Thursday, January 29, 2015

Morgan Warstler on Sumner's 'Wicked, Evil Genius'.

     As usual Morgan knocks it out of the park by being totally honest about it. 

     "After the word CHANGE, the second most used word by clinton running for office was INVEST. Govt would invest in… He met in early Jan ’93 with Greenspan, Alan told him, sorry Reagan spent all the money, so if you deficit spend I’ll have to raise interest rates."

    "And to get 4 more years in the big bird, Clinton sold all his team down the river, he put Greenspan on the dais next to Hillary for his ’93 SOTU – (from memory) literally tricked him into sitting there, to message to bond guys he was over the invest thing."

    "To the great surprise of most of his staff and all political observers, Clinton’s FIRST ACT as president was “Don’t ask don’t tell” Nobody could figure out why.And the answer was simple, it was the only thing he could do for his team that was FREE. It took no “investment.”

     "NOW let’s look at word INVEST. If Clinton BELIEVED any of his bullshit about govt investing, he’d have told Alan to f*ck off, bc when govt invested money, it was BETTER than when Greenspan kept down rates so businesses could invest it instead."

     "All of this is WHY, George Bush came into office and spent money like a drunken god damn sailor. All the way down the last $750B in stimulus bailout, the man was SMART to assume if he spent it, the next guy wouldn’t get to."

     "It is simply undeniable that the GOP took off when they stopped worrying about the deficit and began to worry about making sure that all the money got spent on things that didn’t reward democrat voters."

      "Now YES, scott won his debate with me bc when the economy got so shitty that GOP strategy got flipped over and pinned, we learned a crucial fact:

      "IF THE ECONOMY GETS TOO UGLY, we can’t Clinton all the future Democrat Presidents.
As such the core benefit to a nice level target policy either on GDP, inflation, wages, whatever, is that it takes the possibility of an Obama outlier befalling our nation, and if we use Scott Sumner’s terribly wicked genius plan…."

    "We can ensure that all future Democrats, never have any money to spend unless thye cut something else they like."

     I appreciate this Morgan. If I described MM this way I'd be accused by the MMers of mischaracterizing their views. Scott would sputter with snark. However, a 'terribly, wicked, genius plan to straitjacket Democrats. That's always been my point. Yes it does sound a bit cynical if you're wondering about that. 

     Don't get me wrong I agree it's genius. I don't think the big liberals like Krugman and Delong appreciate it at all. The jury is out but there's no question that Sumner has been very successful. Krugman, Delong, Christina Romer, etc. have all given the idea of a NGDP target their blessing. 

    Meanwhile the 'little guy liberals'-places like Angry Bear Blog have totally bought in to a NGDP target without question. 

     On NGDP targeting a lot of the liberals seem to have bought it-the idea that a NGDP target is superior to an inflation target. Monetary offset is where there is-or should be-pushback. Maybe there isn't enough from my point of view. 

    What liberals may not get about MM is that for Sumner this is not a menu of choices where you can take what you like and leave out what you don't. Like Morgan's plan to 'auction the unemployed'. Conservatives aren't like liberals-there aren't really choices in their policies. You either accept them or you don't .

    For me it makes me skeptical even of the NGDP target though I have to admit the reasoning seems sound as to why you'd prefer it over an inflation target. Still I wonder if somehow accepting that you've already accepted monetary offset. 

    That's why the libs should be a little more cautious. They presume they can take the NGDP target and leave monetary offset. Even that I'm less than certain about. What seems clear to me is this. 

   A big part of what makes the terribly wicked plan so genius is the NGDP target. See Sumner's MM plan has two components. 

   A. That an NGDP target should replace inflation targeting

   B. Monetary offset

   If anything, A appeals especially to the liberal mindset-they find the whole idea of an inflation target unpalatable in the first place. Inflation targeting was already a conservative victory embraced by all those 'New Keynesians.' The inflation target totally thumbed it's nose at the alleged dual mandate. It stated pretty clearly that for the Fed there really is only one mandate. 

   So Sumner's proposal that we drop inflation targeting and replace it with NGDP targeting sounds like music to liberal ears. At this point they feel something approaching Pure Love. 

    Then Sumner gives us the fine print:  B. That they don't love at all. Yet they still can't believe that Sumner is as bad as all those other conservatives as he talks about doing away with inflation targeting. So for liberals the carrot is A, the stick is B. 

     For conservatives on the other hand, they aren't totally sure about A by a long way until they see B. Once they become convinced that the best, most surest road to B is A they embrace MM in full as Morgan-my favorite conservative-has. 

   If Sumner hadn't introduced A first he never would have gotten the level of regard and influence that he has. Because of it, he gets listened to respectfully by many centrists and liberals. In this it's fitting that the big financial benefactor for his project to develop an NGDP futures market is someone who claims to have donated to

  Again, I'll admit I'm not sure that the NGDP target isn't a good idea only that the main event for Scott is monetary offset and the target is just the sop to liberals to make it sound attractive to them. For that reason I think if you're a liberal you should be skeptical. Of basically anything Sumner says. 

  I would urge caution even with an NGDP target. It might be that you can use this without the monetary offset straitjacket but don't presume it without question. I'll be interested to see what research and other developments come about regarding an NGDP target. I too, certainly wouldn't miss inflation targeting but bare in mind that the NGDP target is just the sweetner for monetary offset where Democrats are never allowed to increase spending in absolute terms again. 

   Overall, liberals haven't been nearly skeptical enough. Krugman continues to batter Right wing inflationphobes without seeing that the most ingenious  conservative plan seems to cut inflationphobia off at the knees. Although Brad Delong is often accused of being a bad guy-because supposedly he erases comments that prove him wrong or so the Right wing commentators want to think-he's been very gracious to me over the years, linking me to more than one of his posts and even corresponding with me via email. 

    He thinks that Sumner more or less knows he overstates things and exaggerates and he thinks Sumner would be a waste of Krugman's time to worry about. I do wonder though if maybe Delong as well as Krugman and most liberals is underestimating Sumner here. 
     In the future Sumner's MM may be the conservative's only real move. 


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Market Monetarist Counterfactual: the World as it Never Was

     Here is one of Sumner's more intelligent commentators, Negation of Ideology-he's not usually too snarky and tries to debate facts as much as is possible when the underlying premise is faulty. This is basically Sumner's argument in a nutshell:

     "Great post. Imagine the alternative scenario where Obama in his first address to Congress says –

     “We have been here before, under former President Clinton, so we know what works. That’s why, because of the deteriorating fiscal situation I am regretfully dropping my health care plan, and focusing entirely on deficit reduction. I ask the huge Democratic majority to repeal the entire Bush tax cut, and bring back the pay as you go budget rules of 1990. I am appointing Christina Romer to the empty seat on the Federal Reserve to help Bernanke with the recovery.”
And he points to Bernanke in the audience and says “I will veto any stimulus plan passed by this Congress. With these tax increases and strict spending limits, if you allow the economy to recover we’ll have a balanced budget by the end of my first term. I expect you to offset any fiscal drag on the economy.”

     "Then the economy would have recovered earlier and Obama would have won reelection in a landslide rather than barely beating Mitt Romney. On the downside, Scott Sumner probably would have never gotten into blogging."

    I don't know where to start. I mean for one thing, there was very little resembelance between the recession at the end of Bush I's term and the recession of 2008. For that matter it's not at all clear how the Paygo rules ended that earlier recession. In any case, we've had plenty of fiscal contraction starting with 2010 so how can it be argued that the Fed refused to fix the economy because of all the crazy spending? 

      Bernanke actually had asked more than once or fiscal stimulus but Sumner of course is a greater expert on Bernanke than the former Chairman himself and claims that he didn't really mean that. Assuming though the fiscal stimulus was holding the Fed back it ended in 2009 and we then had 4 years of fiscal contraction. I love a good counterfactual as much as the next guy. Here is a great one by a girl actually.

       Would we have had an Iraq war with a President Gore? Good question. 

    My trouble with Sumner's counterfactuals is that they are just way too strong too really be counterfactuals. He mocks others for not being real economists, but a real economist like him should realize that. 

     He talks about 'winning a bet with Krugman' in 2013 and MM passing a test with flying colors. Not exactly how a scientist of any stripe talks.

      PS Proving counterfactuals is very difficult-at best all you can do is come up with a decent hypothesis. For instance as much as a lament what I still see as Bush stealing the election in 2000, the burden of proof is on me or any other Democrat who claims we wouldn't have gone to Iraq with a President Gore. 

      For starters the official US policy under Clinton was regime change in Iraq, so the Bush argument that that the old Clinton policy enforcing a no fly zone and a air bombing campaign now and again wasn't working towards the stated policy. 

      For Sumner's counteractuals there's nothing difficult for him to prove. He sets himself an absurdly low bar where the only way opponents of austerity can be right is for growth to fall off a cliff after fiscal contraction, This is wrong however. It could just as soon be that we have growth but less than we otherwise would have had. No one seriously claimed there would have been in a recession with just the sequester. Now if we had fallen off the fiscal cliff, maybe, but no one was predicting it without that eventuality. 




Sumner: Liberals Aren't Allowed to Change Their Mind

       It's another Sumner Rule-along with monetary offset.

       "Marcus Nunes directed me to a very interesting piece by Jonathan Chait in theAmerican Prospectfrom 2001.  It begins by pointing out that by the early 1990s American liberals had turned against the deficit spending policy of Ronald Reagan. Then it moves on to the Clinton Administration"

        In other words, if they were for deficit spending then they must always be so. In reality if there was a different opinion then than now what have you proven? Shouldn't people be willing to change their views if facts change on the ground or if they come to a better understanding? Of course, not if you're George W. Bush who was all about 'staying the course' whatever the facts but overall changing a position doesn't prove anything malign except in Sumner's mind-if a liberal does it. That the GOP used to be the party of deficit reduction until Reagan-Cheney then said 'deficits don't matter' shows that it's not only Democrats who have shifted their view through the years. Again, so what?

       "Recall that unemployment was pretty high when Clinton took office, much higher than today.  Of course today’s liberals would point to one key difference, interest rates were not stuck as zero.  (But that’s also true of the eurozone, circa 2008-12.)"

        It might have been 'pretty high' then but that was a much shorter recession and quicker recovery than 2008 to say the least. 

       "As recently as 2007, the conventional wisdom of American liberals (on fiscal policy) was essentially market monetarist—they believed in monetary offset.  The fiscal multiplier is close to zero.  Deficits are bad.  And yet I get many Keynesian commenters who don’t know this. They act like I’m propounding some sort of weird theory.  They tell me that:

      GDP = C + I + G

    "So “obviously” more G will boost GDP.  In fact, it is post-2007 liberals who are the “weirdos,” who have rejected the successful policies of Clinton and replaced them with the failed policies of Obama.  (Remember, this is the president who 5 years into the recovery was arguing that unemployment was still so bad that we needed to enact an “emergency” unemployment program.)"

    As usual he asserts all kinds of 'facts' not in evidence. What policies of Obama's have 'failed' exactly? In any case deficits have fallen preciptiously since 2009 so what's Sumner's quarrel exactly?

    As for my quarrel with Sumner, I've never seen someone so willfully refuse to engage with the facts. 

     As for weirdos, if he never heard of GDP=C+I+G before 2007 then he's the weirdo. 

    Again, politics have led both parties to assert conflicting things through the years. The Democrats for years had been the party of deficit spending. Then Reagan came along and they found religion on deficit balance. The GOP no longer cared about deficits. In the 90s deficit reduction was a big achievement of Clinton-though the GOP claimed they deserved the credit. 

    That quote of Chait was during the time of Bush running on blowing up the deficit again with huge tax cuts for the rich. One thing that conservatives like Sumner and Cochrane never seem capable is any sense of context or nuance. I remember Sumner praising some putrid WSJ editorial page piece of Cochrane's which saw a contradiction in Democrats believing in deficit spending and yet opposing the Iraq war. 

      If you believe in deficit spending you have to approve anything that raises the deficit including a war you disagree with for other reasons.  I guess a liberal can't oppose the Holocaust and be conssistent-after all it raises spending. 

        Now Sumner moves on to his favorite illusion: he proved anything meaningful in 2013. 

        "Then Keynesians claimed that even the Fed didn’t believe in monetary offset.  That theory lost a bit of force when (in late 2012) Fed officials said they were doing aggressive stimulus (QE3 and forward guidance) partly to keep the recovery going as Congress moved to austerity in 2013.  By early 2013 it was clear that if this new form of liberalism, this rejection of Clintonomics, was going to have any plausibility they needed to be able to show that the Fed could not or would not offset fiscal austerity. And calendar 2013 was the perfect test, as all sorts of austerity came together at the same time.  The budget deficit fell by $400 billion in fiscal 2013, but that year begins on October 1st.  The tax increases didn’t start until January 1st, 2013, and the deficit fell by an astounding $500 billion during that calendar year.  A near perfect test."

     "Some of my critics point out that GDP data is noisy, and that the speed up in growth in 2013 wasn’t particularly significant.  Agreed.  But the Keynesians didn’t just need a single, they needed a home run.  They needed a sharp slowdown.  The evidence in favor of monetary offset was becoming increasing persuasive.  The Fed doesn’t stop doing monetary policy at the zero bound.  If you are going to reject the previous liberal conventional wisdom, reject views held as recently as 2007, ask the public to spend a trillion dollars, you better damn well have a good reason.  They desperately needed a slowdown in 2013, and got a speed up in growth instead.  That’s why 2013 was so devastating.  Not because it was definitive, but because fiscal stimulus was already on its last legs, increasingly rejected even by liberals such as Jeffrey Sachs.  Once 2013 went against them, it was game over."

       Another Sumner Rule is you simply refuse to engage with any facts that don't support you're overstated claims. This is not a 'new form of liberalism'-if anything Clitonomics was much newer than national income accounting-and Clinton has explicitly embraced Obama's policies anyway-Sumner is next going to claim he didn't give that big speech for Obama at the Democratic convention in 2012. 

      He claims it's a 'near perfect test'-then admits there was considerable noise-so how's it perfect? It's worse than just noise, Sumner basically cherry-picked the data. If you moved either one quarter before or after his preferred data point, his 'win' falls apart totally. It's John Stuart Mill's nonsense on stilts. Again, this need for a home run exits only in his own mind. They didn't need a sharp slowdown to show that a drop in G is a reduction in GDP. 

        The only way to claim that Market Monetarism proved anything meaningful in 2013 is to set the bar absurdly low. What Sumner would need to show for Keynesians to be wrong in 2013 is that growth was faster with the austerity than without it. Otherwise they're right to argue against austerity. 

        The trouble with Sumner is he keeps trying to make such absurdly strong claims that can only be made with willful obtuseness. For all his throwing tomatoes at us alleged noneconomists, his hyperbole is hardly befitting a real economist-from what I understand most real economists are embarrassed by him these days. 


President Obama's Approval Rating Reaches 50%

      Not to toot my own horn-though someone's got to do it; if someone else wants to do it I'll do it less!-I did call that his polls were going up before the fact.

      No doubt the economy has helped a lot. At the end of the day that's always a big part of how a President is graded, fairly or not. However, I do think he's new aggressive stance has helped him.

      If he had come out like the media had wanted him-on bended knee, promising to get a voluntary lobotomy after his 'shellacking' which is what the media had expected-I'm not sure his bounce would have been this strong.

    He seemed freed by the losses and took this stance the day after before the economy was so clearly getting better. Now his approval rating has hit the psychologically important 50% in some polls.

     Meanwhile, the GOP after its 'wave election'-they brag about this the way that Sumner brags about beating Krugman in a bet that austerity works-is by Boehner's own admission stumbling right out the gate. 

     Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, whose ranks swelled as a result of last November's elections, have gotten off to a clumsy start this year, House Speaker John Boehner said on Tuesday, as legislative initiatives have been derailed by attacks from inside the party.

    "There have been a couple of stumbles," Boehner told reporters after meeting in a closed session with his rank-and-file.

     "The latest Republican casualty was a border security bill aimed at demonstrating a tough law-and-order approach toward stopping illegal immigration, mostly along the southern border with Mexico."

     "The bill had been scheduled for House debate on Wednesday but was canceled due to a massive East Coast snow storm, according to a Republican leadership announcement on Monday."

      "But conservatives were bucking the bill, claiming it would do nothing to deport undocumented immigrants who manage to get over the border, leading some to wonder whether the votes existed among Republicans to win passage."

     "A growing body of people are sick and tired of the 'trust me we'll do it later' approach," said Republican Representative Matthew Salmon of Arizona, "and want us to deal with both interior enforcement and border security at the same time."

      The legislation could resurface in coming weeks, however.

     Sounds like a perfect plan to court the Latino vote in 2016-for the Democrats. Again, this his highlighting that the only immigration reform the GOP can pass on its own is 'fixing border security'-which is an imaginary problem anyway as the border is totally secure. The trick is as obvious as it is putrid. 

     The GOP will only consider helping all the undocumented immigrants after it fixes the alleged problem of border security-again another phony problem along the lines of 'election fraud' all the state GOP legislatures are passing all these harsh voter restriction laws for-but, of course, the border will never be secure enough for them or at least the same Tea Party faction that sunk this admittedly unnecessary bill.

      So it will never do anything about immigration reform. Meanwhile all the more reasonable conservatives in the GOP establishment-Karl Rove, Reince Priebus, the WSJ editorial page-apparently will do anything to get immigration reform accept-the horror-working with Democrats. 

     Listen, obviously, Democrats like me were disappointed about the November losses-though realistically, it was never going to be a good election for Democrats as the numbers were just too set against them in an off year election to so many Democratic Senators up for reelection. 

     Nevertheless, even with the Dems holding onto the Senate nothing too much was going to get done. With the GOP now controlling all Congress we get some clarity. Boehner and McConnell may want to get some stuff done but the only way they get meaningful bills passed is working with the Dems. If they do that they at least can show they were able to be productive. We'll see if Boehner has the you know what to buck the Tea Party and do this. If not there will be a lot more 'stumbles' over the next 2 years. 


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Bill Bellichick, Tom Brady, and the Super Bowl as the Apex of a Team's Perfromance

     I've  kind of had the Patriots on the brain lately. Largely to defend them from the scurrilous charges of cheating by people who don't really care about cheating but just want a way to knock a very successful team down.

    In fact the more I think about the Patriots though, the more phenomenal I realize they are. Again if you read my blog and know me at all you know I'm not a Patriots fan but a Giants fan-though I think that things like Deflategate and Spygate are all about the sour grapes of Jets fan. Their team is unsuccessful so if the can show the Patriots cheated maybe this proves that the Pats are as hapless as they are-which of course hardly follows.

   However, it's unreal how much the Pats have achieved. I mean it all starts with Bill and Tom. How do you stay that competitive for so many years? Brady's father may be right that it will end badly for his son-as Brady hopes to play like he has for the last 15 years forever.

  I just hope when Brady's time is up he'll be able to leave with his dignity in check, I hated seeing Peyton Manning humbled recently. This proud competitor he would have bristled even having his skills questioned in the past kind of said this time that 'Yeah, maybe my skills are diminishing'-as Bellichick once said of Bernie Kosar.

   I hope at least Brady is able to play 5 more years and set a record for NFL achievement at the age of 42 or 43. To be sure there's a fine line. You have to know when to say when-Brett Farve perhaps did push it a bit too long.

   Give Brady this at least: until now there's been no sign that his skills are diminishing. Quite to the contrary. In today's media event in Arizona a young fan asked Bellichick for advice on his ambitions to be a coach and Bellichick told him to enjoy playing first as the time you get to be a player is short.

   You have to appreciate how hard it is to win so consistently as both the guys do. It's hard enough to win the Super Bowl once but sometimes you probably can be lucky. It's a lot easier to do this today in the era of free agency and salary caps as everything works against a team staying on top for long. Yet the Pats have been a bona fide Super Bowl contender for 15 years.

   No they don't win every year but they have a shot every year and always win the division and almost always get at least to the championship game. In a book I'm reading on Bellichick-'Patriot Reign' a scout that worked with him made the point that sometimes when a team wins the SB it's kind of at it's apex and starts to fade after that.

    Maybe even that's usually the case when you think about it. That would account for how seldom teams' repeat and how poorly SB teams normally do the next year. It's pretty dismal reading. It's hard to be like Bellichick and Brady and simply continue to feel the desire to win year after year after year.

    If their system reminds me of anything it's the Niners back in the 80s-it's rather appropriate that Tom Brady grew up a big Niner and Joe Montana fan.

    Niner coach Joe Walsh put a system in place like Bellichick has put in NE where they just won year after year no matter what new players. Yet, as far as pure desire to win, Bellichik has Walsh beat as the latter ultimately couldn't take the pressure anymore to have to keep winning the Big One year after year. What was interesting is that the system he put in place continued to whir without him as George Seifert won a couple and the last victory was with Steve Young replacing Montana.

    Bellichick never loses his edge, He still comes back hungry week after week, year after year. I notice that Brady always has the perfect answer to what his favorite SB team he's been on was: the next one.

    Ironically if anyone might be comparable to Bellichick it's Pete Carroll who has his SB champion Seahawks back in the SB. Also ironically, he's actually the opposite of Bellichick in coaching style. Years ago when Bellichick replaced him in NE-after his shocking jump from the Jets as Parcells' successor-the rap was that Carroll failed in NE as he was too lax.

    What we see now though is both coaches have the goods. In reality there is more than one way skin an onion and more than one way to coach a team to greatness.


You Tell Them Robert Kraft: Owner Goes on Offensive Regarding Deflategate

     With how much I'm defending the Patriots lately, maybe some might get the wrong idea so, again, I'm not actually a Patriot fan-though I don't and never have hated them or dislike them. I have a good deal of respect for them and what they've achieved. 

    For the record, I'm a Giants man all the way. I just don't like how much people enjoy this non-issue over deflated balls and I think that it's really ruined the countdown to the SB. I also for the record never bought into the idea that the Patriots had done something terrible in Spygate.

    What no one who talks about this issue in a morally categorical way ever does is explain to me whether any other teams in the NFL have ever broken any rules. All they want to do though is say 'it's called cheating.

    Ok, if the Patriots deflated the ball they broke a rule. Still, what no one wants to do here is make any distinction between say armed robbery and jaywalking. What the Patriots did is maybe running a red light-I'm sure no one else has ever done such a thing. What the Saints did a few years ago with Bountygate was armed robbery if not worse. Yet, Troy Aikman absurdly claims that letting air out of some footballs could be worse than that. 

    Same thing with Spygate. I've never been convinced either of why it's such a big deal-as views of the coaches on the sidelines are available to everyone-or that the Patriots are the only team to ever have done this. 

    Speaking for myself at least, if anyone ever wanted to convince me that Spygate was some terrible thing that means the Patriots didn't fully deserve their championships they would have to meaningfully engage those two points: 

    1. Why is it so important as anyone can watch coaches on the sidelines?

    2. Has no other team every done anything remotely like this? 

     What is the real history of stealing signals in the NFL? Isn't this an accusation that goes back years? In 1980 after the Packers lost to their hated rivals, the Bears, 61-7, the Packers accused Chicago of stealing their signals. It seems that no less an authority than Mike Ditka has said so himself.,1052370

     "Bears win 61-7, Dec. 7, 1980, a day that will live in Packer infamy as their second-most lopsided loss in history. Coach Bart Starr yells at mild-mannered Bears coach Neill Armstrong because defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan is blitzing at the end of the rout. Bears scout Bill Tobin, who once worked for Starr's predecessor, Dan Devine, later reveals the Bears had stolen the Packers' signals."

        In the late 80s there was lots of talk of stolen signals between the Houston Oilers-they have since become the Tennessee Titans-and the Bengals. 

        Of course one cares about that because it's ancient history and it doesn't discredit a great team which is why people really focus on the Patriots.  Pundits are basically saying that Deflategate would be a non-issue if this were another team. 

        Meanwhile listen to what Roger Goodell said before the Super Bowl in 2008-where, of course, my Giants beat the unbeaten Patriots even if they had all our signals! 

       "An N.F.L. team could place an army of lip readers on the sideline to try to steal messages from the opposing side. It could fill a row of seats behind the other team’s bench with espionage experts to decipher all the sideline cues. It could have scouts in the press box aiming binoculars at every opposing coach, scribbling notes to match with game tape to glean what all the signals mean."

      "All that is allowed, and maybe some of it is done. But videotaping the other sideline? Do not think about it."

       "And therein lies one of the quirky twists to what may already be the biggest cheating scandal in the N.F.L.’s history, a chapter that began when the Patriots were caught taping the Jets’ sideline last September."

       "The issue is not stealing signals. That is allowed, “and it is done quite widely,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said recently."

       "The issue, rather, is the method of acquiring the signals."

        “I’m not sure that there is a coach in the league that doesn’t expect that their signals are being intercepted by opposing teams,” Goodell said Feb. 1, two days before the Super Bowl.

     Again, it's all about who the Patriots are, not that they cheat and all the other teams play by the rules. Yet this childish narrative of moral absolutes-'cheating is cheating' is how so many people discuss it.  It's not fact based and it's not about what's right and wrong just that a lot of people like to see a team with a lot of success taken down a peg or two. 

      Ok, Robert Kraft. I got a little sidetracked as that's a really good quote by Goodell that shows that stealing signals probably happens all the time. So I like how Kraft defends his coach and QB here. 

     ""As I said on Friday in my prepared statement, we welcome the league’s investigation and the involvement of Attorney [Ted] Wells," Kraft said. "I am confident that this investigation will uncover whatever the facts were that took place last Sunday and the science of how game balls react to changes in the environment. This would be in direct contrast to the public discourse, which has been driven by media leaks as opposed to actual data and facts. Because of this, many jumped to conclusions and made scarring accusations against our coach, quarterback and staff questioning the integrity of all involved.
"If the Wells’ investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the footballs, I would expect and hope that the league would apologize to our entire team and in particular, coach Belichick and Tom Brady for what they have had to endure this past week. I am disappointed in the way this entire matter has been handled and reported upon. We expect hard facts as opposed to circumstantial leaked evidence to drive the conclusion of this investigation."
      I like that. Turn it around. Let those who are rushing to judgment have the burden of proof. I also agree that it's pretty sad the way it's been reoported on-again, baseless rush to judgment. 
     I've thought for the last 6 weeks that Seattle is going to win it all, and I still do; a great defense usually beats a great offense in the Super Bowl.
      However, if anything I am beginning to think this might give the Pats a little emotinal edge. I see now that they are 1 point favorites-for most of the last week it's been a pick em. Could this be because the oddsmakers think this will motivate NE?



Monday, January 26, 2015

So How Does Sumner Explain Greece?

     How's that monetary offset thing working in Greece?

     "To understand the political earthquake in Greece, it helps to look at Greece’s May 2010 “standby arrangement” with the International Monetary Fund, under which the so-called troika — the I.M.F., the European Central Bank and the European Commission — extended loans to the country in return for a combination of austerity and reform. It’s a remarkable document, in the worst way. The troika, while pretending to be hardheaded and realistic, was peddling an economic fantasy. And the Greek people have been paying the price for those elite delusions."

     "You see, the economic projections that accompanied the standby arrangement assumed that Greece could impose harsh austerity with little effect on growth and employment. Greece was already in recession when the deal was reached, but the projections assumed that this downturn would end soon — that there would be only a small contraction in 2011, and that by 2012 Greece would be recovering. Unemployment, the projections conceded, would rise substantially, from 9.4 percent in 2009 to almost 15 percent in 2012, but would then begin coming down fairly quickly."

     "What actually transpired was an economic and human nightmare. Far from ending in 2011, the Greek recession gathered momentum. Greece didn’t hit the bottom until 2014, and by that point it had experienced a full-fledged depression, with overall unemployment rising to 28 percent and youth unemployment rising to almost 60 percent. And the recovery now underway, such as it is, is barely visible, offering no prospect of returning to precrisis living standards for the foreseeable future."

      According to Sumner's Market Monetarism fiscal austerity doesn't hurt as the central bank offsets it. By implication then-the more austerity the more monetary offset so really the more austerity the better. Now whether full monetary offset exists or not in the US with the Fed is one thing-I don't buy it but it's not as implausible as in the EU. Monetary offset is just a punchline when dealing with the EU. 

    It's interesting that La Pen in France from a far Right wing party supported the Left wing victory in Greece.

     For those in Europe who feel lots of consternation over this ought to have thought about this in 2011 when they like Sumner claimed austerity has negligible effects. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

In Greek Election, a Collision Course With the Euro, Austerity

     Scott Sumner is the foremost defender today of austerity. For you MMers out there I put no stock in your denials to the contrary on this. He has taken it upon himself to defend fiscal austerity at every turn.

     He is claiming that austerity is expansionary. Again, that's his implicit point. He never puts it quite this way explicitly-because he's way too shrewd politically or that-but that is obviously the implication. So he's no less an advocate of it than Albert Alesina-who he has also defended on occasion.

        Again, the difference is explicit-Alesina makes it explicit, Sumner makes the case implicitly. He never says 'We need some fiscal austerity' but what he does is criticize anyone who criticizes austerity. He claims that Market Monetarism 'won a bet with Krugman' in 2013 because the economy didn't fall into a recession after we had a sequester though that's setting the bar awfully low-if there's no recession, austerity isn't a drag on growth?

        The idea of monetary offset means that taking this idea to its absurd conclusion means that the more austerity you do the better the recovery will be as it will force the Fed to do more QE-yes, I know Sumner says QE isn't his first choice but in reality this is what it will be.

        Right now, the Greek people seem very close to rejecting Sumner's austerity and maybe the Euro system itself.

        UPDATE: Hot off the presses it seems that it may be a done deal and the anti austerity-anti euro?-candidate has won according to exit polls.

       The changes could be huge, totally altering if not ending Greece's spot as a euro nation.

      The impliciations for the rest of the world could be huge.

       One of the problems with economics as a social science is that it's very hard to come by real natural experiments. When we do get natural experiments they can often be unpleasant. We learnt for instance from the Nazis that forced labor can help you get out of a derpession faster. Obviously not something we'd repeat.  Here in what might bring a lot of pain we might learn quite a lot.

       P.S. I remember John Cochrane recently wondering what's wrong with Keynesians: they say WWII was a great fiscal stimulus yet they opposed the Iraq war. In his mind that shows that Keynesianians are 'internally inconsistent.'

      Sumner actually praised this Cochrane piece. Yet he mocks other people for being ignorant of economics.



Speaker Boehner Pulls a David Lycnh

     New Yorkers are appalled with the arrogant way that he took it upon himself to place the police unions above the people of NYC by making baseless charges against a duly elected Mayor, disrespecting Mayor de Blasio in public-and so disrespecting all New Yorkers-and pushing a work stoppage as an attempt to hold the City to ransom.

    It needs to be appreciated that what Boehner and his GOP House are doing is no less arrogant. He is disrespecting the American people's President and potentially causing a serious breach between the U.S. and Israel diplomatically. This is something that not only Americans have criticized but many Israelis as well.

    Like Lynch, Netanyahu is motivated by politics and is Americans will no more appreciate him tampering in American politics than New Yorkers appreciate Lynch tampering in NYC politics. Netanyahu is trying to force the President's hand to increase sanctions against Iran a very serious thing for him to try to do. Yet it seems to be backfiring.

     "There seems to be a growing backlash to the Netanyahu-Boehner speech stunt, both in the United States and Israel. As you can see from our current feature story, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren has said the speech threatens a rift with the US and should be canceled. I want to say more about Oren's remarks and their context. But before getting to that, a few other developments."

      "There is a must-read column by Chemi Shalev in Haaretz which you can read in English. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) gave a statement to Haaretz roundly trashing Netanyahu's visit - both for the breach of diplomatic protocol and for the substance of what Netanyahu is trying to do: blow up US diplomatic efforts to reach an agreement with Iran.

"Inviting Prime Minister Netanyahu without consulting the administration is clearly a breach of protocol and an unwelcome injection of partisan politics into our foreign policy. It puts the United States in the middle of Israel’s election, which is highly inappropriate ... I also believe imposing additional sanctions on Iran in the midst of negotiations — which is what Netanyahu will reportedly discuss — would collapse the negotiations and ruin a historic diplomatic opportunity. Imposing sanctions now is reckless and dangerous.”

      "Feinstein's willingness to speak so aggressively is a good measure of the damage caused by Netanyahu's actions. But just as notable in Shalev's reporting is that the speech debacle appears to be weakening Democratic support for the Menendez-Kirk bill to push forward a new round of sanctions on Iran - the bill President Obama has promised to veto. At least in the context of US politics and politicking around Iran, Netanyahu's move appears to be backfiring."

     Netanhayu's Likud party has been trying to build their foreign policy around the GOP. 

     "If that holds up, it's an astounding development. It means Netanyahu's norm-breaking behavior and decision to subordinate Israel-US ties to his reelection campaign have managed to overcome - at least in certain cases - Democratic senators' usual unwillingness to get outflanked to the right on security issues tied to Israel. The level of affront is almost unprecedented: we now know that Israeli Ambassador Dermer - a primary architect of the effort to align Israel around the GOP and himself a former Republican political operative - met with Secretary Kerry for several hours the day before the Netanyahu speech was announced and never mentioned it to Kerry. In almost any other case, such bad faith and duplicity would lead a host country to ask that an ambassador be withdrawn."

     Meanwhile Netanyahu's former Ambassador is calling for him to call off the trip to see Boehner. 

      "The behavior over the last few days created the impression of a cynical political move, and it could hurt our attempts to act against Iran. It's advisable to cancel the speech to Congress so as not to cause a rift with the American government. Much responsibility and reasoned political behavior are needed to guard interests in the White House."
The point is pretty clear: Netanyahu is too reckless to safeguard the Israel-US alliance. He hits all the key points, the mix of recklessness and placing political opportunism above the national interest.

      I guess you could paraphrase Noam Chomsky a bit and call Lynch, Boehner, and Netanhayu as a kind of 'fateful triangle.'

      I'm not saying I agree with everything Chomsky says in the book-but the phrase sure sums up what's going on now. 


So When Rex Ryan Plays the Bill in 2015 Does That Get an Asterisk?

      I mean if the Patriots were cheaters who didn't deserve all their Super Bowl rings because of Spygate, maybe we should throw out next year's two Bills-Jets games. I mean supposedly if you have a team's signals you're going to beat them no matter what. Who could possibly know more about what the Jets do than Rex Ryan? Surely, Todd Bowles will change some things but certainly not over night.

     The reality is while everyone is talking about football pressure, this is really still all about Spygate. After all, how many pundits have said that if this was another team other than the Patriots, Deflategate would not be news?

     I really don't think though that all the moral absolutists who say that 'It's called cheating. The Patriots did it and now everything they've accomplished is tarnished' have spent even a second really thinking this through. Bellichick shocked the room yesterday by actually answering a question about Spygate rather than what he's always done in the past: refuse to dignify with a response, a favorite tactic of his.

    "Many of us in the room nearly fell off our chairs when he didn’t turn back a question related to Spygate and its correlation to the current case. Instead, he tackled it directly."

   “That’s a whole other discussion,” Belichick said. “The guy is giving signals out in front of 80,000 people, OK? So we filmed him taking signals out in front of 80,000 people like there were a lot of other teams doing at that time, too, OK? But forget about that. If we were wrong, then we’ve been disciplined for that."
  “The guy is in front of 80,000 people — 80,000 people saw it. Everybody’s sideline saw it. Everybody sees our guy in front of the 80,000 people. I mean, there he is. So it was wrong. We were disciplined for it. That’s it. We never did it again. We’re never going to do it again.”

    I think you have to relativize your absolutist position and be honest: have any other teams ever done this? If so, then even if this breaks the rules it kind of equals out any advantage from doing it. In truth accusations of stealing your signals are as old as the hills.

   The Packers and Bears used to accuse each other of this, the Bengals and the Oilers-now the Titans-used to do it in the era of Jerry Glanville and Sam Wyche. People tend not to understand Bellichick's point: this is not inside information: what coaches do on the sidelines is visible for everyone. You can watch it there but you aren't allowed to tape it and watch it later? I get that it's the rule but before you try to tarnish the Patriots record you might at least try to figure out why it;s the rule and what the real point of it is.

    When teams lose they often have make this charge. 'It's because our opponents stole our signals.' Usually the charge is made between bitter divisional or playoff rivals. Again, people have the wrong idea about this: they seem to think studying the signals of a coaching staff is like seeing the answers for a math test. It's not that simple. It's not like the Patriots won every game they had tapes for.

   Remember too that Spygate was started by then Jets coach Ed Mangini who had come over just a year ago to the Jets from the Patriots. He obviously knew virtually everything the Pats do, In reality if the Pats taped the Jets in 2006, it still can't teach them a fraction as much about the Jets at the time as Mangini knew about his old team the Patriots. Yet, the Jets didn't have much success against NE with him at the helm.

  Again, knowing a team's signals is not the same thing as cheating on a math test. All these folks attacking the Patriots are just bitter because of the team's success-I'm not a Patriots fan but a Giants fan, but I think it's a sad thing this type of schadenfreude.

  It's like an attack on greatness where they can't of earned this, it must be cheating. A lot of people just like to see greatness questioned. Maybe they've never achieved anything themselves and feel relieved if it's shown that greatness just isn't possible. I'm not a Patriots fan but I guess it falls to me to say it: leave the Patriots alone. They fully deserve everything they've accomplished. If you say otherwise than give me some real history of stealing signals-talk about what other teams have done not just the Patriots. Maybe even mention Bountygate ought to be looked atwhich for Aikman to claim was not as bad as this is just astonishing.

   I mean does anyone claim that the Saints should give back their SB trophy? Yet, shouldn't we go through all their opponents for the year and see how many great playmakers on offense that Saints knocked out? After all, if you deliberately break the opposing team's QB's leg, that's surely a bigger advantage than taping something that's publicly available to everyone.