Stephen Moore Was a Threat to Groupthink at Fed

(p. A15) The following declaration may shock many of my academic colleagues: I support the nomination of Stephen Moore to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve.

I say so despite being immersed in the “professor standard” Herman Cain recently decried. I received my doctorate in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and did postdoctoral work at Harvard, was a professor of business economics at the University of Chicago, and for the past 43 years have taught finance at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.

The truth is that “professor standards” change. Early models of gross domestic product emphasized John Maynard Keynes’s model of aggregate demand—the amount of goods consumers and businesses’ desire to buy—as the source of national prosperity. Today, the vast majority of economists recognize that it is the supply side—increases in productivity driven by technological innovation—that creates long-term economic growth.

. . .

I’ve been supportive of Fed policy since the financial crisis. But any organization, even a great one, can easily fall victim to groupthink.

. . .

Mr. Moore’s appointment will not itself revolutionize policy-making at the Fed. He will be only one of 12 voting members of the Federal Open Market Committee who, along with seven regional Fed presidents, deliberate on monetary policy. But his presence would serve to remind Fed governors that there are many ways to interpret economic data. The hallowed corridors of our central bank deserve a breath of fresh air.

For the full commentary, see:

Jeremy J. Siegel. “A Professor For Stephen Moore; I don’t always agree with him, but he’d help solve the Federal Reserve’s groupthink problem.” The Wall Street Journal (Monday, April 29, 2019): A15.

(Note: ellipses added.)

(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date April 28, 2019, and has the same title as the print version.)

New Opiod Regulations Make Life Harder for Those in Severe Pain

(p. C4) There’s a great deal in “Dopesick” that’s incredibly bleak, but the most chilling moment for me was a quote from one of Macy’s journalist friends. Synthetic opioids had allowed this woman, despite a severe curvature of her spine, to lead an active life without risky surgery. She resented new rules that made it more onerous for her to get the pills. “My life,” she told Macy, “is not less important than that of an addict.”

For the full review, see:

Jennifer Szalai. “BOOKS OF THE TIMES; A Ground-Level Look At the Opioid Epidemic.” The New York Times (Thursday, July 26, 2018): C1 & C4.
(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the review has the date July 25, 2018, and has the title “BOOKS OF THE TIMES; ‘Dopesick’ Traces the Opioid Crisis, From Beginning to Blow Up.”)

The book under review, is:

Macy, Beth. Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company That Addicted America. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2018.

With Tariffs, What Goes Around Comes Around

(p. A1) CLYDE, Ohio—After the Trump administration announced new tariffs on imported washing machines in January, Marc Bitzer, the chief executive of Whirlpool Corp., celebrated his win over South Korean competitors LG Electronics Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.

“This is, without any doubt, a positive catalyst for Whirlpool,” he said on an investor conference call.

Nearly six months later, the company’s share price is down 15%. One factor is a separate set of tariffs on steel and aluminum, imposed by the U.S. in March and later expanded, that helped drive up Whirlpool’s raw-materials costs. Net income, even with the added benefit of a lower tax bill, was down $64 million in the first quarter compared with a year earlier.

. . .

(p. A10) Whirlpool had campaigned for protection from what it called unfair foreign competition. Things became more complicated as the trade conflict spread beyond its industry.

“Raw-material costs have risen substantially,” Mr. Bitzer said on the April investor call, primarily blaming steel and aluminum tariffs. Most of the 200-pound weight of a washing machine is in its steel and aluminum parts.

For the full story, see:

Andrew Tangel and Josh Zumbrun. “From Washer Tariffs to Trade Showdown.” The New York Times (Tuesday, July 17, 2018): A1 & A10.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the story has the date July 16, 2018, and has the title “Whirlpool Wanted Washer Tariffs. It Wasn’t Ready for a Trade Showdown.”)

Obamacare Architect Ezekiel Emanuel “Will Be Satisfied” with 75 Years

(p. A13) Ezekiel Emanuel, a 61-year-old oncologist, bioethicist and vice provost at the University of Pennsylvania, says he will be satisfied to reach 75. By then, he believes, he will have made his most important contributions, seen his kids grown, and his grandkids born. After his 75th birthday, he won’t get flu shots, take antibiotics, get screened for cancer or undergo stress tests. If he lives longer, that’s fine, he says. He just won’t take extra medical steps to prolong life.

“People want to live to 100 but your horizon of what life is becomes much, much narrower,” he says.

For the full story, see:

Clare Ansberry. “TURNING POINTS; The Advantages—and Limitations—of Living to 100.” The New York Times (Tuesday, May 21, 2019): A13.

(Note: the online version of the story has the date May 20, 2019, and has the same title as the print version.)

Leapfrogged Technologies, with a Few Traits Some Value, Often Persist in Small Numbers

(p. A1) Magnus Jern was sitting around with some programmers at Google headquarters when he remembered he needed to answer an email. But when he pulled out his phone and started tapping, the room grew silent.

“What is that?” one woman asked.

The reaction was no surprise to Mr. Jern, part of a die-hard band devoted to a device that was once a status symbol, then was ubiquitous, and now is almost an endangered species: the BlackBerry. Continue reading “Leapfrogged Technologies, with a Few Traits Some Value, Often Persist in Small Numbers”

Sulston Earned Nobel, Not by “Bold Theories,” But by “Gathering Data for the Sake of Seeing the Whole Picture”

(p. A9) The nematode worm known as C. elegans is only a millimeter long and leads what appears to be a fairly dull existence. It eats bacteria, wriggles around and reaches adulthood in three days. “It consists basically of two tubes, one inside the other,” the English biologist John Sulston wrote in a memoir.

Although some colleagues thought he was wasting time, Dr. Sulston for years spent up to eight hours a day peering through microscopes at these worms. His findings on the genetics of worms won him a Nobel Prize for physiology in 2002.

. . .

His work didn’t involve “bold theories or sudden leaps of understanding,” he wrote in a 2002 memoir, “The Common Thread.” Instead, he saw his role as “gathering data for the sake of seeing the whole picture.”

For the full obituary, see:

James R. Hagerty. “Exhaustive Study of a Worm Ended in Nobel Prize.” The New York Times (Saturday, March 17, 2018): A9.

(Note: ellipsis added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date March 16, 2018, and has the title “Sulston’s Work on Lowly Worm Led to Major Role in Mapping Human Genome.”)

Sulston’s 2002 memoir, mentioned above, is:

Sulston, John, and Georgina Ferry. The Common Thread: A Story of Science, Politics, Ethics and the Human Genome. Washington, DC: Joseph Henry Press, 2002.

Ruth Gates Helped Create Strains of Coral Resilient to Acid and Heat

(p. B12) Ruth Gates, a renowned marine biologist who made it her life’s work to save the world’s fragile coral reefs from the deadening effects of warming water temperatures, died on Oct. 25 [2018] in Kailua, Hawaii.

. . .

Dr. Gates was one of the leading scientists trying to protect coral from such a fate. As director of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, which is part of the University of Hawaii at Manoa, she was developing a “super coral” that could be bred to be more resilient to the heat and acidity assaulting the marine environment.

. . .

In 2013, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation offered $10,000 for the most promising proposal to mitigate problems caused by an increasingly acidic ocean. Dr. Gates and Madeleine van Oppen, of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, won the challenge with their plan to develop highly resilient coral strains, much the way farmers breed stronger crops.

The foundation subsequently awarded them a five-year, $4 million grant, with the longer-term goal of creating a stock of tough coral strains that could replace dying coral reefs around the world.

For the full obituary, see:

Katharine Q. Seelye. “Ruth Gates, a Champion of Coral Reefs in a Time of Their Decline, Dies at 56.” The New York Times (Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018): B12.

(Note: ellipses, and bracketed year, added.)

(Note: the online version of the obituary has the date Nov. 5, 2018, and has the title “Ruth Gates, Who Made Saving Coral Reefs Her Mission, Is Dead at 56.”)