January 16, 2017

How Englishness Developed



(p. C12) . . . , "The English and Their History" by Robert Tombs, takes the reader through the entirety of English history--from the Angles and Saxons to the present day. Remarkably, Mr. Tombs limns over a millennia of history without putting you to sleep. And lurking throughout is a fascinating and timely concept: how Englishness as an identity developed through the centuries.


For Vance's full book recommendations, see:

J.D. Vance. "12 Months of Reading." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., December 10, 2016): C12.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date Dec. 7, 2016, and has the title "J.D. Vance on an epic history of England.")


The book recommended, is:

Tombs, Robert. The English and Their History. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.






January 15, 2017

Better Policies Can Turn Stagnation into Growth



(p. A19) . . . , now ought to be the time that policy makers in Washington come together to tackle America's greatest economic problem: sclerotic growth. The recession ended more than seven years ago. Unemployment has returned to normal levels. Yet gross domestic product is rising at half its postwar average rate. Achieving better growth is possible, but it will require deep structural reforms.

The policy worthies have said for eight years: stimulus today, structural reform tomorrow. Now it's tomorrow, but novel excuses for stimulus keep coming. "Secular stagnation" or "hysteresis" account for slow growth. Prosperity demands more borrowing and spending--even on bridges to nowhere--or deliberate inflation or negative interest rates. Others advocate surrender. More growth is impossible. Accept and manage mediocrity.

But for those willing to recognize the simple lessons of history, slow growth is not hard to diagnose or to cure. The U.S. economy suffers from complex, arbitrary and politicized regulation. The ridiculous tax system and badly structured social programs discourage work and investment. Even internet giants are now running to Washington for regulatory favors.


. . .


So why is there so little talk of serious growth-oriented policy? Regulated and protected industries and unions, and the politicians who extract support from them in return for favors, will lose enormously. The global policy elite, steeped in Keynesian demand management for the economy as a whole, and microregulation of individual businesses, are intellectually unprepared for the hard project of "structural reform"--fixing the entire economy by cleaning up the thousands of little messes. Even economists fight to protect outdated skills.



For the full commentary, see:

JOHN H. COCHRANE. "Don't Believe the Economic Pessimists; Memo to Clinton and Trump: The U.S. economy can and will grow faster with the right policies." The Wall Street Journal (Mon., Nov. 7, 2016): A19.

(Note: ellipses added.)






January 14, 2017

E.U. Regulations Protect Paris Rats



(p. A4) PARIS -- On chilly winter mornings, most Parisians hurry by the now-locked square that is home to the beautiful medieval Tour St. Jacques. Only occasionally do they pause, perhaps hearing a light rustle on the fallen leaves or glimpsing something scampering among the dark green foliage.

A bird? A cat? A puppy?

No. A rat.

No. Three rats.

No. Look closer: Ten or 12 rats with lustrous gray-brown coats are shuffling among the dried autumn leaves.

Paris is facing its worst rat crisis in decades. Nine parks and green spaces have been closed either partly or entirely


. . .


In the 19th century, rats terrified and disgusted Parisians who knew that five centuries earlier, the creatures had brought the bubonic plague across the Mediterranean.

The plague ravaged the city, as it did much of Europe, killing an estimated 100,000 Parisians, between a third and half the population at the time. It recurred periodically for four more centuries. Not surprisingly, the experience left Paris with a millennium-long aversion to rodents.


. . .


. . . why are they proliferating? Could it be everybody's favorite scapegoat -- the European Union and its faceless, unaccountable bureaucrats?

Yes, it could.

New regulations from Brussels, the European Union's headquarters, have forced countries to change how they use rat poison, said Dr. Jean-Michel Michaux, a veterinarian and head of the Urban Animals Scientific and (p. A14) Technical Institute in Paris.


. . .


While the poison could be a risk to human beings, so are the rats -- potentially, although no one is suggesting that the bubonic plague is likely to return.



For the full story, see:


ALISSA J. RUBIN. "PARIS JOURNAL; The Rats Came Back. Blame the E,U." The New York Times (Fri., DEC. 16, 2016): A4 & A14.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date DEC. 15, 2016, and has the title "PARIS JOURNAL; Rodents Run Wild in Paris. Blame the European Union.")






January 13, 2017

Government Permission to Build Takes Longer than It Takes to Build



(p. A21) America used to be the envy of the world in building great projects responsibly, efficiently and on time. The Pentagon was built in 16 months. The 1,500-mile Alaska-Canadian Highway, which passes through some of the world's most rugged terrain, took about eight months. Today, infrastructure projects across America often require several years simply to get through the federal government's pre-build permitting process. Consider a few examples.

New U.S. highway construction projects usually take between nine and 19 years from initial planning and permitting to completion of construction, according to a 2002 Government Accountability Office study. It will have taken 14 years to permit an expansion of Gross Reservoir in Colorado, and it took almost 20 years to permit the Kensington gold mine in Alaska.

It took four years to construct a new runway at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, but it took 15 years to get the permits. Todd Hauptli of the American Association of Airport Executives bitterly joked to the Senate Commerce Committee last year, "It took longer to build that runway than the Great Pyramids of Egypt."

These problems have been building for decades as the U.S. regulatory state has grown.



For the full commentary, see:

DAN SULLIVAN. "How to Put Building Permits on a Fast Track; It can take 15 years to win approval for a new airport runway. No wonder U.S. infrastructure needs a lift." The Wall Street Journal (Mon., Dec. 5, 2016): A21.

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Dec. 4, 2016.)






January 12, 2017

Greenspan "Implemented a Successful Rule-Based Monetary Policy"



(p. C12) Effective public policy requires getting good ideas and putting them into practice. There is no better account of the world where economic ideas emerge as economic policy than Sebastian Mallaby's thoroughly researched (there are 1,625 endnotes) "The Man Who Knew," which takes up Alan Greenspan's long career. Mr. Greenspan knew the ideas, Mr. Mallaby first argues, and then tells story after story of how the economist worked them into policy in Washington. Mr. Greenspan approved President Ford's questionable stimulus package in order to implement ideas on spending control; he skillfully drove reform ideas as chair of the Social Security commission; he implemented a successful rule-based monetary policy at the Fed with careful data analysis for many years, but ran into difficulties when the data gave mixed messages toward the end of his term.


For Taylor's full book recommendations, see:

John Taylor. "12 Months of Reading." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., December 10, 2016): C12.

(Note: the online version of the review has the date Dec. 7, 2016, and has the title "John Taylor on Alan Greenspan.")


The book recommended, is:

Mallaby, Sebastian. The Man Who Knew: The Life and Times of Alan Greenspan. New York: Penguin Press, 2016.






January 11, 2017

$19 Billion in Farm Subsidies Mostly Go to Big Farms



(p. A17) President-elect Donald Trump's vow to "drain the swamp" in Washington could begin with the Agriculture Department. Federal aid to farmers is forecast by the Congressional Budget Office to soar to $19 billion in 2017. Farmers will receive twice as much of their income from handouts (25%) this year as they did in 2013, according to the USDA. Whoever Mr. Trump names as his agriculture secretary should target wasteful farm programs for spending cuts.


. . .


While generous government subsidies are defended by invoking the "family farmer," big farmers snare the vast majority of federal handouts. According to a report released this year by the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based nonprofit research organization, "the top 1 percent of farm subsidy recipients received 26 percent of subsidy payments between 1995 and 2014." The group's analysis of government farm-subsidy data also found that the "top 20 percent of subsidy recipients received 91 percent of all subsidy payments." Fifty members of the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans have received farm subsidies, according to the group, including David Rockefeller Sr. and Charles Schwab.



For the full commentary, see:

JAMES BOVARD. "Living Off the Fat of Washington; If Trump is going to 'drain the swamp,' he might start with wasteful ag subsidies." The Wall Street Journal (Mon., Dec. 12, 2016): A17.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Dec. 11, 2016.)






January 10, 2017

Business Cycles Can Be Moderated



LongEconomicExpansionsGraph2016-12-05.pngSource of graph: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.



(p. B2) It's tempting to think of an economic expansion as being like a life span. The older you get, the closer you are to death; a 95-year-old probably has fewer years left to live than a 60-year-old. But this year Glenn D. Rudebusch, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, looked at the evidence from post-World War II United States economic expansions, and did not find that pattern held up at all.

"A long recovery appears no more likely to end than a short one," Mr. Rudebusch wrote. "Like Peter Pan, recoveries appear to never grow old."

Expansions don't die of old age. They die because something specific killed them. It can be a wrong-footed central bank, the popping of a financial bubble or a shock from overseas. But age itself isn't the problem.

A look around the world also shows plenty of examples of expansions that have lasted a lot longer than either the seven years the current United States expansion has been underway or the longest expansion in American history, from 1991 to 2001.

Britain had a nearly 17-year expansion from the early 1990s until the 2008 global financial crisis. France had a slightly longer expansion that ended in 1992. And the record-holders among advanced economies in modern times, according to the research firm Longview Economics, are the Netherlands, which experienced a nearly 26-year "Dutch miracle" that ended in 2008, and Australia, which has an expansion that began in 1991 and is on track to overtake the Dutch soon for the longest on record.



For the full story, see:

NEIL IRWIN. "Expansion Is Old, Not at Death's Door." The New York Times (Fri., OCT. 28, 2016): B1 & B2.

(Note: the online version of the article has the date Oct. 27, 2016, and has the title "Will the Next President Face a Recession? Don't Assume So.")


Rudebusch's research, mentioned above, appeared in:

Rudebusch, Glenn D. "Will the Economic Recovery Die of Old Age?" FRBSF Economic Letter # 2016-03 (Feb. 8, 2016): 1-4.







January 9, 2017

Unbinding Entrepreneurs Can Create Jobs and Speed Growth



(p. A21) This week more than 160 countries are celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week. The Kauffman Foundation, which I once led, created this event eight years ago to encourage other nations to follow the American tradition of bottom-up economic success. Yet this example has been less powerful in recent years, as American entrepreneurship has waned. Fortunately, President-elect Donald Trump has plenty of options if he wants to resurrect America's startup economy.

Consider the economic situation that the president-elect is inheriting. Despite the addition of 161,000 jobs in October, the labor-force participation rate fell to its second lowest level in nearly 40 years, according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve. More people have joined the ranks of the chronically unemployed, slipping into poverty at alarming rates as their skills decay and dependency on public assistance grows. Considering population growth, America needs at least 325,000 new jobs every month to stanch the growing numbers of discouraged workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Merely bringing back factories from overseas will not solve this problem. Technology has made every factory more productive. Fewer workers make more goods no matter where they're located. At the same time, fewer U.S. businesses are being started. New firms are the country's principal generator of new jobs. Data from the Kauffman Foundation suggest companies less than five years old create more than 80% of new jobs every year. While the nation seems more enthusiastic than ever about the promise of entrepreneurship, fewer than 500,000 new businesses were started in 2015. That is a disastrous 30% decline from 2008.


. . .


What can President Trump do to encourage more entrepreneurship?


. . .


Government must . . . widen the scope of innovation by stepping back and letting the market find the future. By promoting trendy ideas and subsidizing politically favored companies, government dampens diversity in creative business ideas.


. . .


Mr. Trump can also reverse regulatory sprawl and cut government-imposed requirements that add to every entrepreneurs' costs and risks. Anti-growth policies like ObamaCare and minimum-wage increases make hiring workers prohibitively expensive.


. . .


With these policies in mind, President Trump should set another goal: that his administration will create an environment that enables one million Americans to start companies every year. Such an outcome would assure his target of 4% GDP growth, as well as full employment.



For the full commentary, see:

CARL J. SCHRAMM. "The Entrepreneurial Way to 4% Growth; Trump should set a goal: fix the business climate so a million Americans a year can start companies." The Wall Street Journal (Weds., Nov. 16, 2016): A21.






January 8, 2017

Jane Jacobs Studied the "Mess of Everyday Life"



(p. C6) The decidedly unpredictable and unscientific mess of everyday life was the passion of the urban theorist Jane Jacobs. For her, studying the street and the city was the key to understanding how things work. Robert Kanigel's "Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs" has taken a place on my bookshelf right next to Robert Caro's landmark biography of her nemesis, Robert Moses.


For Bierut's full book recommendations, see:

Michael Bierut. "12 Months of Reading." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., December 10, 2016): C6.

(Note: the online version of the review has the date Dec. 7, 2016, and has the title "Michael Bierut on Jane Jacobs.")


The book recommended, is:

Kanigel, Robert. Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.






January 7, 2017

Not All Secure Jobs Are Good Jobs



(p. C8) The village idiot of the shtetl of Frampol was given the job of waiting at the village gates for the arrival of the Messiah. The pay wasn't great, he was told, but the work was steady.


For Epstein's book recommendations, see:

Joseph Epstein. "12 Months of Reading." The Wall Street Journal (Sat., December 10, 2016): C8.

(Note: the online version of the review has the date Dec. 7, 2016, and has the title "Books of The Times; Review: 'A Truck Full of Money' and a Thirst to Put It to Good Use.")










Eight Most Recent Comments:



Ed Rector said:

There are more than 2000 colleges in the USA offering tens of thousands of degrees/majors. Oh yes, there are also a few thousand JC's, trade schools and apprentice programs that train welders. Who should decide what any individual student wants to study?? Senator Rubio, the Mercatus Center or the individual student?? And you call yourselves 'freedom-loving Libertarians' !!



Aaron said:

You need a "like" button. Here's to enjoying bacon and eggs on an unusually warm fall day and doing so guilt free.



Aaron said:

I'd also suggest that work is just part of who some people are and a reason they got rich. A friend's dad comes to mind; he's a millionaire and in his 60s and a couple years ago I saw him cleaning one of his rental houses and wondered why he didn't pay someone to do it, but he's just one of those guys who'd rather work than golf or relax.



Jim Rose said:

It is often forgotten that the Minister for International trade and industry in the late 1960s up until 1971 was Tanaka – the most corrupt man in postwar Japanese politics. He had previously been Minister for Public Works, but to generate the necessary bribe income to pay an entire generation of Japanese politicians to step aside to allow him to become Prime Minister in the early 1970s at a young age, he thought the Ministry of International trade and industry was a better position to garner influence and donations. My professors in Japan worked in the Ministry of International trade and industry and the Ministry of Finance in the 1970s and 1960s. None of them seemed to carry over their picking winners skills into their private portfolios when they retired. see http://utopiayouarestandinginit.com/2014/03/14/if-you-are-so-smart-why-arent-you-rich/



Aaron said:

Interested to see how not only did Hamilton gain a vote, but also how Jefferson lost one.



Dave Megan said:

Merging of companies is always better when they have a better goal. It will give better service for the public.



Ed Rector said:

The 'quickened pace of production' of the early Reagan years was directly attributable to RR's massive deficit spending. The national debt almost tripled under the watch of St. Ronnie. BO will have to work overtime to even approach this record of accomplishment.



Aaron said:

The last two paragraphs comport perfectly with what Paul Tough describes in a book you posted on a few months ago, "How Children Succeed." Tough advocates that a stable, loving relationship between kids and their parents, especially in the first few years of life, produces self-assured and less anxious adults due to brain formation or chemical reactions that take place in a baby's brain (simplified summary). As always, appreciate the posts, especially the Paul Tough book.





HP3D5006CropSmall.jpg






Archives















The StatCounter number above reports the number of "page loads" since the counter was installed late on 2/26/08. Page loads are defined on the site as "The number of times your page has been visited."


View My Stats