Negative Thinking

November 10, 2010
Posted by Jay Livingston

Supreme Court round-up:
Refused to overturn a lower court decision that failed to deny that government does not have the right to refrain from excluding unstated principles that do not have . . . .

OK, I’m exaggerating. But multiple negatives are confusing, as I’ve noted before (here). How else to explain Glenn Beck’s saying that Nouriel Roubini agrees with him about inflation (transcript excerpts and video here)? Despite a low rate of inflation, Beck insists that Weimar is just around the corner, especially with the Fed’s recent “quantitative easing” (QE2).
Prices are going through the roof. Basic cost of living, food, clothing, energy, is all going up. And there will be a QE3 and QE4. . . . Leading economist Nouriel Roubini, he tweeted this: . . . : “QE2 will be followed by QE3 and QE4 as QE2 will fail to revive the real economy and to prevent deflationary pressures.” There you go.
Beck seems to think that Roubini is saying that QE2 will lead to inflation. In fact, Roubini is saying just the opposite, but he phrases that idea with a double negative: will fail to prevent deflation. It’s possible that the negative connotation of deflation also added to Beck’s apparent confusion.

As for evidence about inflation, forget official indices, Beck says, and forget the experts (except those that Beck thinks agree with him). “When will we start listening to our own guts, and to common sense?”

I couldn’t fail to disagree with him less.

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