Natural Disasters are not like Recessions

In natural disasters:

1. Net migration temporarily collapses.
Screenshot (6)
2. Per capita income rises (due to the poorest people leaving).
Screenshot (5)
3. Unemployment is elevated for under a year.
Screenshot (7)
In recessions:

1. Net migration falls, though not necessarily into negative territory.

2. Per capita income falls.
Screenshot (8)
3. Unemployment is persistently elevated for well over a year (see above).

Inspired by Scott Sumner.

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Unemployment During the Great Recession: Bursting Bubble?

A bit of background:
The U.S. housing bubble was mainly a Floridan, Arizonan, and Californian phenomenon. The U.S. state most heavily affected by the housing bubble was Florida, though most of the home equity losses took place in California due to its population. In the early 2000s, Las Vegas benefited from a “wealth effect” caused by rising home prices in California and was deeply hurt by both the fall in home prices and the Great Recession, much more so than the rest of the country. In the mid-2000s, Detroit was deeply hurt by manufacturing job losses caused by outside competition during the World Boom, had its real housing prices peak in 2003, and was hit by the Great Recession about as hard as the rest of the United States, being hit harder after 9/15 than before. Louisiana, Texas, and Alabama were not hit as hard by housing price falls as the rest of the U.S. Canada had a housing boom, but no housing bust to speak of.

The U.S. Great Recession can be divided into two periods, readily separated by the ever-memorable date of 9/15/08, roughly midway through the recession chronologically. Before this date, when, as you remember, Lehman Brothers failed, there was no consensus in the mainstream media that the U.S. was in recession. On that date, the consensus finally appeared. I was there, so I remember this. Indeed, the first nine months of the recession of 2008 didn’t suggest a recession much more severe than the recessions of 1990, 2001, or 1970, which were fairly mild, raising unemployment by roughly two and a half percentage points, never more than three. Instead, the Great Recession ended up raising unemployment by 5.6 percentage points, worse than any other U.S. recession since the Great Depression (so far). This was, as Scott Sumner says, due to falling NGDP. Indeed, nominal dollar auto sales were fairly stable during the Great Recession’s inflationary first half, while they collapsed during its deflationary second half. Falling NGDP was why the dollar price of gasoline rapidly fell, but did not boost real auto sales, or any kind of other indicator of economic confidence. Previously, the second-worst U.S. recession since the Great Depression had been the recession of 1973, which was an inflationary one not due to any notable demand shock. The second half of the Great Recession was not a pure demand shock, as August 1937-June 1938 in the U.S. was, but it was much more due to aggregate demand than any other U.S. recession since the 1940s. The fall in NGDP was due to the Fed not doing enough Quantitative Easing, and, more importantly, not targeting the forecast (i.e., imagining they’re powerless). Obviously, had the Federal Reserve not gone ahead with unprecedented Quantitative Easing, the recession would have been much worse. The roots of the sudden NGDP crash lay in a banking system-wide credit crunch resulting from sudden loan losses resulting in tightening credit standards, as well as an increase in demand for money due to recessionary expectations (which the Federal Reserve did not do anywhere near enough to alleviate).

The thing to understand is that before 9/15, unemployment was rising faster in the areas hit by the housing crash than it was outside the areas hit by the housing crash. After 9/15, unemployment rose fast in all areas of the country (though for some reason Alabama was hit harder than the rest of the country in both phases of the recession):

http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=1wSs
http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=1wSs

The Civilian Unemployment Rate is the U.S. Unemployment rate.

As you can see, Canada, due to having a separate banking system and monetary policy and not having a significant housing price fall, was not hammered by the recession much at all, but also had a much slower recovery. Las Vegas was hammered by both the housing price fall and the broader recession, as tourism to the city dried up. Florida and California were affected by the recession no more than the rest of the country after 9/15, but were significantly more affected by the housing price fall in 2007 than the rest of the U.S. Texas was less affected by the housing price fall than the rest of the country, due to it having almost no housing bubble, but was also less affected by 9/15. Why Alabama was so disproportionately affected by both parts of the recession remains something of a mystery. It had a late housing bubble, but did not have significantly higher housing equity losses than the rest of the country in proportion to its population.

Russia’s Recession is Over

Russia’s oil-price related recession (September 2014-April 2015) has been over for months. Were it two months shorter, it could not even be called a recession, by U.S. standards. Yet American news media continues to pretend Russia is still in recession while its unemployment rate has fallen for the third consecutive month -and pretty rapidly, too:
Screenshot (3)
A .17 percentage point per month decline in the unemployment rate would be hailed in the U.S. as a miracle, with Obama prominently declared the Greatest President Evah by the vast majority of Democrats. The best the U.S. has ever had during the present recovery has been a .125 percentage point per month decline from October 2013 to October 2014. This is another piece of evidence for Russia’s labor market being far more flexible than that in the U.S., and having been so since the 1990s.

Russia’s recession was, as most correctly understood, deeply connected to the September-December 2014 oil price fall (a milder deja vu of 2008). When the price of oil falls, Russian RGDP falls. As Russia had a fairly loose monetary policy this time around, this RGDP fall largely manifested itself in shared sacrifice (falling real wages) rather than (as in the U.S.) mass unemployment. Now, however, the price of oil has risen, Russia’s CPI has stopped skyrocketing, and the trend of economic conditions is generally back to normal. Of course, many still feel economic pain, much as many throughout the world felt economic pain in 2010 and 2011. But that doesn’t mean Russia is in recession, any more than the U.S. was in recession in 2010 and 11.

“The Improved Posting Experience” on WordPress.com Sucks

WordPress.com defaults to the “improved posting experience” when I click on the Edit button on the published versions of the blogposts on this blog. The “improved posting experience”, for various reasons, sucks. WordPress.com should be embarrassed to feature it or so blatantly lie about it being “improved” or “easier”. Let us count the ways.

The large-buttoned, blue-colored, stylized, and menu-filled appearance of the “improved posting experience”, along with its paucity of text suggest that this “improved posting experience” was designed for smartphones, or at the very least, small screens. Yet, when I view it with my WinBook TW700, I find this:
Screenshot (19)

Now which genius at Automattic, Inc. designed that amazing new “improved posting experience” and its amazing useless empty space and redundant scrollbars?

Now let’s look at it horizontally, with touch keyboard panel (not opened above) opened (but only seen as empty white space):

Screenshot (22)

Aaaah… No text visible when typing, most buttons not visible when typing, and numerous overlapping buttons due to poor JavaScript. My favorite posting experience ever, you can be sure.

Now let’s compare the above monstrosity with the good old unimproved posting experience:

Screenshot (20)

Isn’t that infinitely less wasteful and making for a much better user experience? One scrollbar, much more functional space outside of the post window, and more text to know what you’re pressing on.

Horizontally:

Screenshot (23)
At least you can see something in the post while the keyboard is open, no buttons overlap, and you can actually see what you’re typing (occasionally) while not having to rely on as many useless pop-out menus. Also, there’s a visible navigation window on the left absent in the “improved posting experience”.

The only good thing about the “improved posting experience” is that when one updates a post, an easy-to-click “View Post” button pops up on the screen.

Obviously, the old posting experience has problems. Typing on large pages is slow, as text pops up with a far longer lag than proper. The text is sorta small and sorta hard to tap on. But that’s no warrant for abandoning it in favor of a terrible so-called “improved posting experience”, with something like a twenty-to-one deprovement-over-improvement ratio.

If this is an “improved posting experience”, I’d love to see the least “improved” one the guys at Automattic could come up with.

Fortunately, there’s a way out of this “improved posting experience”: upload this script with the Scriptish add-on installed in Firefox (or see choice of script managers in other browsers here). I advise against Greasemonkey, as I’ve had some seriously negative experiences with it (namely, Firefox not starting).

As for the box reminding you to switch to the “improved posting experience”, you can just block it with AdBlock Plus’s Element Hiding helper.

Map of the World Mathematical Smart Fraction

Due to a recent uncivil discussion in the comments of the blog of Noah Smith, who listens too much to progressive media uncritically, I came upon the idea of mapping the mathematical smart fraction among fifteen-year-olds in most European countries, the Four Tigers, and some assorted other countries. What I did was
1. Find the recorded world mathematical PISA smart fraction on the fifth page of the document titled PISA 2012 Results in Focus: What 15-year-olds know and what they can do with what they know.
2. Assume that any student who isn’t taking the test is not part of this smart fraction.
3. Adjust the recorded smart fraction for those not taking the test.
4. Map the adjusted PISA mathematical smart fraction.

And the result:
ocean
Source image file here, source data here.
The darker the red, the larger the percentage of the population supposed to be taking the 2012 PISA test that is proficient in middle school mathematics. White indicates there is virtually no smart fraction in the entire country- almost every fifteen-year-old living there is innumerate, lazy, or both. Notice the similarity in colorings between all the Balkan countries, including Greece and Cyprus (first-world places by any measure). Also, notice the lack of intelligence in Malaysia, the richest of the Muslim-majority Real Countries, as well as in all Latin America and the Arab world. There can be no question that without the Chinese, Malaysia would be a very poor place, indeed.

Politics Is Not About Policy

1. #BlackLivesMatter ignores 99%+ of Black deaths.
2. Reagan, despite having a fairly fiscally conservative presidency, is condemned by most of the American Left for the large size of the Federal deficits under him, while Obama, with a less fiscally conservative presidency, is condemned by most of the American Left for the insufficiently large size of the deficits under him.
3. Conservatives still occasionally pretend there is any risk of serious gun legislation in the U.S., despite the fact there is none, and never has been since 2008.
4. When Obama came into office, the anti-war movement instantly disappeared.
6. When the Presidency switches parties, the average member of the winning party instantly switches his perception of the economy to being more favorable than the perception of the average member of the losing party. Despite the fact that the Presidency in the U.S. can really only effect economic policy through the bureaucracy, and rarely does even that.
7. Every time the Islamic State is brought up, the New York Times commentariat always find some way to blame Bush, even though he defeated the Islamic State of Iraq by the time he left office and the existence (and every action) of the Islamic State is squarely due to deliberate Obama policy. They never, ever suggest any sort of strategy to defeat the Islamic State, falsely saying or implying that it is impossible or very costly.
8. This cartoon makes perfect sense.
9. Iran has never had nuclear weapons, despite being predicted to acquire them in five to ten years time since twenty years ago, the Iranian nuclear deal prevents Iran from ever getting nuclear weapons (as though the Iranian leadership ever wanted them, which they didn’t), if Iran ever wanted the destruction of Israel, it would do so with a simple march through Iraq and Syria, and, as long as one Israeli soldier is not worth ten Iranian ones, win, and states far more dangerous and trigger-happy than Iran (Israel, Pakistan, North Korea) possess nuclear weapons with no one giving two fucks. Yet, the Israeli (and American conservative) mainstream constantly complains about the Iran nuclear deal, saying it would lead to Iran getting nuclear weapons and destroying Israel.
10. SJWs often complain about harassment against their comrades, yet, are typically perfectly okay with doxxing their critics to encourage harassment against them.

Politics isn’t about policy. It’s about personality. BTW, by the standards of the Modeled Behavior blog, the country where politics is most about policy is Singapore, a dominant-party state.

Strange Utopia in Real Life

In my Strange Utopia I had my White main character (who is not even remotely based on me) have his bicycle and cell phone robbed by a Black man. Well, I can assure you that something quite similar happened to me today (or yesterday) -my car’s catalytic converter was sawed off and taken, probably by a Black man (probability >60%, given the demographic composition of the area I live in, the huge difference in average crime perpetration rates between Blacks and (Whites+Indians) in the U.S., and pictures in news). It’ll likely cost me in the neighborhood of $200-$300 (today’s currency) to replace it -similar to the $500 (future currency) it cost my fictional character to replace his stolen bicycle. Note that price levels in the Strange Utopia are arbitrary and assume low inflation due to the prevalence of MMT-style thinking.

Unlike my fictional character, I did report this crime to the police, as this is Real Life, not the Strange Utopia.

P.S. -Your daily dose of nutty Far Left biology professor PZ Myers (w/ nofollow value). I totally endorse this statement:

Let’s all of us white people stand together against these black people who simply don’t appreciate our white values and our shining white dreams!