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Bloggingheads 02-15-2009 06:56 PM

Economic Throwdown Edition
 

grits-n-gravy 02-15-2009 08:12 PM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
Twenty-eight minutes in and I'm nominating Dean for a Nobel Peace Prize. The man has the patience of a saint.

Titstorm 02-15-2009 08:38 PM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
this was a damn good battle and Bob deserves credit for another good match - he's been on a roll lately. megan tried very hard but there's no other way to look at it: greenspan and his dogmatic crew BLEW IT. why try being an apologist for this garbage? we don't need any more matt welches on here. it's beyond disgusting that anyone would even bother to rescue these morons from under the bus. "spineless apologists" is what their defenders are.

could anyone have seen the bubble?? gee, i don't know:
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/...n4801309.shtml

Lemon Sorbet 02-15-2009 09:04 PM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by grits-n-gravy (Post 104036)
Twenty-eight minutes in and I'm nominating Dean for a Nobel Peace Prize. The man has the patience of a saint.

I have to agree. I'm about 23 minutes in too, and finding Megan's arguments on the central bank not only unconvincing but ridiculous. She seems to be saying that we are in such uncharted territory that it's hard to blame Alan Greenspan for things he missed and actions not taken, because who knows if those would have worked, and in fact could have made things worse. I think that is a lazy, pass the buck attitude. If you are put in the top position of a given segment, and things are going terribly wrong and has the potential to implode that segment, I would hope that 1) you are enough of an expert to recognize the problem as well as the scope of it, and 2) you would try to warn others, conduct brain storming sessions, do analysis and modeling, and basically do all that you can to see how the ship can avoid hitting the ice berg.

If after doing all of those things, you determine that it's better to take a chance with the iceberg, then O.K., you gave it your best shot. I do not think Mr. Greenspan did any of those things. Rather, I get the sense that he brushed it off, again and again.

Gravy 02-15-2009 09:04 PM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
McArdle is going to run out of people willing to do this with her at this rate. Why anyone would put up with this for an hour is mysterious.

willmybasilgrow 02-15-2009 09:06 PM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
Could you have seen the bubble? Indeed, although I'm not sure if this qualifies as "seeing the bubble." I'm talking housing.

Go back and read comments sections of articles about real estate prices for as far back as possible. You will see people screaming like their hair is on fire about the UNSUSTAINABLE cost of real estate. Now, 2002? Maybe not so far back. But 2004 and 2005, yes.

Many people were complaining LOUDLY about the overvalued real estate market.

ginger baker 02-15-2009 09:12 PM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
megan i see loves blaming ordinary folks and giving experts a freeride....she also should LET DEAN SPEAK!

willmybasilgrow 02-15-2009 09:14 PM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
What?

daveh 02-15-2009 09:40 PM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
Ugh! Out of sheer boredom, I thought I might listen to M. McArdle again after boycotting her for a long time. Even though I am probably generally sympathetic to arguments criticizing the New Deal or the stimulus, she is simply terrible. Every time I watch her, I discover a new, annoying aspect. First there was freshman dorm libertarianism, then the well noted reliance on terminally boring anecdotes, now it is her statement that "we're" looking for reliable economic metrics, as though she is some kind of federal reserve governor or something.

Among those anecdotes I always hear about some guy she knows in the mortgage business, or whatever. I'm almost certain these are guys she meets on dates, first dates.

By the way, I also hate it when she attributes the negative vibes to sexism. I like Ann Althouse, Heather Hurlburt (even though she sometimes gets on my nerves), and many of the women who appear on this site.

willmybasilgrow 02-15-2009 09:45 PM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
Funny.

nojp 02-15-2009 09:55 PM

Megan McFilibuster
 
geez if i keep talkin you won't have time to prove me wrong

your ideas are as bankrupt as trickle down laughing curves
but hey its a free market for ideas anyway

Unit 02-15-2009 10:03 PM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
I thought Greenspan did tried to say that Fannie and Freddie needed to be put in check. I forget when he said that though.

It's not a matter of defending or blaming the guy: the fed chairman is the "interest rate tzar". One man in charge of "the quantity of money in the economy" for goodness sake. I thought the socialist calculation debate had been settled a long time ago. Nobody, no computer, no committee, will ever be able to get the interest rate "right". People should be running out to read books on free banking or at the very least on how to make the fed less central. Instead Dean Baker wants to expand the markets that the Fed should be in charge of getting right. It's in line with most people knee-jerk reactions: the more catastrophically government officials and government regulations fail and the louder people call for more government and more regulation.

The whole segment about numbers in the 30s was simply crazy. What a waste of everybody's time. I was waiting for Megan and Dean to explore the area where they actually did agree and instead we get this boring and uninteresting back-and-forth about imaginary macro data from 80 years ago, as if it had any relevance with the current situation. Give me a break.

claymisher 02-15-2009 10:26 PM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
Haven't watched it yet, but I'm excited to see a non-libertarian on bhtv.

willmybasilgrow 02-15-2009 10:32 PM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
Her style is a little juvenile.

Stapler Malone 02-15-2009 10:42 PM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
oh snap!

sugarkang 02-15-2009 10:44 PM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
Great! More unwarranted Megan bashing! That's to be expected.
As if any of you really know with any predictable certainty what's going to happen.
Maybe she shouldn't chop off Dean's sentences so much. However, that has nothing to do with whether or not her points are valid.

jmoe 02-15-2009 11:01 PM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
This is the sort of pairing I always hope to see on BHtv. Great discussion and debate!

Megan makes a good point by questioning the confidence of people like Dean Baker and Paul Krugman that a massive stimulus is going to work (though, I do find their confidence somewhat comforting, even if Krugman isn't a happy camper these days).

On the other hand, Megan's "agnosticism" seems disingenuous. Is there any other issue that she doesn't have a strong opinion on? I'd like to know what she, and other stimulus skeptics, think should be done. You can't be neutral on a moving train.

jmoe 02-15-2009 11:03 PM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
I agree. I always watch Megan's diavlogs because I think she makes a lot of interesting points. If I didn't, I wouldn't watch.

rcocean 02-15-2009 11:17 PM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
I agree on giving Dean a Sainthood. Could we please have a fact based economist - one grounded in reality - discuss these topics with Dean? I get so tired of ideologues like Megan.

BTW, her opinions on the Great Depression are absurd - her shallow understanding seems to have come from a couple of "libertarian" books - maybe she should actually read some objective history.

Blackadder 02-15-2009 11:22 PM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
Admittedly I've only watched the first 15 minutes of this so far (the vid keeps freezing up on me for some reason), but based on what I've seen I'd say that Ms. McArdle has the better of the argument. Whatever the merits of Mr. Baker's position from a technical point of view, what he is asking for is politically unrealistic.

daveh 02-15-2009 11:26 PM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
Sugarkang,

As long as we restrict her opinion to being skeptical of the stimulus, as well as the principles behind the stimulus, put me in that same box. I don't have any problem with that opinion at all. I don't believe there are any Keynesian multipliers or any of that.

But I do think she's walking, talking proof that women don't face discrimination in journalism. She's got a fairly high profile platform to spout off from, and so long as that's true, I can't believe that there is any undiscovered female journalistic talent out there.

And I say that because I can't see any difference between the force and construction of her arguments and your average college bull session. True to her former nom de plume Jane Galt, she sounds like a freshman who read Atlas Shrugged in a non-stop weekend reading session.

jmoe 02-16-2009 12:02 AM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by daveh (Post 104063)
But I do think she's walking, talking proof that women don't face discrimination in journalism. She's got a fairly high profile platform to spout off from, and so long as that's true, I can't believe that there is any undiscovered female journalistic talent out there.

Interesting that you watched this diavlog and saw a "female journalist." Not an opinionated libertarian. Not a relatively well known conservative blogger from the Atlantic. A female journalist. You'd get along well with my grandfather.

Quote:

Originally Posted by daveh (Post 104063)
And I say that because I can't see any difference between the force and construction of her arguments and your average college bull session. True to her former nom de plume Jane Galt, she sounds like a freshman who read Atlas Shrugged in a non-stop weekend reading session.


I've always wondered at the commenters who say absolutely nothing of interest, and yet act as if they have some special insight into the intelligence of others. It's something you see a lot in the comments on Youtube videos; not so much on bloggingheads.

JoeK 02-16-2009 12:58 AM

Free Kery Howley!
 
What’s going on, since Will promised to make an honest woman of Kerry he is not letting her out of the house anymore?
I am not complaining about this diavlog – it was fine. Ms McArdle is likable enough and the new guy Dean Baker is alright. But I miss Will and Kerry!
This is the second Sunday in a row they are absent. The first time around, I thought there must have been a technical glitch; Will screwed up the recording or something. But now, I don’t now.
There was no one happier than me when I found out about Will and Kerry’s engagement. He proposed in a plane, flying over South-East Asia – how romantic! But I am not sure anymore. Will is a Mormon…And I like them, the Mormons, don’t get me wrong. I know they were responsible for making California’s Proposition 8 such a great popular success. I also watch The Big Love; I love the show and learned a lot about Will’s people. But some stuff they do, the Mormons, regarding marriage and all, is…That stuff is just sick. That’s what makes me worry.
What do you think?

x9#z6 02-16-2009 01:20 AM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
Awesome diavlog. Thank you Robert Wright! A couple of thoughts. I'm convinced Megan is a genius and Dean Baker is fast becoming a hero of mine.

Megan is so fast and knows so many facts, it makes my head spin. It's like going down the rabbit hole when she gets going and by the time she's done, I'm more confused about everything. Even though I find this style entertaining, at the level of substance, her analysis clearly lacks depth. I think she would do so much better if she just took a deep calm breath to think a bit harder about how all the bits fit together.

matthawk 02-16-2009 01:23 AM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
I find it fascinating when people use the argument "Nobody could have possibly known that X would lead to disaster Y."

This is the argument that people who supported the invasion of Iraq used once it became clear that there were no weapons of mass destruction there; this is the argument that people are using today now that it is clear that there was a bubble not only in the housing market, but in financial assets in general since the mid-90s.

The argument is problematic because many of us said precisely that we were headed for a meltdown of financial institutions, largely because of the unaccountability of the derivatives market, and its size as a percentage of overall financial assets.

I think the "nobody could possibly have known" argument is a way of avoiding the painful but necessary practice of examining the underlying assumptions of the much touted "New Economy" that emerged from the wreckage of the meltdown of the 1987 stock market.

It is that failure to examine underlying assumptions -- about hedge funds, about derivatives, about the Fed itself and the international monetary system -- that ensures that this crisis will continue to worsen despite additional bailouts and stimulus packages.

matthawk 02-16-2009 02:04 AM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
Is Megan actually arguing that the only "natural" jobs are jobs that are created by market demand, and that jobs that were created by the WPA were inessential? By that reasoning a "natural" job is to sell sugar water and a "make work" job is to build bridges, levies and shipping ports.

It is a strange notion (almost a kind of religion) to suggest that market demand should determine our economic activity.

Could the market have produced the Tennessee Valley Authority, to create electricity for vast areas of the Appalachian region? Could the market have build dams and power generating plants in the west?

It seems that a lot of things are "neither here nor there" for Megan, but if she slows down a bit she might find that policies can and do often serve more than one purpose. Yes, one purpose is to create jobs -- but in creating jobs, if a nation is wise, it will also increase its productive capacity by building up its physical infrastructure, as the US did during the New Deal.

x9#z6 02-16-2009 02:05 AM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
If at first you don't succeed try, try again:

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/177...4:20&out=46:02

Megan's arguing style here is dangerously close to the circular logic of intelligent designers. Sorry Megan, I still enjoy listening to you. If you think that the approximation of the multiplier being close to 1 on round 1 (say 0.95) is wrong then what is a better estimate? To counter with "I don't know, economic models are imperfect" is a little lame. If you think health care is such a big counter example prove that examples like it are the dominant source of the spending and not examples like the excess supply of steamrollers or whatever.

claymisher 02-16-2009 02:16 AM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
It took me 20 years, but I just figured out libertarians are just as nuts as full-on communists. I've totally snapped. No more! We need to stop indulging their reveries.

Anyway, I would like to see two liberals go at it sometime. Maybe a Brad DeLong vs James Galbraith. They actually have plenty to disagree about.

x9#z6 02-16-2009 02:17 AM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
In praise of Megan, I'll say that I thought her point about the how government spending helps to revive the "real" economy is one worth exploring. Clearly, when gov spending draws back we hope the gap gets filled by the private sector. Whether the gov spending filler helps to do that is a good question. Though Dean's answer that private sector production increases during the 30's reflect this, seemed credible enough to me.

x9#z6 02-16-2009 02:25 AM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
I would love, love to see anti vs. pro stimulus academic economists go at it. Mankiw or Barro vs. Krugman would be my bloggingheads dream. It would be great to see how the Harvard guys justify their thoughts on spending multipliers.

Tara Davis 02-16-2009 03:07 AM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
If anybody had their patience tried, it was me. A large chunk of this diavlog was wasted on Dean being deliberately obtuse about make-work jobs to dodge the question of how otherwise usually-useful economic indicators get puffed up artificially when the government borrows and spends in large amounts.

Nate 02-16-2009 03:34 AM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
Wow, love the sparks. I don't think I've seen Megan this angry on Bloggingheads before.

TheReader 02-16-2009 04:15 AM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
I did go to sleep last night listening to this conversation. And i have to say that Megan irritated me because she didnt let the other guy finnish his sentences. She also raised her voice when Dean was talking. And she quickly jumped from one point to another.

So i guess the next time she should speak a litle slower, with pauses between some of her words, and be willing to engage in a substantive debate.
She is undoubtedly very smart, but needs to let her opponent finnish his thaughts from time to time.

willmybasilgrow 02-16-2009 07:46 AM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by matthawk (Post 104071)
Is Megan actually arguing that the only "natural" jobs are jobs that are created by market demand, and that jobs that were created by the WPA were inessential?

That is exactly what she is saying.

Eastwest 02-16-2009 07:48 AM

Dean Baker: First Class Analysis
 
Ms. M. seems a bit heavy-handed with ideology, opinionation, and bluster, apparently scared to death to let Dean finish his sentences for fear the superiority of his reality-based stance, rationality, and analysis will become too obvious. She seems almost angry in this DV.

Sure would love to see and listen to more of Dean Baker. He really seems to have his facts lined up and his analysis solid. A real pleasure to listen to (especially when he's allowed to complete his sentences without being so rudely interrupted by a panicked sparring partner reaching for really stretched logic to try and counter what is, after all, irrefutable).

EW

Blackadder 02-16-2009 08:35 AM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by matthawk (Post 104071)
Is Megan actually arguing that the only "natural" jobs are jobs that are created by market demand, and that jobs that were created by the WPA were inessential?

Are you saying that the jobs created by the WPA weren't inessential? Cause I kind of thought that was the whole point.

The reason that jobs created via market demand are, ceteris paribus, more valuable than jobs created by government spending is that they are based on voluntary exchange, which means that all the parties involved believe that they will be made better off by the transaction than they otherwise would be. That isn't the case when the government takes money forcibly from people and spends it on things partially just for the sake of spending the money.

Quote:

Originally Posted by matthawk (Post 104071)
Could the market have produced the Tennessee Valley Authority, to create electricity for vast areas of the Appalachian region? Could the market have build dams and power generating plants in the west?

Not only could the market have done this, but it was in the process of doing so before the government stepped in to take over the job. In fact, it was the TVA's hamhandedness with regard to private electrical companies that led Wendell Willkie to drop his support for the New Deal, switch parties, and run for president.

jr565 02-16-2009 09:17 AM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
Dean is simply arguing hindsight and suggesting that hindsight should determine fiscal policy. Or suggesting that we should all be psychics. The fact that Dean predicted the bubble doesn't really mean much considering there are others offering competing arguments as to whether there is a bubble. One could only be proven right or wrong by having a bubble pop and if you constantly tamp down the market before a bubble commences Dean could never actually be proven right that there was a bubble in the works. Instead it would look like, were Greenspan to follow Dean's advice, we were simply trying to stifle a market every time it showed signs of success, which in turn would only hamper the expansion of markets. And then Dean and co.would be griping about how the FED is not allowing the economy to grow.

I get an advertisement from a contrarian newsletter that predicted that the housing market would collapse and stock prices would fall. So the newsletter was right. However, the same advertisement was sent to me from the early 90's to the present, and in many of those years the markets were in fact taking off. So then how are we valuing the contrarian argument when in the years of increased housing prices and stock prices such valuation was in fact wrong and were I to listen to said contrarian THEN I would in fact have lost money. A broken clock is still right twice a day.

graz 02-16-2009 09:42 AM

Re: Republicans Manipulate World Markets
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by kidneystones (Post 104085)
To make the new administration look bad. The American president is scheduled to sign his porky package, deemed 'too little, too late' by most investors, on Tuesday and the Asian markets tanked.

Republicans want the American economy to go into the toilet. No, really, that's the argument. The GOP want Americans to suffer for voting for bho are clearly pulling strings to embarrass Changiness inc.

Clap louder!

The GOP insurgents also wish us to fail in our fight against terrorism. You are so right ks... Their solid display of anti-stimulus voting solidarity has emboldened their Taliban brethren to action in Pakistan:

Taliban tactics pay dividends


Sessions:GOP commits to insurgency

jr565 02-16-2009 09:50 AM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
To Dean regarding makeshift jobs and the bridge to nowhere, what exactly, taking his argument about makeshift jobs, is wrong with a bridge to nowhere or say the big dig in Boston? Or any porky project that the government spends a huge amount of money on, with limited results. can we gauge something as pork even, is there no discussion about money well spent, or the value of spending said money on that project when it could have been more efficiently spent on another project which actually employs more people or spends money more efficiently? Dean is a wunderkind on determining exactly when bubbles occur yet can't seem to make a call that paying people to dig potholes and others to fill them might be a waste of money and that no meaningful job creation is actually created doing so.

vidal_olmos 02-16-2009 10:04 AM

Re: Economic Throwdown Edition
 
I find myself in nearly complete agreement with Dean on almost any topic under discussion in this diavlog, and yet I can't help but feel that Megan is the victim here of latent (and certainly unintentional) sexism on our collective part as commenters. Why does she annoy so much? Perhaps, on some minor but not negligible level, because she strongly resists her interlocutor's arguments. In the discussion on whether it makes sense to measure unemployment in a certain way, Megan is expressing a view that is shared by people with whom Dean may have disagreed less vehemently. It seemed to me that both Dean and Megan were slightly uncharitable towards each other's views on the matter in this segment, but Dean's irritation with Megan (and mine) was completely unnecessary.


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