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Barkley Rosser

Barkley Rosser

I remember how loud it was. I was a young Economics undergraduate, and most professors didn’t really slam points home the way Dr. Rosser did. He would bang on the table and throw things around the classroom. Not for the faint of heart, but he definitely kept my attention and made me smile. It is hard to not smile around J. Barkley Rosser, especially when he gets going on economic theory. The passion comes through and encourages you to come along with it in a truly contagious way. After meeting him, it is as if you can just tell that anybody who knows that much and has that much to say deserves your attention.

Articles by Barkley Rosser

An Appointment I Disapprove Of

9 days ago

An Appointment I Disapprove Of

 While many of them could be more progressive, given that Biden himself is largely a moderate making moderate nods to the progressive wing of the Democratic Party in his appointments, I have largely been not too dissatisfied with appointments made so far by President-Elect Biden.  My only surprise is that a bunch of people set their pants on fire over the appointment of Neera Tanden as OMB director while barely a squeak has been heard about the appointment to NEC Chair of total Goldman Sachs flunky, Brian Deese.  Actually, I do not think there even should be an NEC, which essentially replaced the CEA as the policy shop, with it usually being run by Wall Street types who are not even professional economists.

But

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The End Of The Embargo Against Qatar

14 days ago

The End Of The Embargo Against Qatar

 Yesterday Saudi Arabia announced that it is ending the embargo/boycott of Qatar, and though reportedly the UAE leadership is not entirely happy with this, they are going along with this as are the other nations involved in this, Bahrain and Egypt. This had begun in June 2017, reportedly with the encouragement and initial support by Trump and Jared Kushner, with them buying into it as part of an anti-Iran alliance, given that Qatar was accused of having dealings with Iran, with which it shares a major natural gas pool in the Persian Gulf. It took Trump and Kushner a few months to realize that the very important al-Ubeid airbase used by the US was there, so they shifted to trying to end the boycott, which

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Who Has Been Warring Against Christmas?

23 days ago

Who Has Been Warring Against Christmas?

 Where I am the Third Day of Christmas is just finishing with the news that Grinch Trump has ended his own brief War on Christmas and is signing the Covid-19 relief bill, thereby reinstating unemployment benefits for 14 million people although they’ll miss a week of payments, as well as preventing millions more from being evicted from their rental housing units, along with the Omnibus spending bill so the government will not shut down after tomorrow.  There has been less noise this year about the War on Christmas by the usual gang of right wing media types who like to whine about merchants and others saying “Happy Holidays!” rather than “Merry Christmas!” during the runup to Christmas, probably because so

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Trump As The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

24 days ago

Trump As The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

 So the Congress struggled for months after the House passed a $3.3 trillion followup Covid relief bill, which Senate Majority Leader McConnell blocked and kept blocking.  House Speaker Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin kept negotiating and coming up with this or that proposal, only to mostly have McConnell shoot it down, or sometimes Pres. Trump himself doing so.  Finally after the election, and with the threat of losing control of the Senate, McConnell suddenly decided a deal needed to be made, so sure enough, with Mnuchin supposedly representing Trump, a deal got cut.  It must be recognized that the push for having another round of direct payments was pushed by Trump, who threw out several numbers, and

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Bubble Bubble Toil And Trouble?

29 days ago

Bubble Bubble Toil And Trouble?

 Or maybe not.

So recently there has been a lot of buzz that we may be seeing a variety of speculative bubbles in the US and indeed world economy.  Many asset markets have risen in the last few months, with several of them either reaching new highs or getting close to doing so, with some of them rising very sharply quite recently, with all of this making many eyebrows rise to noticeable degrees and mumble about possible crashes, which could well happen in any of these markets. But probably not in all of them.

One is of course the US stock market, which has hit new record highs recently for most of its indices, with the Dow, in particular, making headlines when it passed 30,000, where it still is, if not at a

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Constructing An Alternative Reality

December 7, 2020

Constructing An Alternative Reality

 This has been gradually developing for about the last quarter of a century or so.  While there was some of this going on before, it took off after the Newt Gingrich-led GOP took over Congress in the 94 election and Rush Limbaugh began his radio show.  Not long after Fox News began a more aggressive stance against President Clinton, pushing any and every scandal that would lead to his impeachment for lying about his sex life, although this proved unpopular with the public.  But that did not slow it down.  It became more developed in the Bush admin when support for the Iraq War became increasingly disconnected from reality, a war that was not connected to reality to begin with as it was based on false claims about

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Unprecedented

November 30, 2020

Unprecedented

 It occurs to me that our current president has engaged in a rather large number of actions that are unprecedented by any other president, as well as some only rarely happening and not for a long time, many of which for nearly all other politicians would make them viewed as simply unacceptable for being a president.  However, with him, there have been so many that people simply ignore most of them as being, “Oh well, there goes Trump again being himself.”
First of all, I do not have a full list of his norm-shattering precedents. In googling I saw an article that proclaimed he had violated 20 “presidential norms.” But it was behind a firewall.  And even though these may have been norms, it may be that other presidents violated at least some

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Is Bitcoin A Bubble?

November 27, 2020

Is Bitcoin A Bubble?

 We have all thought so, with no income and nothing backing it, and it went zooming from nearly nothing to over $19,000, only to fall back hard down to around $3000, where it more or less hung out for a couple of years with the occasional up  to $6000 or so.  But recently it has moved up to over $18,000, near its previous peak, and some other cryptocurrencies have also moved up sharply, with #2 Ethereum essentially doubling in price in the last month or so.  So, is this another round of bubble speculation that will be followed by another crash?
I note that some other non-monetary assets have been moving.  After long sitting around $1200 to $1300 per ounce, with reportedly the Chinese central bank keeping it above $1000 whenever it

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Yemen: More Damage To World Peace And Security Due To Trump Wrecking Everything As He Exits

November 25, 2020

Yemen: More Damage To World Peace And Security Due To Trump Wrecking Everything As He Exits

Michigan certified its vote results for Biden, and now crucially Emily Murphey at the GSA has agreed and now recognized officially that at least Joe Biden should be allowed to transition properly as has always happened in the past normally.

But in his lame duckery, still denying his obvious loss, Donald Trump is trashing everything in sight.  Very serious matters of foreign policy are part of this. One of these has been discussed in comments here previously, the removal from the Open Skies Treaty, which right now I am watching Rachel Maddow report that DOD is destroying the planes US used for this. Ack!!!

But for this post I am noting another awful thing they

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Janet Yellen Will Be Treasury Secretary

November 24, 2020

Janet Yellen Will Be Treasury Secretary

 I have long been a great fan of hers as well as knowing her and her husband, George Akerlof, personally.  Back in 2009 I was the first person to call for her to be named Fed Chair. I am very pleased with this appointment.  This is as good as it gets. (For those who wanted Lael Brainerd, we need her at the Fed where all the current governors are Trump appointees other than her).  Elizabeth Warren also would have been good, but Mass has a GOP governor who would appoint her successor, not so good. Yellen is the best pick and will be great.
Barkley Rosser

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Biden Won Because Of White Men?

November 16, 2020

Biden Won Because Of White Men?

 OK, I confess I am mystified.  An article in The Guardian by Musa al-Gharbi looks at the data now available on voting patterns in the US presidential elections of 2016 compared to 2020.  Almost all groups moved towards being more pro-Trump, including both Black men and women, Hispanic men and women, Asian men and women, and white women.  The only group that moved away from Trump was white men, with his margin declining from 31% to 23%.  It is true that the minority groups overall supported Biden more than Trump, but they did so by smaller margins than they supported Clinton over him in 2016.  Some sub=groups of minorities actually favored Trump, including Cuban Americans and Vietnamese Americans.  The only sub-group

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New Reasons To Believe Trump Will Not Attempt A Coup

November 15, 2020

New Reasons To Believe Trump Will Not Attempt A Coup

 Officially Trump continues to hold a hard line of denying he has lost, with most GOP officeholders continuing to support his denials publicly, and he is likely to continue to not officially concede in various ways, including such as blocking official support for the transition process to a future Biden admin, which is potentially damaging in various ways.  Nevertheless, after some important developments in the last day or so and Trump’s presser today (well, technically yesterday as it is now early morning on Saturday, Nov. 14), I think there is good reason to believe that whatever irresponsible and damaging things he may yet do, I think it is now seriously unlikely that he will attempt a coup to block

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Is Trump Going To Attempt A Coup?

November 12, 2020

Barkley Rosser, Econospeak Blog, “Is Trump Going To Attempt A Coup?”
I realize that Joe Biden just held a press conference where he basically dismissed the refusal of Trump and a lot of other Republicans to concede the presidential election to Biden as “embarrassing,” laughing at Secretary of State Pompeo who earlier today talked about a transition to a second Trump term, and said it will all be over and fine by Jan. 20. Maybe, but I am somebody who has taken seriously for a long time words from people like Michael Cohen and more recently Mary Trump who have said he simply will not go willingly and will continue to refuse to accept defeat. I have watched various commentators supporting him from time to time thinking, “Will they support him if he declares

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Visiting Charlottesville On The Day Biden-Harris Declared Victors Over Trump-Pence

November 8, 2020

Visiting Charlottesville On The Day Biden-Harris Declared Victors Over Trump-Pence

 Really, it was not planned with politics in mind.  In Harrisonburg, VA we are an hour drive from Charlottesville, VA, and we have in the past maybe about 2 times every 3 months or so go over there to shop, eat, hang out, etc.  I used to go to UVa to the library or to see people I know, but all that has faded away to nothing over time.  In the pandemic, we have cut it way back, and it had been several months since we had been there.  But today the weather was nice, clear, and in the 70s, with the leaves just past max over there, so time to go, not to mention picking up some holiday stuff.  We had been planning it for several days, again, nothing to do with politics at

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Whining Pundits

November 6, 2020

Whining Pundits

 As I write this the outcome of the presidential election remains uncertain, although the trends seem to be heading steadily in Biden’s favor and it seems very unlikely he will lose, but the hanging on of this is beginning to get to many of us.  Most other races have been decided, although some of those are still up in the air.  In any case, although it is near certain Biden will win, it will be by a substantially lower margin that forecast by the main polls, with him not taking several states he was forecast to take.  This is also mirrored in Congressional (and some state legislative) races, with it unlikely, although not completely out of the realm of possibility, that Dems will control the Senate as had been forecast as a 2 to 1 likely

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Biden Narrowly Leads In Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin (last night)

November 5, 2020

Biden Narrowly Leads In Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin

 Several months ago I forecast that “He who wins Prairie du Chien wins the White House.”  I also argued more generally that SW Wisconsin would determine Wisconsin.
As of right now Trump is leading by about 2% in Wisconsin, and he seems to be ahead in most of the counties of SW Wisconsin, although Milwaukee has not yet come in.  And the county Prairie du Chien is in, Crawford Trump is leading 4620 to 3953.
But, for what it is worth, in the City of Prairie du Chien itself Biden is ahead 1303 to 1223.  So we shall see.
BTW, I think this is all the votes for that area, but I am about to go to bed, waiting to see Trump make a statement, but I am not going to wait up for the Milwaukee or other long counts.

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Did The Hunter Biden Laptop Come From China?

November 1, 2020

Did The Hunter Biden Laptop Come From China?

 The election season is nearly over, thank heavens, but I guess I shall throw one more story for it out there, one I really did not expect and find plenty weird, but with two different sources pushing it, well.  As it is, I must say that given how totally lacking in any credible support this whole Hunter Biden story was from the get go, I found it hard to believe that the Russian GRU was behind it. I think they are more competent than that. The Chinese I think are maybe less practiced at this sort of thing, although the versions of this going around are plenty weird.
So one version I saw this morning in the editorial page section in the Washington Post by Josh Rogin, who, it must be noted, seems to have

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Abolish The Office Of The Director Of National Intelligence (ODNI)

October 29, 2020

Abolish The Office Of The Director Of National Intelligence (ODNI)

 A sign that this entity should be abolished, and I mean really gone, done in, not with its parts redistributed to other entities, is that it is an an entity defined by its director, not itself.  In preparing to write this post I checked on it, and I thought it was the ONI, the Office of National Intelligence. But, no, it is the ODNI, spelled out as above, really. And it should go.
Why was it ever created in the first place, this unnecessary entity?  It was created in 2005 as a reaction to the failures of the US intel establishment to “connect the dots” in the runup to the 9/11/01 disastrous attack that killed about 3,000 people in a terrorist attack, about 1.5% of the number of people

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An Irony About Interest Rates And Income Distribution

October 29, 2020

An Irony About Interest Rates And Income Distribution

 It has long been a truism of economics that high-interest rates were favored by wealthy capitalist lenders against poor borrowers, with such a view lying behind the populist demands of the late 19th century.  We are used to applauding Keynes’s forecast of the “euthanasia of the rentiers.” But now that such a situation is upon us of increasingly likely very low-interest rates for a long time ahead, this euthanasia does not seem so much like something poorer people should be all that happy about.
Increasingly it looks like the largest effect of prolonged very low-interest rates is a booming stock and real estate market.  The latter may help the middle class, but those gaining from the former are much

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The Period Of Short Term Memory

October 23, 2020

The Period Of Short Term Memory

 The election is two weeks from today.  When I took an intro psych course over half a century ago, I was taught in it that two weeks is the period of short term memory, the period in which we remember events with special salience.  I do not know if this is still the official view of the profession, but it has since then made sense to me: I seem to be able, even now, to remember what happened day by day for the previous two weeks.  Things before then are “in the past,” although certainly some are salient and on my mind. But those that happened in the past two weeks are just that much more on my mind.
With this in mind even four years ago when people asked me to forecast the election outcome I would drag this up and say

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Stealing Signs

October 19, 2020

Stealing Signs, Econospeak, October 13, 2020
I know this is a widespread and basically trivial matter, but since I had posted earlier about all of the BLM signs on my block (including at our house) accompanied more recently by signs related to the various political races (we have a Senate race, as well as House, and city council here) on the block, where we had some apparently hostile drivebys some while ago.
So last night somebody came and stole all the signs off our block that were not clearly for a GOP candidate in some race, with all the BLM signs going, including ours. I really do not like the idea of somebody coming on my property and stealing something, even if it is just a political sign. Oh well.
Barkley Rosser
In Michigan, similar happens. To

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Why Does MbS Want Hillary Clinton’s Emails?

October 17, 2020

Why Does MbS Want Hillary Clinton’s Emails?

 In yesterday’s Washington Post David Ignatius reports in a column about serious efforts by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) to get the infamous emails of Hillary Clinton publicized, something that President Trump also wants and SecState Pompeo has been promising while complaining about problems getting them out.  My guess is there is nothing in them not already known, but MbS has really been pushing on this.  Aside from trying to help his pal, Trump, what is up with this?
Ignatius speculates that this is tied to a new effort to assert his dictatorial total power in Saudi Arabia by MbS, in particular against the man he removed and replaced as Crown Prince in a coup that was encouraged by the Trump

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In The Face Of Total Turbulence, Go Totally Conventional For The Nobel Prize

October 13, 2020

In The Face Of Total Turbulence, Go Totally Conventional For The Nobel Prize

 I have noted in various places that I could not make a forecast this year on the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel because of all the turbulence on so many fronts going on.  So it occurred to me that the committee might avoid political controversy by going technical, although I thought it more likely they would give it for something in econometrics. But this year’s award was clearly in the works after Jean Tirole and Alvin Roth got theirs.  The real question for this one was which of the “Gang of Four,” David Kreps, Paul Milgrom, John Roberts, and Robert B. Wilson, who co-authored the super important game theory paper on reputation effects,

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When did Israel Become “America’s Best Ally”?

October 10, 2020

When did Israel Become “America’s Best Ally”?

 In the recent US Vice Presidential debate, the current US VP, Mike Pence dropped a throwaway line that until nobody has noticed until now. He labeled Israel as America’s “best ally,” or a term meaning the same thing.
I think that from at least 1917 the “best ally” of the US was either Canada or the UK. Under Trump, both of those alliances were downgraded, although they were loyal to us for all that time.
So now we have the supposedly new “best ally” (might be slightly different wording, but it means this), Israel.
Now I am much more for Israel than many on the left and elsewhere. I have long supported the two-state solution set in Oslo in 1992 or thereabouts. But the current admin throws that into a trash

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A Beady-Eyed Religious Fanatic For The Supreme Court

September 29, 2020

A Beady-Eyed Religious Fanatic For The Supreme Court
 Others may not see what I see when I look at a full-face photo of Amy Conet Barrett, but I see someone who looks like a fanatic to me, although that may be me reading in what I have heard of her views on things, she being Trump’s nominee for the SCOTUS, with GOPsters in the Senate hypocritically ready to put her in there in time to help Trump steal the election.

I know we are not supposed to pick on people for their religious views, but she does belong to a weird cult, the Praise for People group, which is not strictly Catholic as many have claimed, but did come out of the Catholic Charismatic movement in 1971 with most of its members Catholic.  It accepts such things as speaking in tongues, which is

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The “Trump Effect” On Happiness

September 22, 2020

The “Trump Effect” On Happiness

 In a column in yesterday’s Washington Post, Dana Milbank has written on “Trump has made our lives worse. Here’s the proof.”  He labels this apparent outcome of the “Trump Effect.”
Since 1972 the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago has annually studied the nation’s mood. They survey people to find out how they identify their level of happiness. As of this summer, an all-time record low of 14% declared themselves “very happy.” This compares with 29% saying that at the lowest point after the 2008 financial crisis. OTOH, fully 36% declared themselves to be “satisfied” with their financial situation and a record low expressed dissatisfaction, the survey taken at a time when expanded

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The Danger Of Fascism With The Death Of RBG

September 20, 2020

The Danger Of Fascism With The Death Of RBG

 I try to avoid these terms like “fascism,” but it has become clear that Donald J. Trump actively seeks to become an at least authoritarian leader of the US, indeed openly arguing that the Constitution’s limit of only two terms should not hold for him.  We face a clear danger of a contested election that may end up in the Supreme Court. If Trump can put a flunky into the court before the election we may have them putting him in despite a situation where he has clearly lost. And given his recent behavior, backed by a friendly SCOTUS, he would be in position to impose a fascist dictatorship in this nation.
I also note that she died on Rosh Hashanah, and in the Jewish tradition this is a portentous time to die,

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Au Revoir, Robert J. Samuelson

September 15, 2020

Au Revoir, Robert J. Samuelson

 For quite a few years not so long ago I was regularly posting here variations on “Today is Monday, so on the WaPo editorial page Robert J. (not related to Paul A.)* Samuelson is calling yet again for Social Security benefits to be cut,” and he did indeed do that very frequently over a long time.  However, today was his final column for the Washington Post, so we shall no longer have RJS to kick around, sob! It was titled, “Goodbye, readers, and good luck – you’ll need it.”  There is also a letter to the editor from former publisher, Donald Graham, praising RJS and reminiscing knowing him as a freshman in 1962 at Harvard.  Graham noted RJS eschewed a nominal non-partisan position and studied and thought hard about his

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The Bahrain-Israel Mutual Recognition

September 13, 2020

The Bahrain-Israel Mutual Recognition

 This freshly announced mutual recognition follows the one between the UAE and Israel, which set a new pattern, with Bahrain and possibly others (Oman?) predicted to follow.  I am not surprised it was Bahrain that was next, although it may prove to be the only one.  There are several reasons why it was most likely to be next, and why we might not see Oman join in, although that cannot be ruled out.
I see three reasons why Bahrain was most likely to be next, although there are really two fundamental ones with the third arising from those.  The most fundamental one is that of the 6 members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), now largely in shatters due to the sanctions on one of them (Qatar) by several others (Saudi

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How Big Of a “Hoax” Is That “Dirty Dossier”?

September 7, 2020

How Big Of a “Hoax” Is That “Dirty Dossier”?
 In the wake of the Atlantic story by Jeffrey Goldberg about President Trump reportedly referring to the dead Americans lying in the Aisne-Marne Cemetery near Paris as “losers”  and “suckers,” along with a lot of other embarrassing things for him, Trump has called Goldberg a “slimeball” and that that this report is another “hoax” like “the dirty dossier” of Steele, along with “Russia, Russia, Russia” also being a “hoax,” of course, despite the recent bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report further verifying that there was even more Russian interference in the 2016 election than the Mueller Report verified (105 meetings between Trump campaign officials and various Russians, with several of those officials

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