarist, racialist (who even implemented ethnic cleansing policies against various tribes) who ruled by cult of personality.

    Andrew Jackson presided over a central government which commanded less than 2% of domestic product, a government whose salient function was the postal service, a government which did not practice military conscription, and a government which did not engage in any war against any foreign state. He was also in chronic conflict with John Marshall, Henry Clay, and Nicholas Biddle (among others) about the scope of national institutions. This was the most consequential cleavage in American politics at that time, and Jackson was on the side of the more decentralist faction. Quite a semantic tour de force on your part: ‘nationalist’ and ‘militarist’ come to mean…precisely nothing.

    (who even implemented ethnic cleansing policies against various tribes)

    Cruel, but it’s a five-digit population of aboriginals we’re talking about.

    Seems to meet the big check boxes for being a proto-fascist.

    Seems to you because you haven’t the vaguest idea of what political terminology intends to communicate.

  82. Gravatar of LK Beland LK Beland
    1. February 2016 at 07:28

    This comment section used to be one of the better places on the Internet. All good things must come to an end, I guess.

  83. Gravatar of SG SG
    1. February 2016 at 07:44

    Scott,

    The recent action of the BOJ has gotten me thinking about the term “credibility” and how it’s routinely misused by central bankers and the financial press.

    Yellen and others within the fed seem to be operating on the believe that to change their minds, or admit mistakes, jeopardizes “credibility.” As in, if we signal that we’re going to raise interest rates in December, well, we’d better go ahead and raise those rates, otherwise we’ll lose credibility!

    The market reaction to the BOJ negative IOR announcement is a perfect example of why such reasoning is flawed. Nobody reacted to the negative IOR announcement by saying, “we don’t believe you.”

    It was similar to when the SNB abandoned the peg on the swiss franc. No one said, “well, you used to have a peg, so we don’t believe that you’re going to allow appreciation.”

    They immediately took the central bank at its word.

    In other words, central banks think “credibility” means prognostication ability. As in, it’s of utmost importance to make sure that we act in a way that doesn’t require us to admit we were wrong about anything.

    It makes far more sense to think about credibility as described by Kocherlakota recently – the question is, how committed are you to stabilizing the nominal variable you’ve chosen to focus on? Markets can, and do, lose faith in central banks when a steady series of actions (or inactions) contrary to stated policy show a lack of commitment to said policy.

    Unfortunately, it looks like markets are losing faith in the Fed as we speak. The great irony is that the Fed’s misguided notions about credibility are actually *jeopardizing* their credibility.

  84. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    1. February 2016 at 09:02

    @Sumner – you don’t think the 1929 Crash was a routine recession that morphed into a Great Depression? Many of your fellow economists do. You don’t think people hoard cash and/or gold during downturns? Many of your fellow economists do. You think the LM curve in the IS-LM supply/demand of money is usually if not always upward sloping? Many of your fellow economists do.

    Seems you have eccentric views. I recall once I mentioned that the Gold Exchange Standard of 1913 (or so) to 1934 was different than the Gold Standard of the 19th century, and you had a fit. I realized then that you are a maverick, eccentric kook and your subsequent posts have proved it. Why anybody takes you seriously is beyond me.

    RL

    Sumner:

    Ray, You said:

    “people hoard cash and/or gold during a routine recession, which 1929 clear was (we both agree).”

    No they don’t, and no we don’t agree. Throw another dart, eventually you’ll have to hit the target. More darts!!

  85. Gravatar of Plucky Plucky
    1. February 2016 at 09:46

    a long time ago Edward Tufte had a great extended discussion of the decision to launch the Challenger (http://williamwolff.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/tufte-challenger-1997.pdf for a B&W version). I don’t agree with him on every particular but Tufte should be required reading for all econ students (and all business students… and pretty much anyone who has to touch statistics).

  86. Gravatar of Engineer Engineer
    1. February 2016 at 10:12

    “Why socialism for money, but markets for space travel?”

    If by socialism for money you mean that only the government controls the production..then that is pretty obvious..if there were no laws against counterfeiting then I would be pretty busy at night (but I would not quit my day job)

  87. Gravatar of Njnnja Njnnja
    1. February 2016 at 10:21

    Feynman’s appendix to the Challenger disaster report should be required reading for anybody going into a technical area in a large organization. In it, he describes how even things as simple as definitions of the “probability of failure” become turned around until they end up communicating exactly the opposite of what they are supposed to mean. I wouldn’t be surprised if that is the kind of thing that turns a “2% inflation” target into a “we can never every go above 2% inflation” target.

    His concluding sentence is classic:

    For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.

    Fiat currency can be an amazing technology (certainly better than the alternatives), but the reality that we might go into a recession must take precedence over the public relations of doing an about face on the path of rates.

  88. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    1. February 2016 at 15:08

    Art, Just tell me this: How many countries did fascists like Franco and Mussolini conquer? What’s the minimum number to be a fascist? And BTW, it really doesn’t matter whether he’s a militarily aggressive elected authoritarian or a fascist, Trump has no business imply he’s our kind of leader in either case. Berlusconi also got along great with Putin, and of course Berlusconi is basically the closest thing Western Europe has to a Trump, at least among those who who reached a leadership position.

    Mark, I agree about Trump.

    Bob, You asked:

    “Scott, you often give advice to small government people at EconLog. Have you fooled them?”

    Not as far as I know.

    David and Steve, Thanks for that info. That does undercut Suroweicki’s argument, which I relied upon.

    LK, Come back when the election is over. :)

    SG, Very good comment.

    Ray, Cash was not being hoarded in the first year of the Great Depression, and gold was hoarded by central banks, not the public. Obviously once the banking crises started then cash, and later gold, started being hoarded by the public.

    Everyone, thanks for the comments on the Challenger.

  89. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    1. February 2016 at 19:41

    Art, Just tell me this: How many countries did fascists like Franco and Mussolini conquer? What’s the minimum number to be a fascist?

    Mussolini conquered Albania, Ethiopia, and part of the Cote d’Azur. Franco was a professional soldier and the Nationalist movement in Spain corralled Alphonsine Monarchists, Carlists, and Falangists, and was regarded congenially by the ‘Autonomous Right’. The notion that the Franco regime qualified as ‘fascist’ is trash talk; the Falangists were the weakest component of the coalition prior to the war and Falangism’s rejection of parliamentary institutions was more contingent than was the case with the Italian fascists. The Franco regime was constitutionally authoritarian (so was tsarist Russia) and organized sindicatos, but the similarity ends there. Spain’s intramural warfare was driven by the very real cultural cleavages the country suffered, cleavages which could not be adjudicated by electoral institutions. The Franco regime was not revanchist (bar against residual internal enemies ca. 1940), was a defender of Spain’s antique institutions (Allan Bloom called him the last defender of throne and altar), followed a bland reasons-of-state foreign policy, and was led by a man whose professional background was quite dissimilar to that of Hitler (or Mussolini or Ante Pavelic or Corneliu Zelia Codreanu). You can consult Stanley Payne or Zevedei Barbu if you want a definition of the boundary conditions of fascism (Barbu’s is an esoteric argument rooted in social psychology); I’ll say the salient components are revanchism, constitutional authoritarianism, and a cult of violence or conquest. That does not describe Franco or Salazar or Dollfuss-Schuschnigg.

    As for Putin, I checked some sites of NGOs concerned with these matters. One contends there are 32 political prisoners in Russia; another says there are 40 political prisoners. Another identifies 80 journalists who have been killed in Russia by various parties since December 1991 (who were, however, dropping at a considerably more rapid clip before Putin’s accession than after). This is regrettable. It would also have been quite unremarkable 40 years ago just about any place outside the OECD bloc. How did this get to be your idea of ‘fascist’?

    And BTW, it really doesn’t matter whether he’s a militarily aggressive elected authoritarian or a fascist,

    It may not ‘matter’, but you wanted the force of the term for a reason.

    Trump has no business imply he’s our kind of leader in either case. Berlusconi also got along great with Putin, and of course Berlusconi is basically the closest thing Western Europe has to a Trump, at least among those who who reached a leadership position.

    That’s a rather tendentious summary of what he did say (see “Donald Trump Morning Joe FULL Interview: Putin & Journalists. World Truly Hates The U.S. & Ted Cruz ” on Youtube). He praised Putin in certain respects and indicated he would prefer a degree of disengagement from conflict with Russia. That’s some distance from saying he’d like Putin’s methods replicated anywhere else.

  90. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    1. February 2016 at 20:18

    Sumner: “Ray, Cash was not being hoarded in the first year of the Great Depression, and gold was hoarded by central banks, not the public. Obviously once the banking crises started then cash, and later gold, started being hoarded by the public.” – OK then. If this is in your latest book, I might just have to buy it and lern something 😉

  91. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    2. February 2016 at 04:26

    Art Deco, you were right; I was mistaken regarding U.S. trade. U.S. exports as a percentage of GDP were still higher in 1929 than in 1972, though, so that’s probably where my confusion originated:

    https://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=3k08

  92. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    2. February 2016 at 09:46

    Art, You said:

    “It may not ‘matter’, but you wanted the force of the term for a reason.”

    This is silly. It’s easier to write fascist than militarily aggressive elected authoritarian.

    Look, everyone knows that fascist, communist, socialist, capitalist, etc. are all extremely vague terms, for which there is no precise generally accepted definition. Franco was often called a fascist, even though I agree he differed somewhat from the purer form practiced by Mussolini. If you look at all the various aspects of fascism, Putin meets a lot of the characteristics, but not all. He’s militarily aggressive, taking territory from other nations that have Russian people. He believes in a mixed economy with a strong state. He has his government dominate the news. He puts his enemies in jail or has them assassinated with radioactive isotopes. He emphasizes nationalism and patriotism. He projects a macho image. He demonizes unpopular minorities. It’s not exactly like 1930s fascism, but it’s certainly not a stretch—times change and no analogy is perfect. For instance, in the modern world at least pretending to have elections is more essential than in the 1930s

    And by the way, you could just as easily argue that Hitler was not fascist, as in the end he was not a patriotic German. He went far beyond fascism into an almost indescribable form of self-destructive evil, the romantization of death. No label ever fits perfectly.

  93. Gravatar of Art Deco Art Deco
    2. February 2016 at 10:03

    This is silly. It’s easier to write fascist than militarily aggressive elected authoritarian.

    The person who is the progenitor of this silliness teaches at a business school in Massachusetts. It’s an exceedingly poor use of political terminology. The point of terminology is to describe.

    And by the way, you could just as easily argue that Hitler was not fascist, as in the end he was not a patriotic German.

    No I could not. You’re making a clown out of yourself. Stop it.

  94. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    2. February 2016 at 11:30

    I concur with Art Deco.

  95. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    2. February 2016 at 20:10

    @Art Deco, E.Harding – Sumner would make a good patent attorney, where you’re allowed to be ‘your own lexicographer’, meaning you can make up words to mean whatever you want as long as you explain yourself. So Hitler, the archetype of a fascist, was not a fascist since he believed (like the Japanese do, like Stalin initially did) in fighting to the very end with no surrender (a foolish strategy btw).

    Being his own lexicographer is why Sumner can get away with his NGDPLT, which morphs like the shapeshifting alien lifeform “The Thing”. It’s all things to everybody, it does everything, magically, no math theory required, just amorphous words.

  96. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    3. February 2016 at 12:10

    Art, I notice you don’t have any arguments against the points I made, and just engaged in name calling.

    I’ll draw the obvious conclusions.

    I’d add that you misunderstood my claim about Hitler; I was not arguing that he was not a fascist, just that no one fits a definition perfectly. I happen to think that both Putin and Hitler are reasonably described as fascists, as do lots of other well-informed people.

    Ray thinks Stalin was a fascist—I’m not surprised he agrees with Art, who also cited Stalin as an example of why Putin is not a fascist. Dear God, why do I have commenters like this?

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