Back in the USA!

November 15th, 2013 at 8:23 am

So, let me get this straight.  I leave the country for a week, and you still haven’t fixed the federal budget…or the health care website?!  C’mon, people.

Back from a great trip to London, still one of the world’s truly great cities.  Just walking around is a blast.  I did prolific gum flapping, and will post pieces and clips of my talks, time permitting, once I’m back among the living.

A few random thoughts and notices:

–I tracked the Yellen hearing and was impressed by her performance and interested in the substance.  I’ll have a post on this up soon at the NYT blog.

–I spoke at the famed Chatham House, and really enjoyed that slice of history.  My talk was about how nations need to manage international competition is ways that boost benefits and reduce costs, and much of the framing was an economic rationale for that approach.  But in what I found to be an interesting moment, the audience, scholars and such from various walks of life, largely argued that as far as mainstream UK opinion went, I was pushing through an open door.  You don’t need to convince them that interventionism is often required to offset not just market inefficiencies, but also market inequities.  In other words, even while economic policy makers in most advanced economies drift right, and the US economic policy debate has especially moved in that direction, that’s still less the case in the UK, even with the austerity embrace.  (Experiences in France and Germany this past summer, however, suggest that the UK may be a bit of an outlier).

–Spoke on a panel at the excellent Resolution Foundation riffing off of an important new analysis by James Plunkett, in a similar vein as the Porter inequality link above.  That graph behind me is from the Fed paper I’ve been jawboning.

–Important piece by Ed Porter in the NYT on what’s behind inequality trends.  I’ll have some commentary on that as well in coming days.

–More to come…I’ve been blissfully ignoring the flubbed health care rollout.  I know it’s important–but one must consider one’s mental health (covered under the new law, btw).

[“Blackness” the cat just typed this–anyone here read cat? gftttttttttttt[]vc nhjb…Note that it ends with my initials…weird!!]

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4 comments in reply to "Back in the USA!"

  1. SeattleAlex says:

    It’s an older tongue… I believe it roughly translates to:
    “Welcome back, now I can continue my plot to destroy you JB.”
    Anyway good to have you back! Keep an eye on Washington we’re making all the ACA headlines up here.


  2. Rima Regas says:

    According to The Hill, Healthcare.gov now functions with an error rate below 1%.

    That’s a good 1%!

    Welcome home!


  3. Fred Donaldson says:

    Porter’s piece on inequality is the usual misleading analysis.

    He includes only degree recipients, which leaves out half those who attend college and don’t graduate (spending a fortune), but more important:

    In general, if you get a college degree you have the finances, marks, intelligence and lack of other obligations to allow you to spend four or more years of study.

    This means we start with the premise that college degree candidates are generally smarter, had better marks in high school, have a decent financial situation and have the endurance to spend four years more in school. Anyone who fulfills that promise before college is a better future employee (and more earnings) than someone who does not – whether they go to college or not.

    The very motivated and smart folks, who get a degree or not, will always be more successful. College completion is an indication of those desirable attributes, but so are many other factors.

    I could argue that anyone who drives a Lexus and buys a new one every year will earn more money over their lifetime than someone who drives an old car and keeps it for a decade. (Exception of course, Warren Buffett). That would mean everyone should hock their shoes and buy a new luxury car so they will earn more money.

    So, successful people tend to go to college and college people earn more money, which could just mean that successful folks earn more money.

    Add to all this – average earnings in the column – and you have the vexing question of earnings by Harvard MBAs, versus non-union carpenters. I don’t have to say who is paid more, but I challenge you to explain why, because I know who works harder, longer and usually, smarter.


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