Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wrap Up for July '14

Finally, a month in which I was able to return to more regular posting - with a little luck I can continue! Figures for second quarter 2014 growth appear more positive than expected, but like other market monetarists I will take these with a grain of salt and wait for the revisions. In some respects, the figures seem less about real growth and more about adjustments in the process.

A series of interesting maps in the WSJ, illustrate how healthcare - as a dominant sector - has surpassed manufacturing in many states and of course, retail in the interim. In particular, the retail story was a significant factor for many baby boomers such as myself.
The map from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows how this change actually plays out:

Even though his "tight" viewpoint regarding monetary policy is unfortunate, David Merkel of The Aleph Blog has posts which can be quite helpful. A recent post about the limitations of disability and social security is certainly on target. Such discussions serve as a reminder that new services systems need to be organized sooner, rather than later. Eventually, coordinated service strategies could partially replace local services which function poorly (or sometimes not at all) due to funding difficulties.

While David Merkel bemoaned the fact that social security and disability had not been "properly" dealt with decades earlier, I continue to hope of course there is still ample time to do so. Better coordination of skills sets - in some instances - could become a direct replacement for a sizable portion of today's taxation systems. As Tim Harford noted, taxation has become like Martian algebra and seemingly impossible to decipher. Simpler systems are definitely needed, but getting there also involves a certain degree of complexity in putting something together which works well.

The more time one spends online, the more thought goes into how to approach ongoing dialogue. For instance, if I'm going to complain about someone...context matters! How general - or specific - is my "gripe"? Have I listened to what are sometimes "opposing" arguments at length, or not? Having said that, one reason I perhaps "get away" with complaining about Thomas Piketty: he's working within an ideological spectrum which often stands in contrast to my own. Thus, arguments "against" his can be somewhat general in nature at times. Indeed, counterarguments have played out in an intellectually diverse and varied fashion, since Piketty's recent book was published in the U.S.

Whereas if I have something to say about someone less ideologically driven, I'm not as likely to know whether they even oppose something I could accidentally assume. Hence it's best for me to pay attention to more of what they say or write, in order to find out. Heh, maybe that's why many of us follow Tyler Cowen fairly closely - we're trying to figure out what he really thinks! Sometime it's just easier when someone is nuanced, to mostly highlight their thoughts in a positive context. That way, it's not necessary to challenge someone in a way that could be construed as needless! 

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