Wisconsin Employment Down

From Wisconsin DWD this afternoon:

[T]he data shows that Wisconsin total non-farm jobs decreased by 14,700 and 2,700 private-sector jobs in the month of October.
Wisconsin’s unemployment rate for October was 5.7 percent, up from 5.4 percent in September.

To me this is a surprising outcome — surprising not because of the decline, but because it came earlier than I anticipated, particularly given the fact that employment continued to grow nationwide. Both establishment survey and household survey data indicate a decline:

Figure 1: Wisconsin nonfarm payroll employment from establishment survey (black), and civilian employment from household survey (red), both in 000’s, s.a., both on log scale. Source: BLS, DWD.

Up to now, September, Wisconsin data had tracked the US data, at least insofar as aggregate establishment data was concerned. That relationship broke down in October. Using a log-first differences specification of Wisconsin NFP on US NFP, 1990-2020M09 (September vintage, released in October), I forecasted:

Figure 2: Wisconsin nonfarm payroll employment, October release (black), forecasted based on September release data (see text) (red), and 95% prediction interval (gray lines), 000’s, s.a., all on log scale. Source: BLS, DWD, author’s calculations.

The methodology is described in greater detail in this post.

The actual came out far below the 95% prediction interval. Same is true for private NFP.

Figure 3: Wisconsin private nonfarm payroll employment, October release (black), forecasted based on September release data (see text) (red), and 95% prediction interval (gray lines), 000’s, s.a., all on log scale. Source: BLS, DWD, author’s calculations.

What factors drove this surprising result? Some hint is given by the sectoral location of the job losses: contact intensive sectors, like accommodation and food services, and government employment, particularly at state and local levels. This is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 4: Wisconsin employment in accommodation and foods services (blue), in government (green) and in manufacturing (brown), 000’s, s.a., all on log scale. Source: BLS, DWD, author’s calculations.

Goods producing based employment continues to rise, while services continue to trend sideways, or decline, at a level far below NBER peak (February 2020) levels. Accommodations and food services employment levels are 25% below peak.

The usual caveats apply: don’t put too much weight on one month’s worth of data, particularly if you want to infer a trend. The data — especially household survey based data — are likely to be revised noticeably. However, as it is, the report confirms the slowdown in the Wisconsin economy. In the absence of Federal action to support state and local government budgets, and Wisconsin legislative paralysis (or is it sloth), it is hard to see a resurgence in growth as infection, hospitalization, and fatality rates continue to climb.

Figure 5: Wisconsin Covid-19 related current hospitalization rates (blue, left scale), and 7 day moving average of fatalities (brown, right scale). Source: Covid Tracking Project, accessed 11/19/2020.

Some additional discussion on Wisconsin Public Radio today.

125 thoughts on “Wisconsin Employment Down

  1. Moses Herzog

    My usual knee jerk kick at the dark would be that possibly Wisconsin’s food services sector (and/or service economy in general) is a much higher percentage of their economy than it is for the national economy??

    My other swing into the darkness would be that Wisconsin’s state level Republican legislature has made the pandemic have a deeper impact on economic numbers, however hard Tony Evers has “fought the good fight”.

    What kills both of these theories is I’m certain Menzie had already accounted for these things if they were indeed the case.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      Moses Herzog: Accommodations & food services accounted for 8% of total WI NFP employment at February 2020, while that category accounted for 9.4% of US NFP employment.

      1. Moses Herzog

        Wow, count me in the surprised category on that one. Would not have guessed that. Going to be interesting to see if a reason can be pinpointed on the difference between state and national on NFP. Maybe time will unveil something, or it is possible it’s some kind of “stochastic” thing.

          1. Moses Herzog

            @ pgl
            Even I have my limits. sewage back-up dripping down the side of a man’s face. People could be eating while they’re reading this blog. I suppose QAnon will be telling us the feces run off from Giulianias’ brain is an indication of superhuman brain activity. sammy or Bruce Hall must have a rumor they heard on Alex Jones about this. Which commenter on here used to own the restaurant?? Is he going to higher Giuliania and let him use that run-off on the side of his face as a shrimp sauce or how were they going to explain this new “conservative” fashion piece??

  2. JohnH

    Kuttner: “ Yesterday, I reported that Bruce Reed, one of Biden’s top campaign advisers and his most conservative, has not yet been named to a White House job. As I wrote, he is an extreme deficit hawk.

    I’ve since learned that Reed is being promoted to head the powerful Office of Management and Budget (OMB). That would be a match made in hell, given the need for extensive deficit spending.”

    There is a lot of wishful thinking that the former deficit hawks now leading Democrats in Washington have somehow become changed their stripes. That is far from certain. I have expressed my doubts in no uncertain terms.

    The less pressure Biden feels from the Left, and the more they go to sleep, trying to blame everything on Republicans, like they did under Obama, the more likely we’ll have a long, long period of elevated levels of high unemployment and stagnant incomes, accompanied by worker suffering and resentment…precisely the formula Mitch McConnell wants in order to pin the blame on Biden, destroy Democrats in 2022, and pave the way for Trump 2.0 in 2024.

    1. pgl

      Federal debt/GDP has reached 136% and will continue to rise especially if Biden has his way. Yes he is calling for the Heroes Act as well as a lot of Federal revenue sharing now. It is the right thing to do even if Sec. of Treas. Mnuchin wants to massively scale back on Federal relief (is Herbert Hoover his boss).

      Now there used to be some dude over at EV named JohnH that freaked out over the government/debt ratio for Japan. Many of us including Paul Krugman noted what those deficit hawk concerns were misplaced. Our host has lately noted similar reasons why the sky is not falling down with respect to fiscal stimulus now when we truly need it.

      It is good that this JohnH is not acting like that other JohnH.

      1. JohnH

        Funny!!! pgl has created this straw man in his head, given him all sorts of weird and conflicting characteristics, and named him after me!

        But I trust other commenters to read my comments and make up their own minds.

        As a recovering Democrat, I have a deep and abiding distrust of Democrats, though I like Republicans even less.

        And so there is bound to be conflict, because pgl hates no one more than someone who does not fully embrace the Democratic Party line, lock, stock, and barrel, including the overarching imperative to blame anything and everything on Republicans. And he will go so far as to impugn that person’s motives, insult him liberally, and even make up wild and crazy stuff…kind of like Trump! Cancel culture at its finest!

        I actually voted for Obama in 2008, based on his slick rhetoric. But he lost me as soon as he made an abrupt right turn upon assuming the presidency, cutting off the grass roots organization that he cynically used to win.

        Anyway you can look forward to lots of nonsense about me from pgl. But now you know where I’m coming from.

        1. Menzie Chinn Post author

          JohnH: Remembering Will Rogers’ description of the Democratic Party, I wonder what exactly is the Democratic Party lock-stock-barrel line when it comes to economics?

          1. JohnH

            Good question. You have to have the highest security clearance to know…not that that stops partisan hacks from defending what they imagine it to be.

          2. Menzie Chinn Post author

            JohnH: Seriously — as someone who has served in a civil-servant/non-policy level role in a Democratic administration — I am curious what the Democratic Party line is. On trade, e.g., is it anti-protectionist, is it old-fashioned pro-protectionist, is it TPP-ist, is it wreck-the-WTO-ist?

          3. Moses Herzog

            You’re not saying “ultra-intelligent” Pelosi hasn’t been clear on these things are you?? Maybe she was too busy eating premium ice cream on national TV during an economic downturn to hold effective press conferences holding Republicans’ feet to the fire?? Say vs AOC, Bernie, Ilhan Omar, etc?? Sorry Menzie, you know I couldn’t resist neurotically ripping off that hanging chad. If your comment is more aimed at Biden—then this is one of the rare times I would defend him. If it took being mealy-mouthed to beat the Orange Abomination—-then so be it.

            If it was my call, you (Prof Chinn) would have been involved in a high ranking type job (the Ron Klain version of economic adviser, and an economics team whose names would speak for themselves). Ted Kaufman??? Ben Harris?? What are we to take from those names??? Good luck. NO word on Susan Rice as Secretary of State?? (military/diplomatic strength effects things such as government bond rates, etc) There’s not much signaling here right now–that’s all I can say.

          4. JohnH

            I agree. Worse yet, Democrats have not been able to craft any kind of credible, coherent and compelling economic message. At least a decade ago, we had clear evidence that the leadership consisted of deficit hawks.

            Now who knows. Is support for the Heroes Act by former deficit hawks just partisan posturing or did they have an epiphany? We’ll probably never know, because they botched the election, and Mitch McConnell is the gatekeeper.

          5. Menzie Chinn Post author

            JohnH: But you haven’t answered my question: what *is* the Democratic Party line, since you say pgl is defending it hook, link & sinker? How can he be defending something that none of us know?

          6. JohnH

            OK. A couple examples. When I criticized Obama for putting Social Security on the table, he defended Obama, saying that it never happened, even though the information was in the public record.

            And when I criticized Obama for having introduced an austerity budget in 2011, he also claimed that that never happened, even though Krugman had been clearly upset about it when Obama did it.

            I don’t keep track of every single instance that I criticized Obama’s economic policies or pgl’s defenses, although I do believe that trade agreements should have included more protections and redress for workers, the environment, etc. And proponents should have been more upfront and honest about the extent of profiteering and tax avoidance that they allowed. For this I was probably called a protectionist.

            And now, I expect him to deny that he did either of those things.

        2. pgl

          Was black hair dye running along your face as you typed that long winded lot of babble? I guess it is the same old JohnH that cannot own up to what he wrote in the past!

        3. pgl

          “But now you know where I’m coming from.”

          Yep – Cameron fiscal austerity good. Japanese fiscal hawks good. Anything Obama bad, bad. And of course we also know you are all for a gold standard so you must want Judy Shelton on the FED!

        4. Moses Herzog

          What I notice about you thus far JohnH, is you have a strange habit of contradicting yourself in very short order. Just recently you stated that pgl only liked “watered down” Democrats (my paraphrase of your words, but a pretty close facsimile) who tilted a bit to the right. Now you are saying pgl is only embracing the party line. You could conceivably make one of these two arguments, but not both. Unless you’re saying the current DNC is a far cry from the traditional Lyndon Johnson FDR traditional flavor, which I doubt that’s the argument you’re aiming at.

          You carry “no baggage” with me from your time on Thoma’s side, as I appreciated Thoma’s site, but was not a religious consumer of it like I am Chinn and Hamilton’s site, and Kwak’s and Johnson’s old site, along with a relatively small handful of others. I don’t have a full judgement of you as yet, as for lack of better description. your comments in this thread amount to roughly “our 3rd date”. But I think if you don’t move away from the “I’m here just to poke the bear” theme, I’m losing interest in your thoughts very quickly.

          1. JohnH

            OK Moses. Here’s an example. When Bernie proposed his healthcare plan along with a way to pay for it, Hillary, Krugman, and the party establishment went after Bernie with a vengeance. pgl sided with the party establishment, who proposed a water down plan, which was probably mostly posturing. However, many other highly regarded economists such as Jamie Galbraith concluded that Bernie’s plan was sound and serious. But their was no end to the insults and mockery from pgl who could not entertain the notion that Bernie’s plan could have been serious or that there were any serious, highly regarded economists who would dare support such nonsense.

            In effect, pgl was part of the Democratic Party echo chamber trying to cancel out any serious look at Bernie’s healthcare plan in favor of Hillary and her watered down stuff.

            Oh, but he’ll probably deny any of that, too.

          2. Moses Herzog

            I think we can solve a large part of the mystery of JohnH here with one question which basically has an either/or answer. Are you pro- or anti- gold standard??

          3. pgl

            JohnH is claiming Social Security was cut under Obama. Maybe Obama was willing to talk about certain changes to the system such as increasing taxes paid by rather rich workers but excuse me – what were those benefit cuts? Answer – there were none. JohnH is a liar. And yea – he flip flops more than a pancake chef.

          4. pgl

            November 21, 2020 at 8:15 am
            I am anti gold standard. It baffles me how pgl ever came up with that nonsense.”

            Either this troll has a short memory or there are two JohnH’s. He went on and on and on over at EV that when the US was on the gold standard we had high growth. Now his data was a joke and he tended to cherry picks periods when we had just come off of a depression. But then he still cherry picks data that would make our Usual Suspects blush.

            Now I might call this troll a liar but seriously he is so incredibly stupid that maybe he does not remember defending the gold standard or Cameron’s stupid fiscal austerity.

            As far as MY views on Social Security, there is a long history of me discussing its long term vitality over at Angrybear. But of course I used basic financial economics to rebut the cut benefits BS so I would not expect a mental midget like JohnH to understand what I wrote.

          5. JohnH

            OK. Here’s a perfect example of how pgl lies: “ JohnH is claiming Social Security was cut under Obama.”

            What I actually said was that Obama put Social Security on the table. And that pgl denied that he had done that.

            This is the kind of BS that pgl propagates all the time. Reminiscent of Trump anyone?

          6. JohnH

            I challenge pgl to find a single instance where I supported the gold standard…anywhere…ever.

            Keeping track of pgl’s lies could become a full tie job.

  3. ltr

    November 19, 2020



    Cases   ( 12,070,712)
    Deaths   ( 258,333)


    Cases   ( 9,004,325)
    Deaths   ( 132,202)


    Cases   ( 2,086,288)
    Deaths   ( 47,127)


    Cases   ( 1,453,256)
    Deaths   ( 53,775)


    Cases   ( 1,015,071)
    Deaths   ( 99,528)


    Cases   ( 878,209)
    Deaths   ( 13,788)


    Cases   ( 315,754)
    Deaths   ( 11,265)


    Cases   ( 86,381)
    Deaths   ( 4,634)

  4. ltr

    November 19, 2020

    Coronavirus   (Deaths per million)

    UK   ( 791)
    US   ( 779)
    Mexico   ( 769)
    France   ( 721)

    Canada   ( 297)
    Germany   ( 164)
    India   ( 95)
    China   ( 3)

    Notice the ratios of deaths to coronavirus cases are 9.8%, 3.7% and 2.3% for Mexico, the United Kingdom and France respectively.

  5. ltr


    November 20, 2020

    Chinese mainland reports 17 new COVID-19 cases

    The Chinese mainland registered 17 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, all from overseas, the National Health Commission announced on Friday.

    A total of 14 new asymptomatic COVID-19 cases were recorded, while 373 asymptomatic patients remain under medical observation. No COVID-19-related deaths were reported on Thursday, and 20 patients were discharged from hospitals.

    As of Thursday, the total confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 86,398, with 4,634 fatalities.

    Chinese mainland new imported cases


    Chinese mainland new asymptomatic cases


    [ There has been no coronavirus death on the Chinese mainland since May 17.  Since June began there have been 5 limited community clusters of infections, each of which was contained with mass testing, contact tracing and quarantine, with each outbreak ending completely in a few weeks.

    Imported coronavirus cases are caught at entry points with required testing and immediate quarantine.  Asymptomatic cases are all quarantined.  The flow of imported cases to China is low, but has been persistent.

    There are now 311 active coronavirus cases in all on the Chinese mainland, 1 of which cases is classed as serious or critical. ]

  6. ltr

    November 19, 2020

    Coronavirus   (Deaths per million)

    Belgium   ( 1,294)
    Spain   ( 904)
    Italy   ( 792)
    UK   ( 791)

    US   ( 779)
    Mexico   ( 769)
    France   ( 721)
    Sweden   ( 626)

    Netherlands   ( 511)
    Switzerland   ( 447)
    Ireland   ( 405)
    Luxembourg   ( 403)

    Portugal   ( 363)
    Canada   ( 297)
    Austria   ( 234)
    Germany   ( 164)

    Denmark   ( 133)
    Greece   ( 129)
    India   ( 95)
    Finland   ( 67)

    Norway   ( 56)
    Australia   ( 35)
    Japan   ( 15)
    Korea   ( 10)

    China   ( 3)

  7. pgl

    Four years ago Trump not only promised to eliminate deficit spending but also to pay off the Federal debt. How is that working out?


    Of course his Sec. of State is wrestling with the Federal Reserve to massively reduce already existing Federal relief when it is needed the most. WTF is President now – Herbert Hoover’s retarded brother?

  8. ltr


    November 19, 2020

    Making the Most of the Coming Biden Boom
    The economic outlook is probably brighter than you think.
    By Paul Krugman

    The next few months are going to be incredibly grim. The pandemic is exploding, but Donald Trump is tweeting while America burns. His officials, unwilling to admit that he lost the election, are refusing even to share coronavirus data with the Biden team.

    As a result, many preventable deaths will occur before a vaccine’s widespread distribution. And the economy will take a hit, too; travel is declining, an early indicator of a slowdown in job growth and possibly even a return to job losses as virus fears cause consumers to hunker down again.

    But a vaccine is coming. Nobody is sure which of the promising candidates will prevail, or when they’ll be widely available. But it’s a good guess that we’ll get this pandemic under control at some point next year.

    And it’s also a good bet that when we do the economy will come roaring back….

  9. ltr


    November 19, 2020

    The Krugman Boom: Don’t Bank on It
    By Dean Baker

    I have largely been in agreement with Paul Krugman in his assessment of the economy over the last dozen years or so, but I think in his latest column * he let the promise of a post-Trump era get the better of him. Krugman notes that the distribution of effective vaccines should allow people to return to their normal lives.

    He argues that this will lead to a spending boom, as consumers have accumulated savings through the slump and will now be in a position to spend lots of money. As a model he points to the boom in 1983 and 1984 after the Federal Reserve lowered interest rates as a model.

    While I have not been one of the doomsayers predicting economic collapse, I can’t be as optimistic as Paul on this one. First, just to be clear, Krugman does not at all question the need for immediate and substantial stimulus. In the next few months, with the pandemic spreading largely unchecked until vaccines become widely available, millions of people will be thrown out of work as restaurants, bars and other businesses in the service sector are either forced to close or see demand collapse even if they remain open.

    These people will need unemployment benefits, protection from eviction, and other support until the labor market improves. State and local governments will also need massive aid to avoid a further round of layoffs and to provide essential services, including setting guidelines and rules for safe re-openings.

    But getting beyond this period, once the vaccines have allowed us to return to normal, will there be a spending spree? Krugman is right about the state of people’s balance sheets. The people who have stayed employed have been doing well. The government gave them $1,200 checks, many have refinanced mortgages often saving a percentage point or more in annual interest. That’s $2,000 a year for someone with a $200,000 mortgage. And, many have been saving money as a result of not commuting to work, eating out at restaurants, or spending on other services.

    Still, I don’t see this as a 1983-84 type spending boom for the simple reason that the sectors that drove that boom, housing and car buying, have not been depressed. The boom in those years followed large contractions in home buying and construction, as well as car buying, which were the result of the Fed’s high interest rate policy.

    At the trough of the recession in the third quarter of 1982, residential construction was down more than 40 percent from its peak in 1979. New car sales were down by more than 15 percent. The recovery was driven by the reversal of these drops. By the second quarter of 1984, residential construction was up almost 70 percent from its level of two years earlier. New car sales were almost 50 percent higher than they were in 1981. This was the basis of the 1980s boom.

    We can’t tell any comparable story today. Both housing and car sales have done very well through this downturn. Residential construction in the most recent quarter was actually more than 5 percent higher than in the fourth quarter of 2019. Car sales were almost 8.0 percent higher. Clearly there is no basis for expecting a boom based on pent-up demand in these sectors.

    The question is whether we should expect a huge boom in other consumption spending. That doesn’t seem likely to me. We will see people return to restaurants, but do we think they will be eating meals out every night? People will go to gyms and movies again, but this will not create the sort of boom we had in 1983 and 1984. If you look at the various categories of consumption spending, it’s very hard to see anything like the booms in housing and car buying we had after the 1981-82 recession.

    So what’s my story? I see many of the changes forced by the pandemic as being permanent. First and foremost, many of the people who were forced to work from home will continue to work from home. Some may move away from the cities where they are working. (We are already seeing this.) We are also likely to see less business travel as meetings and conferences are held over Zoom. We’ll see more telemedicine and, hitting close to home, less in-person classes in colleges and universities.

    In many ways this is great news. People will save hundreds of hours a year on commuting. We will also see large reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by eliminating unnecessary travel. (This will be recorded as a drop in GDP, which is yet another case where GDP is not a good measure of well-being. In effect, we are eliminating work-related expenses that provide little welfare to anyone. I discuss this issue more here. ** ) …

    * https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/19/opinion/joe-biden-economy.html

    ** https://cepr.net/more-thought-on-the-post-pandemic-economy/

    1. macroduck

      The disagreement between Krugman and Baker may end up being resolved by the distribution of damages from the pandemic. If small business entrepreneurs have suffered a loss of resources while employed households have increased saving, where does the spending boom go? Restaurants and recreational venues that have gone out of business may have a hard time coming back. That’s a sector in where demand seems likely to pick up, but where’s the supply?

      The textbook says the bulge in household saving will find its way to where it’s needed, but the textbook describes a “frictionless” world. In reality, small entrepreneurs have a devil of a time borrowing through formal credit channels.

      I will admit to a biased view here. I don’t eat at chain restaurants, so I may underestimate the potential for a rebound in bad food away from home. I do think, though, that access to credit is a big factor in the increase in concentration in the economy, a factor which is exacerbated by cyclical swings. The small end of he economy has been damaged most by the pandemic and will have the hardest time coming back. If Krugman is right, it is likely to mean increased concentration and reduced competition.

      1. Moses Herzog

        I am a very cheap person, and also share living space with a high risk person. Tonight I had 6 (small) sliced avocado ladled with off-brand salsa because the avocado were about to turn bad. Is this bad food at home or dinner of champions??? **No alcohol was available to supplement the food partakings if this effects categorization results.

          1. Moses Herzog

            Nope, not an “Uber kind of guy”. If it’s helpful to people whose economical value of time is higher than mine though, then I’m all for it. For me on an individual level though it seems a bit lavished and spoiled. But I can see why high income people can justify the cost.

            I do like that Stewart/Hamill commercial and the new HULU commercial with Baker Mayfield, and the Rick and Morty Pringles ad. In fact, to show you how easily manipulated I am, I have been thinking of getting two cans of Pringles just because of that advert.

      2. Moses Herzog

        @ macroduck
        That’s what I keep thinking about. Because I’m not seeing March. I think March is a ridiculous time frame for the vaccine to be available on a mass scale. I’ve said for a long time I don’t see any earlier than July-August. Do people have any idea how many restaurants in urban and suburban areas do not own their own land?? I don’t know the percentages, but it’s pretty damned rare anymore to find restaurants that don’t lease their property. So if you have social distancing rules inside restaurants where tables are 6+ feet apart and people like me eating at home 85%+ of the time, how the hell are they gonna make those lease payments between now and July??? Krugman thinks those jobs are coming back in the blink of an eye?? I mean, I agree with Krugman the vast majority of the time, but I’m not sure he’s registering the drastic increase in permanent unemployment here. These people don’t sit around opining on imaginary “V-shaped” recoveries that never happen because they need their ego stroked they were the first ones to say it, or brag they saw a “dead cat bounce” in retail numbers for May. They actually do things that increase a nation’s production possibilities frontier. There are going to be many places sitting vacant. And they aren’t “ready and raring to go” to put the store sign back up after they lost 75%+ of their personal net worth making lease payments on a place with empty chairs and grubhub and uber eats siphoning off profit margins.

        In short, I think this “Biden Boom” column is one of the worst columns Krugman has EVER written, and I’m generally a big fan of his. So take that for whatever it’s worth.

        1. Barkley Rosser


          There you go again spouting garbage that has been repeatedly discredited.

          Firsr, of course, is “v-shaped recoveries that never happened.” Large numbers of people here have agreed that the bounceback (I am avoiding “recovery” because this term is undefined, but Not Trampis thinks it means two quarters of positive growth) looked like a V. The only person not to agree with that is indeed the now-hiding-in-the-Outback Not Trampis, who did not cite you, Moses, but an unnamed dictionary. He actually did not dispute that the bounceback was going up at near the rate the decline was. Rather he seemed to be bothered that the flattening, the end of the rapid bounceback, which I did indeed forecast, much as you ridicule that, happened too soon. He insists it cannot be a V unless the top points are precisely (or nearly so) at the same level. I completely agree the flattening came before there had been a “full recovery,” but to most of us it looked like a V until it flattened, as I accurately said it would.

          I note that I have challenged Not Trampis to tell us just just exactly how far from a “perfect V” the pattern can deviate and still be considered a V. Is a billionth deviation already too much? How about 1 percent? He has not done us the honour of responding to this inquiry, I suppose considering it beneath his dignity, which seems to involve a lot of making up “yanks vs Ozzies” arguments that are not really those at all.

          The other nonsense is dragging in the supposed “dead cat bounce” in consumption in May you have touted on occasion. I shall remind you that Menzie himself corrected you on that garbage with the fact that consumption growth in the US in May was in fact at an all time record rare, as I had accurately said, and it continued growing very rapidly for several more month s as that V recovery continued until the flattening happened that I forecast and Manzie notes has arrived.

          And since you are repeatring stupid lies you like to spout, I remind you that you have been challenged to put up or shupt up about your own still secret forecast about what the second quarter pattern would look like. You have not put up, and clearly you are not shutting up either, rather actiing like Trump again, just repeating lies you have told us many times yet again.

          Seriouslyi disgusting, you are, Moses, seriously disgusting.

          1. Moses Herzog

            Grandma, don’t be so grumpy. Just because your “dead cat bounce” May retail consumption numbers only got you excited [edited MDC] for a very abbreviated time doesn’t mean “it’s all over” for you. And your 2nd quarter GDP estimate being 25%+ off was only a minor setback in respect your students had for you, considering the origination starting point beforehand. These people have given you some inspiring hope in the link below. Hang in there Blanche Devereaux, your fire still burns:

          2. Barkley Rosser


            This comment is getting nearly as wacko as your horrendous meltdown the weekend, which I would have preferred to ignore. But now you are heading in that direction in terms of complete lunatic incoherence, utterly beneath contempt.

            As already noted, seriously disgusting.

            Menzie is tolerant, so I guess he will allow you to spout this drivel further, even though you have not put up and do not shut up. But everybody here knows what you are.

        2. macroduck

          Too much emphasis is being put on vaccines, no matter when they are generally available and how well they work. Vaccines are nice and all, but not a panecea. Masks, distancing, hygiene – those remain the key public health tools against Covid. Big disappointment coming, no matter how the roll-out goes.

  10. macroduck

    Menzie, do you know whether seasonal swings are larger than average for Wisconsin employment in September? The big, diverse aggregate number (U.S employment), where variation in components is more likely to be offsetting, kept going up. The smaller, less diverse aggregate (Wisconsin employment) fell. Seems there would be reasonable odds the drop is merely idiosyncratic.

    Weather, government policy, sports attendance all have a greater chance to create idiosyncratic swings in state data.

    1. Menzie Chinn Post author

      macroduck: I don’t have any good feeling for this. The fact that similar outcomes did not pop up in nearby states (including e.g., Minnesota), and the fact that y/y on NSA changes and y/y SA tells me application of legacy seasonals is not the key issue. By the way, leisure/hospitality went up in Minnesota, down in Wisconsin…

    2. Moses Herzog

      OK, this is probably grasping at straws, but is there a chance it’s cultural?? Is it possible to look at state level NFP (Minnesota and Wisconsin) during a comparable time frame after the 2007–2008 economic downturn?? Yes, a virus pandemic is different, but how do the two states react in spending patterns when they realize income security is lower?? Generally are Wisconsinites less apt to spend than Minnesotans when income has dropped precipitously??

  11. ltr

    Looking to the Chinese economic recovery, to Harvard’s https://tracktherecovery.org/ and Lewis-Mertens-Stock Index and to my fortunate neighborhood, I wonder whether Paul Krugman has failed to notice the structural changes that have already taken place and strike me as not readily reversed.  Consumer spending in high income communities as of November 8 was down 8.2% from January.  Small business revenue in these communities was down 38.2% on November 9.  Neighbors are living differently and seemingly planning on continuing to do so in seemingly important ways.  Shopping for instance is decidedly online, and the online experience is from all I can tell too pleasing to just end.

    1. pgl

      Mnuchin has always struck me as the kid whose daddy got him a job with Goldman Sachs but also rather yukky looks. But Stevie figured out money can land him with a hot gold digger wife. So yea – he has used his office to line the pockets of himself and his other ugly and corrupt buddies.

    2. pgl

      “The top job at the National Economic Council could go to BEN HARRIS (one of the closest economic advisers to Biden), GENE SPERLING (who served in both the Clinton and Obama administrations in the that post) or JARED BERNSTEIN, who could also easily land at the Council of Economic Advisers or as a senior adviser in the White House.”

      Ben Harris is a smart fellow. Gene is a Clinton loyalist but somewhat progressive. The real progressive here is Jared Bernstein. Shhh – don’t rile JohnH as he thinks Biden only talks to rightwing clowns.

      1. JohnH

        Interesting that Jared Bernstein is also worried about the deficit hawks. In a thinly veiled warning entitled, “The return of austerity politics,” he writes:

        “We must help politicians with austere muscle memory understand these new dynamics. Here again, that’s not just an economic argument; it’s a political one. If conservatives ignore austerity when they’re in power but Democrats embrace it when they take control, then conservatives will consistently meet the demands of their constituents in the donor class while Democrats consistently fail to meet the needs of their constituents.

        That is a not just a recipe for facilitating reckless fiscal policy and wasteful debt. It’s also a recipe for losing progressive support and political power — something no Democrat should want.”

        Now which Democrats might Bernstein think have “austere muscle memory?” At this point would he be thinking about the rank and file, or those in the leadership who have a track record of being deficits and who are about ready to make appointments to policy positions. My guess is that it would be the leadership: Biden, Schumer, and Pelosi.

        In any case, this has been overtaken by events, since Democrats botched the election, and Mitch McConnell is now the hurdle.

        1. 2slugbaits

          JohnH I don’t understand your point. Are you trying to tell us that the Democrats would have done better in the House and won the Senate if they had pushed for a more progressive platform? That seems highly unlikely since the states and districts they lost tended to have the least progressive electorate. The Democrats didn’t have any problems motivating voters. The problem is that the GOP had even less of a problem motivating their voters thanks to their ability to paint every Democrat as a clueless lackey of “the Squad” and Bernie and Venezuela. Biden won Georgia, but the two Democratic Senate candidates that ran to his left did not do nearly as well. That should tell you something. Voters are nitwits. Most voters lean conservative, especially when it comes to economics. You just have to learn to deal with it. A half a loaf is better than no loaf, but so is a quarter of a loaf, and oftentimes that’s the best you can get.

          It’s also a recipe for losing progressive support and political power — something no Democrat should want.

          And sitting out the 2022 election will make things better? My advice is to paraphrase Max Planck: politics advances funeral by funeral.

          1. JohnH

            Biden won in large part because of strenuous efforts made by Stacy Abrams in Georgia, Rashida Tlaib in Detroit, and other grass roots organizers in Arizona, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia. Democratic voters were not “easily” motivated. It took a lot of hard work.

            Now if Biden follows his proven instincts and turns to austerity politics as Obama did, what will these voters do? After all, it would be clear that Democrats are tone deaf to voters but highly solicitous to the donor class. Personally, if Biden caters mostly to the donor class, I hope that people vote third party, as I do, because it will be totally obvious that neither party cares about voters, except to delude them every four years. Voters need to rebel, not by being apathetic, but by voting for anyone but the two evils.

            I think that Bernstein recognizes what the Democratic establishment won’t: ignoring and flaunting their voting constituents will lead to loss of political power, something Hillary learned the hard way after ignoring Wisconsin, Michigan and the grievances of Rust Belt workers generally.

          2. pgl

            “Biden won in large part because of strenuous efforts made by Stacy Abrams in Georgia, Rashida Tlaib in Detroit, and other grass roots organizers in Arizona, Milwaukee, and Philadelphia. Democratic voters were not “easily” motivated. It took a lot of hard work.”

            This was JohnH’s reply to your excellent analysis? Look I have a ton of respect for Stacy Abrams but the citizens in my home town (Atlanta) turned out for Biden because Trump is a flaming racist. The Cubans in south Florida turned out for the lying scum Trump because of all the SOCIALISM ads run by the Republicans.

            Now JohnH knows this (assuming he is not even more dumb than I give him credit for) but he is not going to admit this. Get used to the nonsense, the dodging, and the duplicity. It is what JohnH does.

          3. 2slugbaits

            JohnH Stacy Abrams did indeed motivate people to vote for Biden, but she was unable to motivate people to vote for any other Democrat on the ticket. Rashida Tlaib may well have motivated voters in Detroit, but she also motivated rural voters to vote against Democrats in otherwise winnable Senate and Congressional races. If you lived in a battleground state you would have seen her image right alongside Bernie’s and AOC’s and Hugo Chavez’s along with scary words about socialism. You would have seen out-of-control rioters burning buildings and threatening the womanfolk with rape and pillage. The woke movement on the left didn’t just awaken comrades-in-arms, it also awakened the living dead on the far right.

            As to voting third party, all I can say is grow up. You should have learned you lesson after the 2000 election if you hadn’t already learned it after 1980. Is there anyone stupid enough to believe that there’s no difference between Biden and Trump?

            You talk a lot about the obligations of politicians to understand the needs of constituents. Well, how about keeping in mind that a constituent isn’t just the person who voted for you, it’s also the person who voted against you? That person’s wishes have to be respected as well. Trump appears to be the only politician who temporarily enjoyed the luxury of living in a solipsistic world in which he could ignore the objective world. You appear to be advocating that Biden adopt that same solipsistic approach to politics. You as a voter also have an obligation to recognize the objective limits that a politician faces.

            In the current environment I am hardly a deficit hawk. And I do think the government cut spending too quickly under Obama. But I frankly doubt that any other Democrat could have done any better as long as Mitch McConnell made sabotaging the economy under Obama his first priority. I would have liked to have seen a much bigger stimulus package in early 2009, but the Democrats only had 59 votes (recall that Al Franken’s election had not been certified) and some of those Democrats were deficit hawks. Biden will do a better job of managing the COVID pandemic. He will reverse most of Trump’s egregious executive orders. He will improve our standing in the world. He will at least prevent further tax cuts for the rich and might even get the IRS to do more audits of the rich. Please don’t tell us we should waste our votes on Don Quixote third party candidates. It’s been my experience that the only people who think that way are people whose lives are comfortable enough that a little bad government under the Republicans won’t hurt them too much. They have the luxury of solipsism.

          4. JohnH

            2slugbaits: “As to voting third party, all I can say is grow up.” I resent that comment.

            First, let me point out that 5 million Biden votes could have switched to third party in California without affecting the outcome. The dirty secret is that your vote doesn’t really matter except possibly in battleground states—a handful. Nobody really cares about the popular vote. I have voted for third party candidates all but once in the last 25 years (and regretted it almost immediately. My vote never changed the outcome.

            Now imagine what a signal it would send to the two evils if a third party candidate came within striking distance of a win in California: the two evils might have to start taking notice of voter concerns, not just coddle corporations and the wealthy. At present I see no other way to get political parties to act in the common good, not the special interest. More competition is good.

            Second, I assume you studied economics since you are at this blog. You know the cost of monopoly and oligopoly. Most of those costs can be found in a political duopoly, particularly poor responsiveness to voters’ wants and needs. Part of the solution is to do away with duopoly and allow candidates to put more issues on the table. Though this happens a bit in the primaries, the duopoly is very good at selecting and promoting only those people who toe the party line, stifling real choice and limiting debate on issues that might inconvenience the donor class. Why else do you think that healthcare for all is politically impossible despite support by 70% of voters? Duopoly is committed to a system that is inefficient and inaccessible to tens of millions of Americans.

            If this were a real democracy, voters wants and needs would be addressed. Under a duopoly they are ignored.

          5. Menzie Chinn Post author

            JohnH: Third party (Jill Stein/Green) gave us Trump; third party (Nader) gave us G.W. Bush. I say the stakes are too high for ideological purtiy.

          6. Moses Herzog

            @ Menzie
            Would you be ready to confess Sanders helped to change both HIllary’s and Biden’s platform, however fake and phony those platforms were?? Showing the electorate that if they ASK for things that they CANget them?? Another question….. Who moved closer to Bernie as their campaigns wore on, BIden or HIllary??~~~immediately following question: Who won their election??

            CHEAT SHEET ANSWERS: Biden and Biden

          7. noneconomist

            JohnH, you’re making plenty of California assumptions that don’t hold up.
            First, there are plenty of moderate Democrats as well as progressives. Witness the recent election where three initiatives favored by progressives were defeated. (Props. 15, 16, and 25; i.e., split roll property tax assessment, re=establishing affirmative action, eliminating cash bail). Same voters preferred Biden by almost 2-1.
            That after the primary where Biden, Bloomberg, and other moderates in total outpolled Sanders and Warren.
            Then remember the vote to eliminate the death penalty in 2016 when HC topped Trump by well over 30%, but the initiative to repeal to capital punishment failed by 7%.
            No less an expert than former Assembly Speaker/SF mayor Willie Brown has noted the current ideological battle in the legislature is most notable between moderate and progressive Democrats with most Republicans still happily stuck in 1958.
            A California third party would not solve anything except perhaps aid Republicans in marshaling their 25% support into election run offs.

        2. pgl

          The two Senate races in Georgia are not going to be held until the New Year. So you still have time to contribute to that QAnon chicks. Your kind of girl.

        3. Moses Herzog

          @ Menzie
          Another question: Which candidate was the dumb-a$$ wandering around where the northeast and midwest manufacturing base used to exist, screaming at the top of her lungs “Bill and I gave you NAFTA everyone!!!! Hey, everyone!!! Remember those jobs you used to have BEFORE NAFTA!?!?!?! That was me and Bill!!!! Bill and I gave you NAFTA!!! That was Bill and I everyone!!!!!” Which dumb-a$$ “campaigner” was saying that in 2016??? Which the F— 2020 candidate saw how 2016 Hillary only got her numbers up AFTER doing “monkey see, monkey do” from Bernie’s platform, decided the “genius” idea of running around the USA manufacturing base (the ones she bothered to visit) saying “I co-authored NAFTA with my hubby Bill everyone!!!!” was NOT F’ing “genius”???

          HINT: Winning Democrat candidate’s family name who didn’t get super-glue in his shorts praising NAFTA on the campaign trail starts with a B. Know any other candidates you like to bad-mouth who knew praising NAFTA in the US manufacturing base was a losing proposition from the get go??? Any names popping up there for you??

    3. pgl

      “Trump team to yank emergency economic support, triggering public Fed dissent
      The Treasury secretary said the programs are no longer needed.”

      I realize Mnuchin works for an utter imbecile but no one in the history of our nation that served as Sec. of State has been THIS FU$KING STUPID. Not even the clowns who advised Herbert Hoover.

      1. macroduck

        Last time a Republican president near the end of his term faced an economic crisis, he handed control over to his Treasury Secretary. TARP was the result, a new program, however flawed.

        This time, they scuttle a lending program, instead. Mnuchin says it’s because the program isn’t being used. It isn’t being used because Treasury told banks not to take any lending risk with program money. Utter duplicity. Mnuchin means to prevent lending under a new Treasury Secretary. Keep the economy crippled once Biden takes office.

        1. macroduck

          By the way, Tennessee has over $700 million in unspent food aid money. Keeping it for a rainy day, I guess.

          Latest news is that the governor has turned food aid into a use-it-or-lose-it proposition. Any aid cards not claimed in 30 days will be returned to the state for destruction, even though the rules o the program make the money available through next year. Tennessee is balancing it’s budget by starving the poor even more than the state legislature wanted, and Tennessee is not generous toward the poor.

  12. pgl

    Having trouble paying your iPhone bill during this downturn? NYC is considering a snitch subsidy (my term for their latest way of raising revenue). Wait a government raising revenue off a subsidy?

    Here’s their idea. If you see someone parking illegally, take a picture and send it to some account run by the city. They fine the driver $200 and then mail you 25% of their take.

    I think this is sort of evil but I’m sure a lot of people will help the city out if it goes down this road. Of course if the driver figures out who snitch on him, things can get ugly.

    1. Moses Herzog

      If I have a photo of de Blasio’s car plate parked in a handicapped zone do I still get my money??

        1. Moses Herzog

          @ pgl
          I’ll make one of my infamous predictions for you, are you ready?? That “snitching subsidy” as you so call it, will never pass or be enacted into law. Why?? Because just what I already stated, it will effect guys like de Blasio and the high income folks you see “at the gym”. And any wagers you’d like to make on that, with a 48 hour time frame to take the bet after Menzie posts this comment, I’m willing to entertain.

  13. pgl

    “Menzie ChinnPost author
    November 20, 2020 at 1:40 pm
    JohnH: But you haven’t answered my question: what *is* the Democratic Party line, since you say pgl is defending it hook, link & sinker? How can he be defending something that none of us know?”

    That is really funny. I could say I’m a genius. But if one follows what I usually write – I rarely defend anything. Attacking the absurd is more my game. And yes – there are a lot of absurd things that come out of our political “leaders” on both sides of the aisle. Then again if you read enough of JohnH’s rants, he is very much the Democrat. For austerity. Against austerity. Wanting more monetary stimulus and a gold bug too! Sort of Trumpian that way!

  14. Moses Herzog

    Has America ever had a better Secretary of State than Madeleine Albright?? (that’s a rhetorical question for the slow folks in the room). Folks, when the incredibly sharp Czech Jew lady in the room says Susan Rice is gold, then Susan Rice is gold. We needn’t go ANY thought thread iterations farther from there:

    Have I mentioned here on this Chinn and Hamilton hosted blog I think that Susan Rice is the best and ONLY choice for Secretary of State?? Come on Biden!!!! Grow a pair and get this lady in the job she was BORN for!!!!!!!

    1. pgl

      I wanted her to be VP. But yea – we need her at State to undo the damage from Mike Jabba the Hut Pompeo.

    2. Barkley Rosser

      Susan Rice is gold? Does this mean that you are the one who believes in the gold standard rather than JohnH, Moses?

      1. pgl

        Come on man. Moses has been clear. Dr. Rice is highly capable and Moses has been noting her creds for a long time. When Uncle Moses is right – he’s right!

        1. Barkley Rosser


          I was trying to be humorous. Both JohnH and Moses have made a number of not very defensible remarks here, so decided to wisecrack on both of them simultaneously.

      2. Moses Herzog

        My thoughts on this from Stan the Man circa 1999. Back in the good ol’ days when you could get FREE hardcopy publications from regional federal reserve banks sent to your snail-mail box.

        ROLNICK: Why don’t we just go back to the gold standard? Some would argue that world economies were more stable under the gold standard. Comments?

        FISCHER: It’s hard to quarrel with nostalgia for what the 19th century must have been like. But there is no good reason to tie the growth of the world’s money supply, and global inflation, to the vagaries of gold production. Nor is there good reason to waste real resources to produce gold for use as money. And there is reason to think we can do better than the gold standard: The United States has certainly done so recently, and the development of the inflation targeting approach to monetary policy suggests most countries will do so in future too. It may be hubris to believe that human beings can do better than depend on the supply of gold, but we certainly should be able to do so, and are doing so now.

        1. pgl

          Stan Fischer – like James Tobin – stuttered. But when either one of these economic titans spoke, you did yourself a favor to listen very carefully.

          I say this as one of my students years ago was put off with Tobin’s stuttering during a presentation. I literally slapped him and said please pay attention as there will be a question on your mid-term based on this excellent lecture.

        2. pgl

          “But there is no good reason to tie the growth of the world’s money supply, and global inflation, to the vagaries of gold production. Nor is there good reason to waste real resources to produce gold for use as money.”

          Stephen Moore would tie the money supply to a basket of iron ore, copper, silver, and gold. Not exactly a better idea. But I’m sure Judy Shelton can cook the data to suggest otherwise.

  15. Moses Herzog


    60 days can be a long time. I know many people were praying that Biden would win the election. Those prayers were answered. We should be appreciative and thankful for those prayers being answered, and remember to say “Thank you” to the God we pray to. Gratitude can be an important part of having prayers and pleas answered. If you believe in prayer, you still have very important “remaining things” to pray about. Pray that the transition goes relatively smoothly. I encourage anyone reading who on a personal level believes in the power of prayer to pray actively and frequently that the transition of power goes as well as can be expected and as best as we, as a largely illiterate and often misguided nation, deserve.

  16. ltr

    November 20, 2020



    Cases   ( 12,274,726)
    Deaths   ( 260,283)


    Cases   ( 9,050,613)
    Deaths   ( 132,764)


    Cases   ( 2,109,170)
    Deaths   ( 48,265)


    Cases   ( 1,473,508)
    Deaths   ( 54,286)


    Cases   ( 1,019,543)
    Deaths   ( 100,104)


    Cases   ( 901,659)
    Deaths   ( 14,076)


    Cases   ( 320,716)
    Deaths   ( 11,334)


    Cases   ( 86,398)
    Deaths   ( 4,634)

  17. ltr

    November 20, 2020

    Coronavirus   (Deaths per million)

    UK   ( 798)
    US   ( 785)
    Mexico   ( 773)
    France   ( 739)

    Canada   ( 299)
    Germany   ( 168)
    India   ( 96)
    China   ( 3)

    Notice the ratios of deaths to coronavirus cases are 9.8%, 3.7% and 2.3% for Mexico, the United Kingdom and France respectively.

  18. ltr


    November 21, 2020

    Chinese mainland reports 16 new COVID-19 cases

    The Chinese mainland registered 16 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, of which 9 cases were from overseas, the National Health Commission announced on Saturday.

    Seven cases were domestically transmitted, with 5 reported in north China’s Tianjin and 2 in Shanghai, the National Health Commission said in its daily report.

    A total of 18 new asymptomatic COVID-19 cases were recorded, while 378 asymptomatic patients remain under medical observation. No COVID-19-related deaths were reported on Friday, and 19 patients were discharged from hospitals.

    As of Friday, the total confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 86,414, with 4,634 fatalities.

    Chinese mainland new imported cases


    Chinese mainland new asymptomatic cases


    [ There has been no coronavirus death on the Chinese mainland since May 17.  Since June began there have been 5 limited community clusters of infections, each of which was contained with mass testing, contact tracing and quarantine, with each outbreak ending completely in a few weeks.

    Six community cases just detected in Tianjin are being immediately followed with mass testing, contact tracing and quarantine used to identify the origin as well as to contain the infections.

    Imported coronavirus cases are caught at entry points with required testing and immediate quarantine.  Asymptomatic cases are all quarantined.  Cold-chain imported products are all checked.  The flow of imported cases to China is low, but has been persistent.

    There are now 308 active coronavirus cases in all on the Chinese mainland, 1 of which cases is classed as serious or critical. ]

  19. ltr

    Latin American countries have recorded 4 of the 11 and 6 of the 19 highest number of coronavirus cases among all countries.  Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Chile.  Mexico, with more than 1 million cases recorded, has the 4th highest number of cases among Latin American countries and the 11th highest number of cases among all countries.  Mexico is now the 4th country among all to have recorded more than 100,000 coronavirus deaths.

    November 20, 2020

    Coronavirus   (Deaths per million)

    US   ( 785) *

    Brazil   ( 791)
    Argentina   ( 811)
    Colombia   ( 684)

    Mexico   ( 773)
    Peru   ( 1,070)
    Chile   ( 782)

    Ecuador   ( 738)
    Bolivia   ( 758)

    * Descending number of cases

  20. ltr


    November 21, 2020

    An agenda of ‘cooperation where possible’
    By Gordon Brown

    It was in 2008 that to deal with another crisis, I was involved as its chairman in creating the leaders G20, the G20 taking over from the G7 as the premier organization for international economic cooperation, all of us benefiting from the participation of China alongside Europe and America. And now, 10 years on, we and the G20 meet at a new moment of change, with a presidential inauguration in America on January 20, and with important epoch making international commitments recently announced by China and now also America, South Korea and Japan alongside Europe for carbon neutrality – net carbon zero in the decade 2050 to 2060 – and so this is the right time to consider what we can achieve as countries and continents by working together….

    Gordon Brown is a former Prime Minister (2007-2010) and Chancellor of the Exchequer (1997-2007) of the United Kingdom.

  21. pgl

    OK this is my last comment with respect to this lying waste of time known as JohnH:

    “But their was no end to the insults and mockery from pgl who could not entertain the notion that Bernie’s plan could have been serious or that there were any serious, highly regarded economists who would dare support such nonsense.”

    I never criticized Senator Sanders fiscal stance. In fact I praised his willingness to raise taxes on the rich to pay for some of his ideas. I did go after with no mercy that STUPID Gerald Friedman paper. Our host was a source of some of the more important caveats to the gibberish coming from Dr. Friedman including his total disregard with respect to the concept of potential GDP.

    Now leave it to a barking clown like JohnH to take a discussion of actual economics as an attack on a progressive agenda.

    Get used to it people – the man screams and hollers gibberish like a Trump tweet and he is likely as dumb as the Rock in Chief too.

    Like I said – a total waste of time.

    1. JohnH

      Yes, the Democratic establishment’s attack on Bernie was via Gerald Friedman.

      Since pgl thinks Friedman is a clown, he must consider Jamie Galbraith a clown, too. Galbraith came to Friedman’s defense.

      And pgl is an incessant defender of the Democratic establishment, even if they put Social Security on the table or push austerity in a recession.

        1. pgl

          That is exactly right but JohnH does not even know why estimates of potential GDP matter. Friedman’s defenders noted we had high growth from 1983 to 1985. Try but two experiments:

          Start with an economy like we had after the Reagan recession with a output gap = 9% and potential growth = 3%/year. 6% growth for 3 years is possible and desirable but for a decade?

          Now fast forward to 2016 when even the most progessive economist would say the gap was 6% at most and potential growth was 2% per year. We could have a 3 year streak at 4% per year but 6% for a decade?

          Even the kiddies in preK would see the problem here but not JohnH.

        2. pgl

          “I do not know what the output gap actually used in the Friedman study, as it is not reported”.

          Friedman never even entertained this critical issue. And yea one would need to assume an 18% output gap in 2016 which is beyond absurd. But when we pointed out a little reality back then overhyped Bernie Bros accused us of being “establishment” whatever that meant. Most of them have calmed down but not the village idiot JohnH.

        3. Moses Herzog

          @ Menzie
          It’s no deep dark secret, I am no where near you in crunching numbers that I can lock Moose horns with you on this. And keep in mind this comment is aimed at the Democrat “establishment”, not you individually. Are Gerald Friedman’s numbers probably “oversold” a tad??? YES. But the problem here is, why are “Democrats” so eager to attack Friedman’s numbers, but when things such as “trickle down”, Laffer curve etc ad nauseam all we hear from Democrat leaders is crickets?? Maybe if Democrats ever halfway acted (even dramatic acting would be an improvement at this point) like they wanted FULL employment, or reaching near to the production possibility boundary, Democrat “leaders” wouldn’t have so much damned free time to cannibalize guys (in the party they verbally claim to be a part of) like Gerald Friedman, Stephanie Kelton etc.

          Now pgl I actually have few issues with, and believe or not do not have strong animosity towards as an individual even though he has made pretty pointed attacks against me. Similar to Barkley, we are all “adults” here and part of the FUN of a blog (no quotation marks needed around fun) is the give and take and back and forth. We can do this and semi-enjoy that barb. But what I’m honestly wondering is, if we stopped and did an official count, has pgl attacked guys like Arthur Laffer more, or guys like Gerald Friedman, Bernie Sanders, and people who feel we have to make more diligent and sincere efforts for those lost in society to get gainful employment and have a sense of self-worth in the world??

          i.e. When we live a pretty nice life in the world, how much are “we” really willing to take arms for those unemployed, vs we just don’t give a damn about real action to help those untethered from “the grid”, and just only like being a Democrat in so far as they can self-preen with virtues signaling??

          1. pgl

            “has pgl attacked guys like Arthur Laffer”

            I hope the archives of Angrybear can be accessed. I was brutal on the nonsense from this crowd, the crowd screaming that Social Security was near bankruptcy, and even Greg Mankiw when he got absurd. No the P stands for Progressive. But I an economist and when I see intellectual garbage, I call it be on the left or the right. BTW – most of JohnH’s intellectual garbage reads like it was written by a Laffer clone.

        4. JohnH

          I recall it not necessarily as an error but as a debatable assumption. Hillary supporters flooded the media with mockery of the alleged error and discredited Bernie in the process. Those who saw it as a reasonable assumption got largely drowned out, regardless of their stature.. Those who pointed out that it could be just a difference of opinion also got mocked in the frenzy to discredit Bernie before he gained any traction.

          It saw it mostly as a political food fight with pgl firmly in the camp of Hillary and the Democratic establishment, which I realized was part a broader pattern of his support for the narratives promoted by the Democratic establishment and their efforts to shield those narratives from criticism.

        5. pgl

          The comments from way back in 2016 are interesting. Bruce Hall making a little sense? And PeakTrader acting like a progressive? Cool. Of course the Rage was just being a Rage. Nothing changed there. And this classic:

          “Peter K.
          February 20, 2016 at 5:38 pm
          I’m not an economist but the fact is I don’t trust the wonkery of the anti-Friedman side in this debate. It seems overly political and not objective.”

          Peter K. had already been banned from Thoma’s place for going off the rails but had come back as Christopher H. Yes real economics is “overly political and not objective”. And we all wonder how Trump got elected!

          At least our host took this issue seriously.

        6. JohnH

          Menzie: Let me quote Jamie Galbraith directly—

          “ But how did Professor Friedman make his estimates? The answer is in his paper. What Professor Friedman did, was to use the standard impact assumptions and forecasting methods of the mainstream economists and institutions. For example, Professor Friedman starts with a fiscal multiplier of 1.25, and shades it down to the range of 0.8 by the mid 2020s. Is this “not credible”? If that’s your claim, it’s an indictment of the methods of (for instance) the CBO, the OMB, and the CEA.

          To be sure, skepticism about standard forecasting methods is perfectly reasonable. I’m a skeptic myself. My 2014 book The End of Normal is all about problems with mainstream forecasting.

          In the specific case of this paper, one can quibble with the out-year multipliers, or with the productivity assumptions, or with the presumed impact of a higher minimum wage. One can invoke the trade deficit or the exchange rate. Professor Friedman makes all of these points himself. But those issues are well within mainstream norms.”

          Now please tell me what’s wrong with Galbraith’s statement. It seems to me that there was plenty of room for a legitimate difference of opinion. In fact for many of those who ganged up on Friedman, including pgl, it seems to have been a knee jerk reaction, part of a Democratic establishment group-think, intended to discredit Bernie and and hobble him early.

          As someone who worked in Washington, you must have a lot of experience in how these narratives are initiated and what the goal is, which is often far from the sifting and winnowing required to determine the truth.

          1. pgl

            Multipliers? How does that address the potential output issue? It doesn’t. But thanks for proving my point – you have no clue what a macroeconomic model even is. BTW – his aggregate demand multipliers were beyond strange.

          2. Menzie Chinn Post author

            JohnH: The problem was not the quantitative magnitudes of the multipliers (as highlighted by Galbraith), but the application. In his calculations, he assumes the multipliers apply to *the growth rate* of government spending. Usually, multipliers are applied to the deviation of government spending from baseline. Friedman’s approach implicitly assumes that potential GDP moves along with actual GDP, one-for-one, a kind of hysteresis that I’m not sure we’ve ever documented in the GDP data (and this is me writing as somebody who believes that there is *some* hysteresis in the data…). That is why I think you’ve not see many further post-publication defenses of the Friedman calculations.

          3. Moses Herzog

            As far as Bernie’s “electability” I think the point is moot because enough percent of American voters will buy into the socialist label and hysterical freakout. i.e. Friedman’s numbers did not effect in a consequential way Sanders not getting the party nomination But it’s still extremely unfortunate that Friedman made this error. Because as well-intentioned as Friedman was, it took an issue Sanders was already viewed as weak on “selling people on unattainable goals and ‘freebies’ ” and magnifying even more that perceived weakness. I wager Friedman himself, if he could magically go back in time and withdraw the paper, he would.

            Many of Friedman’s goals and the policies themselves weren’t bad~~~but by choosing unrealistic numbers he also wiped out any possibility of attaining more credibility on the base policy issues.

            Although it kind of annoys me (my own individual peccadillo) when Menzie kind of “brushes off” some of Bernie Sander’s policy stances, there’s really no arguing that Friedman’s numbers were a royal F-up.

          4. Menzie Chinn Post author

            Moses Herzog: I don’t recall brushing off Sanders’ policy stances with regard to anything in particular. I don’t recall dismissing his defense of Social Security. I don’t even recall arguing against M4A, except to wonder where the funding would come from.

          5. Moses Herzog

            @ Menzie
            I was probably being unfair. I apologize. The whole Sanders thing is a big sore spot with me so I probably got my back up too much about it.

          6. JohnH

            Moses: IMO Bernie’s biggest mistake—a rookie one—was putting numbers to his plan at all. Opponents always demand more details…mostly because they are looking for something to get a candidate on. The vultures were just waiting to pick him apart, which is what they did.

            Suffice is to say that every other industrialized has found a way to pay for healthcare for all. Only the “world’s greatest democracy,” one of the richest nations in the world, finds it politically impossible, even though 70%+ of its voters support it.

            Kudos to Bernie for exposing the gross negligence of political elites and embarrassing them.

          7. JohnH

            Menzie: Why don’t we talk about Biden’s numbers? Were they ever noticed? Were they ever scrutinized by liberal economists? Searching the internet, I found almost nothing.

            Of course, per Jamie Galbraith, there was also precious little analysis done by those who attacked Bernie’s plan. Curious!!!. So why did Bernie get attacked so vigorously while Biden basically got a pass? Why was Bernie’s plan attacked so vehemently using words like “nonsense,” “stupid,” “sloppy.” Why was there no constructive criticism, no dispassionate effort to mold and shape a bold plan with the audacity to solve a serious and chronic national problem?

            As for Biden’s numbers, there was plenty to question. First was the likelihood of a $Trillion addition to the national debt. Where was the reaction of the numerous deficit scolds in the Democratic leadership? Second, how realistic and probable were the revenues used as offsets, particularly the huge sums generated by capital gains and estate taxes that contributed substantially to the offsets. Did anybody notice that?

            Another blatant example of selective attention and criticism occurred when Hillary claimed in 2016 that she would “not add a penney to the national debt.” Say what? For any serious observer with a bare knowledge of economics and fiscal policy, that had to raise alarm bells, particularly for Krugman, who had written a book about the need for a fiscal stimulus in a recession. Instead, the silence was deafening.

            To me it is patently obvious that liberal economists’ propensity to raise questions about sensitive issues is a function of who the politician is. Among liberal economists, Democratic establishment figures tend to get a pass; others beware. I am sure that it is the same among conservative economists.

            Macroeconomics used to be called Political Economy. Given macroeconomists’ selective attention and reaction to politicians’ proposals, the latter name seems to be more apt.

            Unfortunately for academic economists, they risk their credibility when they engage politically. At what point to objective “scientists” become political hacks?

            In a country where science is already under serious attack, it seems a perilous course for highly credentialed, supposedly objective academics to engage politically in a highly charged partisan manner. But if engage they must, they could at least have the courtesy of offering a disclaimer as to their political bias. Otherwise, the audience is left to decipher where each economist is coming from and what his agenda is, something that I spend a fair amount of time on.

      1. pgl

        “even if they put Social Security on the table”

        Even progressives know we need more funding for the long-run solvency of the Social Security system under current benefits. So putting something on the table to get the rich to pay more is smart. But the analysis behind this is something you would never understand. Now remind me – what benefits were actually cut? None.

  22. ltr

    Two hundred thousand new coronavirus cases yesterday, 1 million in these past 5 days, already nearly another 100,000 today.  I find this terribly saddening and frightening, and I am unsure how but this experience will long change the behavior of many, many people.

  23. Barkley Rosser

    For the record, since there are various people here who think they know what is what, I am not getting into the Krugman vs Baker argument, nor making a forecast of whether or not we shall have a double dip or a slower recovery or a big boom later this year, although that double dip is certainly looking more likely with the apparent absence of another round of fiscal stimulus to happen. In my view there are simply too many variables and unknowns up in the air to make a solid forecast right now.

    Those of you doing so, have fun. I prefer to make forecasts when I am more certain about what is going to happen, as I did in the spring when indeed I was the first to forecast what happened, a more or less V that would flatten out after several months.

    1. Moses Herzog

      It’s strange to see a man make these comments, repeating that this is a “V” recovery over and over, when all it is apt to do is garner him negative attention:

      If anyone in the Rosser family sees anything familiar here, please feel free to comment. These 3 might “jump off the page” at you:
      fishing for compliments by pointing out achievements and seeking validation
      being controversial to provoke a reaction
      exaggerating and embellishing stories to gain praise or sympathy

      1. Barkley Rosser


        Look, you worthless Trumpish troll. You are the one who keeps making incorrect statements over and over, combined with inappropriate and stupid insults like this piece of garbage link you just posted. I would say nothing further about this matter of the V recovery, except that you keep bringing it up combined with claims I was wrong along with all this stupid insulting garbage. I am not seeking attention, but I am going to, once again, correct the record if you keep doing this insane nonsense, you totally worthless scumbag. Really, Menzie should ban your sorry ass out of here. This has really gone way beyond the pale.

        Oh, and I remind that a little while ago you sneered at me for noting that Janet Yellen was a leading candidate for Treasury Secretary, putting it at 3-5% that she would get selected, Well, now she has been selected, so once again you are just full of s*** [edited MDC]. And while I highly respect Susan Rice and hope she gets a position in this admin, I do understand why probably she was not picked. So, Moses, go eat some fancy ice cream and contemplate what a fool you have made of yourself constantly denouncing Nancy Pelosi.

        1. Barkley Rosser

          Oh, and indeed, Moses, you are one of those weighing in with great definiteness on various things you have no standing on, such as which vaccine is going to win out and whether Krugman or Baker is right. Gag.

          And again, you have not responded to multiple requests to tell us what you did forecast for second quarter pattern, even as you continue to ridicule my accurate forecast. Put up or shut up, although preferably you will just be expelled from here.

        2. Barkley Rosser

          OK, Menzie, I apologize for breaking your publicly stated rules. I shall try to be sufficiently creative so as to avoid using disallowed words here

          But I am going to put it to you very bluntly. Why do you continue to allow the fake Jew “:Moses Herzog” to continue to post here? I am getting more serious about this. His lies are reaching the level of a lawsuit. Do you want me to sue you and Jim Hamilton for allowing this liar to continue to spout his garbage? This blog has become seriously degenerated to a large degree due to his presence. I so support free speech and tolerating eccentric posters. But with his meltdown the weekend before last, as far as I am concerned he has really gone beyond what is acceptable.

          I recognize you probably will not follow my strong advice and request that you just ban “Moses Herzog,” and I even understand why. But, this is also directed to Jim, if you do not remove this blot upon your blog, I shall substantially reduce my respect for both of you. Really. Seriously.

          1. Barkley Rosser

            I am going to note that during the past week I have had to deal with several very serious health problems in my family, details of which I am not going to report here other than to say none of it has been Covid-19. This has put me into an especially bad mood. As noted in a post in the more recent thread, I am going to try to simply ignore Moses’s jibes, although I realize I have said that before and failed to keep my word. However, seeing both others label him a troll and noting that he has openly bragged about hating me and engaging in “sadism” with his ongoing slams makes me realize others know what his slams are worth, so I really should not waste everybody’s time by further efforts to bother responding to them.

  24. pgl

    “JohnHNovember 22, 2020 at 9:10 am
    I recall it not necessarily as an error but as a debatable assumption.”

    This is the problem when know nothings acting like they understand an economic issue. I never called Dr. Friedman a clown but I did point out that EVERY macroeconomist knows that if one is going to forecast 6% growth per year for a decade, one must consider where potential output is now relative to actual output and how potential output is likely to grow over the next 10 years.

    But nowhere did EVER consider this crucial modeling issue. A debatable assumption? Good Lord JohnH is indeed STOOOPID.

    Yes he has others who tried to address this issue but they as Menzie suggested were basically assuming the average Joe could run a 4 minute mile. I have run track enough to know a couple of people who did but come on man.

  25. pgl

    JohnH protests that there no examples of him supporting a gold standard. But read his comments here defending the period when we were on the gold standard as a period of high growth:


    Of course his read of economic history is even worse than his understanding of basic economic theory.

    You can still Google Mark Thoma’s blog to see all the times he also supported Cameron’s fiscal austerity. In his simpleton mind, anything that keeps inflation low must be good for real wages.

    1. JohnH

      I gave pgl about a day to refrain from his attack dog tactics…and I was right.

      The only person to refer to a gold standard in that entire thread was pgl. To malign me he ‘translated’ (misinterpreted) my comment into something I never believed. To believe what he said, he must also believe that Thomas Piketty is a gold bug.

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