TWO QUICK SCANDAL FOLLOW-UPS. Regarding Mike's take on Charlie Rangel, Nancy Pelosi, and Bill Jefferson, tensions between Pelosi and the Congressional Black Caucus (including Rangel) have indeed exploded since her move yesterday to have Jefferson step down from his Ways and Means Committee post.
The Commerce Department's data for new home sales in April showed a 4.9 percent increase from March. Many news reports took this as evidence of the continued strength of the housing market. A bit of caution is appropriate here.
First, monthly data are always erratic. This should be a mantra for anyone trying to track the economy. If a particular data source shows data that are out of line with other data we have on the economy, then it was probably driven by some quirk in the data.
EUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM.Scott McLemee has written a terrific, thoughtful critique of the deeply annoying Euston Manifesto; it's well worth a read. Todd Gitlin's quoted comments in the piece strike me as particularly apt and refreshing.
No one has really managed to top this short-and-sweet riff from Daniel Davies, however.
NOT CROSSING THE AISLE.Ed Kilgore and Matt game out some of the politics of immigration legislation, with Matt taking a slightly more hardline don't-pass-anything position. Kilgore, however, fully acknowledges that a bill coming out of a House-Senate conference would be substantively worse than no bill at all if it leans in the House's draconian direction.
It appears that Mexico is not the only Latin American country for which the media have difficulty with official statistics. Apparently, the media have been anxious to tout high poverty numbers for Venezuela. The problem appears to be that they want to cite poverty data for 2004, which showed a large upturn in the poverty rate in the immediate wake of a strike in the oil sector.
The Venezuelan economy rebounded sharply, beginning in 2004, and the poverty rate predictably fell back below its previous levels. However, even though the 2005 data is now available, the media continues to use the much higher numbers from 2004. My colleagues at CEPR posted a short piece on Venezuelan poverty today.
GORE WATCH. When I started this up, I had no idea it would be such a massive undertaking. But Gore's popping up all over the place. He hit John Tierney's column Monday, forming the inspiration for a fairly bizarre effort that lambasted Gore for getting global warming right before others did. "As therapeutic as this history may be for Gore," writes Tierney, "it has certain problems. Scientists recognized the greenhouse effect long ago, but the question was how much difference it would make. And until fairly recently, when evidence of global warming accumulated, many non-evil economists doubted that the risks justified the costs of the proposed remedies."
The New York Times had an article today that could have badly used a bit of economic analysis. The article reports on a provision in the Senate immigration bill that removes the cap on the number of nurses who can enter the country each year.
MORE!Nathan Newman is certainly right about importing nurses and doctors from other countries. Not only does it head off excellent jobs that could be filled by native workers, but it deprives other nations of trained individuals necessary for their development. That said, we do have a supply problem for doctors and, particularly, nurses. We need more. But the problem is in training choke points: We require remarkable amounts of credentialing, and we offer only a small number of places to get the necessary degrees. Last year, 150,000 qualified applicants were turned away from nursing schools -- this amidst a terrific shortage.