- Pressure on PERS, Columbia River Crossing will mount this week in Oregon ... - OregonLive.com
- Food banks may seek legislative help to feed state's hungry - Statesman Journal
- Ore. lawmakers may write legal pot bill themselves - KBOI-TV
- Ore. lawmakers may write legal pot bill themselves - KATU
- Lawmakers on marijuana in Oregon: 'We can see the writing on the wall' - KVAL
Rural Oregon left behind in state's economic turnaround
The quarterly report, presented to a joint legislative Finance and Revenue Committee, prompted some soul searching about the structure of Oregon's economy. Although Portland has long been the state's center of business, the polarization between the ...
and more »
Tim Taylor:The Myth Behind the Origins of Summer Vacation: Why do students have summer vacation? One common answer is that it's a holdover from when America was more rural and needed children to help out on the farm, but even just a small amount of introspection suggests that answer is wrong. Even if you know very little about the practical side of farming, think for just a moment about what are probably the most time-sensitive and busiest periods for a farmer: spring planting and fall harvest. Not summer! I'm not claiming to have made any great discovery here that summer vacation didn't start as result of following some typical pattern of agricultural production. Mess around on the web a bit, and you'll find more accurate historical descriptions of how summer vacation got started (for example, here's one from a 2008 issue of TIME magazine and here's one from the Washington Post last spring). My discussion here draws heavily on a 2002 book by Kenneth M. Gold, a professor of education at the City University of New York, called School's In: The History of Summer Vacation in American Public Schools. Gold points out that back in the early 19th century, US schools followed two main patterns. Rural schools typically had two terms: a winter term and a summer one, with spring and fall available for children to help with planting and harvesting. The school terms in rural schools were relatively short: 2-3 months each. In contrast, in urban areas early in the first half of the 19th century, it was fairly common for school districts to have 240 days or more of school per year, often in the form of four quarters spread over the year, each separated by a week of official vacation. However, whatever the length of the school term, actual school attendance was often not compulsory. In the second half of the 19th century, school reformers who wanted to standardize the school year found themselves wanting to length the rural school year and to shorten the urban school year, ultimately ending up by the early 20th century with the modern school year of about 180 days. ...
With these changes, why did summer vacation arise as a standard pattern during the second half of the 19th century, when it had not been common in either rural or urban areas before that? At various points, Gold notes a number of contributing factors. ...
This is live at the Fiscal Times:The Great Lesson from the Great Recession
Kind of a pessimistic conclusion.
Joe Stiglitz:How Dr. King Shaped My Work in Economics, by Joseph Stiglitz, Commentary, NY Times: I had the good fortune to be in the crowd in Washington when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his thrilling “I Have a Dream” speech on Aug. 28, 1963. I was 20 years old, and had just finished college. It was just a couple of weeks before I began my graduate studies in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ... Listening to Dr. King speak evoked many emotions for me. Young and sheltered though I was, I was part of a generation that saw the inequities that had been inherited from the past, and was committed to correcting these wrongs. Born during World War II, I came of age as quiet but unmistakable changes were washing over American society. As president of the student council at Amherst College, I had led a group of classmates down South to help push for racial integration. We couldn’t understand the violence of those who wanted to preserve the old system of segregation. When we visited an all-black college, we felt intensely the disparity in educational opportunities that had been given to the students there, especially when compared with those that we had received in our privileged, cloistered college. It was an unlevel playing field, and it was fundamentally unfair. It was a travesty of the idea of the American dream that we had grown up with and believed in. It was because I hoped that something could be done about these and the other problems I had seen so vividly growing up in Gary, Ind. — poverty, episodic and persistent unemployment, unending discrimination against African-Americans — that I decided to become an economist, veering away from my earlier intention to go into theoretical physics. ... I turned 70 earlier this year. Much of my scholarship and public service in recent decades — including my service at the Council of Economic Advisers during the Clinton administration, and then at the World Bank — has been devoted to the reduction of poverty and inequality. I hope I’ve lived up to the call Dr. King issued a half-century ago. He was right to recognize that these persistent divides are a cancer in our society, undermining our democracy and weakening our economy. His message was that the injustices of the past were not inevitable. But he knew, too, that dreaming was not enough.
Oregon revenue forecast: $16.7 billion budget holds steady
Quick bottom line: The 2013-15 budget, approved last month by the Legislature, appears to be holding steady at $16.7 billion. Revenue is down about $37 million since the close of the legislative session, but that's a relatively teeny percentage that ...
and more »
- 'The Great Shift': Americans Not Working - NYTimes.com
- The downsizing dilemmas of European employers - vox
- Here’s where middle-class jobs are vanishing the fastest - Brad Plumer
- Predicting Growth From the Path of a Cricket Ball - Simon Johnson
- Reverse Repos and Fed Intervention - Stephen Williamson
- DeLong (1996): Review of "A Tract on Monetary Reform" - Brad DeLong
- Intuition for "Speculation and Risk Sharing..." - Richard Serlin
- Macroeconomics: The Illustrated Edition - Not Quite Noahpinion
- Limits to agency - Stumbling and Mumbling
- A new age of uncertainty? - vox
Police: Woman faked rest area attack
The 2013 Oregon Legislature amended ORS 162.375 (Initiating a False Report) to be classified as a Class A misdemeanor, state police said. The Oregon legislature also changed the statute to "include in the sentence of any person convicted under this ...
Woman's story of I-5 rest area attack was a hoax, police sayKOMO News
Salem woman cited for false report on assaultStatesman Journal
all 12 news articles »
OHSU's Casey Eye Institute and the Oregon State Elks Celebrate $25 Million ...
The Lund Report
The Elks Children's Eye Clinic has also led the way in public health, establishing a successful preschool eye-screening program, a sound preventive measure that the Oregon Legislature recently made a requirement for all children entering school ...
Can you help David Andolfatto with his puzzle?:Whither the consumer?: ...So, I'm looking at some graphs that my colleague, Fernando Martin, prepared..., there is something rather odd about the recent recovery dynamic. In the U.S., the business cycle is mostly about investment spending. Consumer spending (non-durables and services) is relatively stable. And in the typical recovery dynamic, consumption and investment tend to move together (this applies to booms as well). The following figure plots (detrended) real per capita consumption (non-durables and services) and investment (includes consumer durables). With the onset of the 2008 recession, we see the sharp drop in consumption and the even sharper drop in investment. The decline in both series initially was not unusual--apart from the severity of the shock. What is unusual is the subsequent recovery dynamic: consumption and investment appear to be heading in different directions, relative to their historical trends. ... Here's the ... data ... with investment decomposed into residential and non-residential investment. source). [It is curious to note, however, that consumption seemed below trend even during the mid-2000s boom period--will have to think about that.]
Well, I’m sorry to say that they’ve gotten it almost all wrong. Only “almost”: they’re entirely right that economics isn’t behaving like a science, and economists – macroeconomists, anyway – definitely aren’t behaving like scientists. But they misunderstand the nature of the failure, and for that matter the nature of such successes as we’re having....
It’s true that few economists predicted the onset of crisis. Once crisis struck, however, basic macroeconomic models did a very good job in key respects — in particular, they did much better than people who relied on their intuitive feelings. The intuitionists — remember, Alan Greenspan was supposed to be famously able to sense the economy’s pulse — insisted that budget deficits would send interest rates soaring, that the expansion of the Fed’s balance sheet would be inflationary, that fiscal austerity would strengthen economies through “confidence”. Meanwhile, wonks who relied on suitably interpreted IS-LM confidently declared that all this intuition, based on experiences in a different environment, would prove wrong — and they were right. From my point of view, these past 5 years have been a triumph for and vindication of economic modeling.
Oh, and it would be a real tragedy if the takeaway from recent events becomes that you should listen to impressive-looking guys with good tailors who stroke their chins and sound wise, and ignore the nerds; the nerds have been mostly right, while the Very Serious People have been wrong every step of the way.
Yet obviously something is deeply wrong with economics. While economists using textbook macro models got things mostly and impressively right, many famous economists refused to use those models — in fact, they made it clear in discussion that they didn’t understand points that had been worked out generations ago. Moreover, it’s hard to find any economists who changed their minds when their predictions, say of sharply higher inflation, turned out wrong. ...
So, let’s grant that economics as practiced doesn’t look like a science. But that’s not because the subject is inherently unsuited to the scientific method. Sure, it’s highly imperfect — it’s a complex area, and our understanding is in its early stages. And sure, the economy itself changes over time, so that what was true 75 years ago may not be true today — although what really impresses you if you study macro, in particular, is the continuity, so that Bagehot and Wicksell and Irving Fisher and, of course, Keynes remain quite relevant today.
No, the problem lies not in the inherent unsuitability of economics for scientific thinking as in the sociology of the economics profession — a profession that somehow, at least in macro, has ceased rewarding research that produces successful predictions and rewards research that fits preconceptions and uses hard math instead.
Why has the sociology of economics gone so wrong? I’m not completely sure — and I’ll reserve my random thoughts for another occasion.
I talked about the problem with the sociology of economics awhile back -- this is from a post in August, 2009:
In The Economist, Robert Lucas responds to recent criticism of macroeconomics ("In Defense of the Dismal Science"). Here's my entry at Free Exchange's Robert Lucas Roundtable in response to his essay:
Lucas roundtable: Ask the right questions, by Mark Thoma: In his essay, Robert Lucas defends macroeconomics against the charge that it is "valueless, even harmful", and that the tools economists use are "spectacularly useless".
I agree that the analytical tools economists use are not the problem. We cannot fully understand how the economy works without employing models of some sort, and we cannot build coherent models without using analytic tools such as mathematics. Some of these tools are very complex, but there is nothing wrong with sophistication so long as sophistication itself does not become the main goal, and sophistication is not used as a barrier to entry into the theorist's club rather than an analytical device to understand the world.
But all the tools in the world are useless if we lack the imagination needed to build the right models. Models are built to answer specific questions. When a theorist builds a model, it is an attempt to highlight the features of the world the theorist believes are the most important for the question at hand. For example, a map is a model of the real world, and sometimes I want a road map to help me find my way to my destination, but other times I might need a map showing crop production, or a map showing underground pipes and electrical lines. It all depends on the question I want to answer. If we try to make one map that answers every possible question we could ever ask of maps, it would be so cluttered with detail it would be useless, so we necessarily abstract from real world detail in order to highlight the essential elements needed to answer the question we have posed. The same is true for macroeconomic models.
But we have to ask the right questions before we can build the right models.
The problem wasn't the tools that macroeconomists use, it was the questions that we asked. The major debates in macroeconomics had nothing to do with the possibility of bubbles causing a financial system meltdown. That's not to say that there weren't models here and there that touched upon these questions, but the main focus of macroeconomic research was elsewhere. ...
The interesting question to me, then, is why we failed to ask the right questions. For example,... why policymakers didn't take the possibility of a major meltdown seriously. Why didn't they deliver forecasts conditional on a crisis occurring? Why didn't they ask this question of the model? Why did we only get forecasts conditional on no crisis? And also, why was the main factor that allowed the crisis to spread, the interconnectedness of financial markets, missed?
It was because policymakers couldn't and didn't take seriously the possibility that a crisis and meltdown could occur. And even if they had seriously considered the possibility of a meltdown, the models most people were using were not built to be informative on this question. It simply wasn't a question that was taken seriously by the mainstream.
Why did we, for the most part, fail to ask the right questions? Was it lack of imagination, was it the sociology within the profession, the concentration of power over what research gets highlighted, the inadequacy of the tools we brought to the problem, the fact that nobody will ever be able to predict these types of events, or something else?
It wasn't the tools, and it wasn't lack of imagination. As Brad DeLong points out, the voices were there—he points to Michael Mussa for one—but those voices were not heard. Nobody listened even though some people did see it coming. So I am more inclined to cite the sociology within the profession or the concentration of power as the main factors that caused us to dismiss these voices.
And here I think that thought leaders such as Robert Lucas and others who openly ridiculed models they disagreed with have questions they should ask themselves (e.g. Mr Lucas saying "At research seminars, people don’t take Keynesian theorizing seriously anymore; the audience starts to whisper and giggle to one another", or more recently "These are kind of schlock economics"). When someone as notable and respected as Robert Lucas makes fun of an entire line of inquiry, it influences whole generations of economists away from asking certain types of questions, some of which turned out to be important. Why was it necessary for the major leaders in macroeconomics to shut down alternative lines of inquiry through ridicule and other means rather than simply citing evidence in support of their positions? What were they afraid of? The goal is to find the truth, not win fame and fortune by dominating the debate.
We need to take a close look at how the sociology of our profession led to an outcome where people were made to feel embarrassed for even asking certain types of questions. People will always be passionate in defense of their life's work, so it's not the rhetoric itself that is of concern, the problem comes when factors such as ideology or control of journals and other outlets for the dissemination of research stand in the way of promising alternative lines of inquiry.
I don't know for sure the extent to which the ability of a small number of people in the field to control the academic discourse led to a concentration of power that stood in the way of alternative lines of investigation, or the extent to which the ideology that markets prices always tend to move toward their long-run equilibrium values caused us to ignore voices that foresaw the developing bubble and coming crisis. But something caused most of us to ask the wrong questions, and to dismiss the people who got it right, and I think one of our first orders of business is to understand how and why that happened.
I think the structure of journals, which concentrates power within the profession, also influence the sociology of the profession (and not in a good way).
2013 Oregon Legislative Session: Budget, Jobs, PERS
Now that the dust has settled and the political spin doctors have moved on, it's time to review the key issues of the 2013 Oregon Legislative Session: the State Budget, Oregon's Jobs and the Economy, and the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS) ...
Calculated Risk (Bill McBride) is still optimistic:The Future is Still Bright!, by Bill McBride: For new readers: I was very bearish on the economy when I started this blog in 2005 - back then I wrote mostly about housing (see: LA Times article and more here for comments about the blog). I started looking for the sun in early 2009, and now I'm even more optimistic looking out over the next few years.
Early this year I wrote The Future's so Bright .... In that post I outlined why I was becoming more optimistic, even though there might be too much deficit reduction in 2013. As I noted, "ex-austerity, we'd probably be looking at a decent year" in 2013. And of course - looking forward - Congress remains the key downside risk to the U.S. economy.
It still appears economic growth will pickup over the next few years. With a combination of growth in the key housing sector, a significant amount of household deleveraging behind us, the end of the drag from state and local government layoffs (four years of austerity mostly over), some loosening of household credit, and the Fed staying accommodative (even if the Fed starts to taper, the Fed will remain accommodative).
Here are some updates to the graphs I posted in January:..
Overall it appears the economy is poised for more growth over the next few years.
And in the longer term, I remain very optimistic too. ...
- Stuck Working Part-Time? Blame the Economy - WSJ
- The Taper Versus The Crazy - Paul Krugman
- Is Microsoft of the 1990s similar to Apple of today? - Digitopoly
- Wage Stagnation and Market Outcomes - NYTimes.com
- Cheap Ways to Boost Middle-Class Living Standards - EPI
- News Flash: The CBO Isn't Stupid - Paul Krugman
- Robert Murphy Simply Doesn't Do His Homework - Brad DeLong
- Japan's pump-primed recovery proves US deficit hawks wrong - Dean Baker
- A note on the ineffectiveness of monetary stimulus - John Quiggin
- Religion and Monetary Policy: Is There a Difference? - Josiah Neeley
- SNAP: Disentangling Business Cycles and Policy Changes - Owen Zidar
- The Danger of an All-Powerful Federal Reserve - John Cochrane
- C-Sections: Trends and Comparisons - Tim Taylor
- Full Time, Part Time, Good Jobs, Bad - NYTimes.com
- Two Approaches to Fiscal Policy - Econbrowser
- Bringing the law to the factory - MIT News
- The Mystery Is That Robert Hall Finds a Mystery… - Brad DeLong
- Contra Hall - Angry Bear
... The single most effective way of avoiding another financial crisis is to reduce the political influence of the banking sector.
Oregon Wild lists 10 imperiled places in state
But while the report was being drafted, the Oregon State Legislature permanently banned float planes from the lake. For more information: http://www.oregonwild.org/about/press-room/reports-and-fact-sheets/10-most-endangered-places-2013. Steve Law can ...
and more »
A new paper in the QJE shows that financial innovation raises portfolio risks:Rethinking investment risk, by Peter Dizikes, MIT News: Financial innovation is supposed to reduce risk -- in theory, at least. Yes, new financial instruments based on the housing market helped cause the financial crisis of 2008. But in the abstract, those same instruments have the potential to spread risk more evenly throughout the marketplace by making it possible to trade debt more extensively, rather than having it concentrated in a relatively few hands. Now a paper published by MIT economist Alp Simsek makes the case that even in theory, financial innovation does not lower portfolio risk. Instead, it raises portfolio risks by creating situations in which parties sit on opposing sides of deep disagreements about the value of certain investments. "In a world in which investors have different views, new securities won't necessarily reduce risks," says Simsek, an assistant professor in MIT's Department of Economics. "People bet on their views. And betting is inherently a risk-increasing activity." In a paper published this month in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, titled "Speculation and Risk Sharing with New Financial Assets," Simsek details why he thinks this is the case. The risk in portfolios, he argues, needs to be divided into two categories: the kind of risk that is simply inherent in any real-world investment, and a second type he calls "speculative variance," which applies precisely to new financial instruments designed to generate bets based on opposing worldviews. To be clear, Simsek notes, financial innovation may have other benefits -- it may spread information around world markets, for instance -- but it is not going to lead to lower risks for investors as a whole. "Financial innovation might be good for other reasons, but this general kind of belief that it reduces the risks in the economy is not right," Simsek says. "And I want people to realize that." ...
[There's quite a bit more explanation in the original post.]
Oregon Legislature fell short on PERS, taxes
For all its accomplishments, the 2013 Oregon Legislature fell short on two fronts. It failed to make real reforms to the state's Public Employees Retirement System, hurting schools and local governments across the state. And it did little to ease taxes ...
The biggest companies eventually become complacent and lose their leading role in the marketplace. Does that mean we shouldn't worry about their monopoly power?:The Decline of E-Empires, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: Steve Ballmer’s surprise announcement that he will be resigning as Microsoft’s C.E.O. ... has me thinking about network externalities and Ibn Khaldun. ... First, about network externalities: Consider the state of the computer industry circa 2000... By all accounts, Apple computers were better than PCs... Yet the vast majority of desktop and laptop computers ran Windows. Why? The answer, basically, is that everyone used Windows because everyone used Windows. ... Software was designed to run on PCs; peripheral devices were designed to work with PCs. That’s network externalities in action, and it made Microsoft a monopolist. ... The trouble for Microsoft came with the rise of new devices whose importance it famously failed to grasp. “There’s no chance,” declared Mr. Ballmer in 2007, “that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.” How could Microsoft have been so blind? ... Ibn Khaldun ... was a 14th-century Islamic philosopher... Desert tribesmen, he argued, always have more courage and social cohesion than settled, civilized folk, so every once in a while they will sweep in and conquer lands whose rulers have become corrupt and complacent. They create a new dynasty — and, over time, become corrupt and complacent themselves, ready to be overrun by a new set of barbarians. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to apply this story to Microsoft, a company that did so well with its operating-system monopoly that it lost focus, while Apple — still wandering in the wilderness after all those years — was alert to new opportunities. And so the barbarians swept in from the desert. ... Anyway, the funny thing is that Apple’s position in mobile devices now bears a strong resemblance to Microsoft’s former position in operating systems. ...Apple ... products ... are, by most accounts, little if any better than those of rivals, while selling at premium prices. So why do people buy them? Network externalities: lots of other people use iWhatevers, there are more apps for iOS... Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Is there a policy moral here? ... Microsoft was a monopolist, it did extract a lot of monopoly rents, and it did inhibit innovation. Creative destruction means that monopolies aren’t forever, but it doesn’t mean that they’re harmless while they last. This was true for Microsoft yesterday; it may be true for Apple, or Google, or someone not yet on our radar, tomorrow.
- Time for Rudd to give a fulldefence of Keynesian stimulus - John Quiggin
- We’re All Still Hostages to the Big Banks - NYTimes.com
- Unnatural Models of the Labor Market (Wonkish) - Paul Krugman
- Why does capital flow from poor to rich countries? - Daniel Gros
- Summers: A (Mildly) Exculpatory Note - Economic Principals
- The Future is still Bright! - Calculated Risk
- Stagnant Wages Crimping Economic Growth - WSJ.com
- Exponential Smoothing Again: Structural Change - No Hesitations
- The geography of success - Econbrowser
- Way More Heat than Light - EconoSpeak
- Banks and macroeconomic models- interfluidity
3 candidates will join Oregon race
To make Oregon politics more interesting this election season, the city is in the first phase of transitioning from two-year to four-year terms for council members, with the top three vote-getters being the first to earn the longer term. The incumbents ...