Category Archives: Guest Post

Algorithmic Regulation, “Code is Law,” and the Case of Ferguson

“Algorithmic regulation” is subject to bad and gamed data, accepts closed source code, and isn’t suitable for “automated intervention,” let alone the government of a free people. I also believe it presents problems as tractable that are in fact wicked, leading to project failure. But it’s great for “Investor Storytime!”

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Merging Finance and Health Care Leadership – Robert Rubin Proteges Running DHHS, Spouse of Hedge Fund Magnate Running the FDA

Yves here. This post describes a pair of examples in the mistaken assumption that financiers, or at least people with connections to financiers, are the best people to put in charge of anything. Of course, whether people actually believe that assumption, or use that as a cover to curry favor with the 0.1% remains to be seen. But there is evidence that at least some people in positions of influence actually do believe it. For instance, during the famed auto bailouts, for instance, that the government brought in a dealmaker, Steve Rattner, whose investment banking experience was concentrated in media companies. And the crisis showed that the Masters of the Universe were better at lining their pockets rather than doing the job that ostensively justifies their elevated position and outsized pay: allocating capital efficiently, to the best outcomes for society as a whole.

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Wolf Richter: Fannie Mae Sledgehammers Housing Forecasts

You’d think the housing market is in fine shape, based on the sizzling optimism of the National Association of Home Builders, which just released its Housing Market Index. It rose to 55 in August – above 50 means more builders view conditions as good than poor – the third month in a row of gains, and the highest level since January.

Think again.

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Philip Pilkington: Taxation, Government Spending, the National Debt and MMT

The other day my friend Rohan Grey — a lawyer and one of the key organisers behind the excellent Modern Money Network (bringing Post-Keynesian economics to Columbia Law School, yes please!) — directed me to an absolutely fascinating piece of writing. It is called ‘Taxes For Revenue Are Obsolete’ and it was written in 1945 by Beardsley Ruml. Ruml was the director of the New York Federal Reserve Bank from 1937-1947 and also worked on issues of taxation at the Treasury during the war.

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Blogs Review: The Forever Recession

As the recovery takes hold in the US, Europe appears stuck in a never-ending slump. With the ECB systematically undershooting its inflation target and recent signs that inflation expectations could become de-anchored, the bulk of commentators in the blogosphere are again calling for more monetary actions. Noticeably, some have completely lost hope in the ability of the European institutions to turn this situation around and are now calling for countries to simply break away from the EMU trap.

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Ukraine’s Next Crisis? Economic Disaster

Yves here. While it’s not hard to imagine that war is bad for economies as well as living things, this post gives an overview of some of the costs that the proxy war in Ukraine is inflicting on the economy and hence on the population. Note that this tally does not include the impact of the efforts to render cities in the east uninhabitable by destroying water supplies and other critical infrastructure.

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Utopian Robotics

So the robots take over the social function of providing most everything in the two layers at the base of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, physiology and safety. Food, water, shelter, warmth; security, stability (for example). We’ve got robot houses, robot servants, robot cars, robot malls, robot servants, robot baristas, robot Walmart greeters, robot drivers, robot security guards, robot financial advisors, robots to make robots….

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Fracking Waste Disposal Fuels Opposition in U.S. and Abroad

Yves here. We’ve posted on some of the not-as-widely publicized damage done by fracking, such as methane releases and increased incidence of earthquakes, as well as the most obvious hazard, which is contamination of water supplies.

This article describes yet another environmental cost, that of fracking waste disposal. Expect this to become a new NIMBY (not in my back yard) issue as the public becomes more familiar with this risk.

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Getting Sucked into ObamaCare is a Lot Like Being on Probation

Yves here. Lambert, in his relentless Obamacare skullduggery, has unearthed yet another ugly feature of this Rube Goldberg contraption for enriching health insurers: unprecedented levels of required reporting to the Federal government. Your humble blogger had already flagged one, that Obamacare is designed with the bizarre assumption that everyone in America has a steady paycheck. You are supposed to be able to estimate your income. How can people who are part-time workers, with employers who ratchet up and down how much time they need, supposed to comply? Or even worse, how about self-employed people, who have variable and unpredictable income and expenses, as well as the occasional collection issue.

But Obamacare policyholders are ALSO required to report on a raft of “lifestyle changes” including when you become pregnant (which means you also need to report if you have a change in that “status” via miscarriage or abortion), or a change in “household size”. One assumes that means “household” from an IRS standpoint, but could it mean from a Census perspective? Do renters have to report if they take on a roommate?

And even better, as Lambert discusses in detail, HHS also makes it hard to prove that you’ve made the required updates. Charming.

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