Monday , January 18 2021
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

Happy Birthday MLK!

3 days ago

While the official holiday is coming up on Monday, today is the actual 92nd birthday of the Reverand Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Happy birthday, MLK!More than most this is one where if he were alive he would be especially pleased and proud.  Ten days ago a successor to him and his father as a minister at the famous and historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Rafael Warnock, was elected to represent the state of Georgia in the United States Senate, something he could only dream about.  Obviously there are many other dramatic things going on at this time, including the fact that Rev. Warnock’s election was part of a change power in the Senate and Washington more generally, with the Senate coming under actual physical attack the day after the election, nine days ago, an attack that

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An Appointment I Disapprove Of

9 days ago

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 now Biden has appointed somebody I find really objectionable and even

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An Attempted Autogolpe

10 days ago

Not an attempted coup d’etat, as many are saying in the media.I must credit Juan Cole with making aware of this useful term, which apparently comes out of Latin America.  According to Cole, a coup attempt traditionally involves military and also is directed at overthrowing a leader in power.  What happened yesterday in the Capitol did no fit either of these criteria.But it does fit an autogolpe very well.  This is a self-coup, if you well, a situation where a leader, especially one who is about to be removed from office, acts to overthrow the established rules to remain in power, usually assuming authoritarian power in doing so.  This certainly looks like what Trump was trying to do, but failed to achieve.  So it was an attempted autogolpe.Barkley Rosser

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The End Of The Embargo Against Qatar

12 days ago

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 air base used by the US was there, so they shifted to trying to end the boycott, which involved a set of 13 demands that Qatar was not remotely going to follow, including

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Updating Bubble Bubble Toil and Trouble

13 days ago

On Dec. 21 I posted on "Bubble Bubble Toil and Trouble."  Mostly things have not changed too much.  Oil is still running around $50 per barrel, stocks are not too different from where they were then.  I have no new data on real estate.  Gold is up a bit, now over $1900 again and scraping all time highs, but that is not too much higher than it was on 12.21/20.What has been shooting up again, quite dramatically in the last few days, have been the cryptocurrencies again, especially bitcoin that has hit a substantially higher new high over $31,000 today. Others have followed, although not as dramatically, although second largest market Ethereum has passed $1,000 for the first time ever.  In any case, this is not a particularly informative post because I have no new information on why this is

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Who Has Been Warring Against Christmas?

21 days ago

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 many of them have been caught up in whining about Biden supposedly stealing the

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Trump As The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

25 days ago

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 McConnell got it that this was popular. So he went along with Mnuchin’s

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Bubble Bubble Toil And Trouble?

27 days ago

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 record high level at this very moment.  It is ironic that President Trump spent so

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Why Did AMLO Wait So Long To Recognize Biden Victory?

December 17, 2020

I do not know, but it is on the surface at least surprising.AMLO is the nickname of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, the President of Mexico since Dec. 1, 2018.  Only yesterday, along with Mitch McConnell, President Putin of Russia and President Bolsonaro of Brazil, AMLO congratulated Joe Biden on his victory over Donald Trump in the US presidential eleciton, leaving only North Korea’s Kim Jong Un still not recognizing Biden’s victory among world leaders.  Putin and Bolsonaro and Kim have all been personally close to Trump, with Bolsonaro also imitating him in terms of policy positions.  But what is with the delay by AMLO, especially given that polls have long shown Trump having the lowest popularity rating in Mexico of any nation in the world, down around 5%?Besides Trump’s massive

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The Fiscal Stimulus Gridlock

December 12, 2020

The best can be said about a possible fiscal stimulus in the face of a renewed Covid-19 surge that is dragging the economy down as many areas shut down in various degrees is that at least a few hours ago the US Senate approved a one week continuing budget resolution to keep the fed govt functioning. In past years govt shutdown was a big deal, but with the current president threatening to seize power in a coup even in the face of the SCOTUS unanimously repudiating his final "Kraken" lawsuit, not to mention the positive drama of the FDA approving the Pfizer vaccine for US use, well, a govt shutdown right now does not look like such a big deal. But, hey, for at least the next week it will not happen, snore.But we are facing a much more serious matter than this matter of just keeping the US

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Constructing An Alternative Reality

December 5, 2020

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 WMDs supposedly in Iraq.  When Obama became president the alternate reality

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Yellen And Akerlof Or Akerlof and Yellen?

December 2, 2020

I have already posted about the nomination of Janet Yellen to be Treasury Secretary, a historic first and most duly deserved.  She is great and totally appropriate, and I have already bloviated at length on that.I am now going to discuss a more obscure and odd matter, the view of her and her Nobel-Prize-winning husband, George Akerlof, in the eyes of the public.  This is triggered by various media stories that have sort of downplayed or dismissed him while praising her and lifting her up, which I am all for and have done myself here and elsewhere on numerous occasions.  I note that I may be in a special position to comment on this as I have known George for 60 years, which might make me concerned about how people view him, although as someone frequently described as "the nicest person in

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Unprecedented

November 29, 2020

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 of them.  Anyway, here goes a a partial list.The

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Is Bitcoin A Bubble?

November 25, 2020

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 occasionally headed down in that direction, gold this year

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

November 24, 2020

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 are doing along a bunch of others.  This involves Yemen, long one of the worst humanitarian disasters on the planet, horrible, but so

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Janet Yellen Will Be Treasury Secretary

November 23, 2020

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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The New Coup Attempt

November 20, 2020

OK, I thought that the collapse of Trump’s lawsuits and the flight of his top lawyers was going to do in his coup attempt.  But we now see a far more desperate effort going on, although with Trump still trying to stay at least marginally within legal boundaries, although not by much, and clearly trying every single thing he can do to block Biden’s victory.  It is getting down to blocking certification of results in enough states so that even if he cannot get legislatures to approve pro-Trump electors, highly unlikely as illegal in all the swing states actually, but to have the situation undecided so that nobody goes from enough states so that when Electoral College votes on Dec. 14, Biden falls short of the necessary 270, which would then throw it to the House of Representatives, where

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Biden Won Because Of White Men?

November 16, 2020

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 moving away from Trump was Japanese Americans.In terms of swing states,

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New Reasons To Believe Trump Will Not Attempt A Coup

November 14, 2020

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 the transition.I think the most important development that has triggered this is one I

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Is Trump Going To Attempt A Coup?

November 10, 2020

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 SecState 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 martial law?"  Unfortunately, I think a lot of them will.He certainly is laying the groundwork for making an

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

November 8, 2020

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 gone 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 all.The word of the Biden-Harris victory came just before we left to go there, but we still did not think about political

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Whining Pundits

November 6, 2020

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 outcome by 538, and instead of gaining seats, the

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Biden Narrowly Leads In Prairie Du Chien, Wisconsin

November 4, 2020

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.Barkley Rosser

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Did The Hunter Biden Laptop Come From China?

October 30, 2020

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 that 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 in the editorial page section in the Washington Post by Josh Rogin, who, it must be noted, seems to have somewhat of an anti-China bias, so I note that and would not have posted this if

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An Irony About Interest Rates And Income Distribution

October 25, 2020

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 more heavily concentrated among the wealthy, even though somehow Donald Trump thinks that

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

October 24, 2020

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 who have died this year in the coronavirus pandemic in the US. Indeed, there were failures of

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No More Concerts From Keith Jarrett

October 22, 2020

I have just read that jazz pianist Keith Jarrett will not be performing live any more, indeed has not done so for some time.  He had two strokes back in 2018, the last year he released an album, and apparently he is simply not able to use one hand.  He does not wish to perform with only one hand.I saw him once live, in 1967 in the Memorial Union theater at UW-Madison, when he was playing in the Charles Lloyd Quartet.  He got attention then for reaching over and directly playing strings on the piano with his hands. That was before he began doing his famous live solo albums or performing with his own group. Apparently his best selling albums, which I read is one of the greatest selling jazz albums ever, is the 1975 Koln Concert, which I have always loved a lot.  He is 75 years old.I note

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The Period Of Short Term Memory

October 20, 2020

The election is two weeks from today.  When I took an into 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 "anything can happen in the last two weeks that can change it," and four

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Why Does MbS Want Hllary Clinton’s Emails?

October 15, 2020

In yesreday’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 administration. That man is Mohammed bin Nayef (MbN), who was much admired and

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Stealing Signs

October 14, 2020

I know this is a widespread 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

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