Keeping up with the FITs, 6/10
Andrew Sullivan and Robert Wright on Ukraine; Kling advice for young would-be academics; Hanania advice for young would-be academics; Noah Smith on macro;
Andrew Sullivan talks with Robert Wright about Ukraine. I would say that if you are familiar with Wright’s take, then this may be nothing new.
When they spoke, the war was still going on in the real world. But it seemed to be subsiding on Twitter. I said very early on that the excitement about wars is very high at the beginning, and that it tends to fade over time. But Twitter has amped up both phases. After Pearl Harbor, we had the patience to see it through. Heaven knows whether we would have had the attention span to keep at it if Twitter had existed in 1941.
To the young would-be academic, I say
don’t overestimate the academic lifestyle. It’s one thing to be at Harvard in a vibrant Boston community, teaching often very bright and interesting students. It’s quite another to be at the modal institution, teaching students who aren’t as bright, aren’t as curious, and perhaps you’re located in a small Midwestern community. Unless you really, really would love the academic lifestyle in a much less attractive format than teaching at Harvard, just be very wary of going into that.
Aden Barton interviewed Richard Hanania. On the same topic, Hanania says
I look back and I regret a lot of the time I spent on the conventional path of becoming an intellectual, trying to become an academic. I could have done what I’m doing now five or six years earlier. I learned some things in academia, but the opportunity cost was not being out there and not building my name and not being part of the public discourse.
a Phillips Curve that replaces unemployment with disposable income implies that monetary policy only affects inflation by raising or lowering disposable income. But when we look at the inflation of the 70s, or the disinflation of the 80s and 90s, we see very little movement in disposable income at all during these periods — certainly nothing comparable to the Covid spike.
He is criticizing a study, which I had not seen that purportedly draws a tight causal link between the Biden stimulus and current inflation. I have no love for the Biden stimulus, but I have even less love for the sort of linear modeling that is in the study.
I think of inflation as a highly non-linear process. In general, it is either low and steady in one regime or high and variable in another regime. It takes a lot to switch regimes. We have gotten into the high and variable regime because of cumulative deficit spending, including under President Trump. Getting back to the low and steady regime is going to take a lot more austerity than the politicians or the markets are prepared for.
Yes, the West has a short little span of attention. I pointed this out 3 months ago when I wrote that the Russians would likely succeed in whatever their goal ultimately was, even if it took them more time than most were predicting (including myself) when the invasion started. The character of the Russians includes an astonishing degree of patiences and stubbornness- something Americans used to have, but have no longer as we infantilize our society.
We were attacked at Pearl Harbor. We weren't attacked in Ukraine. There is a world of difference between the two.
Japan and Germany needed a total tear down and rebuild. Ukraine needs some pragmatic horse trading. It will be easier to get peace in Ukraine if the temperature gets turned down a little.
Over his presidency, Obama had an average deficit of 5.7% of GDP a year. Trump averaged 3.9% a year before COVID. Compared to the 2016 deficit of 3.1% of GDP, Trump had 3.4%, 3.8%, and 4.6% in the three years proceeding COVID, all below the Obama average and not that much higher than what he was left with.
According to COVID spending tracker, there was $7T in federal stimulus and the federal reserve engaged in another $7T of stimulus. $7T is 35% of GDP, more than the entire cumulative non-COVID budget deficit of the Trump administration.
Let's blame the deficits and the inflation on those that disproportionately deserve it. The left.