Dem RIPS Kavanaugh for Dark Money Ties

In Sen. Whitehouse’s (D-RI) 7th speech on dark money and court capture, he exposes the dark money interests he says are tied to the FBI’s mishandling of the investigation on Justice Bret Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Fords claims that Whitehouse says ultimately led to Kavanaugh being sworn in.

Tucker Carlson, Unmasked

The self-styled champion of individual liberty wants you to call government agents to punish Americans for their parenting.

Social media has so conditioned people to expect hyperbole that there’s a perverse satisfaction when a clip is truly as bad as advertised. Last night, a viral tweet claimed that Fox News’s Tucker Carlson had told his audience to harass people on the street wearing masks—and to “call the police immediately; contact child protective services” if they saw a child wearing one.

Surely, this couldn’t be a fair description; naturally, it was. Having spent the early part of the month espousing the white-supremacist “great replacement theory,” Carlson is now seeking to use the power of the state to harass and immiserate his political opponents:

Carlson delivered his rant with the combination of astonished indignation, obvious bad faith, and smug sarcasm with which he delivers everything these days, a volatile mix that makes it impossible to know when and to what extent he’s trolling. Like his fellow traveler Donald Trump, Carlson delights in making appalling statements with a straight face and then insisting he was just joking; unlike Trump, Carlson has in the past shown enough of a sense of humor that you can’t discount that possibility.

Trying to figure out Carlson’s “real” feelings is not only impossible but beside the point. Whether he’s disingenuous or delusional, many people will hear what he says and take it seriously and literally. We have several recent examples of the Fox audience being misled into believing falsehoods, including denying the reality of COVID-19 and subscribing to bogus claims about fraud in the 2020 election.

Carlson’s diatribe is a useful data point for how American conservatism has transformed, especially in the Trump era, from a movement that (at least putatively) believes in limited government to one that primarily prizes marshaling the power of the state to punish those who disagree with itWith Trump in eclipse, Carlson is the most visible face of the new conservative movement.

Although Carlson makes a lot of ridiculous claims in a short period in this clip, it is his comments about children that are most disturbing. After complaining that mask mandates imposed by the state are equivalent to living in North Korea, Carlson executes two athletic rhetorical maneuvers. First, he goes from describing mask wearing as excessive to describing it as abusive, and second, he elides the difference between a government mandate and a personal choice.

“As for forcing children to wear masks outside, that should be illegal,” Carlson sputters. “Your response when you see children wearing masks as they play should be no different from seeing someone beating a kid at Walmart: Call the police immediately; contact child protective services. Keep calling until someone arrives. What you’re looking at is abuse. It’s child abuse, and you’re morally obligated to attempt to prevent it.”

One doesn’t need a lot of imagination to game out where this is going. Some viewers will take Carlson’s possibly arch exhortations to heart. They’ll call the police and child protective services. In most cases, authorities will ignore those calls. In some cases, especially if the callers repeatedly summon police as Carlson demands, they could be charged with filing false claims; it’s a good bet that neither he nor Fox News will be there to help them if they are. In other cases, encounters will end poorly for the innocent parents involved. The news is full of examples of how police called to respond to petty or wholly imagined offenses end up gravely injuring or even killing people. (Carlson believes Derek Chauvin was wrongly convicted.)

But when government authorities fail to intervene—because, of course, no laws are being broken—Carlson’s fans may feel the moral obligation to take matters into their own hands, just like Edgar Maddison Welch, who stormed into a Washington, D.C., pizzeria heavily armed in 2016, because he wanted to prevent child abuse that he wrongly believed was occurring there. No one was hurt in that incident, though someone easily could have been. Welch spent about three years in prison.

Carlson’s argument isn’t really about masks. As he grudgingly admitted, the Biden administration had already signaled that new guidance would soon make clear that mask wearing outside is not necessary for fully vaccinated people; the CDC released that guidance this afternoon. Perhaps the change could have come faster, but conservatives have traditionally applauded the deliberate process of government, because it prevents tyranny and abuse of citizens.

Even after new guidance, some people will decide to continue wearing masks outside. Perhaps they feel more comfortable that way. People exercising sometimes extreme caution about their health is neither new or a nuisance. Perhaps they are immunocompromised, or have immunocompromised family members or friends. Ultimately, it’s none of my business or Tucker Carlson’s business why they are doing so, as long as they aren’t hurting anyone, which neither he nor anyone else has established they are.

That’s the sort of personal choice that conservatives have also traditionally defended. Though Carlson masquerades as a defender of free speech (one of several poses he’s tried on over the years), he must know that the government has no business telling citizens what they cannot wear. It is, to borrow Carlson’s analogy, like being forced to wear a Kim Il Sung pin in Pyongyang. Unlike mandates to wear masks, which stem from a public-health interest, a government rule punishing people for wearing masks during a pandemic serves no compelling interest. As for children, conservatives have long argued that families should enjoy autonomy about their parenting decisions, without undue interference from the state.

But Carlson doesn’t object to the state harassing people or exercising undue power. He delights in it, as long as the state is harassing the people he hates. The crueltyas my colleague Adam Serwer has said, is the point. This is the lodestar of the Trump and post-Trump GOP, which values owning the libs above allnot merely rhetorically, but with the fist of government. Thus Trump asserted that he had the authority to override state and local coronavirus shutdowns (before hastily backtracking when it became clear that he had no such power). He sought to involve the federal government in decisions of colleges and universities in order to muzzle speech. And he celebrated police violence, even as he moaned that he was the victim of overzealous law enforcement.

It is tempting to read incoherence in Trump’s arguments, or in Carlson’s: How can they both be against government mandating masks, on the basis of personal liberty, and also demand that the government prevent people from wearing them? In fact, the principle is straightforward enough. Small government for me, but not for thee.

 

The Republican Economic Plan Is an Insult

It’s bad faith in the name of bipartisanship.

So 10 Republican senators are proposing an economic package that is supposed to be an alternative to President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. The proposal is only a third of the size of Biden’s plan and would in important ways cut the heart out of economic relief.

Republicans, however, want Biden to give in to their wishes in the name of bipartisanship. Should he?

No, no, 1.9 trillion times, no.

It’s not just that the G.O.P. proposal is grotesquely inadequate for a nation still ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic. Beyond that, by their behavior — not just over the past few months but going back a dozen years — Republicans have forfeited any right to play the bipartisanship card, or even to be afforded any presumption of good faith.

Let’s start with the substance.

By any measure, January was the worst pandemic month so far. More than 95,000 Americans died of Covid-19; hospitalizations remain far higher than they were at previous peaks.

True, the end of the nightmare is finally in sight. If all goes well, at some point this year enough people will have been vaccinated that we’ll reach herd immunity, the pandemic will fade away and normal life can resume. But that’s unlikely to happen before late summer or early fall.

And in the meantime we’re going to have to remain on partial lockdown. It would, for example, be folly to reopen full-scale indoor dining. And the continuing lockdown will impose a lot of financial hardship. Unemployment will remain very high; millions of businesses will struggle to stay afloat; state and local governments, which aren’t allowed to run deficits, will be in dire fiscal straits.

What we need, then, is disaster relief to get afflicted Americans through the harsh months ahead. And that’s what the Biden plan would do.

Republicans, however, want to rip the guts out of this plan. They are seeking to reduce extra aid to the unemployed and, more important, cut that aid off in June — long before we can possibly get back to full employment. They want to eliminate hundreds of billions in aid to state and local governments. They want to eliminate aid for children. And so on.

This isn’t an offer of compromise; it’s a demand for near-total surrender. And the consequences would be devastating if Democrats were to give in.

But what about bipartisanship? As Biden might say, “C’mon, man.”

First of all, a party doesn’t get to demand bipartisanship when many of its representatives still won’t acknowledge that Biden won legitimately, and even those who eventually acknowledged the Biden victory spent weeks humoring baseless claims of a stolen election.

Complaints that it would be “divisive” for Democrats to pass a relief bill on a party-line vote, using reconciliation to bypass the filibuster, are also pretty rich coming from a party that did exactly that in 2017, when it enacted a large tax cut — legislation that, unlike pandemic relief, wasn’t a response to any obvious crisis, but was simply part of a conservative wish list.

Oh, and that tax cut was rammed through in the face of broad public opposition: Only 29 percent of Americans approved of the bill, while 56 percent disapproved. By contrast, the main provisions of the Biden plan are very popular: 79 percent of the public approve of new stimulus checks, and 69 percent approve of both expanded unemployment benefits and aid to state and local governments.

So when one party is trying to pursue policies with overwhelming public support while the other offers lock-step opposition, who, exactly, is being divisive?

Wait, there’s more.

Everyone knew that Republicans, who abruptly stopped caring about deficits when Donald Trump took office, would suddenly rediscover the horror of debt under Joe Biden. What even I didn’t expect was to see them complain that Biden’s plan gives too much help to relatively affluent families.

Again, consider the 2017 tax cut. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, that law gave 79 percent of its benefits to people making more than $100,000 a year. It gave more to Americans with million-dollar-plus incomes, just 0.4 percent of taxpayers, than the total tax break for those living on less than $75,000 a year, that is, a majority of the population. And now Republicans claim to care about equity?

In short, everything about this Republican counteroffer reeks of bad faith — the same kind of bad faith the G.O.P. displayed in 2009 when it tried to block President Barack Obama’s efforts to rescue the economy after the 2008 financial crisis.

Obama, unfortunately, failed to grasp the nature of his opposition, and he watered down his policies in a vain attempt to win support across the aisle. This time, it seems as if Democrats understand what Lucy will do with that football and won’t be fooled again.

So it’s OK for Biden to talk with Republicans and hear them out. But should he make any substantive concessions in an attempt to win them over? Should he let negotiations with Republicans delay the passage of his rescue plan? Absolutely not. Just get it done.

Paul Krugman, “Arguing With Zombies”

13:57
that like why I mean okay the you you’re
going to be ineffective in these days
maybe you can be an effective regardless
but you’re certainly going to be
ineffective arguing in the public sphere
if you pretend that we’re actually
having a across the board that we’re
actually having honest debate a lot of
it is not a lot of a lot of the
arguments that you hear are in bad faith

so if we talk about the dispute about
the 2017 tax cut there what there was
not this was not a case of well some
serious people think it’s a good idea
and some serious people think it’s a bad
idea that was it was solved with lies
and and then you need
if if you’re going to acknowledge that
and I think it’s being you’re being
unfair to your readers if you don’t say
that then you are also really being
unfair to your readers if you don’t
explain why people are willing
to – to
say these things I mean so so think
about well something I’m mixing subjects
here but think about monetary policy
which actually you probably shouldn’t
but anyways one of the one of those
topic one of those topics that is really
probably often not suitable but it’s
sometimes it is so there there are real
disputes in monetary policy yeah Ben
Bernanke and I are in somewhat in
disagreement about the effectiveness of
quantitative easing
and if you don’t
know what I’m talking about
consider yourself lucky the that’s a
fine that’s a that’s that’s a perfectly
fine debate and I would never question
his motives but if we were having it as
we were having in the early 2010’s a
debate about whether the feds efforts to
rescue the economy we’re gonna lead to
hyperinflation
it was important not just
to say that this is really crazy this is
not that’s not going to happen but to
ask who is it why are people saying this
because there it was really there was
nobody making those claims who wasn’t
effectively a paid political operative

and some some of them may have had an
economics PhD or at least call
themselves economics but nonetheless in
fact it was all hired concen and you
need to say that again you’re not being
honest with your readers if you don’t
say that well I’ll get to some things
16:13
that I want to keep coming back to you
16:15
know I want to switch gears a little bit
16:18
I really I mean there were a number of
16:21
greatest hits that I really enjoyed in
16:23
here but one that I had not read before
16:24
that I really enjoyed was the 1993 piece
16:27
that you did called how I work and you
16:31
know one of the things that you known in
16:32
there you trace out the arc of how
16:34
you’ve thought about your work over time
16:36
and and one thing that you noted is that
16:38
you’ve always seen live policy debates
16:40
as fodder for your deeper economic
16:42
thinking so even before you became
16:44
abundant
16:45
and so when to give you an opportunity
16:47
to just tell us you know of the policy
16:50
topics that you’ve worked on over your
16:51
career which have given me of the live
16:54
policy debates which have been the ones
16:56
that have come back into your thinking
16:58
about theory in the in the ways that
17:01
have been most influential in your own
17:03
thinking oh wow
17:06
let me give you two so there were two my
17:13
what I personally consider the the best
17:17
academic paper I ever wrote was actually
17:20
about Japan in was a little over twenty
17:23
years ago
17:24
writing about Japan being stuck in this
17:26
trap being unable to to get out of
17:28
deflation and I was from among the
17:30
people who you know looked at Japan and
well actually so I came into it I
started thinking about I thought the
Japanese were being stupid that there
has to be a really easy answer to this
that they and and in the course of
researching and try and think it through
and looking at there I realize that you
know actually this is really hard it’s
not that the Japanese are not being
stupid and and it could happen to us
which in fact it did ten years later so
it so that’s a case where looking at an
actual policy issue which is the
troubles of Japan let me into relief
rethinking on understanding that they
that we did not have this recession
economic slump thing under control that
it was not a solved problem as many
economists thought at the time the other
area which in this book but you know the
minimum wage the the very few things
that in economic research have shaken me
as much as as the empirical research on
the effects of minimum wage increases
which turns out to be one of the few
places in economics we don’t get to do
very many experiments in economics it’s
a human experimentation is generally
frowned upon and but we get a lot of
natural experiments when when states or
cities raise their minimum wage and you
can compare what happens there with what
happens in neighboring
cities and there’s this classic work
18:56
which has not been replicated and
18:58
extended many times from from 1993 by
19:01
David carte now in Kruger where they
19:03
found out that contrary to what econ 101
19:06
would say you cannot see any any job
19:09
losses from loans or men wage increases
19:10
and that was just shook my my you know
19:13
said okay maybe the economy works a lot
19:16
less like I knew that econ 101 was an
19:19
imperfect incomplete story but maybe
19:21
it’s a lot more imperfect and incomplete
19:22
than I realized it was yeah I mean it’s
19:26
about two comments I mean this I mean
19:28
one that is such a pivotal moment I
19:30
think in economics and so much of the
19:31
work we’re doing at equitable growth is
19:33
building on that the the ideas of how
19:36
all of this new empirical data and
19:38
evidence is changing the way we think
19:40
about theory but I’m also glad I asked
19:43
you this question because now I know why
19:44
you’ve spent so much time in your
19:46
columns focusing on the Japan slump I
19:48
mean it was important but also it’s nice
19:50
to hear you talk about how you thought
19:51
it was important and so this is I’m
19:54
having fun up here is basically what I’m
19:55
saying so okay this is great so um so
19:58
keeping on the same theme here so
20:01
recently when you were talking about
20:02
your book you told the american prospect
20:05
quote i’m considerably less of a
believer in the invisible hand and more
concerned about power than when i was
younger
and that just really struck me and as I
was as we’ve been doing our work at at
global growth and I’ve been thinking
about what the data and the research and
the evidence means and you know thinking
about Adam Smith’s notion of the
invisible hand which you know he calls
the you know it’s like it’s the divine
it’s sort of it’s this it seems it’s
this kindly you know gentle hand that’s
pushing the economy towards optimal
outcomes you know where everyone has
20:39
this mutual beneficial exchange and is
20:43
I’ve been thinking about it the image
20:44
that I now have in my head of the
20:46
invisible hand is actually maybe most of
20:50
you will get this in the 80s there were
20:52
these ads on television for Hamburger
20:54
Helper and there was this
20:56
this hand in this glove that I think is
20:58
little traumatizing for me but you know
21:00
at this smiley face but it looked kind
21:02
of cruel and so in my head I now mention
21:04
the official hand it’s like it’s like
21:05
pushing some people up its shoving other
21:08
people aside and it’s punching down
21:10
right this is it’s it’s not this kindly
21:12
hand this is what I’m thinking about it
21:14
so what am I question for you
21:16
it is does this image resonate with you
21:21
and you know what does it mean to you to
21:26
say you’re you’re less of a believer in
21:29
the invisible hand okay
21:30
so first of all I should say that the
21:32
British magazine prospect would probably
21:34
be a little bit upset at being called
21:36
The American Prospect I associate
21:47
Hamburger Helper with with my
21:49
apprenticeship as an economist because I
21:51
I spent a couple of summers working as a
21:53
research assistant and and in the 70s
21:57
and eating a lot of Hamburger Helper but
21:58
anyway anyway no I mean the the what I
22:05
actually Smith wasn’t that that certain
22:09
that the invisible hand was Benari I
22:11
mean but he was just saying that you
22:12
know things the logic of the system is
22:15
that the but but the belief that markets
22:20
get it right and that markets and the
22:22
markets that there’s kind of a uniquely
22:25
determined thing this is what the market
22:27
wants to happen and defy the market
22:28
etcher at your peril yeah I never fully
22:32
believed in that but it’s become
22:34
increasingly hard to to the weight that
22:41
you want to put on that view and and
22:43
actually the central issue there is
22:45
inequality so and we you know there was
22:49
a an orthodoxy which to some extent I
22:53
shared but have progressively moved away
22:56
from and in a couple of sentences was
23:00
that that rising inequality was because
23:03
of these anonymous
23:05
is that the technological we’ve got
23:07
Larry Michelle if you’re skill-biased
23:09
technological change was pushing us
23:11
towards it greater inequality and that
23:13
has the worse and worse as a story about
23:16
what actually happened and so you
23:17
actually start to ask things like okay
23:20
why are ceos paid so much and the
23:25
proximate answer is well their pay is
23:28
decided by compensation committees that
23:30
they basically a point but that was
23:31
always true so what was it what changed
23:34
between the 60s and and the world we
23:36
live in now that that caused those
23:38
compensation committees to start paying
23:40
them you know three hundred times as
23:43
much as their workers instead of twenty
23:44
times as much as their workers so those
23:46
that’s the sense in which and we see
23:49
that across a lot of fronts now we’re
23:51
having a hard time it’s it’s it’s kind
23:54
of a grab bag of different stories here
23:58
but but somehow clearly it’s not just
24:00
that the market wants something the
24:02
market the there’s clearly a lot of
24:05
wiggle room and outcomes that seems to
24:07
depend on things that at some level are
24:09
our power well and I think it’s this
24:12
grab bag of different stories that’s
24:15
where I see economics right now you’ve
24:17
talked about the card and Krueger work
24:19
we have all of this new empirical
24:20
research a lot of which where we’re
24:23
looking at what inequality means across
24:25
different vectors and then trying to
24:27
understand what that means for economic
24:29
outcomes but it does feel like there is
24:31
still these questions of what it means
24:33
for theory what how do we take all of
24:35
this new research and evidence and you
24:38
know I think this will go into this next
24:40
question here so in one of your pieces
24:41
from August of 2018 so recently called
24:46
capitalism socialism and unfreedom
24:47
you focus on and I wanted to quote this
24:50
because you labeled a quote what’s wrong
24:51
with the neoliberal ideology that is
24:53
dominated so much of the public
24:55
discourse since 1970s and you argue they
24:59
quote the idea that free markets remove
25:01
power relations from the equation is
25:03
just naive and so I wonder if you could
25:06
spend a couple of minutes on you know
25:08
how is it that you think about
25:10
integrating power into economic theory
25:13
I’m sure it’s kind of connected to the
25:14
grab-bag in the invisible hand but if
25:16
you could focus just for a
25:17
and on you know when you say it’s naive
25:21
to not that free markets can remove
25:24
power relations how do you think about
25:27
integrating that into into theory into
25:30
economics okay it’s really hard right
25:32
Mindy
25:33
the thing about economics and for what
25:35
what Heather knows and the economists in
25:38
the room know is that we we have this
25:39
sort of baseline economic theory which
25:42
is the serve supply and demand but but
25:45
in a much extended version which is
25:48
beautiful
25:49
so all the pieces fit together and it’s
25:51
a and it gives you answers to to
25:54
everything and it so it has aesthetics
25:59
going for it it has a kind of
26:01
intellectual satisfaction it’s got
26:04
everything going for it except actually
26:05
that’s not true
26:06
and yeah but it’s but even even people
26:10
like even those of us who know it’s not
26:14
you tend to do stuff where we start with
26:16
that as a baseline and then say okay but
26:19
let’s tweak it a bit so we’ll introduce
26:20
some monopolies into it or let’s tweak
26:23
it a bit and let’s introduce some
26:25
realistic features of labor markets and
26:29
the trouble two problems one is the
26:33
theme which ways that you should tweak
26:35
it is it’s very hard to come up with
26:38
those accept you know kind of
26:41
case-by-case basis so I’m not sure if
26:44
you had asked me where I thought that
26:46
empirical work would say that we econ
26:48
101 got really wrong
26:50
I wouldn’t take minimum wages as the
26:52
place and that but that turns out to be
26:54
where the compelling evidence is so it’s
26:56
it’s very much still here’s something we
26:59
found it’s not necessarily what you
27:00
thought and the MDT it doesn’t we don’t
27:08
have an integrated theory we just have a
27:10
whole lot of mixed we men of course more
27:16
a menagerie of particular cases so it’s
27:21
the the short answer is that I’m just
27:26
much more willing to
27:28
pay attention – to evidence that says
27:31
that we’ve got it wrong but I don’t have
27:33
a general theory of power I mean this is
27:35
a this is a long way off and but but
27:38
listen to listen to what the data says
27:40
and listen actually that that 93 si was
27:43
actually about writing academic
27:44
economics but it was also about being
27:47
willing to listen to people with with
27:49
heterodox views who don’t necessarily
27:51
speak your language and the the way I
27:53
actually put it which seems appropriate
27:54
was listen to the Gentiles I know that’s
28:00
um for tonight um well I mean I think
28:03
that that is it is interesting and you
28:04
know for anybody who might be you know
28:06
here in the audience who wants to think
28:07
about a career in economics I think that
28:09
this is a very exciting question it’s
28:13
something that we’re gonna have to
28:14
continue to grapple with it so that’s
28:17
just my pitch for people to come and
28:19
help the the profession I will also note
28:22
that you know my favorite piece that
28:24
you’ve ever written was the one called
28:25
mistaking beauty for truth so so I
28:29
recommend that that’s in here and that
28:32
it kind of gets at some of these themes
28:33
so um I wanted um actually I’m going to
28:37
go to this next so I wanted to go back
28:39
to this 93 essay for just a moment and
28:43
quote something that you said let me
28:45
just find it um I have way more
28:48
questions that I could possibly ask in
28:50
an hour so I just I just skimmed wine
28:52
we’ll have to get back to it later so
28:54
you um
28:57
so in this 93 essay and when you trace
28:59
your intellectual history you talk about
29:01
how you learned that your talent was to
29:05
make complex ideas into simple models by
29:07
reframing the question among other
29:09
things and I thought that was a really
29:11
interesting self-awareness and I want to
29:15
quote from the book where you’re telling
29:17
the reader how you develop trait models
29:19
where economies of scale could be an
29:20
independent cause of international trade
29:22
even the absence of comparative
29:23
advantage and you say if this paragraph
29:25
where you say I was of course quote I
29:28
was of course only saying something that
29:30
critics of conventional theory had been
29:32
saying for decades yet my point was not
29:34
part of mainstream international
29:35
economics why because it had never been
29:38
expressed in nice
29:39
models and Lil ellipse here quote I
29:43
suddenly realized the remarkable extent
29:46
to which the methodology of economics
29:48
creates blind spots we don’t we just
29:50
don’t see what we can’t formalize and
29:54
and then you go on to explain how that
29:56
was important in this but I you know I
29:59
as I’m as I was reading this in thinking
30:02
about both your statements about the
30:03
invisible hand our thinking about that
30:05
these questions about power I wondered
30:08
if you could I mean do you think that
30:10
power is a big blind spot for economics
30:13
oh sure I mean a little bit less blind
30:16
than it was but it was if I think about
30:20
the way that people like me you know
30:24
vaguely center-left but but but
30:26
economics trained people thought about
30:28
the world 2025 years ago it really
30:33
didn’t beat much room for power it was
30:36
really that that if this was basically a
30:38
you know a functioning market supply and
30:41
demand and then yes you wanted to have
30:44
some government policies to mitigate
30:45
some of the injustice as a harshness of
30:47
it but but didn’t think very much at all
30:50
about the role of monopolies didn’t
30:52
think very much about as we might I
30:57
think I was probably always for higher
30:59
minimum wages but assume that there be a
31:01
cost in terms of jobs always has some
31:04
sympathy for unions but didn’t thought
31:07
up them as as as having a lot of
31:10
downsides much more than I do now and
31:13
just generally the we we’ve really got
31:16
we bought into the the idea that that
31:20
the the invisible hand that the the
31:21
logic of the marketplace severely
31:24
constrains what happens and that looks a
31:26
lot less persuasive now so one more
31:29
theory question and then I want to talk
31:30
about what all this means for how we
31:32
kill the zombies they one word that just
31:35
I have to one run through a question
31:36
about macro so you’ve talked about and
31:40
you have this nice piece in here from
31:42
2010 at where you called the instability
31:44
of moderation where you point out that a
31:46
key problem for macro economics has been
31:48
this search for micro foundations and
31:51
that we weren’t able to find those in a
31:53
way they did worked
31:55
you know microphone served
31:57
microeconomics being about rational
31:58
economic outdoors and rapidly clearing
32:00
markets I’m relative to macro where
32:02
there’s frictions and ad-hoc behavior
32:04
and I wondered if you could comment on
32:08
something else that I’m seeing happening
32:10
now which is the reverse in that we’re
32:14
seeing a lot of young scholars new
32:17
generation of scholars who are using
32:19
micro economic data to build up to do
32:21
macroeconomic theory and I wonder if you
32:24
see any hope for the forum developing a
32:27
more cohesion between micro and macro
32:29
from them from the micro to the macro
32:31
rather than from the trying to find the
32:34
micro foundation okay so if I the micro
32:36
foundation I think maybe I should do a
32:38
micro foundations was the idea we have
32:40
this idealized Homo economicus the
32:43
economic man who’s perfectly rational
32:45
and is and and operates in perfect
32:49
markets and it’s a it’s a metaphor that
32:51
has proved useful but then ends up
32:54
trouble with it is that people are
32:56
always tempted to go too far with it and
32:58
and there was a for most of my
33:00
professional life we we were in
33:03
situation where people basically the
33:06
things that happen in recessions
33:07
couldn’t happen if people were as
33:10
rational when markets where as efficient
33:12
as as this theory says and so you would
33:15
say so that means you’re going to change
33:16
the theory right but what actually
33:18
happened was that not half the
33:19
profession said that means that the
33:21
things that actually happened don’t
33:22
actually happen so we can create this
33:25
idealized world where you know if they
33:26
what are you gonna believe the theory or
33:28
your lying eyes and and and I hope that
33:34
we moved back from that more although
33:36
there’s still quite a lot of that I was
33:37
actually one of the shocking things to
33:39
me has been how little adjustment in
33:42
doctrine took place after the financial
33:44
crisis it’s amazing to me how how how
33:48
many people I maybe should know that
33:50
right there’s old line about science
33:53
that science progresses funeral by
33:54
funeral basically nobody ever admits
33:57
that they were wrong about anything but
33:58
the but I think I think what you’re
34:01
getting is we’re now tending to do a
34:03
in academic economics it became lots and
34:06
lots of of work with data work with real
34:09
cases and the problem always with that
34:12
actually there two problems with it
34:13
one is that knowing how an individual
34:16
market works doesn’t necessarily tell
34:18
you how the whole ensemble works either
34:20
their work can be real fallacies of
34:23
composition so looking at what goes on
34:26
it you can can be very very wrong I mean
34:29
actually that’s in some ways that’s what
34:30
macro is all about because if you say is
34:32
it good for an individual to save and be
34:35
thrifty and the answer is well yes is
34:37
good if everybody tries to spend less
34:39
than their income at the same time the
34:42
answer is that’s a depression so but the
34:46
other problem is that that you get this
34:48
accumulation of cases and it’s always
34:52
tricky to know whether your general
34:55
whether whether they generalize you you
34:57
end up knowing you learn a lot about
35:00
some some so that there’s a there’s a
35:03
prize that’s actually harder to get the
35:05
novella called Clark medal it’s given to
35:07
an economist under 40 and so we’ve had
35:10
stuff a there’s some wonderful work on
35:12
the impact of of increased access to
35:18
global markets driven by the expansion
35:21
of the the railway network in India in
35:23
in the nineteenth century that’s great
35:27
but how sure are we that what we learn
35:30
from indian railway networks is actually
35:32
applicable to to to the coronavirus
35:35
let’s say and you know when I was a
35:39
under granit took a course in computer
35:42
science that it’s a very primitive
35:45
artificial intelligence efforts then and
35:48
and people I remember very much the line
35:51
that we thought we could learn to
35:53
understand intelligence by by teaching
35:55
computers to play chess and what we
35:56
ended up was learning a lot about chess
36:00
and that’s kind of the problem with all
36:04
this proliferation of which we need but
36:07
and but it’s a judgment call
36:09
so so some of this stuff I think is
36:11
tremendously relevant and but but you
36:14
know I’m never sure
36:16
okay again so now um I want to move on
36:20
to the zombies to keep us up at night
36:22
and core to this book into your columns
36:27
is and you already talked about it the
36:29
one-sided nature of the current debate
36:31
in the sense that there’s polarization
36:33
but it’s asymmetric and we need to
36:35
understand the motives on on both sides
36:37
and in your in a piece from October of
36:42
2018 you wrote quote I submit that the
36:46
GOP is an authoritarian regime in
36:49
waiting and I wrote in my notes here
36:52
yikes
36:53
so I tell us a little bit more about you
36:57
know you know as I read through the book
36:59
it does seem that the and I and part of
37:01
what I was trying to do in time of the
37:03
theory is that there seemed to be some
37:05
parallels between what’s happening
37:07
economics and what’s happening in our in
37:10
the way that we talk about economics out
37:12
in the political sphere but focusing in
37:15
on the political sphere how you know
37:19
what do you see as the biggest zombies
37:21
and do you think that the GOP is the
37:26
most important one which is it one of
37:28
the one of the things that I feel like I
37:30
took from your book what the zombies are
37:32
ideas so a zombie idea is something like
37:35
new tax cuts pay for themselves which
37:37
which should be dead but is instead out
37:40
there eating people’s brains but the and
37:43
the in principle those zombie ideas
37:47
could come from either left or right but
37:49
in in America in 2020 that all of the
37:53
important zombies are coming from the
37:54
right they were all reflecting the
37:56
nature of and the section of the book
37:59
about movement conservatism is this this
38:03
interlocking set of institutions
38:05
included the Republican Party being
38:07
actually just sitting in in the midst of
38:09
the set of interlocking institutions
38:11
held together largely by by money from
38:15
from relative handful of billionaires
38:16
but doesn’t take a lot of billionaires
38:18
to finance a movement and and willing to
38:23
make deals with
38:28
racists with-with-with intolerance in
38:32
order to advance the interests of these
38:34
people and it is extremely scary look
38:37
we’ve seen it happened that when I was
38:42
at Princeton my next-door office
38:44
neighbor was a constitutional law
38:46
scholar and who was who also happened to
38:51
be a specialist on Central Europe and so
38:53
I was busy sort of tracking the collapse
38:56
of democracy and hungry and you can just
38:59
see how that you know Kim chef Lee was
39:02
doing this she actually spoke magyar
39:03
which nobody does but the and and so she
39:07
was able to – and I should lend her
39:10
space on my blog because no one was
39:12
reporting it but I got up a really
39:15
pretty first hand you know much I was
39:18
much more aware than the vast majority
39:20
of people in this country of how it’s
39:24
possible to dismantle a democracy you
39:28
can maintain the institution’s on paper
39:30
it bus completely subvert them in
39:32
reality which happened essentially
39:34
hungry is now one-party authoritarian
39:35
state it’s it’s a little bit subtle have
39:39
but it’s it’s it’s very real and and
39:41
frankly if Trump was a smart Viktor
39:43
Orban we’d probably be lost already so
39:45
the so I scared the hell out of me it’s
39:49
a it’s extremely frightening it’s a
39:52
we’re we’re we’re not very far from that
39:54
point this is the dark part of the
39:57
conversation sorry
39:59
and so the next thing in terms of
40:02
zombies is they you’ve said quote to be
40:05
honest sometimes I wonder whether I’m
40:06
wasting my time talking about any issue
40:08
other than climate change in quote and
40:12
you know I often think that the climate
40:15
change issue visa the economics is very
40:17
interesting because economics is about
40:19
optimizing given resource constraints
40:22
and climate change is so fundamental to
40:24
that that that basic idea but tell us
40:27
about what you think economists should
40:29
be focusing on and where you would like
40:33
to see the economic profession focus its
40:35
energy on this question okay so
40:41
first of all I think we do need to
40:42
convey that there’s still this notion
40:44
that somehow environmental costs are not
40:48
really part of the economy and I’m not
40:51
sure that it’s it’s all that important
40:52
weather or change the measure of GDP to
40:55
include those or not but it is important
40:57
to to highlight the the cost I mean if
41:00
you look at the fossil fuel industry as
41:02
a wholly the kind of measurable costs
41:05
climate change is only just one of them
41:07
but including the the government direct
41:09
Arman subsidies but also that the health
41:11
costs of air pollution the fossil fuel
41:14
industry in the u.s. actually destroys
41:16
about twice as much value as as the
41:19
total value of wages profits and
41:21
everything else in the industry so it
41:22
that we should we should be making a
41:25
point of that that should be out there
41:27
but also this is a case where I think
41:29
the invisible hand stuff comes back the
41:34
there’s now econ 101 is every principles
41:39
of economics textbook has a chapter on
41:40
externalities cost that you impose on
41:43
people and and how the appropriate
41:45
solution is to put a price on them so
41:47
basically economics 101 says we should
41:49
have carbon taxes that that’s actually
41:52
absolutely standard stuff so but there
41:57
is a still some tendency for our
42:00
colleagues in the profession to say and
42:02
that is the solution and is the only
42:05
right solution it has to be the core of
42:07
the solution and that’s not actually
42:09
right I mean it’s it certainly should be
42:12
a important part of it but there’s a lot
42:14
of reason to believe that that there are
42:16
other things that matter a lot that
42:18
investments in infrastructure
42:20
investments in technology and just in
42:22
general this issue is so important that
42:24
we can’t afford to be purists I think
42:27
the purists the purity test on on policy
42:29
here is wrong anyway but even if it were
42:32
right the important thing is to do
42:35
something do something big and and if
42:38
you have to sell it by packaging it with
42:40
a lot of other stuff sure so I basically
42:43
I’m a green new deal enthusiast for both
42:46
on the economics and the political
42:48
economy it’s just this is no time to say
42:51
well the textbook says we should do it
42:53
this way
42:53
and that’s the only way yeah so um I
43:04
want to ask you a few questions about
43:06
what should be in our handbook you know
43:09
how is it that you know you’re out there
43:12
every day not every day but twice a week
43:15
I’m one of the nation’s most important
43:17
economics educators giving people tools
43:20
to help both understand the economy and
43:22
to push back in their own communities on
43:24
zombie economic ideas and you know you
43:28
have a long list of things that you
43:30
think are zombies and and ways to fight
43:33
back but one one thing they fit in and
43:36
you’ve written a lot about this the one
43:38
thing that’s important is the language
43:40
that we use and so you’ve noted a number
43:42
of your columns about how people you
43:47
know might be using the words capitalism
43:49
or socialism differently and I’d like to
43:53
ask you whether or not you think it you
43:55
know how you think that matters in
43:57
communicating to the public when you
43:58
know that different people are gonna
43:59
have a different sense of you know if
44:01
you say socialism and you look at a poll
44:02
whether or not people are for it part of
44:04
that is different people have different
44:05
conceptions of what that is and so what
44:08
do you think what are you finding the
44:09
most fruitful ways to deal with these
44:11
multiple understandings oh boy
44:14
I mean I’m not sure that I even know the
44:16
answer because I’m not sure if I found
44:19
anything that works I mean we have there
44:29
is a I mean unfortunately I mean we
44:32
don’t really use the term very much in
44:36
this country that’s social democracy
44:38
which is a sort of standard European
44:40
parlance for what it’s actually what the
44:44
Democratic Party stands for these days
44:46
it is a mostly market system but with
44:49
the government regulation
44:52
government moves to empower workers
44:55
it’s basically Denmark you know it’s a
44:57
and if you and it would be really
45:01
helpful if we could use that now we have
45:04
a long history in this country of
45:07
anybody proposing anything that sort of
45:10
mitigates the harshness of the market is
45:12
accused of being a socialist and that’s
45:16
one of the I think that it is in the
45:18
book of it was a Operation coffee cup in
45:23
1961 which was the American Medical
45:25
Association
45:26
it wanted doctors wives it was 1961
45:29
doctors wives were supposed to invite
45:31
their friends over for coffee to listen
45:33
to a recording of Ronald Reagan
45:35
explaining how Medicare would destroy
45:37
American freedom and you can listen to
45:41
it it’s on YouTube the so it’s so if you
45:47
keep on calling any attempt to mitigate
45:49
unit to make lives may be basically any
45:51
attempt to have nice things as socialism
45:52
then of course at some point pieces some
45:54
people start to say well in that case
45:56
I’m a socialist it does worry me a lot
45:58
that one of the seriously possible
46:02
Democratic nominees for president
46:04
actually plays into that and I says I am
46:07
a socialist which he actually is you
46:09
know Bernie Sanders is actually a Social
46:11
Democrat who was kind of shocking the
46:14
bridge was seat by saying I am a
46:16
socialist and that I’m not sure I kind
46:19
of understand the appeal of doing that
46:21
but I I’m not sure that I really want to
46:24
go into a general election that way so
46:27
so but but yeah there’s this tremendous
46:30
okay no I mean yet you know I I am x
46:34
doesn’t allow me to endorse candidates
46:36
by the way not explicitly anyway and and
46:39
and one thing I’ve been saying is I
46:41
think that in terms of actual policy any
46:44
of the Democrats will be much the same
46:45
yeah that we’re not gonna get Medicare
46:47
for all no matter who is elected but
46:50
we’re not going to be getting Republican
46:53
policies we’re gonna get beginning
46:54
significant progressive policies even if
46:56
it is a centrist guess the the
47:01
but but there is this constant I mean
47:05
the White House this White House put out
47:07
a actually hilarious report on you know
47:10
attacking socialism hilarious because if
47:13
they were screening so hard and one of
47:17
the things they did was they kept on
47:18
switching back and forth some of the
47:20
time they were saying that basically
47:22
it’s it’s all Venezuela and sometimes
47:24
and they were having a really hard time
47:26
with the Nordic countries they are
47:28
really hard time with Denmark and some
47:30
of the time it says Denmark well that’s
47:32
not socialism so it’s okay
47:33
and some of the times well it is
47:34
socialism medicine and and they’ve been
47:36
trying to show that socialism is bad
47:38
they they finally found their decisive
47:40
chart which says it’s a lot more
47:42
expensive to own a pickup truck in
47:44
Sweden it is an America it’s a good it’s
47:47
an important stat yeah you use the term
47:49
neoliberalism in one of your columns and
47:52
you note when you said it you have a
47:54
parenthesis says oh this is what it is
47:56
and it was notable cuz I think it was
47:58
the only time I’d appeared in the book
47:59
and it’s not clear to me that it’s a
48:01
useful term I’ve questions about whether
48:04
or not it’s a useful term for a column
48:06
tell me why you think it or do you think
48:08
it is I suspect that that’s was one that
48:11
was actually a blog post and actually
48:13
The Times has done something to me I
48:15
used to have a blog that was clearly
48:17
distinguished it was right I was under
48:18
times umbrella but it was clearly
48:20
distinct from the column and they
48:21
changed the format so that digitally
48:23
they look the same and so I and and it’s
48:28
actually kind of inhibiting it’s kind of
48:30
because people may not know that this is
48:32
it and so they might I feel a little bit
48:35
less free to use terms of art in in blog
48:39
posts because a lot of we’re going to
48:41
not know that that’s not my regular
48:42
column and so neoliberalism I mean I
48:45
think it’s my feet is a meaningful term
48:47
I think there is a there was a real and
48:49
but it’s not it’s it’s a kind of not a
48:52
term we use in this country yeah it’s a
48:54
term that a lot of people outside the US
48:55
used to refer to this faith in markets
48:58
to this belief that privatizing leads to
49:01
more efficiency and a lot of people who
49:04
are at least moderately progressive at
49:07
least used to be all Sony liberals there
49:09
used to be a lot of people who were
49:11
or market liberalisation and free trade
49:17
which is somewhat different subject but
49:19
also uh even for some privatization but
49:23
also for strong social safety net and so
49:27
I think it’s a it’s a meaningful term
49:29
and probably I think if you ask where
49:32
was I in 1995 I would have been would
49:35
have been a neoliberal I’m a much less
49:38
of one if I probably not one at all now
49:40
because uh because I learned something I
49:43
mean I think though it’s turned out that
49:45
the world is is is less that’s contacted
49:47
the invisible and a lot less facing the
49:50
invisible hand that I used to well so um
49:52
I have one more question so for those of
49:54
you who have questions from the audience
49:56
there’s two mics here so please feel
49:58
free to come up so when Paul when when
50:03
you reached out to me to do this
50:04
interview this evening and I was told I
50:07
could ask any questions I wanted I got
50:08
really excited and I was gonna spend the
50:10
entire hour talking about how awesome
50:15
the New Pornographers are and we could
50:17
talk about all the bands that you like
50:19
and and one things that I love about
50:21
Paul’s column is that when he elevates
50:23
these young indie bands and introduces
50:26
me to new music that I didn’t already
50:28
know about and so I’m just to end a bit
50:31
on a high note
50:32
I wanted to know if you could just share
50:34
with us this evening like what is the
50:36
the new band that you’re most excited
50:37
about so that justjust tell us okay so
50:40
by the way this is one of those things I
50:41
used to do a blog post every Friday with
50:43
a with a band performance by a band so
50:46
I’m a 66 year old wannabe hipster I
50:48
discovered indie music and and now I’m
50:52
inhibited about that because because
50:54
people will think it’s a regular Times
50:55
article and saying they’re using it
50:57
throughout some band you like and but
50:59
but we’re now appears so advertisement
51:01
on my newsletter which you can subscribe
51:04
to if you’re a time subscriber you
51:06
subscribe and get an email newsletter so
51:08
I now have an indie band performance
51:09
every every week in the newsletter and
51:13
the so yeah there’s a couple but I think
51:17
probably the ones that I’ve been
51:20
really really liking and I like the way
51:23
I got I found them to that I was
51:25
actually so is it this band called
51:27
Larkin Pope it’s two sisters from
51:29
Atlanta who do blues basically and and I
51:34
found them by I just hadn’t I hadn’t
51:38
been to a concert for a while none of my
51:40
usual bands were performing it there are
51:42
a few venues in New York so I just
51:43
looked at the you know Rockwood Music
51:45
Hall well the list of future
51:48
performances none of which I recognized
51:50
so I listened to bits of each of the
51:52
bands and said oh I like those people
51:54
and so those are and they got they got a
51:57
Grammy nomination several years later so
51:59
I actually I wasn’t wrong to think there
52:01
was something there so I encourage all
52:05
of you to sign up for his newsletter and
52:07
I think you were first sold disc out did
52:09
it so I think what I’m going to do
52:10
because there’s a long line here is I’m
52:14
going to take a handful of questions and
52:16
then after you ask your question feel
52:18
free to sit back down he will still
52:20
speak to you but or if you want to keep
52:22
standing up here you can’t I always
52:23
think it’s all awkward when you keep
52:24
standing so but I’ll take a few so go
52:27
ahead my understanding is that you were
52:30
hired for The Times principally to deal
52:33
with economic issues and as time went on
52:37
that stretched into a somewhat broader
52:39
set of policy questions and then a kind
52:43
of uber pundit covering quite a bit of
52:48
territory beyond economics and I’m
52:50
curious about foundations and how you
52:53
think about them you’ve talked about
52:58
becoming less wedded to the earlier
53:03
orthodoxy of economic theory by the time
53:06
you’re talking about power and politics
53:09
more broadly it’s not clear what the
53:12
anchor is other than you and I and a lot
53:15
of people in this room share a lot of
53:17
the same values for the kind of society
53:20
that we’d like to see but I’m curious if
53:23
it feels different for you when you’re
53:26
talking against a theoretical basis
53:29
and when you’re expanding more broadly
53:32
into eval use this course okay thank you
53:36
cumulatively I’ll try to remember I’ll
53:39
write them down too
53:42
thanks Paul so much for coming down this
53:44
has been great looking forward to
53:46
reading your book just quick background
53:48
I’m 35 years old over the Obama years I
53:51
struggled mightily to establish myself
53:53
in the last three years I’ve paid off
53:56
over six figures and student loans and
53:58
bought a half million dollar condo in DC
54:00
which is 50% black in this room of
54:03
liberal elite there is about less than
54:05
2% black people my main question is what
54:08
is a 2 or 3 eken I’m open-minded not a
54:10
zombie but I voted for Trump and I’m
54:12
wondering what are 2 or 3 economic
54:14
policies that could increase the black
54:17
attendance in this room or make the
54:20
black people in my neighborhood able to
54:22
have a six-figure salary such as myself
54:25
that’s the question thank you great
54:28
question um go ahead over here ok so I
54:32
call my country yes among the victims of
54:35
the Regan doctrine of the Washington
54:36
Consensus especially in free trade so my
54:39
question was can we count as part of
54:41
strands legacy the fall of the
54:44
intellectual framework that calls
54:45
feel free free trade what if I’m one
54:49
more and then all why was the drop of
54:51
the unemployment rate from 10 percent to
54:53
5 percent under President Obama
54:55
essentially ignored all fall from 5% to
54:58
3.5% under President Trump his glorified
55:06
address that first one obviously I’m
55:10
ready I hope I’m doing more than just
55:12
values there’s most my columns are
55:16
actually pretty analytic if you actually
55:17
read them they they’re I’m using pretty
55:20
you know vigorous language but if you
55:23
actually look there’s always an
55:24
analytical core it’s not always
55:26
economics because I actually talk to
55:28
people in other fields I sit in this
55:31
invested in it as does in the the stone
55:35
Center for the study of socio-economic
55:36
inequality which is
55:39
is a genuine interdisciplinary group so
55:42
I actually Janet Varney who runs the
55:46
center is a sociologist at least in part
55:48
as the McCall’s political science so I
55:51
act but in general I talked so I I’ve
55:53
leaned quite heavily on other social
55:55
sciences and try to make sure that I’m
55:58
not just making stuff up that I’m that
56:00
I’m actually restaurant so so that’s
56:02
it’s still always driven by by some
56:05
aspect of of analytics I and I drink
56:10
relatively few you know sort of Trump is
56:12
bad Trump was a bad person I don’t think
56:16
I’ve written any that are just there
56:18
because that not because you know I
56:20
obviously have views but because lots of
56:23
people are doing that and I’m trying
56:24
trying to actually put do a little bit
56:26
more analytics okay I already lost what
56:29
the rest of the ship and one question
56:31
was how do we increase black attendance
56:33
and audiences like this one about free
56:38
trade and then one about why the drop in
56:43
the unemployment rate wasn’t is
56:44
celebrated under Obama as it is being
56:46
horrified under trauma yeah so I mean
56:50
it’s an interesting I mean I am it’s a
56:54
shame that’s it this audience isn’t more
56:55
diverse I try to reach out and I think
57:02
there is some I mean it’s also i’m sure
57:05
that the the average education level in
57:08
this audience is way above public you
57:11
just do what you can but I’ve got knows
57:13
I I have what I’m not quite even sure
57:20
what’s probably to say here it’s not as
57:22
if I I’m disconnected from the non my
57:24
community I married into it
57:26
I mean it’s so it’s it’s not I I hope
57:32
that there’s some connection there and I
57:34
do do event so I actually I’m fairly
57:37
heavily involved with with Goddard
57:39
Riverside which which does all it is
57:41
sort of a traditional settlement house
57:43
that does a lot of outreach so I hope
57:46
that that’s part of it and in terms of
57:48
look
57:50
the a strong social safety net
57:55
educational opportunity health care all
57:58
of these things are important for
58:01
everybody but they given that America is
58:03
what it is and in our history they’re
58:05
especially important for for for
58:09
non-whites so I think that this is all
58:12
may I’m for a lot of things that for
58:16
racial justice that go beyond just
58:17
economic policies but even your basic
58:20
progressive agenda is very it’s good for
58:23
for a lot of people but it is
58:24
disproportionately good for for for
58:27
minority groups okay so we have free
58:31
trade I think I mean the thing about
58:35
free trade you know there are some I
58:42
think we see more about the downsides of
58:45
globalization than then some of us
58:47
acknowledged but on the other hand there
58:49
are some important upsides especially by
58:51
the way for poor countries which
58:53
desperately need access to global
58:54
markets and one of the things I think
58:56
worth saying is that the global trading
58:59
system uses the set of rules the ones
59:01
that that Trump is making a mockery of
59:04
the roots of that system are actually
59:07
they go back to FDR this is this was
59:09
originally a progressive project it was
59:11
actually part of trying to make a world
59:13
that was more integrated also more
59:16
peaceful and and and rule of law on an
59:19
international level so they so I don’t
59:22
think that you can say that just because
59:23
Trump is throwing carrots around that
59:25
that somehow means that he’s serving a
59:27
progressive agenda it’s actually it’s in
59:30
some ways to return to the old-fashioned
59:33
Caronia stopped protectionism that of
59:36
the old adage still have my short-term
59:42
memories my buffer is not big enough the
59:45
last one was about the unemployment rate
59:48
why do you yeah why why didn’t got more
59:50
attention it’s a tough one to answer
59:51
yeah man it’s our third what do we
59:55
really need to to ask I mean it’s a they
59:59
think about
60:02
to state television otherwise known as
60:04
Fox News what what they emphasized and
60:08
so no it’s clearly it’s a it’s a
60:11
question of what it’s it is quite
60:13
remarkable actually that you had under
60:18
under Obama you had starting in 2010 you
60:22
had an enormous sustained recovery and
60:24
it was it it didn’t get they’ve got
60:28
unemployment down to levels even by the
60:30
end of Obama’s term unemployment was in
60:32
fact below what the Fed had thought was
60:34
was sustainable so we were already in
60:36
this territory but there wasn’t a paid
60:40
cheerleading squad and the way there is
60:41
now and and and a lot of you know retro
60:45
the retroactive rewriting of history so
60:48
and of course the same people who
60:51
declared that all the numbers were fake
60:52
when they were good numbers for Obama
60:54
are now all you know don’t say that
60:58
don’t say that anymore so that it’s not
61:01
really that hard to understand I mean if
61:04
I’m gonna extend this a bit there is
61:06
even aside from this specifically us you
61:10
know that’s specifically us dynamics
61:12
there is this amazing a lot of the
61:16
business and economic reporting still
61:19
does have a a conservative slant and it
61:23
I see if one of my minor little cause
61:28
celeb here is the is the way that some
61:33
European countries quickly France France
61:36
gets extraordinary bad press and and you
61:42
keep on reading that it’s actually one
61:45
of my colleagues Roger Cohen to his
61:46
credit he he quoted he said I brought
61:49
something about France of ugly here or
61:51
so ago and he quoted himself saying
61:54
about how France is collapsing and it’s
61:56
an impossible economy it can’t sustain
61:58
so and then he said something like I
62:00
actually I wrote that in 1986 if you
62:04
actually look at the reality France it’s
62:06
not so bad I mean
62:08
in fact prime age adults are more likely
62:11
to be employed there than they are here
62:13
and the and if you look at the quality
62:16
of life standard of living but France
62:19
because France has really big government
62:21
and high taxes and generous social
62:23
programs it’s supposed to be a disaster
62:25
area and so a lot of the news media
62:27
write about it as if it were even though
62:29
in fact it’s not okay so we’re running
62:34
out of time ran try to get to these
62:36
questions I’m not totally guaranteeing
62:38
we’re gonna get to all of them but this
62:39
is a plea to be pithy and I’ll take four
62:43
again and see where we are you sir yeah
62:45
thank you
62:47
Paul this is a question about fiscal
62:49
deficits so this is a big argument
62:52
that’s going on between well you on one
62:56
side saying they really don’t matter
62:58
you know our deficit topped the trillion
63:00
last year total debt is over 20 trillion
63:03
dollars and it’s projected to keep going
63:06
up at an astronomical rate and
63:08
throughout our lives where we thought to
63:10
balance our budget that you don’t want
63:12
to pay down so can you tell me why
63:24
arguing that they don’t matter if you
63:27
could share also the counter-argument
63:29
for that that Larry Summers is providing
63:31
so note to myself just so as I remember
63:39
that so I’m gonna take it back to
63:41
monetary policy here so apologies for
63:43
that but the current bull market began
63:46
after the financial crisis and despite
63:50
some you know recent you’re fairly
63:52
recent Corrections or quote-unquote
63:54
recession indicators it’s continued and
63:58
really shows no sign of stopping
64:01
you have asset prices or valuations at
64:04
historic highs so my question is do you
64:06
believe Fed policy has played a role in
64:09
sustaining the market and if so how big
64:12
is that role and if so do you see it as
64:14
a problem thank you great over here
64:18
hi with the increase of the kick economy
64:20
and
64:21
with automation what’s your thoughts on
64:23
Andrew Yang’s universal basic income
64:26
especially when it was said or
64:28
demonstrated to have failed in the
64:30
Nordic countries wonderful and over here
64:33
I just have a quick simple question in
64:36
your opinion on a scale of zero to ten
64:39
how much is the United States of
64:40
plutocracy okay so why you start with
64:44
that one I’ve written them all down so
64:46
I’ll repeat them for you okay I respect
64:48
myself okay um maybe a maybe a seven
64:56
Venis it’s not totaled we’re not we’re
64:59
not full feeling gone full oligarch here
65:02
and look under Obama it’s funny that
65:08
people don’t seem to realize but tax
65:11
rates on the top one percent went up
65:14
quite a lot under Obama in fact if you
65:16
believe the CBO that by the end of
65:18
Obama’s term they were federal tax rate
65:22
on top one percent was about what it was
65:24
in 1979 so then effectively although
65:27
it’s their complicated details but but
65:31
by some measures at least he had unwound
65:33
all of the Reagan tax cuts for the rich
65:36
so you know we’re not it clearly we have
65:39
a hugely disproportionate influence of
65:42
of the wealthy but but where it’s not
65:44
not totally and it’s not it’s not
65:46
impossible we aren’t we haven’t gone all
65:49
that way it’s so it don’t you don’t you
65:55
could very such a thing sometimes hard
65:57
to believe given given the kinds of
65:59
things we have to write about but there
66:00
is such a thing as being too cynical
66:04
okay okay which so there’s a ubi there
66:08
is an Swedes in reverse order yeah yeah
66:10
what um first of all gig economy that’s
66:16
one of those weird things where it turns
66:18
out that it’s it hasn’t grown nearly as
66:20
much as people think so people talk
66:22
about the gig economy things like uber
66:24
and the list of things that are like
66:27
uber is uber that’s basically yeah and
66:34
and I think one thing that does happen
66:36
when you have a sort of high
66:38
socioeconomic status cratis we don’t
66:41
realize how many people always worked in
66:42
something like a key economy that they
66:45
that when I was in Princeton you know
66:47
there were all these Central American
66:50
men mowing lawns and early in the
66:51
morning and how how were they hired the
66:54
answer is men would stand on street
66:56
corners in Trenton and get picked up by
66:58
then you you a new hotel take so and
67:01
some of the people have done did
67:03
research Larry Katz and I’m forgotten
67:07
the co-authors who had said there was a
67:09
big increase in the indicate economy
67:11
redid the numbers and said you know we
67:13
it’s not actually that big an increase
67:14
so that’s an exaggerated and Andrew yang
67:16
the two things one is his vision is that
67:21
technological changes rapid productivity
67:23
growth is eliminating work except
67:25
actually productivity growth is the
67:27
slowest it’s been in decades it’s just
67:30
not it’s just not there and the trouble
67:32
with ubi I like the idea of as as little
67:39
as clean and few questions asked us
67:42
support policy as possible the trouble
67:45
with UPI is that either you make it a
67:50
woefully inadequate sum of money some of
67:53
these people can’t really live on or
67:55
it’s an enormous too expensive program
67:57
so I don’t think that and I don’t think
68:00
we’re in a position to do that
68:01
so the so we need much more targeted
68:05
means-tested programs at least for now
68:07
now if we really were having the robots
68:10
taking all of our jobs then we might
68:11
have to rethink about this issue but
68:14
there’s no sign that that’s happening so
68:15
it’s funny yang is if
68:17
as I’m the numbers driven candidate
68:20
telling you the truth except none of the
68:23
numbers actually support what he says so
68:27
then there’s monetary policy order
68:29
economies in household okay yeah so on
68:34
so actually so clearly asset prices all
68:37
kinds of asset prices are high because
68:39
interest rates are low yield on bonds is
68:42
low so people buying other stuff the
68:44
question is is that because the Fed is
68:46
doing something artificial and I don’t
68:48
think it is I think the point is that
68:49
that we seem to be in a world that which
68:51
is a wash and savings with no place to
68:53
go and the Fed has to keep interest
68:55
rates low to not have us in a in a
68:57
persistent depression
68:59
now there’s in some ways a better answer
69:03
would need to get those savings
69:04
something to go by having a massive
69:06
infrastructure program and and having
69:09
the federal government you know right
69:10
now the real as of yesterday anyway that
69:14
a 10-year bond rate was one point five
69:15
two percent was less than the inflation
69:17
rate so basically people are paid
69:19
willing to pay the federal government to
69:21
take their money and we should be doing
69:23
a lot more spending with that but that’s
69:25
a I don’t think that the Fed has done
69:27
something especially evil or distorting
69:29
here which actually ties in I was really
69:33
I thought was really strange to have the
69:34
it’s trying to make an opposition
69:37
between me and Larry Summers because
69:39
Larry Summers is actually saying exactly
69:41
the same thing I am on debt bail he’s
69:43
actually calling for deficit spending
69:44
and lots of infrastructure spending and
69:46
that’s not his hat by the way I mean if
69:48
it was I don’t think it was ever the
69:49
case that that serious economists were
69:54
as remotely as freaked out about debt as
69:57
Delta a consensus was I don’t think
69:59
there was ever there the the whole
70:02
notion that debt was the greatest threat
70:04
facing America was something that none
70:06
of the people I take seriously ever ever
70:08
bought into but there’s been a movement
70:10
now in the last couple of years with the
70:13
most mainstream of mainstream economists
70:15
coming around to the view that debt
70:18
concerns have been greatly overrated so
70:20
we have Olivia blanch are the former
70:22
chief economist of the IMF who is the
70:24
the most probably the most mainstream
70:27
person and in in the economics
70:29
profession
70:30
then the most the most control the
70:32
careful presidential address the
70:35
American Economic Association last year
70:37
was saying we worry too much about debt
70:39
and you have Larry Summers and Jason
70:41
Furman he was effectively topic on
70:44
succeeded Larry as top economist for
70:46
Obama saying we actually shouldn’t be
70:48
worrying about death and we need to be
70:49
doing it we need to be borrowing to
70:50
build infrastructure so no I’m actually
70:52
on this stuff I’m squarely in the
70:54
mainstream and the people who think that
70:56
debt is some existential threat are well
71:00
they’re inventing economics that doesn’t
71:01
actually come from economists okay so we
71:04
are we are out of time but here’s what
71:06
I’m going to do I’m gonna let you ask
71:08
your questions quickly and then you can
71:10
pick which one to answer okay
71:11
so it’s a bit of a it’s I know I know
71:13
it’s a yeah we’ll see so start over here
71:15
there are two trends taking place across
71:18
almost the entire Western world right
71:20
now so one economic basically slower
71:22
growth and widening inequality and one
71:24
political the rise of the far right do
71:27
you think there’s a connection between
71:28
those two trends and if so what is it
71:30
and what can be done about it
71:31
yeah that’s a good go ahead speaking
71:35
about zombie ideas you kind of mentioned
71:38
power motives what about education or
71:43
lack thereof about economics because you
71:47
know I just had two children go through
71:49
a very good public school system in this
71:51
area and it’s really not integrated and
71:54
then in college there’s just you know so
71:57
many other things going on and other
71:59
requirements and so I just I was just
72:02
wondering what your thoughts are on
72:05
teaching economics whether it should be
72:07
taught more or differently or is it you
72:11
know really this kind of side thing that
72:14
only people interested should be taught
72:16
hi I just applied to PhD programs this
72:20
year I think generally because of
72:22
initially reading your columns and I was
72:25
wondering given that the rewards to
72:27
begin economically seem to me pretty I
72:29
mean if you care about policy very
72:31
skewed to people who have New York Times
72:34
columns and books should I should I do
72:36
it or what what is the other thing I
72:37
should do if I should I said you might
72:40
be is that
72:41
should he become an economist the answer
72:43
says well yeah yes yeah okay hi I was
72:57
wondering what your thoughts are on the
72:59
current state of the eurozone and we go
73:02
and also what’s going on at the BC
73:04
that’s it that’s the question all right
73:07
and last one here so I was really struck
73:10
by your comments about kind of moving
73:12
away
73:12
I guess you said from your liberalism
73:14
and as you’ve learned over the years and
73:15
kind of being able to evolve your
73:17
thinking in a way that you know may be
73:19
admitting you were wrong in the past
73:20
something that I’ve been thinking a lot
73:22
about and the upcoming election my views
73:25
having shifted a lot in the past four
73:26
years and I think something that has
73:28
been difficult for me and probably
73:31
people in this room to reconcile is that
73:33
knowing that we may be in an era that
73:35
really calls for these bigger ideas like
73:37
the green new deal like you mentioned
73:38
while recognizing that you know myself
73:40
included kind of has both of financial
73:42
and I guess kind of political stake in
73:44
the status quo and so I think my
73:46
question is really about kind of how you
73:48
are able to let yourself change your
73:51
mind I think it’s kind of a difficult
73:52
like ego thing even for me and how to
73:54
address people you know your friends and
73:58
family kind of who may not quite be on
74:00
board without kind of reinforcing the
74:02
self-fulfilling prophecy of saying an
74:04
issue like the green new deal may not be
74:06
realistic where as kind of seems to end
74:09
up being the conclusion if that’s the
74:11
attitude you who’s going to it well too
74:14
much then I’m going to skip the Europe
74:16
even though I can go on at length I’m
74:18
not don’t want to do that and I just
74:21
want to say that yeah we should have
74:22
more economics education but you can
74:25
discount what I’d say about that because
74:27
our the Krugman Welles economics
74:30
textbook AP a dish ap edition we
74:33
actually have about 70% of that market
74:35
so I have a conflict of interest I mean
74:42
I don’t think we fully understand the
74:45
rise to the far right
74:47
I mean it’s rising inequality probably
74:52
is part of it but it’s it’s not such an
74:56
easy thing it’s not it’s not the case
74:58
that the this is where I do talk to
75:02
political scientists the people who have
75:04
gone far right in the US which where I
75:07
know the research can not in fact to be
75:10
people who want have lost it’s a there
75:13
there are some and this certainly
75:14
geographically it’s regions that have
75:16
lost that then have gone hard right but
75:19
that’s not actually often people who are
75:21
suffering who are who are the ones
75:23
who’ve gone that way and there there’s
75:25
something going on I I suspect that I I
75:29
don’t have a complete theory but one of
75:31
the things that’s happened I do believe
75:32
that the that the financial crisis and
75:37
all of that had the effect of
75:40
discrediting elites and that that people
75:45
used to be that people believe maybe
75:48
this is a kind of euro thing as well
75:49
because people believe that the the
75:52
European Commission and the the the
75:55
great the Great and the good actually
75:57
knew what what was up and that that if
76:00
they said you know don’t listen to
76:01
neo-fascists that that people listen to
76:04
them and there’s been a la huge
76:05
reputational lost which is removed one
76:08
of the great you know stabilizers in our
76:11
system now it’s harder to do for the US
76:14
I mean it’s not made maybe that’s part
76:18
of it as here as well but what I would
76:25
say here is is that the the the hatred
76:29
was always there the question is what
76:32
freed people to express it what freed
76:34
people to do it and then I’m not sure I
76:36
know the answer to that it’s there there
76:39
was always if you imagined that that
76:42
everyone had had really become tolerant
76:45
that it didn’t happen and but the but
76:50
somehow or other all across the Western
76:52
world even in the place I mean that
76:55
there’s a strong white nationalist
76:58
movement in a lot of Scandinavia too so
77:00
it’s it’s not clear that even the
77:02
inequality and having a really strong
77:05
social safety net is enough to prevent
77:07
that I don’t know what I don’t know what
77:09
the answer to that question except to
77:12
say that that it’s a big deal and it’s
77:14
one of those things we really well we
77:17
need to understand but we also need to
77:18
if possible you’re headed off because
77:20
the the future looks pretty scary on
77:22
that front I on a positive note
77:25
we’re ending here thank you all so much
77:46
you