Day: September 6, 2019

Is China Fudging Its GDP Figures? Evidence from Trading Partner Data

Mostly Economics

John G. Fernald, Eric Hsu, and Mark M. Spiegel in this FRBSF paper:

We propose using imports, measured as reported exports of trading partners, as an alternative benchmark to gauge the accuracy of alternative Chinese indicators (including GDP) of fluctuations in economic activity. Externally-reported imports are likely to be relatively well measured, as well as free from domestic manipulation. Using principal components, we derive activity indices from a wide range of indicators and examine their fit to (trading-partner reported) imports. We choose a preferred index of eight non-GDP indicators (which we call the China Cyclical Activity Tracker, or C-CAT). Comparison with that index and others indicate that Chinese statistics have broadly become more reliable in measuring cyclical fluctuations over time. However, GDP adds little information relative to combinations of other indicators. Moreover, since 2013, Chinese GDP growth has shown little volatility around a gradually slowing trend. Other measures, including…

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Been There, Done That. Doesn’t Work!

American Elephants

Environmentalists have long been sure that if we could just eliminate things that are not “natural” from our lives, live in harmony with nature, then the world would be a better place. Relying on the Sun and the Wind were right at the top of the list. We should eliminate chemicals from our diet, stop cutting down trees, save endangered species but stop putting animals in cages, and just quit eating meat. The very word “natural” moved right to the top of the advertising buzz-word list.

So it is no surprise that in the panic about Global Warming, which was the next big thing after we stopped panicking about a new ice age in the 1970s, and the threat of a nuclear winter receded, we turned to trying to harness the power of the sun. Sensible people pointed out that the power of the sun was very diffuse, the sun…

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The solution to the #ClimateEmergency is at hand but is ignored because it might work @jamespeshaw @greenpeace

@sandeepvaheesan misrepresents Robert Bork on merger policy @ProMarket_org @openmarkets

More First-Amendment shenanigans: Federal court rules that a Christian cross on a county emblem is not religious

Why Evolution Is True

In late June, the Supreme Court made a portentously bad decision, ruling that the “Bladensburg Cross”, a giant cross on public land in Maryland, did not violate the First Amendment’s stipulation of freedom of (and from) religion. (The vote was lopsided: 7-2.) The reasons was the usual one: that by merely existing for a long time, the cross had shed its religious significance—just like the National Motto, “In God We Trust”, is seen to be cultural rather than religious, ergo it gets to stay on U.S. currency. As I wrote at the time:

As usual, the pretense is that the cross is no longer a wholly religious symbol. Here are the words of Justice Alito, who wrote for the majority:

The cross is undoubtedly a Christian symbol, but that fact should not blind us to everything else that the Bladensburg Cross has come to represent . . .  For some…

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CNN Held a Big “Climate Forum” So the Remaining Democrat Candidates Could Show Off Their Ignorance

American Elephants

CNN had a big “Climate Forum.” Seven hours of the remaining Democrat candidates for the presidency, trying desperately to find the magic key to the votes of everyone who is worried about the end of the earth and Climate Change. Marc Morano, proprietor of Climate Depot watched all seven hours so you didn’t have to. (He is also the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Climate Change which you can order at the website.) Journal Nature has named Morano as the Number One contrarian in the media (#1 out of 386 skeptics) You can watch his appearance on Fox and Friends with the link at Climate Depot. It’s pretty clear that not only have the Democrat candidates never read any of the science of climate, but neither have the reporters at CNN.

The remaining Democrat candidates want desperately to appeal to everyone concerned about Climate Change and the…

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Why great rock—and its performers—are doomed

Why Evolution Is True

I’m gonna gripe about modern rock music again and contrast it with the music produced between the early Sixties and mid-Seventies, which I consider the apotheosis of rock—just as I see the apotheosis of jazz lasting from the mid-Thirties to the early Sixties, ending with Coltrane. Since their apogees, both genres have gone downhill. And because what I see as the heyday of jazz occurred well before I began listening to it and loving it, you can’t accuse me of liking only the music that I listened to at the “vulnerable” period of my teens.

This curmudgeonly attitude is apparently shared by Steven Pinker, as evinced by this tweet (h/t Kevin). And that tweet called my attention to the linked article in The Week by Damon Linker (a man with whom I’ve had some differences sin the past), calling attention to the upcoming demise of the great musicians of…

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Revisiting an incredibly expensive insurance policy

croaking cassandra

The Reserve Bank’s radical bank capital proposals –  markedly increasing required capital for locally-incorporated banks, in a country with (a) a low demonstrated risk of financial crisis and (b) high effective capital ratios by international standards anyway –  hasn’t been much in the news lately.  The Governor –  unelected, but sole decisionmaker on this –  his own –  proposal has presumably retreated to his high tower to contemplate.   He hired some carefully selected overseas academics to review bits of the Bank’s analysis, and we might expect to see their reports shortly (but recall the tight constraints on what they were allowed to look at, who they were allowed to talk to etc).

I was doing an interview yesterday on various aspects of the proposal, including making the point that what the Governor is proposing can be seen as –  on the Bank’s own numbers – an incredibly expensive insurance…

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