Monday , January 27 2020
rosserjb@jmu.edu

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

Covering Up The Coverup

4 days ago

I keep thinking that Fox News cannot get worse, but there seems to be no bottom to how low they can go.  New lows are being exhibited in their coverage of the current Senate impeachment trial.  They are fully involved in covering up the Trump administration coverup of what Trump did regarding the articles of impeachment. Anybody getting their news on this trial from Fox will really have no idea what is going on or what the case is that the House managers of the prosecution are arguing.I am not following the trial fully, and I am only occasionally popping to Fox News to see what they are doing, but I have seen enough.  The main thing they do, and I am seeing Sean Hannity do more of it after seeing Tucker Carlson also do it, is that they barely show the presentations of the House managers.

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Guns and Commas

5 days ago

I am glad that the large pro-gun rights rally in Richmond on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day end without any violence as had been threatened by some people around the US.  That is nice, but it does not end the unpleasant situation legal situation that has arisen here in Virginia.  As of now 93 jurisdictions, mostly counties, have declared themselves "gun sanctuaries" where any gun control legislation passed by the Virginia government will not be enforced.  The bills currently having received majority support in the Assembly and Senate with support from Governor Northam include requiring uinversal background checks for all gun sales (while allowing intra-family gun transfeers without that), a one-gun per month limit on gun purchases, and an especially controversial "red flag" bill allowing for

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The US-China Nothing Burger Trade Deal

11 days ago

There has been much hype about the signing of Phase One (and probably only) US-China trade deal.  However based on a front page story in today’s Washington Post, there is not much there.  The US did not raise tariffs as planned, but tariff still remain on two thirds of the sectors that had them, although some were halved.  But numerous US sectors see no change at all and are now viewing the  situation as not likely to improve, with them suffering losses of business likely to return.  Among those are chemicals, apparel retailers, and auto parts. In these and other sectors there is not much reduction of uncertainty regarding US-China trade, so not likely much increase in investment.The main items in it besides no worsening of tariffs, China has made promises not to pressure US firms to turn

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Further Followup On The Soleimani Assassination

12 days ago

I wish to bring out some matters not getting a lot of attention in the US media.An important one of those was reported two days ago by Juan Cole. It is that apparently it has not been determined for certain that the initial attack that set off this current round of deaths when a militia in Iraq attacked an Iraqi military base in Kirkuk in which an American contractor was killed, almost certainly a matter of collateral damage although not recognized as such, was actually done by Kata’b Hezbollah, the group reported to have done it.  That group was commanded by al-Mushani, who was also assassinated with Soleimani, with whom he was allied.  But it is not certain that they did it.  As it is, the Kirkuk base is dominated by Kurdish Pesh Merga, with whom it is not at all obvious the pro-Iranian

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Can The US Assassination Of Qasem Solemiani Be Justified?

18 days ago

We know from various Congressional folks that briefers of Congress have failed to produce any evidence of "imminent" plans to kill Americans Soleimani was involved with that would have made this a legal killing rather than an illegal assassination.  The public statements by administration figures have cited such things as the 1979 hostage crisis, the already dead contractor, and, oh, the need to "reestablish deterrence" after Trump did not follow through on previous threats he made.  None  of this looks remotely like "imminent plans," not to mention that the Iraqi PM Abdul-Mahdi has reported that Soleimani was on the way to see him with a reply to a Saudi peace proposal.  What a threatening imminent plan!As it is, despite the apparent lack of "imminent plans" to kill Americans, much of

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Are We Living In The “Capitalocene”?

20 days ago

I also attended the last session listed in the program at the ASSA at 2:30 on Sunday, an URPE session on "Ecology, the Environment, and Energy," chaired by Paul Cooney.  He presented on "Marxism and Ecological Economics: An Assessment of the Past, Present, and Future." Lynne Chester presented on "Energy and Social Ontology: Can Social Ontology Provide Insight?"  Finally Ann Davis presented on ""’Home on the Range:’ Integrating the Household and Ecology."  There were a lot of interesting ideas in these talks, and there was a vigorous discussion about them involving the audience.What I want to present here is not anything in particular from the talks, but rather a remark from probably the most insightful commenter in the audience.  That was my old friend, David Barkin, who has lived in

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Might We Be On The Verge Of An “Upswing”?

20 days ago

One of the more dramatic sessions at the just-completed ASSA meetings in San Diego was an AEA panel on "Deaths from Despair and the Future of Capitalism" on Saturday at 2:30.  Chaired by Angus Deaton, it focused on the book by him and his wife/coauthor Anne Case with the same title as the panel session.  Case spoke on their book.  This was followed by Robert Putnam, who spoke on his forthcoming (in about six months) new book, The Upswing, which this post will focus on. This was followed by Raghuram Rajan, who spoke about his recently published book, The Third Pillar: The Community. Finally Ken Rogoff commented on the Case/Deaton book, although he has no new book of his own.So all of these focused on the declining life expectancy in the US, along with the associated broader breakdown of

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Is The Chines Economic System the “Mandarin Growth Model” or the “Chinese-Style Keiretsu System”?

22 days ago

The first term in this choice was the title of a paper presented this morning (1/4/20) at the ACES/ASSA session at 8 AM in San Diego by Wei Xiong of Princeton University.  It was a highly mathematical model I shall describe shortly, but which drew heavily on the paper presented before it by Chenggan Xu of Cheng Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing, the alma mater of Jack Ma who founded Alibaba and the founder of Sinopec and the richest woman in China, etc. His paper was titled "Institutional Genes of China’s Socio-Economic Development," with it discussed by the current ACES (Association of Comparative Economics) president, Scott Rozelle of Stanford.The simplistic version of the "Mandarin model of growth" according to Wei Xiong is "political centralization with fiscal

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Killing Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis

22 days ago

Most of the attention in this recent attack by a US drone at the Baghdad Airport has been on it killing Iranian Quds Force commadder, Qasim (Qassem) Solmaini (Suleimani), supposedly plotting an "imminent" attack on Americans as he flew a commercial airliner to Iraq at the invitation of its government and passed through passport control.  But much less attention has been paid to the killing in that attat of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, commander  of the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq and reportedly an officer in the Iraqi military, as well as being accoeding to Juan Cole a Yazidi Kurd, although the PMF is identified as being a Shia militia allied with Iran.The problem here is that supposedly US leaders approved this strike because there were no Iraqi officials in this grroup; it was

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Thiessen Balances His Policy Defense Of Trump

26 days ago

Several days ago I posted on Marc A. Thiessen’s defense of 10 policies by Trump in WaPo.  I must now credit him with today on New Year’s Eve in the same venue publishing a column "The 10 worst things Trump did in 2019."  Good for him, some balance after all.  I agree these are all bad things, although I disagree with some of his analysis of them, with a few caveats especially on a couple of the foreign policy items.  However, I shall just list them with Thiessen’s conclusion.10. He ridiculously claimed "Our country is FULL"9. He used anti-Semitic tropes to attack his enemies.8. He said the Soviet Union was right to invade Afghanistan and congratulated China on the 70th anniversary of the Communist takeover.7. He lost a needless government shutdown.6. He used his emergency authority to

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Forward Creeping Excessmass Wins The War On Christmas

26 days ago

"Excessmass" is a term neologized in a column in the late 1990s in the Wall Street Journal (sorry, unable to find precise date) by my JMU colleague, Bill Wood.  A devout Brethren, he was and remains disgusted by the crass commercialism associated with the Christmas holiday in the US. In this column he proposed dividing the holiday into two: a strictly religious one, "the Nativity" without gift giving, and a gift giving one he argued should be called "Excessmass," a term that did not particularly catch on, but I am reviving as I see its forward creep as in fact damaging it not outright destroying the traditional religious Christmas, certainly far more vigorously than any bout of people saying "Happy Holidays!" to each other.What triggered this post is that over the weekend in the

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The Unreasonableness Of The Policy Defense Of Trump

December 28, 2019

In today’s (12/27/19) Washington Post, regular Trump defender, Mark A. Thiessen published a column, "The 10 best things Trump did in 2019"  This turns out to be mostly things either not worth defending or Thiessen, who simply never criticizes Trump, misrepresenting situations.  Here they are.10. "He continued to deliver for the forgotten Americans."  This amounts to unemployment continuing to decline, wages beginning to rise, and supposedly 57 percent of Americans saying they are better off since he became president.  Yes, this by and large happened, but amounts to Trump managing to having avoided derailing the expansion he inherited from Obama.  The problem is that he enacted many policies that have hurt the poor and redistributed money to the rich.  They would have been even better off

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Is There An Objective Reality?

December 23, 2019

Yes.So this is the ontological question: is supposed apparently "objective" reality really real?I come at this as someone who in the past questioned this.  I had my period of post-modernist questioning of objective reality. This culminated in a paper, which  I presented as a major address to receive a major recognition at my university, "Belief: Its role in economic theory and action," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, 1993.I shall stand by the vast majority of things I said in that paper, now under criticism on various fronts, but not all. I shall note, without bothering to reply specifically to any of those comments here, that indeed I there are things in this paper I now disagree with.  This was the height of my agreement with the pomo view of the universe.  But I had moved

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Does Menzie Chinn Or Tyler Cowen Replace Mark Thoma?

December 19, 2019

The retirement of Mark Thoma, whose Economists View has been praised on his retirement with having transformed the econoblogosphere back in the mid- noughties by linking regularly, daily in his heyday, to other blogs, including this one. Thanks to him when the big crash happened, there was a wide open debate across levels and schools of thought in economics about what was going down. But for some time now, Mark has been reducing his activity on his blog, with it stopping being the reliable every day link to other blogs some time ago.  I fear that this combined with his retirement may be a signal of the decline, if not the outright death yet, of the econoblogosphere, at least as an important intellectual and policy force.The obvious new competitor has been Twitter, which I confess I still

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Theh Afghanistan War

December 16, 2019

The Washington Post has over the last 7 days published a detailed account based on many secret documents they have spent years obtaining to provide an accurate account of what has happened during what is now the longest war the US has been engaged in.  It is an impressive account, which I have tried to follow, although with finishing a semester I did not read every word ot it. But it is a serious and important serious series, just reaching its conclusion today, along with lots of commentary in the WaPo Sunda Outlook section.One extremely serious bottom line on both of them was lying by US officials, just rampant and all over the place for both wars.  WaPo Outlook had an especially useful column by Lauren Kay Johnson who was US military PR person in late 2009-early 2010, soon after Obama

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At This Point Richard Nixon Resigned

December 14, 2019

Richard Nixon resigned as president after the House Judiciary Committee recommended he  be impeached, the vote that just happened yesterday for President Trump.  In the case of Nixon that vote was followed by a famous visit from three poerful GOP senators, including Barry Goldwater, who informed Nixon that he had lost the support of the GOP in the Senate.  Of course now we have the GOP Senate Majority Leader McConnell going on Sean Hannity to promise that Trump will not be convicted and that he will "coordinate" with Trump’s lawyers to make sure there is no conviction.Curiously, public polling support for impeaching Nixon only got ahead of opposition to it after the SCOTUS ruling that led to the public  release of the so-called "smoking gun" tape about a month before Nixon resigned.  In

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Is The Trump Trade War Over?

December 14, 2019

Probably not, but maybe.The basic problem is that Trump has long wanted t beat up on other nations in a trade war, but now he is getting impeached and he needs positive news, and the stock markets like word that he is making trade deals. So now we get trade deals, but it is all sort of a mess.So there are two matters here. One involves China, discussed in a new post here by pgl, which I shall comment on later. But my quick take on it is that he has made essentially similar proclamations in May, April, and even Dec. 2018. Sure, China will buy lots of US ag products and will respect intellectual property rights.  The number of times the la tter has been promised, I havelost count of.  As for the former, well, Trump is still trying to pay off his farmer losers with US taxpayer money.So, the

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Stealing The 2016 Election?

December 13, 2019

I have been watching the later stages of the still-ongoing House  Judiciary Comm hearing on impeaching Trump.  I have seen Republicans repeatedly ranting on about how this is an effort to undo the "popular election" of Trump, the will of the "63 million" who voted for Trump.Really, how dumb are these people? Hillary had three million more than Trump, 66 million.  He was not the popular winner.  What a joke.Of course impeachment is explicitly an undoing of an election result.  The person elected, even ones who actually won the popular vote such as Nixon and Clinton, is charged with having engaged in conduct meaning they should be removed.  Quite aside from the hypocritical idiocy of ranting over Trump’s "popular" election, this claim about elections and impeachment is simply

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Smoking At The Fed

December 11, 2019

This is about the now late Paul Volcker, but I shall come in from an odd and particular persprctive. Upfront, I did meet the late Paul Volcker several times, although never in an official situation.  Much of "inside" stuff I shall say comes from others.I do not know the details of the Fed prior to the 1970s, but at least as of the Chairmanship of Milton Friedman’s major prof, Arthur Burns, who capitulated to the  demands of Nixon for his 1972 reelection,  But it was clear that Burns was carrying on a long established tradition in the Board of Govs of the Fed: they smoked their behinds off in their supersecret meetings in the old days (not the "openness" of now).What really went on in the earlier days is myth, but then in the 1970s Fed Chairs came to be required to testify on a regular

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How Long Will US Foreign Net Income Dark Matter Continue?

December 6, 2019

The United States became a net foreign debtor in 1985.  With current account deficits every year since that net foreign indebtedness has steadily increased since, reaching a reported total of -$10.56 trillioin as of Sept. 30 this year, a substantial total.However, while many have long predicted that this mounting net foreign indebtedness would eventually lead to the US having also having a net negative capital income flow, it has not happened.  In 1985 when the US initially into net indebtedness, the US had a net surplus on capital income of about $30 billion.  Rather than shrinking, that surplus has increased somewhat apparently in the subsequent 34 years.  As of the  second quarter of this year it appears that the annual surplus of capital income was running in the neighborhood of $100

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The End Of The Harris Candidacy

December 4, 2019

I should probably not waste time on this, but I was a fan of Kamala Harris, and her ending her candidacy while still in fifth  place in the polls, if in a long slide, has me disappointed.  As it is, given her declining polls, lack of money, and reportedly internally divided campaign staff, there, her chances of actually getting the nomination had falle n to effectively zero.   It is actually an act of class on her part to get of the overly crowded Dem field.In light of  the recent sharp decline of Warren as well who is now running #4 among Dems, we now have three white males on top.  As it is I confess that I favored both Warren and Harris over all three oof those and the rest as well.  How is it these problematic three whilte males are on top (I reocgnize that especially supporters of

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Why Did Oil Prices Plunge This Black Friday?

November 29, 2019

Nothing to do with the American super big shopping day after Thanksgiving, but several items, some of which may reverse themselves.  As it is, it was a pretty big drop, nearly 5 percent for the day for both West Texas and Brent crude, with the latter now just above $60 per barrel.The big headline is the resignation of Iraqi prime minister Adil Abdul Mahdi. The immediate trigger of that was that it was demanded by Iraq’s most influential cleri, Ali Sistani.  This came after weeks of mounting protests in Iraq against the government, both in Baghdad, but also among Shia in the South, with Sistani a Shia cleric. He is based in Najaf, the Shia holy city where Imam Ali is buried, the son-in-law of the Prrophet Muhammed.  Protestors had just torched an Iranian consulate there. The supposed

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Putin Beating Up People At Russia’s Top University

November 28, 2019

That would be Moscow State University, the "Harvard" of Russia.Not in the MSM at all, but I have mu sources, and apparently sometime last week the FSB, the successor to the domestic  arm of the old  KGB, raised Moscow State (whose main building is one of those "Stalin Gothic" skyscrapers) to capture a student who had been posting leaflets on walls protesting recent government actions.  He was reortedly taken into the library and severely beaten to the point of torture.Oh yes, VV Putin is such a lover of knowledge and science, just like his flunky, Donald J. Trump.Happy Thanksgiving, you all.Barkley Rosser

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Complicating The ARAMCO IPO

November 27, 2019

Thee Saudi ARAMCO IPO is happening on the Saudi exchange just for Saudi citizens, where apparently there is a not-so-subtle campaign on well off and connected citizens who wish to remain that way to buy into the IPO.  But there continues to be delays in opening it up to the rest of the world, with this partly reflecting fears of demands that might be made for more openness, and all that, with various Saudis not keen on that, especially apparently at ARACO itself.However there are now reports of another development that might encourage domestic purchases but may further put off foreigners.  This is a nw round of arrests of alleged dissidents, up to at least nine in the last week.  These are all fairly prominents leading citizens, a philosopher, journalists, businessmen.  What is curious

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Chaos Theory And Global Climate Change

November 24, 2019

I am currently attending the Southern Economic Association meetings in Fort Lauderdale, where the street facing the hotel was underwater during the most recent hurricane to pass through.Anyway, I saw a talk today that took me back to when I first learned about chaos theory, actuallly in the early 1970s before the word "chaos" was used for it. I learned about it and the butterfly effect, aka sensitive dependence on initial conditions, while working on a combined model of global climate change and food production.  It was called "irregular dynamics" back then, and the model showing it was climatologist Edward Lorenz, published in 1963.  Blew my mind then.  Anyway, it is widely accepted that the global climate system is chaotic, which is why one can only make weather forecasts for fairly

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The End Of Decaes Having Identities In The USA?

November 21, 2019

We are closing on the centennial of the beginning of decades having identities in the USA, the "Roaring 20s" of the 20th century.  It may be that this centennial will clearly mark the end of this odd phenomenon that we had been used to, but which was always a bit odd.  Why did this start and why might ibe ending?  I have a few thoughts on this.My theory oon why it started in the 1920s is that this was the first appearance of national news media in the form of radio, which was the first time we could really have aunified discusson and consciousness in a way not possible previously.  Certainly there were decades earlier that had the potential for having identities. The 1860s had arguably the most dramatic event of US history, the Civil War, but nobody has ever talked about "the 60s" meaning

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Is Venezuela Stabilizing?

November 15, 2019

Maybe.
ry It looks the inflation ratei in Venezuela maxed  out in January at an annuualized rate of 192,000 % , whiich fell by September to 4,600% rate, still in hyperinflationary teritoryy, but  clearly coming down substantially.  I am not  a fan of this regime and never was, unlike some prominent economists saying nice t8ings about tueir economic performance, especially back in 2007, just berofe  the  world crash, when indeed their  numbers  looked prtty good.  But, not more recently unfortunately.  But maybe they are slowly returning to a more functional economy now, with still a long way to go.There are also reports that oil production in Venezuela has recently risen.  Reportedly some of the recent possible stabilization in Venezuela may reflect influence of Russian advisers.Barkley

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OK, Who Approved Of The Ads Here Now?

November 11, 2019

And not only that, presumably they are paying money to put them on, so who is getting that money?  I am not, although it may not amount to much.  Hey, I see there  are not nearly as many as on Angry Bear, where I find them to be obnoxiously in one’s face, and they are pretty low key.  But, personally, I would rarther not have them and I sure as hell was never asked by anybody if I did want them.This is also a message to those who may think I should be getting rid of weird stuff showing up in posts that I am not the person in charge of that.  So I guess I also have no say on whether we get ads, much less what they will be for.  Heck, I saw some survey about Trump.  I do not even want to see his m–f–g face here at all.Barkley Rosser

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“ok boomer ” or “gas all boomers”

November 9, 2019

Within the last week or so there seems to have been an explosion of yattering over "ok boomer." Over the last few years in various parts of the internet there was a self-righteous meme pushing "gas all boomers."  Yeah. This never made it to the MSM, I suspect  because it was just too extreme for the MSM to publicize.  But now we have the MSM allover this milder "ok boomer" meme, now a big deal.  I think I have an original view of this,that the "gas all boomers"  is an idealistic millennial view, reflecting their boomer parents. This new milder meme reflects the view of the Gen-Z group, My view is that the former nastier "gas all boomers" meme was from the idealistic millennials, strongly rebutting their boomer parents,  We failed them, and them wanted us gassed for our  failures to

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The ARAMCO IPO Stumbles Out The Door

November 6, 2019

Finally after numerous delays, the potentially largest Initial Public Offering (IPO) of stock has finally become for fully state-owned ARAMCO in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).  MOst of the delays had involved an unwillingness by the Saudi royal family to publicize financial and other factual details about the company, although issuing an IPO for 5 percent of the company was a part of the Vision 2030 plan of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS). As it is, for the time being the IPO is only available to Saudi nationals through the Riyadh stock exchange.  It is unclear how long or even if it will open up to foreigners.  Reportedly the Saudis are hoping for it to value  the company at $2 trillion, which would put it well ahead of Apple and Microsoft, both of which are around $1

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