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« Diverse portfolio | Main | Peak argument »

Aug 24, 2009


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Fec the Jihadist

Needless suffering...


All praise to George Bush and our other corporate masters. We all work for the top two percent. It's God's will that they be rich.


eddy: it may not be the technicians working on the model. it may be the model itself. let's wait and see what happens. i'm all excited.

Morgan Glover

Per Beelzebubba's comment, it would be great to have a more robust conversation about capitalism itself. Two writers I have been reading are Dan Bednarz, a peak-oil aware health care consultant, and former intelligence officer Jeff Vail.

Bednarz recently wrote about his experience interviewing former intelligentsia in West Germany after its collapse.

Vail is writing about the rise of the "diagonal or rhizome" economy, which is an alternative to the nation-state and market economy.

Morgan Glover

Oops, I meant to write East Germany, not West Germany.


Thanks, Morgan. Interesting links.


"...The rational response to the news that the economy will be far worse than had previously been projected should be a demand for more stimulus."

You should express those views in your next newspaper opinion column....oh wait, I forgot, those weren't your views.

Ed Cone


Link-blogging is one of the prototypical forms of this medium.

Here's how I use it: I find something that's interesting to me in some way. I consider whether it might be interesting in some way to at least some of my readers; if so, I post it.

Often, a conversation on the subject raised ensues.

Sometimes I link to things about which I know a fair amount, or have a strong opinion.

And sometimes I link to things that I'm thinking about and learning about.

The ensuing conversation, and the very act of storing the link in a place I can find it, often help me develop an opinion.

Sometimes, after that process has fermented for a while, I'll write a post or opinion column arguing for my view.

I don't feel any need to give a quick thumbs up or thumbs down to every topic or opinion raised. In fact, I don't see much value in doing that.

In this case, the link points to news (CBO report) and some analysis from a smart person, all on a subject of ongoing interest to this blog.

How do I, personally, feel about the element on which you focus, that is, additional stimulus in the face of ongoing unemployment? That's something I'm trying to figure out. How do you feel about it?


I'm against it. At some point, transferring the whatever trillions of debt it's it's up to now to bail out the generation responsible for the current situation, to those in the future who are not, becomes immoral .

Ed Cone

I'm with you on concerns over debt, and also on the moral aspects thereof.

But not everyone who might get critical help from additional public spending can really be held responsible for the current situation.

And it could be that additional public spending is justified as an investment, regardless of any moral hazard.

So those are the parameters of the issue as I see them. What's missing, so far, are specifics.


So, back to the original link,what do you favor doing in general then? More stimulus money, or not?
Or were you just curious as to what everyone else thought?


What % of the Recovery Act has been spent? Like 15%?

Ed Cone

As I had hoped to make clear in my previous comment, I see merit to arguments both pro and con on the general topic of additional stimulus, and await specifics (how much money? how spent? into what environment? etc.) on any actual stimulus proposal.


Why didn't you just make your feelings clear in the initial post? You would never have expressed them at all had I not shown enough interest to ask you what they were. One seldom knows your opinions on anything you "write" about here other than the default assumption that you agree with the writer you link to, and more strongly so with the passages you choose to highlight.

Ed Cone

CP, I just don't think my "feelings" are of any great interest at this point in process, or that marking each post in a continuous and organic medium with a little squirt of opinion is necessary.

You seem to be more interested in my opinions than I am, which is flattering, but unlikely to change the well-documented and long-established shittiness of this blog.


CP - did you read the whole article? Dean Baker has credibility as he spoke out against the housing bubble and knew the the problems would never be 'contained' to subprime.

"Therefore, instead of talking about the economic weakness implied by the new CBO projections, the discussion will focus almost completely on the larger projected budget deficit. Instead of discussing ways in which we can reduce the unemployment rate and stimulate growth, the media will be highlighting calls for tax increases and spending cuts - measures that will slow the economy and raise the unemployment rate further."

Most who advocate increased stimulus now, also advocate for less govt spending and higher taxes when the economy recovers. This is Keynsian thinking in basic. In bad times, lower taxes, increase spending; in good times, raise taxes, lower spending. Those two action plans smooth business cycles. If you're in 'good' times and lower taxes & raise spending (think dhs & medicare RX) you're exacerbating the business cycle.

Back a little[D. Baker]:"While the case for pessimism is clear enough (crashing housing market leads to continued declines in housing related sectors, which are soon amplifed by falling consumption, as consumers lose the ability to borrow against homes that have lost value) the article does not make much of a case for optimism." Nov 26, 2006. That is a pretty simple, logical explanation that too few people wanted to hear.


Say we have $200Bln of road construction projects planned for the next 10 years. It makes sense to accelerate them so that say $40B/yr is spent in '09/10 and $10B/yr for a 4 year stretch when conditions improve. First, the $40B will buy more today then when times are better: raw materials and labor are about as cheap as they'll get. Second, it will have a much bigger impact on unemployment. Those actions are overall long term debt-neutral with higher deficits today and savings in the future.

Dean Baker:
"If we look at the latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), they show that the interest burden of the debt in 2019, the last year for their projections, will be $722 billion. That comes to 3.4 percent of projected GDP.

If our children will be buried under this burden, then their parents must have been comparable strangled by the debt burden created in the Reagan-Bush presidencies. The interest burden from the debt run up in these years peaked at 3.3 percent of GDP in 1991"


Govt should spend money looking for deviants


Do they teach ethics in Med School?


"CP, I just don't think my "feelings" are of any great interest at this point in process...You seem to be more interested in my opinions than I am, which is flattering"

But aren’t you an opinion writer for a living? Isn’t that kind of what an opinion writer does? Doesn’t your bio state “This is my personal weblog. The opinions I express here are my own”?

If that is the case, I can’t understand why someone would maintain a career doing something they don’t find interesting. Also, don’t you think that the people who visit your blog over others do so at least in part because at least THEY are interested in your opinions? I agree that that is flattering, and I would think you would welcome it, like any store owner welcomes customers who come through their doors desiring their goods or services. I’m simply trying to understand why, compared to any other blog I’ve visited, there is so much leg- and guesswork required to understand the points you are presumably trying to make, primarily through others writers, in these threads.


Ah yes, Dean Baker again, distracting those who believe in him from the real issue.....

Never mind that thanks to the Obama budget, the total debt to GDP will rise to 82.4% in 2019, from the 2008 figure of 40.8%.


"The numbers are troubling for two reasons.

First, they're scary, given the even bigger deficits we can expect in the next few decades due to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

Second, while Keynesians tend not to worry about big deficits during large recessions, they generally have worried about big deficits during normal years. Have you seen many Keynesians worrying about this? Can Christina Romer, for example, be feeling sanguine? Now you might argue that she can't talk about this because she gave up her independence when she entered the Obama administration. But what about Keynesians who have their independence? What about Bob Solow? Alan Blinder?"


Here's more perspective:

"The first priority of a new president should be to make sure his administration has the capacity to govern. That means cultivating a reliable political coalition that can keep the trains from running off of the rails. Pres. Obama has put at risk his ability to get the hard but necessary things done by pursuing an ultra-liberal agenda that will exacerbate the budgetary problems he should have been most concerned about during his first year. As a result, his entire agenda is now seriously at risk as fiscal reality pushes the federal government toward a massive course correction."

On the other hand, we could set the the debt payments to an "interest only" mode, like many mortgages are were, in which case, Baker'
little partisan remarks would possibly, sort of like, ummm, be well taken.

Oh wait, I forgot. We already tried some kind of "national policy" like that, didn't we?

Ed Cone


I enjoy writing an opinion column. It's not actually what I do for a living, it's sort of an adjunct to my career, but it's fun and rewarding, and I'm grateful for the forum I've been granted in my hometown newspaper.

I also enjoy my blog, which often involves expressions of opinion.

But I just don't see the need to enunciate an opinion on each blog post. As I said, I'm often in the process of forming an opinion, and that process is sometimes a visible part of the blog. I also see blogging as an organic, ongoing enterprise, not always a series of independent items that must be capable of standing alone. I trust my readers to assimilate the gestalt, and expect them to do a little thinking on their own.

To me, this all seems natural, and I'm happy with it. I've been doing it this way for many years, and it seems to work for at least some of my readers, too.

That's one of the great things about blogging, it's personal, we choose our own style and content. I'd guess I could build a larger audience by doing things differently, but that's not what I'm interested in here.

I understand that my personal style doesn't always work for you. That's OK, there's no requirement that you like the blog, or that I please every reader.


I'm truly glad you're happy. Whatever it is you do do (do do?)for a living, I'm glad it's not dependent on that about yourself which you don't find interesting.


"In 2008, the net federal debt as a percent of GDP was 40.8 percent. By 2019, it would have risen, under current law as defined above, to 56.1 percent of GDP. Under the Obama budget, it would double to 82.4 percent of GDP, a whopping 47 percent increase from the baseline."

And that was in May, before THIS yesterday. If they ran the numbers again, I would be afraid to look. The debt graph at the bottom says it all. And they say this is similar to what Reagan did? Also, I wonder what the relative proportional change in foreign(China), as opposed to domestic debt for the same period would be

Bubba, that is truly scary. And they said that "the status quo" would be the first thing to bankrupt the nation. God help us.


"And they said that 'the status quo' would be the first thing to bankrupt the nation."

I'm sure they were only speaking of the so-called "moral bankruptcy" of the current system, right CP?


Bubba, no one complained about Bush's tax cuts contributing to the deficit (supposed to pay for themselves, or the costs of wars (supposed to be free), when you had a prominent Repub. Sen. saying it wasn't right to cut taxes in wartime, or how he complained the lion's share of the tax cuts benefits went to the wealthiest few. Do you understand the deficit & debt has operated? Clinton is the only president to 'pay down principal'. We have been consistently rolling over the debt for a long time with minimal problems.

Do you remember the budget projections in the 2000 election? Surpluses to no end, pay off the debt in XX years. Obviously we will have no budget changes between now and 2019. The economy will have recovered, some taxes raised, some spending lowered. Or Obama could put sunset provisions in so that the projections for 2019 would look better, while knowing he would work to have them extended.

If the free market viewed our debt as unpayable, or as 'worthless IOU's' as some people might call govt bonds, they would yield a slightly higher interest rate. Anyone who thinks they're worth nothing, I'll be happy to buy them at 50 cents on the dollar - negotiable.

Many of the people who are currently unemployed are the people who would eventually have to pay back. Ask younger people what the bigger problem is - unemployment or the deficit.


Govt bond rates are not solely determined by the budget deficit. Clinton's surpluses were met by higher rates than Obama's deficits. Why? People then were far more likely to pull money out of bonds and put it in the stock market. As the economy and stock market rebound, bond rates will rise, but that will be a good thing. Less unemployment and tax income will increase.

CP - when China stops buying US bonds, its currency will appreciate rel $. That will make Chinese goods more expensive. Bad? For a pure consumer. Good for anyone who used to make stuff that is now made in China. China stops buying US bonds, yuan appreciates, more US factory workers have work - is that bad?


Take projections for what they're worth. In early 2008 the CBO projected surpluses starting in 2012 (somewhat due to the sunset clauses in tax cuts).
Revenue projection error for 2009 - 2186 actual, 2817 projected. Only off 25%. Will the projections get more or less accurate the further out you look?


the words wrecked and running imply some mechanistic trait to the economy. if you want an idea of the competency of the mechanics involved, please consider that Glass-Stegall, Truth in Securities and 14 other acts were passed in 1933 at the beginning of a new bull market, long after the horse got out of the barn. The repeal of these acts started in 1994 and ran until 1999, coinciding with the idea that the horse was now completely saddle broke and could be safely mounted and galloped with a loaded and cocked pistol in the rider's mouth. These are different mechanics, but they were certified by the same school and believe that they are tinkering on the same clunker. The human economy works more like a coral reef or rain forest than a clunker.

Ed Cone

CP, I do pretty much the same thing for a living that I've done for the many years we've known each other offline, as covered in the About section of this site. Like any job, it has its less-fascinating aspects and its tradeoffs, but I am fortunate to have found a career that I enjoy, albeit in an industry that is now dying a painful death.

Readers of this site have been generous over the years with suggestions on how to improve it, and there have been good conversations (especially in the early years of the medium) about the meaning of links and so on. I do hope to attract and engage an audience, but this is the place where I get to do things as I please; to quote Dr. Frank N. Furter, "I didn't make him for you."


cp: "why didn't you just make your feelings clear in the initial post?"

ed, maybe you could try using a facebook-style thumbs up or thumbs down at the end of each post. or if you're still thinking about it, then like, thumb straight out or something.

or you could use emotions: :) for "agree", :( for "disagree", :o for "shocked!", :/ for "i don't know, still thinking about it, what do you think?", or ;) for "just kidding around."

my emotion for this comment is: ;)


winstongater, would you drop me a line? I have a question.


"I trust my readers to assimilate the gestalt, and expect them to do a little thinking on their own."

Cm, Ed has certain "expectations" of his readers, but isn't too receptive of any they might ask of him. As he says, "I didn't make it for you" and "There's no requirement that you like it." Don't hold your breath.


If Ed ignores cm's totally and completely serious emoticon suggestion, it will just be more proof that he thinks his blog is his blog.

Ed Cone

CP and I agree that I'm a terrible blogger, we just focus on different aspects of my suckiness.

CM, :>


ed: rofl. :p


Wait, did Ed actually say he trusts his readers and expects them to think for themselves?

No wonder cheripickr is outraged. Again.


Hi, Roch. Wish I knew how to do that. Nitpickr?


Not me. Paranoid much?


Roch you might consider writing your comments in a way that conforms more closely to CP's expectations of what blog comments should look like. His campaign to remake Ed's blog into something he understands and appreciates is already full of win, now I think he's ready for fresh horizons of improving others.

Fec the Jihadist

cp, thank you for making this a better blog and me a better person.


Dang it, I knew it was one of you two rascals. I went with my best 60:40 odds. Now if it's neither of you, I'm really paranoid.


I keep thinking Ed should ask WWCPD before posting, but then I realize it would suck.


sometimes i beez axin mysef wtgdmfswjd

Ed Cone

Can I not leave you kids alone for just a few hours without all manner of shenanigans ensuing?


Who, us?

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