Tag Archives: despite

Productivity Is the Key to Economic Growth

Mother Jones

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Mick Mulvaney says the haters don’t know what they’re talking about:

In his remarks Tuesday, Mulvaney mentioned that the economy had often grown in the past at rates of 3 percent and called people’s objections to the Trump administration’s expectation of growth rates that high “absurd.”

“It used to be normal. Ten years ago, it was normal. In fact, it’s been normal for the history of the country,” said Mulvaney.

Mulvaney is sort of right about this. But there’s more to it. The basic formula for economic growth is simple: Economic growth = Population growth + Productivity growth. Population growth has been slowing down for decades, and Mulvaney isn’t going to change that. We know exactly what the population of the country is going to be over the next few years.

So that leaves productivity growth, which the BLS estimates here. Here’s what all three factors have looked like since 1960:

In order to achieve 3 percent economic growth, we need productivity growth of about 2.3 percent. This is decidedly not normal for the history of the country—not in the past 50 years, anyway. With the brief exception of the unsustainable housing bubble era, we haven’t hit that since the end of 60s.

Productivity growth is a real problem, and it’s something of a mystery why it’s been so low lately. But it’s a mystery to Mulvaney too, and it’s certainly not due to punitive tax rates or heavy-handed regulations. Despite this, Mulvaney is suggesting that Trump can more than double the productivity growth rate of the past ten years, reaching a target we haven’t hit in a normal, healthy economy for the past half century. There’s simply no reason to believe this, and Mulvaney hasn’t even tried to explain how he thinks Trump can accomplish it. Not even hand waving. He’s literally said nothing about productivity growth at all.

Until he does, nobody should believe his growth estimates. It all comes down to productivity, and that’s what Mulvaney needs to talk about.

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Productivity Is the Key to Economic Growth

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Raw Data: Health Care Spending Growth Around the World

Mother Jones

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I got into a conversation today about my contention from last night that national health care systems are better at controlling costs than the private sector. We all know that US health care costs are the highest in the world, but are they growing faster than the rest of the world? And how about different health care sectors in the US?

I haven’t looked at this in years, so I decided to dig up the data and see. First off, here is growth in health care spending among a representative group of rich countries during recent decades:

This data is a little tricky because some countries changed the way they calculated health care spending during this period. I didn’t use any of them, and it’s possible that one or two might have grown faster than us. But the US is certainly in the top two or three, if not at the very top.

One problem with international comparisons of health care spending is that some countries are aging faster than others, and it stands to reason that countries with older populations will spend more than those with younger populations. Here’s a look at spending growth during the period 1970-2002 that controls for aging:

During these earlier decades there are several countries with higher growth rates than the US. I’m a little surprised there weren’t more, given that postwar European countries were still catching up to the US during the first half of this period.

Finally, here’s a comparison of growth rates just within the US:

The data here tells a pretty consistent story. Despite starting at a higher base, the US is in the top two or three in the world—maybe at the very top—for health care spending growth over the past half century or so. Within the US, private health care spending growth has outpaced both Medicare and Medicaid. Both internationally and in the US, government-run health care programs appear to be better at controlling costs than the private sector.

Of course, there are other sources of data and other ways of doing comparisons, so don’t take this as the last word. If I come across any other studies that seem to have interesting ways of slicing the data, I’ll follow up.

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Raw Data: Health Care Spending Growth Around the World

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Chart of the Day: The Supreme Court Over the Past 70 Years

Mother Jones

Christopher Ingraham at Wonkblog pointed me to an interesting bit of data yesterday. It’s the Martin-Quinn measure of how the Supreme Court tilts over time, and apparently it’s widely accepted as reasonably accurate. Here it is for the entire postwar period:

There are two fascinating nuggets here:

Despite conservative kvetching, the Court has leaned conservative for all but seven years from 1946 to 2013. The seven years of the Warren Court are literally the only period in recent history during which the Court has been consistently liberal.
The Martin-Quinn measure depends on the votes of the median judge, which is Anthony Kennedy right now. This is what accounts for the Court’s recent shift to the left. According to his Martin-Quinn score, Kennedy has been getting steadily less conservative ever since he joined the Court, and over the past three years he’s become positively liberal:

I suppose this is old news to veteran court watchers, but it’s new to me. Has Kennedy really shifted that much over his career? And is he now generally left of center? If so, does this have anything to do with the effect of Sotomayor and Kagan joining the Court in 2009-10? It sure looks like it.

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Chart of the Day: The Supreme Court Over the Past 70 Years

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While Trump tweets out insults, Obama publishes an article about clean energy in a scientific journal.

In the piece, which appeared in Science on Monday, the president outlines four reasons that “the trend toward clean energy is irreversible”:

1. Economic growth and cutting carbon emissions go hand in hand. Any economic strategy that doesn’t take climate change into account will result in fewer jobs and less economic growth in the long term.

2. Businesses know that reducing emissions can boost bottom lines and make shareholders happy. And efficiency boosts employment too: About 2.2 million Americans now have jobs related to energy efficiency, compared to about 1.1 million with fossil fuel jobs.

3. The market is already moving toward cleaner electricity. Natural gas is replacing coal, and renewable energy costs are falling dramatically — trends that will continue (even with a coal-loving president).

4. There’s global momentum for climate action. In 2015 in Paris, nearly 200 nations agreed to bring down carbon emissions.

“Despite the policy uncertainty that we face, I remain convinced that no country is better suited to confront the climate challenge and reap the economic benefits of a low-carbon future than the United States and that continued participation in the Paris process will yield great benefit for the American people, as well as the international community,” Obama concludes — optimistically.

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While Trump tweets out insults, Obama publishes an article about clean energy in a scientific journal.

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New York State will shut down its dangerously placed Indian Point nuclear plant.

In the piece, which appeared in Science on Monday, the president outlines four reasons that “the trend toward clean energy is irreversible”:

1. Economic growth and cutting carbon emissions go hand in hand. Any economic strategy that doesn’t take climate change into account will result in fewer jobs and less economic growth in the long term.

2. Businesses know that reducing emissions can boost bottom lines and make shareholders happy. And efficiency boosts employment too: About 2.2 million Americans now have jobs related to energy efficiency, compared to about 1.1 million with fossil fuel jobs.

3. The market is already moving toward cleaner electricity. Natural gas is replacing coal, and renewable energy costs are falling dramatically — trends that will continue (even with a coal-loving president).

4. There’s global momentum for climate action. In 2015 in Paris, nearly 200 nations agreed to bring down carbon emissions.

“Despite the policy uncertainty that we face, I remain convinced that no country is better suited to confront the climate challenge and reap the economic benefits of a low-carbon future than the United States and that continued participation in the Paris process will yield great benefit for the American people, as well as the international community,” Obama concludes — optimistically.

Source: 

New York State will shut down its dangerously placed Indian Point nuclear plant.

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Obama is making another move to block offshore drilling.

In the piece, which appeared in Science on Monday, the president outlines four reasons that “the trend toward clean energy is irreversible”:

1. Economic growth and cutting carbon emissions go hand in hand. Any economic strategy that doesn’t take climate change into account will result in fewer jobs and less economic growth in the long term.

2. Businesses know that reducing emissions can boost bottom lines and make shareholders happy. And efficiency boosts employment too: About 2.2 million Americans now have jobs related to energy efficiency, compared to about 1.1 million with fossil fuel jobs.

3. The market is already moving toward cleaner electricity. Natural gas is replacing coal, and renewable energy costs are falling dramatically — trends that will continue (even with a coal-loving president).

4. There’s global momentum for climate action. In 2015 in Paris, nearly 200 nations agreed to bring down carbon emissions.

“Despite the policy uncertainty that we face, I remain convinced that no country is better suited to confront the climate challenge and reap the economic benefits of a low-carbon future than the United States and that continued participation in the Paris process will yield great benefit for the American people, as well as the international community,” Obama concludes — optimistically.

More – 

Obama is making another move to block offshore drilling.

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Living At Home Has Become Steadily More Popular Since the 1960s

Mother Jones

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According to the Wall Street Journal, millennials are living in their parents’ basements at record rates:

Almost 40% of young Americans were living with their parents, siblings or other relatives in 2015, the largest percentage since 1940, according to an analysis of census data by real estate tracker Trulia.

Despite a rebounding economy and recent job growth, the share of those between the ages of 18 and 34 doubling up with parents or other family members has been rising since 2005. Back then, before the start of the last recession, roughly one out of three were living with family.

Hmmm. “Rising since 2005.” I’ll assume that’s technically true, but take a look at the chart that accompanies the Journal piece. The number of young adults living with their parents rose in the 70s. And the 80s. And the aughts. And the teens. Basically, it’s been on an upward trend for nearly half a century. That seems more noteworthy to me than the fact that it failed to blip slightly downward after the Great Recession ended.

Part of the reason, of course, is that people have been getting married and settling down later in life. According to the OECD, the average age at first marriage has increased nearly five years just since 1990, and ranges between 30 and 35 around the world:

The United States is still at the low end of the world average.

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Living At Home Has Become Steadily More Popular Since the 1960s

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LAT Poll Finally Makes It Unanimous: Donald Trump Is a Loser

Mother Jones

In the LA Times poll, Donald Trump has been consistently in the lead for the past month, even as other polls show Hillary Clinton ahead. Today, 27 days before November 8, doomsday has finally been postponed:

There is a 19-year-old black man in Illinois who has no idea of the role he is playing in this election. He is sure he is going to vote for Donald J. Trump….He’s a panelist on the U.S.C. Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Daybreak poll, which has emerged as the biggest polling outlier of the presidential campaign. Despite falling behind by double digits in some national surveys, Mr. Trump has generally led in the U.S.C./LAT poll.

….Our Trump-supporting friend in Illinois is a surprisingly big part of the reason. In some polls, he’s weighted as much as 30 times more than the average respondent, and as much as 300 times more than the least-weighted respondent. Alone, he has been enough to put Mr. Trump in double digits of support among black voters.

….He is also the reason Mrs. Clinton took the lead in the U.S.C./LAT poll for the first time in a month on Wednesday. The poll includes only the last seven days of respondents, and he hasn’t taken the poll since Oct. 4. Mrs. Clinton surged once he was out of the sample for the first time in several weeks.

In some way, I suppose it was worth experimenting with the unusual, panel-based design of the LA Times poll. However, their decision to weight lots of tiny subgroups separately is harder to defend. It’s the reason that one guy in Illinois can have a significant effect on the entire poll.

Nate Cohn’s piece on the LA Times poll is worth a read. It’s a very good introduction to the whole issue of poll weighting and how it works. There’s as much art as science to this stuff sometimes.

From – 

LAT Poll Finally Makes It Unanimous: Donald Trump Is a Loser

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For the Love of God, Can We All Stop Whining About the Olympics Being Tape Delayed?

Mother Jones

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Here is Meredith Blake in the LA Times commenting on the Olympic opening ceremonies last night:

In yet the latest decision to fuel the #NBCfail hashag, the network broadcast the ceremony on a one-hour delay on the East Coast. The West Coast was delayed by an additional three hours. NBC claimed it was delaying the broadcast in order to provide additional “context” for viewers. The real reason, of course, was to draw as many eyeballs and run as many commercials (and women’s gymnastics promos) as possible.

Are we going to keep whining about this forever? The Olympics are tape-delayed so they can be broadcast in prime time. They’re stuffed with commercials because NBC paid a billion dollars for the broadcast rights and commercials are how they make up for that.

We’re not children. We all know this. Nevertheless, we’ve been complaining about it since 1992 and NBC has been resolutely tape-delaying the games anyway ever since. Why? Because that’s how most normal people like it. You know, the ones who have to work during the day and don’t get home until 6 or 7 o’clock.

The only question I have is why NBC allows itself to be bullied by a small squad of elitist reporters and sports purists into making up weird excuses about “context” or “plausibly live.” Why not just say, “Don’t be a child. We’re tape-delaying it so more people can watch.” Their viewing audience, which is much more sophisticated than the reporters and sports purists, will have no problem with this.

POSTSCRIPT: But other sports events aren’t tape delayed. Why the Olympics? Why why why?

Please. Events in the US aren’t tape delayed because they’re carefully scheduled to air when the networks want them to air. Overseas events are usually shown live and re-broadcast on tape delay. But you can’t do this with the Olympics because they run all day.

Also, not to make too fine a point of this, but most Americans don’t give a shit about most Olympic sports. They watch them once every four years, mostly to cheer Americans who win medals, and that’s about it. If it’s even slightly inconvenient to watch, they won’t bother. Despite their whinging, this is also true of the elitist reporters and sports purists, who for 47 months out of every 48 mostly couldn’t care less about rowing or archery or sumo wrestling.

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For the Love of God, Can We All Stop Whining About the Olympics Being Tape Delayed?

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Desperate for cash, Trump turns to the coal industry

Black gold

Desperate for cash, Trump turns to the coal industry

By on Jun 21, 2016Share

What’s a candidate to do when he’s strapped for cash and still 139 days out from election day? If you’re Donald Trump, and you don’t want to entirely self-finance, the answer to that question might lie in a business whose product has been called “black gold.”

Trump pulled in just $3 million in individual contributions and reported having only $1.3 million in the bank at the end of last month, meaning he’s got less cash on hand than either of his former rivals Ted Cruz or Ben Carson. Clinton’s fundraising, meanwhile, dwarfs Trump’s by nearly 40 times.

But Trump’s got a plan. His first move after the abysmal fundraising report was to announce that he’s holding an invitation-only fundraiser in West Virginia coal country next Tuesday, hosted by mining magnate CEO Robert Murray. Murray, one of the largest independent coal operators in the U.S., only endorsed Trump after his first-choice candidate Cruz dropped out. His ringing endorsement of Trump was to say he’s “all we’ve got.”

Despite his absolute lack of knowledge about the coal industry, Trump feels comfortable enough to turn to the coal industry after a barrage of bad press. The magnates are looking to boost Trump’s coffers, even though he can’t do much to stop the industry-wide free fall.

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Desperate for cash, Trump turns to the coal industry

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