1. Austin Frakt: Improving Health Through Coverage Expansion: “How certain are we that health insurance reduces mortality rates? Weeks before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law, a provocative column in The Atlantic [by Megan McArdle] posed this question… drew on an unrepresentative subset of the literature… including a 2009 study by Kronick. Others have asserted, on the basis of studies with designs inappropriate for causal inference, that Medicaid coverage causes worse outcomes than no coverage. Such claims that health insurance is not good for health have fueled political opposition to the ACA’s subsidized coverage expansion, including nearly half of states opting out of Medicaid expansion. These claims are incorrect…. A growing body of work… has exploited the coverage expansion in Massachusetts… Courtemanche and Zapata… Van der Wees and coworkers… Sommers and colleagues…. The likely pathway… is clear: Coverage expansion is associated with improvements in measures of access to care…. Although some health care does not substantially improve health, much of it does…. What is unreasonable and, in my view, unconscionable is to leverage a selective reading of the evidence on the benefits of health insurance in an argument to deny assistance to Americans who cannot afford to purchase basic coverage.”

  2. Harold Pollack: Could Obamacare save 24,000 lives a year?: “Ten years of Romneycare data offer solid evidence that the Affordable Care Act could reduce the nation’s mortality rate…”

Should Be Aware of:

  1. Jon Rees: The flipped classroom is decadent and depraved: “The lack of assigned reading (or at least the lack of time for assigned reading) if students spend most of their limited homework hours watching videos. What I want to do now is… take a look at exactly what teachers are doing in class once their classroom has been flipped…. ‘the educational equivalent of scanning your own groceries at the supermarket’…. What exactly does the professor do all period in their flipped classroom in order to maximize the efficiency of the classroom experience for everyone?… If lecturing is so awful how come the Flipped Classroom Messiah Squad wants most class content to be transmitted that way on tape, the least interactive way possible?… Learning from peers in small groups is, of course, another option… [but] why would you possibly outsource actual instruction to students who only just learned the skills that you’re trying to teach them or who quite possibly haven’t learned those skills at all?… I would argue that there is very little daylight between teaching somebody else’s MOOC and flipping your classroom with anybody’s content, including your own…”

  2. Simon Wren-Lewis: Central bank advice on austerity: “The economic debate on the impact on austerity is over bar the details. Fiscal contraction when interest rates are at their zero lower bound is likely to have a significant negative impact on output. Of course the popular debate goes on, because of absurd claims that recovering from austerity somehow validates it…. There are some groups who have a clear self interest… those who would like a smaller state, for example…. As Jeremy Warner said, you can only really make serious inroads into the size of the state during an economic crisis. Large banks also have a direct interest in austerity, because they need low debt to make future bank bailouts credible, enabling them to carry on paying large bonuses from the implicit state subsidy that this creates. So… those close to finance will always talk up the danger of a debt funding crisis just around the corner. However there is a large middle ground…. [But if] the central bank makes it known that QE drastically reduces the chance of a debt funding panic, and anyway they have the means to offset its impact if it occurred, any contrary advice from the financial sector might be defused. The middle ground might be persuaded that fiscal stimulus is possible after all…. Which brings us to the UK, and the coalition agreement of 2010. The Conservatives may well have advocated their austerity programme whatever the Bank of England had said…. However their coalition partners, the LibDems, had campaigned on a more gradual deficit reduction plan similar to Labour. Mervyn King’s advice during this period is often credited with helping persuade the LibDems to accept the Conservatives’ proposals…. So why did King advocate austerity, rather than telling politicians that with QE in place, a funding crisis was both much less likely and less damaging?”

  3. Mike Schilling: No Man is a Hero to his Valet: “is a phrase that applies universally, even if the man isn’t, strictly speaking, a man, as we see in this quote from My Three Ages Backstairs at the Barad-Dur. ‘Things was run right when Mr. Morgoth was still here. He knew how to show them elves what was what, not flattering and fawning like this new one does. The dinner guests was gentlefolk like Maia and Balrogs, and it was a pleasure to serve them. We don’t even set out the good mithril for them orcs that come these days. And what sort of hobby is jewelry-making? You don’t suppose he’s… well, I know it’s not my place to say, but that Mr. Sauron’s not a proper Dark Lord, not at all…'”

  4. Corey Robin: The Calculus of Their Consent: “I suspect you actually don’t know what the Chicago Boys did not only under Pinochet but also for Pinochet. If you read the documents linked to — which just give a teeny tiny glimpse of the propaganda some of the Chicago Boys mounted on behalf of the regime–you’ll get a sense that part of their task was not merely to work over the economy but also to mount an aggressive defense of the Pinochet regime, both in Chile and abroad. Which they did happily. It would be one thing, I suppose, if they said, ‘Look, I’m working with and for the regime because I believe its free-market reforms are necessary to improving the lives of Chileans, but I have to acknowledge that its human rights record is just God-awful and indefensible. Under no circumstance can you justify the torture, killing, and disappearance of at least three thousand men and women.’ But of course we got nothing like that. We got instead the kind of propaganda coups that were mounted by many of the folks who are named in those documents. And who then were able to persuade international luminaries like Hayek to do the same. If you want to defend the Chicago Boys, you have to defend the propaganda they performed on behalf of the regime…”


Already-Noted Must-Reads:

  1. David Beckworth: The Seesaw Approach to Monetary Policy: “‘A NGDP target aims to stabilize total dollar spending. It is one target that has embedded in it both the supply of and the demand for money (i.e. total dollar spending = money supply x velocity of money). The beauty of a NGDP target is that the Fed does not need to know what is exactly happening to the money supply or money demand. All the Fed only needs to worry about is the product of the two components. There is no need to track the money supply or estimate money demand. By focusing on total dollar spending, the Fed will be fostering a stable monetary environment where movements in money supply and money demand are offsetting each other. ‘Another way of saying this is that if the Fed targets the growth path of NGDP it will be taking a seesaw approach to monetary stability. That is, endogenous changes in the money supply will be automatically offset by changes in money velocity and vice versa…. Now to be clear, most money is inside money–money endogenously created by banks and other financial firms–and the Fed only indirectly influences its creation. However, it does so in an important way by shaping the macroeconomic environment in which money gets created…. By successfully stabilizing the expected growth path of total dollar spending, the Fed will be causing this seesaw process to work properly…. Even though the Fed was not officially targeting NGDP, it effectively seem to be practicing the seesaw approach to monetary policy over much of the Great Moderation period…. One way, then, to view the Fed’s job is that it should aim to keep the monetary seesaw process working properly. For a long time it did that, but failed spectacularly in 2008-2009. It would be whole lot easier going forward if the Fed explicitly adopted a NGDP level target.”

  2. Jonathan Cohn: Massachusetts Health Reform Saved Lives, So May Obamacare: “Benjamin Sommers… Katherine Baicker… and Sharon Long were able to isolate causes of mortality “amenable to health care.”… Then they compared how the people in Massachusetts fared relative to groups of people from around New England… [who] lived in states where similar expansions of health insurance were not underway…. For every 830 people who got insurance in Massachusetts, about one person avoided a premature death. That’s a big payoff…. Obamacare might have one, too. If millions of additional Americans end up with health insurance because of the law… at least that a few thousand are going to live longer…