FOMC: Conspiracists to the left of them, conspiracists to the right


Paul Krugman worries that the reason why the Fed hiked by a quarter point in December 2015, and won’t immediately reverse course, is that their judgement has been impaired by talking to too many who work in banking, which industry suffers from very low interest rates.

As Paul noted in one of his earlier blogs, there are those on the right of the Fed who think that rates are so low, and quantitative easing was undertaken, as part of a liberal conspiracy to help Obama;  or, to impoverish those who live off savings.

If I was on the FOMC, I’d probably feel comfortable that there were conspiracists accusing me of having been corrupted by interest groups on opposing sides.

Addressing PK’s most recent charge, his worry seems pretty unlikely to me.  The FOMC had no problem dropping interest rates like a stone – from 5.5%, to 0.25% – when the…

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Pantheism and homotopy theory, Part 2

Mathematics without Apologies, by Michael Harris

Voevodsky diagram

Every mathematician should probably read Vladimir Voevodsky’s article in the Summer 2014 IAS Letter.  Only time will tell whether it will be remembered as a historic document of the highest importance; in the meantime, it can be read as an unusually lucid and frank account of what the subtitle calls a Personal Mission to Develop Computer Proof Verification to Avoid Mathematical Mistakes.  Voevodsky tells a few stories about subtle mistakes in important papers, including his own, that left him uneasy.  I’ll skip ahead to the happy ending.

I now do my mathematics with a proof assistant. I have a lot of wishes in terms of getting this proof assistant to work better, but at least I don’t have to go home and worry about having made a mistake in my work. I know that if I did something, I did it, and I don’t have to come back to…

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Doing my homework: Heidegger, Latour on things

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Credit default

“the modern corporation shows that production can be organized on a large scale over time and space, bringing together thousands of workers in pheonomenally productive cooperation. But these institutions are nonetheless run by and for a small group of owners and managers whose social role is peripheral or even harmful to the institution’s proper running.”

Need to add the perspective of my non-GED-having friend who worked for DART, who said he believes public corporations are a social bad.

In general I would like to promote the voices of normal workers over the g.d. HBR, Atlantic, NYT, and every other outlet that seems to not give a sh__ what normal people have to say — unless they first got a PhD before rejecting bourgeois life.

LBO News from Doug Henwood

Back in 2009, Justin Fox, then of Time magazine, published a book called The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street. I interviewed him about it on my radio show in June of that year. It’s a pretty good book, but at the time, I thought it bore an uncanny resemblance to some of the arguments I made in my book Wall Street, published by Verso in 1997. (Verso let it go out of print, so it’s now available for free download at that link.) With the publication of the book, Fox went on to become editorial director of the Harvard Business Review (HBR).

My feeling of uncanny resemblance has just gotten a strong booster dose with the publication of an article that Fox co-wrote with Harvard business prof Jay Lorsch, “What Good Are Shareholders?” In Wall Street, 

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Fresh audio product

LBO News from Doug Henwood

I’ve been very delinquent about posting radio shows to the archive—sorry. Here’s a batch. There’s a break in the middle for KPFA fundraising (three weeks) and my racing to finish my book on Hillary Clinton (one week).

Speaking of KPFA fundraising, this Behind the News would not exist were it not for that excellent radio station. Please contribute (and mention BtN if you do).

October 15, 2015 Greg Grandin, author of Kissinger’s Shadow, on the ghoulish diplomat’s five-decade rampage

October 8, 2015 David Bloomfield talks edu-policy as Arne Duncan leaves • Elizabeth Bruenig, both journalist and Catholic (and author of this), on papal politics

September 10, 2015 Megan Marcelin, author of this and this, puts the post-Katrina gentrification of New Orleans into historical and theoretical perspective • Josh Bivens, co-author of this, on the gap between productivity and pay

August 27, 2015 DH on…

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Tensor functors between categories of quasi-coherent sheaves – arXiv:1202.5147

“algebraic geometry is 2-affine”

Chris Schommer-Pries

This paper by Martin Brandenburg and Alexandru Chirvasitu looks interesting. There is a connection to a categorified algebraic geometry. 

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Legitimizing Napkin Drawing: The Curious Dispersion of Laffer Curves (1978-2008)


Image The Neo-Laffer curve, drawn by Martin Gardner in Scientific American (1981)

The Laffer curve is a graphical representation of how government revenues vary with the level of taxation. Allegedly, it was first drawn on a cocktail napkin by one of US President Ronald Reagan’s advisors in the 1970s.  Since then, it has been routinely reproduced in economics textbooks. This article provides an historical account that shows a sharp contrast between the formal triviality of the curve and the complexity of its circulation through various communities of economists, policy advisors, propagandists, and journalists. In this paper, I show that the dispersion of the Laffer curve presents two peculiarities: first, unlike many other diagrams used in economics, popular instantiations of the Laffer curve preceded its “academization” in professional economics; second, in spite of numerous transformations in the process of circulation, the curve’s canonical presentation as a symmetrical, bullet-like diagram was reinforced over…

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The Stacks Project gets ever awesomer with new viz


Crossposted on Not Even Wrong.

Here’s a completely biased interview I did with my husband A. Johan de Jong, who has been working with Pieter Belmans on a very cool online math project using d3js. I even made up some of his answers (with his approval).

Q: What is the Stacks Project?

A: It’s an open source textbook and reference for my field, which is algebraic geometry. It builds foundations starting from elementary college algebra and going up to algebraic stacks. It’s a self-contained exposition of all the material there, which makes it different from a research textbook or the experience you’d have reading a bunch of papers.

We were quite neurotic setting it up – everything has a proof, other results are referenced explicitly, and it’s strictly linear, which is to say there’s a strict ordering of the text so that all references are always…

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Laying train tracks

Geometry and the imagination

This morning I was playing trains with my son Felix. At the moment he is much more interested in laying the tracks than putting the trains on and moving them around, but he doesn’t tend to get concerned about whether the track closes up to make a loop. The pieces of track are all roughly the following shape:

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Three problems and a disclaimer

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