Random articles

1. In many ways, the UK resembles the US. This is not one of them:

Despite its reputation as a hotbed of metropolitan liberalism, London is the most devout place in the country. One in four attends a religious service in the city each month, compared with one in ten outside the capital.

2. From Al Jazeera:

When Eriko Sairyo, a 30-year-old professional who lives in Shizuoka, Japan, saw that American pop singer Gwen Stefani was being accused of “cultural appropriation” in Western media, she couldn’t understand the controversy. . . .

“I don’t have any issues when, for example, foreigners wear kimono and walk around Kyoto for sightseeing. I actually love it that people love our culture.”

In an interview with Allure magazine published last week, Stefani, 53, sparked outrage across English-language media and social media with remarks expressing the deep sense of connection she feels with Japanese culture. . . .

Media outlets including CNN, The Guardian, CBS, ABC, NBC and Buzzfeed picked up the interview and resulting social media firestorm, while notably omitting any reference to the views of Japanese people themselves.

But why would anyone care what the Japanese people think of Westerners appropriating their culture? All that matters is the views of highly educated Westerners on Twitter. Right?

3. It turns out that the KKK arrived at “progressive” views on education even before the left:

“Throughout the boom years of the early 1920s,” the historian ​Adam Laats notes in a 2012 History of Education Quarterly article, “every local Klan group made education reform a leading goal of its public activism.” Eventually, Laats writes, a push for compulsory public schooling overseen by a federal cabinet agency became the “linchpin” of the organization’s agenda.

Why the Klan’s sudden interest in education policy? First and foremost, because of the KKK’s virulent nativism and anti-Catholicism. Most private schools at the time were associated with the Catholic Church, while most public schools were openly, if unofficially, Protestant. By requiring all children to attend the latter institutions, Klan members thought they could strip Catholic parishes of an income source, reduce the Catholic hierarchy’s ability to indoctrinate the next generation, and secure their own right to inculcate values instead.

In 1979, they finally got their Department of Education. Of course once desegregation became an issue, the attitude of Southern racists toward the public schools turned on a dime.

4. How does one become the first person to lose $200 billion? Easy:

Step one: Become the world’s richest man by selling cars to Democrats.

Step two: Spend months engaging in non-stop lame twitter jokes that ridicule Democrats.

Step three: Start censoring political speech that threatens your business interests, exposing yourself as a phony.

Easy come, easy go.

5. Just how obsessed have Republicans become with conspiracy theories? In the past, Republicans would defend themselves by pointing to nutty Democratic conspiracy theories, such as the idea that 9/11 was an inside job by the Bush administration. Today, however, Republicans are more likely than Dems to believe in silly 9/11 conspiracy theories, even though these theories implicate their own party!

6. Bloomberg suggests that China’s behavior has improved in recent months, and . . . surprise, surprise . . that’s a “problem” for the US:

China Is Trying to Play Nice, and It’s a Problem for the US

I suppose if you are determined to have a cold war with a country, then it’s a “problem” if their behavior improves.

7. Ron DeSantis’s attempt to become Censor in Chief is not going well:

Florida last year passed the Stop WOKE Act, which attempts to censor how schools and even private businesses teach about race, prohibiting the inclusion of the various ideas connected to Critical Race Theory. The law is being challenged by multiple parties in court as an unconstitutional abridgment of the First Amendment. It’s not going well for Florida. An injunction has halted enforcement of the business component of the law. Another injunction has halted enforcement of the law against college professors, with one federal judge describing the law as “positively dystopian.”

8. Meanwhile, the left is destroying what’s left of NYC’s school system:

When then-Mayor Bill de Blasio and the entire New York City political and educational establishment unveiled in September 2018 a trailblazing new middle-school Diversity Plan that radically changed the admissions criteria for Brooklyn’s District 15 in the name of racial “equity,” they chose the most symbolic possible site for the announcement: M.S. 51, the William Alexander School, in progressive (and prosperous) Park Slope. . . .

After sending 122 kids to the elite schools in both 2018 and 2019, William Alexander has nose-dived down to 52. Once among the top four feeder schools in the city, M.S. 51 is now tied for 16th. And it’s not just the smart kids suffering.

Seventh-grade math proficiency scores at the school have collapsed from 81 percent in 2019 to 48 percent in 2022, with double-digit declines among each of the four racial groups that the DOE tracks. This cannot be explained away by pandemic learning loss; Manhattan’s District 2, which is consistently the second-largest feeder into the specialized high school, saw very little decline over the same period.

9. I’ve always regarded NYC’s subway system as the world’s worst. But I must grudgingly admit that this looks very impressive.

10. I’m bored with Trump, but if you insist.

11. Almost all of America’s densest urban areas are in California. (LA is denser than NYC, if you evaluate entire metro areas including suburbs.)

California, with the densest urbanization, has 70 of the 100 densest urban areas. California also has 35 of the 43 urban areas (81%) with population densities exceeding 5,000. California has the three densest urban areas with more than 500,000 population.

12. I am of British descent, so this caught my eye:

13. Norbert Michel says the Fed already has something akin to the trillion dollar coin:

The deferred asset is the magic asset. Though like a tax loss carry forward, the “amount of net earnings a Reserve Bank will need to realize before remittances to Treasury resume” is entirely up to the Fed. (The Fed does not follow generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), it follows the Financial Accounting Manual for Federal Reserve Banks, a set of accounting principles the Fed created.)

The implication, of course, is that there will be earnings in the future and the Fed will remit those earnings to the Treasury. So, the Fed could just decide that it will hold back from Treasury an additional amount in the future and increase the deferred asset.

The Fed could, for instance, decide that it will hold back an additional $1 trillion in the future and increase the deferred asset now by $1 trillion. As the deferred asset goes up, capital goes up by a corresponding amount.

Just as it did in 2015, Congress could then raid the Fed’s capital account. Back then, they raided the Fed to pay for new highway spending. But there is no reason that Congress couldn’t now take the Fed’s capital surplus to pay for whatever Congress wants. (For what it’s worth, I mentioned back then Congress was setting a dangerous precedent.)

Read the whole thing.

14. Cato has a long article on trade that is difficult to excerpt. They show that America has blatantly violated international trade laws under both the Trump and Biden administrations. When I was younger, we used to complain that other countries didn’t play by the rules. Now we are the bad guys. The Europeans are so disgusted with our hypocrisy that they are considering copying our protectionist approach.

A model for Europe? / The Trump and Biden administrations’ trade phobia has contributed to making America a sort of protectionist model for Europe. The EU recently acquired new protectionist powers and is working on creating more, such as retaliation against countries whose governments limit foreign competition on domestic tender offers and restriction of exports in emergencies. The Financial Times has suggested that these measures are partly a response to Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum and to Biden invoking the Korean War–era Defense Production Act to threaten export restrictions on vaccine ingredients.

When people tell me, “We need to get tough with China because they don’t play by the rules”, I wonder what world they are living in.

15. Update: Three weeks ago an FT reporter congratulated a colleague for calling cryptocurrencies a bubble:

My colleague Jemima Kelly, who always saw the crypto bubble for what it was, writes on what the year in crypto taught us.

Since that time, Bitcoin is up 38.4%:



23 Responses to “Random articles”

  1. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    27. January 2023 at 16:54

    #1: I suspect the majority of services attended in London are non-Christian (Muslim and Hindu likely the largest share). Not a value judgement, just a thought.

    #2: The super-woke stuff like this is so so dumb, I keep thinking it’s a fad that will pass. On the other hand, is Stefani going to have any negative consequences from this? Who cares about Twitter idiots?

    #4: Musk is nuts and not handling the Twitter situation well, but Tesla is down for mostly other reasons. They just had a record quarter.

    #9: Agreed, impressive. Wish the US did more of this.

    #12: Awesome. I also liked the Serbia vs Albania spat.

    #15: Not sure what your point is, the drop from $67,000 November 2021 to now still looks like a bubble deflating. But really, what does it matter what word you use? The fact is a very hard to value asset ran up very rapidly and then crashed rapidly, give that any name you want but that did happen. It probably will get back to $67,000 someday, again, so what?

  2. Gravatar of Sara Sara
    28. January 2023 at 01:02

    1. There is nothing wrong with attending Church. Why don’t you stop worrying about people’s religions and whether they attend a church or not, and let them live their life in peace, you filthy tyrannical despot. And there is a big difference between the UK and the US. You clearly know absolutely nothing about their uncodified constitution or the burke/paine debate, because we are not similar.

    2. China is a dystopian hell-hole; they use uigher slave labor to build cheap products for CCP owned companies, and they harvest organs from the Falun Gong. There is nothing “nice” about China.

    3. You are “bored” with Trump, because you keep getting your ass kicked. You are wrong at every turn; whether it’s the Russia conspiracy hoax, to he’s the next Hitler remarks, to he’s a racist and a xeneophobe (typical radical liberal attack) to open borders are wonderful (they’re not), to one world nato (more endless wars), to let’s abolish the republic via ending the electoral college, to packing the supeme court because you didn’t get your way on centralizing abortion, etc etc. You are wrong so often, that one is not surprised you’ve suddenly become “bored.” You became bored with vaccines too, after you realized you were wrong. The hubris it takes for an economist to even mention mRNA as if you can sit in the same room as someone like McCullough (big difference in IQ) is deranged and delusional. You are not even in the same ballpark.

    4. The KKK didn’t come “before the left.” THEY ARE THE LEFT. The left is the party of slavery, jim crow, and CRT. The left always seeks to place people into groups; they have to; it’s the only way to achieve a quota based system.

    5. You don’t like Desantis because he speaks the truth, because he loves liberty, and because he polls really well among moderates; you and your radicals spent five years trying to cancel everyone who disagreed with you on social media, and trying to brainwash young minds with CRT nonsense. Nobody in their right mind is going to permit such nastiness in the classroom; his policies have wide support, not just in florida, but nationwide.

    Even Bobby Kennedy’s speech writer voted for Trump; We all know that your party is unhinged; it’s so grotesque that no moderate wants anything to do with it anymore. It promotes nothing but hatred. It attacks religion; it attacks culture; it attacks “whiteness”; it spends it’s days talking about malthus and population; it attacks private property; it calls for open borders which destroy communities and lower real wages; it is now the party of communist totalitarians; but considering you have a love affair with China, a country that now forces Chinese students to sign a “loyalty oath” before they attend classes abroad, and knowing that you want “tens of millions of their engineers” to pour into our country, unabated, where they will supposedly teach our no good engineers how to do things properly and whose very presence will bring their confucious culture with them: (confucious loved big government and submitting to authority), it’s not suprising that you would agree with most of the radical lefts agenda, including packing the courts, upending the electoral college, permitting drug dens and mob violence, and prosecuting “thought crimes.”

  3. Gravatar of Edward Edward
    28. January 2023 at 06:15

    Here we go again. Sumner now hates anglicans in London.

    It amazes me that he still doesn’t see the left as the problem.

    Where are the most corrupt places in America? Answer: democrat controlled cities.

    Where is the most violence in America? Answer: democrat controlled cities

    Where are the most degenerates and drug users and abusers? answer: democrat controlled cities.

    Where is critical race theory being promulgated: democrat controlled cities.

    Where is the fiscal debt the worst: democrat controlled states and cities.

    Where do they call for the abolishment of private property: democrat controlled cities.

    I think people are starting to wake up. But I won’t hold my breath on Scott waking up anytime soon. He seems to be firmly entrenched inside the propaganda machine, which is so corrupted that it now blames the death of a black man, by five black police officers, on white, conservative, christian farmers.

    But at this point, who could possibly be surprised.

    I would agree they are “unhinged.”

  4. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    28. January 2023 at 09:48

    msgkings, I see they are sharply cutting Tesla prices, which suggests that demand is now softening. Markets are forward looking. To be clear, I hope Tesla succeeds; it’s a great company. Musk is a great entrepreneur and a lousy person. He should stop tweeting. It’s embarrassing, almost Trump-like.

    Sara and Edward, Nothing sadder than seeing people trying to be a troll, and not knowing how.

  5. Gravatar of Matthew W Matthew W
    28. January 2023 at 10:37

    11 – There are different ways to measure average density. As I understand it LA metro area is denser than NY based on a measure of population divided by area. However a possibly better measure is the average density of the neighborhood that the inhabitants live in. (This is a better measure of the density that the average New Yorker or Angeleno “experiences”). By this measure New York metro is much denser on average.


  6. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    28. January 2023 at 10:47

    Matthew, Yes, but I think it’s more than that. In both metro areas, most people live in the suburbs. And LA’s suburbs are far more dense than New York’s suburbs.

    New York’s density is extremely diverse, while LA’s density is far more homogeneous. So generalizations are difficult to make.

    BTW, the surprising data point is that 81% of America’s densest cities are in California.

  7. Gravatar of Ricardo Ricardo
    28. January 2023 at 21:42

    Wait a minute: California’s radical democrats passed a law which forces doctors to comply with prevailing, orthodox views or be stripped of their licenses, which, thankfully, was halted by the courts as it undergoes judicial review: yet lo and behold we hear nothing but crickets from Sumner on this form of censorship.

    But as soon as DeSantis questions critical race theory or gender idealogy, or the legality and quackery of vaccine mandates and masking, and “free trade agremeents” that are anything but free, the big and disgruntled bulging eyes of Sumner’s left, along with the tatooed One-World-NATO forearms, reemerge onto the scene, often violently, where they march down the streets in black masks, and burn libraries and loot stores.

    DeSantis is a threat to the agenda; he’s becoming more popular. So what should I do if I’m a utilitarian who beleives nothing matters but the end itself? I know. Let’s attack him on “censorship.” Let’s pretend he’s hitler. let’s pretend the russians are helping him. Let’s pretend he cares nothing about the poor. Let’s pretend he’s a racist.

    It’s always the same old story with the Sumner left.

  8. Gravatar of David S David S
    29. January 2023 at 03:47

    I’ve seen that density comparison between LA and NYC before and I’ve always been puzzled by it. I think the relevant feature of California “density” is that they maximized lateral sprawl with single family homes on relatively small building lots. NYC has some impressive vertical development on Manhattan but the density gradient trails off sharply in the boroughs and other Metro areas where.

    No part of California has bragging rights when it comes to settlement density. Sonia Hirt, in her excellent book Zoned in the USA, makes an international comparison of urban density. American metro areas come in dead last. Zoning regulations have prevented market based density improvements in American neighborhoods. These don’t have to be high rises; row houses and 4-6 story mixed used buildings can have a dramatic impact on density. I wish Musk would start tweeting positively about zoning reform before he bankrupts the company.

  9. Gravatar of A A
    29. January 2023 at 17:05

    11. I often need to debunk this claim. Most apples to apples comparisons between la and ny and their surroundings, put ny ahead of la and many of those comparisons put ny WAY ahead. But if you cherry pick the borders enough you can find one where LA edges out NY, then they troll out their “finding”. Click through that link and find what they claim is the densest urban area in the US and tell me you want to stand by that methodology.

  10. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    29. January 2023 at 17:33

    Everyone, There’s no great mystery here. Most people live in suburbs. Suburbs in places like California and Arizona are more densely populated than suburbs in the East. Central cities in places like New York are more densely populated than central cities in the West.

  11. Gravatar of A A
    29. January 2023 at 18:18

    No, its not suburbs. Its cherry picking.



    Ny area is denser than la area. The bad methodology not only misrepresents la vs ny, but hurts your general point by inventing dense urban areas by the salton sea.

    More skepticism is required here.

  12. Gravatar of kangaroo kangaroo
    29. January 2023 at 21:16

    “81% of America’s densest cities are in California.”

    Not quite clear on how that’s “cherry picking”. A city is a city. It’s a real administrative area.

  13. Gravatar of Tom M Tom M
    30. January 2023 at 11:30

    The criticism of Elon is funny on so many levels.

    Tesla isn’t a successful company because they sell cars, they are a successful company because they are a tech company. Tesla got wrecked over the past 6 months, because all growth tech got wacked.

    Maybe if democrats weren’t being so prone to jest over the past few years, he wouldn’t feel the need to point out all the hilarious inconsistencies and double speak associated with many of their thought and political leaders.

    It’s clear you didn’t read the article. CEOs of companies do not have time to get involved in every single thing that happens underneath them, obviously mistakes get made, and thinking this was purposeful for business interest reasons in the country is actually hilarious.

  14. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    30. January 2023 at 11:49

    A, I don’t believe the article relies on those density estimates. I think they look at developed areas—ignoring the San Gabriel mountains, for instance.

    Tom, Congratulations, you are zero for three:

    Tesla’s fallen far more than other tech stocks, they are cutting their car prices due to weak demand.

    Musk is a great entrepreneur, but his tweets have the emotional maturity of an 8th grader. You can’t blame that on “the democrats”

    Musk is famous for kowtowing to the CCP, you think he wouldn’t do so to Modi?

    I hope he makes Twitter freer, but I’m not holding my breath.

  15. Gravatar of Tom M Tom M
    30. January 2023 at 12:25

    Tesla 1 Yr – (-45.6%)
    Amazon 1 Yr – (-32.48%)
    Facebook 1 Yr- (52.78%)
    iShares 500 Growth 1 Yr – (-20.43%)

    That does not seem unreasonable, especially considering Tesla is still up 640% over a 5 year period… Also that misses the point, the company’s car sales are secondary to the data collecting/AI/self automation tech. Also, their sales continue to explode, just not at the pace they had targeted.

    I do blame many of his tweets on the people he targets. Say stupid things, expect to be made fun of, especially as an elected official… If you don’t say something stupid, or evil, you won’t get targeted.

    I would have assumed you would be championing Musk’s statements/views on China?

  16. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    30. January 2023 at 12:48

    Tom, If you wish to be a troll, at least try to develop a sense of humor. And I don’t mean Elon Musk style “humor”.

  17. Gravatar of Alexander Turok Alexander Turok
    31. January 2023 at 17:09

    “Florida last year passed the Stop WOKE Act, which attempts to censor how schools and even private businesses teach about race, prohibiting the inclusion of the various ideas connected to Critical Race Theory. The law is being challenged by multiple parties in court as an unconstitutional abridgment of the First Amendment. It’s not going well for Florida. An injunction has halted enforcement of the business component of the law. Another injunction has halted enforcement of the law against college professors, with one federal judge describing the law as “positively dystopian.””

    What it actually does is prevent employers from forcing their workers to listen to CRT. Anyone who wants to has the right to.

    Of course, some libertarians think a business should be able to hire and fire whoever they want for any reason. The writers at reason.com are not one of them, after having argued for years in favor of anti-discrimination law.

  18. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    1. February 2023 at 11:11

    Alexander, It still violates the First Amendment. Businesses can obviously have some sort of mandatory training programs. Censoring the political content of those programs is not constitutional. BTW, I despise those woke training programs.

  19. Gravatar of Lawrence D’Anna Lawrence D'Anna
    1. February 2023 at 12:54

    Uh, in the 1920s the KKK was the left.

    The KKK was created after the civil war to be the terrorist wing of the Democratic party. They were basically the IRA to the Democrat’s Sinn Fein. They were still left wing in the 20s, so of course they were progressives. Everyone on the left was a progressive in the 20s and a lot on the right were too. The KKK and white racists in general didn’t switch to being right wing until later.

  20. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    1. February 2023 at 14:59

    Lawrence, Unfortunately, you have no idea what the term “left” means. It doesn’t mean “Southern Democrat in 1920”.

  21. Gravatar of Lawrence D’Anna Lawrence D'Anna
    1. February 2023 at 17:04

    I don’t know what you think “left” means, but I’ll tell you what I think it means.

    In representative democracies, politics has a weird tendency to line up along a single dimension. You can construct a single parameter that is highly predictive of all an individuals political opinions. We are so used to this that we don’t notice how weird it is, but it is weird that you can predict a person’s opinion on abortion based on their opinion on tax rates. We call one side of this spectrum “left” and the other side “right”.

    In the United States “left” is the side associated with the Democratic party, socialism, and progressivism.

    The term “left” originates from the French revolution, where the republicans in the national assembly would sit on the left side of the hall and the royalists would sit on the right.

    These two political coalitions are always shifting over time, and over a long time they can become unrecognizable. But at any particular point in time political participants tend to think they have a coherent set of beliefs, not that they’re members of arbitrary dependent coalitions.

    Things get complicated when you compare the US to Europe.

    In the US, there was a discontinuity when the second party system collapsed in the 1850s. the Whig party collapsed, the Republican party replaced it, and the slavery question became the defining issue for both parties.

    In Europe during the 19th century there was a gradual rise of liberalism — that is rule of law, representative institutions, free markets, and individual rights. The defining issue became the “social question” — that is what to do about economic inequality. The socialists are the people who think the various liberal reforms and revolutions didn’t go nearly far enough in eliminating inequality, that free markets and individual rights are insufficient to address the problem, and various not-so-liberal things should be done instead.

    So if you look at like 1870, there are really different political spectrums on both sides of the Atlantic that can’t really be compared. In America it’s all about race and reconstruction and in Europe it’s all about markets vs socialism. I guess by European standards all Americans are wildly right wing at this time.

    But buy 1920 a few things have happened. Race has reseeded as a defining issue. The republicans gave up and let the KKK terrorists take over the south, and white Americans have pretty much accepted that a union with jim crow was going to be the permeant settlement of the civil war. There’s the rise of progressivism, which I’ll define as “scientific government by experts”, even though a lot of what they thought was science at the time was trendy nonsense like eugenics. And there was world war 1, which brought Wilsons “war socialism”, which was a prototype for the new deal. Harding ran on “return to normalcy” in 1920, which meant getting rid of war socialism now that the war was over. Black voters have started a gradual process of switching from the republican party to the democratic party.

    So even by the 1920s the left-right spectrum in the US and in Europe have started to converge, with questions of socialism, markets, regulation, taxes and such being the defining issues. It’s still pretty messy in 1920 but I think the convergence continues, socialism and progressivism continue to be central questions for a very long time.

    I guess the 2012 Romney/Ryan campaign was the apotheosis of this trend. And then Trump touched the Orb, made some kind of faustian bargain with Cthulhu and won in 2016 and I don’t even know what’s up or down anymore, yet alone left or right.

    I don’t know what does “left” mean to you?

  22. Gravatar of Maryann Maryann
    9. February 2023 at 10:38

    Okay, I totally object to this.

    Kate Winslet?
    Johnny Depp?
    Brad Pitt?

    How many amazingly hot people have English ancestry. A LOT!

    I’m Italian. The only reason Italians look better than Americans and English is because they eat healthy, dress properly, and are fit; dressing properly means appreciating tailored clothes. If you don’t know how to where a suit properly, then you will look ten times worse. It has nothing to do with facial structure.

    Johnny Depp is mega hot; he probably has the best face on the planet and he has 100% English genes.

  23. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    9. February 2023 at 15:34

    Maryann, That’s right. Even worse, you forgot to mention that I’m mostly of English descent.

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