Category Archives: Housekeeping

Changes

By James Kwak

You may have noticed that my blogging has tailed way off over the past few months—to, well, just about nothing. You probably noticed that it was pretty spotty for a long time before that. The main reason is that I’ve been busy with a new teaching job, which requires some effort on academic publications, and raising two small children. The other major factor is that I often just find I don’t have much that’s original to say. Financial regulation is a pretty heavily covered field, and I don’t have the time to be a real expert on, say, derivatives clearinghouses, and—believe it or not—I generally try to avoid posting if I don’t have something new to add. I tried to get back into the flow in the spring semester, when I was only teaching one class, and that worked for a while. But at the beginning of the summer I started doing some part-time consulting for my old company (I’m on unpaid leave from my law school this semester), and that’s made it impossible to keep up with the news, much less write something interesting about it.

That said, I still like to write. I’ve started posting occasionally on Medium, which I like both for the gorgeous interface and because it isn’t organized as a reverse-chronological list—which means that I don’t have to worry as much about saying something newsworthy before the moment passes. This week I wrote about playing Minecraft with my daughter (OK, it’s mainly about the Microsoft acquisition) and one of my favorite topics, why megabanks run on bad software.

I don’t know how long I’ll be keeping this up, but in the meantime my plan is to write an occasional post here summarizing things that I write on Medium or elsewhere on the web. As usual, I’ll also post new articles to Twitter more or less immediately after publishing them.

Thanks for reading.

New (Free) Book About U.S. Government Debt

By James Kwak

I contributed a chapter to Is U.S. Government Debt Different?a book published by the Financial Institutions Center of Wharton. It includes chapters by many people more distinguished than I, such as William Bratton, Peter Fisher, James Hines, Howell Jackson, Deborah Lucas, Steven Schwarcz, Richard Sylla, and others. You can download the whole thing for free at the link above. Enjoy.

Why Raise Taxes on Poor People?

By James Kwak

My Atlantic column today is on the bizarre fixation that some conservatives have with taxing poor people, pointed out by Bruce Bartlett in his latest column. Here’s one explanation:

The other, even-more-disturbing explanation, is that Republicans see the rich as worthy members of society (the “producers”) and the poor as a drain on society (the “takers”). In this warped moral universe, it isn’t enough that someone with a gross income of $10 million takes home $8.1 million while someone with a gross income of $20,000 takes home $19,000. That’s called “punishing success,” so we should really increase taxes on the poor person so we can “reward success” by letting the rich person take home even more. This is why today’s conservatives have gone beyond the typical libertarian and supply-side arguments for lower taxes on the rich, and the campaign to transfer wealth from the poor to the rich has taken on such self-righteous tones.

Also, in some housekeeping news, I’ve switched to a personal Twitter account, @JamesYKwak. My blog posts should generate tweets in that account; Simon’s should generate tweets in the old account, @baselinescene. I’ll try to aggregate all the stuff I write in various places in my new Twitter stream.

The Baseline Scenario Facebook page should be aggregating both of our Twitter streams, but I had a little difficulty with it on Monday, so who knows. It seems like Facebook changes the way everything works every other Tuesday, so you never know when something will break.

New “Debt for Beginners” Section

By James Kwak

I created a new “Debt for Beginners” page on the White House Burning website. It’s a collection of previous articles, mainly written for a general audience, on deficits, the national debt, government spending, taxes, and the politics thereof. It’s intended as a starting point for people who want to get up to speed on these issues.

Loyal readers are probably familiar with all the material already.

Under Construction Thursday Night

With WordPress.com, you can’t modify your blog in a sandbox and then promote it to production. Things will be unsettled for a couple of hours.

Update: OK, I think I’m done for now. I’m pretty confident the page nav problem is fixed (thanks to a custom menu). I killed the image at the top of the page to save on white space. We may not need the third column, but we will next week. The Twitter feed filters out all tweets that are just robotic notifications of new blog posts, so it is 100% non-redundant with the rest of the blog.

If the fonts are too small (most common problem, I think), read this (bottom section).

Blog Housekeeping

By James Kwak

As you may have noticed, we’ve been making some changes to the site recently. The main thing is that I decided we needed two sidebars in order to make it into the 21st century. I’ve been looking for a good theme that has three columns but doesn’t have dynamic page navigation (those links across the top), because we have pages that shouldn’t really be made so prominent, but I couldn’t find one. So I switched to this theme, which has three columns but also has dynamic page navigation. Now the problem is that the page navigation is buggy: right now it’s showing pages that no longer exist, pages whose titles have changed, etc., and it seems to change mysteriously from time to time. I’m hoping it will settle down in the next few days. I’ve generally been very happing with wordpress.com, but this is totally infuriating.

Blog Archive Updated

By James Kwak

At the suggestion of an anonymous commenter, I decided to use Vienna, an open-source OS X RSS reader, to download monthly feeds and “print” them to PDFs, so the blog archive is now up to date. It wasn’t quite what I was looking for, since I wanted an online solution, but I don’t mind installing new software on my Mac as much as I minded it on a PC.