How Far We’ve Come

From Against Jebel al-Lawz, my other blog.

Against Jebel al-Lawz

Your sigh of relief for today:

Screenshot (134)

This is my latest unemployment severity index. The first version was unveiled in July of 2014, where it recognized a massive labor market improvement everyday Americans only noticed a few months later. Obviously, I hope this trend will turn around in the following months, or at least slow down greatly, so that Trump, that savior of American sanity, can become President. The Fed seems to be accomodative to my position. Good.

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How Far We’ve Come

Your sigh of relief for today:
Screenshot (134)
This is my latest unemployment severity index. The first version was unveiled in July of 2014, where it recognized a massive labor market improvement everyday Americans only noticed a few months later. Obviously, I hope this trend will turn around in the following months, or at least slow down greatly, so that Trump, that savior of American sanity, can become President. The Fed seems to be accomodative to my position. Good.

New Year’s Eve Assorted Links

1. Americans had the most free time since 1991 in 2009.

2. Microsoft demands all the profits from Corel Home Office for its supposed use of a Microsoft-owned design.

3. Iranian Atheist rejects characterization of Muslim critics of modal Islam as Uncle Toms.

4. Lessons for the GOP on Trump.

5. Martin Van Creveld on how women came to live longer than men.

6. Biggest supporters of Trump are Reagan Democrats. Also, as usual, the most popular NYT comment is filled with blatant lies.

7. Only 10% of Clinton emails released.

8. Erdmann on the rise of the Penn Effect in the housing market.

Black Man Charged With Rape of White Woman

From the New York Times:

“The evidence is strong and sufficient to proceed,” said Mr. Steele, now first assistant district attorney. “A person in that state cannot give consent,” he added.

“Investigators recognize that individuals who are falsely accused of sexual assault generally do not unilaterally offer generous financial assistance, and apologies, to their accuser and their accuser’s family,” the complaint says.

The criminal charges stem from a woman’s accusation that he drugged and sexually abused her at his home in a suburb north of Philadelphia in 2004.

Judge McHugh concluded the proceeding after about 15 minutes by saying, “Good luck to you, sir.” He replied, “Thank you.” He will remain free on bail of $1 million.

Would the reaction be different were Cosby were known as a progressive, instead of as right-of-center by American Black standards?

Wednesday Assorted Links

1. The director of Human Rights Watch blatantly contradicts himself in a matter of five days.

2. If Bernie were a Phillip K. Dick character…

3. The Donald on national security.

4. Ralph Nader on immigration.

5. The Decline of the American family. I’d like to see such a graph for Japan.

6. 70-year-old tanks to be used in 2016 by South American military.

7. “To win, Romney would have had to do a bit better than even Obama did among Hispanics.”

8. What it takes for a fish species to inhabit all tropical seas.

Is It Better For a Country to Score Better on PISA or TIMSS?

According to Kevin Drum, the countries whose students are most overachieving on the 2011 TIMSS relative to the 2012 PISA are Israel, Russia, the U.S., Kazakhstan, Hungary, and Korea. Those most overachieving on the 2012 PISA are Norway, New Zealand, Slovenia, Australia, Finland, and Turkey.

The main difference between those sets of countries seems to be about cognitive inequality. The TIMSS-overachieving countries have large numbers of smart people, especially in the technical fields. The Russian language is well known to be overrepresented on the Internet relative to the world’s Russian-speaking population. Russian and Israeli scientists are well-known across the world. Meanwhile, the PISA-overachieving countries listed above are much less famous for their smart people, especially scientists and technologists. Yet, it is clear the Russian and Israeli people are not as good at creating First World countries as, say, the Norwegians, Australians, and New Zealanders.

So scoring well on PISA is better correlated with a country’s ability to build a good society for its citizens, while scoring well on TIMSS is better correlated with a country’s will to power, especially in military, in technology, and on the Internet. America, Russia, Israel, and Korea are well known for their powerful militaries. Of the PISA-overachieving countries, only Turkey (Turkiye Delenda Est) and, to a lesser extent, Finland, are known for their militaries, and they haven’t fought a major war since the 1940s. Meanwhile, Korea fought in Vietnam and remains technically at war, Israel’s history of warfare does not need to be summarized here, and Russia won wars in Chechna, Ossetia, and Donbass in the past fifteen years alone. A country which is always under the threat of war will have an education system built for it. Given the TIMSS is meant to measure school curriculum, which can be altered by the state to a far greater extent than a nation’s IQ, an improved education system, especially in the technical fields, those most vital to the military, will be most manifest in improved scores on the TIMSS tests. TIMSS does stand for Trends in International and Science Study, after all.

I also suspect that much of the difference lies in sampling: where the tests are taken. The 2012 PISA, for example, is certainly more representative of Kazakhstan than the 2011 TIMSS, where a higher-scoring population, probably Russian (I haven’t looked), is almost certainly overrepresented. The 2007 TIMSS was even more unrepresentative of Kazakhstan (4th grade) and Hungary (8th grade, but not 4th grade), placing their average mathematics scores between those of Japan and Russia. Nobody who seriously understands the nature of those countries can believe this is representative. The 2012 PISA is also almost certainly more representative of Russia’s and Israel’s IQ- the PISA-based estimate of Russia’s IQ (in the mid-90s) seems about right, as well as the PISA-based estimate of Israel’s IQ, especially given the society the Israeli leadership has created over the past six decades (more on that in a later post). Most likely, the residents of the big cities-Moscow, St. Petersburg, Tel Aviv- tend to be more overrepresented in at least some TIMSS-taking countries, with low-average-IQ ethnic minorities in both countries (Arabs in the case of Israel, native Siberians and Caucasians in the case of Russia) being underrepresented (though Arabs in Israel were fairly represented in the 2007 TIMSS). Indeed, the 2007 TIMSS was much more consistent with the 2012 PISA than the 2011 one was for Israel’s ranking, suggesting sampling in the 2011 TIMSS was far less fair. So while both tests should be used, TIMSS’s sampling should be usually considered as more suspect, while PISA’s questions should be considered less indicative of a country’s population’s technical competence.

Tuesday Assorted Links

1. Munger on comparative advantage v. opportunity cost (Hat tip: Don Bordeaux).

2. This year in blasphemy criminalization. Plenty of U.S. allies here (Islamic State, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, 1991 Restoration State, Bahrain), as well as some surprises for the less sophisticated observer (New Zealand, Denmark, Singapore).

3. Don Bordeaux on reasoning from minimum wage to CEO compensation.

4. Life after the Islamic State.

5. Krugman calls for a housing bubble, tries to weasel out of it, then blames capitalism. Fun.

6. “I disagree with Razib Khan on a lot of things”. Biggest unintentional understatement of the year. If biologists from such distant sides of the aisle so strongly agree then this subject, then it is Law.

7. “The book of Europe and ancient DNA is coming to a close in regards to outlines of the tapestry. We are in the phase of filling in details, and scholars need to truly become interdisciplinary, and marry what genes are telling us about demographics, with linguistics, archaeology, and folklore.

8. Reagan did a Nixon on monetary policy.

Five Years of Against Jebel al-Lawz

This year’s Annual Report.

Last year’s Annual Report.

2013’s Annual Report.

The 2012 Annual Report.

This blog’s first Annual Report.

This blog was founded around 11 AM-12PM Eastern Time on December 29, 2010. By far the most notable event relating to the lands of the Bible and their archaeology which has happened since that day has been the destruction of Libya, Syria, and northern Iraq, by the vile Obama administration and its servant, the Islamic State, which today rules Syrtis, Raqqa, Tadmor, Calah, Nineveh, Mari, Hatra, and virtually all the land of Aram-Naharim. Never on that day or at any time before could I have imagined this occurring.

When I started this blog, Syria seemed like a stable oasis of peace, full of fertile archaeological sites to be explored in the next half decade. By the command of the Great Satan, this has been turned into a land dominated by a covertly U.S., Turkish, and Israeli-backed Caliphate, created by Obama to crush the back of the Axis of Resistance while encouraging the rise of new domestic terrorists to destroy civil liberties both at home and abroad. Less than half a year after I started my blog, Obama killed Bin Laden. We know know that this was not in legitimate and serious faith to fight against the threat of Islamist militancy, but a ploy; a vile and despicable ploy for the Great Satan to take control of the international jihadist movement, destroying any true resistance to its plans for world domination by stealth. Libya seemed like a pretty damaged place, but still a stable one, and not one likely to be home to a U.S. backed faux-reactionary caliphate any time soon.

Nevertheless, despite all the setbacks the Syrian government has suffered during the past year- the loss of Palmyra, Mahin, Bosra, and almost all of Idlib province- it has continued to make gains on the outskirts of Damascus and Aleppo and has gained a new direct ally in the form of Russian airstrikes by that champion of Russian sovereignty and international strength and credit, the most powerful White man in the world, Vladimir Putin. Though the airstrikes have not been effective at effecting any significant territorial transfers, they have weakened the heart of the enemy and have led to renewed confidence among anti-Islamist fighters. Indeed, even as we speak, the Syrian Kurds are advancing across Tishrin dam to combat the American-created menace (although, bitterly enough, by the will of the Americans). There is also good news on the Iraqi front, with Sinjar, Ramadi, Baiji, and Tikrit having been recaptured by previously unwilling elected Iraqi political entities all in the past six months. But we have to remember this is all reversing the losses made during the past two years, and that none of these cities were controlled by any Obama State on the day this blog was founded. Things could have gone differently were different people in charge of the Executive Office (though the present head of the Great Satan may well have been much superior to the vast majority of alternate contenders for that office- thus is the state of America).

I am also hopeful this year for prospects for American politics. Despite the loss of Ron Paul as Representative for Galveston, a great tragedy which shall be mourned, Congress has gained another, much more credible, yet, lukewarm advocate of liberty in the form of his son, Rand Paul, who, sadly, has condemned Russia’s rightful reunification with Krim. However, the most positive development in American politics this year has been the transformation and the rise of Donald Trump, who, while by no means a friend of liberty, free commerce, and privacy, has by far the best foreign policy of any Republican candidate, while also being the clear front-runner today for the Republican nomination.

Though the Ramat Rachel and Ramat Rahel WordPress blogs have not, as of yet, been developed, a new blog has sprung up of my authorship, the Marginal Counterrevolution, a true great addition to the realm of countering the censorship of my comments at the original Marginal Revolution, perhaps the easiest blog to write in the world, as well as whose authors are the most overrated.

My thinking has changed in the past five years. It has become less libertarian, more sympathetic to the claims of racists, sexists, anti-semites, and homophobes, and less concerned with offending the Left. But I have also become less conspiratorial, preferring to see the world of human affairs as a product of interactions between genetics, sincere dreams, conspiracies, and environment, with me having completely failed to have seen the importance of the first on the day of this blog’s foundation, and having neglected the importance of the second. I have also vastly improved in my understanding of macroeconomics, switching from relying mostly on the Austrian school, to relying upon that lightning and sun, that man who is most like what gods are imagined to be, Scott Sumner, a truly great exponent of sound opinion on monetary policy, inequality, and taxation.

This blog has been visited about the same number of times each year since 2013. Comments are down significantly this year, with G.M. Grena preferring to send me notifications by email. This was the year in which the greatest number of pictures was uploaded to this blog, but the number of megabytes of pictures uploaded was also the second-smallest in this blog’s history. The rate of posting has also improved since last year, largely due to greater free time on my part, but this has been almost entirely due to the publication of posts not related to the Lands of the Bible -though I am still sharp there as well, debating some other person on the relevant subject in the comments of this post.

All my most popular posts during my most popular day of each year were above-average ones, with the exception, perhaps, of my first year’s. For some reason, since 2012, every single year my most popular post of the year has been Ron Wyatt: the Saga of the Ark of the Covenant. I consider it a good piece of investigative blogging, but due to its partially speculative nature, it’s by no means the best post on this site.

Let this blog have at least fifteen more years of advocacy and information.

Monday Assorted Links

1. Partying increases college rape reports.

2. Ways the U.S. Constitution was not pro-slavery.

3. How Israeli national identity is different from Argentine and Canadian.

4. Measuring the impact of the Snowden leaks on the use of encryption by online jihadists.

5. Erdmann on the “housing ATM” myth.

6. Fixing peer review.

7. Turkiye delenda est.

8. Bill Clinton still exists.

A Closer Look at Saving and Investment

Information from this table and this guide.

Gross saving is the unconsumed portion of national income. It can also be defined as gross domestic investment plus net exports. Though it is rare for gross saving to be negative, it is not impossible given sufficiently little investment and negative net exports.

Gross domestic investment is the portion of gross domestic product produced for ends other than final consumption.

Net lending is gross saving less gross domestic investment. If it’s negative, the rest of the world lends to us. If it’s positive, we lend to the rest of the world. It is identical to Net Exports, that is, exports less imports.

Net saving is gross saving less consumption of fixed capital. Since the end of the second World War, it has only been in negative territory in the United States during the Great Recession and its aftermath.


By definition, worldwide saving=worldwide investment. This, as Nick Rowe says, is an accounting identity, much like apples sold=apples bought. There is nothing savings can be, in the end, other than investment. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be savings. If a country had exported nothing and had no gross domestic investment, but imported $100 million worth of stuff, its gross saving rate would be negative. Just like in Afghanistan. Likewise, if another country had no gross investment and imported nothing but exported $100 million worth of stuff, it would have $100 million both gross and net savings. If those were the only two countries which existed, worldwide savings would be zero and worldwide investment would be zero.

Thus is the nature of saving and investment.

As a rule, investment is the most variable part of GDP. Thus, changes in the investment to GDP ratio are strongly correlated with real GDP growth. Yes, changes in the ratio of total investment to GDP (R-squared=.5749) are better correlated with real GDP growth than changes in the ratio of private investment to GDP (R-squared=.4936). Government investment is investment, too.

This variable nature of investment results from the fact that when an economy contracts, the parts of it producing for ends other than consumption are the least vital parts of the economy to immediately maintain. Thus, they contract the most. The mirror of this holds true for expansions.

Contra vulgar Keynesian/prog claims, during recessions, the saving rate (both gross and net) falls, as people have less money to put aside on savings. Thus, less Chinese investment in Africa when trouble brews in China, and less Japanese investment in the U.S. during the Lost Two Decades. What the vulgar Keynesians refer to as an increase in saving is actually a fall in the velocity of money, which has nothing to do with the subject of this post. However, in at least the United States, investment during recessions typically falls faster than the national saving rate, thus leading to larger net exports.

It is now time to go back to the subject of the last post. Why do countries which desire to grow their gross domestic product at high rates necessarily have to have high savings rates? Let us look at the graph again:

Screenshot (129)2

Countries with a gross savings rate of under 10% invariably had per capita real GDP growth rates of below 1%. There are no countries with an average growth rate of over 6% that had an average savings rate of less than 30%.

Why is this so? Because in order for real GDP in a country to quickly advance to prosperity like in China, Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan, a country has to rapidly accumulate product not meant for final consumption -housing, malls, dams, trucks, ships, power plants, streetlights, docks, hospitals, tractors, factories, computers, highways, railroads, airports, inventory, etc. Compare Shanghai in 1990 to Shanghai today:


If a country does not accumulate these at a rate faster than capital consumption, its capital stock will inevitably decrease, thus hurting prospects for increasing income. Thus, the low or negative per capita GDP growth of countries with savings rates below 9%.

It’s also desirable for rapidly rising countries to accumulate foreign currency and to build up their productive capacities and consumptive opportunities by selling their production to foreign markets. Isolation from foreign trade, as Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Turkey attempted before 1980, is consistent with fast economic growth, but hurts in the end, whether via debt crises (the bane of such practitioners of import-substitution), deterioration of the relative qualities and prices of domestic production, or the spread of corruption and favoritism.

And gross saving is precisely investment+net exports. China has often been accused of insufficiently focusing its growth on consumption. Yet, extraordinarily high investment rates are an inevitable part of getting rich quick. There is no country that has grown as fast as China over a sustained period of time without having investment rates similar to it. And China, due to its lack of need of foreign imports and insufficient foreign purchases of its assets, also has a large quantity of net exports, thus, further adding to its gross savings rate. This is precisely what should happen to a country with great natural wealth and a huge differential between the prices of its exportable production with the rest of the world.

Of course, a high rate of investment+ net exports alone will do a country no good. Were the reverse true, the economy of the Philippines would be soaring, as well as that of Algeria. The GDP of the Soviet Union would have eventually surpassed the size of that of the United States. Such impossibilities show that not all investment is good investment, and not all net exports are invested productively (cf., Venezuela, early 1980s).

In conclusion, for rising nations, high savings rates are neither good nor bad. They are necessary.