Just How Infamous Was that Infamous Open Letter to Bernanke?

Uneasy Money

There’s been a lot of comment recently about the infamous 2010 open letter to Ben Bernanke penned by an assorted group of economists, journalists, and financiers warning that the Fed’s quantitative easing policy would cause inflation and currency debasement.

Critics of that letter (e.g., Paul Krugman and Brad Delong) have been having fun with the signatories, ridiculing them for what now seems like a chicken-little forecast of disaster. Those signatories who have responded to inquiries about how they now feel about that letter, notably Cliff Asness and Nial Ferguson, have made two arguments: 1) the letter was just a warning that QE was creating a risk of inflation, and 2) despite the historically low levels of inflation since the letter was written, the risk that inflation could increase as a result of QE still exists.

For the most part, critics of the open letter have focused on the…

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Homeopaths offer services ‘to help fight’ Ebola epidemic in west Africa | The Guardian

On their website, Van der Zee now urges supporters of homeopathy to sign the Change.org petition started in Australia, calling on WHO “to test and distribute homeopathy as quickly as possible to contain the outbreaks”.

Among the signatories is Steffan Browning, a Green Party MP in New Zealand.

He was publicly dismissed by the prime minister John Key as “barking mad”.

“Let’s be honest, this is a serious global issue, and if he really thinks that’s the answer I’d love to see the medical research,” said Key.

Browning admitted “it was probably a bit unwise” to sign the petition, which he also shared on his Facebook page encouraging other people to sign it. He said he had signed it “pretty late at night”, although he hoped WHO would keep an open mind on potential treatment options, since there was currently no cure.

New Zealand’s health minister, Jonathan Coleman, however, said treating Ebola patients with homeopathic remedies was “a wacko idea”, adding: “I don’t know what he’s thinking, it’s very, very dangerous. I think he really needs to engage his brain, it’s a really and stupid dangerous idea.”

via Homeopaths offer services ‘to help fight’ Ebola epidemic in west Africa | World news | The Guardian.

An Open Letter to Paul Krugman | David K. Levine

via An Open Letter to Paul Krugman | David K. Levine.

Is Behavioral Economics Doomed? The Book!

Cheap Talk

David Levine’s essay is all grown up and now a full-blown book.  His goal is to “set the record straight” and document the true successes and failures of economic theory.  Here is a choice passage:

One of the most frustrating experiences for a working economist is to be confronted by a psychologist, political scientist – or even in some cases Nobel Prize winning economist – to be told in no uncertain terms “Your theory does not explain X – but X happens in the real world, so your theory is wrong.” The frustration revolves around the fact that the theory does predict X and you personally published a paper in a major journal showing exactly that. One cannot intelligently criticize – no matter what one’s credentials – what one does not understand. We have just seen that standard mainstream economic theory explains a lot of things quite well. Before…

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10 Things You Didn’t Know About the History of Marijuana

The Ludwig von Mises Centre

Cannabis Flower

Keri Blakinger, Substance

Waking Times

Fancy yourself a connoisseur of all things weed? Then see whether this trip from ancient China to modern Alaska takes you anywhere unexpected.

What do Sarah Palin, Barack Obama, Justin Bieber, Maya Angelou and well over 100 million Americans all have in common? They’ve all smoked pot. Throughout its history, marijuana has attracted plenty of unexpected users and proponents. And much of the history of greenery is now familiar to us—thanks to History Channel specials, the burgeoning legalization movement and the popularity of anti-pot propaganda films like Reefer Madness. But even if you’re intimately familiar with the plant in all its forms, we’re willing to wager that some of these facts will surprise you.

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Policy bubbles alert: Innovation is a market process of discovery, diffusion, learning by using, entrepreneurial experimentation and decentralised adaptation

Image

Deirdre McCloskey on the point at which economic analysis can stop, and not before

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Some graphs on the great deviation on both sides of the Atlantic

Figure 1: Actual and potential GDP in the US

Sources: Congressional Budget Office, Bureau of Economic Analysis

Figure 2: Actual and potential GDP in the Eurozone

Sources: IMF World Economic Outlook Databases, Bloomberg

HT: Larry Summers

Friday graph: why Ireland is broke

I am planning to blog on why the Irish economic crisis of recent years was caused exclusively by government, and in particular, government responses that made an ordinary recession into a depression

Roger Kerr, New Zealand Business Roundtable Executive Director

This is a graph courtesy of the Institute of Public Affairs in Melbourne, an impressive Australian thinktank.

It comes from the Irish government’s own 140 page ‘National Recovery Plan‘ published last week.

It is amazing reading.

  • From 2000 to 2009 average public sector salaries increased 59%
  • In 2004, 34% of income earners were exempt from tax. In 2010, 45% were exempt
  • In 2007 property taxes generated 6.7 billion euros.  In 2010 that figure will be 1.6 billion
  • In 2009 interest on government debt was 8% of tax revenues.  In 2014 it will be 20%.

Naysayers try to tell you that the Celtic Tiger was a myth and that free-market policies brought the Irish economy down.

The truth is exactly the opposite.  Liberalisation caused the Irish economy to surge until a return to big government crushed it.  Membership of the eurozone, poor banking regulation and the government guarantee of…

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An Analytical View of the Chilean Miracle

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