Not terrible.

Last week, I objected unquietly to what I thought and still think was a very poor column by Ezra Klein. However, Klein has followed that piece up with several more on the same subject. Although I doubt Klein worries all that much what I think, I feel honor bound to point out that his most recent columns, one at Bloomberg and another at his Wonkblog home, are decidedly not terrible. They are excellent.


9 Responses to “Not terrible.”

  1. Peter K. writes:

    Well I’d like to give you credit for giving credit where it’s due. That’s refreshing to see in the Blogosphere.

    But nothing on “Postmodern Monetary Theory: The NSA and Unconventional Monetary Policy”?

    “On August 12, damaged by the revelations emanating from the leaked NSA documents by Edward Snowden, President Obama empaneled a commission to make recommendations for reforms of US cyber-surveillance. On December 12 this group submitted its report, “Liberty and Security in a Changing World”.

    One item that has attracted a bit of attention is a proposal, lodged in Recommendation 31, that reads as follows:

    We recommend that the United States should support international norms or international agreements for specific measures that will increase confidence in the security of online communications. Among those measures to be considered are:

    (1) Governments should not use surveillance to steal industry secrets to advantage their domestic industry;

    (2) Governments should not use their offensive cyber capabilities to change the amounts held in financial accounts or otherwise manipulate the financial systems…..

    This last item is interesting. No documents have yet been released that suggest that the NSA or its foreign affiliates have altered financial accounts through electronic manipulation, but the commission presumably had access to a wide range of materials without knowledge of which will be made public in the future….”

    Presumably Yellen could do unconventional stealth monetary policy via the NSA: credit money in everyone’s account until we hit targeted NGDP level growth and wage inflation. Hard money Congressmen will be none the wiser.

  2. Peter K writes:

    Hard-money glibertarian Rand Paul would be scandalized if he ever found out.

  3. Tom Lindmark writes:

    So, you whipped him back into politically correct editorializing. Congratulations.

  4. Steve, though, here’s a big problem I see with Ezra’s just really focus on full, or close to, employment to combat inequality and help the struggling.

    Today, and in coming decades, how feasible is that going to be? I mean seriously. If we continue to have huge percentages of the population who are little skilled or unskilled are we really going to be able to find jobs for 95% of them at a decent wage, or even minimum wage? With how good robots are going to be in 10 years, 20 years, we’re going to be able to find full employment for huge numbers of unskilled, and little skilled? Look at the developments in fast food robots and agricultural robots already today, for example here:

    You can’t just yell, full employment, full employment, make work, crank up the monetary stimulus, have the EITC be 90% of their wage, 99%. You’re going to need huge investments in education and training. Even people who are already pretty old and never got used to studying, you’ll want them in school rather than unemployed, just to set an example for their children and people around them, even if it’s really very late in the game for them.

    You’re just not going to be able to get to full employment nearly as easily as in the past, with the robot AI revolution and a huge percentage little skilled or unskilled. So many of the “jobs” are going to have to be as students.

  5. stone writes:

    Richard H Serlin@4 “are we really going to be able to find jobs for 95% of them at a decent wage”.

    This is where I think Ezra’s post is disjointed from his idea that inequality is just a symptom and not a driver of unemployment and further inequality. Those currently with financial power are, like you say, unlikely to find a use for everyone BUT those who currently lack financial power will find a use for each other or themselves IF they gain financial power.

    It is perfectly possible that less inequality would lead to loads of well paid jobs doing stuff that those currently with financial power consider daft. Perhaps we would have a huge boom in monster truck festivals or something. It is also possible that people would do more child and elder care for their own families whilst buying robots to do their work and the robots would be designed by other robots all at the behest of “dumb” people who like monster trucks. To me the key thing is that we need everyone to be benefiting from potential advances in technology. Today those that benefit are to a small extent those developing it and to a larger extent the “owning class”. You don’t need to be smart to be an owner. Every dumb person is perfectly capable of being an owner.

  6. stone writes:

    I have to stress about my last comment @5, that I don’t have any opinion about monster trucks as such. I just mentioned them with reference to Steve R Waldman’s post :

    “Political conversation often obsesses over a pathological and ahistorical fear of idleness among the non-affluent. Given the choice, if not absolutely compelled by necessity, wouldn’t “they” become lazy slackers, eating diabetes chips and watching monster trucks on teevee all day? ”

    If anyone is a proud plutocrat (and/or intellectual) and also a monster truck fanatic. Sorry for any mischaracterization :)

  7. Dan Kervick writes:

    There is no reason at all for the “robot revolution” to lead to conditions of less than full employment. Technological changes has always eliminated old jobs. People then move on to other activities – some of them “leisure” activities. But those leisure activities are then rationalized, subjected to a division of labor, and incorporated into a new economy producing a wider array of exchangeable goods and services. There is no fixed lump of output to be produced. The dynamic expansion of economic output is as limitless as human desire and creativity.

  8. shah8 writes:

    I’m not inclined to be very fair. This is something you see from many neoliberal economists, and for all intents and purposes, the heart of the tactics of ideological neoliberalism. Propound on a number of very sensible policies (oftentimes juuuust vague enough) that anyone would agree merited thought, build up credibility, and use that credibility to effectively advocate macroeconomic transfers that would not normally pass political muster. These transfers usually would be from not very empowered (or well voiced) rural sectors to a very internationally minded urban center that then further passes along wealth to finance hubs. This is part of the geopolitical and postcolonial mode of extraction. Reinhart and Rogoff were among the most grotesque of these practitioners. They’ll say any number of quite liberal things that have no hope of ever being made policy, and pump for illiberal policies (especially during crisis inflection points) with the idea that it would somehow make possible and support previously mentioned liberal policy. Ezra Klein isn’t really all that different, and should always be parsed for understanding what the people who cut his checks wants.

  9. I am truly thankful to the owner of this website who has shared this great
    article at at this place.