Memewatch: Krugman explains “default!”


How well did he do: Some things never get explained, although they get repeated incessantly.

Case in point: the following letter appears in today’s New York Times:
LETTER TO THE NEW YORK TIMES (10/11/13): The stance of some Republican members of Congress and others is not surprising, coming from the party that denies the human impact on global warming, is home to so many creationists and “birthers,” and cuts spending for research and education.

Gut feelings and denial of inconvenient facts are more important to them than rational analysis. Since 1968 I have worked for three Republican members of Congress and have covered the Hill for a major news agency, and this is the worst Congress I’ve seen.

It is a disgrace that the country is being ruined by some 20-plus know-nothing members who have little or no previous government experience, and by a “leadership” that is not willing to stand up to them and their well-financed ideological groups.
To this day, we have no idea how “20-plus know-nothing members” of the House are supposed to be running, even ruining, the country. You hear the claim made all the time. But how is that supposed to work?

At present, there are 432 members of the House (three vacancies). 232 are Republicans. How could 20-something junior members be screwing everything up?

We’re just saying! Our culture runs on familiar claims, not on clear explanations. A second case in point:

This morning, the analysts cheered at the start of Paul Krugman’s column. What will happen if we don’t raise the debt limit? Krugman said he’d explain:
KRUGMAN (10/11/13): So what are the choices if we do hit the ceiling? As you might guess, they’re all bad, so the question is which bad choice would do the least harm.

Now, the administration insists that there are no choices, that if we hit the debt limit the U.S. government will go into general default. Many people, even those sympathetic to the administration, suspect that this is simply what officials have to say at this point, that they can’t give Republicans any excuse to downplay the seriousness of what they’re doing. But suppose that it’s true. What would a general default look like?
“What would a general default look like?”

For ourselves, we weren’t sure what a “general default” even is. But it sounded like we were about to get a good solid clear explanation.

To some extent, we did. According to Krugman, this is what a “general default” would be like:
KRUGMAN (continuing directly): A report last year from the Treasury Department suggested that hitting the debt ceiling would lead to a “delayed payment regime”: bills, including bills for interest due on federal debt, would be paid in the order received, as cash became available. Since the bills coming in each day would exceed cash receipts, this would mean falling further and further behind. And this could create an immediate financial crisis, because U.S. debt—heretofore considered the ultimate safe asset—would be reclassified as an asset in default, possibly forcing financial institutions to sell off their U.S. bonds and seek other forms of collateral.
In a general default, payment of all bills would be delayed, “including bills for interest due on federal debt.” As a result, financial institutions might “sell off their U.S. bonds and seek other forms of collateral.”

How many readers fully understand what that means? At any rate, if that happened, that could or would “create an immediate financial crisis.”

We’ll guess that a very large chunk of Krugman’s readers couldn’t really explain that part of his column. Whatever! As he continued, Krugman explained what would happen if we “prioritize”—if the Treasury Department “pays off bonds in full, so that the whole burden of the cash shortage fell on other things.”

What would happen if we did that? It wouldn’t be great, Krugman says. He goes on to explain his claim, but chunks of this are fuzzy:
KRUGMAN: Some advocates of prioritization seem to believe that everything will be O.K. as long as we keep making our interest payments. Let me give four reasons they’re wrong.

First, the U.S. government would still be going into default, failing to meet its legal obligations to pay. You may say that things like Social Security checks aren’t the same as interest due on bonds because Congress can’t repudiate debt, but it can, if it chooses, pass a law reducing benefits. But Congress hasn’t passed such a law, and until or unless it does, Social Security benefits have the same inviolable legal status as payments to investors.

Second, prioritizing interest payments would reinforce the terrible precedent we set after the 2008 crisis, when Wall Street was bailed out but distressed workers and homeowners got little or nothing. We would, once again, be signaling that the financial industry gets special treatment because it can threaten to shut down the economy if it doesn’t.

Third, the spending cuts would create great hardship if they go on for any length of time. Think Medicare recipients turned away from hospitals because the government isn’t paying claims.

Finally, while prioritizing might avoid an immediate financial crisis, it would still have devastating economic effects. We’d be looking at an immediate spending cut roughly comparable to the plunge in housing investment after the bubble burst, a plunge that was the most important cause of the Great Recession of 2007-9. That by itself would surely be enough to push us into recession.
In his third and fourth points, Krugman notes that the government would have to cut or delay all kinds of other payments if we prioritized interest payments. This would create a giant mess, including a quick recession.

That seems fairly straightforward. But how well do you understand the business about “default” in Krugman’s first point?

Here’s the good news: Krugman says that prioritizing—“paying off bonds in full”—“might avoid an immediate financial crisis.” But in his first point, he says “the U.S. government would still be going into default, failing to meet its legal obligations to pay.”

Do you understand what that means? More specifically, do you understand why that is supposed to matter? If we avoid that “immediate financial crisis,” why are we supposed to care if someone can still say that we are “in default?”

In points three and four, Krugman explains the obvious—absent the ability to borrow money, a lot of bills will go unpaid. But for our money, even this piece, by our sharpest columnist, remains rather unclear about the whole notion of “default.”

In this column, Krugman uses a lot of technical terms which may not strike him as technical. For people who aren't well versed in finance, the air of confusion grows.

Our general view of this matter is this: We simply aren’t a highly skilled people. Many things simply won’t be explained, even by our brightest, most valuable writers.

As a people, we’re remarkably limited. It’s amazing how good our technology is, given our weak verbal skills.

A very basic question: Here’s a very basic question drawn right out of this column:

If “financial institutions sell off their U.S. bonds and seek other forms of collateral,” in what way would that create “an immediate financial crisis?”

Just a guess: Most of Krugman’s readers couldn’t really answer that question. As a highly knowledgeable expert, Krugman didn’t see the need to break it down more than he did.


  1. I suspect, since Krugman is basically preaching to the choir, that people who read his column understand quite well what he means.

    We don't always need you to hold our hands.

    1. Case in Point: The following comment appeared in the Howler just a few days ago:

      "Read Paul Krugman for a clear explanation of most of this. Bob is not an economist, not a journalist, and not a liberal pundit. I think it is unfair to expect him to take on that role in place of those who are paid to inform us."

      KZ (Neither a Borrower or a Lindy Bee)

  2. OMB (Gravity Fails & Negativity Won't Pull You Through)

    "As a people, we’re remarkably limited. It’s amazing how good our technology is, given our weak verbal skills." BOB

    Believe it or Not, the Talented Ripley Couldn't Have Said it Better.

    Except our technology is headed in the same direction as our verbal skills according to the World Economic Forums Global Information Technology Ratings. We've fallen from 5th to 9th in less time than it takes to release another round of PISA test results.

    Number 1? Need you ask? Finland! And Poland is gaining on us!!


    1. Oh, King! There is at least one BOBfan whose head is exploding as we speak. He was the one who strongly believed that Krugman was in the Somerby's tribe favor, and thus the ONLY person in the entire pantheon of U.S. media who not only can, but has, explained default on the third-grade level necessary for nonBOBians to understand.

      Meanwhile, my question remains unanswered. For all the clowning of the media, for all the ineptitude of high-level Democrat politicians, the GOP is sure taking a whuppin' over this.

      How come? Surely, they haven't been reading BOB, or they would realize what rubes they are.

    2. I believe I was composing at the very moment you published this.

      Zark (As my close Anon's are free to call me in meetings) always knew the elite would pause in handing scripts to their well paid authors and cable climbers in time to tell the peasants in elective office not to muck with the debt limit again. Perhaps this explains why the NYT felt no need to explain default.
      It simply was not going to come to pass. Now if the elite would deign to tell the peasants to start letting the nation's gold star families afford to bury the dead and spend a weekend in the Smokies, the polls will right themselves as well. However, the elite clip coupons. They don't cash poll crosstabs.


    3. Oh my dear Zark, if I may be so bold!

      After reading BOB all these years, I thought Gail Collins and Maureen Dowd were in charge of all American thought, with able assists by Joan Walsh and Rachel Maddow of course.

      But do you mean to tell me that there has been this "elite" pulling the very strings of Congress all this time? And they are in charge?

      I am having a bad case of the vapors! What will we tell the children?

    4. If you're having a bad case of the vapors, I'd tell the kids to get out of the room.


    On Jan. 21, 2011, Neal Wolin, deputy secretary of Treasury, called prioritization “unworkable.”

    “It would not actually prevent default, since it would seek to protect only principal and interest payments, and not other legal obligations of the U.S., from non-payment,” Wolin said. “Adopting a policy that payments to investors should take precedence over other U.S. legal obligations would merely be default by another name, since the world would recognize it as a failure by the U.S. to stand behind its commitments.”

    [. . . ]

    Lawrence J. White, an economist at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business, echoed that warning in an email to us, saying that missed payments on anygovernment obligations could degrade the “creditworthiness of the U.S. Government.”

    “Even if the federal government were to make choices as to who to pay — say, pay all of its debt obligations promptly but not pay other obligations promptly — the creditworthiness of the U.S. Government might still be called into question,” said White, who served on the senior staff of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers during 1978-1979 in the Carter administration. “Holders of bonds might start to wonder, ‘Well, they paid me promptly this time, but they didn’t pay some of their other obligations promptly. Maybe next time I’ll be the guy who they decide should receive the delayed payments?’ Though this might not have the sharp effects of not making payments on the debt, it could still erode the perceived creditworthiness of U.S. debt instruments, raise interest costs, etc.”

  4. "Do you understand what that means?"


  5. And btw. Criticize the NYT all you want. It's a very liberal thing to do (and has been for decades and decades). Just don't characterize the NYT as "liberal" (to do so is just to repeat right-wing talking points). For instance, via Charlie Pierce today:

    Of course, Krugman is closer to "liberal" than most at the NYT (whether editor, reporter, or columnist), esp. compared to, say, Niall Ferguson, but also note this:

    1. Liberal, I dunno. But the Times is certainly partisan. They just endorsed Cory Booker for Senate again the other day despite some very, very clear facts that the man is unethical to say the least. He took almost $700,000 from his former law firm while Mayor of Newark and while appointing people to boards that gave the law firm over $2 million in contracts. Its been going on since he became mayor but just revealed it this year. Says its a "severance" agreement but will not show the severance document, if there is one. Stinks on ice. The 3 mayors of Newark before him all went to prison for corruption.

      There was also the business, Waywire, that he allowed some billionaires to create for him. He seems not to have put any money into it but there he was with a stake valued at over a million dollars. Typical politician sweetheart deal; this is how they all get rich on government salaries.

      Why does the NY Times endorse Booker with that record other than to have a Democrat in that Senate seat?

    2. Making an endorsement is an editorial position. It doesn't make the whole newspaper partisan. For that to happen, the content of news articles must be biased in favor of some political position. Editorials are supposed to express political opinions -- that is their purpose.

    3. If there is a long standing partisan bias in an editorial board's positions, journalists who strongly disagree with those positions are likely to avoid trying to get a job there because they know any career there would be hampered by the fact that the people running the show disagree with what they believe.

  6. We're pretty ignorant as a people. How could it be any different when we've been brought up as consumers? When confronted by stuff that is hard to get, like complex ideas, we go distract ourselves with our consumer toys.

    1. and before going to the toys, the thinking may go "if the smart people in the media dont seem to really get "it", what chance do I?" somerby has a point in this regard to the extent the media is not bright enuf or interested enuf or hamstrung by their editors or higher level bosses.

  7. If “financial institutions sell off their U.S. bonds and seek other forms of collateral,” in what way would that create “an immediate financial crisis?”
    a. They might not find enough buyers for the bonds so could not sell them off without ceasing to function as a financial institution.
    b. Where are they going to find other forms of collateral they can use without going broke paying for it?

    1. long term further deterioration of the dollar as the reserve currency around the world means less demand for dollars which would decrease the value of the dollar.

  8. One point Krugman glosses over is this: If the government defaults on some of its bills or if it borrows additional money in order to pay its bills, it will fall just a far behind. In this sense, raising or not raising the debt ceiling makes little financial difference.

    1. To the first order, if the government defaults on some of its bills, by definition, it won't "fall just as far behind." That's because the government will have stopped borrowing money to pay its bills or rather have been stopped from borrowing money. Now if you're saying that the ledger sheets don't change because not paying your bills doesn't make debts disappear, then you're right. But for that to be equivalent to your claim, you have to assume that the debt ceiling will be raised to make everybody whole. But if that's the assumption, what's the point of this whole exercise except to damage the dollar as a reserve currency?

    2. " will fall just a[s] far behind." Behind what? In paying off its debts? Doesn't that depend on a lot? For instance, on future revenues? (Which are certainly being reduced by the government shut-down, btw, and would be vastly -- probably catastrophically -- reduced by any default.) On the adjusted "real dollar" value of those debts? (Inflation, even when it is too low as it now is, affects the government's debts, as it affects all our debts.) On future monetary policy? (The government is NOT like a household or a business, in crucial respects.)

      More important. All this can and should be argued by our elected representatives THROUGH THE REGULAR ELECTORAL AND LEGISLATIVE PROCESSES. Not by hostage-taking tactics of one side -- or, more accurately, of a small majority being wielded by one side in one chamber of a bicameral legislature, when the other side has a small majority in the other chamber and controls the executive branch. In other words, by a distinct minority.

      "In this sense, raising or not raising the debt ceiling makes little financial difference." Even "in this sense" it makes a big difference to our "full faith and credit." I can't get over the way the words "full faith and credit" have so little authority with the conservatives who are driving this madness. To this lefty liberal, those are stirring words.

    3. DinCal:

      Let me see if I got that right: not paying the obligations is equivalent to borrowing the money to pay those obligations? Probably not to the entities that are expecting the payments.

    4. David is behind the curve. He's repeating the spin of a few days back that is no longer operative after the boys on Wall Street made a few phone calls to D.C.

  9. Incidentally, the letter incorrectly characterizes Republicans as denying the impact of human beings on the climate. That may be true of some, but a more common attitude is to deny the certainty of catastrophic human influence on the climate.

    1. Incidentally and unsurprisingly, bullshit. All scientific opinion (as opposed to popular accounts or political positioning) acknowledges the uncertainty inherent in climate models. Many Republicans decry climate change as a hoax, charge that scientists have committed fraud in presenting climate change as a problem, and in their 2012 platform oppose any efforts to halt the rise in greenhouse gases.

    2. deadrat -- At a point in time when there's been no statistically significant rise in temperature for 16 years, and when the reasons for this pause are unknown, I feel pretty good arguing in favor of the skeptical position.

      Obama mistimed two important issues. Just when the European economy was looking bad, Obama decided that the US should follow the European economic model. And, just when the case for catastrophic anthropogenic global warming was becoming weaker, Obama came out with a big CO2 program.

    3. "At a point in time when there's been no statistically significant rise in temperature for 16 years...." What??? David, what in god's green acres are your sources? (And why the choice of the number 16? That's weird. Why not 17? 47? 17,400?) If you wanted to question whether human actions are the main driver of well-attested global warming, well, you'd be asking a question already answered (only human actions can explain the rate of recent temperature change, given our planet's history), but at least I could hope you weren't just in total denial.

    4. mch -- My source is the UK Met Office. They're highly prestigious and fully in the warmist camp.

      The number 16 was chosen by nature, not by me. The earth did experience substantial, statistically significant warming during the period 1970 - 1997. But, since then, the various measures of earth's temperature have shown either no rise or a rise so small as not to be statistically significant. This is a fact, not a model or an opinion.

      As you say, it's claimed that only human actions can explain the rate of recent temperature change, given our planet's history. However, that claim is bogus. Here's why:

      1. Scientists agree that prior to 1950 or 1960, man's activity was too limited to affect temperature. Yet, global temperature rose almost as fast from 1905 to 1940 as it did from 1960 to today. See

      2. There are many conceivable reasons for the rapid rise in temperature since 1960 -- areas that are not well understood. To name a few: water vapor, ocean currents, wind currents, and various types of solar activity.

      3. During the current 16-year lull, atmospheric CO2 grew very rapidly. This lack of correlation casts doubt on causation. Correlation doesn't always prove causation, but lack of correlation does prove lack of causation.

      4. We don't know how rapidly temperature changed very far back into the past. We have no way of knowing how fast earth's temperature may have risen or fallen in 30-year periods prior to 1800 or so.

    5. mch,

      Let me answer the question about the last 16 years. Climate change appears in temperature data as a long-term background signal showing a steady rise in mean temperature embedded in highly-variable year-to-year weather data. Because of the fluctuations in yearly weather, it's always possible to pick your starting date carefully to show an interval with a negligible increase. The years of the 21st century have been very warm. 2011 and 2012 have been among the ten warmest years since record keeping started in 1880. However, if you measure the trend starting from the very hot El Nino year of1998 to today, the trend between starting and ending points doesn't look steep.

    6. DAinCA,

      I don't intend to argue the science of climate change with you. You don't have the chops, as I demonstrated in my reply to mch about your foolish 16-year claim. That was just another piece of ignorance that someone told you and that you believed without checking, right?

      My comment was about the politics of climate change, with my point being that contrary to your claim, Republicans aren't simply honest skeptics arguing about levels of certainty in scientific models.

      On the other topic, when the European economy was looking bad, the Europeans opted for harsh austerity measures, and across the continent from Ireland to Spain to Greece, they reaped the whirlwind they sowed. Obama, on the other hand, opted for a stimulus package but for which the last depression would have been deeper.

      So, no. Obama didn't follow the European fashion in economic policy.

    7. DnC:

    8. I run across people on message boards who are worried about climate change/global warming all the time. Have no idea what it is they want to do about it.

    9. "Have no idea"

      You have never spoken truer words.

    10. However, if you measure the trend starting from the very hot El Nino year of1998 to today, the trend between starting and ending points doesn't look steep.

      Quite right, deadrat. That's why the 16 year period I mentioned begins in 1997, not 1998. To avoid cherry-picking a starting date, look at the trend starting in any year from 1997 on, and going up to today. Any of those periods willl show a warming.

      hardindr -- thanks for the link. The Met Office prediction confirms what I said, that they're in the warmist camp. Nevertheless, the Met Office acknowledges that the actual temperatures do reflect a pause in warming.

      Even the New York Times finally acknowledged the pause or plateau in global warming. See and

      deadrat, you're probably right that Republican politicians' arguments aren't scientifically correct. That's typical of pols, isn't it? Same for Democratic politicians. e.g., President Obama misrepresented the Cook study, claiming it showed a scientific consensus on dangerous global warming due to man's activity. In fact, all that paper claimed to show was a consensus that man's activity contributes some positive amount to global warming. (Cook's method's have been widely criticized as invalid, but we can't expect a politician to be smart enough to tell that a published paper is invalid.)

    11. David, I was at a seminar just this week where one of the clear signs of intelligence was discussed in detail, and it was the ability to accept evidence and adjust theory if need be, as well as the curiosity to seek more evidence.

      Thanks to modern science and technology, we have millennia worth of data about the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and it's effect on global climate.

      So what is your reaction to all that evidence? You want to isolate it to the last 16 years.

      And you know what? Even that tiny slice of data fails to "prove" what you think it does.

      You'd know that if you had the intellectual curiosity to look deeper into the question. Instead, you stopped at the point that you were told the data supports your previously mistaken preconceptions.

    12. DAinCA,

      It's called the fence-post algorithm. If you want to count years inclusively between two given years, subtract the earliest from the latest and add one. 2013-1998+1 = 16.

      That's why when you saw your ignorant talking point advanced by people who duped you in 2012, the claim was about no change in 15 years. Next year, there will have been no change in 17 years.

      There is a consensus among scientists that the "A" in AGW is apt and that the warming is a danger. So let's suppose that Obama overstated that danger in a tweet. Do you think that's equivalent to the Republican error of dismissing AGW as a hoax?

      And, naturally, we do have to suppose that Obama tweeted what you claimed. That's because he didn't. The tweet in question came from an account that Obama gave to OFA, the political organization that grew out of his 2012 campaign organization.

      Once again, somebody told you something you agreed with, and you failed to check it out. No surprise there, eh?

  10. deadrat -- The fencepost algorithm doesn't apply when you're measuring a change. E.g., if global temperature was the same in 2013 as it was in 2012, this would be called no change for 1 year, not no change for 2 years. Anyhow, this is just semantics. The fact is that from 1997 to 2013 there's been no statistically significant increase in global temperature.

    You claim that "There is a consensus among scientists that the "A" in AGW is apt and that the warming is a danger" You're partly right. There is pretty much a consensus that some part of global warming is anthropogenic. However, there's no consensus about how much of the warming is due to man nor is there a consensus it's dangerous. This is simply a wishful thinking statement that's often repeated.

    Anonymous -- yes we have actual measurements of atmospheric CO2 since 1960 and estimates going way back in time. See So, how does that prove that CO2 causes global warming and by how much?

    BTW, there's nothing like a consensus that the remedies being bandied about would fix the problem (if there is a problem)

    1. DAinCA,

      There's really no arguing with you. The measurements are averages over a particular year. You've been duped. The claim that you're citing isn't a scientific one about delta-T. When your sources say "16 years," they're counting years in which the averages were taken so they can include 1998 because that was a very hot El Nino year.

      You've jumped to remedies. Certainly nobody knows for sure whether any remedy would fix the problem. And there is a problem. But the topic under discussion is your refusal to check your sources, which once again have misled you.

    2. deadrat -- There's no ambiguity. The UK Met Office specifically said that there's been no statistically significant increase in global temperature since 1997. The meteorologists there understand better than you or I why it would be inappropriate to start with 1998.

      The UK Met Office are warmists. They're on your side. The last thing they would do would be to finagle statistics to undermine belief in catastrophic anthropogenic global warming.

    3. DAinCA, Given your history, I'm fairly certain that you didn't actually check for yourself to see what the UK Met Office said. Although I'm a little surprised that you figured I wouldn't. Under the grammatically-incorrect headline "Anyone who thinks global warming has stopped has their head in the sand," their website says this:

      Over the last ten years, global temperatures have warmed more slowly than the long-term trend. But this does not mean that global warming has slowed down or even stopped. It is entirely consistent with our understanding of natural fluctuations of the climate within a trend of continued long-term warming.

      So, the UK Met Office doesn't say anything about global temperatures since 1997 but of temperatures over the last decade. (Remember: the people lying to you are using 1998, not 1997!). The UK Met Office doesn't claim "no statistically significant increase"; they say the warming has increased "more slowly." They even explain the significance of 1998 in climate change denial.

      As an aside, there aren't "warmists." There are only climatologists. This is a term invented by the people who have duped you into thinking there's some controversy surrounding the science. Note that this isn't to say that the science is correct in its conclusions. Scientific findings are always subject to revision pending new data. You'll also find creationists who call biologists "evolutionists," as though there were two camps within the scientific community, one advocating the theory of evolution and one not. There aren't any "warmists" or "evolutionists" any more than there are "atomists" in physics. There used to be. Before Einstein settled things in 1905, some physicists thought atoms were real and some thought they were just useful abstractions to aid computation. Not any more. So for evolution; so for climate change.

  11. (Remember: the people lying to you are using 1998, not 1997!).

    I am impressed by the use of an exclamation point. I guess that punctuation proves that your statement is correct!

    However, I'd prefer to see some cites showing all the people who you claim are tricking me by using a starting point of 1998. In googling around, I noticed the New York Times claimed that skeptics were improperly using a start date of 1998. Well, the ones I read aren't doing that. E.g., in June Christopher Monkton wrote: "No significant warming for 17 years 4 months." Please show us all the skeptics who are improperly using 1998 as a starting point.

    Anyhow you can see the warming lull with your own eyes. Troposphere temperatures are more reliable than earth temperatures. They show a lull from 1997, starting before the el Nino warming.

    The fact is, warming stopped for a long period of time, despite rapid growth in CO2. This pattern doesn't fit the models that claim to show catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW). I don't know what will happen in the future, but this pattern shows that the models are flawed.

    One theory propounded by the IPCC among others is that there missing heat which is hiding in the deep ocean. That claim acknowledges that the IPCC models are flawed, because these models don't contain mechanisms by which heat moves into and out of the deep ocean.

    Posted on

    1. "The fact is, warming stopped for a long period of time, despite rapid growth in CO2,"

      And that is utterly false, David.

      But hey, what do the world's scientists know? After all, you got Google.

    2. Anon -- No scientist is denying the pause. The world's scientists are trying to figure out why warming paused in recent years. There are all kinds of theories about what the pause means. I think it means that the various climate models are in doubt. Some scientists wouldn't agree with this interpretation. But, they wouldn't deny that the pause is taking place.

      You can see it for yourself at
      In 1997, the temperature departure was around 0.2. That's just about equal to the latest 13-month running average.

    3. You do know how to read charts, don't you, David? You do know what that chart purports to show, don't you David?

      Hint: It doesn't show what you think it does. You do know "departure" he is measuring against, don't you?

    4. Anon --

      Departure is the difference between a particular temperature and the average temperature over some chosen base period.. I believe the base period used is the years shown in the chart: 1979 to 2013.

      Since the departure today is roughly equal to the departure in 1997, the temperature today is roughly equal to the temperature in 1997. In algebra,
      D(2013) = D(1997) so T(2013 - Base = T(1997) - Base
      So T(2013) = T(1997)
      So global, temperature hasn't risen in the last 16 years.

      Anon -- What's your point? If your point is that today's temperatures are relatively high, then I agree with you. Temperature has been generally rising for several centuries -- ever since the end of the little ice age. But, that fact is independent of my point, that the lack of correlation between CO2 and temperature for the last 16 years casts doubt on mainstream climate models.

    5. Well, David, you've just shown that the answer to all the above questions is a very definite and even bery embarrassing (if you really did know what you were talking about), NO!

      "Departure is the difference between a particular temperature and the average temperature over some chosen base period.. I believe the base period used is the years shown in the chart: 1979 to 2013."

      Well, the chart clearly states that the base is the average from 1981 to 2010.

      So you really have no idea what you are talking about even when it is there in plain English.

      Please, David. Stop embarrassing yourself.

    6. Correction noted, Anon.

      However, do you agree with me on the following 3 points?

      1. Departure is the difference between a particular temperature and the average temperature over some chosen base period

      2. Since the departure today is roughly equal to the departure in 1997, the temperature today is roughly equal to the temperature in 1997.

      3. The lack of correlation between CO2 and temperature for the last 16 years casts doubt on mainstream climate models.

    7. You forgot glaciers and Greenland melting.
      The changes there are recent and are statistically significant!!!

    8. gravymeister -- the glaciers have been melting for over 200 years -- ever since the end of the little ice age. Glacier growth or shrinkage is affected by factors in addition to temperature. Snowfall and soot both affect glaciers.

      As for warming in Greenland, that's just one spot. We know that the earth hasn't warmed for 16 years. So, if Greenland did warm, that was offset by cooling in some other areas.

    9. David, not only are your three points wrong, they are contradicted by the data.

      And no, you have no idea what "departure" means.

    10. This comment has been removed by the author.

    11. Anon, while you are trying to ignore the existence of the pause, scientists are figuring out how to modify their climate models to account for it. E.g., this recent paper asserts that there's a long-term upward trend in temperature, but there's also a cycle that lasts several decades. The actual global temperature is the sum of the two.

      The IPCC proposed a different change in their models to account for the pause. They suggested that heat might somehow be going into the deep oceans.

    12. Again, David "scientists" are doing no such thing.

      Try reading something besides your go-to denier sites. It's called "intellectual curiousity."

  12. Does no one ever consider the insanity of the proposition that confidence in the US financial condition is maintained only if the government is able to borrow endlessly in order to pay its bills? And that the fact that it must borrow to pay its bills does not impair confidence?

    No one ever seems to suggest that confidence in our finances would be maintained if we were in a condition where we could pay our bills without having to borrow to do so.

    1. Great point, Jayhawk. I expected inflation to take off a few years ago and backed my opinion by buying gold. Obviously, that didn't work.

      But, if the US keeps doing quantitative easing, in effect printing $85 billion/month, our money is bound to lose value sooner or later. And, when inflation starts, I'm afraid it might be severe, because the dollar is supported only by faith.

    2. "Only by faith"

      Well, and one of the largest economies in the world.

      And the largest military in the world.

      So, yeah other than "faith" it's just a house of cards, basically.

      As for "No one ever seems to suggest...," far from being a "great point" --it's utterly wrong: idiots are ALWAYS suggesting that idea.

      The fact the the US and world economies have never reflected the thinking of these idiots never seems to trouble them, that is to say, you.

    3. Uh, no, in the "real" world, wealthy people and businesses borrow money even when they can pay cash because sometimes the benefits of borrowing outweigh the negatives of reducing your cash reserves.

      I wish I could take away the ability to borrow from every idiot who believes the government would be better off not borrowing at all, or as rarely as possible. No house or college for you!