Wednesday , February 19 2020
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The Angry Bear

Review of Stuff Matters

by David Zetland (One handed economist) Mark Miodownik’s 2014 book is another in the most-welcome genre of “pop science” — a genre of books that explains scientific ideas in clear and comprehensible prose. Miodownik’s insights into the abundant materials surrounding us (glass, steel, plastic, etc.) really help you grasp the miracles that scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and geeks have brought to our lives. The paradox is that “stuff” costs us so...

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Standing on the shoulders of cranks

Standing on the shoulders of cranks I use the term “crank” affectionately. The figure below is a valiant effort by Arthur O. Dahlberg to depict the “socio-economic process” as a network of troughs, pipes and valves. Even this elaborate contraption is confined to “the movement of the major social variables.” Dahlberg believed that his chart technique communicated his analysis more effectively than words could. What the chart communicates to me, besides...

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The West “Weeps” for What It Has Sowed

At the Munich Security Conference the U.S. and its allies had no idea of how to handle China, a problem of their greed and stupidity. The West is divided, confused. What to do about Huawei? Really, what to do with China? So when Mike Pompeo…proclaimed…”we are winning,” the largely European audience was silent and worried in what sense “we” existed longer. In the meantime, Europe, including the U.K, finds itself in a mincer between the U.S. and China...

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Real retail sales continue flat in January; production sector still in recession  

Real retail sales continue flat in January; production sector still in recession Retail sales increased nominally by +0.3% in January, while December was revised downward by -0.1%, for a net gain of +0.2%. Since consumer inflation increased by +0.4% during those two months, real retail sales were unchanged.  On a per capita basis, they declined less than -0.1%. This means that neither real retail sales, and real retail sales per capita have made new highs...

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Engel Criticizes Trump On Soleimani Assassination

Engel Criticizes Trump On Soleimani Assassination Juan Cole reports that House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, Eliot Engel (D-NY) has criticized the administration for its assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in response to a report fresh out of the DOD that said the attack was for past activities by Iran in attacking tankers and oil facilities in Saudi Arabia without any mention of a threat against US personnel in Iraq, the ostensible...

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Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: February 9, 1869 (2) The Senate votes to reform the Electoral College

Live-blogging the Fifteenth Amendment: February 9, 1869 (2) The Senate votes to reform the Electoral College As I mentioned several days ago, the Senate endured a pair of marathon sessions on February 8 and 9, 1869, and considered a variety of subjects. Perhaps most breathtakingly, they discussed further amending the Constitution to ensure that the winner of the popular vote was elected President. Sen. Morton [Republican, Indiana]: I desire to renew the...

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The Gods of Davos Have Spoken

Despite protestations to the contrary, the Gods are not interested in any of its proclaimed stakeholders, be it labor, the environment, or climate change. As they did in 2007, they still sing the same old tired tunes, blindly pursuing profits at the expense of the health of the globe and of its citizens. In the World Economic Forum of 2007, Professor Klaus Schwab, proudly announced: “In today’s increasingly interconnected and complex world….Climate...

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Andrew McCabe is not a Ham Sandwich

I am not a lawyer, but I think lawyers agree that grand juries are a pointless relic of the middle ages. There’s nothing to be done, because they are mentioned in the 5th amendment, but they are silly. Over here east of the English Channel they don’t exist. Decisions about possible indictments are made by judges. One problem with grand juries is that the prosecutor is the only lawyer allowed in the room (unless a witness happens to be a lawyer). Also,...

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Doctor Surprise Billing

This doctor is a bit much; but, he gets a point across which I have been making also. The issue(s) Dr. ZDogg  is describing about what commercial healthcare insurance is doing, Medicare Advantage plans, hospitals, and now doctors are doing needs to be told over and over again. Schumer and the Senate have to release the portion of the House Budget bill that dealt with Surprise billing. ZDoggMD reacts to ridiculous medical bills, MedPage...

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Have we reached “full employment”? An update

Have we reached “full employment”? An update As an initial matter, this morning’s initial and continuing jobless claims report were positive as to all metrics by which I judge them. They are near the bottom of their recent ranges and/or are lower YoY (lower being good). I’ll add a graph once the info is available at FRED.  UPDATE: Here it is: Here is something I haven’t updated in a couple of months: given recent gains in labor force participation...

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