#stupideconomics and Healthcare Triage on the AHCA

Two interesting links related to the recent Republican health care proposal called the AHCA.

The first is a serious but also humorous Forbes article by my BU colleague Larry Kotlikoff in his series about Stupid Economics, this one targeting Tom Price and the AHCA bill. (A 3-minute read.)

Tom Price’s Liver And ‘The Coverage They Want’

The second is an excellent Youtube summary of the CBO forecasts (called “scoring”) of the effects of the AHCA by pediatrician Aaron Carroll.

Healthcare Triage: Results Are In! Congressional Budget Office Scores the American Health Care Act

Posted: 17 Mar 2017 06:09 AM PDT  Text of the report here.

(Broadcast is eight minutes.)

$147 Billion: The Economic Cost of Trump Racism

Bottom line:

Trump’s racism predicted to cost US households $147 billion in extra payments to the rest of the world.

Like many people, I am appalled by president Trump’s recent executive order banning refugees – and even US legal immigrants  – from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the country. In the process, Trump has also angered most of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, comprising about 23% of the global population. Many of these countries (e.g,. OPEC members) hold major financial assets in the US. President Trump has also been active about insulting Mexico and China, two other huge financial partners with the US.

Since Trump is a businessman, I am going to focus on why this racism is a really bad idea for the US economy.

According to US Treasury, US national debt held by the public as of last Friday, Jan 26, 2017 was 14.4 trillion dollars.  That is over $42,000 borrowed on your behalf per US resident. Last year (2016), the interest paid on that debt was $432 billion, or over $3,456 per American household  per year. (US census numbers estimate 125 million households currently). Of that total debt, about 34% is owned by international Investors, and we are paying them the interest on their holdings. So that is $1,175 per US household being paid out to foreigners last year before Trump became president.

Although my good colleague Larry Kotlikoff worries that this level of debt, particularly to foreigners, is not sustainable, that is not what I want to focus on here. I want to focus instead on the CHANGE in these debt payments to foreigners that can be attributed to scary Trump’s racism. According to the current US Treasury documents, the long term interest rate has increased by more than a half percentage point since Trump was elected. Look at the figure yourself. The increase when Trump was elected was immediate. Even faster than the stock market advance.

https://www.treasury.gov/resource-center/data-chart-center/interest-rates/Pages/Historic-LongTerm-Rate-Data-Visualization.aspx

Increasing the interest rate on the national debt from 2 percent to 2.5 percent costs Americans an extra $294 per household EVERY YEAR until our debt is paid off, which will probably be never.

Now imagine that OPEC, or the Chinese, or the Mexicans decide that they are not so happy with the US anymore and decide to start dumping their $6.8 trillion of US debt. We should all expect that  Trumps racist policies will cause federal interest rates to increase to 4% per year, up another 2% above its rates before Trump. This doubling of US debt interest rates will result in an additional $1,175 per US household per year being paid out to foreigners. Or another $147 billion in total interest paid out to the rest of the world for our debts.

That is my prediction of what will happen if Trump does not change his racist policies.

Notice that I did not have to do any calculations based on the effects of Trump’s racism on foreign tourism in the US ($168 billion in 2012), spending on US universities by foreigners ($30 billion in 2015), or US exports to China  ($113 billion in 2015) or Mexico ($267 billion in2015).  Trump’s tax cuts and deficit spending policies are also likely to increase interest rates. It would be easy for much larger estimates to be generated.

Take home lessons:

  • Racist policies are bad ethically and bad for our economy.
  • There is a real danger of serious interest rate increases that will cost everyone a lot of money.
  • Bond prices are likely to fall and long term bonds seem like a poor investment choice.
  • It helps with your arguments if you use facts and citations instead of making things up.
  • So far, instead of having Mexico pay for Trump’s Stupid Wall, Trump’s racist policies are making Americans pay more to Mexico and China and Iran and Saudi Arabia, and….

us-treasure-long-ten-year-interest-rates-2017-01-29

 

 

Read this posting on Stupid Economics

I invite you to read this Forbes posting on Stupid Economics by Laurence Kotlikoff.

 

I don’t always agree with my dear colleague, Larry Kotlikoff, but this posting at Forbes is one that I can really get behind.

Our president needs to start listening to serious economists instead of acting solo as an autocrat.

 

This article is a two minute read that will make you smile regardless of whether you agree with all of the sentiments.

 

Larry is a serious scholar, of course, and his credentials include not only nineteen books, but also a stint on the Council of Economic Advisors under president Reagan.

 

From: owner-faculty-econ-list@bu.edu [mailto:owner-faculty-econ-list@bu.edu] On Behalf Of Laurence Kotlikoff
Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2017 1:10 PM
To: faculty-econ-list; phd-econstudents-list
Subject: This may be of interest.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kotlikoff/2017/01/26/stupid-economics/#61453f38e94f

 

 

Let me know if I’m being unfair. But I think it’s time to call this for what it is.

 

best, Larry

 

Laurence J. Kotlikoff

A William Fairfield Warren Professor, Boston University
Professor of Economics, Boston University
270 Bay State Rd.
Boston, MA 02215
www.kotlikoff.net

President, Economic Security Planning, Inc.

www.maximizemysocialsecurity.com

www.esplanner.com

www.economicsecurityplanning.com

kotlikoff@gmail.com
cell  617 834-2148
work 617 353-4002

The Ellis-Huber Christmas Poem 2016

The Raven                      The Ellis-Huber Christmas Poem 2016

Once upon a year so dreary, politics so wild and weary,
Arguments so quaint and curious, unfamiliar use of lore—
While I nodded, sometimes napping, suddenly there came a yapping,
As of candidates gently snapping, snapping as if t’were a war.
“’Tis only a primary,” I muttered, “yapping I have heard before—
Only this and nothing more.”

But the yapping became more noisy, as the prospects grew less rosy
Scared me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
“’Tis only a primary entreating entrance at the White House door—
Some strange visitor entreating entrance at the mansion door;—
This it is and nothing more.”

Presently concern grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
Words like “Sir” and “Madam”, scarce-used civil words appeared no more;
Soon the facts no longer mattered as emotions became more shattered,
Soon opinions grew more scattered, chattered just outside my door,
Not quite sure that I had heard it—here I opened wide the door;—
Darkness there and nothing more.

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak September;
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I tried to ignore it, even though I still deplored it
All my thoughts were filled with sorrow—sorrow for the lost true core—
Came the thought so sad and evil, worse time since the Wizard war—
Trump is our Lord Voldemort.

November came as we were fearing, long we stood there wondering, tearing,
Wishing undone, dreaming dreams no liberal dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the election gave no token,
And the words e’er spoken were whispered words, “Lord Voldemort?”
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back, “Lord Voldemort.”—
Merely this and nothing more.

Now December, feeling bitter, as the trees begin to glitter,
Soon again I hear a twitter somewhat louder than before.
“Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what the threat is, and this mystery explore—
I let my mind stop just a moment and this mystery explore;—
’Tis only Santa, nothing more!”

Santa saved us from our ruing, distracted us from all our stewing
Christmas tree our nightly viewing, ‘minding us of days of yore;
Now we pray for all united, keeping spirits undivided;
Wishing peace and love re-invited, mistletoe above your door—
Christmas prayers we do implore for elves and wizards, Dumbledore—
And Harry Potter, ever more!

(c) 2016 Randall P Ellis

Facts about Tom Price, HHS nominee

Health economists and every concerned citizen should disseminate the facts in this NEJM article about Donald Trump’s nominee of Tom Price to be the next secretary of HHS.
Coauthor Richard Frank is also a BU Ph.D. alum!

Randy Ellis

 

Care for the Vulnerable vs. Cash for the Powerful — Trump’s Pick for HHS

Sherry A. Glied, Ph.D., and Richard G. Frank, Ph.D.

New England Journal of Medicine

December 21, 2016DOI: 10.1056/NEJMp1615714

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1615714#t=article

 

Since there is no abstract, here are the first two paragraphs.

Representative Tom Price of Georgia, an orthopedic surgeon, will be President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of health and human services (HHS). In the 63-year history of the HHS Department and its predecessor, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, only two previous secretaries have been physicians. Otis Bowen, President Ronald Reagan’s second HHS secretary, engineered the first major expansion of Medicare, championed comparative effectiveness research and, with Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, led the fight against HIV–AIDS.1 Louis Sullivan, HHS secretary under President George H.W. Bush, focused his attention on care for vulnerable populations, campaigned against tobacco use, led the development of federally sponsored clinical guidelines,2 and introduced President Bush’s health insurance plan, which incorporated income-related tax credits3 and a system of risk adjustment. In their work at HHS, both men, serving in Republican administrations, drew on a long tradition of physicians as advocates for the most vulnerable, defenders of public health, and enthusiastic proponents of scientific approaches to clinical care.

Tom Price represents a different tradition. Ostensibly, he emphasizes the importance of making our health care system “more responsive and affordable to meet the needs of America’s patients and those who care for them.”4 But as compared with his predecessors’ actions, Price’s record demonstrates less concern for the sick, the poor, and the health of the public and much greater concern for the economic well-being of their physician caregivers.

Since the NEJM full article  requires a subscription, here is a summary what they document:

Price has sponsored legislation that

  • supports making armor-piercing bullets more accessible
  • opposes regulations on cigars
  • Repeals and replaces the ACA (see details below)

Voted  

  • Against the Affordable Care Act (ACA)
  • Against regulating tobacco as a drug
  • Against the Domenici–Wellstone Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act
  • Against funding for combating AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis
  • Against expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program
  • In favor of allowing hospitals to turn away Medicaid and Medicare patients seeking nonemergency care if they could not afford copayments
  • Against reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act
  • Against legislation prohibiting job discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people
  • Against enforcement of laws against anti-LGBT hate crimes.
  • Against expanding the NIH budget
  • Against the recently enacted 21st Century Cures Act

Price stated views:

  • Favors converting Medicare to a premium-support system
  • Favors changing the structure of Medicaid to a block grant program
  • Favors amending the Constitution to outlaw same-sex marriage
  • Opposes stem-cell research
  • Inconsistent in supporting investments in biomedical science.

His proposal for repealing and replacing the ACA is H.R. 2300, the Empowering Patients First Act,5 which would

  • Eliminate the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and
  • Replace ACA subsidies with flat tax credits based on age, not income
  • Be regressive, with larger subsidies for high than low incomes.
  • Credits would pay only about one third of the premium of a low-cost plan
  • Credits proposed are smaller than those proposed by President Bush in 1992, and will not be sufficient to get most people to buy health insurance
  • Eliminate the guaranteed-issue and community-rating requirements in the ACA, with ineffective substitutes.
  • Withdraw almost all the ACA’s federal consumer-protection regulations, including limits on insurer profits and requirements that plans cover essential health benefits.
  • Allow the sale of health insurance across state lines, effectively eliminating all state regulation of health insurance plans
  • Fund his plan by capping the tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance at $8,000 per individual or $20,000 per family, caps that are lower than the unpopular Cadillac tax in the ACA, which Price himself has voted to repeal, and hence is unlikely to ever be approved
  • Directly advance physicians’ economic interests by permitting them to bill Medicare patients for amounts above those covered by the Medicare fee schedule and allowing them to join together and negotiate with insurance carriers without violating antitrust statutes.
  • Oppose strategies for value-based purchasing and guideline development,
  • Oppose the use of bundled payments for lower-extremity joint replacements and
  • Propose that physician specialty societies hold veto power over the release of comparative effectiveness findings.

Consider what you can do to make sure that these facts are widely known. Perhaps ask your legislators which of these views they support.

BU Grads Ranked among the World’s Most Employable

One more ranking in which BU rates very highly in the world.

BU Grads Ranked among the World’s Most Employable
11th worldwide, 7th in the nation in international survey

The employability of BU graduates was recently ranked 11th in the world and 7th in the nation in a report published in Times Higher Education. The Global University Employability Ranking 2016 was designed by French human resources company Emerging, which sent an online survey asking the opinions of thousands of recruiters at a management level and of managing directors of international companies.

The California Institute of Technology was ranked number one on the list, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, the University of Cambridge, and Stanford University.

“It’s very heartening that so many employers recognize that our graduates are very well-prepared in their fields and have the skills and habits to perform at a high level,” says President Robert A. Brown. “Helping to successfully launch the careers of our graduates is a focus of the University.”

Except is from Bostonia Magazine.

Wondering about 2.5%

I can’t help wondering how the election outcome would have been different if the headline that was prominently featured in the news for the last month had been the one we just received in the email message from the Boston University Human Resources Department that said:

  • Contribution rates for 2017 – we are pleased to inform you that the health plan rates are increasing by only 2.5% for 2017

This sure paints a different picture of the ACA than “it’s a disaster” and rates are going to increase at double digit rates.

And this is more typical of premium increases for the past four years.

Fact: The average real increase in per enrollee spending in the private sector from 2010 to 2014 was 1%, and it was negative for Medicare and Medicaid. (Obama, JAMA, 2016)

(This is my last blog on politics and health policy for a while. Too distracting.)

 

 

Did BU economics students vote in the 2016 general election?

In order to better understand what happened in last week’s US election, and perhaps also to encourage more students to both register and vote in the NEXT election, I created a very simple one-question survey using SurveyMonkey and arranged for it to be sent to all Economics students at Boston University. I first polled graduate (Ph.D. and MA) students, and then undergraduate majors and students in principles of economics courses. Among the first 515 respondents (which happened in four days) I found that among people eligible to vote, 76% of undergraduates and 81% of graduate students in the economics program voted. Reflecting the high fraction of people who are foreigners in our programs, 33% of undergraduates and 65% of graduate student respondents were not eligible to vote. Among those potentially eligible to vote, 4% of BU undergraduates reported that they had made some effort to try to register or vote, but were unable to. For example, their request for an absentee ballot was ignored or the ballot arrived too late, or they could not vote absentee the first time they were voting, or  some other specified reason.

This is of course not a random sample of all voters, but reflects those who replied to my request.

If you would like to implement the same poll at your university or college, please send me an email privately and I will send you a customized poll for your university that you can use at no cost.  The email I used to invite people to respond is below.

Surveymonkey will let you conduct a free poll with up to 50 responses, or get up to 1000 responses for only $26 for the first month. I would be happy to collaborate for free for the first ten collaborators at other universities or colleges.

Detailed BU Economics Poll results

BU Voting results 20161114

 

 

Hello,

 

 

 

Full text of inviting email:

Hello

I am a professor in the Economics Department at Boston University who is trying to better understand the recent election results.

I would appreciate it if you would answer this ONE QUESTION survey about the election which I am sending only to BU students.

Please answer it only once and do not forward it.

 

Once you respond, you will see the responses of other students at Boston University who have already replied. You do not need to be a US citizen or be eligible to vote to answer this survey. I do not ask you who you voted for.

 

The survey results are confidential: I am not tracking  the URLs of those who have responded.

 

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FFPWCZM

 

Thank you in advance for your participation.

 

In  a few days I will post a summary of the results on my blog which is linked here.

http://blogs.bu.edu/ellisrp/blogs/

 

Randy Ellis

 

Randall P. Ellis, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Economics, Boston University

ellisrp@bu.edu     Off: +1 617-353-2741       http://blogs.bu.edu/ellisrp/

 

I am sorry

Dear BUHealth friends, alumni, students and colleagues.

Like most of the people I know, I am immensely saddened by the results of the US presidential elections, which have elected Donald Trump as president and elected republicans to run both houses of congress.

My view is that hate and party loyalty won out in the end over any reasoned comparisons of the two presidential candidates.

I hope to try harder to understand the views of the those who voted for Donald Trump and why they fell for such a clever salesman.

A good place to start is to reread the blogs I posted by and about Scott Adams who alone was consistently supporting and predicting the victory of Donald Trump for over a year. Sadly, Adams was right and the rest of us, driven by incorrect polling predictions, were wrong.

http://blogs.bu.edu/ellisrp/2016/09/why-trump-is-going-to-win-the-us-presidency/

Austin Frakt (at TheIncidentalEconomist.com) has already posted a very useful blog on what health reforms and directions are mostly likely under Donald Trump.  It is linked here if you are interested or if you are asked to discuss this with your family or colleagues..

The next health reform

http://theincidentaleconomist.com/wordpress/the-next-health-reform/

I am lucky that I live and work in a state and occupation that hopefully will not experience the brunt of the pain that I predict is ahead.

Some people may take solace in the fact that Marijuana was legalized for possession, home growing, and recreational use in Massachusetts starting this December 15 2016 (although not to be legally sold in dispensaries for another year).

I for one plan to try to add to our sadly lacking civility by calling him Donald Trump, or president-elect Trump, rather than simply Trump.

Randy

Recent Marketplace Premium Increases are No Big Deal

By Randall P. Ellis, Boston University, Department of Economics October 28, 2016

A great deal has been made recently about the large increases in certain Health Insurance Marketplace premiums  announced for 2017. I present here five arguments for why these increases are no big deal, and are not the right thing to focus on when evaluating the success of the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Argument 1: The Marketplace exchanges in which premiums are increasing are very small part of the US Health Care Market. 97% of Americans are not in them. And 80% of the enrollees who are in the Marketplace get government subsidies for their premiums. (Thomas G. McGuire, unpublished figure).

TM US Market Composition 2014

Argument #2: When the ACA Marketplace was started in 2014, its premiums were unexpectedly low, not high, in most markets. Everyone commented on this. The same thing happened when Medicare Part D was introduced. Many economists believe this was because health plans were trying to capture market share by offering low premiums. Such low premiums were not sustainable. Two years into the Marketplace, plans are trying to catch up with the much higher employer sponsored premiums. This should not be treated as a failure of Obamacare.

Argument #3: Many health insurance markets in the US are already highly concentrated. For example Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama has a 90 percent market share. (kff.org, 2014)  We cannot expect competitive premium pricing with such market power. As I discuss in Ellis (2012): Leemore Dafny, Mark Duggan, and Subramaniam Ramanarayanan in the American Economic Review 2012, using data from the American Medical Association (AMA), show that 94% of 314 US market areas have “highly concentrated” insurance markets. This concentration cannot be blamed on the ACA, since it predated it.

Argument #4: The main goal and achievement of the ACA has been that it has reduced the number of uninsured. The data clearly show this, and the largest percentage increase has been in private insurance, not government insurance programs.

Recent Health Insurance coverage

Argument 5: The unexpected wonderful cost impact of the ACA has been favorable: lowering the average rate of increase in health care spending throughout the country. (Barack Obama, JAMA, 2016)

obamatrend2

This has been particularly true for the Medicare program. US government statistics (CBO and OMB) show enormous savings in Medicare since 2010.

2016_EllisMcGuire_UpdateonUS_RA_20161005_Page_09

While the ACA has not eliminated uninsurance or solved the US cost containment problem, it has made important improvements in both directions. Recent large premium increases in the Health Insurance Marketplace, which happen all the time in the employer sector without much attention, are part of a bigger problem still in need of solutions.

Why Trump is going to win the US presidency

Everyone can see that Trump is surging in the polls, but few understand why. Like most professionals, I am appalled at this possibility. Why do I now think it is almost inevitable that Trump wins?

Democrats have not figured out how to affect how Trump appeals to his supporters. As I blogged on June 3, 2016, and as Scott Adams (creator of Dilbert) so brilliantly foresaw a year ago, Trump is appealing to voters on an emotional level. Facts don’t matter if you relate to people’s fears and hopes, and that is what Trump is a master at: Fear and Persuasion.

We can call Trump a liar all we want, but Trump has already established his defense: berating crooked Hillary and the lying media. Throughout the country, campaigns are going on over which candidate is the bigger liar (I see the ads for the New Hampshire senate race). But the degree of honesty seems not to matter once you are both (called) liars.

Last April I purchased a red “Make America Great Again” hat as a prop for a faculty skit. This put me on the list of Trump supporters and gives me a glimpse into his campaign to his supporters.

I was initially surprised that it took two months for the Trump organization to use that contact information to make their first request for my money and support (in June). Now I know it was part of his clever strategy of not burning out his audience. I am getting emails every other day from Trump. I pasted in one of the recent messages below.  It looks pretty simple and convincing to me. Focused on broad fears and not facts or specifics.

I just revisited Scott Adams’ blog site, which I highly recommend to you. Here is the key text from his August 10 blog, when Hillary’s polls were at their peak. I pasted in below the eight possibilities he listed there.

“If nothing changes, Clinton will win in November. But things rarely stay the same. Here are several ways Trump could still win from behind.

  1. Voters discover that Clinton has been hiding a major health issue.
  2. Wikileaks releases something damaging.
  3. Trump over-performs at the first debate, showing the world that he is willing and able to master the issues.
  4. Trump makes the case that the Clinton Foundation is really about selling influence to foreign concerns.
  5. Trump gives a speech or interview that is so effective in its empathy that he no longer appears to be crazy and racist.
  6. A new surprise revelation about Clinton that no one sees coming.
  7. Terror attacks push everything else out of the headlines in the final months.
  8. Someone assassinates Clinton because of Trump’s 2nd Amendment joke.

Scott Adams Trump Prediction Update, August 10 blog

I see many of these themes already panning out. He himself calls them spooky in his Sept 18th blog, and I agree.

I also benefitted from reading Scott Adams’ assessment of the risk of Trump in his blog from this weekend.

http://blog.dilbert.com/post/150603095761/assessing-the-risk-of-trump

Adams makes some interesting points about Trump, less scary than most others, since Adams views trump as a smart, and highly successful businessman, which he is.

Is Trump’s success inevitable? (Recall that my opening paragraph said it was almost inevitable.) Maybe not.

The debates could go better for Hillary than expected.

It seems too  late, but conceivably efforts to register and get out the vote of students and minorities could mean the polls are wrong. (I am appalled by how little effort is going on at BU to get students to register. Apathy is winning out.)

Money won’t really matter. Hillary is outspending Trump in ads by 10-1, but still losing ground.

Factual errors and scandals about Trump’s past seem not to matter.

More endorsements for Hillary seem not to matter. Trump can still gather a large group of generals and veterans at will, and his rallies are bigger, and recently better behaved.

Adams thinks that to offset the persuasion skills of Trump the best hope is effective fear mongering by the democrats (e.g. nuclear war or a new middle east war). Maybe Hillary’s handlers can pull it off. But I am not so sure.

The parallel I use for this election is that Trump is an incredible used-car salesman, and the quality of the car does not matter if you are a good enough persuader. Hillary will lose the race since she is a terrible used car salesman. Until recently she has felt constrained to tell the truth about each car, and spends her time defending her honor and honesty. Who do you think can sell more cars?

Read a Trump direct email below for more insight.

 

Randall P. Ellis, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Economics, Boston University
ellisrp@bu.edu     Off: +1-617-353-2741       http://blogs.bu.edu/ellisrp/
BU Ph.D. job candidates: http://www.bu.edu/econ/gradprgms/phd/phdcandidates/

 

From: Donald J. Trump [mailto:contact@email.donaldtrump.com]
Sent: Sunday, September 18, 2016 10:35 AM
To: Ellis, Randall P
Subject: listen

 

Donald Trump is listening to the voices of millions of Americans who want a new direction in Washington. Add your voice and guide his campaign to victory over the Obama-Clinton liberals. |

Friend-

The politicians and liberal elites have not been listening to you.

But I hear you loud and clear. That’s why I am the people’s candidate for president with a rising movement of pro-America voters ready to take back our country.

As one of my best and most loyal supporters, you can do a lot to help finish this race strong and send Crooked Hillary down to defeat.

Please take a minute right now to complete our Listening to America Survey so I can hear your voice at this important moment in the race.

You have my word I will take action on YOUR concerns and speak up for YOUR interests.

That’s what I’ve been doing this whole time.

When I said we should not be letting tens of thousands of Syrian refugees into our country if we don’t know who they are, the liberal elites screamed out against me, but they were not listening to you.

When I said we should build a real border wall because if you don’t have a border, you don’t have a country, they raged against me on TV, but they were not listening to you.

When I said China is ripping us off with all these stupid trade deals, the liberal elites screamed about their globalist economic theories, but they were not listening to you.

Well I have been listening to you, Friend. I have been taking you seriously. And I will not let you down.

So our campaign – our pro-America movement – is taking a new approach that hasn’t been tried before by the D.C. insiders. I am campaigning on a message that seeks to represent the American people only, NOT lobbyists, NOT the media, and NOT corporate elites. The reason I have surged in the polls from ‘day one’ of this race is because I have been listening to you – the great silent majority of Americans – and keeping you and other supporters engaged every step along the way.

With just two months to go before Election Day, I need you to stay engaged more than ever, so please complete our Listening to America Survey.

In addition to your valuable answers, I also hope I can count on you to make a special donation in support of our campaign at this critical time.

Crooked Hillary has tons of money from the liberal elites who have rigged everything against you. The media are in her corner too, and frankly I don’t think I’ve seen the media in this country behave in such a disgusting way as they have against me. So many lies!

So help me cut through the media nonsense and take our message right to the people. Complete our Listening to America Survey

Thank you,

Donald Trump

COMPLETE DONALD TRUMP’S LISTENING TO AMERICA SURVEY

 

Contributions to the Trump Make America Great Again Committee are not deductible for federal income tax purposes.
Paid for by Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee authorized by and composed of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and the Republican National Committee.

 

The US Should Ban or Heavily Tax Weapons Designed for Mass Shootings

Boston University Working Paper

Randall P. Ellis
Boston University,
Department of Economics
August 22, 2016
Abstract

This paper presents four arguments for why the US should ban or at least heavily tax the sale or transfer to civilians of weapons designed for mass shootings (WDMS), which would include most semi-automatic guns and weapons with large capacity magazines.

  1. The Supreme Court has repeatedly validated that second amendment protections of the right to bear arms do not apply to particularly dangerous weapons where protection of public safety overrides constitutional protections; this exclusion should apply to WDMS just as it does to machine guns and short-barreled shotguns.
  1. To make gun owners pay for the annual cost of deaths in the US due to guns, we should be taxing each gun owned at $1000 per year, or tax all gun sales (new or used) at $15,000 per gun sold. Given their higher killing power we should tax WDMS at $60,000 per gun sold. Or just ban them.
  1. In the last 36 months, there have been 5,399 people in the US killed or injured at mass shootings (where four or more people are shot, although not necessarily killed). Unless action is taken, the most recent trends suggest that there will be twice as many mass shootings in the US in five years.
  1. Current federal law for duck hunting bans the use of shotguns that hold more than three shells. If we care enough to ban four-bullet capacity guns to preserve ducks, then we should be willing to ban even higher capacity guns designed to kill people.

The full paper is linked here.

http://blogs.bu.edu/ellisrp/files/2016/08/Banning-or-heavily-taxing-WDMS-20160822.pdf

Obama’s JAMA article is a must read for all professionals

There is a very important  article in this week’s JAMA – Internal Medicine, written by Barach Obama.

It highlights the effects of the ACA/Obamacare.  It is free on-line.

United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2533698

If you are short on time, then the following link to just the figures provides many of the key results.

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2533698

To me the highlights of the article are that it documents:

The decline in the uninsured (no surprise, but well presented) now down to 9.1 percent from over 16
Declines in teen smoking from 19.5% to 10.8% due to the Tobacco Control Act of 2009 (Wow)
Much slower rates of decline in the uninsured in states that refused the Medicaid expansion (no surprise)
The decline in the underinsured among privately insured as measured by the near disappeance of unlimited exposure (new to me)
Lower rates of individual debt sent to a collection agency (great to see)
Negative rates of real cost growth in Medicare and Medicaid since 2010, with drastically lower growth in privately Insured
Constant share of out of pocket spending as a fraction of total spending among the employer based insurance
(new to me, he cites increases in deductibles offset by decreases in copays and coinsurance.)
Forecast Medicare spending in 2019 is now 20% LOWER than when he took office.
Decline in Medicare 30 day, all hospital readmission rates as well as improvements in other measures.
This information is important to understand to counter the repeated false claims that Obamacare is a failure, or has increased health care spending, or is bankrupting the government, all of which are shown to be false in the evidence presented here.

Here is the link again.

http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2533698

Press Interviews and Quotes

Partly just to keep track of them for my BU annual report, this post links to my press interviews and quotes.

Meeting basic needs under Trump

Fed funds key for landlords, affordable tenants; Trump’s health secretary opposes Obamacare

Bay State Banner Jule Pattison-Gordon | 12/7/2016, 1:13 p.m.

Effects of Brexit on the world economy and Iran.

Tasnim News Agency Interview, Iran (translated into Persian), June 28, 2016.

Farm Animal Ballot Initiative.

posted on Youtube. By  Brittany Comak, BU School of Communication. November 29, 2015

Inspector General criticizes Red Sox, BRA deal

Massachusetts Inspector General Glenn Cunha criticized a 2013 deal by Boston Redevelopment Authority that granted the Boston […]

by · October 29, 2015 · 0 comments · City, News
According to a New England Economic Partnership report released Thursday, Massachusetts is creating jobs at the fastest pace in 15 years. GRAPHIC BY KATELYN PILLEY/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Mass. experiencing economic boom, study finds

In the past year, Massachusetts has seen an economic boom unlike any since the 1990s, a […]

by · October 20, 2015 · 0 comments · City, News
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed a bill Friday authorizing $200 million in transportation funds. PHOTO BY STUX/PIXABAY

$200 million in extra funding approved for infrastructure repairs

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker approved an additional $200 million in funding for infrastructure contributing to a […]

by · April 14, 2015 · 0 comments · City, News
Massachusetts lawmakers announced their support Friday for a bill that would allow the legalization and taxation of marijuana. PHOTO BY SARAH SILBIGER/DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

Mass. lawmakers support bill that would legalize and tax marijuana

Fifteen Massachusetts lawmakers are supporting a bill, pushed by the Marijuana Policy Project, that would regulate […]

by · March 18, 2015

MBTA late-night service threatened by lack of sponsorship Daily Free Press. by Paige Smith · January 27, 2015

Part time BU employees now eligible for health, dental benefits Daily Free Press. by Rachel Legon · October 30, 2014

Student loan report shows complaints, problems with private lenders Daily Free Press by Meiling Bedard · October 21, 2014

Greater Boston GDP declining, report finds Daily Free Press. by Mina Corpuz  September 18, 2014

Small businesses get extension for ACA in Massachusetts by Daily Free Press Admin · April 27, 2014

STUDY: Grad student loan debt on the rise. by Daily Free Press Admin · March 26, 2014 

College worthwhile investment, study suggests by Daily Free Press Admin · February 26, 2014

Bitcoin ATM installed in South Station by Daily Free Press Admin · February 23, 2014

Cost of student loan programs difficult for federal government to determine, study suggests  by Daily Free Press Admin · February 4, 2014

Universities see an increase in endowments, study suggests by Daily Free Press Admin · January 29, 2014

“South Shore Hospital, Partners HealthCare defend merger plan” The Patriot Ledger. by Christian Schiavone.  1/17/2014

“The Healing Begins for Healthcare.gov”  TechNewsWorld By Erika Morphy 12/04/13 4:12 PM PT

“Financial squeeze awaits W.Pa. hospitals”, TribLive. By Alex Nixon. Thursday, Oct. 24, 2013.

Wenermaar aan, Obamacare blijft“, Trouw Buitenlandredactie. (Article on ObamaCare in Dutch Newspaper) In Dutch. October 4. 2013

Menino plans to build about 30,000 housing units by 2020. Daily Free Press, Boston University, Sep 11, 2013

“Boston welcomes startups, entrepreneurship, despite study results” Daily Free Press, Boston University, Sep 11, 2013

Mass. residents driving less since 2004, study suggests. Daily Free Press, Boston University, Sept 4, 2013.

Medical Costs Register First Decline Since 1970s. Wall Street Journal Blog.  June 18, 2013,

Employers fear economic climate, fail to make hires, new study suggests. Daily Free Press, Boston University, April 24, 2013.

Outside spending in Senate race tops $1.25 million. Daily Free Press, Boston University, April 9, 2013.

New delayed-start loan repayment plan may help grads.Daily Free Press, Boston University, April 3, 2013.

Years after recession, Mass. job numbers finally bounce back. Daily Free Press, Boston University, April 2, 2013.

Popeye’s President Unconcerned About Obamacare, Says Health Insurance ‘Just Not Affordable’ Huffington Post. March 28th, 2013

Tax-based aid needs reform, report suggests. The Daily Free Press. Boston University. Feb 27, 2013.

Minimum wage-earners face hardship paying rent. The Daily Free Press, Boston University, Feb 5, 2013

Gas prices in Mass. shoot up 14 cents a gallon. The Daily Free Press, Boston University. Feb 5, 2013

Freshmen see college as necessary to riches, study suggests. The Daily Free Press, Boston University. Jan 30, 2013.

College debt high despite lower credit card, general debt. The Daily Free Press, Boston University. Dec 3, 2012

Government officials demand sales tax for items bought online. The Daily Free Press, Boston University. Nov 27, 2012

Interview with ASHEcon President Randy Ellis. American Society of Health Economists (ASHEcon) Newsletter Vol. 4 Fall 2010.

 

 

Insurers are doing well under ObamaCare

Much was made recently about how UnitedHealth decided to drop out of the ACA Federal Exchange in several states. It is important to realize that far from being a failure to large insurers (UnitedHealth is the largest insurer in the US), health insurance remains extremely profitably under ObamaCare. Below is a bar chart of the percentage change in stock prices of the five largest publicly traded health insurers in the US from March 23, 2010 when the ACA was signed to today (6/6/2016).

Top Five Health Insurer Stock Prices under ObamaCare

 

Hillary Clinton’s Memorial Day speech 2016 will be a classic.

My previous post was discouraging in that it was all about the techniques Donald Trump is using to build support. This one is much more upbeat.

I had heard about but not actually watched or listened to Hillary Clinton’s Memorial day speech, which has been getting a lot of favorable reviews. I just finished listening to it while checking email and it was indeed very inspiring, hopeful, and the best speech year from Hillary. I recommend it very highly, even if it is 34 minutes long. Here is one link from the Daily Kos on which you can watch or listen to the entire speech.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/6/2/1533764/-The-PRESS-responds-to-Hillary-s-EPIC-speech-today-and-it-is-awesome

I also like that they post links to how it was received from various sites. Choose your favorite one to get a perspective.

If enough voters could watch this clip, it would change the entire discussion.

 

Sobering Scott Adams interview about Trump on Real Time

This email will interest people who are closely following the US presidential election.

I invite you to watch the following four minute video on Trump and Hillary when you have time. It changed my thinking.

On the Friday June 2  Real Time with Bill Mayer, Scott Adams (who is the genius creator of the Dilbert comic strip) gave a very sober assessment of why Trump has been so successful. Adams is a trained hypnotist and has written several books on the art of persuasion.  Adams has a blog and LAST SUMMER he predicted Trump would win by a landslide. This, plus his careful comments were very real to me. According to Adams, Trump is not a fool, but rather he is a high IQ master persuader.

The Real Time clip was taken down on YouTube, where they want you to subscribe to Real Time, but it is still linked here.

http://lastnighton.com/2016/05/31/dilbert-creator-tells-bill-maher-why-trump-will-win-election/

Here is a link to his the Scott Adams blog.

http://blog.dilbert.com/tagged/RealTime

Here is  a link to his October 2015 blog where he predicted Trump will win in a landslide.

http://blog.dilbert.com/post/131749156346/the-case-for-a-trump-landslide-part-1

Here are the first three sentences from this blog from last October

“The latest poll out of Iowa shows Carson ahead of Trump. And you know what that means?

It means Iowa is about to become irrelevant. Here I am assuming evangelicals will band together to give Carson the win in Iowa before Trump goes on to run the table everywhere else.”

I also liked this review from the Washington Post in March 2016. It summarizes the six principles Trump is using to win.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/comic-riffs/wp/2016/03/21/donald-trump-will-win-in-a-landslide-the-mind-behind-dilbert-explains-why/

Here are his principles in list form.

  1. Trump knows people are basically irrational.
  2. Knowing that people are irrational, Trump aims to appeal on an emotional level.
  3. By running on emotion, facts don’t matter.
  4. If facts don’t matter, you can’t really be “wrong.”
  5. With fewer facts in play, it’s easier to bend reality.
  6. To bend reality, Trump is a master of identity politics — and identity is the strongest persuader.

Here are the final lines from that Washington Post article.

Writes Adams: “Identity is always the strongest level of persuasion. The only way to beat it is with dirty tricks or a stronger identity play. … [And] Trump is well on his way to owning the identities of American, Alpha Males, and Women Who Like Alpha Males. Clinton is well on her way to owning the identities of angry women, beta males, immigrants, and disenfranchised minorities.

“If this were poker, which hand looks stronger to you for a national election?”

http://lastnighton.com/2016/05/31/dilbert-creator-tells-bill-maher-why-trump-will-win-election/

Watch the Real Time interview. And think about how you can get your favorite politician – local, state or national – to be better at persuasion and the use of modern media.

Randy

Congratulations to BU’s Class of 2016 Economics graduates!

Please celebrate the students who earned 498 Boston University degrees in Economics at Commencement this May.

This year the program mentions:

22 Ph.D. recipients

203 Master’s degree recipients (MA, MAPE, MAEP, MAGDE MA/MBA, BA/MA)

273 BA recipients (including BA/MA)

This total of 498 degrees is up from 482  in 2015.

These numbers undercount the total for the year since it may exclude students who graduated in January 2016 and chose not to appear at Commencement.

The number of graduate degree recipients 225 is way up from last year when we had 177, with most of the growth in MAs.

In 2015 there were 22 PhDs, 155 Master’s degree recipients, and 305 BA recipients.

In 2014 there were 17 PhDs, 207 Master’s degree recipients, and 256 BA recipients.

Altogether 24 Ph.D. students obtained jobs this year (versus 19 last year).

To see the Ph.D. placements visit the web site linked here.

http://www.bu.edu/econ/gradprgms/phd/placements/

The department’s  website now lists 38 regular faculty (down two from last year) with titles of assistant, associate or full professors, a number which is two below the number of professors in 2012.

http://www.bu.edu/econ/people/faculty/

 

Congratulations to all!

Top 100 Economics Blogs of 2016

I just got an email from Prateek Agarwal <prateek@intelligenteconomist.com>

He has compiled a list of the Top 100 Economics Blogs of 2016. I am of course not on it since I blog infrequently and do not archive (and make public) on my web site all of my blogs, but I thought I would share the link he provided.

https://www.intelligenteconomist.com/top-economics-blogs-2016/

Lots of interesting links, including The Incidental Economist, which is the only one I subscribe to. Be warned that reading blogs can be a major time waster..

I plan to archive this one on my web site blog.

Hope to see many of you at ASHEcon. (Not too late to sign up for the dinner)

Best.

24 BU economics Ph.D.s accept jobs in academic, government and private sectors

Congratulations to the 24 current or recent Ph.D. students from BU Economics who have accepted jobs for this September. Recent placements from the department are linked here, as well as pasted below.

http://www.bu.edu/econ/phd/outcomes/placements/

This year candidates selected 14 academic jobs, five government or central bank jobs, and five private sector jobs for their initial placement.

Everyone formally on the market this year accepted  a job offer.

Thank you, BU colleagues and outside letter writers, for your help with them getting a job.
Let me also thank the five BU staff members who helped with the application process:
Gillian Gurish, Norma Hardeo, Miriam Hatoum, Deb Kasabian, Gloria Murray.
Special thanks to Gillian Gurish for her excellent web page support to the job seekers.

Randy Ellis, Economics department placement officer

2016 PhD Placements

Economics PhD Accepted Job Offers

Amazon, Seattle, WA Jiaxuan Li
Amazon, Seattle, WA Fan Zhuo
Bank of Canada, Ottawa, Canada Guihai Zhao
Central Bank of Chile, Financial Policy Division, Chile (senior economist)  J. Felipe Cordova
Central Bank of Chile, Chile Patricio Toro
Columbia University, Graduate School of Business, NY (post doc), then Federal Reserve Bank, Board of Governors, DC Levent Altinoglu
Cornerstone Research, Boston MA Francois Guay
Cornerstone Research, Chicago IL Kavan Kucko
Duke University, Sanford School of Public Policy, Raleigh NC (post doc) Matt Johnson
ECARES, Universite Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium (post doc) Ben Solow
Ernst & Young, NYC Mengmeng Li
Harvard Medical School, Department of Health Care Policy, Boston MA (asst. prof.) Tim Layton
Harvard Medical School, Mass General Hospital, Disparities Research Unit, Boston MA (lecturer/research scientist) Ye Wang
Harvard Medical School, Mass General Hospital, Disparities Research Unit, Boston MA (post doc) Mirk Fillbrunn
Holy Cross, MA (visiting asst. prof.) Dan Schwab
London School of Economics, Department of Social Policy and   Imperial College, School of Public Health, Health Economics Group, London UK (joint position, post doc) Sara Machado
Peking University, Marketing, Guanghua School of Management, China (asst. prof.) Ying Lei
Reserve Bank of India, Center for Advanced Financial Research and Learning, Mumbai India (research director) Apoorva Javadekar
Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, School of Economics, China (asst. prof.) Yao Shu
Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, School of Finance, China (asst. prof.) Ei Yang
Texas A&M, Department of Political Science, TX (asst. prof.) Benjamin Ogden
US Census Bureau, Center for Economic Studies, MD Elisabeth Perlman
Wellesley College, Department of Economics, MA (lecturer) Alex Poterack
Xiamen University, Department of Economics and Wang Yanan Institute for Studies in Economics (WISE), China (asst. prof.) Shuheng Lin