Reflections on the current disorder

This is the text of the talks I gave at the University of California–Riverside and UC–Irvine, January 25 and 26, 2012. Graphs were added for the bloggy version. It’s funny. I spend most of my life writing about economics, politics, and finance, yet about the only academics who ever invite me to speak are in the humanities. Maybe that’s because I dropped out of a graduate English program and can’t do a proper vector autoregression. But you guys are more fun than a bunch of dismal scientists anyway. I took my title,… Read More

Fresh audio product

Just posted to my radio archives (and, as always, the audio is often posted before the web page is updated, so for maximum timeliness, subscribe to the podcast—see headnote on archive for details): January 28, 2012 Kevin Gray on South Carolina • Catherine Liu, author of American Idyll, on education, testing, anti-intellectualism, and the bogus politics of “anti-elitism” January 21, 2012 Erin Siegal, author of Finding Fernanda, on adoption tragedies • David Cay Johnston on why Mitt is lightly taxed

Me in SoCal

I’m giving two talks in Southern California later this week (actually two versions of the same talk, “Reflections on the Current Disorder,” a title cribbed from William F. Buckley). Both are free and open to the public. Wednesday, January 25, 3:30–5:00 PM University of California–Riverside CHASS INTS 1113 Thursday, January 26, 4:30–6:00 PM University of California–Irvine 1030 Humanities Gateway I hope they won’t be too dull.

New audio product

Just posted to my radio archives: January 14, 2012 Lane Kenworthy, author of this paper (PDF), on just how much economic growth trickles down, and why (spoiler: U.S. does very badly) • Enrique Diaz-Alvarez, chief strategist for Ebury Partners, on the eurocrisis, with an emphasis on Spain

A chat with Larry Summers (from 2000)

This is from Left Business Observer #94, May 2000. chatting with Larry LBO’s editor was lucky enough to run into Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers at a party in Washington on April 15, and got to overhear some of his thoughts on the weekend’s events and even ask a few questions. Early in the evening, surrounded by what appeared to be some loyal scribes, Summers enthused about how “proactive” the DC cops were, having arrested some 600 demonstrators, “including many of the leaders.” Summers is evidently unaware that the Direct Action Network types… Read More

Larry Summers, future World Bank president?, on how Africa is vastly underpolluted

So Obama’s going to nominate Larry Summers to be president of the World Bank. Recall this passage from 1991 memo, actually written by Lant Pritchett but signed by Summers when he was the Bank’s chief economist, on how “Africa is vastly under-polluted.” The last paragraph is important, and should not be overlooked in fighting these mofos. 3. “Dirty” industries Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [less-developed countries]? I can think of three reasons: 1) The measurement of the costs… Read More

Engels, in 1892, explains USA 120 years later

This is worth re-reading about once every other week. From a letter written by Friedrich Engels in 1892: There is no place yet in America for a third party, I believe. The divergence of interests even in the same class group is so great in that tremendous area that wholly different groups and interests are represented in each of the two big parties, depending on the locality, and almost each particular section of the possessing class has its representatives in each of the two parties to a very large degree, though today big… Read More

NPR hack apologizes for Wall Street

For a while, I’ve been thinking about writing a piece on how NPR is more toxic than Fox News. Fox preaches to the choir. NPR, though, confuses and misinforms people who might otherwise know better. Its “liberal” reputation makes palatable a deeply orthodox message for a demographic that could be open to a more critical message. The full critique will take some time. But a nice warm-up opportunity has just presented itself: a truly wretched piece of apologetic hackery by Adam Davidson, co-founder of NPR’s Planet Money economics reporting team, that appears… Read More

That jobs report

[This was my radio commentary for the January 7 show. Audio here.] Friday morning brought the release of the employment stats (Employment Situation News Release) for December. It was a strong report, though not quite as strong as it looks on the surface. Many of the gains are likely to be reversed in January, but the trend of modest, steady improvement continues—and manufacturing had its best year since 1984. Now some details, edited for radio. Employers added 200,000 jobs in December. Over a fifth of that gain, 42,000, came from couriers and messengers—meaning all… Read More

Lots of fresh audio product

Way behind on posting this stuff to the web. The podcasts get posted soon after—and sometimes even before—broadcast, but not always the web page. Freshly posted (clicking on the date links will take you right there): January 7, 2012 Michael Taft on the Irish depression • Jodi Dean, co-author of this, on the vexing question of OWS & “demands” December 31, 2011 Christopher Jencks on inequality December 24, 2011 Christine Ahn & Tim Shorrock on North Korea • Aaron “Zunguzungu” Bady on Occupy Oakland December 17, 2011 Christopher Hitchens (from 2002) on Orwell • Andrew Ross on student debt repudiation (sign up… Read More