Stalking the Green Shoots: A History of the Present

It's been a year and a half since the rhetorical recovery began. In honor of that achievement, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's recent "Mission Accomplished" op-ed in The New York Times, and the dog days of the Summer of Recovery, AOL Opinion Editor John Merline puts all the good news pronouncements in one easy-to-use chart, and buries it in the ground with all the green shoots. A sample of what would in a just universe have been famous last words:

A) Obama budget predicts that the unemployment rate for 2009 will be 8.1 percent (actual rate is 9.3 percent), and says it will be 7.9 percent in 2010 (average so far: 9.7 percent). -- Feb. 26, 2009
B) Fed Chairman Bernanke says he sees "green shoots" of U.S. recovery, which, he said, would "pick up steam" next year. -- March 15, 2009
C) Obama says, "We are beginning to see glimmers of hope." -- April 14, 2009
D) CNN reports that "Job Recovery May Be on the Way." -- May 18, 2009
E) Jeffrey Kling of the Brookings Institution says, "It seems clear the U.S. economy has turned a corner." -- June 5, 2009

More where those came from. Merline adds:

There's nothing wrong with a little cheerleading. But there's a real danger with all this "turning the corner, things are getting better, recovery is on the way" talk. If you don't think so, just ask Herbert Hoover, who infamously claimed that "prosperity is just around the corner" right before the worst of the Great Depression.

At some point, someone is going to have to level with the American people about just how bad things really are and why, despite all the ministrations from Washington over the past two years, they don't seem to be getting much better.

Note that, as the above unemployment curve suggests, the news isn't all bad. Some of it is solidly mediocre, and there have been lateral-to-slightly-rising moves in retail sales and the consumer price index. But mere survival is nothing to cheer about. The reason politicians and big media love to make these sunny statements is that they actually believe Keynesian flapdoodle about animal spirits and the importance of market sentiments. The truth is that sometimes people are glum because things really are bad. And with an enormous amount of leveraged "value" still to be wrung out of the U.S. economy, this is one of those times.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    I can't believe the Bureau of Labor Statistics would put out a chart like that.

    Leading cheer for the economic recovery while you're doing everything in your power to stifle the recovery itself is the problem here. Any improvement has and will come in spite of Washington, not because of it.

  • ||

    Which is the way it's mostly always been. I suppose massive spending, tax, and regulatory cuts could stimulate the economy, but that won't ever happen.

  • Geotpf||

    The counter argument is that too little regulation got us in this mess in the first place (private companies giving out loans to people who couldn't afford them because everybody thought that house prices would always go up so who cared, which created a property bubble that could never last, bringing down the entire economy when it burst).

    And libertarians arguing against this theory tend to sound like hippie college communists claiming pure communism has never been tried.

    Government involvement probably makes the good times less good, but also makes the bad times less bad. It smooths out the ups and downs.

    As for the failure of the stimulus to stop the bleeding, the argument on the left would be that the Democrats had to water it down too much to get Republican support above the sixty vote mark for it to be really effective. It was too small, not too big, that is.

  • The Other Kevin||

    Less Government involvement probably makes the good times less good, but also makes the bad times less bad. It smooths out the ups and downs.

    FTFY

  • dave b.||

    Let's conveniently forget the Greenspan Fed's unsustainably low interest rates combined with their rampant inflation of the money supply.

    It's amazing to me how liberals can never ascertain the root cause of someething. 'private companies giving out loans to people who couldn't afford them'... And what spurred them to provide these loans? Did all the bank CEO's just wake up one Tuesday and decide to create a housing bubble? If so, why did they choose that specific time? The banks could have never made those loans to people without the government artificially creating an environment where it would be profitable to do so.

  • Neu Mejican||

    You are falling afoul of the narrative fallacy here.

    See: http://cij.inspiriting.com/?p=364#

  • Ludwig von Dangerfield||

    No respect, I can't get no respect.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Geotpf,

    The counter argument is that too little regulation got us in this mess in the first place

    Question-begging argument - how much is "too little"? The federal register has around 79,000 pages of regulations already.

    And libertarians arguing against this theory tend to sound like hippie college communists claiming pure communism has never been tried.

    Man, what a stupid strawman.

    Government involvement probably makes the good times less good, but also makes the bad times less bad.

    Unsubstantiated assumption. And not even correlates with history - the 1921 Depression was over within a year because of government stepping aside. Instead, government involvement made a bad time much WORSE during the 1930s and until 1946.

    It smooths out the ups and downs.

    History does not substantiate this.

    As for the failure of the stimulus to stop the bleeding, the argument on the left would be that the Democrats had to water it down too much to get Republican support above the sixty vote mark for it to be really effective.

    Bullshit.

  • #||

    "(private companies giving out loans to people who couldn't afford them because everybody thought that house prices would always go up so who cared, which created a property bubble that could never last, bringing down the entire economy when it burst)."

    But see this lies one of the problems. Everyone (Or most people) though housing prises were going up or at leats not going to fall. So why do you suppose government regulators are immune to that? What do FDIC and Fed regulators knwo that private bank analysts don't know?

    Regulatory agencies are not abstracted from the market. They are participants. Just saying "regulation" doesnt mean that the government could have prevented this crisis, all else being equal, and just had more regulatory power.

  • #||

    in fact experience showed that the FDIC, that already had power to make risk assesments on bank assets and charge insurance premiums based on that, failed misserably in this area or risk pricing. How well did the FDIC prevent Countrywide or WaMu or Indymac or Wachovia from taking on too much risk and eventually failing? They had the power to prevent it if they wanted to. The fact is the FDIC didnt see the bubble forming or popping either until it was too late.

  • ||

    Those "green shoots" were tentacles.

  • Average Anime Freak||

    Leave us out of this

  • Paul||

    Curse you! I'll give you $5 to change the time on your post to 6:07pm!

  • Paul||

    I mean... "Anime chick" will give you the $5.

  • Anime chick||

    And they're comin' right at me!

  • Solanum||

    Maybe Cthulhu won the election afterall.

  • creech||

    One wonders how the big media would be treating such "sunny statements" vs. real results if made by the McCain/Palin administration?

  • ||

    I suspect they wouldn't be much different, except for Obamacare.

  • ||

    Isn't this basically what we have been hearing for the last 8 years regarding Iraq.

    They all have their heads buried deeply in their individual and each others asses.

  • ||

    And 9 years regarding Afganistan?

  • Tony||

    At some point we're gonna have to stop being held hostage by a political party that sees incentives in not having a recovery, and finish the stimulus job. We did learn some things from the Great Depression. Such as not the government not acting like a household and going into austerity mode as if that will do a goddamn thing to help anything.

  • ||

    There will not be a Stimulates 2 and when the republicans take over there will be a recovery and it will be soon.

    In fact i would not be surprised to see as the certainty of a republican win this November solidifies we might even get some good things in September and October.

    Anyway by the time that all happens you will have forgotten what you wrote here and claim that the recovery was due to the stimulus which today you are claiming needs to be augmented or will not work.

    Perhaps I should save this for when that happens to remind you how wrong you are.

    Save my ass note: I do not know how inflation play out in all this. My prediction is for the Nov 2010 to May 2011 near term. If we do have a recovery I suspect inflation will have a roll to play in the mid to long term.

  • Corduroy||

    Sorry, the misallocation of capital is just too big. Any short term good feelings will be replaced by despair as reality sets in. Best we can hope for is deflation followed by a recovery if and only if the govt gets cut by 50% or more.

  • ||

    Sorry, the misallocation of capital is just too big.

    Bullshit. Houses were made and poeple need houses. This is not a misallocation it is, or to be truthful "was", an overallocation...and it is not as if anyone has been building more of them for the past three years.

    That over supply has to run out some time and after that it is simply about bringing the price down.

    Note: There are home sales where i am at in Washington state believe it or not. But they are all priced at 200,000 or less. The ones that are more then that are simply not moving.

  • Corduroy||

    The misallocation goes a lot further than just the inventory of houses, unfortunately. The entire construction industry is overcapitalized. There's derivatives, bets made on bets, insurance policies, household debt, commercial real estate, consumer goods, you name it. The easy availability of credit has worked its way into almost every industry. Now it has to unwind.

  • JoshINHB||

    Sorry, the misallocation of capital is just too big.

    Bullshit. Houses were made and poeple need houses. This is not a misallocation it is, or to be truthful "was", an overallocation...and it is not as if anyone has been building more of them for the past three years.

    You're missing the fact that the credit bubble did not inflate the real estate sector as much as it flowed through that sector into the larger economy.

    As an example in 07 I attended a relative graduation from ASU. Her degree was in "Tourism Development". There were 450 people in the graduating class. She is now a barista as starbucks.

    WTF are those kid going to do with that kind of BS "education" now?

  • ||

    WTF are those kid going to do with that kind of BS "education" now?

    I hate to break it to you but Nick Gillespie studied Literature.

  • JoshINHB||

    Best we can hope for is deflation followed by a recovery if and only if the govt gets cut by 50% or more.

    +10000

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tony,

    At some point we're gonna have to stop being held hostage by a political party that sees incentives in not having a recovery, and finish the stimulus job.

    Whereas the first point is debatable, the second is not: There is ample evidence that "stimulus" do not work and also are based on faulty macroeconomic theory. The economy is not based on aggregate demand, it is based on production and savings.

    We did learn some things from the Great Depression. Such as not the government not acting like a household and going into austerity mode as if that will do a goddamn thing to help anything.

    That's not true, I don't even know where you get that (ok, I *know*, but you still amaze by repeating it). The government did NOT become austere after the 1928 crash, that's a huge LIE. Hoover actually INCREASED spending AND taxes during his stint, and started many of the fake stimulus programs that, later, FDR would expand. He was not called "The Engineer" for nothing.

    http://mises.org/rothbard/agd.pdf

    http://fee.org/wp-content/uplo.....nalweb.pdf

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/site.....f/hist.pdf

  • ||

    At some point we're gonna have to stop being held hostage by a political party that sees incentives in not having a recovery

    You mean the way the Democrats are doing everything possible to create a society dependent on government.

    What is happening is a repeat of Japan in the 1990s, with ever bigger 'stimuluses' {'stimuli'?} being promulated to get the economy moving rather than recognizing the bad debts and cutting the losses.

    Instead, you have a gambler who is doubling each previous bet in order to make up what was lost.

  • Paul||

    If the government acted more like a household, we wouldn't BE in this situation in the first place.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Yeah, because austerity doesn't work, or something.

    Keynesians are full of shit.

  • ||

    I saw stories similar to that shortly before the G8 summit this summer. The achievements of the German government gave them ammunition to help shoot down the massive second stimulus plan that Obama was trying to get the other members of the G8 to sign on for.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Ah yes, demand-side economics. As patently stupid as supply-side economics.

  • JoshINHB||

    We did learn some things from the Great Depression.

    Then why are we repeating all the same mistakes?

  • Irresponsible Hater||

    To be fair, every time the numbers got worse despite the predictions, it was unexpected.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Any improvement has and will come in spite of Washington, not because of it.

    This is overstated. It assumes that the Federal government, the largest single player in the economy can only have negative effects on the economy. While the power of a president to turn the economy is nearly universally over-estimated, and while there are certainly things the government could do to get out of the way, there are also positive effects to some government activities that moderate the negative swings and or stimulate the economy in certain ways.

    The truth is that sometimes people are glum because things really are bad. And with an enormous amount of leveraged "value" still to be wrung out of the U.S. economy, this is one of those times.

    This is more like it. The government actions need to be seen in the light of the real situation. Some government actions have probably spread the pain out (less intense, but longer lasting pain) and some have probably reduced overall pain somewhat.

  • kilroy||

    Holy shit you're stupid.

  • Neu Mejican||

    My that's a compellingly articulate argument.

  • kilroy||

    It's not an argument at all. It's an insult to your intelligence.

  • Neu Mejican||

    I agree. It is an insult to my intelligence.

  • kilroy||

    That's probably the only thing we agree on. Happy trolling to you!

  • Neu Mejican||

    Not very self-aware are ya?

  • JoshINHB||

    Kilroy, pull your head out of Obama's crotch.

  • kilroy||

    WTF? Go back to school and learn to read. NM is the big government douche.

  • Shrike Puppet||

    Christfags!!

  • ||

    Totally uncalled for.

  • ||

    No. He called for it, really loud.

  • ||

    Some government actions have probably spread the pain out (less intense, but longer lasting pain) and some have probably reduced overall pain somewhat.

    How much of that is happenstance and how much of that is intentional?

    The problem is that:

    1) It's difficult to measure effectiveness of discrete Federal programs.

    2) It's possible (I'd say likely) that any intentional positive effects are offset by unintentional negative ones.

    And from a Freedom perspective, it's simply not a good thing to have the leviathan have such a large influence over our economy. Particularly since it's as likely to mis-manage things as to get some stuff right.

  • Neu Mejican||

    MP.
    Fair points all. I was just reacting to the absolutist position that posits all government action is negative no matter what. The reality is more nuanced. Wise policy always keeps its eye on both the positive intended and negative unintended consequences and builds-in ways to adjust to the dynamic situation. Unfortunately in terms of something as complex as the economy knowledge will always be incomplete. That should not lead to paralysis or inaction in the face of challenges. But it should create a degree of humility regarding the potential of government actions to influence the situation.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Neu Mejican,

    I was just reacting to the absolutist position that posits all government action is negative no matter what.

    Not "no matter what." Government can do something positive - like disappearing altogether.

    Wise policy always keeps its eye on both the positive intended and negative unintended consequences and builds-in ways to adjust to the dynamic situation.

    That presumes omniscience. No one can a) know the future and b) know what YOU or I want - nobody can read minds. Your assumption that wise policy can improve things cannot be true.

    Unfortunately in terms of something as complex as the economy knowledge will always be incomplete. That should not lead to paralysis or inaction in the face of challenges.

    Acting blindly, NM?

    Government people have no incentive wahtsoever to solve economic problems. Only entrepreneurs and self-interested economic actors can arrive at better solutions for THEM than government can for THEM.

  • Sam Grove||

    Wise policy always keeps its eye on both the positive intended and negative unintended consequences and builds-in ways to adjust to the dynamic situation.

    Unfortunately, policy is sticky. If a policy acquires a constituency, the will resist changes that negatively impact them even if it would be in the common good.

  • Paul||

    This is overstated. It assumes that the Federal government, the largest single player in the economy can only have negative effects on the economy.

    This is the elephant thrashing about in the living room you're inching your way around while making your argument.

  • Neu Mejican||

    How am I avoiding it by bringing it up.

    I just don't buy the argument that the elephants actions are always negative (or even predominantly so).

    And, btw, being the largest single player does not mean that the federal government dominates the economy. When you are at 35-40% of GDP, you are too high, certainly, but even at that level your influence is not the primary driver.

  • Paul||

    Because the Federal Government is the elephant in the livingroom, thrashing about.

    It's a monstrosity, crashing about the economy, which doesn't have to follow any laws of supply and demand, makes up all the rules and regulations for the other occupants of the living room, and treats the livingroom as something to be controlled, managed and tweaked for a massive set of vague outcomes dictated by political rackets.

    The federal government never should have been the largest single player in the economy. The moment it became the largest single player in the national economy is when we have a problem. Even if there isn't a problem at a given flashbulb moment in the timeline of history, because it affects so much influence, it does tremendous damage when its powers are clumsily wielded.

    Those levers to power shouldn't be there, because then all we can do is hope and pray that the right people are in charge lest they fuck everything up.

    It's the same reason we don't allow eight-year-olds behind the wheel of a car. Even if one could make the case that an eight-year-old could be taught to handle the job, in the big picture, the downsides outweight the upsides.

    I don't believe that an economy the size and complexity of the united states can be governed the way the last two administrations believe it can be. And this blogpost is an excellent exposure of that hubris.

  • #||

    "When you are at 35-40% of GDP, you are too high, certainly"

    You are aware that if you add the federal governement to the state and local, total government is in fact in that range. Even no including the temporay stimulus and TARP etc.

  • Paul||

    You can say that again.

  • #||

    "When you are at 35-40% of GDP, you are too high, certainly"

    You are aware that if you add the federal governement to the state and local, total government is in fact in that range. Even no including the temporay stimulus and TARP etc.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Of course I am aware of that. That is why I used those figures. WTF?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Neu Mejican,

    This is overstated. It assumes that the Federal government, the largest single player in the economy can only have negative effects on the economy.

    The government produces nothing, NM. Does not matter if he's the "biggest player."

    If you have, in a small town, a guy who robs from everybody and then spends the money on every store, he would be the "biggest player" but that would not mean everybody is better off.

    there are also positive effects to some government activities that moderate the negative swings and or stimulate the economy in certain ways.

    This is highly questionable, and based on a faulty model of the economy. An economy does not function by aggregate demand, which is what you're hinting at. It is driven by production and savings.

  • Neu Mejican||

    OM,
    Simply repeating the mantra that governments can't produce anything doesn't make it true. For a fairly mundane example, because of technology transfer programs, work done in our National labs has led to many productive technologies that have had an overall positive effect on productivity. What, for instance, do you think the economic impact of the Human Genome project has been to date? What about its future potential to increase productivity?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Neu Mejican,

    Simply repeating the mantra that governments can't produce anything doesn't make it true.

    NM, understand that PRODUCTION does not mean taking resources from someone. Government does not have capital, it TAKES capital - it has to.

    For a fairly mundane example, because of technology transfer programs, work done in our National labs has led to many productive technologies that have had an overall positive effect on productivity.

    And? Are you assuming that people using their own resurces could have never ever come up with similar solutions or technologies? Say it ain't so!

    What, for instance, do you think the economic impact of the Human Genome project has been to date?

    What of it? There's no reason to assume it could not be done through private investment and reach the same results, even quicker.

    What about its future potential to increase productivity?

    What of OTHER projects that could not be funded because the government funded THAT one? You know about opportunity costs, and The Broken Window Fallacy, don't you?

  • Neu Mejican||

    There's no reason to assume it could not be done through private investment and reach the same results, even quicker.

    The publicly funded project did it faster than the private.

    Are you assuming that people using their own resurces could have never ever come up with similar solutions or technologies? Say it ain't so!

    No, I am not assuming that. Are you assuming that it is IMPOSSIBLE that the government actions accelerated the process?

  • ||

    The publicly funded project did it faster than the private.

    I am sure that the development of transistors and microchips over the last 60 years would have happened much faster if the government had done it instead of Bell Labs and Intel and AMD.

    And look how fast the FCC brought HDTV online! I mean, it was only 30 years from the first proposals in the 1960s! (Though, admittedly that little trick with digital compression -invented by a private company helped.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Neu Mejican,

    The publicly funded [Human Genome] project did it faster than the private.

    Don't be disingenuous, NM - the government was already doing it, so of course private investment would be less (what would be the point of racing with the government?) The question is: How can we now KNOW if sole private investment would not have achieved the same result faster?

    Are you assuming that it is IMPOSSIBLE that the government actions accelerated the process?

    Yes, sir, I am SAYING that - The Calculation Problem and Public Choice Theory.

    Sorry, Neu, but bureaucrats have NO incentive to see a project finishing on time or before that.

  • Neu Mejican||

    NM, understand that PRODUCTION does not mean taking resources from someone. Government does not have capital, it TAKES capital - it has to.

    Wait. How does it take capital and still end up not having capital?

    Once it has that capital and uses it what prevents it from adding value to that capital? How is the action of the government fundamentally different in this respect to a corporation that takes (voluntary) contributions of capital from others and uses it to produce added value?

    Honest questions.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Neu Mejican,

    Wait. How does it take capital and still end up not having capital?

    Capital of its own, NM. A robber does not own the loot, and neither does the government.

    Once it has that capital and uses it what prevents it from adding value to that capital?

    Moral Hazard, NM. Easy Money Burns Your Hands. You don't take care of something as well as when you made it and own it.

    How is the action of the government fundamentally different in this respect to a corporation that takes (voluntary) contributions of capital from others and uses it to produce added value?

    The contributors expect something back PLUS their money - which is why teh accept to volunteer their money. Instead, government takes capital whether the victims agreed or not. Government cannot increase this capital - again, the calculation problem, public choice theory, the fact that easy money burns your hands, you are not as careful with stolen loot as you would be with something that you made or earned.

    If you mention another government-funded project, remember that projects are funded according to their political impact, razzle-dazzle, and not economic returns.

    Honest questions.

    Sorry, they're not - you could have answered any of them with this piece of philosophy: It is wrong to steal.

  • Neu Mejican||

    OM,
    Capital of its own, NM. A robber does not own the loot, and neither does the government.

    Well, I'll just avoid the obvious "we the people" metaphor and say that this is beside the point.

    Moral Hazard, NM. Easy Money Burns Your Hands. You don't take care of something as well as when you made it and own it.

    This is not an absolute risk. It is a danger, but not a certainty. Don't pretend otherwise if you want others to take you seriously.

    Government cannot increase this capital - again, the calculation problem, public choice theory, the fact that easy money burns your hands, you are not as careful with stolen loot as you would be with something that you made or earned.

    Huh? You mumbled here. Couldn't follow.

    Sorry, they're not - you could have answered any of them with this piece of philosophy: It is wrong to steal.

    Questions are still honest. And while I believe your attempts at response are also honest, they don't actually address the questions.

    Of course, the metaphor of "government equals theft" may be getting in the way of your ability to address the questions in a substantive way.

    No disrespect.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Neu Mejican,

    Well, I'll just avoid the obvious "we the people" metaphor and say that this is beside the point.

    Nice try - a mob is still a mob, and mobs are not entitled to other people's capital. It does not matter how you want to stretch it, NM, you cannot justify theft.

    This is not an absolute risk. It is a danger, but not a certainty.

    Nothing is absolute, indeed. It is however much more likely that bureaucrats will waste capital than the people that own (or used to own) the capital.

    Don't pretend otherwise if you want others to take you seriously.

    Who are these others? I'll take my chances, thank you very much.

    Huh? You mumbled here. Couldn't follow.

    Calculation problem, NM: Makes central planning an exercise in futility. Public choice theory, NM: Bureaucrats function under a different set of incentives than economically-acting individuals.

    Stolen money burns your hands - meaning, people with stolen loot tend to be profligate with it. So is the government.

    Of course, the metaphor of "government equals theft" may be getting in the way of your ability to address the questions in a substantive way.

    I haven't said "government equals theft". What I have said is that the government steals capital, as it creates none of its own.

    If what you want is to address your points in an untilitarian fashion, you're barking on the wrong tree - I am far more principled than that. Again, theft is wrong - you cannot get around this moral principle without incurring in prefunctory contradictions.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Calculation problem, NM: Makes central planning an exercise in futility.

    It makes it difficult,certainly, but this has nothing to do with the question of whether government actions can have a positive impact on the economy. It does make it difficult to demonstrate what their impact is, however. The uncertainty goes both ways, of course.

    Public choice theory, NM: Bureaucrats function under a different set of incentives than economically-acting individuals.

    Again, that is beside the point. Their incentives are different, but that does not determine whether their actions have positive or negative effects on the economy.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Neu Mejican,

    It makes it difficult, certainly [the calculation problem], but this has nothing to do with the question of whether government actions can have a positive impact on the economy.

    You cannot talk about "positive impact" on the economy when the government funds itself by raping the economy. Again, The Broken Window Fallacy: you cannot make someone better off by making someone WORSE off.

    Again, that is beside the point. Their incentives are different, but that does not determine whether their actions have positive or negative effects on the economy.

    For starters, their actions cannot be Pareto Efficient - bureaucrats ALREADY made someone worse off to begin with, just like a thief does, no matter if has a heart of gold and gives away the loot to cure kids with leukemia.

  • Sam Grove||

    Government control of resources promotes consumption over investment.

    It may be that you can put science nerds in a room and they'll create stuff, but in the larger scheme, most of what government does is not creative, it is wasteful.

  • ||

    What, for instance, do you think the economic impact of the Human Genome project has been to date?

    What of it? There's no reason to assume it could not be done through private investment and reach the same results, even quicker.

    Just to clear some things up. The bulk of the human genome project was done with private investment, By a firm that was selling gene sequencers. In fact the big debate i recall was that the private firm had eclipsed publicly funded efforts in genes sequenced. This made everyone in the public sector scared that they would patent all of it and prevent the public from having the information. Needless to say the whole argument and controversy made no sense.

    Still the point is most of the sequencing was completed by private interests.

  • Neu Mejican||

    That is not accurate. The two projects ran independently and parallel. The publicly funded project finished first.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Still the point is most of the sequencing was completed by private interests.

    This is almost exactly backwards. The private company was able to utilize the substantial work completed by the public project at the start of their project. They didn't need to sequence the whole genome since the public projects data was openly available. The public project, of course, benefited from the competition.

  • ||

    The private company sequenced more genes then the public project. Stop dancing around that fact.

  • Bill||

    From Wikipedia on Human Genome Project

    In 1998, a similar, privately funded quest was launched by the American researcher Craig Venter, and his firm Celera Genomics. Venter was a scientist at the NIH during the early 1990s when the project was initiated. The $300,000,000 Celera effort was intended to proceed at a faster pace and at a fraction of the cost of the roughly $3 billion publicly funded project.

  • Neu Mejican||

    This is inaccurate. Who is dancing?

    The public project completed the entire sequence. They did not use and did not have access to the private project's data...

    I do think I misstated, however. Looking into it seems the private project independently completed the entire sequence. They did, however, have access to the public project's data already completed (it was released daily).

    Where is your assertion coming from?

  • Neu Mejican||

    That was aimed a Joshua's assertion. Bill's cut and past from wikipedia is accurate enough.

  • ||

    Where is your assertion coming from?

    From being in college studying Biology (at least a couple of my professors were involved in the public effort) and seeing the competition as it unfolded and looking at the numbers toward the end in which the private effort had sequenced more genes then the public one and realizing how many genes were left to be sequenced and realizing that even if the private effort did not sequence one more gene they would still have sequenced more then the public effort.

  • Neu Mejican||

    You're still wrong, however. Both efforts sequenced the whole genome, so how could one have sequenced more than the other? The genome is the genome.

    Who participated in the international Human Genome Project consortium?

    The Human Genome Project could not have been completed as quickly and as effectively without the strong participation of international institutions. In the United States, contributors to the effort include the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which began participation in 1988 when it created the Office for Human Genome Research, later upgraded to the National Center for Human Genome Research in 1990 and then the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) in 1997; and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), where HGP discussions began as early as 1984. However, almost all of the actual sequencing of the genome was conducted at numerous universities and research centers throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan and China.

    The International Human Genome Sequencing Consortium includes:

    1. The Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research, Cambridge, Mass., U.S.
    2. The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, The Wellcome Trust Genome Campus, Hinxton, Cambridgeshire, U. K.
    3. Washington University School of Medicine Genome Sequencing Center, St. Louis, Mo., U.S.
    4. United States DOE Joint Genome Institute, Walnut Creek, Calif., U.S.
    5. Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center, Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Houston, Tex., U.S.
    6. RIKEN Genomic Sciences Center, Yokohama, Japan
    7. Genoscope and CNRS UMR-8030, Evry, France
    8. GTC Sequencing Center, Genome Therapeutics Corporation, Waltham, Mass., USA
    9. Department of Genome Analysis, Institute of Molecular Biotechnology, Jena, Germany
    10. Beijing Genomics Institute/Human Genome Center, Institute of Genetics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
    11. Multimegabase Sequencing Center, The Institute for Systems Biology, Seattle, Wash.
    12. Stanford Genome Technology Center, Stanford, Calif., U.S.
    13. Stanford Human Genome Center and Department of Genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, Calif., U.S.
    14. University of Washington Genome Center, Seattle, Wash., U.S.
    15. Department of Molecular Biology, Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan
    16. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, Tex., U.S.
    17. University of Oklahoma's Advanced Center for Genome Technology, Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Okla., U.S.
    18. Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin, Germany
    19. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Lita Annenberg Hazen Genome Center, Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., U.S.
    20. GBF - German Research Centre for Biotechnology, Braunschweig, Germany
  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Joshua, Neu Mejican,

    What does it matter? The fact is that we cannot know NOW if the purely private efforts would not have been faster or more productive, because we had these two parallel efforts which pretty much imposed the pace for the private one, as it made no sense to invest more money in it as the government was doing it anyways, with STOLEN MONEY.

  • Neu Mejican||

    OM,
    The quicker pace of the private venture was due, at least in part, to the fact that they had access to the work done by the public venture. But if we are talking about the value of the two ventures, the public effort which shared the knowledge in an open access manner provided more value more quickly to the scientific community because of that sharing. That is something that would not have happened/was not planned for by the private venture.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Was reading back through the original press conference on this stuff. I stand corrected regarding the access plan from Venter's team. They did, actually, make it available through subscription...but their business plan depended upon the human genome being open access and selling their expertise.

    That said...both teams took pains to emphasize that the each completed the sequence independently. So Joshua's contention that Venter's team "sequenced more genes then the public project" is just factually incorrect.

  • ||

    Simply repeating the mantra that governments can't produce anything doesn't make it true.

    It isn't true and I hate it when Old Mexican peppers these unrealistic arguments in with good arguments.

    Obviously government can keep invaders from destroying us. But that price is a set price. We know government spending money on that helps us and helps the economy. But spending one dollar more on that then needed does not give us a dollar extra in benefit. But according to Obama and Keynesian theory in general somehow that extra wasted dollar will somehow multiply into economic improvement. The second part of Olds argument is absolutely true:

    This is highly questionable, and based on a faulty model of the economy. An economy does not function by aggregate demand, which is what you're hinting at. It is driven by production and savings.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Joshua Corning,

    Obviously government can keep invaders from destroying us.

    Obviously? I posit that government actually makes Americans MORE vulnerable to attacks than anything else. Evidence: The Jugular Effect.

    We know government spending money on that helps us and helps the economy.

    Joshua, see The Broken Window Fallacy. You have to take into account the opportunity costs borne by others when the government spends money it took from those others.

    You cannot say "Well, this spending is bad but this is good" when all government spending comes from either taxation (theft) or debt (theft against future generations) or money printing (theft against our savings).

  • ||

    I agree...spending more on the military then we need can not only be a wasted but it can also create incentives to use that military which in turn make it even more expensive both in terms of blood and money then need be.

    Still to spend no money on military is suicide. So like the Laffer curve there is a point between infinite military spending and no military spending where the spending produces more good then bad.

    You cannot say "Well, this spending is bad but this is good"

    I can and I do. Libertarians are not another name for anarchists.

    Also for your two later arguments "debt (theft against future generations) or money printing (theft against our savings)." I do not think are libertarian arguments. Claiming the value of the dollar is a community asset that needs protecting for the good of the people (future generation people) is a communitarian argument.

    The First argument the idea of tax = theft has merit....but there is not room in the margins to explain its limits properly.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Joshua Corning,

    Still to spend no money on military is suicide.

    Suicide . . . for whom? Last I saw, Americans were well armed individually.

    I can and I do. Libertarians are not another name for anarchists.

    Even as a minarchists you cannot justify theft in any way, as it would lead to a perfunctory contradiction (basically, that you have and at the same time DON'T have a right to your property.)

    Also for your two later arguments "debt (theft against future generations) or money printing (theft against our savings)." I do not think are libertarian arguments.

    You are not thinking. They are MORAL arguments, not simply "libertarian."

    Claiming the value of the dollar is a community asset that needs protecting for the good of the people (future generation people) is a communitarian argument.

    You have it backwards. Placing the country in hock (debt) is placing everybody's future in jeopardy, and it has nothing to do with monetary policy. Instead, debasing the currency puts our current SAVINGS in jeopardy, as they lose value. So the argument is MORAL, again - inflation IS theft, and government debt is FRAUD committed against everybody - again, THEFT.

    All these are MORAL arguments, not communitarian.

    The First argument the idea of tax = theft has merit....but there is not room in the margins to explain its limits properly.

    Taking property that does not belong to you at bayonet point . . . Hmmm, no subtleties there. What else is there to serve as justification? Utilitarianism? Expediency? Social contract canards? The list of justification for immoral behavior are as long as history; tyrants never ran out of them.

  • ||

    Suicide . . . for whom? Last I saw, Americans were well armed individually.

    Mexico would kick our ass without a military. Hunting rifles will do nothing against a fully mechanized modern military with helicopters and bombers and tanks.

    Even as a minarchists you cannot justify theft in any way

    Yes I can and yes I do. You do not own morality. Sorry Ayn Rand was wrong to base the argument for liberty on some nefarious moral principles. It is good to get the electorate all fired up about it but it is not why Liberty works. All political systems must have utility at their base or they are doomed to die. And if liberty is inferior, doomed to die and only better because it is "right" then what the fuck are we doing here?

    You are not thinking. They are MORAL arguments, not simply "libertarian."

    I agree. there are also really really good economic arguments. I do not think we disagree on this.

    So the argument is MORAL, again - inflation IS theft, and government debt is FRAUD committed against everybody - again, THEFT.

    Nevermind we do disagree. You have a choice. You can use the cash the government prints to exchange goods and services and invest and you can choose not to. There are escapes from inflation and the government has no more responsibility to control the supply of dollars then a farmer has to control the supply of wheat he is growing to keep prices stable.

    Hmmm, no subtleties there. What else is there to serve as justification? Utilitarianism? Expediency? Social contract canards?

    Survival.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Joshua Corning,

    Mexico would kick our ass without a military. Hunting rifles will do nothing against a fully mechanized modern military with helicopters and bombers and tanks.

    Not that Afghanistan (vs the Mighty Soviet Union and even the US) or Somalia have anything to teach . . .

    Yes I can and yes I do.

    Justify theft? So can I justify theft when it happens to you? Would that make you feel better about your lost property?

    "Don't worry, Josh - I am sure it was being put to good use, even if you no longer can feed your children."

    Wow! This justifying immorality stuff is sure easy! Wee!

    You do not own morality.

    You do not own Beauty, or colors. And? Nice argument there....

    Sorry Ayn Rand was wrong to base the argument for liberty on some nefarious moral principles.

    You are quick to forget Locke, Aquinas, More, and others. I am not an Objectivist, Joshua.

    Nevermind we do disagree [that taxation/inflation is theft]. You have a choice. You can use the cash the government prints to exchange goods and services and invest and you can choose not to. There are escapes from inflation and the government has no more responsibility to control the supply of dollars then a farmer has to control the supply of wheat he is growing to keep prices stable.

    The difference is that there are several thousand farmers all competing with each other, whereas there's only ONE government, and government does not like competition. ThAT unduly limits your choices, so saying "you have a choice" in the face of violent and unrelenting force is not a moral argument in favor of the acts of that force.

  • ||

    Not that Afghanistan (vs the Mighty Soviet Union and even the US) or Somalia have anything to teach . . .

    So Afghans and Somalis have lots of liberties? If an invading force can and do demolish your property and institutions and kill you, your family and members of your community at any time you have no liberty.

    Justify theft?
    Theft is justified for survival. Even libertarian theory allows you to trespass and destroy and take property to protect one's self from threat of violence.

    whereas there's only ONE government

    One government but nearly an infinite number of representations of my wealth (currency). I have access to gold, real property commodity exchanges, and about 100 different foreign currencies. I may have only one government but I have plenty of escapes to bad economic policies that inflate US currency.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Joshua Corning,

    So Afghans and Somalis have lots of liberties?

    Why would this matter? You hinted to a military being necessary to keep the mighty Mexican military from overrunning puny Americans armed with hunting rifles. Why would it be important to point out the Afghanis and Somalis [dubious] lack of liberty?

    If an invading force can and do demolish your property and institutions and kill you, your family and members of your community at any time you have no liberty.

    Balderdash! As long as you can still fight, you have freedom.


    Theft is justified for survival.

    Oh, really? Why put up fences, then? Hobos are justified to steal from you - you just said.

    Even libertarian theory allows you to trespass and destroy and take property to protect one's self from threat of violence.

    Lies. SHOW ME.

  • ||

    A new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas finds that the $787 billion stimulus program approved by Congress shortly after President Obama took office in 2009 probably fostered economic growth in the short run. But the study, by Jason L. Saving, a senior research economist, also concluded that there was no meaningful way to determine how the economy would have performed in the absence of the stimulus program. Moreover, Mr. Saving found that the stimulus program had worsened short-term fiscal pressures.

    -and-

    “Simply put, there’s no way to know how badly the economy would have performed in the absence of fiscal stimulus and no way to prove how many jobs would have existed without stimulus,” Mr. Saving wrote.

    hier

    This person apparently has not been taught to properly tow the lion.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    The Fed should have known better than to hire a guy named Saving.

  • Paul||

    Always with the negative waves...

  • ||

    When the republicans take over and investors and entrepreneur start putting their money back into the economy i wonder how it will be sold by the various factions.

    My guess:

    the left: The stimulus worked!!
    The right: we changed it!!
    Tim: Ummm Joshua was right and i was wrong. (just kidding i have no idea what tim will say...he will probably just ignore the timing of it all)
    Employer: The uncertainty has cleared a bit so I started hiring.

    Note: The republicans won't actually do anything to improve the economy. But simply them being there to check Obama will encourage the productive class to feel safe enough to start working again.

  • Neu Mejican||

    Note: The republicans won't actually do anything to improve the economy. But simply them being there to check Obama will encourage the productive class to feel safe enough to start working again.

    If that's the case, can you please explain to me why the "productive class" is so stupid/gullible? What a strange argument.

  • ||

    ---"can you please explain to me why"---

    Because with Reps in control of at least one chamber (and I am NOT a Rep), employers won't have to worry (so much) about the Dems ramming crappy legislation through.

  • ||

    It isn't just crappy legislation. Obama pulled off some pretty crazy shit all on his own.

    The moratorium of oil drilling and the GM take over to name two. Both of which I do not think he would have gotten away with if Republicans controlled congress.

  • ||

    The Fed should have known better than to hire a guy named Saving.

    Krugabe finds it outrageous, I suspect.

  • ||

    If that's the case, can you please explain to me why the "productive class" is so stupid/gullible?

    What you call stupid/gullible people who actually know how to make money call it fear of the Bush tax ending and the uncertainty of how much Obamacare will cost...plus they see Obama closing down oil drilling operations nationwide and bullying GMs CEO out of a job. There are a few more examples of Obama and the democrats encouraging uncertainty in the market but you get the idea. They think as long as Obama is unchecked it is better to hold onto what you got and risk nothing.

    Anyway i explained what i think is going on in an entrepreneur's mind. Lets hear what you think a guy with bag full of money and a good idea is thinking?

    Why isn't he pulling the trigger right now?

  • Neu Mejican||

    I have two problems with this premise.

    1) It assumes that Obama is currently unchecked. I see no evidence of that. Did the Senate somehow become an efficient bill passing machine without my noticing?

    2) Certainly there are many uncertainties that flow from the actual situation that swamp any of the regulatory uncertainties you cite: two wars, recently collapsed housing bubble, etc. And the political situation is uncertain partly because of the partisan bickering that is dominating the discourse. Much of that uncertainty will go away once the election cycle is gone no matter who wins.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Efficient? No.

    Having the ability to shove bills through that the vast majority of Americans oppose? Absofuckinglutely.

  • ||

    Did the Senate somehow become an efficient bill passing machine without my noticing?

    You are looking at this from a your perspective and not the perspective of a guy with money with a good idea. Obamacare did pass and the Bush Tax cuts will not be extended if the senate does nothing.

    two wars
    Both of which are nearing thier decade long date. The market has priced those suckers in already.

    recently collapsed housing bubble

    Not so recent This is the longest recession we have been in since the depression. Since the depression we have had bubbles and their effects have never been this lasting.

    And the political situation is uncertain partly because of the partisan bickering that is dominating the discourse.

    The best economy in my life time occurred when Clinton was in office and the bickering actually shut the whole fucking government down. History conflicts with this premise

    Much of that uncertainty will go away once the election cycle is gone no matter who wins.

    This is actually a good argument. (or at least one that relies on reasonable assumptions) but no matter the result if the economy improves both of us will be right. Can you think of a test to separate our two theories?

  • ||

    "Much of that uncertainty will go away once the election cycle is gone no matter who wins."

    Whoa, what? Are we never having any more elections after 2010?

  • Neu Mejican||

    You are looking at this from a your perspective and not the perspective of a guy with money with a good idea.

    That's quite an assumption.

    Obamacare did pass and the Bush Tax cuts will not be extended if the senate does nothing.

    And how does this increase uncertainty? We can plan based on assumptions the tax cuts ending and the health care bill playing out as planned.

    This is the longest recession we have been in since the depression. Since the depression we have had bubbles and their effects have never been this lasting.

    You are describing the source of uncertainty. Because this one is unprecedented it creates more uncertainty...which unfortunately probably feeds back on the whole situation and keeps the recovery relatively jobless.

    The best economy in my life time occurred when Clinton was in office and the bickering actually shut the whole fucking government down. History conflicts with this premise

    Context matters. Bickering during good times creates much less anxiety than bickering during troubled times. (See how the polarity changes the tone: "Times are good/bad and I don't see the government getting around to changing the situation, so I predict they will stay good/bad").

    Can you think of a test to separate our two theories?

    Nope.

  • ||

    Can you think of a test to separate our two theories?

    Nope.

    I am beginning to think this is the only consistent characteristic of left wing economic thinking.

    Impossible to prove yet impossible to disprove no matter what happens.

  • Neu Mejican||

    this is the only consistent characteristic of left wing almost all economic thinking.

    Impossible to prove yet impossible to disprove no matter what happens.

  • ||

    this is the only consistent characteristic of almost all economic thinking.

    Actually if we have any recovery without a 2nd stimulus bill Tony's theory of more spending needed will be disproved and Krugman who has made similar calls for more spending will be disproved.

    What do you think Neu?

    Do we need more government spending to get out of this recession or not?

  • Neu Mejican||

    Given the vague nature of the question...my only response is that it depends upon the specific spending proposal. Spending for spending's sake never makes sense.

  • Neu Mejican||

    And to clarify. We will get out of the recession no matter what. The question is whether the spending would accelerate or delay that recovery.

  • ||

    Context matters. Bickering during good times creates much less anxiety than bickering during troubled times. (See how the polarity changes the tone: "Times are good/bad and I don't see the government getting around to changing the situation, so I predict they will stay good/bad").

    This is actually not an argument against a recovery after and because of a republican November win.

    The bickering will not stop if they win the house and make gains in the senate. In fact bickering may be amplified.

  • Atanarjuat||

    Obamacare did pass and the Bush Tax cuts will not be extended if the senate does nothing.

    And how does this increase uncertainty? We can plan based on assumptions the tax cuts ending and the health care bill playing out as planned.

    You answered your own question with regard to the tax cuts ending. An entrepreneur can only operate under the "assumption" that the tax cuts will end. The uncertainty results from not being able to predict what Congress will do. I doubt all the ramifications of Obamacare can be predicted accurately at this point either.

  • Josh||

    But the argument is that the lower taxes help spur investment so even if they know the tax breaks will end it may eliminate the uncertainty, but not the harmful economic effects.

  • ||

    What, for instance, do you think the economic impact of the Human Genome project has been to date?

    I take it you are referring to government support, in the form of grants for research. Do you imagine nobody would invest privately in research?

  • Neu Mejican||

    No, I do not imagine that.

  • Paul||

    Private research would absolutely occur without government patronage. It would probably just look much different than it does in its currrent form. It would probably also be much more targeted.

    But to suggest that no private investment in research would occur without government making it happen is dubious. Why, if private philanthropy to the tune of billions of dollars can occur, couldn't research through those same philanthropic channels not occur?

  • Neu Mejican||

    But to suggest that no private investment in research would occur without government making it happen is dubious.

    I agree. It would be dubious to suggest that.

  • Bill||

    I think I have seen several times the statement that private investment in R&D completely dwarfs that of the federal govt. Somebody should look that up for me. I'm watching all the old episodes of Top Shot right now.

  • ||

    Joshua Conring

    FUCK!!!

    That really is an unfortunate typing error.

  • kilroy||

    I noticed that and thought either it was the Glenlivet or someone was puppeting you.

  • ||

    It would be interesting to see a similar exercise done in reverse. That is to say, charting extreme pronouncements of doom and gloom.

  • ||

    It would be interesting to see a similar exercise done in reverse. That is to say, charting extreme pronouncements of doom and gloom.

    If we see a recovery i say the side that does not get the credit will claim the end of the world is coming.

    Also Krugman claimed we were entering a recession every month for 6 years from 2001 to 2007.

  • ||

    I was thinking more of people (most of them not public figures) who've said stuff like, "The U.S. will fall into Greece-style chaos in the next 2 years", etc. Or Glenn-Beck style "Your dollars will be worthless in 10 years; better buy a bunch of gold right now."

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    Yeah, I think you could find quite a few Hyperinflation 2009/10 claims that have not panned out...

    ...yet.

  • ||

    I like how i was the 10th or so person to post yet because of threading my post in now 9/10th to the bottom of the page.

    I FINALITY GET MY WORD IN AND YOU FUCKERS BLOCK ME OUT!!!

  • hmm||

    The silent masses love threading. At least that's what they keep telling us. I also hear we are going to love national health care.

  • -||

    Hooray anarchy!

  • hmm||

    Hooray For Boobies!

  • e'||

    good news

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