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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Plague of Males and Pest Control

Recently I have been thinking of possible and possibly engineered plagues of males. A disrupted sex ratio can, in principle, drive a species extinct. Consider an abnormal genome which causes a male to produce only male sperm. This could, in principle spread through a population causing a shortage of females and reduced fitness. The key point is that males are healthy (well some are) but that the number of females typically limits total reproduction.

see update.

My thoughts started with mosquitoes -- in particular Anopheles G, the malarial mosquito. There are 3 key aspects of my almost limitless ignorance. First can mosquitoes be manipulated genetically (yes they are getting there). Second how is mosquito sex determined ? There appears to be a gene whose dominant allele causes maleness (good)

A. aegypti and other culicine mosquitoes lack heteromorphic sex chromosomes [106]. Instead, sex is controlled by an autosomal locus wherein the male-determining allele, M, is dominant.

Finally, it is key to find a mostquito transposon -- this is a DNA sequence which makes copies of itself. They are useful as a means of getting engineered DNA into chromosomes and act as extremely benign viruses spreading without hurting their hosts. I asked Google and found a paper published last year

A synthetic homing endonuclease-based gene drive system in the human malaria mosquito

Nikolai Windbichler, Miriam Menichelli, Philippos Aris Papathanos, Summer B. Thyme, Hui Li, Umut Y. Ulge, Blake T. Hovde, David Baker, Raymond J. Monnat, Austin Burt & Andrea Crisanti
AffiliationsContributionsCorresponding author
Nature 473, 212–215 (12 May 2011) doi:10.1038/nature09937
Received 28 September 2010 Accepted 16 February 2011 Published online 20 April 2011

Windbichler et al are interested in using their selfish gene to spread Malaria resistance in a population. I think it could also be used to spread maleness (I don't really know that the M allele has been closed) driving the species extinct. The advantage of this approach is that sex is species specific, so environmental disruption is limited and competing species are not handicapped.

Their abstract

Genetic methods of manipulating or eradicating disease vector populations have long been discussed as an attractive alternative to existing control measures because of their potential advantages in terms of effectiveness and species specificity1, 2, 3. The development of genetically engineered malaria-resistant mosquitoes has shown, as a proof of principle, the possibility of targeting the mosquito’s ability to serve as a disease vector4, 5, 6, 7. The translation of these achievements into control measures requires an effective technology to spread a genetic modification from laboratory mosquitoes to field populations8. We have suggested previously that homing endonuclease genes (HEGs), a class of simple selfish genetic elements, could be exploited for this purpose9. Here we demonstrate that a synthetic genetic element, consisting of mosquito regulatory regions10 and the homing endonuclease gene I-SceI11, 12, 13, can substantially increase its transmission to the progeny in transgenic mosquitoes of the human malaria vector Anopheles gambiae. We show that the I-SceI element is able to invade receptive mosquito cage populations rapidly, validating mathematical models for the transmission dynamics of HEGs. Molecular analyses confirm that expression of I-SceI in the male germline induces high rates of site-specific chromosomal cleavage and gene conversion, which results in the gain of the I-SceI gene, and underlies the observed genetic drive. These findings demonstrate a new mechanism by which genetic control measures can be implemented. Our results also show in principle how sequence-specific genetic drive elements like HEGs could be used to take the step from the genetic engineering of individuals to the genetic engineering of populations.

Less practically, male plagues have surely occurred. The only way to escape is to speciate -- females who don't mate with the infectiously male males do fine. This means that male plagues might tend to eliminate most of a species leaving a few small isolated populations. This might have promoted speciation for all I know.

update: My mistake. I didn't understand "culicine" anopheles g (the Malaria mosquito) is not culicine and has X and Y chromasomes as we do

Friday, May 25, 2012

2 questions for Steve Benen

1. Why won't www, accept post my comments ? No error message. No response at all when I click the post comment button.

2. I can't doubt that you have tried to communicate with Glenn Kessler and the Politifact team. I don't see how they can argue that they are doing their jobs as they define them after reading these posts. Kessler even averaged ratings and found Romney had about the same average as Obama. Politifact, in contrast rates a much larger fraction of Romney's claims as pants on fire (I think a key difference is that they pants multiple times if a lie is repeated as Romney's tend to be). But, as far as I can tell neither comes close to a fair assessment of Romney's honesty (the interesting question seems to me to be who lied more Romnwy or Nixon -- interesting even though it is clearly that, so far, Romney is lying at a much higher rate).

I guess you talk to them off the record or something and can't repeat what they say, but I just can't imagine it.

Sleeping Sickness Vaccine Strategy

Sleeping sickness is caused by a trypanosome (not a bacterium so ordinary antibiotics don't work). It kills people, is principally reproduces in cattle. Long ago, I had a thought about anti sleeping sickness vaccine strategy. Now I am thinking of trying the very experimental approach in cattle -- experiments with cattle are not regulated as tightly as experiments with humans must be.

A key feature of the sleeping sickness trypanosome is that the major surface protein switches among roughly 10 types. This is a trick to evade the host's immune system. The trypanosome must have other surface proteins which can't be changed to serve as ion pores etc. I think a vaccine made of killed trypanosomes is not effective, because the immune response is directed at the changing major antigen. I also guess that the other unchanging proteins induce antibodies.

The plan would be to immunise with whole trypanosomes, clone the resulting IgG genes in an M13 phage display library and screen for antibodies which bind to trypanosomes with different major coat proteins. Then use those antibodies to screen for (or select even) the genes which make the constant proteins (or constant epitopes on the major coat protein). Then make those target proteins highly antigenic.

Huh ? how ? with bovine anti-CD40. Does it exist ? Ask the google. Yes it does. Also there is a mouse model of the bovine immune system (using SCID mice). It is possible to begin to evaluate vaccines designed to protect cattle from sleeping sickness without letting cattle into the lab (bull in a china shop indeed).

Anti CD40 as an adjuvant (means something you add to a vaccine to make it work better) is a topic of great interest and slow progress, because human vaccines are to be given to healthy people so research is especially ultra tightly regulated (as it must be). So others have thought already that the thing to do is to work with antibodies to other animals' CD40. It's happening. I think it is very promising. But what do I know ?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Did Samuelson and Solow claim that the Phillips Curve was a structural relationship showing a permanent tradeoff between inflation and unemployment ?

Is the received intellectual history and justification for the modern approach to macroeconomic theory based entirely on a deliberate misreading of the legend of a figure ?

Mark Thoma alert. Please click here to find out.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A link to a FRED graph of average Michigan survey forecast over next 12 months and of CPI and CPI core inflation over the past 12. Looks as if survey participants don't believe petroleum prices will continue to decline after a decline and, aside from that, the average forecast looks a lot like lagged CPI inflation (definitely not core). Not ograph but this wasn't true back in 1980-1 when inflation very high and average forecast lower (they actually did OK back then, we've gotten dumber).

See it looks a lot as if athe average Michigan survey forecast is the greater of lagged CPI inflation and lagged CPI core inflation. There is an anomalous very low average forecast right at the recession trough in 2001 and recent forecasts have been higher tha either lagged inflation rate.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The CBS/NY Times pollster reinterviewed (most of) the people interviewed in a poll in April. This time the poll shows a shocking non Rasnussen Romney lead of 3% not a boring tie. No evidence of an actual shift in one single person's actual opinion was presented at the CBS web page (unless I missed it).

I read the CBS write up of the poll including the click for full reasults) and didn't find the key datum - which candidate did the May respondents support in April. The re-interview appears to show a very smallmshift to Romnay from tied in the fist interview in April to up 3% now (already so tiny that the news is "almost no news here). But the May sample is, of course, smaller than the original April sample, as some April respondents could't be contacted and some who were contacted refused to participate a second time. It should be very easy to look at what those who participated again in May said in April. Is the shift to Romney ispite of more attrtion of Romney supporters ? Partly due to more attrition of Obama supporters ? More than all due to greater attrition of Obama supporters ? I sure would like to know (although 3% is still just 3% -- the April sample was clearly unusually good for Romney).

I might have missed the number I want in the write up, of course.

My guess is that the number of people who say they changed there mind is tiny and the shift of 3% is almost exactly all due to not 100% successful resampling (that is panel attrition). This is embarrassing to pollsters for at least one of two reasons. First if responses correspond to actual voting, it suggests that there is little news in new polls (rather for normal polls new noise froindependent sampling). This would suggest an avrage of recent polls is better than the latest poll, as it is. Not good that the news is just anoher number to average. But the alternative is much worse. Few people saying they change their mind is a typical pattern called anchoring. If responses are not like the actual voting of the huge majority which is not polled, then pollsters are in deep trouble. If the interaction of respondent and canvasser matters ( as it does) polls can be completely misleading. A low number of reported revisions of intentions would draw attention to two big problems for pollsters and show that at least one is very big. I am suspicious enough to suspect that the omission of the key info (again if I didn't miss it) is related to pollster self interest.

Friday, May 11, 2012

My nth QE2 rant provoked by Roger Farmer

I have a partito preso (publicly stated position) so caveat lector, but on figure 1 vertical line for I say humbug. The Jackson hole conference is the earliest possible date for QE2, but the figure shows it is about two months after the S&P 500 turned up. This is not how event studies are done. One might look at the hour when Bernanke made his speech, or the day or evem the week, but the idea that asset prices are sticky, so what's a couple of months is nonsense.

The link is out of place as iPaste with an iPad

Also, as you argue above, the general equilibrium effect of monetary loosening shouldn't outweigh the direct effect. QE2 was purchases of 7 year Treasury notes whose price went down. This is what one would expect if something else caused higher forecast growth.

Note, I am not talking about QE1. My objection is to the assumption that RMBS and 7 year Treasuries are exactly the same things, so one can evaluate the effect of purchasing that thing. I think it is fully fair to say that almost everyone who writes about QEn bases their analysis on this maintained assumption. Joe Gagnon (who is a person of some importance in the literature) advocates more purchases of RMBS. The idea is (and always has been) for the Fed to remove risky assets from the market, so the point is low quality as well as high quantity. Ignoring the difference between RMBS and Treasury notes weakens the case and makes it easier for Fed conservatives to obtain a compromise in which QE3 (or 4 counting Twist) is allowed only so long as it is as close as possible to a worthless open market exchange of almost identical assets.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Finally I understand. Mitt Romney is seeking the most implausible lie. Even in his party he is going up against Nixon, but he won't be denied.

He just claimed that back in the 60s in an all boys boarding school, who is gay was the last thought on everyone's mind. OK I admit I went to high school in the 70s but "who is gay? " was a close second to might I maybe somehow possibly get laid ?

I think Willard has reached a new personal best in the obvious lie department, but I sure he will keep striving and surpass himself.
How do economists know that the effects of demand fluctuations on output are temporary ?


Update: a link a veritable link

That is

By the way have I ever mentioned that I hate captcha. I found the comment box as clearly labeled in Japanese (without using goigle translate) but, on my first try, I mistook a v for a V in the captcha and had to coment again (without reading the captcha erroe message in Japanese so I wasn't sure I wasn't double commenting)

My use of "know" is ironic. I don't believe in knowledge and I especially believe that macroeconomists such as myself don't know jack shit (sorry abstract away from jack shit). What I mean is that standard advice to monetary authorities is based on the assumption that, in the long run, monetary policy only affects inflation, so the best rule is an inflation target. Also it is agreed that DSGE models are important and useful and macro DSGE models eal with fluctuations around an exogenous balanced growth path. I we don't have good reason to assume the effects of demand shocks are temporary, we have wasted a lot of time.

I will attempt to give an entirely fair summary of the case that demand has temporary effects on GDP. Any suspicion that I am setting up straw men or parodying arguments should be stated in comments preferably with a cite which provides a trace of evidence. It will be news to me (unless the cited authors are co-authors of mine).

I honestly believe that the argument is
1) in the long run GDP per capita is determined by technology.
2) technological progress is exogenous and hasnothing to do with economic conditions
3) QED.

In this post, I will ignore DeLong and Summers and accept claim 1, because claim 2 is necessary for theargument and obviously nonsense.

It is not based on the belief thattechnology really comes from outside of theeconomy. Also it is not based on any economic model of technological progress. Standard models of R&D do not imply this property. Models of learning by doing sure don't imply this property.

I think theargument isthat theory tells us something very important (must be wrong theory predicts and must be tested - it doesn't answer) when theory implies no such thing.

OK why do macroeconomists make an assumption which directly implies our most important conclusions (I honestly think our only conclusion but I am trying to be more than fair) and which doesn't fit the most nearly relevant theory ?

1. The only country which counts is the USA. US GDP keeps touching thesameexponential growth path (except for the great depression and WW II). So that's theway things are. The claim that this is acoincidence implies that thepattern should not be found for any other country ever. That happens to be true, but really who knows if these alleged "other countries" exist.

2. We are the tools of our tools. We can program computers to simulate linear models and we can linearize around a steady state so there must be a unique balanced growth path which we can normalize to a steady state. (thereaderis now thinking "what a tool" and is asked not to deny itas I can rationally forecast the reader's reaction).

3. Solow assumed exogenous technological progressand he won a Ricksbank Nobel memorial prize.

I think this is it. If some economist assumes something for. Convenience and gets cited a million times, then it is a standardassumption which is better than being merely true.

We assume things, because weassumethings. Only one deviation from the standardmodel is allowed per article. Nominal rigidities *and* endogenous technology arenotallowed in the same model. Therefore monetary authoritiesought to simply target inflation.

*This post will not be up to my usual standards of intellectual humility and diplomacy, because iAm typing on an iPad. IHate typing. On an iPad but my non iComputer broke and my new one hasn't arrived.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Unfortunate Title.

As argued below, Paul Krugman' mastery of words matches his mastery of data (not he got the not really Nobel prize in economics for mastery of theoretical constructs which are neither words nor data). So it is with great schadenfreude that I note that the title of his latest post is infelice.

"A Structral Blast from the Past" is yet another article about how WW II totally blew away the arguments heis fighting. Devastated them, left them a pile of wreckage etc.

I am iTyping in a neighborhood of Rome which was bombed durin WW II (why did we bomb Rome ???). I can't hear the echo of those blasts from the past, and my dad lived in DC at the time ( my mom in Cleveland and don't dare laugh). I won't pretend to be offended, but I will note that Krugman's argument is liquidated when its specious quality is revealed (that means clarified when its scrupulously valid character is revealed - it is a challenge to translate 18 th century English into modern iEnglish).
As noted below I disagree with TWO Kevin Drum posts today. The one where my disagreement is contaminated with an actual trace of knowing relevant facts is "The War between Data and Storytelling" on Krugman vs Brooks

Here Drum says he agrees two thirds with Krugman and one third with Brooks. I object for a few reasons.

1) 2/3 is not being used as a number. Drum would not be able to explain why 2/3 not 0.6 or 3/4 as in 75% of statistics are made up on the spot. The topic is analysing data vs telling stories. I agree with Drum that both are useful, but I don't approve of telling stories with made up numbers which are not based on measurements or part of a formal mathematical system.

2) 2/3 is much too low. I see no difference between Drum and Krugman othus issue. I would be unable to decide which has more respect for data vs stories. I would feel roughly the same way about Krugmann sayin he agrees 2/3 with Drum and 1/3 with Brooks.

3) Brooks makes claims of fact. His stories are not hypothtical. The claims are not always based on examination of evidence (neither quantitative evidence or qualitative evidence). He has made false claims of fact (and not corrected the errors). One way to summarise evidence is to tell a non fictional staory (see " journalism" and " historiography). Another is to write fiction which is presented as fiction but which the writer believes illustrates reality.
(also totally unreal fiction can be great too see "Borges" by whom implausibility too can and is used to create joy and onder. Pundit and politician story telling is often neither. No names (not thinking of Brooks honest) it can be lying,but keeping the lies so vague that it can't be proven they are lies.

Krugman tells good stories. The few which are fictional are labled as such ( see "clan of the cave bull"). Presenting quantitative data and making claims which are not contradicted by the quantitative data are very different. The first is one approach but not the only one. The second is minimal honesty and due diligence and rare among opinion writers other than Drum, Krugman and such like ( list much too long for typing and too short for having much hope for humanity.

4. Oops didn't mean to run on. On the underlying issue cyclical vs structural problems Drum agrees much more than 2/3 with Krugman. He partly disagrees with the fictional straw Krugman set up by Brooks. In Drum's post "Krugman" thinks all of our problems are the current recession. In total contrast, Paul Krugman has been warning about say upward trendong inequality for about 2 decades. On importance of cyclical vs structural, I'd say Drum is roughly 100% on Krugman's side. That is, if I were asked who was more concerned about cycle vs structural I would not have a quick or easy answer. Sure Krugman is more a macroeconomist than Drum, and Krugman has a tiny trace of willingness to write more on topics where he is recignised to be an outstanding expert, but I don't have a sense of any disagreement at all.

Note weasel "roughly" to make a number not a number. Totally ignoring my fist complaint about pretend numbers, I type that Drum agrees with Krugman" somewhere between 90% and 110%. Huh ? 110% because Drum might be closer to Drum's fictional "Krugman" than the flesh and blood Krugman is. (krugman" is an equivocation of Krugman and "Krugman" the " comes after the n not before the K because I thought of this abuse of punctuation after typing and it is easier to iClick down at the ends of words).
Aside from looking at data vs telling
I disagree with two posts written in one day by Kevin Drum. I think this might ve a record. I would comment over there at except that my computer is not workin and mother Jones won't talk to my iPad.

The first post with which I disagree is "The Perils of Criricizing Black Studies" in which Drum finds to his surprise that he disagrees with the bloggers with whom he usually agrees. He thinks that Naomi Schaeffer Riley should not have been fired by the Chronicle of Higher Education for proposing that Black studies be eliminated based on her reading of the one page each synopses of three dissertations. My reaction to the firing was pleased surprise at a rare example of holding a pundit accountableb(note nothing to do with Black studies or left and right or anything). I assume that the economic consequences were neither zero nor significant for N S Riley.

Drum makes two arguments.
1 fired for a blog post ?!?
And (modified)
2 if Riley had proposed eliminating all departments of Physics or mathematics, she would not have been fired.

On 1, blogging is a medium. I assume that I won't be fired by this blog, but that's just because I was never hired (I have obtained money from advertizing). I don't know the facts and will argue in the alternative. I the blogging was paid, it is not like this blogging at all (note how my interests and Drum's track our opinions). If not, then the separation was not firing. N S Riley castill blog, but the Chronicle won't promote her posts.

On 2, Drum has slipped from ought to is. A similarly shoddy post dismissing another field whose academic existance is questioned (his examples included film
studies) would not have lead to whatever separation occurred. But the question is what * should* the Chronicle have done. Saying one must accept totally below blog standard discussion of Black studies unless and until all discussion of film studies and everything else on blogs reaches those standards is letting the best be the enemy of the good, changing the subject, benaltrismo and not at all a valid argument. I think.

Monday, May 07, 2012

In which I demonstrate that I can be very rude in comments at even when I absolutely agre with Simon Wren-Lewis's conclusions.

Bravo indeed. I think you slightly understate your case. Yes we generally assume central banks affect only inflation, but we generally assume nonsense for simplicity. For example we generally assume one price level per currency, so we generally assume that there can not be a competitiveness problem within the Euro block (or UK or US and this is always false).

I guess that central banks affect inflation via interest rates -> investment - a Phillips curve of some sort > inflation.
The only affect average inflation follows from strong assumptions certainly including the assumption that the Phillips curve of some sort is linear. It isn't in any data. I just don't see how looser monetary policy is supposed to cause Spanish inflation to accelerate. If it is very hard to get negative inflation, as you correctly write, then uniform monetary policy with uniform risk premia will have different effects on countries that are vs are not stuck on the downward extreme nominal rigitity bound.

Also what happened to Kantoos? Is it the Zeitgeist or something in the German water system ?

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Paul Krugman quotes an ignorant German

Also note that Spain liberalised its labor market lomg long before Germany did (it was under Adolfo Suarez -- remember him ? (hint he also manahed the transition to democracy). Liberalisation is just for the children as the protected jobs of the mothers and fathers are grandfathered. So in 2006 a much larger fraction of Spanish than German workers had jobs without job security. Of course by now many of them are unemployed (one effect of reducing firing costs is increased layoffs in a downturn of course).

In noted contrast, Germany used subsidized job sharing to preserve employment relationships (roughly the opposite of what Europeans mean when they say flexibility). Let them fire did indeed compete with stick together for the sake of the children. But Spain was the market oriented individualistic experiment. Germans seem only to compare Germany now and then and to know little about othrr countries (I hope the God of irony doesn't strike this US citizen dead for typing that as we are so much worse in that way).

You are stressing the important issues, but even just with regard to labor market institutions

and recent events Joffe has his facts ass backwards (as back words in the comment to sneak past the falcon Times style guide).

Saturday, May 05, 2012

On the other hand (his right hand)

Below I suggest that German's are maybe almost 1% as ignorantly insular as we statunitensi (do you know that we don't even have a non offensive word for ourselves in our own laguage (recall Reagan noted that the Russians don't even have a word for detente in their language).

To be fair, on German's reaching out, German UN ambassador* Hans Beinholtz is a comic genius.

* yes I know that the correct title German permanent representative at the UN as he represents the German people and not the government of the day.

Update: also
Thoma quotes an ignorant German. I refrain from racist insults ("Waldmann" is Austrian not German).

The line is that Germany has made it easy for firms to hire and fire (while gradfathering the job security protection for the middle class middle aged). That this explains why their economy is performing so differently from those of Spain and Italy, but it is a high price in solidarity to pay for low unemployment.


I live in Italy and I am totally unconvinced by the premise of the essay. Italy is full of contract workers (though not at the gigantic level of Spain before the crisis). The old system of employment security was strongly relaxed for new hires by the first Prodi government 1997 IIRC. Spain's still more strict restrictions on layoffs were relaxed under Suarez (you know the guy who became prime minister soon after Franco died). Again IIRC there was a time when 35% of Spanish workers were contract workers, by far the highest proportion in old Europe.

If labor market reforms caused Germany to grow, then Spain would be booming.

The problem is that German's are powerful and ignorant about what happens outside of their country (and yes for a US citizen to type that is the height of irony). They are sure that Spain ran huge deficits when it had budget surpluses and ran up a debt to GDP ratio much higher that Germany's when it was roughly half as high. Finally they recommend that Italy and Spain follow Germany by doing what Gemany did many years after they did it.

I must stop typing before I get really rude.
Addition to the I M mean to) Chait gallery.

He said Romney flip flops because he ran in Ma and then nationall and not because he has a character defect. I comment that Chait has a severe logic defect.
the fallacy more common than any other fallacy and than any valid methos of reasoning the false dichotomy. Either "either/or" or actual examination of the evidence. You argue that Romney's words do not demonstrate a character defect, because he ran for office in Massachusetts and then in the nationwide primary campaign. The basis for your certainty that it is impossible thatsomeone with a defective character could run in Ma then nationwide is in no way explained.

I don't fault your writing. I think you give no explanation of your reasoning because you have no reasoning to explain. Bear with me and imagine for a second that Romney's Ma to USA history isn't proof of sound character. How could we possibly examine his character if flip flops can be explained in another way. Is it possible that there is other evidence related to character than flip flops ? For example does Romney, compared to say Richard Nixon, tell an astonishingly huge number of lies ? Does he repeat lies after they are rated pants on fire by politifact? Has Steve Benen's weekly list of Romney falsehoods expanded like the German money supply in 1923 ? (no on that last one but it's growth sure dwarfs US inflation in the 70s). Does having felt the need to win in Ma explain why Romney tells all of those lies ? Did Willard Mitt Rpmney really have to say "Mitt Romney and yes that's my real name"? Does your theory explain the NY Times op-ed by the guy in private equity who said that Romney lacked the integrity necessary for the proper functioning of the vulture capital industry ?

What evidence could conceivably convince you that, by the standards of US politicians, Romney is extraordinarily dishonest ? Finally when have you ever ever paid the slightest attention to evidence presented in support of the character defect hypothesis which you dismiss ( again) ?

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Research project

Does the economic freedom index Granger cause high growth or does growth Granger cause a. High economic freedom index?

I'm not a betting man, but I know how I'd bet.
Don't cry for Paul Argentina

Also impressive how Lula DaSilva has become an example of a non leftist. The same way the socialist path party collected a gigantic sovereign wealth fund via taxes and therefore made Singapore number 1 in economic freedom (public ownership of the means of production is evidently he central tenet of free market capitalism).

I remain impressed by the speed with which S Korea changed from a shining example of export oriented growth to a cess pool of crony capitalism and rigid labor market regulation and back within three years (1997-2000).

Next there are going to tell us "from each according to his ability" and " to each according to his need" are Christian doctrine ascribed to St Peter as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles and, in contrast sharply criticized by Karl Marx in The Critique of The Gotha Program in which he argued that equality of outcomes is a bad proposal so long as incentives to work are needed (as he claimed they were at the time).
I'm so mad, I want to reform Kevin Drum's labor market with extreme prejudice.

Labor market reform again. Last time I was puzzled but then noticed the key phrase "politically impossible.". Now you seem to think that further such reform is just plain necessary. I live in the European periphery (and have advised two PhD dissertations on labor market reform) and I just don't see it.

The key fact, to me, is that Core European labor markets are much less reformed than peripheral labor markets. Been there done that. Yes compared to the USA Spanish and Italian employment is highly regulated, but they aren't at all compared to employment in Stuttgart and Marseilles. Oh hell, I am typing on an iPad and won't be up to a decent comment, but here goes.

Labor on this continent. There are 2 key reasons I didn't type markets : laws against arbitrary layoffs and national (or Lanerwide) pay scales. In Europe it is generally not allowed to fire without cause. Cause can be missconduct like commenting on blogs during working hours or "economic reasons" which basically means some bureacrat has to agree that a firm has to reduce employment (so for one thibg no way to fire workers and hire others willing to work for less). Also collectively bargained wage scales have the force of law and apply to firms which did not participate in the bargaining (this is untranslatable into English as it is inconceivable to me even after all these years). Finally unions are still strong, so the laws are sometimes actually enforced (more by the threat of strikes than by hah?!? The courts which are a joke here as they never get around to actually doing anything (except send common and only common criminals to jail more than half of them when still presumed innocent).

This is the way things are in Northern Europe and the way they were long long ago in Southern Europe (especially Spain Franco liked free markets almost as much as he liked free speech and free love). Now there are exceptions which are the rule. In Spain and Italy employers can hire young people temporarily for training and screening (hah). For years (Italy) or decades this has been most of hiring. If Spain had a rigid labor market, it would have been impossible for unemployment to shoot up so fast (this is shown by data from 74-75 it isn't just theory although it is uncontested established theory among economists). In my view, Italy and Spain (but not so much Austria or Sweden) have chosen radical pro market labor reform. I don't really know, but I suspect that Ireland was relatively market oriented since forever.

OK an anecdote about my dughter's ex baby sitter (said daughter is now too old to sit). Ex babysitter got a new job (not laid off by us but forecasting). The only problem was that they didn't pay her the salary they owed her ( they don't contest this just said they didn't ave the money -- this is a firm with a fair numvpber of employees). There have been no consequences due to this very highly flexible approach to employment and contracts (a judge might find 15 minutes to spend on the case 10 years fro now -- the worst penalty will be pay plus market non punative interest but I assume she will give up long before as almost every plaintiff does around here).

I oppose Monti's labor market reform proposals and think he wa crazy to try (Italians love the memory of the dear departed firing restrictions -- most also claim to be Catholic and set the all time record for low fertility for any life form on Terra -- symbols and subsance are odd in the discorso).

OK how about "politically impossible" ? That is the core won't give without reform ? Look obviously most Germans do not want labor market reform in Italy (just think about all the US workers trying to weaken unions in Mexico and Columbia). German workers do not want to share a free trade zone with unregulated labor markets, so most Germans, if anything, fear labor market reform in the periphery (I admit not much as they think they are suprior with their tough work ethic which causes them to work 1,600 hours a year on average (US readers don't do the calculation -- the envy might kill you)). It may be that someone with power demands market oriented reform in exchange for loans. But that power is not Democratic power based on the wishes of a majority of voters anywhere. It is the power of unackountable elites in Frankfurt, Brussels and (to be fair) my home town Washington.
Great post (as usual). I think you go a little easy on Bernanke as perceived by Krugman. The case for a policy is almost never a slam dunk and people who are paralized unless they can dunk should never be passed the ball. Now as to Ben Bernanke as perceived by me, I am still thanking God, Harriet Myers and George Bush (ouch physical pain typing that) that Bernanke is Fed Chair. You know I think most academic macro (definitely including my own efforts) is crap. I do make (more than 2) exceptions for the work of Bernanke Gertler et al. The thought that George Bush (ouch) not only appointed a highly respected economist, but also one of the few with actually relevant actual insights boggles my mind ................

OK mind no longer in tilt. Uh where am I (Rome). Uh my point if any is that it is not only true that the risk of say 6% inflation due to QE 3-32 is tiny but also that no one has come up with a case tat 6% inflation implies significant social costs. Inflation is hated by the general public because they think it means higher prices and the same nominal wages so wage increases are hated by centrak bankers, in effect, because they act as if they think that higher nominal wages imply higher prices and the same nominal wages and employment. This is so insane that relying on a DSGE model is comparitively sane (OUCH why do I keep typing in a way which makes my head spin).

Oh well back to adding implausible but convenient assumptions to a DSGE model to make it generate amusing results (sometimes reality is so painful that I have to escape into a dream world).

This is a comment on intuition vs theory by Noah Smith at
Jason Zengerle's profile of Romney's spine Eric Fehrnstrom is excellent. My favorite part concerns the firing of William Monahan, Romney's neighbor ... who'd been nominated by Romney to serve as the chair of the state Civil Service Commission. Ferhnestrom told Monahan than Monahan was resigning

"He was very, very forceful and very abrupt," Monahan recalls. "It was just, 'Bang, you're out.' " It was also a message that Romney seemed incapable of delivering himself. Indeed, when Monahan appealed to the governor for mercy, he says Romney implied that Fehrnstrom had given him no choice: "He said his stomach was turning," Monahan recalls, "and that he didn't want to do this, but that his senior staff was unanimous that he had to ask for my resignation. He said he didn't want to do this but that he was outvoted.

Now that's what I call leadership.

Don't get me wrong. I don't have the guts to tell people to their faces that I have decided to fire them. But I don't claim to be qualified to be President of the USA (or manager of a hardware store) now do I ?

So which is it ? Romney ruthless vulture capitalist who likes to fire people or Romney whimp who takes orders from his subordinates ? I think it is Romney shameless liar and total egoist who feels entitled to fire other people and have still other people take responsibility.

When asked what he would do to get the economy going, Mitt Romney said one should just look at what Obama did and do the opposite (via Steve Benen).

Get down to the policy details. The Mittster just said that he would raise taxes on all US workers, repeal the Lilly Ledbetter act (no the opposite would be to require victims of discrimination to sue more quickly than the Supreme court in its wisdom ordered) reopen the Medicare Plan D doughnut hole, force citizens to pay back 3.5 billion to health insurance companies, take away Scott Brown's daughters health insurance take $ 1,600 from 95% of working families etc. The meaning of "what the president has done" is not ambiguous. Romney is counting on voters not knowing what the President has done, but the President can keep trying to remind us and, each time, ask why Romney wants to do the opposite.

Romney just made a very large number of extremely unpopular policy proposals. I guess that Politifact will rate telling people that his statement logically implies what it logically implies as pants on fire, but who cares ?