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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

Stealing Signs

4 days ago

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?

6 days ago

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

10 days ago

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”?

13 days ago

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

24 days ago

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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Should We Fear A Reappearance Of Inflation?

September 4, 2020

Should We Fear A Reappearance Of Inflation?

 In today’s Washington Post Robert J. Samuelson has raised the possibility that the Federal Reserve may be setting the US up for a reappearance of inflation.  He invoked the 1960s and 1970s when supposedly the Fed allowed inflation to get out of control out of a supposedly misguided effort to bring down unemployment by allowing successive small increases in inflation. Supposedly the newly released report on changed Fed policies may be taking us back to those bad old days, even though for now RJS admits that inflation is low, with expectations of inflation only at 1.34%.  How worried should we be?
OK, I am not going to say that a resurgence of inflation is impossible.  I can imagine it possibly resurging, with

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There Will Be No Postponing Social Security Taxes

September 1, 2020

[unable to retrieve full-text content]There Will Be No Postponing Social Security Taxes  Among the items that President Trump issued an “executive action” about three weeks ago was that for people earning less than around $104.000 per year, their fica taxes were to be postponed until Jan. 1, not cut, merely postponed, although Trump made noises that if he is […]

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An Increasing Anomaly In The US Balance Of Payments

August 31, 2020

An Increasing Anomaly In The US Balance Of Payments

 On Econbrowser Menzie Chinn has posted about an increase in the scale of US international net indebtedenss. Since the late 1980s the US has been a net debtor internationally, borrowing more from abroad then we are lending and investing there.  The increase in this net indebtedness has noticeably accelerated since our current POTUS took office, and especially this year.  The size of that net indebtedness has gone from about 40% of US GDP to somewhat more than 55%, a pretty substantial increase, given that we have been in this condition for over three decades and in three years by more than a third.  The fiscal stimulus of this year has definitely been overwhelmingly financed by foreign borrowing.
This

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Remembering The Bombing Of Sterling Hall A Half Century Ago

August 25, 2020

Remembering The Bombing Of Sterling Hall A Half Century Ago

 A half-century ago at 3:42 AM on Monday, August 24, 1970, the New Year’s Gang set off an ammonium nitrate bomb in the back of a Ford pickup truck next to Sterling Hall on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.  They were aiming it at the Army Mathematics Research Center, then directed by my later father, J. Barkley Rosser [Sr.]. However, they were notoriously the Gang That Could Not Bomb Straight and hit the physics department instead, killing a physics post-doc, Robert Fassnacht, and injuring several other people, as well damaging buildings even blocks away, aside from the major damage to Sterling Hall itself.
Of the gang, three would eventually be apprehended and serve time in jail: the

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Whining About Lack Of Academic Leadership

August 23, 2020

Whining About Lack Of Academic Leadership

 At my so-called university named for the fourth president, the slave-owning “Father of the Constitution.”  No, I am not going to talk about the racism issue, which there is some effort to deal with on campus, notably in renaming three buildings named for Confederate figures, with our Provost originally from South Africa speaking reasonably intelligently about that issue.
No, we had our annual general faculty meeting to begin the year, classes supposedly beginning on Wednesday, supposedly a mixture of live and online, although likely to go totally online any minute as Eastern Mennonite University also in Harrisonburg just went totally online and delayed student move-in due to an outbreak of the virus, and

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The UAE-Israel Deal

August 20, 2020

The UAE-Israel Deal

 Several days ago the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Israel have agreed to have diplomatic relations, with this being the third Arab nation to officially recognize Israel, following Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. President Trump and his supporters are claiming that this is a great breakthrough to world peace, with Jared Kushner supposedly the key player on the American side.  But most observers think that this is an exaggeration, to put it mildly.  The standard summary is that this deal is a win-win-win-lose: a win for the US, UAE, and Israel, but a lose for the Palestinians.
Let me give the Trump people, including even the usually incompetent Jared Kushner, some credit.  They have managed to achieve only a handful of international

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The End Of Special Fiscal Stimulus

August 16, 2020

The End Of Special Fiscal Stimulus
 A week ago a two week long negotiation between Dem Congress people, Nancy Pelosi from the House and Chuck Schumer from the Senate and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who cut deals with Pelosi and Schumer three times earlier this year, but now Trump’s Chief of Staff, former Freedom Caucus leader in the House, Mark Meadows, notorious for only destroying deals and never making any. And in this case, all the reporting is that a week ago he “blew up” the negotiations, taking a hard line on orders from Trump. So, where are we at now?

For starters yesterday the Senate adjourned until after Labor Day. So, the market expectations that a deal will be cut soon are a joke. There will be no deal anytime soon, and maybe never. Many

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Donald J. Harris And His Daughter Kamala Harris

August 13, 2020

Donald J. Harris And His Daughter Kamala Harris

 Now the Democratic candidate for Vice President of the United States, a historic pick, no matter what one thinks of her, and I know quite a few people on the left and Dems more generally who are not fans of hers, although many observers think she may be the strongest VP candidate for Biden to beat Trump and Pence, and I am looking forward to her tearing current VP Pence to shreds in their debate.
Anyway, as I have noted a few times before here, I have come to realize how old I am because I know the parents of people running for president, and one of those happens to be the father of the now-selected Dem VP nominee, Kamala Harris, who was running for prez before she strategically pulled out early back in

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Interpol Supports Murder Charge Against MbS

August 8, 2020

Interpol Supports Murder Charge Against MbS

 In today’s Washington Post David Ignatius reports that Interpol refused a request from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) to extradite Saad Aljabri to Saudi Arabia from Canada in 2017. MbS had been trying to entice Aljabri to return and had arrested his children, who remain arrested despite complaints from the US government and basically the entire rest of the world. Aljabri was the top aide of MbS’s rival, the former Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Nayef (MbN), who was overthrown by MbS in a coup. Aljabri and MbN were highly regarded by officials in the US of several administrations, as well as other governments, and apparently was personally responsible for blocking a serious possible terrorist attack

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How To Measure Quarterly Changes In GDP Can Make A Big Difference

August 7, 2020

How To Measure Quarterly Changes In GDP Can Make A Big Difference

We have had dramatic headlines and commentary in recent days since the BEA issued its initial estimate of quarterly changes in GDP, which they do not officially measure on an shorter time period. This is a measure of the average GDP in one quarter compared to the average GDP in the next quarter.  Looking at Q1 of this year and Q2 of this year, they reported the largest quarterly decline ever recorded, -32.9% on an annualized rate, about -9.5% on a quarterly rate. This is a sharper decline than seen either for any pair of quarters in the Great Depression or the immediate post-WW II demobilization, much less such later events as the Great Recession of 2007-09.  Of course this generated big

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Goodbye To The Last True Georgist Economist: Mason Gaffney

July 29, 2020

Goodbye To The Last True Georgist Economist: Mason Gaffney

Mason (“Mase”) Gaffney died on July 26 in Redlands, CA of Covid-19 at age 96.  He was both a great guy as well as arguably what the title to this says: “the last true Georgist economist,” with such economists being followers of Henry George, whose 1878 book, Progress and Poverty, was the best-selling book on economics in the US during the 19th century.  George was a journalist who ran unsuccessfully for Mayor of New York.  His book, drawing on influences from Quesnay and Ricardo, advocated that there be a single (“site”) tax on land, replacing other taxes.  Advocates of this view, such as Mase, argued that it brought about an economy that was both equitable and efficient.
Gaffney became a

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Managing A Zoom Conference

July 27, 2020

Managing A Zoom Conference

As of the end of this week, I completed chairing the 30th annual international conference of the Society for Chaos Theory in Psychology and Life Sciences, with 54 participants from around the world.  It basically went well, and it was kind of cool to make introductory remarks at 8 AM during EDT, with somebody on at 6 AM their time in Montana and someone else on at 10 PM their time in Sydney, Australia.  It can be done, and even with parallel sessions happening.
Of course there were the usual snafus of people getting bad internet connections and disappearing or becoming mute while presenting, which does not happen in live sessions.  There were also some people who failed to present due to not being able to properly load or

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RIP Tonu Puu

July 20, 2020

RIP Tonu Puu

Seems like more people I know are dying.  In this case it is a good friend of mine and occasional co-author, the Swedish economist, Tonu Puu, who was born in Estonia of an Estonian father and a mother of German ancestry.  As it was, he ended up speaking a very large number of languages, as well as being very cosmopolitan in many other ways. He was 83 years old and had cancer for some time, which is what I presume he did of, although the announcement did not specify a cause, but it happened this past Saturday in Umea in northern Sweden, where he was at the university there for most of his career.
Before talking about his work in economics, I want to note that probably more important for him was music.  He made baroque instruments such as

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Truth Is The Daughter Of Time

July 19, 2020

Truth Is The Daughter Of Time

This is a frontispiece to a 1951 mystery novel by Josephine Tey (real name: Elizabeth Makintosh) named _The Daughter of Time_It is about the question of whether or not King Richard III ordered the murder of the “Little Princes in the Tower,” his nephews Edward and Richard, as has  long been alleged, and for a long time was simply accepted as historical fact.  This bestselling and very well and wittily written novel makes the case that Richard was framed by his successor, Henry (Tudor) VII, who usurped him after defeating and killing him in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.  Tey manages to build up through the novel a very convincing case for this view, which I shall not get into the details of, although I highly

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More Likely Bad Economic Forecasting: This Time From OECD And CBO

July 17, 2020

More Likely Bad Economic Forecasting: This Time From OECD And CBO

That would be the quintessential establishment and boringly conventional Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, the Paris-based “rich nations’” entity that grew out of the Marshall Plan and has a reputation for excellent data, and also the Congressional Budget Office, generally regarded as bipartisan and highly professional.
So I saw their forecasts of US economic performance in terms of GDP and unemployment rates for the end of this year, and I find both to be highly unlikely, probably way too pessimistic.  I get these from a column in today’s Washington Post by the often execrable Robert J. Samuelson, but here he is playing it straight and just reporting.  Indeed, the main

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Being Targeted

July 12, 2020

Being Targeted

Arguably this is paranoia, but the mayor and police chief of my city do not think so and have officially reacted with a formal response.  What a sign that I am an old whatever, praising local law enforcement, but, well….
So the issue is that late last evening a truck full of masked white men, and no, we are not talking health masks but ones that cover ID, with flags waving including the Confederate battle flag, were going up and down our block taking photos of certain houses, including ours.  What did these objects of this photographic effort find consistent?  We all had posters on our property declaring “Black Live Matters.” Many on our block became upset over this, including my wife, and now the City of Harrisonburg, VA  police are

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Death Comes To My Old Economics Department

July 11, 2020

Death Comes To My Old Economics Department

That would be the one at my alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  I have learned that on July 6 one of its current members died, Bill Sandholm, an excellent evolutionary game theorist who was about 50 years old.  It is a sign of my age that he always seemed quite young to me, barely older than my oldest daughter, and now he is dead.  He was a very nice guy, aside from being a very capable economist who was the Richard Stockwell Professor of Economics and once helped me out with a paper that was in a Revise and Resubmit condition.
I bring this up because there is an unconfirmed rumor that he died of complications of Covid-19, with for the moment nobody that I know, including members of the department,

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Worrying About November 3, 2020

July 9, 2020

Worrying About November 3, 2020

Sigh.  So the US election is now just four days less than being four months from now, and, really, anything can happen. After all, four days less than four months ago was March 11, just before the US fully recognized that we were in a pandemic, with everything closing, and “the economy falling off a cliff,” as it is now put, but was not obvious on 3/11 at all, even though it was only about two days away.  And the murder of George Floyd was still some time off.  So, the world can turn completely upside down before the election, and nobody should forget that what really matters is what happens in the two weeks before the election, the period of short-term memory, and that really cannot be foreseen.  I mean, those who hate

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Wildly Off Forecasts?

July 2, 2020

Wildly Off Forecasts?

The macroeconomic forecasting business has become quite unhinged in the current situation, with existing models seeming to have their wheels coming off as old relationships simply do not hold and reported data seems unreliable and going in all sorts of directions.  We have already seen this happen regarding forecasts that were made for the May employment numbers, with most forecasters projecting employment declines that would have been more than 10%, some of them by a lot more than that, although none more than 20%. But in the end employment was estimated to have grown by over 2%, a situation of the forecasters simply being wildly wrong.
As it is, with the month of June now over and thus the second quarter over, it looks

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Going Too Far

June 25, 2020

Going Too Far

Unfortunately, it was going to happen, and we who support the movement need to call out those instances where it goes too far.  I am talking about the justified Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, mostly characterized by widespread peaceful protests even in small rural towns that never see such things, and with a solid majority of the American people currently supporting both the BLM and its main demands.  As it is, one should probably not tie the BLM to some of these recent unacceptable events, although those engaged in them will justify their actions as being part of the movement. This should not be accepted.
OK, the one that has really put me off happened last night at sometime after 10:30 PM in Madison, Wisconsin.  A statue I know well

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