# Monitoring progress

The counterfactual is a complex notion for statistics, with an offshoot into philosophy witness this entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Judea Pearl in his fabulous book Causality (2000:33-34) states:

“(…) asking what percentage Q of subjects who died under treatment would have recovered had they not taken the treatment – will encounter (…) difficulties because none of these subjects was tested under the no-treatment condition. Such difficulties have prompted some statisticians to dismiss counterfactual questions as metaphysical and to advocate the restriction of statistical analysis to only those questions that can be answered by direct tests (…)”.

There is a difference between metaphysics and reasonable issues that are difficult to measure. A problem is that mathematics has tended to base statistics within probability theory while the material sciences are also concerned about causality.

A highschool textbook question gives a straightforward example how the counterfactual arises naturally.

The question describes that farmers are hindered by rats eating their crops. They may hire one or two rat catchers. The students are asked to create the formulas and calculate and plot various outcomes. The highschool discussion stops there since the learning goal is limited to understanding recursive forms. We can look a bit deeper at the implied counterfactual however.

The example starts with 1400 rats which population grows with 40% per period. A catcher can catch 400 rats per period. For a single catcher the highschool students must construct the formula is r[t] = 1.4 * r[t-1] – 400, with r[0] = 1400. What is it for two catchers ? Let us call them John and Paul.

The highschool textbook seems to allow the answer r[t] = 1.4 r[t-1] – 800. In survival analysis we however know about the effect of competing causes. It may be that Paul catches a rat that only a few hours later would have been caught by John if Paul hadn’t been earlier, or conversely. They might both stumble on the same rat and catch it both: rather than recording such double catches, they may allot such catches to each in turn. This creates the statistical difference between a catch and a rat, where a catch may indicate only a half rat. There is also the difference between the joint operation of two catchers and the conjoint event of both catching the same rat.

The population of rats at the end of the period would be 1.4 * 1400 = 1960 (which is our first counterfactual) except for the fact that a single catcher diminishes this by 400. Thus the catch rate is f = 400 / 1960 ~ 20% and the survival rate is s = 1560 / 1960 ~ 80%.

Assuming that the catchers are equally effective, the joint rat survival rate is (1 – f)^2 = s^2. With two catchers, at the end of the period there are s^2 * 1960 = 1242 surviving rats. Thus jointly 1960 – 1242 = 718 rats are caught. Assuming independence, each catches 359 rats, which is less than the single result of 400. Overall we would get the table on the left (for rats). That table generates a marginal success rate of 359 of 1960 rats, which marginal rate apparently is conditional on the presence of another catcher.

If we want to maintain the original marginal catch rate of 400 of 1960 rats, then we get the table on the right (for catches). It follows that 82 rats would be caught by Paul and John conjointly. The latter is a pure counterfactual, since it would be hard to determine which rat is caught by the one that otherwise would have been caught by the other. (Marking a rat and releasing it again might be an option but this assumes no affect on its behaviour like going into hiding.)

 John not-John Total John not-John Total Paul 0 359 359 82 318 400 not-Paul 359 1242 1601 318 1242 1560 Total 359 1601 1960 400 1560 1960

This number of 82 thus is the counterfactual that comes about straightforwardly in a fairly simple case.

That the counterfactuals exists should not be a problem for statistics, epidemiology and philosophy. Once you start modelling, counterfactuals pop up by implication. The problem is only that some issues are difficult to measure.

In this rat case it would be smart to assign John and Paul different areas so that they can avoid getting in each other’s way. This is common sense and could be assumed in the textbook question. This also assumes that the catch rate depends upon density and that the density doesn’t differ per assigned area, and so on.

Issues become more complex when epidemiology considers different causes of death (other than John and Paul). Who dies from a heart attack can no longer die from cancer. In that case the observations provide us with the table on the left while the table on the right is a figment of our imagination. It is amazing how much still can be said empirically, however. At some point though the general cause of “old age” takes over and statistics may become polluted when it is tried still to identify a single cause.

Counterfactuals might have a bad name. If the moon were made of green cheese then the trees would grow to heaven, is the common counterexample to hypothetical arguments. We are here in the realm of literature. This attitude isn’t reasonable for science however when the questions concern real issues.

Overall it might be wiser to look first at an argument itself and worry less about the implied counterfactual. A focus on the counterfactual might induce the idea that it isn’t relevant since it isn’t factual or part of reality, but such an attitude destroys the very process of argumentation.

I came to writing this because of that textbook question and reading in Pearl, and wondering why such issues aren’t discussed accessibly in highschool. Students would learn more than just constructing recursive formulas.

For this weblog I may add that the argument “If the world would boycott Holland …” should better be judged on its merit so that the present counterfactual has a larger chance of becoming factual.

PS. 1

Let us recover the hidden death and survival rates from the data, assuming independence. We assume one cause C with death rate f and other causes OC with death rate g. The conjoint catch rate is f g. For cause C its share in the joint catch may be taken as f / (f + g). Formally we have the following tables, with the total population normalized to 1.

 C not-C Total C not-C Total OC 0 y y f g g (1 – f) g not-OC x (1–f) (1–g) 1 – y f (1–g) (1–f) (1–g) 1 – g Total x 1 – x 1 f 1 – f 1

x = f (1 – g) + f / (f + g) * f g
y = g(1 – f) + g / (f + g) * f g

In a numerical example, let the observations be given as in the table of the left. Then we can solve the equations (1 – f) (1 – g) = 0.64 and y = g (1 – f) + g / (f + g) * f g = 0.17. We find the solution values on the right.

 C not-C Total C not-C Total OC 0 0.17 0.17 0.040 0.151 0.191 not-OC 0.19 0.64 0.83 0.169 0.640 0.809 Total 0.19 0.81 1 0.209 0.791 1

When C and OC are not independent then other tricks are required, which depend upon the case at hand. When such causes are interdependent, like when a general rise of disease reduces immunity and affects the various states, then we would look for deeper causes.

(PM 1. The standard approach in survival analysis has the competing risk model. It is a bit awkward that I cannot quickly point to the possible similarities and differences in the above approach with that standard survival approach, and have to look into this further. PM 2. Let me indicate a study by Mackenbach et al. (1999) on competing risks that aren’t independent.)

PS. 2

Pearl (2009:379) is stern on econometrics: “In almost every one of his recent articles James Heckman stresses the importance of counterfactuals as a necessary component of economic analysis and the hallmark of econometric achievement in the past century. For example, the first paragraph of the HV article reads: “they [policy comparisons] require that the economist construct counterfactuals. Counterfactuals are required to forecast the effects of policies that have been tried in one environment but are proposed to be applied in new environments and to forecast the effects of new policies.” Likewise, in his Sociological Methodology article (2005), Heckman states: “Economists since the time of Haavelmo (1943, 1944) have recognized the need for precise models to construct counterfactuals… The econometric framework is explicit about how counterfactuals are generated and how interventions are assigned…” And yet, despite the proclaimed centrality of counterfactuals in econometric analysis, a curious reader will be hard pressed to identify even one econometric article or textbook in the past 40 years in which counterfactuals or causal effects are formally defined. Needed is a procedure for computing the counterfactual Y(x, u) in a well-posed, fully specified economic model, with X and Y two arbitrary variables in the model. By rejecting Haavelmo’s definition of Y(x, u), based on surgery, Heckman commits econometrics to another decade of division and ambiguity, with two antagonistic camps working in almost total isolation.” Notice that Haavelmo’s paper tended to cause econometricians to replace Tinbergen’s path analysis (advocated by Pearl) with significance testing (see Ziliak & McCloskey 2007). There is still work to be done.

After World War II most nations created institutes for economic planning. The Great Depression of 1929-1940 and the war effort of 1940-1945 taught the importance of economic science. The analysis by Keynes of 1936 had been confirmed, i.e. the huge investments for the war effort had pulled the US economy out of the Great Depression. New techniques had been developed like linear programming for military sea transports. Economic planning overtook the world and it is as common now as the weather forecast.

Forecasting the weather is fairly simple. You look at the satellite picture and figure out the direction and speed of the wind. Economic projections for next year have a similar structure. Businesses have to decide on their budgets and investments some time in advance and thus it is a good technique to sample them on their intentions. Also governments must decide on their budgets and appropriations, and thus the national economic planning bureaus provide the required integration and co-ordination of the various ministerial plans with the economic prospects.

The problem lies with looking ahead for more years, when also results for next year depend upon what people expect for later on. The economic planning bureau must be based in science, in order to respect the statistics of the past and the samples taken this year, and to separate reasonable expectations for the longer run from political dreams by the administration in power.

Europe has many countries and each has its national economic planning bureau. The EU has now 28 members and thus 28 planning desks. There is much double work and inefficiency as they all try to forecast next year’s outlook. This inefficiency doesn’t matter much. It is like 28 students in a classroom trying to solve the same math exam question: doing it yourself keeps you alert. People normally don’t mind 28 weather forecasters either, who have to translate to local conditions anyway. Variety also prevents group think. Still, it would be somewhat strange if, for example, Germany would forecast 0% and France would forecast 2% for EU growth. Thus there is co-ordination by the EU Commission and by a group like the Association of the European Conjuncture Institutes (with French abbreviation AIECE). Co-ordination of course re-introduces the risk of groupthink via this backdoor.

The Dutch Central Planning Bureau (CPB) is a member of AIECE. As the directorate of CPB has been censoring my analysis since 1990, we may presume that they have not been informing AIECE about it. Neither will they have reported to AIECE that the present economic crisis confirms my analysis. Earlier I explained where my work can be found and why it tends not to be present in “peer reviewed journals”. Hence the economic planning bureaus of Europe are likely to be blissfully unaware of the economic analysis that would greatly contribute to the resolution of the Great Stagflation since 1970 and the economic crisis since 2007.

Hence, I took the liberty to send the economic planning bureaus the email in the appendix below. I have editted the text for readability. The moment of sending the email is a bit awkward: I received various vacation absentee notices of contact persons. The weather forecast requires daily presence, even in sunny California, but economic planning still allows for vacations. Hopefully the AIECE secretariat takes proper care.

It is a moot point whether the other economic planning bureaus would have acted in the same manner as the directorate of the CPB: censoring my analysis and dismissing me with untruths. These institutes may not be immune to the bureaucracy-bug, and we may linger a longer while on the question which bureaus had staff members who issued warnings about a potential crisis before 2007. The suggestion of creating national Economic Supreme Courts would be relevant here.

Appendix: parts of an email

To: the UK Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR), the German Sachverstaedigenrat, the French Commissariat general a la strategie et a la prospective (CGSP),  the Belgian Federaal Planbureau, the Italian ISTAT, the Spanish Direccion General de Analisis Macroeconomico y Economia  Internacional, the Swedish NIER, the Danish DORS, Statistics Norway, the Polish Institute For Market, Consumption And Business Cycles Research, the Greek KEPE, the Finnish ETLA, and AIECE, and CC the Financial Times
Subject: My solution approach to the deepening European crisis / Protest against censorship of science in Holland
Date: Tue, 30 July 2013

Dear fellow economists,

There is a serious risk that the economic crisis in Europe could develop into a much larger one. The euro works out as a gold standard and then consider what happened in the Great Depression.

You might therefor allow me to call your attention to my suggested solution approach in my book DRGTPE that I regard as a nice sequel to Keynes’s “General Theory”. […]  I invite [econometricians] to test my additional analysis in the paper “Money as gold versus money as water” (2013). This is supplementary to DRGTPE (2000, 2005, 2012). I refer to the internet links below. Please be aware that my internet site changed from dataweb.nl to thomascool.eu.

You will generally not be aware of the censorship of science by the directorate of the Dutch Central Planning Bureau (CPB) since 1990. The Dutch government recently appointed per August 1 2013 as new CPB-director ms. Laura van Geest, who however is a bureaucrat and has no track record as a scientist. The same happened in 1988/9 when the government appointed bureaucrat and non-scientist Gerrit Zalm, who after his CPB-period till 1994 continued as Dutch minister of Finance (adopting the euro) and now is CEO of the Dutch bank ABN-AMRO. Regrettably, Zalm started in 1990 censoring my analysis on unemployment and dismissed me with untruths in 1991. Holland hasn’t been able to resolve the issue yet. I advise to a boycott of Holland till the issue is resolved.

Key points in my analysis are:

(1) Between net minimum wage income and gross minimum wage costs there is a tax void. This can be abolished without costs, allowing a reduction of minimum wage costs.

(2) The relevant marginal tax rate is the dynamic marginal tax rate, that comes about by using the total derivative that includes tax changes over time, instead of the partial derivative. Thus VAT be best at 1% (for statistical purposes and as an optional tool for the cycle).

(3) Modern economies require counter-cyclical national investment banks.

(4) When standard macro-economic models are adapted for 1-3 then we have an explanation for the Great Stagflation with its shift of the Phillipscurve since 1965. This stagflation was hidden by the economic deregulations since 1980 but now that we are re-regulating again the problem comes back into the open. PM. Note that Holland tries to solve its 1-3 problems by a low wage policy that exports its unemployment to other countries. Germany copied that policy, with the resulting trade imbalances in the EU.

(5) The lesson learned for the future: The Trias Politica system of government with subordinate planning bureaus fails, and requires the amendment of an Economic Supreme Court.

(6) Since the euro works as a gold standard, this requires a new treaty on an euro 2.0. However, we need not wait for the political process of adoption of a new treaty. European governments can already express their interest and commitment, and create acting national Economic Supreme Courts, so that the process can start fast.

(7) And naturally various details to complete the picture.

Note that DRGTPE 2012 with the PDF on the website consists of the 2005 edition that focusses on unemployment. It includes only summaries of my papers since 2007 on the present crisis. Those papers themselves have often PDFs at MRPA, and are collected in the book “Common Sense: Boycott Holland” (CSBH, no PDF).

I hope that you will study DRGTPE and CSBH, and that you also adopt my advice to boycott Holland till this issue of scientific integrity in Holland is resolved.

PM 1. […]
PM 2. My intention was to send this email to the planning agencies of the countries in the EU. Clearly there are a lot of those, and there is the issue of whom to contact. The above is a fair effort. Perhaps you can make sure that this email reaches the appropriate colleagues at your institute (e.g. the other members of OBR or Sachverstaendigenrat) and the other institutes, where you might perhaps ask AIECE to co-ordinate.

Sincerely yours,

Thomas Cool / Thomas Colignatus
Econometrician (Groningen 1982) and teacher of mathematics (Leiden 2008)
http://thomascool.eu/
http://econpapers.hhs.se/RAS/pco170.htm
https://boycottholland.wordpress.com/

[PM August 19: I should have included the EuroFrame network but informed them separately now.]

Last Tuesday, I found myself invited by the Rijksmuseum, to have some wine and stroll in the quiet of the evening, along its deserted corridors among its great paintings. The building has been restored magnificently. Paintings with romantic ruins in the background always look better when the walls and surroundings are perfect.

When I visited two months earlier to see the results of 10 years of remodelling at the cost of say \$500 million, the first impression was how crowded it was. My companion at that moment got rather irritated by people using flashlights, while everyone should know that flashlights destroy the quality of colours, flash by flash.

This Tuesday, however, we were only a few hundreds, the “donators to the Museum”, and we had the corridors to ourselves. We didn’t need to flash since we had been donating ourselves and had been seeing the stuff for ages and will see them for ages to come.

This evening I didn’t bring a companion, but a 80-year old lady joined my table and provided good company. She confessed that she had donated her collection of some 700 modern drawings over some 60 years. The big regret of her life was that she once actually didn’t buy a Chagall, a regret that many of us can only be envious of. The widow of one of her artists happened to be present, recognized her and came up to thank her that the Rijksmuseum now had a decent overview of his work. She was working hard with the Museum on an exhibition.

After the departure of the grateful and enterprising widow, my new octogenarian companion expressed that she wanted to see the new Rijksprentenkabinet to check how her drawings were being handled. Negotiating with a map and some elevators we found it. Apparenly the kabinet has been moved from the Frans van Mierisstraat to the basement of the Rijksmuseum, with the library as its center.

Once my companion was satisfied that the \$500 million remodelling also included proper care for her donation, we were free to roam the building. Naturally we paid tribute to Rembrandt and Vermeer and their illustrous confreres. At my plea, she came along to see a painting by Jacques van Looy (1855-1930), that had struck me two months earlier – ‘The wealth of Summer’ (1900). The picture below is taken from this website. She agreed that it is quite beautiful. The advantage of old ladies is that she also could identify the flowers that are depicted, and one of the people of the Rijksmuseum promised to check it out.

Jacques van Looy, “Zomerweelde”, ca 1900

Notwithstanding all this beauty and magnificence, boycott Rijksmuseum too, till the censorship of science in Holland is resolved. Forgive me for not being entirely consistent in this myself.

PM. The actual donator is my father, who gave a painting and some drawings by his grandfather to the Rijksmuseum. Because of his age he has transferred the contacts to me. See these works by my greatgrandfather (1951-1904) and see this book by his daughter Tine about the life of an artist family around 1895.

Time exists so that we humans do not get confused. When everything would happen at the same time then we couldn’t manage our economies. This solution isn’t perfect since there is an awful lot that still happens at the same time and that confuses us. We need a new dimension, perhaps one of those of string theory in physics, or perhaps better literature or vacation, where events are more orderly or even entirely absent. Secretary-time would help too, except when she is absent herself again.

One absent event was the visit of Paul Krugman to Holland on June 19th. I spent two thoughtful weblog entries on this promised visit but it didn’t happen. Following Paul on his liberal weblog we can see that he is for a conference in Paris, drinking wine and commenting on Europe’s depressed economy. But the website of the planned visit to Holland has disappeared and there are no reports on his enjoying Dutch cheese.

One cause might be the absence of a high-speed train connection between Paris and The Hague, given the Fyra high-speed train debacle. Dutch NS and Belgian NMBS ordered 19 trains from Italian AnsaldoBreda. This dream deal has turned into a nightmare of technical problems and subsequent litigation, and likely mismanagement on either side.

One thing that didn’t happen either occurred at this year’s Spinoza Prize presentation, on June 10th, organised by the Dutch organisation for science NWO. Last year I already reported that Spinoza himself would not qualify for that Prize. We can observe that nobody listened. For all that matters, the events of last year and this year are merged into one single party event. This train rolled onwards with all its defects but taking advantage of the absence of physical restraints.

One Prize winner was professor Michail Katsnelson from Magnitogorsk in Russia and now at Radboud university in Nijmegen, for his contributions to our understanding of graphene. In an interview he explains that he had to leave Russia after the fall of the USSR looking for a job, and how he pays a high personal prize for this indeed, for he misses mother Russia and the ability to do high level research in his native tongue. His website shows his interest in the philosophy of science, and in his speech he told that he had read Spinoza’s Ethics at a young age. There appears to be a Russian saying when a person does not understand something: “That person isn’t a Spinoza.”

The economic theory presented in this weblog dates back to the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, see my earlier weblog entry. There is also this memo of me jointly with Jan Tinbergen of 1991 on what the Soviet Union might learn from the OECD. In an alternative reality professor Katsnelson might still have worked in Russia though perhaps not on graphene. It makes me wonder whether professor Katsnelson would understand this.

But the SU isn’t there anymore of course. Another thing that is absent are Economic Supreme Courts, which absence causes a lot of failed economic policies.

Apparently the G8 summit in Northern Ireland June 17-18 was much of a non-event too.

I rest my case: The economic approach to confusion is to focus on things that are absent and do not happen.

Germany had an active day. President Joachim Gauck visited Holland and Kanzler Angela Merkel visited Hollande in Paris. Gauck focussed on the human rights institutions in The Hague, and Merkel discussed the eurozone government, see my former weblog entry. Hopefully they know that full employment is one of the human rights, that is being violated in large parts of Europe. I did my best to help, and dispatched a cable to the German Ambassador in The Hague to call attention to my paper Money as gold versus money as water.

After this busy day, my youngest son required bedtime reading and we selected Where the wild things are, by Maurice Sendak. (Dutch Max en de maximonsters.) It seems to be essential reading at that tender age. Surprisingly, my eldest son at college age also insisted on a book and I selected Dichtbij ver van hier, by Tonke Dragt. (English Closeby far from here.) Hopefully you don’t get the wrong idea. We discuss the art of writing. We take a short story and analyse why it is written so well. However, I presume he might be a bit jealous of his little brother who gets a real bedtime read.

My liquor store had an offer of two botlles for EUR 18. I took one Puschkin Vodka and one Player’s rum Dark special. Having taken care of the Germans and my sons, I now reside with Art Buchwald and his book Down the Seine and up the Potomac. I have been a foreign exchange student in 1972-73, the Watergate years, and my American Dad sent me this 1977 book that I consider a classic. Ah, that column, where Washington circles try to remember what they talked about before Watergate … ! The Washington Post put a number of Buchwalds columns on the web, see its list. You might appreciate for example his Bush, flipping for Europe.

I envy Art Buchwald. He merely wants to comment on society and he merely perfects satire. But I hope that censorship is lifted. This is an entirely different ball game. I hope that the Seine and Potomac take notice, if not the Spree. But, still, I bow humbly to Art, mr Buchwald.

The boycott of Holland is difficult and counter-intuitive because there are so many attractive features of Holland that you want to enjoy and don’t want to boycott at all. Consider Anouk from The Hague, not far from my Scheveningen residence.

Don’t underestimate this Dutch mistress of rock ‘n’ roll. She is a mother of four, creator of twelve albums, receiver of many awards, who still experiments with men, soul, funk and hip hop.

Anouk’s latest performance is at the Eurovision Song Contest 2013. She made it into the finals on Saturday May 18 and her success sends waves of euphoria through Holland. One must be a blind and deaf European not to have heard about this annual event. The Song Festival has done more for European integration than the European Union and should have been the actual receiver of the Nobel Prize for Peace.

According to the videoclip her song Birds is about a ballerina who is replaced by a competitor and then climbs to a balustrade to jump to her death on the dance floor. A flock of birds outside makes the ballerina smile and she jumps with spread arms as if flying along. A lyric is: “No air, no cry, that’s why birds don’t fly.” I am afraid that I don’t get it. A ballerina may look like a bird but shouldn’t think that she really is a bird ? But birds do fly. Anouk herself plays the choreographer who replaces that ballerina and who triggers the sad events. She maintains a stern face and isn’t singing at all, so we don’t get a clue here either. It seems only wise that she didn’t use the ballerinas and birds in the Eurovision performance but only presented herself in her plain rocker outfit, outclassing all the glitter and glamour of her competitors with her simple black sweater and jeans.

Curiously, the Anouk YouTube playlist provides us with two other videoclips that show a flock of birds, the songs Kill and The Good Life. I like Kill better, since here we see Anouk making love to an admirer, and that is a story that an admirer can appreciate. Unfortunately, there is a jealous wife who threatens to kill them … I shouldn’t tell you how this clip ends but the logic is easier to follow and it is a warning to all admirers to keep themselves in check and maintain proper distance to this femme fatale rockstar. The final videoclip Pretending As Always doesn’t show us Anouk herself. It neither has birds, but men dressed as rabbits and behaving like rabbits in the Amsterdam red light district. Apparently there is some reverse psychology with the same message that some men cannot be trusted. Anouk’s tough rock ‘n’ roll image hides a womans heart that longs for a man whom she can trust.

I have to be stern and, well, Kill the Dutch euphoria on her chance to win the Song Contest. I have to advise you to boycott Anouk too till the censorship in Holland is lifted. If I wouldn’t advise this, Anouk couldn’t trust my word anymore, and none of us would want that.

Mark Thoma saw a growing gap between the academia and the economy itself – The Great Disconnect – and hopes that weblogging will help close the gap (November 2011):

Modern communications technology is forging new connections between academic economists, the public, policymakers, the press, economists outside of academia, and other academic disciplines in ways that were not possible in the past, and there is little doubt that these connections have increased in recent years. The Great Disconnect is, hopefully, coming to an end.

We are still working out how blogs fit into academic economics, what professional mores ought to apply to blogging, how blogging relates to the academic mission of teaching, research, and service (including serving the public mission), how it should be viewed in tenure and promotion decisions, and so on. But this is a new endeavor for economists, and such questions are expected. We will get these things worked out over time. For now, however, there is plenty of room for optimism that new forms of communication will continue to enhance the public presence of economics in ways that provide mutual benefits to the profession and the public sphere.

I tend to share that optimism, but still think that national Economic Supreme Courts (ESC) are required to really bridge the gap. We cannot leave it to government bureaucracies and the political process to select sense from nonsense. That approach failed before in more civilized times and will surely fail in the present kakophonia.

Brad DeLong wrote on the shift of the Phillipscurve 2013 but see also my analysis in DRGTPE. Also, he wrote a surprising text that referred to … Holland !  The full title of his lecture is Europe Fails to Learn the Lessons of History: Notes on Political Union for Barry Eichengreen’s “Future of the Euro” Conference, as Delivered. The article suffers a bit from a too academic and ivory tower approach to the severe Depression in Southern Europe. He also mentions that Jan de Vries is in the room during his talk, but he and Jan do not mention the censorship of science in Holland since 1990. Otherwise it is a nice review how Europe got into its mess. Still, there are long comments by readers, and now Mark Thoma has show his optimism again that it will be sorted out.

The Palgrave reports that this weblog has been included as number 509. One must be an optimist indeed to join in this fray.