You are browsing the archive for 2014 December 21.

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An Autopsy for the Keynesians

December 21, 2014 in Economics

By John H. Cochrane

John H. Cochrane

This year the tide changed in the economy. Growth seems finally to be returning. The tide also changed in economic ideas. The brief resurgence of traditional Keynesian ideas is washing away from the world of economic policy.

No government is remotely likely to spend trillions of dollars or euros in the name of “stimulus,” financed by blowout borrowing. The euro is intact: Even the Greeks and Italians, after six years of advice that their problems can be solved with one more devaluation and inflation, are sticking with the euro and addressing — however slowly — structural “supply” problems instead.

U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne wrote in these pages Dec. 14 that Keynesians wanting more spending and more borrowing “were wrong in the recovery, and they are wrong now.” The land of John Maynard Keynes and Adam Smith is going with Smith.

Why? In part, because even in economics, you can’t be wrong too many times in a row.

Keynesians told us that once interest rates got stuck at or near zero, economies would fall into a deflationary spiral. Deflation would lower demand, causing more deflation, and so on.

We were warned that the 2013 sequester meant a recession. Instead, unemployment came down faster than expected.”

It never happened. Zero interest rates and low inflation turn out to be quite a stable state, even in Japan. Yes, Japan is growing more slowly than one might wish, but with 3.5% unemployment and no deflationary spiral, it’s hard to blame slow growth on lack of “demand.”

Our first big stimulus fell flat, leaving Keynesians to argue that the recession would have been worse otherwise. George Washington’s doctors probably argued that if they hadn’t bled him, he would have died faster.

With the 2013 sequester, Keynesians warned that reduced spending and the end of 99-week unemployment benefits would drive the economy back to recession. Instead, unemployment came down faster than expected, and growth returned, albeit modestly. The story is similar in the U.K.

These are only the latest failures. Keynesians forecast depression with the end of World War II spending. The U.S. got a boom. The Phillips curve failed to understand inflation in the 1970s and its quick end in the 1980s, and disappeared in our recession as unemployment soared with steady inflation.

Still, facts and experience are seldom decisive in economics. Maybe Washington’s doctors are right. There are always confounding influences. Logic matters too. …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Two NYPD Cops Get Killed and 'Wartime' Police Blame the Protesters. Have We Learned Nothing?

December 21, 2014 in Blogs

By Steven W Thrasher, The Guardian

Nobody – even police officers – should have to live with even the threat of violence.

Is violence threatened still violence?

America’s nightmare of violence and racism got upended in New York City on Saturday with the shooting of a woman in Baltimore, the shooting of two cops in Brooklyn and the suicide of their suspected fleeing killer.

This time, the bloody violence was clear, and the social-media threat appears real, but the racial and power dynamics are as confusing as they are telling: A black man, Ismaiiyl Brinsley, apparently shot his ex-girlfriend (race unknown), then traveled to New York, where he “assassinated” an Asian officer and a Hispanic officer of the New York Police Department (NYPD), in their squad car. In between, an Instagram photo: a gun, revenge and references to the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. You will believe what happened next – white head of the police union declares war on protesters within hours – but it shouldn’t have to be this way.

Violence executed is definitely violence enacted.

This kind of moment requires dynamic leadership, but beyond a brief statement, President Obama was no more going to re-route Air Force One from Honolulu to New York than he would ever direct it to Ferguson. And Mayor Bill de Blasio has such little credibility with his own force that cops turned their back on him when he arrived at the hospital where officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were declared dead.

One person offering clear directives to the cops: Patrick Lynch, their union president, who asked them to sign an emotionally manipulative letter banning de Blasio from their hypothetical future funeral, and who actually said on Saturday night that there was “blood on their hands [of] those that incited violence on the street under the guise of protest … [blood] on the steps of city hall, in the office of the mayor”.

Yes, the cops blamed the protesters. (So did Rudy Giuliani, but don’t get me started on him.) Even more chilling, the police union declared that the NYPD …read more


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Two NYPD Officers Murdered in Brooklyn Before Gunman Shoots Himself

December 21, 2014 in Blogs

By Amanda Holpuch, Nicky Woolf, The Guardian

NYC Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the gunman's Instagram postings were “very anti-police” and were being investigated.

Two New York City police officers were shot and killed on Saturday afternoon, as they sat in their patrol car in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighbourhood of Brooklyn.

In a Saturday evening press conference at Woodhull medical center in the borough, NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton, his voice cracking with emotion, named the two officers killed as Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos.

Bratton and New York City mayor Bill de Blasio both said the officers had been killed “execution style” and described their deaths as an “assassination”.

“There is no more emotional time for a police officer,” said Bratton. “A death of this nature, an assassination, it’s unlike any other type of emotion. It’s hard to deal with.”

Bratton named the gunman as Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, who he said had shot and wounded a woman believed to have been his girlfriend at 5.46am in Baltimore County, Maryland. Police in Baltimore County had sent a warning fax about Brinsley to the NYPD, based on information from the victim’s Instagram account, Bratton said. Tragically, he added, the warning came too late.

“Officer Ramos and Officer Liu never had time to draw their weapons,” Bratton said. “They may have also never had time to see their assailant.”

When they were ambushed, shortly before 3pm, Liu and Ramos were parked in a marked patrol car near the Tompkins Houses public development. The two officers were rushed to Woodhull hospital but, Bratton said: “Despite every effort to save their lies, both officers tragically succumbed.”

Liu had been a policeman for seven years, and Ramos almost three years.

“Our city is in mourning,” said de Blasio. “Our hearts are heavy. We lost two good men who devoted their lives to protect the city they loved. Our hearts go out to their families to their comrades in arms at the 84th precinct, to the family of the NYPD.”

De Blasio said he had met the families of the two officers immediately prior to the press conference, including the woman Officer Liu had recently married, and Officer …read more


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Anonymous Threatens to Release Sex Tape Pics of Rapper Iggy Azalea Over Remarks

December 21, 2014 in Blogs

By David Ferguson, Raw Story

The hacktivist group called Azalea a “trashy bitch” for her attack on fellow rapper Azealia Banks.

Members of the hacktivist group Anonymous have threatened to release still photos from a reported sex tape made by white rapper Iggy Azalea unless the performer apologizes for recent remarks.

Jezebel reported that Anonymous is angry that Azalea — a blond, blue-eyed former Wilhelmina model who achieved chart success over the summer with the song “Fancy” — has attacked fellow rapper Azealia Banks in an ongoing online feud and made disparaging remarks about demonstrators across the U.S. who are protesting police brutality against African-Americans.

Azealia Banks is a black rapper from New York City who got her start releasing songs through MySpace in 2008. She gained a cult following and was poised, it appeared, for widespread mainstream success when a series of contentious feuds with other artists and journalists seemed to largely derail her ascent.

Earlier this year, Banks focused her ire on the Australian-born Azalea, attacking her on Twitter and accusing her of cultural appropriation and of putting an acceptable white face on a largely black art form.

“I just really want to know what your fascination with Black women is,” Banks tweeted at Azalea. “Why do you want to act like us? I need to know… Why do you imitate us in such a way that i feel like you are actually making fun of us? Why?”

Azalea responded by calling Banks a racist and “a miserable person.”

Anonymous stepped in on Saturday, posting a series of tweets chastising Azalea and demanding that she apologize to Banks and to the protesters demonstrating across the country.

They followed it with:

When the group began to get pushback from women, it tweeted:

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My Night at the Cuddle Party

December 21, 2014 in Blogs

By JD Irpino, Salon

After seven years without a date, I was desperate to be touched. Desperate enough for weirdness like this.

It had been 10 years since I walked away from the seminary; seven since I’d had a date. I was 33, and had moved to New York only six months before. I read about a Cuddle Party in Hell’s Kitchen and I figured it would be a sideshow, but maybe a safe way to get back in action. I found the posting on Craigslist.


I copied the information, closed my laptop, showered and flossed in my Brooklyn studio sublet. Then I headed to the address where the party was to take place. I was excited, but I might have been delusional from not having been touched in so long.

“Welcome to Cuddle Party. I’m Harry,” said the man who opened the door. He was in his late fifties with a fading hairline, and wearing shiny blue silk pajamas with white piping, like Hugh Hefner. His voice was slow and creamy. Harry took me in his arms, swaying me back and forth, then whispered in my ear, “thirty bucks.”

I started feeling around his waist to see if he had anything on him, handcuffs, a gun or wireless mic. I actually hoped I was getting involved in something tawdry. I wanted  to be bad. Whenever I’d tried, I’d failed miserably. Harry didn’t have anything on him, but I couldn’t stop rubbing, I loved the feeling of his pajamas.

The “Center” was a basic two-bedroom apartment with a large living room. There was crown molding, a fireplace, dusty ferns everywhere and a sloping, worn-down hardwood floor covered with blankets. Ten people, split evenly between men and women, mostly in their forties, sat around a guy in front of the fireplace. Everyone looked very nice and very pathetic, which is par for the course when a group of single strangers hang out out in their pajamas. I’d mistakenly worn a two-button charcoal gray suit, trying to make a good impression.

I scanned their faces. I was worried nobody would want to be with me. I checked to see if anyone was looking my way. I didn’t know if it was because I was late or because of …read more


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New York Police Officers Shot and Killed in Brooklyn

December 21, 2014 in Blogs

By Jennie Matthew, AFP

Local media said the shooter boasted just hours before the attack that he would kill police officers.

New York (AFP) – Two New York police officers were shot dead in broad daylight Saturday as they sat in a patrol car by an assailant who then killed himself, officials and reports said.

The shootings, just days before Christmas, follow weeks of protests condemning a series of deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers and decisions by grand juries not to prosecute those responsible.

The two officers were shot at 2:50 pm (1950 GMT) at the corner of Myrtle and Tompkins avenues in Brooklyn's gentrifying neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant, police spokesman Sergeant Lee Jones told AFP.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and police commissioner Bill Bratton were due to later hold a press conference at Brooklyn's Woodhull Hospital, where local media reported that the two officers died.

Police reserved further official comment until then.

But various city police precincts wrote messages on Twitter saying that the two officers had died, offering condolences and prayers for their fallen colleagues.

“My thoughts are with the families of the NYPD officers shot in the line of duty, in an act of horrific violence,” wrote New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “We all mourn this tragedy.”

The two officers were shot dead while sitting in their patrol car, local media reported. The assailant fled on foot before shooting himself in the head in a subway station. He was later pronounced dead.

“People are pretty shaken up,” eyewitness Mike Isaacs told CNN.

“The mood is pretty freaked out, you know, a few people were saying it could be anyone.”

- Social media boast -

New York Daily News named the attacker as 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, purportedly a gang member from Baltimore who first shot and wounded his girlfriend there before driving to Brooklyn.

Local media said the shooter boasted on his purported Instagram account just hours before the attack that he would kill police officers.

“They Take 1 Of Ours… Let's Take 2 of Theirs,” read a comment next to a photo of a silver handgun, …read more