Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, February 3, 2010 11:57 pm

Odds and ends for 2/3


Penn State “Climategate” scientist cleared of falsifying data: Three of four charges are dropped, including one claiming he destroyed e-mail; the investigating committee decides it isn’t competent to assess the fourth and punts to a different committee.

Eated: The FDIC closed six banks Friday, bringing the total for the month to 15. Six was the total for the month of January a year ago.

A cautionary note about the strong 4th quarter of GDP: Never, in 50+ years’ worth of data, has a quarter’s GDP growth of 5.7% coincided with a drop in private hours worked (-0.5%). Not sure what that means, but given that we know that productivity growth right now is being driven by layoffs, not capital investment or technological advances, and that 90% of that GDP growth was attributable to stimulus spending only, something’s fishy here.

Lessons from the AIG meltdown from one bureaucrat who sat at the table: I suspect that his conclusions are good because of, not in spite of, the fact that he worked for a state and not the feds.

Contributing factors vs. “but for” factors: Barry Ritholtz divides contributing factors from “but for” factors in deciding how much blame to apportion where for the economic crisis. What’s a “but for” factor? But for X, the crisis wouldn’t have happened. His three major but-for factors? “Ultra-low [interest] rates; unregulated, non-bank subprime lenders; ratings agencies slapping AAA on junk paper.” What about Fannie and Freddie? Contributors, yes, but not but-fors because they arrived so late to the subprime game.

MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan carves the president a well-deserved new one. Perhaps he hasn’t heard what happened to Ashley Bancroft when she did the same to his predecessor. Who’s she, you ask? Indeed.

If the Democrats had the brains God gave a billy goat, this wouldn’t be happening, but Republican pollster Frank Luntz has laid out a strategy for Republicans to use in fighting financial reform, and I’m pretty sure that because of previous Democratic inaction, Luntz’s strategy will work.

David Rosenberg (via Zero Hedge) says this is all far from over: “We ran some simulations to see what would have happened in 2009 without all the massive amounts of fiscal and monetary stimulus. Instead of real GDP contracting 2.4% for all of 2009, it would have been close to a 4.0% decline. And, as for the last two ‘positive quarters’ — well, Q3 would have been -1.0% QoQ [quarter over quarter] at an annual rate and -1.5% for Q4 (as opposed to the +5.7% annualized print). Still no sign of organic private sector growth and here we have the Fed discussing exit strategies and the Obama team about to soak it to the rich (for anyone who makes over $250k). This is what is otherwise known as a ‘low quality’ recovery.” On the bright side, at least he puts paid to all this “The stimulus didn’t help!” nonsense.

James Fallows explains how circumstances now prevent the traditional conception of bipartisanship from functioning in American politics (at least in Congress). I understand all this — quite well, in fact. Indeed, millions and millions of ordinary Americans understand all this probably as well as Fallows does. The question is: Why is it that so many of the people whose job it is to understand this — David Broder, Chris Matthews, Maura Liaason, and I could go on and on and on — do not understand this? Relatedly, because they do not understand this, why do they still have jobs? Digby gets it: “Can anyone argue that the village just sees all electoral losses as a result of the losing party failing to be “centrist” and “bipartisan” enough?  It doesn’t matter what  the real factors are that drove the electorate.”

Way-cool animated model of the solar system: Go here for hours of family fun!

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1 Comment »

  1. Rally for academic integrity at PSU

    “Penn State’s internal inquiry into Michael Mann’s alleged scientific misconduct concluded with the virtual exoneration of his behavior, and ignored key evidence in the Climategate scandal. As feared, this inquiry was little more than a whitewash—an assault on academic integrity.

    First, the university’s internal review consisted of three Penn State employees who have strong incentives to protect the school’s reputation and the millions of dollars it receives from global warming research grants. There was no external oversight.

    Second, the review consisted of looking at a mere 47 emails (out of thousands in question), interviewing Mann, analyzing materials he submitted, and asking only two biased sources about his credibility. Penn State hardly conducted a “thorough investigation” of alleged wrongdoing by Mann.

    Consider the following extract:
    “•He [Mann] explained that he had never falsified any data, nor had he had ever manipulated data to serve a given predetermined outcome;
    “•He explained that he never used inappropriate influence in reviewing papers by other scientists who disagreed with the conclusions of his science;
    “•He explained that he never deleted emails at the behest of any other scientist, specifically including Dr. Phil Jones, and that he never withheld data with the intention of obstructing science; and
    “•He explained that he never engaged in activities or behaviors that were inconsistent with accepted academic practices.”

    In short, Mann’s own claim of innocence is taken as proof of his innocence. Moreover, parts of the report are almost fawning in their description of Mann (e.g. “All were impressed by Dr. Mann’s composure and his forthright responses”). “This type of language would be more appropriate in a letter of recommendation than in a serious investigation,” commented Penn State sophomore, and YAF chair, Samuel Settle.

    Third, Penn State’s internal review ignored key passages in the emails under scrutiny. While the committee examined the use of the word “trick” in correspondence between Mann and colleague Phil Jones, it failed to explore the purpose of Mann’s “trick” to “hide the decline [in global temperatures],” which clearly suggests a manipulation of the data.

    Penn State’s internal review of a few emails by vested interests inspires no confidence that Mann did not engage in scientific misconduct—which is precisely why an independent and external investigation of Michael Mann and Climategate is essential in order to reach a credible conclusion.”

    Nice try !

    Comment by Fred Gregory — Thursday, February 11, 2010 11:18 pm @ 11:18 pm | Reply


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