All that is old is new again


Nearly century and a half ago, political cartoonist Tomas Nast presents a “harsh commentary on the hypocrisy of these new Americans and their willingness to oppress others who are in the same circumstances in which they found themselves 30 years earlier. The once oppressed have now become the oppressors.”:

“Throwing Down the Ladder by Which They Rose,” by Thomas Nast, 23 July 1870. Source

For more, see this.

55 thoughts on “All that is old is new again

  1. Moses Herzog

    This is a short post by Menzie, but I would argue, though short, one of Menzie’s more insightful observations. Particularly the way Menzie expresses it.

    My father, who was 46 years my senior, used to have something he used to say to me on very rare occasions. It seems like at least 18 months or more could go by between the times he would say it, but for a guy with a poor relationship with his Dad, for me it was like finding the treat at the very bottom of the Cracker jack box (when they had real treats in the box and when people knew what the hell Cracker Jack was). I mean to say it was like finding a bar of gold. My dad would take a kind of semi-WC Fields voice and say “My boy, I believe you have your finger on the pulse.”

    Menzie, I think you have your finger on the pulse.

  2. PeakTrader

    China treats its masses very poorly in the 21st century, although not as bad compared to under Mao, and a tiny percentage of its population is immigrants today.

    Strong U.S. border enforcement with severe consequences for illegal immigrants will substantially reduce the hardship associated with trying to enter the U.S. illegally, through deterrence.

    1. PeakTrader

      And, Mexicans should be trying to improve their country rather than fleeing to the U.S..

      1. pgl

        Your racism just goes on and on forever. By your “logic” your parents should have stayed in Germany during the 1940’s. We Americans would have been better off without your Nazi philosophy.

        1. PeakTrader

          Pgl, Mexicans aren’t like Nazis.

          And, just because they’re Mexicans, they don’t need special help.

          You’re the racist.

          1. pgl

            Mexicans are not Nazis. I was referring to you. We have asked you to cease your racist BS but I guess you have less class than Rosanne Barr.

    2. pgl

      WTF? If China treats its citizens poorly (another one of your bogus claims with zero support) then we here should open our borders to the refugees.

      Your “logic” here is your usual high standard of stupidity!

      1. PeakTrader

        Pgl, there are many countries that treat their citizens very poorly.

        Are you saying we should allow all of those people – maybe two or three billion – to move here? Talk about stupidity.

        And, I bet you favor non-white people, because of your racism.

        1. pgl

          I care about the content of a person’s character not the color of his skin. Your content proves time and time again you are a racist low life. No wonder you defend Trump.

        2. pgl

          PeakNazi is scared that over 2 billion “China poeple” will take a boat ride to the USA? Kind of doubt it since China’s population is only 1.3 billion. But suppose that 1% of them do move here. I think we can handle another 13 million people – especially if they are doctors, which we really need.

          Oh wait some of these Chinese immigrants will likely move into PeakNazi’s neighborhood which will likely make him even more uncomfortable. After all the bright ones love laughing at someone whose numerical skills are so incredibly poor that he thinks China has 2 to 3 billion people!

      2. CoRev

        And there you go with even more trolling. Why? What kind of strange satisfaction do you get out of it? I note this only because this has your MO for years.

    3. Steven Kopits

      Actually, border enforcement is only 1/4-1/3 of the cost of entering the US for a migrant. I will cover this in my next email on the topic.

      If you want to be on my immigration email list, send me a note at

    4. baffling

      “Strong U.S. border enforcement with severe consequences for illegal immigrants will substantially reduce the hardship associated with trying to enter the U.S. illegally, through deterrence.”
      seriously, this may be one of the stupidest things you have said on this blog peak. just stupid.

      1. CoRev

        Baffled, your comment is extraordinarily ignorant. Just the threat of increased enforcement after Trumps election dropped illegal border crossing by as much as 67%. “…Testifying to the committee in a first hearing Tuesday, former Border Patrol Chief David V. Aguilar said the percentage may be even higher than Mr. Trump teases. Compared with 2016, he said, apprehensions on the southwest border were down 67 percent through March….”

          1. pgl

            CoRev comes to PeakNazi’s defense quite often. Of course CoRev has to back up Peaky’s lies with his own disinformation. That is how echo chambers operate.

          2. CoRev

            2slugs, nice try, but we are talking about 2 different times frames. Your article make this point:: “Fiscal 2017 included nearly four months under Obama and more than eight months under Trump, but the monthly breakdown shows that thedecrease for the year came under Trump.

            Regrettably, the numbers have not remained as low.

          3. 2slugbaits

            CoRev Regrettably, the numbers have not remained as low.

            My point exactly. You want to praise Trump for 8 months, but you want to ignore the most recent data. I call that cherry-picking the data. What do you call it? And notice that the long run trend has been going down for a very long time. If you believe that Trump’s policies account for the 8 month drop, then what happened to his magic touch afterwards? And are you trying to tell us that Trump’s immigration policies were implemented on 29 Jan 2017? Weren’t the Obama policies effectively in place for much of that 8 month period?

            And just to be clear, I was no fan of Obama’s immigration policies. I thought they bordered on monstrous. A sensible immigration plan is one of the few things for which I give Bush 43 and Karl Rove high praise. Too bad the Republican crazies killed Bush’s immigration reform.

        1. baffling

          corev, it does nothing to “substantially reduce the hardship associated with trying to enter the U.S. illegally”. in fact, current policy increases those hardships. the dangers of people smuggling has increased substantially.

          1. CoRev

            Baffled,did you partake of the Steven Kopits discussion earlier this weekend? Nope! You might have learned something. Why should illegal entry hardship be reduced? What are you on?

          2. baffling

            corev, your comrade peak trader is the one who said that hardship would be reduced. complain to him, or continue to argue mindlessly like a hack. you are simply the party of no-a complainer. you would argue the sky was black if i stated it was blue. its like dealing with an immature five year old.

    5. 2slugbaits

      PeakTrader Strong U.S. border enforcement with severe consequences for illegal immigrants will substantially reduce the hardship associated with trying to enter the U.S. illegally, through deterrence.

      Do you know the difference between illegal immigration and legal requests for sanctuary? Today’s headlines are about people from Central America coming to the US border requesting political sanctuary. Current US law and international law both say that this is legal entry to the US. Political refugees can be deported after they have received a hearing, but not before. The Department of Homeland Security is the lawbreaker here.

      And did you watch the PBS special last night? It doesn’t sound like it? Of course not. You were probably watching Sean Insanity. A lot of the Chinese immigrants not only arrived here legally, they were invited in order to build the transcontinental railroad. The Exclusion Act denied legal Chinese residents the opportunity to become US citizens. The “Throwing Down the Ladder” image above is about the unequal treatment of Chinese resident aliens. Once Irish-Americans and Italian-Americans and German-Americans climbed the ladder of social respectability they did their best to make sure Chinese persons never got the same opportunity. Perhaps Congress should pass a “PeakTrader Exclusion Act” that denies any poster with that name from commenting on an internet blog.

      1. PeakTrader

        2slugbaits, haven’t you caused enough hardship for millions of illegal immigrants, including deaths, luring them with your haphazard and lax immigration laws?

        Now, you can go back to reading and watching your fake news.

        1. PeakTrader

          Trump following federal law will exclude much of the hardship and all the lawlessness.

        2. 2slugbaits

          PeakTrader As to the illegal immigrants, the solution is easy. Just make them legal immigrants. Problem solved. Oh wait, Trump’s deplorable white racist base wouldn’t approve. As to those coming from Central America as political refugees, they’re already legal immigrants awaiting a determination on their asylum status. All we need there is for Team Trump to obey the law.

          What lies did Sean Insanity belch tonight?

      2. pgl

        “Do you know the difference between illegal immigration and legal requests for sanctuary?”

        He might know the difference but PeakNazi does not care less. All he knows is that they are all brown people which scares PeakNazi to no end.

  3. pgl

    This makes me very angry:

    “WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration plans to shorten the length of validity for some visas issued to Chinese citizens, the State Department said Tuesday, as President Donald Trump works to counter alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property by Beijing. The changes begin June 11. The State Department said that under the new policy, U.S. consular officers may limit how long visas are valid, rather than the usual practice of issuing them for the maximum possible length.”

    One of the more dedicated people that works for my team is from China on a visa that my firm has had in the past to support. I was shocked to learn yesterday morning that she has to quit over the inability of my firm to support her visa any more. You can only imagine the harsh comments I levied on my boss over this. But maybe this story explains everything.

    Trump is bad for business and bad for America. Full stop. And anyone who wishes to defend this garbage is going to get the wrath that I levied on my boss yesterday.

    1. PeakTrader

      Pgl slaps his boss around whenever Trump does something he doesn’t like. The Chinese worker can stay, but the white Eastern European has to go.

      1. pgl

        I didn’t slap anyone around but we did lose a valuable employee. But what you know – you are failed banker. I guess ripping off credit card holders was too hard for you. BTW – I work with people from Eastern Europe and Russia too. I’d work with anyone with talent – but that excludes PeakNazi. Sorry dude.

  4. Ed Hanson

    The present is not responsible for the past, except to learn from it. Unless, of course, you are California, who discrimination against college bound students of Asian descent is well known and it is not 150 years old.


    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Ed Hanson: I don’t understand how you could interpret the post as suggesting the present is responsible for the past. Have I ever suggested inverse Granger causality? Did I mention time travel?

      Written by a proud graduate of the University of California system.

      1. Ed Hanson


        Then what is your point for the post?

        Is it just because it interesting? It is. But interesting historical items and events ae so numerous as uncountable. So your point in particular?

        I certain that California is proud of you, also. Except those who think that your superior intelligence and work ethic (both personal and in general) crowds out the opportunity of a more favored minority.


        1. Menzie Chinn Post author

          Ed Hanson: OK, let me lay it out connect-the-dot-like. At one point, people characterized another group of immigrants and potential immigrants as sub-human (auf Deutsch, Untermensch), i.e., animals. Today, we have a number of policy-level individuals who similarly characterize some individuals as “animals”. We are now ashamed (or some of us are) of that historical behavior. I think that in the future, most of us Americans will look back on this episode, and be similarly ashamed. But I might turn out to be wrong.

          1. 2slugbaits

            We are now ashamed (or some of us are) of that historical behavior.

            Reminds me of how people became so ashamed of having twice voted for Richard Nixon that they later misremembered how they actually voted. Years after Watergate very few people admitted voting for him, but somehow he still managed to get over 60% of the popular vote in 1972. Or people who supported the Vietnam war in the 60s talked themselves into believing that they opposed it. Sort of the reverse of the 25,000,000 who claim to have been at Woodstock.

        2. pgl

          California may be proud of Menzie but last I checked he teaches at the University of Wisconsin. So he is crowding out that minority that calls themselves Cheese Heads!

          1. Menzie Chinn Post author

            pgl: I was noting for Ed’s sake that while UC system had a weighting system for admissions that might have led to Asians entering at lower rates than applications, that was not necessarily the same as “discrimination” (as I graduated from UC Berkeley). I’m not sure he got the message, but here I’ll make it explicit here.

          2. Ed Hanson


            It is exactly discrimination, just it seems one that you can accept, I can not. And it was not as you seem to imply, just a unfortunate side effect of a general policy. It was an intentional targeting. And it was wrong.


          3. baffling

            ed, you are taking on a position that it is ok to institutionally discriminate against a group for decades, where you inhibit their access to education, healthcare, jobs, wealth, etc. and then one day you decide i will no longer discriminate, but everybody is now considered on an even playing field, without any consideration to the long term damage done to the group you discriminated against for decades. so now you are not discriminating explicitly, but implicitly discriminating because of the gap that was intentionally created during the period of discrimination. it is not fair to withhold quality education from a population, and then say i will no longer directly withhold this education, but in order to attend school you need to perform at a level required of a quality education. you cannot ignore the historical damage that has been done.

        3. noneconomist

          Ed, admission to any UC is weighted by resident/non resident criteria. A few years ago, the number of non residents had increased while resident admissions were down. One reason? Non residents pay much heftier fees for tuition, et. al. (close to $30,000/year more) than residents. There has been discussion of a 20% cap on non residents, including those from foreign countries.
          In short, however, non residents are money makers for both the UC and CSU systems.
          Any casual stroll around any UC campus would remove any doubts–or should–about potential discrimination.

          1. Ed Hanson


            Sorry, are you saying that Asian descent discrimination is because although they have lived their lives in California, they really are nonresidents. I had no idea that racial bias was that deep in California, after all, Menzie got his degree.

          2. noneconomist

            No, Ed. “Asians who have lived their lives in California” are US citizens and California residents. That would be the case for anyone who has l”lived their lives” here. Anyone who has “lived their lives here” would pay resident tuition.
            Anyone wanting to attend any UC campus has to qualify for admission. FYI, I didn’t attend a UC —way back when—because I didn’t qualify for admission, and I’m as white as any Appalachian transplant could be.
            Approximately 15% of California residents are “Asian” or of Asian descent according to Census data, a number equal to the entire state of Colorado.
            For someone who thinks he knows so much about discrimination in the UC system, you’re woefully misinformed . Is that on purpose?

    2. pgl

      California discriminates against Asian? You are directly contradicting the serial BS from your good buddy PeakNazi. Of course both of you have no clue.

      1. noneconomist

        That would explain why the legislature includes assembly and state senate members who are Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Cambodian and Vietnamese Americans.
        Forgive me. I just mailed in my ballot with votes for John Chaing (governor) , Fiona Ma (treasurer) , and Betty Yee (controller), Likely, my Scots Irish ancestors are rolling over in their graves.

  5. pgl

    I didn’t slap anyone around but we did lose a valuable employee. But what you know – you are failed banker. I guess ripping off credit card holders was too hard for you. BTW – I work with people from Eastern Europe and Russia too. I’d work with anyone with talent – but that excludes PeakNazi. Sorry dude.

  6. noneconomist

    Personally, I will not be satisfied with anything less that what Trump promised in the campaign: a 35 ft. high wall, constructed with modular concrete panels. high paying jobs featuring our best union work forces: Teamsters, Operating Engineers, Laborers ($35/hr. + benefits). et. al. All paid for by Mexico, not with one dime from the US Treasury.
    Given court challenges and likely eminent domain cases, a likely start date will be between 2020 and 2022. If then. Completion date, if all goes well, should be in the late 20’s, early 30’s when inflation will have driven up costs considerably. I can’t imagine the Arizona and New Mexico deserts getting much hotter, but you never know. Who can’t work easily in 110 degree heat for two to three months a year?
    Pertinent question: will the President still be around to see his handiwork completed? If you believe he will, put your money on Cleveland to sweep the Warriors in four.

    1. pgl

      Trump may not survive much longer but the real danger is having Pence as President. Of course Pence may be the next Gerald Ford. Serve a couple of years and get creamed in the 2020 elections.

  7. pgl

    Menzie – you noted you graduated from UC Berkeley. I spent a year in Berkeley so I should know who teaches international finance as well as international macro there but I don’t. Who did you study under?

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      pgl: Back then (1985-1991), it was Jeffrey Frankel, Richard Meese, Barry Eichengreen, Andy Rose, with Kenneth Rogoff coming in toward the end. I didn’t have an opportunity to take a class with Maury Obstfeld who joined in my last year.

  8. dwb

    Unfortunately, Obrador is running ahead in Mexican Presidential election.

    He has promised to roll back liberalization of Mexico’s markets. If he succeeds, the number of refugees will be enormous, and rival Venezuela.

    Unfortunately, if he wins, and succeeds rolling back reforms, I see a 30ft wall getting bipartisan support by 2020 due to the refugees, because Latin America seems to be slipping backwards towards socialism.

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