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Robert Waldmann

Robert Waldmann

Robert J. Waldmann is a Professor of Economics at Univeristy of Rome “Tor Vergata” and received his PhD in Economics from Harvard University. Robert runs his personal blog and is an active contributor to Angrybear.

Articles by Robert Waldmann

Kaiser Permanente Commits LIbel

14 days ago

I received an e-mail from Kaiser Permanente with a link to click. I clicked the link and learned that Kaiser Permanente (KP) has libeled me. Below see a definite assertion of fact. KP definitely asserts that I have ignored my legal obligations (the required DPT vaccination — I will not present proof on this point here — might as well admit it). KP’s accusation is false. KP did not perform due or any diligence.

I assert that KP’s conduct is a tort and totally unacceptable. Rather than accept it, I have filed a complaint and written this blog post.

proof that the claim is false (not the part which accuses me of neglecting my legal requirement — I don’t have the proof that that libelous claim is libelous on hand — but it is).

See the

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Were the Polls Wrong

November 14, 2022

As usual I am reading a lot about how the latest shocking election outcome shows the polls were wrong and that polling has become unreliable (no links I’ve been reading this on Twitter). This is not a new assessment of the polls. It was widely argued (again Twitter now I cite Yglesias by name) that the polls were probably wrong.

The alleged errors are exact opposites. Before the election, it was widely (to universally) asserted that polls implied an over optimistic assessment of Democrats’ chances (in particular to hold the Senate). I became very aware of this compulsively comparing different fivethirtyeight forecasts

Note here Steve Benen “In the runup to Election Day 2022, Republicans were optimistic about retaking the upper chamber,

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What is happening in Brazil

November 14, 2022

I googled [what the hell is happening in Brazil] and the only ones of the firsts 10 hits on the election are on how the military found no evidence of fraud. (your googling will vary as google shows me what it expects me to click and now knows much more about me than I do). It is very alarming and sad that the military has expressed an opinioni on a matter which is none of their business (I don’t blame the generals, I think they had to, see below).

OK Brazil demonstrations leads me to France 24

Protests wane in Brazil, but diehards stand by Bolsonaro

but on Twitter I see huge demonstrations (your Twitter stream will certainly differ). I think what is happening is that, after trying to Trump his election loss with real demonstrations,

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A E Housman Comments on the 2022 Midterms

November 9, 2022

AE Housman comments on the election

when it was 2000 1 and 20, I heard a wise man say, give tax cuts away a plenty but keep your fetuses free

for the Roe taken from the women is sold for sighs aplenty and bought with endless rue

but it was ‘1 and 20 no use to tell the GOP

and now it’s ‘2 and 20 and oh ’tis true ’tis true

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Endometriosis

November 4, 2022

Endometriosis is a pain. Tissue like the lining of the uterus grows elsewhere, so that menstruation is not just unpleasant but extremely painful. As a reckless pretend expert on everything, I speculated that it happens because during menstruation some of the tissue (which is not just blood) doesn’t exit the vagina as it should but floats somewhere and starts over.

I think every menstruation implies a small risk of development of endometriosis and there would be advantages of menstruating less than 13 times a year (aside from the obvious ones). It is perfectly possible to reduce the frequency of menstruation (no names but I know a mom with a cute daughter who menstruated twice a year for years).

Birth control pills are not like other pills

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21st century delights

October 29, 2022

I bought a bottle of Belgian beer here in Rome. The guy behind the counter guessed I was from the USA (might have been my Joementum t-shirt) and said something which I now understand was “want a glass”. I said huh and he said “hai bisogna di un bichiere” so I said no.

On my one block way home I saw 4 girls very cheerful about 6 to 8 years old. another with dad was arriving. They said that the had done “dolcetto/scherzeto” that is trick or treat. In the 20th century this concept did not exist in Italy (I know I was here and, with my wife, introduced it).

One Italian innovation is to start trick or treat the 29th (they also allow mardi gras to extend into that which once was Lent).

But the true 21st century joy is that one of the 4

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Is Jon Chait an Antisemite ? He says yes.

October 19, 2022

People who quarrel with those with whom they mostly agree and focus on the “to be sure” paragraph of a column with which they mostly agree are a nuisance. I am such a nuisance. Jon Chait wrote an article noting that the GOP accepts antisemitism and the Democrats don’t. He makes his case. However, he has to deal with the case of Ilhan Omar and (among others) Jonathan Chait. I am going to quote at some length

“A couple of years ago, Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar made some ugly comments about American supporters of Israel having “allegiance to a foreign country.” What was more significant is what happened next. Omar said, “I unequivocally apologize,” and then her party voted for a House resolution denouncing “the pernicious myth of dual

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A Stale Beeveridge Debate

October 14, 2022

It’s that time again*: we have reached the stage in the business cycle when normally sensible economists are alarmed that the Beveridge curve has shifted up. Paul Krugman is (as usual) on the side of relative reason, but he miss-used the curve in this figure

Here he uses the data *and* the assumption that there is a stable Beveridge curve which can be used for medium term forecasting to calculate a level of unemployment consistent with a normal ratio of vacancies to unemployment *assuming* that future observations are on or near the line drawn through recent observations. I suspect that he is succumbing to the iresistable temptation to be an accidental theorist (TM P Krugman).

I will now quote what I wrote on the topic on

“might imagine

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Taiwan Weapons

October 8, 2022

The US military has ideas about how Taiwan can protect itself from a possible Chinese invasion (and therefore deter that invasion) I think they are very good ideas. I think that the proposed program would markedly reduce the threat of a PRC invasion of Taiwan, which is the most alarming threat currently faced by the US and its allies (including the allied country Taiwan, which the US does not recognize). I ask why is this program which is well suited to dealing with the biggest threat the US and allies faces not a good program for the US military too.

My thoughts are triggered by “U.S. Aims to Turn Taiwan Into Giant Weapons Depot” By Edward Wong and John Ismay. In particular

U.S. officials increasingly emphasize Taiwan’s need for

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I am an extreme Inflation dove and complain that heads they win tails I lose

October 7, 2022

The point of this post is that I see an odd consensus about the conclusion based on opposite assumptions. The conclusion is the standard conclusion that US inflation is currently definitely too high and that it is necessary to reduce it even at the risk of a recession.

First the US public considers current US inflation to be a very bad problem. It is easy to see why. Normal people use “inflation” to mean price inflation and assume given nominal income, so inflation so defined implies declining real income (pdf warning).

In contrast economists use inflation to imply an increase in the price level without changes of relative prices which means without changes of real wages or real interest rates. From a certain point of view (OK my point) I

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UK Macroeconomic turmoil

September 29, 2022

This is my second post on the recent troubles with Sterling. In the first, I discussed vibes, mood, and animal spirits. I do think that is the best way to think about what’s going on, but I promised to write as an economist typically do (not as we all our in this case).

The basic facts are that Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced a mini-budget revision including elimination of the 45% income tax bracket. Oddly many financiers who would directly benefit were alarmed. The Pound depreciated to under $1.04 (before recovering) and the 10 year Gilt rate increased by over 1% (before recovering).

There are two economic questions. The first is why a very large policy shift had such a sudden rather huge effect. The second is why the pound depreciated.

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Loss of Truss

September 29, 2022

I really have to write about macroeconomics given the drama across the Channel in the UK. The story so far is that New Prime Minister Liz Truss and Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng have managed to spook money managers by threatening to cut their taxes

. Kwarteng proposed a mini budget cutting the top marginal tax rate (etc). The Pound depreciated not quite reaching parity with the dollar (fell bellow 104 cents though) and the 10 year Gilt (UK treasury) rate briefly shot up over 5% (on Wednesday).

This is a fairly dramatic effect of a tax cut which will cost his majesty’s Treasury about 45 billion pounds next year. Compared to GDP that is about like $ 400 billion in the USA. No doubt a large sum, but dwarfed by US stimulus bills

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Italy Leading in Neo-Fascism and Anti-Fascism

September 28, 2022

Neofascist Giorgia Meloni will be the next Italian Prime minister. I feel I have to write about this being in Rome, but I am clueless as to how it happened (I wasn’t optimistic a year ago – I was expecting authoritarian xenophobe demagogue Matteo Salvini to be the next Italian prime minister — I guess the photo of him wearing a Vladimir Putin T-shirt when on Red Square might have cost him the authoritarian but not that authoritarian vote).

A much more pleasant topic and amazing coincidence is that I have just seen 2 translated versions of the Italian anti fascist anthem “Bella Ciao” on Twitter.

One sung in Ukrainian by Ukrainian soldiers in a trench

Two Ukrainian Resistance Fighters singing Bella Ciao in their trenches. Down with the

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Money In Politics

September 26, 2022

I have two thoughts. The first is that major party presidential candidates would be wise to stop participating in big dollar fundraising events. The second is that we can identify the effect of money on political success, but usually assume that correlation is causation.

I think that three major party candidates have seriously hurt themselves while raising money from rich donors. Barack Obama wishes he hadn’t said “clinging”, Mitt Romney wishes he hadn’t said 47% and Hillary Clinton sure deplores the day she said “deplorables”. Each gaffe had a non-negligible effect on the campaigns. Each was said to big dollar donors.

I think it is easy to understand why. At fund raisers, the candidates feel that they are among friends and are less

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Ezra Klein on ARPA-H

September 25, 2022

As usual it is best to just click and read as the column is well crafted and I can’t summarize or explain well.

The topic?

“On Monday, President Biden announced that Dr. Renee Wegrzyn, a biotech executive who previously worked at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, better known as Darpa, would be the first director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Health, ARPA-H.”

Klein is very enthusiastic. I know something about the topic and have some thoughts.

To try to summarize. ARPA-H is an attempt to build on two (or three) great successes. FIrst DARPA is one of the key engines of economic growth responsible for, among other things, the internet. Second operation Warp Speed actually contributed to the extremely rapid

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Marking My Beliefs About Weapons to Market 2 (Military 3/N)

September 17, 2022

On April 1 2022 I wrote

“I score Robert 4 Pentagon 0.

I currently oppose the F-35 procurement program.

No score yet.”

I didn’t know that 4 days earlier on March 28 2022 Valerie Insinna had published “F-35 cuts, F-15 boost, and E-3 replacement: Air Force’s $170B budget makes big moves in FY23“

“the biggest and most controversial moves are found in the department’s $29.3 billion procurement account — including $1.7 billion to buy an unspecified number of B-21 bombers and the Air Force’s decision to decrease the number of Lockheed Martin-made F-35s procured this year in favor of buying more F-15EXs from Boeing.

In total, the service will request 33 F-35As for $4.5 billion — a total of 15 fewer joint strike fighters when compared to

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How much would it cost to eliminate US Poverty ? Why don’t we ?

September 17, 2022

First the US poverty gap is on the order of $180 billion per year. That is the sum over all households with income under the poverty line of the amount that household’s income is below the poverty line. That is a small amount of money compared to US GDP or even US Federal Government spending.

This uses the official poverty line which is very low (and the official pretax cash income which leaves out the earned income tax credit and SNAP (the program formerly known as foodstamps). What is the problem (please don’t ruin my punchline by shouting “Joe Manchin”).

First just bringing income up to the poverty line would imply all people who are currently poor would face a 100% tax rate — more market income implies a one for one cut in benefits and

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US Public Opinion on Income redistribution

September 17, 2022

I am going to give a hostage to fortune. I am going to guess that the preferred policy supported by a majority of US respondents on questions about redistribution of income is that which would directly serve the narrow short term economic interests of a (probably different but overlapping) majority of US respondents.

I am guessing that the majority view is that view which would be the majority view if everyone were selfish (and out and proud selfish when polled).

Before checking, I can think of one arguable exception — there is majority support for a higher minimum wage even though only tiny minority now receive the minimum wage and a small minority receive a wages lower than the proposed new minimum. Here I think I can appeal to “directly”,

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How Does the War in Ukraine end ?

September 17, 2022

As always, I must start by saying I have no expertise and there is no reason anyone should be particularly interested in my thoughts.

The question is how will the war in Ukraine end. I guess I have a guess, but it implies it will last a long time.

I can think of 3 possibilities, Russian victory, Ukrainian victory or a negotiated peace.

First, I think it won’t end with Russian victory. Given recent Ukrainian battlefield victories, this sounds obvious. I think also that even if the Russian army were to defeat the Ukrainian army (as I and many others expected at the time of the invasion) the war would not end, but rather shift to a guerrilla war of resistance. It is clear that even a battlefield victory would require Russian mobilization

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Marking Ezra Klein’s Beliefs to Market

August 29, 2022

A tweet sent me to this column Ezra Klein wrote long, long ago in a city far away. In the heady day of April 8 2021, Klein discussed Joseph Biden’s radicalism and contrasted it with Barack Obama’s caution. I remember. Biden had just signed the American Rescue plan and was proposing what would be called the infrastructure bill and the Inflation Reduction Act (ne’ Build Back Better).

“I covered him in the Senate, in the Obama White House, in the Democratic Party’s post-Trump reckoning. Biden was rarely, if ever, the voice calling for transformational change or go-it-alone ambition.

But you’d never know it from his presidency. “

Since then, the sausage has been Machine-made and it seems long. long ago. However, Klein is smart enough that his

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Means Testing

August 26, 2022

First warnings — as usual I am writing on a topic discussed by many experts and I am not an expert. It is very often debated whether social welfare programs should be means tested (available only to people with low income or to people with low income and low wealth). An alternative is universal programs which are provided also to high income people (Medicare, Social Security old age and survivor pensions, K-12 public school, police protection, fire department putting out fires — most programs)

In particular, the topic of the week is Biden’s student debt forgiveness plan, which forgives $10,000 of student debt only if income is less than $125,000 per year. I do not want to focus on this particular program (because it has been discussed a lot and

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Alzheimer’s II

July 24, 2022

I was provoked to write the post immediately below by this shocking article which suggests possible fraud.

I feel the need to comment on this passage

“Yet Aβ still dominates research and drug development. NIH spent about $1.6 billion on projects that mention amyloids in this fiscal year, about half its overall Alzheimer’s funding. Scientists who advance other potential Alzheimer’s causes, such as immune dysfunction or inflammation, complain they have been sidelined by the “amyloid mafia.” “

WTF ? It is not one or the other. Amyloid beta oligomers bind to tole-like pattern receptors on microglia causing them to release inflammatory peptides (including TNF alpa). TNF alpha stimulates the production of amyloid beta. It isn’t amyloid beta *or*

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Alzheimers and Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha

July 24, 2022

Sorry I will not provide links.

Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha (TNF alpha) is an inflamatory peptide hormone. A soluble protein which is based on part of the receptor for TNF alpha is used to treat arthritis. It has been noted from health insurance records that this treatment is associated with a much reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

One important aspect of Alzheimer’s is the formation of placques (clumps) of a peptide called amyloid beta. Amyloid beta oligimers (like about 50 of them stuck to each other) induce cells in the brain called microglia to release, among other things, TNF alpha. TNF alpha causes neurons to synthesize amyloid beta precursor and 2 proteases which process the precursor to amyloid beta.

This suggests that

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Contra Euro 2/n

July 23, 2022

The Eurozone is not an optimum currency area. The Euro as such was a bad idea to begin with. Notably, this was the standard view of US economists. The North American argument (originating in Canada) was that a currency should be used in an area within which people are willing to move to get a job. The original argument was that the US dollar zone and Canadian dollar zone were not optimal areas and that Western Canada should have the same currency as the US Pacific coast and Eastern Canada as the US Atlantic coast and great lakes region. The argument made over in the USA was that the current Eurozone was nothing of the kind, since people spoke many different languages in it (also food and culture and not really liking each other all that much),

To

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Contra Euro 1/N

July 23, 2022

I have discovered that there are still people who think that adopting the Euro was a good idea, or at least not a bad idea, or at least not a catastrophe.

They seem to have decided that the Greek fiscal tragedy is a minor issue. I will leave it out of the discussion.

My view is that the Euro *and* the Stability and Growth Pact have worked together to endanger the project of European integration. There are strange developments of far right, far left, and weird hair political movements replacing the centrists and social democrats who dominated Europe until it adopted the Euro. They all have something in common — hostility to the European Commission, Eurocrats, and elite technicians (who do not have a clue about technique).

European Populism

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For Peat’s Sake

July 13, 2022

“Peatlands cover only a small fraction of the Earth’s surface (3%), yet store more than 15%–30% of terrestrial carbon (C) stocks”

One of the terrible tipping points is oxidation of Peat due to warming (another is release of methane from melting tundra). But one key question is why didn’t the carbon in peat turn to methane?

I think the reason is that methanogens can’t handle low pH and that a combination of waste and acid promotes takeover by Spagnum moss which is one of the worlds leading carbon sinks.

Links. Ph, Sphagnum, preventing bovine flatulence, For Pete’s Sake.

Tags: Carbon sinks, Methane Control, oxidation of Peat

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Money In Politics

July 1, 2022

The silver standard, one hundred and Thirty pieces of Silver’s thought

“In evaluating fundraising for congressional candidates, the model now places more emphasis on contributions received within the candidate’s state. Fundraising is a highly nationalized activity these days; Democrats in California and New York regularly contribute to Senate campaigns like that of Democrat Jaime Harrison of South Carolina, who raised a record amount of money in 2020 but nonetheless lost to Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham by 10 percentage points. As such, our analysis finds that a dollar received from within a candidate’s state is about five times as valuable as a dollar received outside of it in predicting the eventual election outcome.5 That’s why the model now

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Stealth II

May 8, 2022

I think that with “Stealth” I indulged my inclination to try to figure things out more than I should have.The practical point is my claim that stealth technology is obsolete. I think this is well known and yet not allowed to effect the US Federal Budget.

I cite the Wikipedia

“Low-frequency radar[edit]

Shaping offers far fewer stealth advantages against low-frequency radar. If the radar wavelength is roughly twice the size of the target, a half-wave resonance effect can still generate a significant return. However, low-frequency radar is limited by lack of available frequencies (many are heavily used by other systems), by lack of accuracy of the diffraction-limited systems given their long wavelengths, and by the radar’s size, making it

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Taiwan Harpoon Budget

May 5, 2022

Taiwan says new Harpoon missiles will help it crush half of Chinese invasion fleet

Taiwan says US$2.37 billion worth of Harpoon missiles would enable it to obliterate half of Chinese invasion armada

“TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s military on Oct. 27 [2020] stated that the potential sale of US$2.37 billion worth of Harpoon anti-ship missiles will within five years help enable its defenders to wipe out “half of any” People’s Liberation Army (PLA) invasion force.

On Oct. 26, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) issued a press release announcing that the U.S. State Department has given the green light to the sale of 100 Harpoon Coastal Defense Systems (HCDS) and associated equipment for approximately US$2.37 billion.

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Stealth

May 3, 2022

First the usual warning – I am both ignorant and intellectually arrogant.  It should be assumed that I don’t know what I am talking about.

Stealth technology hides airplanes, drones, and cruise missiles from radar which uses high frequency radio waves.  It does not hide them from radar which uses radio waves of wavelength a meter or more – the thickness of the stealthy covering would have to be similar to that wavelength.  This means that an F-35 would show up on radar used during World War II.

It has been argued that this doesn’t matter, because radar does not show the location of an airplane unless the diameter of the radar dish is many times the wavelength so an otherwise standard but anti-stealth radar would need a dish 90 feet across.

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