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EconoSpeak

The Econospeak blog, which succeeded MaxSpeak (co-founded by Barkley Rosser, a Professor of Economics at James Madison University and Max Sawicky, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute) is a multi-author blog . Self-described as “annals of the economically incorrect”, this frequently updated blog analyzes daily news from an economic perspective, but requires a strong economics background.

Economic Insomnia? A Review of “The Guest Lecture” by Martin Riker.

It’s a rare day when an economist plays the key role in a novel, and even rarer when one of the supporting players is John Maynard Keynes himself.  So, spurred on by enthusiastic reviews, I sailed through Martin Riker’s The Guest Lecture this week, a novel in which a woman, just denied tenure by the all-male economics department at her university, lies awake at night in a hotel room, rehearsing a lecture she’ll be giving the next day while re-evaluating the twists and turns of her life’s...

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This Is What Happens When Progressives Look the Other Way

Recent events in Florida—the “Stop WOKE” Act, the rejection of AP African American Studies, the hostile takeover of New College—and the publication of an excellent op-ed about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in the Chronicle of Higher Education have me returning to a topic I blogged on several years ago, but in a new light.It was obvious, and I mean Emperor’s New Clothes obvious, right from the outset that DEI ideology was predicated on the flimsiest of foundations.  The confusion of...

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The Unbearable Tightness of Peaking

Sandwichman came across a fascinating and disconcerting new dissertation, titled "Carbon Purgatory: The Dysfunctional Political Economy of Oil During the Renewable Energy Transition" by Gabe Eckhouse. An adaptation of one of the chapters, dealing with fracking, was published in Geoforum in 2021As some of you may know, the specter of Peak Oil was allegedly "vanquished" by the invention of methods for extracting "unconventional oil" from shale formations (or "tight oil"), bitumen sands, and...

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No More Noma

Eating is a necessity and can be a great pleasure.  It also has a symbolic dimension in every culture.  In the long history of European civilization, going back at least to the Romans, it has been a form of status distinction, allowing the elites at the top to display their separation from the masses below.For many centuries elite food was set apart by its ingredients, like caviar, choice cuts of meat, difficult to procure spices and rich dairy products.  Restaurants in times past would...

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Extending Capital to Nature, Reducing Nature to Capital

The Biden administration has announced it is inaugurating a program to incorporate the value of natural resources and ecological services into national income accounts.  The New York Times article reporting this development predictably portrays the response as divided between two camps: on the one side are environmentalists, who think this will lead to more informed decision-making, and on the other Republicans and business interests who fear it is just a stalking horse for more...

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Herb and then Barkley: we will try to sing your song right

 They are falling all around meThey are falling all around meThey are falling all around meThe strongest leaves of my treeEvery paper brings the news thatEvery paper brings the news thatEvery paper brings the news thatThe teachers of my sound are movin’ onDeath it comes and rests so heavyDeath it comes and rests so heavyDeath comes and rests so heavyYour face I’ll never see no moreBut you’re not really going to leave meYou’re not really going to leave meYou’re not really going to leave meIt...

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Barkley Rosser, 1948-2023

I've just learned that Barkley Rosser, the mainstay of this blog, died yesterday.  I'd crossed paths with him in Madison, WI in the early 70s and then reconnected in the late 1980s, even coauthoring a paper with his wife Marina in 1990 (I think).Barkley and I would get together for a meal most years during the economics meetings.  He was a human tornado, quick and vociferous, backed up by a vault of reading, study and thinking.  He was uncommonly wide-ranging: although his reputation rested...

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Herb Gintis, 1940-2023

My dissertation chair, Herb Gintis, died yesterday in Northampton, Mass.  We didn’t stay in touch after I graduated—our interests and perspectives diverged—but I will always appreciate what he gave of himself at a difficult time in my life.After my first dissertation went awry (don’t ask!), Herb, who had been on my committee, stepped in and helped me identify a new topic.  I had to learn a new set of tools, and he was patient as I stumbled through what I now recognize as elementary technical...

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Why the Battle over Electing a House Speaker

I don’t know how this will turn out, and maybe what I’m about to say will be disproved by events, but here goes:I think the Republicans face a difficulty in electing a Speaker that the Democrats wouldn’t have, and it will be hard to overcome.  Democrats may disagree intensely, but they all have legislative agendas to pursue, and in the end they are likely to compromise in order to get at least some of what they want.  Republicans have little to no agenda.  In the last presidential election...

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