...The real engine of Star Trek's futuristic utopia is not the technology of warp drives and transporters, so much as it is the economics of a world where people want for nothing. This all-star Panel includes Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman, Star Trek writer Chris Black, Trekonomics author Manu Saadia, and io9 editor Annalee Newitz. We'll talk about automation and social progress, and ask: is Star Trek's level of economic well-being actually possible?
Track: TV: SPEAKERS: Annalee Newitz, Brad DeLong, Chris Black, Felix Salmon, Manu Saadia, Paul Krugman
Must-Read: Two points: (1) Kevin Drum reveals that he writes his weblog posts not in his bathrobe but in his shorts. (2) Ever since the closing of the health-care expansion frontier opened by Medicare and Medicaid plus the industrialization of the hospital, we have seen a steady if saw-toothed decline in the pace of spending growth--your standard logistic in the share of spending devoted to health care.
The big question for me is: Are we near the asymptote? Or will there be another wave of backlash against narrow networks and bureaucratic blockages of authorizations?
Live from the Lucky Garden Restaurant in Burlington, KS: Nate Silver says that Donald Trump has a 4% chance of winning the Republican nomination. And he reminds us of Richard Berke of the New York Times:
Must-Read: I gotta agree with Paul Krugman here: Ylan Q. Mui is smart and hard-working. But she is not doing the job that a WonkBlog reporter should be doing. She is, instead, doing the standard Len Downie-culture Washington Post job of pleasing her sources and confusing her readers--nearly the exact opposite of what I took to be the task that Ezra Klein originally set the reporters of WonkBlog.
As I have said and will say again: The (surprisingly few) good journalists working for the Washington Post would land on their feet if it stopped publishing tomorrow. The rest shouldn't be in the industry. And the quality of the information stream would be improved:
Paul Krugman: Bubblewashing: "Almost 15 years have passed since I warned about media ‘balance’...
Must-Read: When I have to teach my students policy-oriented macro, I look for cases of moderate inflation in which expectations relevant to the Phillips curve and the inflation-unemployment "tradeoff" turn out to be neither anchored nor adaptive but rational. The only historical example I have found in a major North Atlantic country that even partly fits the bill is the accession of Francois Mitterand to the French presidency in the early 1980s--and even there the expectations that look rational are not workers' or bosses' but rather foreign-exchange traders...
Over at Equitable Growth: Let me pile on to something Paul Krugman published last week, and make fun of William Cohan for writing and the New York Times for publishing hopelessly confused austerity pseudonomics:
everywhere you looked, people who imagined themselves sophisticated and possessed of deep understanding were resurrecting 75-year-old fallacies and presenting them as deep insights.... [Now] I feel an even deeper sense of despair--because people are still rolling out those same fallacies... So here’s William Cohan in the Times, declaring that the Fed should ‘show some spine’ and raise rates.... READ MOAR
Over at Equitable Growth Martin Wolf calls himself a long-run China optimist--that China is more likely than not following the Korean road, is now where Korea was in the early 1980s, and:
South Korea’s real GDP per head has since nearly quadrupled in real terms, to reach almost 70 per cent of US levels. If China became as rich as Korea, its economy would be bigger than those of the US and Europe combined...
Last week for the Huffington Post I gave my case for China pessimism: that what Japan, Korea, Spain--even Singapore--demonstrate is that escaping the middle-income trap requires institutional convergence to the North Atlantic to generate education and flexibility and to greatly reduce the burdens of corruption and of one-party ossification as nobody dares tell those at the top what a further round of economic growth requires. READ MOAR
Must-Read: As time passes, there seems to be less and less technocrat rationale for the policy of cutting back the social insurance state in order to keep the taxes on the rich low. Yet that does not appear to do anything to weaken pressures putting for politicians to endorse such policies--even at a very cost in terms of being in synch with their electoral base:
Live from Crow's Coffee: Neal Beck: R for Undergraduates: "First, I got no first-hand horror stories...
...(though did get some second hand horror stories). This does not mean that such do not exist, but I am more inclined to believe they are an urban myth (but this is not updating for me very much). Also, it was pointed out it is not as though UGs love learning Stata; a move from Stata to R is not as drastic as from the Daily Show (sigh!) to the PBS Newshour. We will always have UGs who will hate whatever choice we make.
Manu Saadia, the author of the forthcoming book, Trekonomics, discusses the economic theories behind the creation of the Star Trek with J. Bradford DeLong, professor of Economics at UC Berkeley and former Deputy Assistant Secretary at the US Treasury. Inkshares' Adam Gomolin is the moderator:
...virtually everything on it was published that day for the first time.... I don’t think for a second that everything we put on the front page today at Vox was more useful to our readers than everything we’ve ever published. Some feature we wrote a year ago may be the best thing to read today....
...Let me start be asking about your view of the economy. How close are we to a full recovery?
Although the economy has continued to recover and the labor market is approaching our maximum employment objective, inflation has been persistently below 2 percent. That has been especially true recently... the drop in oil prices... 12-month changes in the overall personal consumption expenditure (PCE) price index have recently been only a little above zero.... Measures of core inflation have been persistently below 2 percent throughout the economic recovery. That said, as with total inflation, core inflation can be somewhat variable....