Kissing the ring

America’s (very gradual) descent in banana republicanism continues.  Here’s CNBC:

CNBC compiled a list of CEOs who have held one-on-one meetings with the president elect, and we found a distinct pattern. When a CEO visits Trump, the company’s stock usually rises that day and almost always does better than the overall market. Our data focuses on CEOs who had one-on-one meetings with Trump and excluded large group meetings such as the tech sector gathering in mid-December.

On average, we found that stocks tended to beat the S&P 500 by nearly a full percentage point, just for a single day. That’s a lot of monetary value seemingly for simply meeting the president-elect. It suggests that Trump has the power to move markets, and that it builds confidence for investors to know a company is on his good side.

While it’s impossible to say whether it was the meetings specifically that led to strong performances on the days the CEOs visited, the trend is clearly discernible.

The data they report doesn’t seem all that significant to me, but there’s definitely a perception out there that CEOs need to meet with Trump and make some token promises. (I just saw an analyst on CNBC suggest that Amgen’s CEO visit Trump and promise to build a factory in America with a few hundred jobs.)  But I would encourage people to focus less on the specifics than the trends.  I’m actually not that concerned about Trump’s occasionally forays into CEO bashing having all that much impact on a $20 trillion dollar economy.  Nor do I worry all that much about his conflicts of interest, or yesterday’s repudiation of his earlier promise to release his tax returns.  Rather I think what people should focus on is that all these snippets are symptoms of the fact hat we are in a new political world, more akin to southern Italy than the sort of country the Founding Fathers had in mind.  Here’s the Economist:

AT THE height of Silvio Berlusconi’s power, as the billionaire-politician brushed scandals and lawsuits aside with the ease of a crocodile gliding through duckweed, a professor at an Italian university described to Lexington how the terms furbo and fesso helped explain the then-prime minister’s survival. In those bits of Italian society from which Mr Berlusconi drew his strongest support, it is a high compliment to be deemed a furbo, or a sly, worldly wise-guy. The furbo knows how to jump queues, dodge taxes and play systems of nepotism and patronage like a Stradivarius. In contrast the fesso is the chump who waits his turn and fails to grasp how badly the system is rigged, or how much of his taxes will be stolen. The fesso might cheer a new clean-air law in his city, naively taking an announcement by the elites at face value. The furbo wonders who in the environment department may have a brother-in-law with a fat contract to supply chimney scrubbers. Mr Berlusconi’s fans saw him as the furbo to end all furbi. He showed that he heard them, offering them crude appeals to wise-guy cynicism, as when he asserted that any Italians who backed his centre-left opponents were not just mistaken, but were coglioni or, to translate loosely, “dickheads”, who would be voting “against their own interests”. . . .

If Mr Trump’s policies are a mystery, his approach to politics is not. The Republican won office by systematically undermining trust in any figure or institution that seemed to stand in his way, from Republican rivals to his Democratic opponent, leaders of Congress, business bosses, the news media, fact-checkers or simply those fessi who believe in paying taxes. Accused of avoiding federal income taxes during a debate with Hillary Clinton, he growled: “That makes me smart.”

Mr Trump will not be able to stop that destructive mission to make America less like Sweden and more like Sicily. He has too many promises that he cannot keep. He must betray those supporters whom he wooed with a conspiracy theory dressed up as an economic policy, backed with crude invective worthy of an American Berlusconi.

From the beginning I’ve thought that Berlusconi was the best comparison for Trump.  Fortunately, presidents don’t have as much power as people assume, so Trump won’t change America as much as the Economist fears.  (Berlusconi was of course a failed leader, but also one who didn’t change Italy all that much.) But that doesn’t mean criticism of Trump is overwrought or unhinged. He really is as bad as his more fervent critics imagine, it’s just that in our system he’ll usually get tied up in red tape.  The biggest risk is in foreign policy.

PS.  It’s interesting that Trump picked a fesso to be his VP, not another furbo like Chris Christie.  Perhaps someone better versed in psychology can explain why.

PPS.  I’m definitely the sort of person that Berlusconi and Trump would view as a dickhead.

PPPS.  Early in 2016 I predicted that the right would kiss up to Trump as soon as he gained power, citing the same phenomenon in the French press during Napoleon’s return to power (a rough translation of the French, from 1815):

Now if we want to follow him in his victorious march to Paris, we only need consult the Monitor. To guide our readers in this historic research, we will give a curious extract. We will find the graduated march of Napoleon to Paris, with the modification that the approach produced in the opinions of the newspaper.
– The cannibal went out of his lair.
– The Corsican ogre just landed the Gulf of Juan.
– The tiger arrived at Gap.
– The monster slept in Grenoble.
– The tyrant has gone through Lyon.
– The usurper was seen at sixty leagues from the capital.
– Bonaparte is advancing with great strides, but it will never enter Paris.
– Napoleon will be under our ramparts tomorrow.
– The Emperor arrived at Fontainebleau.
– His Imperial and Royal Majesty yesterday made its entry into the Tuileries surrounded by his loyal subjects!

A few weeks later the National Review devoted an entire issue bashing Trump, with one conservative intellectual after another telling us that he was a despicable politician who was completely unsuitable for higher office.  And now we know they were right.  But the National Review is not gloating about the fact that Trump really is Putin’s puppet.  If a Democratic President were forcing one CEO after another to kowtow to him, and then telling them where to put their factories, conservatives would be freaking about about the end of capitalism, about the caudillo form of government coming to America.  Instead they are mocking Democrats who hold the same principled view that NR held a year ago:

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 8.34.21 AMAnd here’s the National Review today, kissing up to Trump:

Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 8.33.54 AMAs Trump would say “Sad!”



44 Responses to “Kissing the ring”

  1. Gravatar of Martinghoul Martinghoul
    12. January 2017 at 06:15

    Actually, Luigi Zingales has written quite extensively about the parallels between Trump and Berlusconi. I presume you have seen his pieces:

  2. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    12. January 2017 at 06:40

    Martinggoul, I had not seen that. But yes, the similarities are so obvious that I think almost everyone sees it. Berlusconi is also a Putin fan.

    (Except Trump supporters)

  3. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    12. January 2017 at 07:28

    Let’s fact check Sumner. Google: The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the United States was worth 18036.65 billion US dollars in 2015. Sumner: “on a $20 trillion dollar economy” 18036.65 billion != 20T. Sumner is lying, again.

    Shorter Sumner: ‘I wish I would get invited to Trump’s bunga bunga parties’. Fair enough, but is this worth an entire post?

  4. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    12. January 2017 at 08:33

    Ray, Sorry, I forget that Trump was president in 2015.

  5. Gravatar of RSF RSF
    12. January 2017 at 08:56

    I think you are overstating the amount of conformity that’s Trump has gotten from the GOP side of the aisle. National Review has continued to publish articles that are critical of Trump and that cover doesn’t exactly represent a Trump endorsement. Also, nominees and congressmen have wildly disagreed with him about a variety of topics which I can’t say I have ever seen before. I’m pretty sure he’ll be terrible, but at a certain point you cant spend all of your time complaining about him. You have to actually strategize about opportunities and pitfalls of his upcoming presidency.

  6. Gravatar of Massimo Heitor Massimo Heitor
    12. January 2017 at 08:59

    “Instead they are mocking Democrats who hold the same principled view that NR held a year ago:”

    Senior National Review editor Cooke addressed this criticism explicitly:

    The role of NeverTrump was to oppose Trump in elections for nominee/president. Now that the elections are over, and Trump will be president, that purpose is no longer relevant. Now, hope for the best, applaud the good, criticize the bad, and fight the fights worth fighting. The hysterics of the left are never what NR advocated.

    Also despite types like Cooke and Williamson loudly arguing against Trump, respected NR contributor Victor Davis Hanson loudly and eloquently endorsed Trump:

    Conrad Black also endorsed Trump at the National Review.

  7. Gravatar of ? of significant digits ? of significant digits
    12. January 2017 at 09:26

    Heh, Ray, when someone uses a number like 20, they are conveying a sense of precision. Of course you likely know that.

  8. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    12. January 2017 at 09:29

    RSF, I read the NR quite often, and I see reporters there doing complete flip flops. There’s nothing new here; power has done this to people throughout history. But it’s silly for the NR to deny it.

    You said:

    “You have to actually strategize about opportunities and pitfalls of his upcoming presidency.”

    I’ve done plenty of this. Opportunities include tax reform, deregulation, etc. Pitfalls include foreign policy and crony capitalism and trade policy and immigration. I’ve made these points repeatedly. What more do you want?

  9. Gravatar of RSF RSF
    12. January 2017 at 10:21


    I wasn’t intending to accuse you of not strategizing I was saying it as a general strategy for all. There are areas for hope and there are areas for extreme concern. Democrats and republicans should both be attempting to seize the opportunity. I sense some republicans are trying to do that. I’m not sure what the democrats are doing. I don’t think they are truly sincere about their complaints and the path forward. They just want to excuse their loss.

  10. Gravatar of Philo Philo
    12. January 2017 at 10:49

    After a while bashing Trump gets old; unless he comes up with new atrocities you should give it a rest. But the spectacle of people (including the executives of corporations) sucking up to Trump is, and will for a short time continue to be, quite entertaining. By all means keep needling them, until their behavior, like Trump’s, has come to seem the new normal. Then it will be time to find new follies and embarrassments to skewer. Your fans (for whom I presume to speak) want novelty!

  11. Gravatar of Cooper Cooper
    12. January 2017 at 10:49

    In defense of the National Review’s apparent reversal:

    1. Trump has abandoned some of his worst policy proposals (e.g., Muslim ban). That makes him appear more sensible.

    2. Trump has picked many normal rightwing Republicans for his cabinet. Marco Rubio could easily have picked Betsy DeVos, Governor Haley, Congressman Zinke, Secretary Chao, General Mattis, General Kelly, etc. These cabinet picks help reassure some conservatives that Trump isn’t a complete lunatic.

    3. In many cases, liberals are chasing ghosts and freaking out about their imagined version of Trump rather than addressing the real issues with his presidency.

    It’s possible for Trump to have become less objectionable over the last three months and for liberals to be focusing on the wrong issues.

  12. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    12. January 2017 at 10:49

    RSF, Check out my new Econlog post, which I posted just a few minutes ago. I think many readers (wrongly) think I mostly focus on Trump, because they ignore the fact that I try to put my important posts at Econlog.

    I consider yesterday’s post at Econlog to be one of my most important, and it got one comment.

  13. Gravatar of Christian List Christian List
    12. January 2017 at 12:58

    read the NR quite often, and I see reporters

    I don’t think I ever read a report in (or on) NR. Are there any? I only see opinion pieces. They just take reports from other media outlets and comment on it. There’s hardly any own research involved. That’s not reporting to me.

    yesterday’s post at Econlog to be one of my most important, and it got one comment.

    Maybe there are less comments on Econlog because the comment system there is perceived as restrictive. I try to read all your posts there as well but I don’t comment there because the last time I tried it felt like getting an enema by a Vogon bureaucracy.

  14. Gravatar of E. Harding E. Harding
    12. January 2017 at 13:04

    And now we know they were right. But the National Review is not gloating about the fact that Trump really is Putin’s puppet.

    -Sumner, you are an idiot. When Trump leaves the presidency, you’ll see how wrong you were. Of course, you’d ignore it.

    “Instead they are mocking Democrats who hold the same principled view that NR held a year ago”

    -Not a single view these Democrats hold is principled. If Trump won the Dem nomination, they’d be calling him the first gay president.

  15. Gravatar of acebojangles acebojangles
    12. January 2017 at 13:13


    What do you think liberals are wrongly focusing on?

    Everyone from any political persuasion should object to Trump’s obvious corruption. It’s depressing to see how many people on the right will accept a horribly corrupt regime as long as its their guy who’s corrupt and they can gloat about it on the internet.

  16. Gravatar of Lorenzo from Oz Lorenzo from Oz
    12. January 2017 at 13:36

    The PIPs (postmodern identity progressivists) should be happy — it’s the death of American exceptionalism. The US is joining Europe (Berlusconi) and Latin America simultaneously (having just had an election between the wife of a former President and a raging demagogue).

    But given that the PIPs have been doing their utmost to ensure that the social mercantilist model which works so well in Latin America (regulate everything, require approval for anything, thereby advantaging well-connected insiders) applies to the US, they should be even more pleased that Republicans are going for their own version of that.

    Oh, I forgot, the PIPs were supposed to be permanently in charge from now on. Oh well, they have their outrage to cling to.

    On the flip-flopping, the US system is set up to make sure only two political Brands really count. So, unless you are going to wander off into fairly small playpens (i.e. Greens or Libertarians), the Brand attachment will win out.

  17. Gravatar of Cooper Cooper
    12. January 2017 at 13:38


    Rachel Maddow wants to ask Trump if he will put her in a camp. I’ve heard repeatedly that Vice President Elect Mike Pence wants to force gays and lesbians to undergo conversion therapy.

    Keith Olbermann has made repeated, lengthy attack videos calling Trump the American Hitler.

    Half of Democrats now believe that Russia hacked the election and changed the vote totals. Why? They’ve been hearing “Russia hacked the election” every night for months.

    Jill Stein raised millions of dollars for a useless recount that actually *increased* Trump’s margin of victory in Wisconsin by 131 votes.

    Many people claimed that voting for Trump constituted a “hate crime”. There were a number of hate crimes breathlessly reported as fact in the aftermath of the election. When it turned out many of those hate crimes were hoaxes, the media printed the retraction on page 18 and included the word “allegedly” in the retraction headline.

    All of this is a sideshow from the serious issues like the corruption/conflicts associated with Trump Inc.

  18. Gravatar of dw dw
    12. January 2017 at 16:33

    instead of Berlusconi, how about bout El Douchi?

  19. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    12. January 2017 at 16:56

    Sumner: “I consider yesterday’s post at Econlog to be one of my most important, and it got one comment.” – why is that? Because the Econlog editor drove away people like me (banned me), leaving “Thoamas” as you sole reader. Blame her. As for you and Nick Rowe ganging up on Simon Wren-Lewis, who correctly points out monetarism does not matter to RGDP, the only metric that matters, instead of embracing the idea that money is largely neutral, you and Rowe insist that the SRAS curve slopes the wrong way, and other such nonsense. Just accept the obvious Ockham Razor result: money is neutral. Let the scales fall from your eyes. True, you would be humiliated and laughed to death to your grave, but imagine the lifted burden of not having to speak Sumner Doublespeak would have on your conscious. Surely, like Lance Armstrong, you’ll feel better not being a fraud? Just a thought from a loyal reader.

  20. Gravatar of Major.Freedom Major.Freedom
    12. January 2017 at 17:02

    Sumner is just jealous of the fact that the Fed’s ring wasn’t the ring that was kissed that boosted company profits.

    How dare special interest groups benefit from an anti-market statist institution like the Fed the Presidency in order to gain at the expense of everyone else in real terms!

    Hahaha, Sumner is such a hypocrite. It is like every post is one hypocritical propaganda piece after another.

  21. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    12. January 2017 at 17:48

    On this august episode, I must agree with Ray Lopez.

    I no longer read your Econlog posts, as I was banned, evidently for too often connecting the issue of property zoning to other economic issues, or mentioning the ubiquitous criminalization of push-cart and truck-vending.

    Oddly enough, these are both libertarian issues–I would think libertarians would be against property zoning and for more legalized push-cart and truck-vending.

    I am sad to say American “libertarians” scale to the very pinnacles of virtue and the exact zenith of zealotry when the topic is the minimum wage—but hit the mute button on property zoning or decriminalizing push-cart or truck-vending (the very kind of business many Americans could afford to start up, and which would naturally tighten up labor markets).

    Who runs Econlog?

    The modern word “snowflake” must have been coined to define the operators of Econlog.

  22. Gravatar of John John
    12. January 2017 at 19:23

    Scott. The phrase going around the web for this is “bend the knee” not kiss the ring. Thought you’d appreciate the pop culture reference.

  23. Gravatar of engineer engineer
    12. January 2017 at 19:28

    “Berlusconi was of course a failed leader:

    I could point out the obvious….that only one Italian government has lasted a full five-year term in the last 50 years, led by Silvio Berlusconi between 2001-2006…SO “failed” is a very relative term.

    You call it “kissing the ring”..others may call it a refreshing change from the Obama’s aloof distancing himself from business and their concerns and from any leaders outside of his political insider circle and Hollywood worshipers. What is wrong with going back to the “Business of America is Business”…sounds good to me.

    What I think people are missing about why blue collar white people voted for Trump is that they really want to succeed and be part of an American business success story. They don’t want to be retained to do some pink collar job. People have great ambitions, and when they listen to Trump talk about making America great again, it sounds good and they want to be a part of it.

    In reality, Obama…nice guy..but history will record him as a failed leader. Yes, the economy has slowly improved, but this country can do a lot better.

  24. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    12. January 2017 at 20:04

    @B. Cole – yes, pushcarts should be made legal, but it’s the old story of the established merchants vs the upstarts. In Greece, they finally allowed kiosks (the equivalent of pushcarts in a way) to do business, after getting a license and promising to pay state taxes. H. de Soto Polar has written how allowing such property rights can increase GDP (see: ), and it’s a big deal in Third World countries (like land reform is). For the rich USA I doubt it matters as much, except, as you say, for the poor who want to work for themselves rather than for others like McDonalds.

  25. Gravatar of Massimo Heitor Massimo Heitor
    12. January 2017 at 20:15

    “… Because the Econlog editor drove away people like me (banned me)”

    I was banned from commenting at Econlog as well. The reason seemed beyond absurd. I suspected Caplan was just tired of seeing comments from people like me.

    Commenting here is very open.

  26. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    12. January 2017 at 20:27

    @Massimo -yes, Sumner is indeed very liberal in his comments. That doesn’t stop me however from posts like this:

    Off topic: (02 September 2016) – argues central banks should buy junk commercial paper and thus try and push inflation higher. What’s interesting to me is that though these papers essentially are arguing Sumner’s ‘more inflation is good’ thesis, Sumner himself refuses to endorse them since they are not expressly mentioning his baby, NGDPLT. As I have repeatedly asked Sumner to clarify (and he never has) why not advocate adopting a higher interest rate target if that achieves the same effect as NGDPT? Perhaps Sumner must feel the ‘credibility fairy’ is damaged if people don’t know NGDPLT is not being adopted? (and they’ll save money, offsetting any monetary expansion if you believe money non-neutrality). But I think the real answer is: “since I’m the NGDPLT guy, and adopting such a pedestrian monetary target framework would make me no different from hundreds of others out there pushing for higher inflation”. Selfish if true.

  27. Gravatar of Massimo Heitor Massimo Heitor
    12. January 2017 at 20:32


    Did National Review do a “reversal” on Trump? I don’t see it.

    There are different writers with different viewpoints. Victor Davis Hanson and Conrad Black were strongly pro-Trump while Cooke, French, Williamson, Goldberg, and others were against Trump, some more extreme than others. That’s not a flip flop, that’s different perspectives from different people.

    The Trump hater crowd at NR haven’t changed their mind on Trump’s character problem or flaws. But the election is over. Trump is the president elect. They will praise good moves and criticize bad ones just like they do with every other political figure.

    I’d be curious at specifically where you think NR has flip flopped on Trump?

  28. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    12. January 2017 at 20:59

    I think of Trump as the anti-Chauncy Gardener. There’s no mystery who he is and where he came from, and he speaks bluntly and forcefully. Anyone ever hear a President use the word ‘crap’ in a press conference before?

    I think it’s going to be a fun four years.

  29. Gravatar of dtoh dtoh
    12. January 2017 at 21:09

    If you are writing important posts, why not put them here where people will read them instead of over on Ecolog.

  30. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    12. January 2017 at 23:16

    Way OT, and worth a chuckle. So you have the Thai view:

    Kasikornbank [A Thai bank] says Fed will raise rate once in 2017

    Lower-than-expected inflation predicted 13 Jan 2017 at 04:00 539 viewed0 comments NEWSPAPER SECTION: BUSINESS

    Kasikornbank (KBank) forecast the US Federal Reserve (Fed) will lift its policy rate only once this year, citing that inflationary pressure may be lower than expected, and fears that a firmer dollar will [cut exports]….


    Okay, that’s the word from Thailand. Only one rate hike in 2017 by the Fed. Just so you know.

    OT from OT:

    Okay, in a limited time frame, four people here say they have been banned from EconLog. I wonder what fraction of readers or commenters have been banned in total?

    No wonder no one is reading Sumner’s EconLog posts. They have all been banned.

    EconLog is a libertarian website?

  31. Gravatar of Jeff Jeff
    13. January 2017 at 03:08

    I was supposedly banned at EconLog for a while because of a post that somebody (maybe Lauren, I don’t really remember) thought was too close to name-calling. Nevermind that the name-calling was an accurate description that was backed up in the comment. It seems to me that EconLog wants bland comments or none at all.

    However, a few months went by and I submitted another comment over there and it went through. Other comments since then have also been posted, so I guess I’m not banned after all. But I pull my punches, as do other commenters, and the result is that the comments at EconLog are not nearly as interesting as the ones here.

  32. Gravatar of flow5 flow5
    13. January 2017 at 05:36

    No, the banana republic was created by Obama. It’s called the bond market rout:

    Anyone see the bond rout in the last half of 2017?

    01/1/2017 ,,,,, 0.19
    02/1/2017 ,,,,, 0.14
    03/1/2017 ,,,,, 0.13 bonds top
    04/1/2017 ,,,,, 0.16
    05/1/2017 ,,,,, 0.22
    06/1/2017 ,,,,, 0.18
    07/1/2017 ,,,,, 0.18 rout begins
    08/1/2017 ,,,,, 0.21
    09/1/2017 ,,,,, 0.26
    10/1/2017 ,,,,, 0.25
    11/1/2017 ,,,,, 0.23

    Long-term monetary flows, our means-of-payment money times its transactions velocity of turnover, accelerates in the last half of 2017. That spells stagflation (as short-term money flows won’t reach 2016’s levels).

  33. Gravatar of Matthew McOsker Matthew McOsker
    13. January 2017 at 06:51

    I grew up in Providence, RI with mayor Buddy Cianci. Trump reminds me of Buddy. Buddy was immensely popular, despite his crimes known and alleged. He was even re-elected after a felony stint in prison (the first one) in a “real” landslide. Why? Because the trains ran on time. He did a lot to fix up the city, kept it safe. He was also a master manipulator, and always attacked back. If the economy does well under Trump (or even really well), then nobody will care a thing about the other noise. We will see what happens. On the foreign policy front – who knows. If he keeps us out of wars, that would be a good start.

    Take a look at Buddy, and you will see the similarities. Even look at the 1974 Buddy campaign poster here on Wikipedia:

  34. Gravatar of Tom M Tom M
    13. January 2017 at 07:52

    @ Ray Lopez

    “As I have repeatedly asked Sumner to clarify (and he never has) why not advocate adopting a higher interest rate target if that achieves the same effect as NGDPT?”

    I don’t think they would have the same effect… Also, what interest rate would you target? The Fed Funds Rate? 1 Yr, 5 Yr, 10 Yr treasuries. Interest rate targeting is ridiculous to me because it doesn’t help us understand anything about the state of the monetary policy. I think interest rate targeting has problems with short-run/long-run adjustments.

    The purpose of monetary policy should be to not make mistakes and the best way to do that is to, like professor Sumner has stated, let the market decide the appropriate amount of “money” to have in the system (NGDP Futures Targeting).

    “Just accept the obvious Ockham Razor result: money is neutral.”

    I think you mean money is neutral IN THE LONG RUN. Sticky wages/prices make sure money is not neutral in the short run. I don’t know how this could be a debatable point… if the Fed announced tomorrow it wanted to continue to buy treasuries until inflation reached 500%+ do you think there would be no REAL side effects? I’d be curious to see what your answer would be.

  35. Gravatar of Bob Murphy Bob Murphy
    13. January 2017 at 09:46


    I definitely think you have a good zinger against National Review by showing those two covers. I chuckled, and I think your cynical interpretation is correct.

    Yet I have to ask: Are YOU allowed to make that critique?

    After all, there are dozens of Sumner blog posts that could be fairly summarized as, “AGAINST TRUMP.”

    And yet, you also had a blog post (part #4 here) that could be fairly summarized as, “LIBERALS FREAKING OUT ABOUT TRUMP’S POSSIBLE ELECTION.”

    So couldn’t the NR editors take the same approach you yourself have taken? They could say, “Yeah, we were against Trump, and we’re also mocking liberals who are freaking out about him. What’s your point?”

  36. Gravatar of Acebojangles Acebojangles
    13. January 2017 at 10:49


    I don’t think these are sideshows:

    – Russian hacking and the curious response from Trump and co.
    – Demonization of the free press

    Also, many on the left are indeed focused on the corruption.

    I do agree that some on the left are probably being hyperbolic.

  37. Gravatar of Ray Lopez Ray Lopez
    13. January 2017 at 10:52

    @Tom M – “if the Fed announced tomorrow it wanted to continue to buy treasuries until inflation reached 500%+ do you think there would be no REAL side effects? I’d be curious to see what your answer would be.” – I have always said money is short-term non-neutral during hyperinflation.

    BTW, do you think the Swiss central bank in Jan 2015 revaluing the Swiss franc was evidence of money non-neutrality? Swiss GDP dropped for Q1 in 2015 and ended up slightly down for 2015 (it’s since rebounded). Switzerland might be the exception to the money is neutral rule since they are so small (and depend on foreign capital, foreign investment so much). On the other hand, it could be just a coincidence that GDP dropped, or maybe some panic by the people (people believe in monetarism, and a monetarist ‘sell signal’ can actually have the same effect as inducing people who see a ‘double top’ forming in a stock chart to sell an otherwise good stock).

  38. Gravatar of Massimo Heitor Massimo Heitor
    13. January 2017 at 11:18

    @Bob Murphy

    “They could say, “Yeah, we were against Trump, and we’re also mocking liberals who are freaking out about him. What’s your point?””

    That’s not even mildly inconsistent. Many of the NR writers are cranky curmudgeons who complain about absolutely everything on every side.

  39. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    13. January 2017 at 15:19

    Lorenzo, I’m in a playpen of one, which is how I like it.

    Engineer, In political terms he was a big success. But his platform was basically “let’s get Italy moving again” and during his period in office (most of 15 years or so) Italy suddenly started falling far behind the rest of western Europe. In terms of the economy, he was a disaster. And the similarities in personality with Trump are downright eerie.

    But yes, he kept getting elected, which makes me think Trump might be re-elected, and then Melania. . . .

    dtoh, I’ve answered that question many times. THIS is my crappy blog. The other one is my good one.

    Jeff, You said:

    “But I pull my punches, as do other commenters, and the result is that the comments at EconLog are not nearly as interesting as the ones here.”

    Interesting comments over here? Are you joking?

    Bob, No the two cases are different. I argue that people put too much weight on politics. My critique applies equally to conservatives, who were freaking out at the thought of a President Hillary. People vastly overrate the importance of presidents, both liberals and conservatives. The NR has a vastly different view of Trump as compared to a year ago, whereas my view is exactly the same. They are now frequently defending him. So the two cases are not equivalent.

    Ray, You are so funny. A couple days ago you assured me that the effects of the Swiss “devaluation” were exactly what you expected. Now you find out it was actually a revaluation, but it’s still exactly what you expected.


  40. Gravatar of Plucky Plucky
    13. January 2017 at 15:47

    to Christian List-

    Usually National Review will have one or two people whose primary job is reporting. This year that was Eliana Johnson ( and Tim Alberta (, but I believe after the election they may have been hired away by other publications. In the past, NR’s reporters have included Robert Costa and Byron York. There are several others I’m forgetting, but NR has a history of incubating reporters who then get hired away to more mass-market press.

    Typically, because NR (mag) publishes on bi-weekly schedule, pieces of reporting are usually only published on the website, but they do publish pieces from the reporters in the mag (e.g.

  41. Gravatar of Patrick R. Sullivan Patrick R. Sullivan
    13. January 2017 at 21:19

    ‘EconLog is a libertarian website?’

    I’ve pointed out that irony to David Henderson (re; Big Sister Lauren). He didn’t seem to be amused.

  42. Gravatar of Benjamin Cole Benjamin Cole
    14. January 2017 at 03:29

    Patrick Sullivan: Well, we have something in common, and I am glad to be in such company.

  43. Gravatar of Bob Murphy Bob Murphy
    14. January 2017 at 11:32

    It’s not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, Scott, but for the record I’ll push back against your statement:

    The NR has a vastly different view of Trump as compared to a year ago, whereas my view is exactly the same. They are now frequently defending him. So the two cases are not equivalent.

    Are they actually flip flopping on a particular issue? Or is it rather that they are now praising good things that are legitimately good about (say) Trump cabinet picks? Isn’t that exactly what you’re telling us that your own stance is? Namely, that you will praise the good and condemn the bad, in the Trump Administration?

    You have been accusing Trump of fooling his moron supporters by picking supply-side people, when his voters thought from his stump speeches that he would be an old school populist. So wouldn’t it make total sense for NR to have been against Trump a year ago, listening to his campaign schtick, but now be more optimistic, looking at his more reasonable (from their perspective) personnel choices?

  44. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    15. January 2017 at 09:28

    Bob, I have no problem with any of that, but I am talking about something different. We are seeing the same reckless moronic Trump in the interregnum as we saw in the campaign. He has not become “Presidential”. But whereas during the campaign the NR people would often point out what a reckless moron he was, now they seem to be constantly defending him against exactly the sorts of charges they used to make. But he’s still acting like an idiot.

    As far as making fun of liberals who still oppose Trump, why would supply side picks reassure liberals? The NR cover makes no sense. If style-wise Trump is still an idiot, and in economic policy terms he is a supply sider (remains to be seen, consider trade), then why shouldn’t liberals be just as upset as the NR was a year ago? I don’t get it?

    And is the NR OK with a president who acts like a dictator, bullying companies into doing his bidding? What if Obama had behaved that way? (Yes, he did on a few occasions, but Trump is making it a centerpiece of his governance.)

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