THE BULLY IN CHIEF. Back in the 1990s, we were treated to all manner of stories regarding how Bill Clinton, his wife, their marriage, and his presidency were all coming unglued at once. When they were sourced at all, they were sourced as well as the average story concerning Ferris wheels on Mars. The crack pipes on the White House Christmas tree. The tossing of the vase -- or was it a book, a globe, or a bust of Grover Cleveland? Inquiring minds wanted to know.
A DIFFERENT TYPE OF IMMIGRATION.Sebastian Mallaby has a good column arguing that lax immigration policies are one of the better developmental strategies open to wealthy countries. As he argues, if rich countries opened their borders to allow in the equivalent of three percent of their workforce, it would be equal to an extra $300 billion in developmental aid -- and it would be more effectively directed, too, going through remittances rather than Third World bureaucrats. Better yet, many of those who would train in wealthy countries would later repatriate, bringing new and more globally marketable skills, methods, and ideas back to their homelands.
With the annual meetings of the IMF-World Bank in Singapore, there has been another round of stories about how certain fast growing countries are getting an increased voice at the IMF to correspond with their growing importance in the world economy. As I noted in prior posts, Mexico is one of the four rabbits on the list (along with China, Turkey, and South Korea.)
As I pointed out in my prior post, Mexico has no business being on this list because it is not a fast growing economy. Starting from before the NAFTA slump, it's per capita GDP has risen by just over 1.0 percent annually. It's growth rate has actually lagged the world average.
GOREWATCH. Obviously no one is saying Al Gore is going to run. Obviously no one is insinuating Al Gore is running. Obviously no one is suggesting that his decision to write The Assault on Reason for Penguin Press and publish it next May is in any way motivated by an impulse to keep testing the field at the precise moment speculation will be highest. Obviously no one is pointing out that a high-profile book tour on a Serious Subject in May 2007 will make Gore look even more attractive while the other candidates hang out at fish frys and chili cookoffs.
WAITING FOR AN ARGUMENT. Better lawyers than I will have fun conducting a weeklong autopsy of John Yoo's execrable attempt in the Sunday New York Times to recast American history as Peronism In Powdered Wigs. However, I was struck by this particular passage:
Allan Sloan, a columnist at Newsweek and the Washington Post and a commentator on MarketPlace reversed his previous position on the Social Security trust fund. I had previously taken Mr. Sloan to task for advocating default on the government bonds held by the Social Security trust fund. This morning on MarketPlace, he unambiguously stated that he expects that these bonds will be paid off, and therefore they should be included in measures of the government's deficit. See, even prominent columnists are capable of learning.
In an article on the victory of the conservatives in Sweden's election, the NYT repeated their assertion that Sweden's official 5.7 percent unemployment rate would jump to 21 percent if "early retirees, people in job-training and those on long-term disability" were included. The same charge appeared the previous day.
It is not clear what this 21 percent measure means. In the United States, the vast majority of people stop working before age 65. Would the conservative's measure include all these people, including Bill Gates, who is about to step down from his position at Microsoft, as being unemployed?
Sweden is holding an election on Sunday, which earned it a bit of ink in the Times. The article notes that Sweden�s official unemployment rate of 5.7 percent is one of the lowest ones in Europe. It then reports the assertion of the conservative opposition candidate that its unemployment rate would be 21 percent if you add in people on disability, early retirement and in government training programs.
The Fed released data for industrial production for August yesterday. The story in the media was that production had fallen by 0.1 percent in August, suggesting that the economy was slowing.
Well, this is a case where more caution would be helpful. First, it is best to focus on the data for manufacturing. The other two components, mining and utlities, are very erratic. (Utility output tells you primarily about last month's weather.) Manufacturing output was unchanged in August.
THE COMPANY YOU KEEP. Thanks to the folks at AmericaBlog, we have this little preview of a fun family event. Now, aside from the fact that there is no attempt by the good Christian folks at the Family Research Council to distance themselves from the odious Coulter -- who is a walking, living, breathing example of what the nuns used to call a "sin against charity" -- there are so many other wonders to behold.