“Sidney Morgenbesser walks into a restaurant, has dinner, and then asks the waitress what they have for dessert. She says apple pie and blueberry pie. Sidney Morgenbesser says he’ll have the apple pie. She comes back in a moment and says that they also have cherry pie. So Sidney Morgenbesser says “In that case, I’ll have the blueberry pie.”
Although it is under-studied relative to other social media platforms, YouTube is arguably the largest and most engaging online media consumption platform in the world. Recently, YouTube’s scale has fueled concerns that YouTube users are being radicalized via a combination of biased recommendations and ostensibly apolitical “anti-woke” channels, both of which have been claimed to direct attention to radical political content. Here we test this hypothesis using a representative panel of more than 300,000 Americans and their individual-level browsing behavior, on and off YouTube, from January 2016 through December 2019. Using a labeled set of political news channels, we find that news consumption on YouTube is dominated by mainstream and largely centrist sources. Consumers of far-right content, while more engaged than average, represent a small and stable percentage of news consumers. However, consumption of “anti-woke” content, defined in terms of its opposition to progressive intellectual and political agendas, grew steadily in popularity and is correlated with consumption of far-right content off-platform. We find no evidence that engagement with far-right content is caused by YouTube recommendations systematically, nor do we find clear evidence that anti-woke channels serve as a gateway to the far right. Rather, consumption of political content on YouTube appears to reflect individual preferences that extend across the web as a whole.
Now that the big Biden package has been enacted, we're hearing warnings from some economists — well, one economist — about stagflation. As always, history is extremely useful in thinking about such things; and I've been reviewing the great inflation panic of 2010-11 1/ [LINK]
My sense is that this episode has been widely forgotten, but it's very relevant. Here's what happened: as the economy began to recover from the 2007-9 recession, headline inflation picked up to almost 4% 2/ [LINK]
But you don't get stagflation unless price-setters who *don't* change prices very often — including employers setting annual salaries — begin building expectations of inflation into their pricing 8/ [LINK]
Reading the tale of Europe’s sluggish vaccine efforts, I was reminded of H.L. Mencken’s definition of Puritanism as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.” Eurocrats seem similarly haunted by the fear that someone, somewhere — whether it be pharmaceutical companies or Greek public-sector employees — might be getting away with something.
During the euro crisis this attitude led to the imposition of harsh, destructive austerity policies on debtor nations, lest they somehow fail to pay a sufficient price for past fiscal irresponsibility. This time it meant focusing on driving a hard bargain with drug companies, even at the cost of a possibly deadly delay, lest there be any hint of profiteering.
If the politics of fiscal stimulus have changed, that’s partly because the views of economists have changed—there is a pattern within the pattern. The narrow universe of left-of-center economic policymakers worries less about deficits than it did a decade ago, and the general consensus that the 2009 stimulus was too small has made those policymakers more comfortable with aggressive fiscal interventions in emergencies. DeLong, of Berkeley and the Clinton Administration, guessed that about half of the leftward turn within this universe was owing to these factors. “There is not nearly so much trust in the ability of the market to heal itself,” he said. The other half, he said, was the part that tended to isolate Summers. DeLong ascribed it to politics, and to the general feeling (“in my view, twenty-seven years too late”) that Republicans would never be willing partners for expansive economic intervention. There was little disagreement among liberal economists, he emphasized, over how the Biden Administration ought to spend the money in an ideal world: “Most of us would say infrastructure rather than checks—if we had that option. Only Larry believes we have that option.” DeLong’s own view is that if the Biden Administration had pared back the stimulus in the hopes of building a bipartisan consensus for infrastructure, it would find that no such consensus existed. “In the absence of Republican negotiating partners, center-left Democrats have got to look to the left,” DeLong said. “This is an example of that actually happening.”