Contradictions? (Plus a dose of moral outrage)

Bob Murphy (AKA Inspector Javert) is taking time off from his search for Krugman Kontradictions, to look for some over at this blog.  Here’s one example:

In any event, Scott used to lecture people when they thought about central bank policy in terms of interest rates. Nowadays, all Scott talks about is how it would be a mistake for central banks to raise rates.

Bob’s made this claim before, many times.  And each time I patiently point out that:

1.  The level of interest rates is not a reliable indicator of the stance of monetary policy.

2.  The Fed uses the fed funds target as a tool to implement monetary policy.  On any given day a Fed decision to raises rates is a tighter policy that a Fed decision to not raise rates.  As long as the Fed uses the fed funds rate as a policy tool, I have to talk about interest rates.  I wish they’d use NGDP futures, so I could stop talking about interest rates.

Contrary to the implication of the term “Nowadays”, I’ve been doing both of these things since day one.  In 2009, my first year of blogging, you can find me talking about the Fed’s foolish decision not to cut rates in September 2008, ad nauseum. So Bob’s flat out wrong, “nowadays” my views are exactly the same as before.

When looking for contradictions, it’s important not to be mesmerized by words, but rather consider underlying meaning.

It used to be that Scott said “there is no such thing as wait and see” when it comes to evaluating monetary policy. For example, here and here. If you read those links, you’ll see that this was a principle he used to try to ram into people’s heads; I don’t just mean he adhered to it the way, say, he might like vanilla ice cream. No, to say “there is no such thing as ‘wait and see’ when it comes to monetary policy” was a tenet of Scott Sumner, blogger.

But now things have totally flipped. Not only does Scott think the last six years have amply proven that the hawks were wrong, but he in fact is aghast that some people might deny that you could look at several years of experience and then determine whether the hawks in 2009 had been right or wrong:

At least this is a new accusation.  But again, let’s look at the context of my “wait and see” argument.

1.  Sometimes I say, “there is no wait and see, the markets tell us immediately how much impact the policy will have, and whether it is adequate.”  There’s some hyperbole here.  For the current stance of policy, you’d need market indicators that correlate perfectly with the Fed policy goals (i.e. NGDP futures markets under NGDP targeting). We don’t have that.  But in the Great Recession I argued that we had good enough indicators (such as TIPS spreads) to know the Fed had done too little—so I thought the hyperbole was justified.  Especially given that unemployment was really high at the same time that inflation was expected to run below target.

2.  In the recent post that Bob mentions, I was making a very different point. Obviously the Fed thinks the market is wrong about inflation, and about the future path of interest rates.  So from an EMH perspective there is no wait and see, policy should be expected to be on target (using market expectations) and it isn’t.  That’s obvious. But it’s just as obvious that the Fed doesn’t buy the EMH—why else would it disagree with market forecasts?  So my EMH argument won’t convince anyone. But even in that case (I argued), there ought to eventually be some sort of day of reckoning, where we can all say that the hawks were right (ex post), or the hawks were wrong.

Here’s an analogy.  Suppose Bob claims to be able to predict the future.  He tells me that when I toss a die the number will end up being 1.  I’d say that’s a bad forecast, as there is only a 1 in 6 chance that 1 shows up on the die.  There’s no “wait and see”, Bob simply made a bad forecast, based on probability theory.  On the other hand Bob continues to insist that he can beat the odds, because he can see the future.  So I say, OK, but surely we can agree that if the die is tossed and 3 dots appear on the top of the die, then Bob was wrong and his claim to see the future is dubious.

When considering contradictions, context is everything.

PS.  I’ve also disagreed with the Fed on the issue of trend NGDP, which they think is about 4% (2% inflation and 2% RGDP growth.)  I say 3%.  With today’s announcement NGDP growth is running at 2.9% over the past 4 quarters, and this was a period of rapidly falling unemployment.  Just wait until the unemployment rate stops falling!

(Yes, inflation will pick up slightly, but RGDP growth will slow further.  I’m sticking with 3%.)

PPS.  I have a new post on Bernanke’s memoir, at Econlog.

PPPS.  A few weeks ago I did a post pointing to the absurdity of prosecuting Dennis Hastert for withdrawing money from his own bank account, and using the funds for a completely legal activity (paying blackmail.)

Now Brett Arends has a column that makes some similar arguments, but much more effectively:

Hastert is not facing jail time for the sexual conduct, if any. No charges have been brought or answered.

He is facing jail because he took his own money out of his own bank accounts in order to pay what amounts to blackmail.

His accuser does not appear to have hired a lawyer or sought damages. He sought hush money.

When did we start supporting blackmailers in this country? When did that become OK? Did I miss the memo?

What if Hastert were a more sympathetic case? What if he hadn’t been paying hush money to cover up alleged sexual misconduct with a student? What if he had been blackmailed for having a love child, or having had an affair, or for being gay? Would he still go to jail for paying?

And what if this weren’t a former politician but, say, a popular figure on TV “” like a personality that everybody liked? Would she still be “disgraced”? Would we be piling on?

Hastert admitted to the court that he knew what he did was “wrong.” Bah. He only “broke the law” because the law is an outrage. Your bank has to report it to the Feds if you withdraw more than $10,000 of your own money. Heaven forbid you should handle your own cash.

Is it wrong for me to point out that so far not one Wall Street crook has faced a day of jail time for stealing the country’s money, but someone faces jail time for handling his own cash?

The $10,000 limit hasn’t been changed in decades. Once it was a lot of money. Now it’s not. Oh, and to make the law even more ridiculous, it’s actually also illegal for you to get around it by acting legally. No, I’m not kidding. If you avoid the $10,000 limits by withdrawing, say, lots of $5,000 installments, they can still send you to jail.

It’s like getting a ticket for “evading the speed limits” by driving at 54 miles per hour.

Or being thrown in jail for “evading the statutory rape laws” by having sex with someone who is over the age of consent.

It simply defies belief.

Hastert withdrew the money as cash because he wanted to keep the payments anonymous.

The law is there to use against really bad crooks, such as terrorists and drug dealers and so on. But old men paying blackmailers?

Perhaps the prosecutors only used this law to go after Hastert because they couldn’t go after him for the alleged sexual misconduct. The response to that is: Really? I thought we had courts, juries, presumption of innocence and rules of evidence? Instead it’s all being decided by prosecutors based on what they want?

Giving prosecutors a blank check to jail whomever they like: Hmm, that’ll end well. Thomas Jefferson and James Madison must be so proud of us.

One of the ironies is that Hastert could have avoided all of this if he’d simply paid his blackmailer in gold coins instead of greenbacks.

Gold is just as anonymous as cash. But it is essentially exempt from these financial regulations. Hastert could have called up any reputable gold dealer and purchased $50,000 worth of gold Eagles or Buffaloes or Krugerrands at a time, and no one would have asked any questions. All he then had to do was give the coins to his blackmailer, who could then call up a gold dealer and sell them.

Or he could have paid by check.  Here’s my prediction.  People will say, “Yes, the law’s unfair but it’s OK in this one case because Hastert’s a sleaze bag.”  And then later someone else will be prosecuted for withdrawing cash from his own bank account and giving it to charity, and people will say, “But Hastert was punished, so why shouldn’t Mr. X also go to jail for the same crime.”  Don’t believe me? Then perhaps you’ ve forgotten about the shameful treatment of Kimba Wood:

In January 1993, Clinton’s nomination of corporate lawyer Zoë Baird for the position came under attack after it became known that she and her husband had broken the law by employing two illegal aliens from Peru as a nanny and chauffeur for their young child. They had also failed to pay Social Security taxes for the workers until shortly before the disclosures. While the Clinton administration thought the matter was relatively unimportant, the news elicited a firestorm of public opinion, most of it against Baird. Within eight days, her nomination lost political support in the U.S. Congress and was withdrawn.

The following month, Clinton’s choice of federal judge Kimba Wood for the job was leaked to the press, but within a day it became known that she too had employed an undocumented immigrants to look after her child. Although Wood had done so at a time when this was legal, and had paid Social Security taxes for the worker, the disclosures were enough to cause the immediate withdrawal of Wood from consideration. The Clinton administration then said that the hiring practices for household help would be examined for all of the more than thousand presidential appointments under consideration, causing the whole process to slow down significantly. Determined to choose a woman for the Attorney General post, Clinton finally selected state prosecutor Janet Reno, who was confirmed and served through all eight years of the administration.

Translation:  No highly successful moms need apply.  Oh, and Tim Geithner was a tax cheat, and Geithner also employed an illegal alien housekeeper. But he’s a man so there’s no problem making him Secretary of the Treasury. He’s a hero in Bernanke’s memoir.  Meanwhile Kimba Wood has her reputation destroyed.  For engaging in an entirely legal activity and even withholding payroll taxes (which most people don’t do). “But wasn’t her case kinda like Zoe Baird?”  Once you start down these slopes, the ball just keeps rolling.



28 Responses to “Contradictions? (Plus a dose of moral outrage)”

  1. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    29. October 2015 at 09:15

    Sumner: “a completely legal activity (paying blackmail” – so now Sumner opines on law too? Jack of all trades, master of none… In fact, paying blackmail is illegal, just ask the FBI what happens if you pay blackmail to a kidnapper without their consent. Oh well, you get what you pay for, and in this case, you’re paying nothing to read the thoughts of a middle-aged ex-professor who rambles about stuff he knows little or nothing about, and that includes economics, sadly. Next he’ll be telling us how beavers are evil…

  2. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    29. October 2015 at 09:39

    Ray, Paying money to blackmailers is illegal? That’s a funny one.

  3. Gravatar of foosion foosion
    29. October 2015 at 09:41

    Hastert was charged with lying to the FBI, as well as “structuring” (withdrawing your own money in a way designed to avoid reporting requirements). Do you have a problem with lying to the FBI being a crime?

  4. Gravatar of Matt McOsker Matt McOsker
    29. October 2015 at 10:19

    Why does anything we do get automatically reported in the first place? What about the government getting a warrant? And is what Hastert did even wrong? The person doing the blackmail may be wrong, but should a person have the right to settle privately if they choose? I do believe the latter happens quite legally.

  5. Gravatar of TravisV TravisV
    29. October 2015 at 10:52

    Scott Alexander takes on one of Bryan Caplan’s favorite philosophers:

  6. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    29. October 2015 at 12:35

    ssumner, is employing illegal immigrants “entirely legal”?

  7. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    29. October 2015 at 12:54

    Answered my own question:

    “Wood had done so at a time when this was legal”

    In any case, there was nothing wrong with the outrage.

  8. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    29. October 2015 at 15:29

    ‘Do you have a problem with lying to the FBI being a crime?’

    The FBI should have a problem with it being a crime, because that’s an incentive for people to not talk to them at all. Why put yourself in legal jeopardy?

    The FBI needs people to talk to them. If people lie to them, they should be smart enough to figure that out and use it to their investigative advantage.

  9. Gravatar of benjamin cole benjamin cole
    29. October 2015 at 16:30

    I happen to agree with Scott Sumner on this Hastert case.

    But please, the English language is being drained and santitized.. Dennis Hastert sodomized young boys under his tutelage as a gym teacher. This is “sexual misconduct”? You mean like the high school principal having a fling with one of the teachers, both as consenting adults?

    Gadzooks. If a college freshman plants an unwanted kiss on a girl, that is clumped in with rape charges for survey purposes. And if Hastert sodomizes boys under his official care, that is “sexual misconduct.”

  10. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    29. October 2015 at 16:31

    foosion, I sure do have a problem with it being a crime, if you are lying about something that is none of the FBI’s business. Suppose the FBI asked you if you were having an affair, would you be morally justified in lying to the FBI?

    In any case that’s irrelevant, he was convicted of withdrawing his own money from his own bank account, for an entirely legal activity; he was not convicted of lying to the FBI.

    E. Harding, You said:

    “In any case, there was nothing wrong with the outrage.”


    Patrick, Good point. Indeed it’s best to try to interact with the government as little as possible. I try to pay more taxes than I owe, just to avoid the hassle of audits.

  11. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    29. October 2015 at 16:35

    Regarding Bob Murphy, is no one interested in his exposure of my many contradictions? Surely the scandal of my contradictions is more interesting than the Hastert scandal, isn’t it?

  12. Gravatar of benjamin cole benjamin cole
    29. October 2015 at 16:43

    Bob Murphy is more interesting than homosexual sex charges against a former GOP leader, who turned a student into a catamite and decades later paid millions in cash hush money?

  13. Gravatar of Kyle Kyle
    29. October 2015 at 17:29

    Professor Sumner,

    Would it be fair to say that the more extreme the gap is between “expected” NGDP (by the market, via TIPS spreads, etc.) and the interest rate / unemployment numbers, the less “wait and see” is required to assess the efficacy of a Fed rate change (or lack thereof)?

    So if there was for example an inflection point, or some other ambiguity, or a 55/45 split in the market regarding future NGDP due to structural concerns, then “wait and see” is a valid response?

    To me it seems that “wait and see” is more valid sometimes than others, and that’s directly correlated to the “obviousness” of the move the Fed should make in a given situation.

  14. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    29. October 2015 at 18:25

    Sumner you asked for comments regarding the contradictions Murphy mentioned.

    One contradiction is that you are using opposite standards for yourself versus others. You have criticized people, for example Austrians, for arguing that the low and lowering interest rates during the 2000s was indicative of loose money. You said time and time again that no, money was not loose and that we cannot look to interest rates because they are unreliable. That was the argument you made against the Austrians.

    But you don’t use that same standard on yourself. You believe you are justified in associating lower or higher interest rates with loosed and tighter money respectively. You cry foul when people accuse you of using interest rates as an indicator of loosening or tightening, because “they don’t know what you really mean”, yet you don’t do that when others use interest rates as an indicator. When others use it, they are always wrong, period.

    In your response to Murphy, you wrote:

    “The Fed uses the fed funds target as a tool to implement monetary policy. On any given day a Fed decision to raises rates is a tighter policy that a Fed decision to not raise rates. As long as the Fed uses the fed funds rate as a policy tool, I have to talk about interest rates.”

    Helloooo!!!!! What, did you think these constraints apply to you only? That Murphy and everyone else are living in a world where sometimes the Fed does target the Fed funds rate as a policy tool, and sometimes they do not, whereas you live in a world where the Fed always does so?

    Your posts are veritable knee slappers. Your responses are the kinds of responses we would hear from lawyers using the Chewbacca defense.

    Let us clarify this so that it is as crystal clear to you:

    We all live in a world where the same Fed uses interest rates as a policy tool. Everyone and their mother’s brother is bounded by the very same “golly shucks we have to consider interest rates as an indicator because that’s what the Fed uses as a tool” constraint.

    So how in the Sam hell blazes can ANYONE be wrong in looking at interest rates as an indictor of the stance of policy on, as you said, “any given day”?

    It is almost as if you are claiming something that applies to everyone, as only applying to you.

    Austro-libertarians for their part, of course, would also not use interest rates as an indicator either in THEIR ideal world! They would use the relative rate of profit in money production as they would any other industry. A highly profitable money production sector would indicate that more resources should be allocated their because of the higher relative demand, which is to say money is too tight. Lower profits, or outright losses in money production, would indicate too many resources went into money production, which is to say money is too loose.

    But wait! Hold the fort everyone! We don’t live in a world of free market money! We live in a world where central banks use interest rates as a policy tool!

    So tell us again Summer why we can’t use interest rates as an indicator but you can?

    Maybe you are literally mentally incapable of seeking the contradiction!?

  15. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    29. October 2015 at 21:56

    @sumner – I researched whether paying ransoms to kidnappers is legal, and apparently it’s not if the kidnappers are potential terrorists, but it’s OK if not. So I’ll concede the point here.

  16. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    30. October 2015 at 02:27

    @Ray ‘Concede’ Lopez

    You concede something? I’ll take a note. This must be a historical moment.

    Your research is really incomplete by the way. Since at least June 2015 private persons from the US can negotiate ransom payments with terrorist groups worldwide. Obama announced this in June 2015. Just google “Obama ransom” and you’ll find many articles covering this topic.

    For example The Guardian writes:
    “The families of more than 30 American hostages currently held around the world were given a green light by the White House to negotiate private ransom payments, despite a longstanding ban on making concessions to terrorist groups.”

  17. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    30. October 2015 at 03:08

    To Ray, a number that fluctuates between 3 and 13 is equal to zero.

  18. Gravatar of Bob Murphy Bob Murphy
    30. October 2015 at 07:04

    “I am the law, and the law is not mocked!”

    (Javert line from the musical.)

  19. Gravatar of Bob Murphy Bob Murphy
    30. October 2015 at 07:09

    Scott if I understand your response, you are saying, “When *I* say ultralow interest rates are a sign of the doves getting their way, and when *I* say we need to wait a few years for decisive evidence about the correct stance of monetary policy today, then you should realize that I’m a busy guy and can’t be expected to dot every EMH i and cross every budget constraint t. But if any other economist talks like that–even Nobel laureates–the presumption should be that they’re freaking idiots who deserve my sighing.”

    Is that about right?


  20. Gravatar of Don Geddis Don Geddis
    30. October 2015 at 09:08

    @MajorDotFreedom: You seem unable to comprehend the difference between relative changes, and absolute levels.

    One statement (#1) is: “lowering rates causes money to be easier; raising rates causes money to be tighter.”

    A different statement (#2) is: “absolute low rates mean that money is easy; absolute high rates mean that money is tight.”

    Sumner states, and agrees with, statement #1. He criticizes, and disagrees with, statement #2.

    I realize that you see the words “low”, “high”, “tight”, and “easy”, and it’s just all a word cloud to you, and you can’t appreciate that the syntax and grammar of the sentences actually affects their meaning. But that’s more a statement about you, than a statement about Sumner.

  21. Gravatar of Don Geddis Don Geddis
    30. October 2015 at 09:13

    @Bob Murphy: “When *I* say ultralow interest rates are a sign of the doves getting their way

    I’ve never once seen Sumner say that, in thousands of posts across years on this blog. Would you mind finding a specific actual quote to back up your criticism, instead of just paraphrasing what you seem to imagine he might say?

  22. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    30. October 2015 at 14:56

    Kyle, There are two meanings to wait and see. One is wait and see the effect of policy X, announced on a given day, and the other is wait and see if policy is adequate in an absolute sense. Thus you may have an excellent sense that a QE announcement had little impact, but still not know if the current stance of policy is on target.

    But I think the thrust of your argument is correct, given our inadequate futures markets, wait and see can add a bit of value added where the market response is ambiguous.

    Ray, You are also wrong about terrorists, it was illegal until a few months ago, and then Obama legalized it (perhaps only de facto–he instructed the Feds not to prosecute any such case.)

    Ooops, I see Christian beat me to it.

    Bob, Nope, that’s not at all what I’m saying, read it again. I was very clear, and there is absolutely no inconsistency in my discussion of interest rates. If you think there is, and can show me some inconsistency, I’d be glad to address it.

    I’d encourage you to brush up on the Wicksellian theory of interest rates, it might help you to better understand my argument.

    If you want an non-economic analogy, consider the following:

    1. Suppose that on average houses are 68 degrees in the winter, and 78 degrees in the summer.

    2. Suppose that turning up the thermostat makes houses warmer.

    Then Bob Murphy’s theory of temperature is that when people are frequently turning up the thermostat, you can expect houses to be relatively warm. The Sumner theory is that when people are most frequently turning upon the thermostats, houses will be relatively cold, even though that action makes them warmer. Bob Murphy’s theory is that houses are relatively warm in the winter, because people frequently turn up their thermostats in the winter. Sumner’s theory is that houses will be relatively cold in the winter, despite the fact that people turn up the thermostat more frequently in the winter, and despite the fact that turning up the thermostat does in fact make houses warmer, ceteris paribus. Bob Murphy will claim that Sumner contradicts himself on house temperatures.

    And Don is right, the statement you have me saying is a completely idiotic statement, which I would never say in 100 years. The fact that you think it’s a plausible interpretation of what I do say, actually shows you haven’t followed my argument. Hopefully the thermostat example will help.

  23. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    30. October 2015 at 18:20

    Don’t Geddis:

    We’ve already been over the difference between changes and levels. It has no bearing at all in this particular argument. It is the usage of interest rates as such. Consider any Nth derivative you want.


    Sumner wrote:

    “Bob, Nope, that’s not at all what I’m saying, read it again. I was very clear, and there is absolutely no inconsistency in my discussion of interest rates. If you think there is, and can show me some inconsistency, I’d be glad to address it.”

    Murphy already showed you the inconsistency. I already showed you the inconsistency.

    The problem is not a lack of showing it. It is a lack of you admitting it and addressing it.

    Your thermostat example misses the mark. It is a useless analogy because the Fed is not only affecting what is inside the house, it is also affecting what is outside, which you pretend is not at all caused by the Fed.

    The proper analogy would be if Murphy said that Mr. Fed lowering of the the thermostat indicates that the house would otherwise have been hotter had the thermostat not been turned down, and that Mr. Fed’s actions are also affecting the temperature directly outside the house due to the heat generated by the furnace exhaust.

    Then you come along and say nope, the house cannot be said to have otherwise been warmer because Mr. Fed is all knowing if he follows Sumner’s rule of thermostat setting, which is to target an inside the house temperature while totally ignoring the effects of the mechanism of the heater itself, and the effect on temperature that has outside of the house, pretending that the hotter it gets outside the house, has nothing to do with Mr. Fed’s actions. That the hotter it gets outside the house, the more evidence that supposedly is that Mr. Fed is duty bound to change the thermostat more and more, logically ending until the heater breaks down, but Mr. Fed chooses not to go that far, which makes the house inside warm way more than it otherwise would have due Mr. Fed’s own past interference.

    Then Murphy and everyone else sees Sumner claiming that if Mr. Fed turns the thermostat up, that means the house will get warmer, and if he turns it down, it means the house will get colder, right after saying don’t look at the thermostat folks because it is not a reliable indicator of the temperature inside the house.

    You don’t even understand Wicksell’s theory of interest rates. You have used it for years, showing no understanding of what he actually wrote and what he actually meant. You have falsely claimed on many occasions that the Fed’s inflation and deflation somehow affects the Wicksellian rate.

    If you had bothered to read Wicksell’s theory of interest rates, you would have learned that his theory was predicated on endogeneous money. To Wicksell, the endogenous creation of money leads to changes in the real market. Contrary to how you view nominal and real variables, Wicksell did not separate them. To Wicksell, money is not a veil, and people do not suffer from any money illusion.

    Most importantly of all, your repeated claims that the Fed raising interest rates reduces the Wicksellian rate, is flat wrong. The Wicksellian conception of the natural rate is independent of central banks. The Fed can only dance around it in the dark. It is quite possible for the Wicksellian rate to rise along with nominal rates rising, and for the Wicksellian rate to fall along with nominal rates falling.

    The fundamental error you are making is that the Fed is not only affecting the temperature inside the house. It is by virtue of using the heater and aircon, changing the temperature outside the house as well. And by increasing the temperature outside the house by silly attempts to keep the windows closed up and constant inside temperature targeting regardless of what happens outside, idiot market monetarists come along and claim that the outside world is demanding Mr. Fed to keep lowering the thermostat over and over, as if the constant temperature inside the house with the thermostat set at -50 degrees is proof the natural temperature outside the house is a bajillion degrees.


  24. Gravatar of Benny Lava Benny Lava
    31. October 2015 at 08:44

    Nope sorry Scott. Hastert is more interesting than Murphy. Poor old Bob looks like a fool with his economic predictions so now he is going around accusing others of the same thing. It’s called projection. And a bit of misdirected anger as well. That is patently evident with his little response in the comments.

    I at least give Krugman a half point for admitting some of his mistakes. If only he would say we needed more monetary stimulus and that fiscal stimulus alone is not enough.

    Speaking of mistakes Hastert is a really poor example to go with. I’m sure you could find a better example. Like poor Martha Stewart.

  25. Gravatar of Scott Sumner Scott Sumner
    31. October 2015 at 10:53

    Benny, Hastert may or may not be a poor example, but his wrongful conviction is an excellent example of out of control federal prosecutors. It makes no difference what people think about Hastert, his personal problems are not the issue here.

  26. Gravatar of TallDave TallDave
    2. November 2015 at 08:08

    Making it illegal to legally avoid the $10,000 limit even for legal purposes is just another freedom we gave up to fight the Scourge of Drugs. We also started letting prosecutors throw dozens of spurious charges at people so they can plead out 99% of cases. The law has become an ass.

    Unslippery slopes are few and far between in these moral crusades. Someday people are going to look back at Prohibition Deux as the greatest mistake of our era.

  27. Gravatar of I Was Writing About the Natural Rate of Interest Before It Was Cool I Was Writing About the Natural Rate of Interest Before It Was Cool
    2. November 2015 at 19:07

    […] Free Advice readers know, I have had my differences with Scott Sumner. But in a recent exchange he told me: “I’d encourage you to brush up on the Wicksellian theory of interest rates, it might help […]

  28. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    3. November 2015 at 12:45

    Talldave, Yup.

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