Rise of the Greeks

In the past year or so, I’ve become a huge convert to Greek yogurt.  I’ve loved yogurt for as long as I can remember and now I pretty much only eat Greek yogurt.  I used to be annoyed at the fact that costs 50-100% more, but one night I did a little research and I don’t feel as bad.  The reason it is so good (i.e., smooth and creamy) is that it actually uses twice as much milk per ounce of yogurt as regular yogurt.  That also gives it twice the much-appreciated protein.  Hard to argue with that.  And just yesterday, I discovered that Food Lion is now selling a well-disguised house brand at a bargain rate and it’s actually really good.

All that by preface of saying that there was an interesting article in TNR about the rise of Greek yogurt.  The main theme was the triumph of marketing, as people associate “Greek” foods with a healthy, mediterranean diet.  Turns out, the we’re actually getting central European yogurt, but hey, who wants to buy “Bulgarian style” yogurt.  Chobani, my go-to brand, is actually made with an old Turkish recipe.   Truth is, if you like yogurt, the Greek style is just a better product.  Personally, I don’t care what they call it.  Still interesting to see how a food can completely take off with the right marketing.   The increased milk use means that Greek-style yogurt will always be more expensive, but as it gains in popularity, there will certainly be much less of a price premium on it.  And if you’ve never tried it, you should.

No more false equivalency

A smart, but knee-jerk centrist, FB friend of mine yesterday posted quite admiringly of Matt Bai’s absurd “they’re equally guilty” entry yesterday.  After mentioning the absurdity of every Republican presidential candidate in the debate saying they would not even accept spending cuts that had a $10 in cuts to $1 in revenue ratio.  Wow that’s damning of the Republican party.  Bai decided to make it equally damning of Democrats based on no evidence Here’s Bai (via Yglesias‘ takedown):

You could have put a lot of Washington Democrats up on that stage, and asked them if they would have accepted $10 in new taxes or new stimulus in exchange for $1 in cuts to Social Security, and you probably would have gotten much the same response: hell, no.

Could you have? Which Democrats? How many of them are there? Do they hold leadership positions that make them worth comparing to the unanimous consensus of GOP primary candidates? Has Bai actually asked any of them about this? Given that Bai finds this mentality deplorable, doesn’t he have an obligation to tell us who specifically holds it so that well-meaning Democrats can prevent them from dominating the party?

Exactly.  I should have been sleeping, but I ended up getting into quite the FB discussion with said “friend.”  I’ve drawn the line damnit.  As I said, “I absolutely refuse to back down on any ‘pox on both their houses’ silliness.”  There is no symmetry here.  So tired of it.  The friend, a smart and accomplished fellow, of course, could not actually admit I was right, but I think came about as close as he was capable of.  Simply replying, “but what about Chuck Shumer?” does not an equivalency make.  Somebody tell journalists.

Chart of the day

The stimulus worked damn it.  I’m tired of hearing otherwise.  Drum points to a re-analysis of the benefit that takes into account the recently revised downward GDP numbers.  When you take this into account, the stimulus was quite effective.  Again, the biggest problem was that the economy was much worse than anyone actually realized when the stimulus was passed and it was thus much too small.  That said, it clearly prevented things from being dramatically worse.

As far as what that means:

Conservative economist Douglas Holtz-Eakin has a chart he’s fond of that demonstrates just how ineffective the 2009 stimulus was. Basically, it shows that the stimulus cost $260 billion and produced only an extra $268 billion in GDP. Personally, I’d take even that, but his point is that the stimulus produced no Keynesian multiplier effect at all. It was just a 1:1 replacement of revenue from one source to another.

But as you may recall, the BEA recently revised its GDP estimates from late 2008 and 2009, and it turns out the economy was doing much worse than we thought. And if you don’t recall this, Michael Linden wants to remind you about it today. He also wants to remind Douglas Holtz-Eakin about it. Because it turns out that when you redo Holtz-Eakin’s favorite chart using the corrected data, it suggests that the stimulus bill produced about $544 billion in extra GDP. In other words, a multiplier effect of about 2x.

As Drum points out, we’ll find out just how much of a hack Holtz-Eakin is by how he responds to this.  More importantly, though, this is taking an analysis by a conservative  economist, plugging in the now correct numbers, and showing that the stimulus worked quite well.

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