Monthly Archives: January 2014


By J.D. Alt *

I’m most appreciative of the comments and suggestions that followed my recent post. The comments were so encouraging I decided to expand the essay slightly and turn it into a small eBOOK available on AMAZON. I did my best to incorporate many of the commentary’s suggestions. For example, I tried to minimize the problem of reinforcing the “wrong” ideas in my effort to debunk them—a problem rightfully and forcefully pointed out not once, but twice, by Bob Eisenberg! I did not go so far as I think he would have liked, but I did incorporate a warning, just prior to the “incorrect” diagram, advising the reader not to get too enamored with it because it was INCORRECT, and the purpose of the eBOOK was to explain why.

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Brownbackian Science in Kansas v. “Atheistic Theology Posing as Science”

By William K. Black

This is my fifth installment describing the assault on education, science, sex, and modernity in Kansas that was inspired by the Koch brothers.  The leader of Koch brothers’ retinue of politicians in Kansas is Governor Sam Brownback.  In my prior column I explained how Steve Abrams, a leader of the Koch’s shock troops, demonstrated the wisdom of our family’s twin rules whenever he wrote an op ed.  Our family rules are:

  1. It is impossible to compete with unintentional self-parody, and
  2. When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging

Abrams’ op eds were not the only gift to scientists and educators resisting the Kochs’ assaults on education, science, and modernity in Kansas.  Political wonks will recall that (then) U.S. Senator Sam Brownback, in a May 2007 Republican debate among candidates for the 2008 Party nomination for the presidency, was one of three of those candidates who held up his hand when the moderator asked how many of them did not believe in evolution.

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Dazed and Confused: Matt Yglesias on the Job Guarantee

By Pavlina Tcherneva

Matt Yglesias has written a post that has the words ‘Job Guarantee’ (JG) in the title but has nothing to do with the actual JG proposal.

He begins by asking readers to imagine that:

“…instead of handing out welfare checks and food stamps to these bums, we should make everyone who wants public assistance show up daily at a rally-point to be contracted out to do street-cleaning work. Think parolees sentenced to community service…”

Unfortunately for him, that’s not the Job Guarantee and we have debunked such silly caricatures many times (e.g., here, here and here). Unfortunately for his readers, he is either unfamiliar with the most basic literature on the JG, or is deliberately misleading them. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt and assume it’s the former.

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The Icelandic Chutzpah Prize is Retired: Portes and Baldursson Win by Losing

By William K. Black
(Cross posted at

Portes as the poster child for the failure of econometrics and neoclassical dogma

Richard Portes is the economist that the U.K.’s neoclassical economists chose to be their representative.  They consider him to represent the greatest strengths of neoclassical economists in general and econometricians in particular.  “Econometricians” is a fancy term for economists whose specialty is statistics.  Economics is unique in that one can receive exceptional honors from fellow-neoclassical economists for proving catastrophically wrong – repeatedly and causing immense human suffering.  Wesley Marshall and I are doing a book that illustrates this point by focusing on Nobel Laureates in economics, and explains the underlying pathology that has so twisted the field.  Portes has not been made a Laureate, but he is a global leader among neoclassical economists.  Portes’ pronouncements on Iceland have proven so wrong, so often, that they serve a similar purpose in illustrating these crippling pathologies.

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The Job Guarantee

NEP’s Pavlina Tcherneva appears in the following video by Rebecca Rojer. The video condenses a lecture by Pavlina explaining what a job guarantee is, its economic impact, and what we can learn from her research on the Jefes (“Heads of Households”) Program in Argentina.

The Greatest Myth Propagated About The FED: Central Bank Independence (Part 3)

By L. Randall Wray

Coda: Is the Fed Independent of Influence?

In my two part series (here and here), I examined conventional views of (mostly) economists on the Fed’s supposed independence. What they focus on is the Fed’s independence from our elected representatives and as well on operational independence of the Treasury. The reason why they believe this is important is because the Fed is supposed to protect us—we can identify us as “money users”—from the danger that the “government” (Congress and Treasury), our “money issuers”, might conspire to degrade our currency by having the Fed “print money” to finance a profligate government. These “Weimar Worriers” are just certain that if a cabal of central bank, treasury and congress had their way, we’d be off and running to hyperinflation. Hence, thank god that our central bank is independent! Any meddling by Congress (or the Treasury) in the affairs of monetary policy making would be the final death knell for our Dollar.

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The December Jobs Report: Disappointing But Not Surprising

By Robert E. Prasch
Middlebury College

We all know that predictions in economics can be fraught. This is for a variety of reasons, with the absence of controlled experiments high on the list. However, over the years we have learned a few things through the observation of regularities and by deducing from the things about which we are reasonably certain to formulate conjectures about things of which we are less certain.

With this in mind, let us consider the December jobs report.  By all accounts, it was a “disappointing” result with only 74,000 jobs created. The “headline” rate of unemployment did fall appreciably, but that was solely and completely due to an increase in the number of people who have entirely given up looking for paid work. While we can all agree that the result is disappointing, I would like to take issue with the almost ubiquitous report that it was “surprising.”

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Kansas, Where Science De-Evolves into Creation Myths

By William K. Black

This is the fourth article in my evolving series of pieces prompted by the Kansas Regents’ new policy that eviscerates academic freedom and tenure.  In my third installment I explained that the Regents’ action, while cowardly, unconstitutional, and self-destructive, was not taken on their initiative but in response to extortion by Kansas legislative leaders.

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The Greatest Myth Propagated About The FED: Central Bank Independence (Part 2)

By L. Randall Wray

Last time we took a historical perspective on supposed Fed independence. In this blog we look at the myth of Fed independence from its creator, the Congress and from the Treasury.

Independent from Congress: Discretion in Selecting Tools

The strongest case for Fed independence would be in its discretion to choose the tools and targets to pursue Congressional mandates. Congress has shown little interest in interfering with the details of monetary policy implementation, preferring only to mandate the ultimate goals. The period from 1979 to the mid 1980s was an exception as Congress had become enamored with Milton Friedman’s monetarist focus on growth of the money supply. Even after the Fed had dropped money growth targets from serious consideration, Congress still wanted the Fed to provide them. However, for the most part, Congress leaves these details to the Fed.

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The Greatest Myth Propagated About The FED: Central Bank Independence (Part 1)

By L. Randall Wray

It has been commonplace to speak of central bank independence—as if it were both a reality and a necessity. Discussions of the Fed invariably refer to legislated independence and often to the famous 1951 Accord that apparently settled the matter. [1] While everyone recognizes the Congressionally-imposed dual mandate, the Fed has substantial discretion in its interpretation of the vague call for high employment and low inflation. For a long time economists presumed those goals to be in conflict but in recent years Chairman Greenspan seemed to have successfully argued that pursuit of low inflation rather automatically supports sustainable growth with maximum feasible employment.

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